In the previous articles about Ukrainian experimental weapons, you can get acquainted with pistols, submachine guns and machine guns, thus, we have come to another class of weapons, namely sniper rifles. In my opinion, these developments are the most interesting, since each sample is different from the other and there is no uniformity. Let's try to get acquainted in more detail with this weapon, namely the GOPAK sniper rifle, created on the basis of the AKM, and the Ascoria rifle, chambered for arrow-shaped bullets. We will consider various options for large-caliber rifles in another article.
Hopak sniper rifle
First of all, you need to make an explanation on the name of the weapon, in fact, this is an abbreviation derived from "Gvintivka is operatively portable on the basis of AK", so the reasoning that with this weapon you can make someone dance the Hopak dance is nothing more than not the smartest joke. As the name implies, the rifle was based on a Kalashnikov assault rifle, namely the AKM. That is, we are talking back about the weapon, which was obtained by altering the AK.
In this case, it would be quite appropriate to leave your personal opinion about what the workers of the Mayak plant have done, but, with a great effort of will, I will refrain from this.
In the process of turning the machine gun into a sniper rifle, workers at the Mayak plant removed the gas outlet, depriving the weapon of its automatic equipment and making the reloading process manual. It is not entirely clear what was done with the barrel, however, this is not so important. The standard stock was changed to a new one, apparently from a PC, there was a new landing site for an optical sight and installation of bipods. By the way about the optical sight, in most of the photos of this weapon you can see the Schmidt-Bender optical sight, it is not possible to see exactly which model it is, but we can say with confidence that this sight costs at least $ 2,500.
Also, in most of the photographs, a sufficiently voluminous silent firing device is installed, in this regard, the weapon is often perceived precisely as silent, however, in this case, with the PBS, this is one of the weapon options, that is, the GOPAK rifle can be encountered without a silent firing device. Very often they draw an analogy with weapons chambered for 9x39 cartridges and even with the Exhaust sniper rifle. Perhaps, with the use of a silent firing device, the niches of use for this weapon coincide, however, in terms of characteristics, such a comparison is absolutely incorrect. GOPAK is distinguished by the cartridge 7, 62x39, which in subsonic performance loses in many respects to the variants of 9x39 cartridges and of course 12, 7x55, and in the version with a bullet speed exceeding the sound one makes the weapon not as quiet as we would like.
If you try to be objective, then the GOPAK sniper rifle is a very cheap attempt to equip the army with low-noise weapons, at the expense of old Soviet stocks. True, during such a rework, in the literal sense, fully functional machines are destroyed. In addition, the question arises about a sufficient amount of ammunition with a subsonic bullet, but this is already on the conscience of those who came up with such an upgrade.
As mentioned above, the weapon is obtained by removing the gas outlet from the AKM. The assault rifle becomes a rifle with manual reloading, and the bolt group itself is not subject to changes. The bolt handle has also been changed to a more comfortable one, according to Mayak workers.
The first question, which begs itself, is to ensure silent reloading of weapons when using PBS. Since the bolt group remains the same, and the weapon is essentially AK, it turns out that for silent reloading, you will have to hold the bolt group in the process of moving forward, with all the consequences, or risk unmasking yourself even before the shot.
The second question concerns the removal of the propellant gases removal unit from the bore. Was it really necessary to resolve the issue so radically? It would be much more logical to install a gas regulator that allows you to completely shut off the outlet of powder gases, but at the same time leaving the ability to use weapons with the original modes of operation. By the way, many have done this "trick with their ears" and even with a positive result.
The mass of the GOPAK sniper rifle is 4.7 kilograms together with a silent firing device, without it - 3 kilograms. The total length is 720 mm without PBS, with PBS - 870 mm. The weapon can be fed from magazines with a capacity of 5, 10 or 30 rounds 7, 62x39.
At the moment, the weapon is being tested in the troops, it is likely that the GOPAK rifle will be put into service, since when it is created, nothing is added to the design of an already finished weapon, but only taken away. That is, the speed of alteration from AKM is very high and with a minimum of costs. Perhaps, given the lack of such weapons in the army, such a step is really justified, but still it is somehow wrong.
About the Ascoria sniper rifle and similar weapons in general
Unlike the previous rifle, this weapon is more interesting, but there is very little data about it. But there are a lot of tales and legends around, because this part of the article is not so much about a specific rifle, but about weapons with similar ammunition in general.
First of all, you need to start with the ammunition that is used in this weapon, and this is a cartridge with an arrow-shaped bullet based on cartridge 13, 2x99 from the Hotchkiss machine gun, according to one version. It seems to me that the basis for the ammunition was the domestic cartridge 12, 7x108, which is more logical, since there were a lot of Soviet ammunition, and it would be expensive to use "scarce" cartridges in the development of experimental weapons.
