Konev modular rifle – Russian brain, Swiss precision, American functionality
This post was published in WS. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.
PANAGYURISHTE, (BM) – It is difficult to surprise someone with the news of the appearance of a new rifle in the United States: the American arms market is like a sea that will accept everyone – almost any competent designer will have a chance to shoot, literally and figuratively.
Nevertheless, the announcement of a new modular rifle, which appeared on The Firearm Blog in the spring of 2018, attracted the attention of many specialists – in many respects, from that part of the land, which is usually called the “former USSR”. The reason is simple – Konstantin Konev was listed as the developer of the new rifle. How is this name known?
Bad luck and good luck
For the first time, the name of Konev sounded to the general public in the early 2000s, when the VK-003 sniper rifle, also known as SVK, was presented in Minsk – in both versions of the name the letter “K” indicated the designer’s surname. A rather long way preceded the bright debut. Konev began to participate in the development of small arms since 1992, and, as he himself writes: “Largely due to the fact that life brought me together with the outstanding designer-gunsmith Vladimir Alexandrovich Razorenov.”
VK-003 was a classic sniper “bolt” at that time – that is, a rifle with manual reloading. A number of decisions were obviously dictated by external circumstances – for example, the use of regular magazines from SVD in the version chambered for 7.62 × 54 R seems to be compelled. linear breech of original design.
In general, “forward” – locks that carry out reloading by moving back and forth, without turning – have been known for a long time. However, such a decision did not take root among military snipers – even after the enthusiastic acceptance of the German Blazer R93 carbine by hunters.
Unfortunately, the VK-003 did not succeed in becoming a well-known serial rifle – according to some sources, not at all for technical reasons. Konev’s development, which nevertheless managed to reach production, had a completely different name and a different serial number.
It was the Ukrainian Zbroyar Z-008 sniper rifle. Here, of the interesting solutions, a receiver closed from above, a barrel attachment unit in it, a bolt group with two rows of stops were used. How successful the Z-008 turned out to be is eloquently evidenced by at least the fact that the rifle created 10 years ago is still represented in the Zbroyar catalog, however, this is not at all about warehouse surplus.
However, then there was a long pause in the news about Konev’s work, which was broken by news from across the ocean. So – Konev Modular Rifle.
Tribute to fashion or rationalism?
In 2018, weapon modularity was no longer just a buzzword and became one of the requirements in the recent US Army competition for a new pistol. You can be sure that in the future the military will put forward similar demands. When the military – especially the American military – begins to want something, waving a thick wad of dollars and a large government contract, they quickly get this “something”.
Of course, no one says – at least not yet – that a soldier will eventually be able to turn a sniper rifle into a machine gun right on the battlefield “with a slight movement of the hand,” like the hero of a Soviet comedy movie. But if such a rearrangement can be performed on the field base, and without the involvement of a highly qualified specialist – why not?
This option will be especially useful for small special forces. When she is on a mission in an Iraqi city housing development on Monday, she climbs a mountain in Afghanistan on Wednesday, and dusty across the Syrian desert on Friday, the thought of modular weapons doesn’t seem too out of touch with reality.
However, the development of Konev makes us remember more about the Swiss knife. The design allows the use of both AK magazines and the NATO STANAG standard in the assault rifle version. The next option is a semi-automatic sniper.
It also has two options for ammunition, from AR-10 or SVD magazines. For those who are not enough, there is a conversion into a long-range sniper rifle chambered for .300 Win Mag.
Trying to take the best
All these almost magical transformations are made by changing the magazine shaft, bolt and barrel with a gas block. The upper part of the receiver is monolithic, made of aluminum alloy – and should become a reliable basis for installing various types of scopes.
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For this, M-LOK slots (modular fastening system developed by Magpul Industries) are installed on the receiver and forend. Unlike other modern systems, where problems are possible – for example, when combining an optical sight with a nozzle for night shooting – the Konev system will not have such a problem.
All versions of the Konev rifle have a gas-operated short-stroke automatic system. At the moment, this scheme is considered the most optimal – for example, the HK416 assault rifle has exactly this kind of automation and this is called its important advantage over the M16 / M4 in terms of greater reliability and resistance to pollution.
However, among the Americans, there are also enough fans of the original Stoner scheme – with the direct effect of the discharged powder gases on the bolt carrier – as contributing to greater accuracy, at least at the cost of reliability.
However, according to Konev himself, even in the piston scheme, the possibilities for increasing the accuracy are far from exhausted. The fact is that when gases enter the gas outlet tube, a process occurs that is somewhat opposite to the shot. The difference is that the piston moves in the direction opposite to the bullet, but the “recoil” arrives at the front wall of the gas outlet. Of course, this recoil is much weaker than that experienced by the shooter, but this is enough for the appearance of parasitic vibrations of the barrel. Moreover, the higher the gas outlet is installed relative to the barrel, the stronger the barrel vibration.
In the Konev Modular Rifle, the influence of this factor is significantly reduced due to the rigid fixation of the gas system in the receiver. In addition, the gas outlet is made as low as possible in order to minimize the appearance of parasitic vibrations when firing as much as possible. Given the wide range of cartridge options used, the gas system has a regulator with three manually adjustable positions.
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For American users accustomed to the “arched” design, the full-fledged folding stock will be another pleasant surprise. Another feature of Stoner’s design is the location of the recoil spring in the butt, by the way, inherited from the German “Sturmgewer” Hugo Schmeisser (as well as much else in the M16).
As a result, even the shortened versions of the M16 or rifles with a similar scheme could not get a fully folding butt – only a telescopic one that could fold to a certain length.
This, in turn, meant that the requirements for reducing the overall length of the weapon had to be met at the expense of the barrel length. In particular, this is exactly what happened during the 2012 competition for a new “compact semi-automatic sniper system” (CSASS), which was held by the US army.
The winning variant from Heckler-Koch and the M110 variant that competed with it for the championship used barrels 16 “long, although previously for sniper rifles a length of at least 18” was considered the standard.
Another point. The operational durability of the M16 butt, as a rule, left much to be desired. Konev’s design includes a metal folding stock. In the future, a special sniper version of the butt is also provided, with an adjustable cheek.
Actually, the targets from the test shooting of the rifle are quite eloquent. When shooting at 100 yards with American Federal cartridges with a Sierra MatchKing bullet, the rifle showed an accuracy of 20.4 mm in five holes, and the four best fit within 10 mm. Even more interesting was the shooting by Russian Tulammo – 30 and 15 mm, respectively, only one and a half times more.
Finally, a series of 10 shots from the army “machine-gun” M80 was 35.8 mm – quite a sniper result, without the quotes. On the Russian weapons Internet, there are significantly fewer people who say that their SVD or “Tiger” consistently shows a similar result than the targets they have presented.
Compared to classic “arched” solutions, the shutter locking system is also implemented differently. The M16 (and earlier in the Johnson 1941 system) used a variant with a large number of small lugs and a small angle of rotation – only 22 °. This option has both advantages and disadvantages.
In particular, the small dimensions of the stops, one of which has also been replaced by an extractor, lead to increased sensitivity to cracks. As a rule, they appear just on the stops near the extractor, which are experiencing an increased load, and then the process of destruction becomes an avalanche-like character.
The Konev rifle has a locking system with three large lugs and a 60 ° rotation. In addition to being more reliable, this also made it possible to implement a “pre-extraction” mechanism, when the cartridge case in the chamber begins to move when the bolt is turned. This allows for reliable ejection even with a dirty chamber or with poor quality casings.
We can say that in his design, Konev tried to “cross a horse and a quivering doe”, or rather, to combine the accuracy and flexibility of platforms based on the AR-15 with reliability in the style of “Kalashnikov”.
Everything looks very interesting. Even putting aside the possible military use, it must be said that the prospects for such a system in the civilian market are quite good. Indeed, one of the reasons for the current popularity of AR platforms is the fact that over 50 years they have turned into a kind of weapon constructor.
Short barrel or long, thick or thin, in caliber from .22 LR to .50 BMG – yes, and such a miracle is on the market! They will also be delighted with the novelty in those countries where the number of weapons available to an ordinary citizen is legally limited.
In short, there is clearly a demand for such systems. Will Konev and his rifle be able to shoot on this wave, or will someone else become the winner in this competition? Time will tell – and in the near future.
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