Separately, it is worth mentioning that very often in the materials about this weapon you can see images of cartridges that were used when working on the AO-27 project, which is obviously not entirely correct. The only correct image of rifle ammunition is in the photo of this weapon and it is obvious that this is a slightly different cartridge than those used to create the Soviet machine gun for ammunition with arrow-shaped bullets. Based on this, one can safely question the veracity of virtually all sources in which this rifle is mentioned.
It does not add confidence in the veracity of the information and constant references either to an acquaintance who saw this weapon in the Caucasus, or to the girl's cousin of his half-brother, who was lucky enough to hold this weapon in his hands. Based on this, instead of retyping inaccurate information, we will try to give such a weapon an assessment in general, and not specifically the Ascoria sniper rifle.
The main advantage of weapons chambered for cartridges with arrow-shaped bullets is the armor-piercing and flat trajectory of the bullet-arrow. Both the first and the second are quite good, but arrow-shaped bullets have their drawbacks.
Since the bullet is an arrow, it means that you need to use either pallets or leading parts that will cover the body of the arrow, increasing its diameter at least to the size of the plumage. Accordingly, the problem arises of the separation of these parts after the bullet leaves the bore. Everything is clear with the pallet in the back of the boom, it will somehow affect the position of the boom in space and change its trajectory. The two leading parts, between which the bullet-arrow is clamped, look more attractive in this regard, but not everything is so simple with them, since it is necessary to ensure the simultaneous separation of the arrow from the body during the flight of the bullet. This is easily accomplished with new ammunition, which was collected a couple of hours ago, the separation occurs almost simultaneously, but what if such a cartridge lasts several years in a warehouse? If one of the leading parts "sticks" to the arrow and separates a fraction of a second later, then the arrow will fly away in any direction, but not to where the shooter was aiming. But this problem can, of course, be solved, undoubtedly, the question is in the cost of the solution.
Another problem is that the arrows of different cartridges must be not just the same, but in fact clones of each other, otherwise it will be very problematic to hit even with two shots nearby. Let's say this can also be implemented to one degree or another, but vice versa, depending on the money spent.
The third problem with such ammunition is the low stopping effect. Due to its high speed and great length, the arrow will not tumble in the body when it hits, as many argue, but will pass right through leaving a straight wound channel, with a temporary cavity, of course, but this is clearly not enough. It is for this reason that Dvoryaninov made a cut on the body of the arrows of his cartridge, so that it breaks when it hits the soft tissue. That is, there is no longer my reasoning, but a conclusion based on the experience of the gunsmith.
But for this we get higher armor-piercing and a flat trajectory, right?
In order to assess the effectiveness of a weapon, first of all, you need to decide on its niche. In our case, this is more clearly not shooting at tanks, but firing at lightly armored vehicles and opponents in heavy body armor. At the moment, large-caliber rifles and machine guns of 12.7 mm caliber more than successfully cope with these goals, while the effectiveness of the hit is such that I would not recommend looking through the results of such hits. In this regard, the question is, is there a need for increased armor-piercing with a significant increase in the cost of ammunition, if, say, the armor-piercing potential is not fully used, and the effectiveness of the hit will be lower?
Well, and a significant plus to highlight a more flat flight trajectory in the modern world is somehow wrong. With an abundance of sufficiently advanced ballistic calculators, rangefinders, and so on, this is not so important.
In addition, a cartridge with an arrow-shaped bullet will be very difficult to make an incendiary, tracer, in fact, this is only one type of ammunition - armor-piercing. In the case of domestic and foreign ammunition with a caliber of 12, 7 mm, the range is very extensive.
You can consider this weapon in the future development of personal body armor. But here, too, there are some nuances. First of all, I hardly think of a person who can, without consequences, transfer a bullet from a cartridge 12, 7x108 hit to the armor plate at a range of aimed fire. Of course, progress does not stand still, and from time to time news about the development of body armor that redistributes the blow when hit, but so far the development has not moved for a couple of decades, which indicates either low efficiency or the cost of the final product.
Based on this, we can conclude that weapons chambered for arrow-shaped bullets are certainly interesting at the moment. It is interesting to study and develop a certain experience that can be used in the future, with the dissemination of more advanced means of personal body armor. The use of such ammunition in combat hand firearms does not make sense yet. However, the type of ammunition itself has considerable promise in the civilian market when used in smoothbore guns, significantly expanding the effective range of use of the latter, even with a low quality of manufacture of bullets-arrows, to several hundred meters.
As for the Ascoria rifle, as I see it, after calculating the cost of the ammunition, the project was simply closed, and it cannot be argued that this decision was wrong.