(photo from Guns, Holsters, and Gear)
The newest AK on the market is the “Alfa” from CAA and was revealed at SHOT 2016. GHG has an amazing article on it. It appears to be a CAA design, and has some rather radical changes from the standard AK design. It was supposedly designed with IDF personnel input, which makes sense – you can see how the stock is now inline and higher for compatibility with AR optics, and all the controls seem to be ambidextrous. It looks like a two-piece receiver design, ala the M+M M10X, but you can see that the recoil spring is still behind the bolt (unlike the Sig 556 or M10X, where it’s up front by the piston).
My only quibble is that the weight is on the heavy side – 7.7lbs. This makes me suspect it’s a chassis on top of a traditional steel AK receiver, rather than a truly re-engineered steel-reinforced polymer receiver like the SCAR-16S (7.25lbs). But it’s still lighter than a Sig 556 Classic (8.2lbs), albeit not quite as svelte as the Galil ACE (7.5lbs). Some of that additional weight might be from the huge AK-74-esque muzzle attachment, too.
There’s also a Galil-mag 5.56×45 version, which is a bit of an odd choice. As evinced by the popularity of the Zastava M85NP, the AK market prefers AR magazines when it comes to 5.56×45, and the gun itself clearly has a chassis that would lend itself to modification for AR mag use.
In any event, it’ll make an interesting competitor to the ACE, and is another Israeli rifle for “the list”.
Fresh from IWI-US marketing:
We successfully introduced the X95® select-fire bullpup to our law enforcement customers last year and our civilian customers have been clamoring for us to get them a commercial version,” Michael Kassnar, VP of Sales and Marketing for IWI US said. “The X95® is a modern, modular bullpup design emulating all the familiar features of the TAVOR® but on steroids.”
The TAVOR® X95® platform incorporates a tri-rail forearm covered by three removable vented rail covers. The TAVOR® style trigger guard is modular and can easily be converted to a more traditional trigger guard with pistol grip. The charging handle has also been relocated closer to the shooter’s center mass, and perhaps the most significant departure from the TAVOR® is the ambidextrous magazine release, located to a more traditional AR-15/M16 location on the X95®.
Like the TAVOR® SAR, 16.5” 5.56 NATO, .300 Blackout and 17” 9mm Luger Parabellum models feature interchangeable cold hammer forged (CHF) barrels manufactured and engineered to IWI’s demanding specifications. Conversion kits in .300 Blackout, 5.56 NATO and 9mm will also be available.
The TAVOR® X95® in 5.56 NATO and .300 Blackout uses standard AR-15/M16/STANAG magazines and is supplied with one black Magpul Gen III PMAG. Available in Black, Flat Dark Earth and OD Green. MSRP for the TAVOR® X95 is $1,999.00 and the Conversion Kits are $899.00 in 5.56 NATO and 9mm and $499.00 in .300 Blackout.
$2000 MSRP is better than I expected. No word on the release date yet, but I’d be surprised if it were in 2016. I am HOPING that IWI comes out with a 20″ barrel version for those of us in restricted states – they’ve got their fancy CHF barrel-making machine now, so it shouldn’t be impossible.
Hot off the presses from IWI-US: they’re now manufacturing barrels.
This is big news because it means the .300AAC conversion is probably going to finally happen in 2016. It will also aid in getting the Galil ACE rifles out the door – they need 922r compliance parts, and a barrel is one of them.
Another fascinating tidbit is that they’re going to be making AR-15 and M4 barrels for other manufacturers. While this may just be a way to keep their CHF machine going at full-tilt 24/7, it would be a very short step to manufacturing their own line of AR-15s. I don’t necessarily know why they’d want to get into that market, given how crowded it is, but maybe they’d export back to Israel? No reason IWI-US couldn’t export parts to IWI, after all.
I guess I missed this because of high holidays, but FAB Defense has announced their 30rd AR-15 and AK magazines under the brand name of “Ultimag”. I’ve heard they’ve been in the wild for a few months, but expect a US appearance soon.
The AR mag is your standard windowed polymer magazine. I assume it is meant for export to non-US countries, given the complete market dominance of the Magpul “pmag” in the USA. FAB Defense might also try to sell them to the IDF domestically – they bought 10k CAA mags a few years back, and I suspect there’s a lot more aluminum magazines to replace given how often they become unusable due to dents.
The AK magazine is similar to Magpul’s MOE AK magazine, which is to say it doesn’t have steel-reinforced locking lugs. On the other hand, it does have a window, which makes it unique. I have had some evolution on my views of the necessity of a window on a magazine, but I admit that it’s a feature which can be construed as reasonably helpful. I am skeptical it will see much take-up in the USA, but I could see buying one for testing.
Sorry that content has been a bit sparse lately – a combination of high holidays and IRL zaniness has been conspiring against me. I have a few posts in the hopper that just need photographs to finish.
Still, I wanted to point out a new preview of the IWI X95 that was posted up by The Firearm Blog. Miles apparently got to use it at the recent bullpup shoot, and had some thoughts.
On the whole, I liked the article, but had some real quibbles with some of his criticism:
- There’s nothing wrong with polymer rails on the sides and bottom if they work correctly. The main complaints about polymer rails are that they tend to break when used with a VFG, and they can have zero shift issues on the top when the gun heats up. The former doesn’t sound like an issue on the X95, and, as for the latter, the X95 doesn’t have a polymer top rail.
- The constant complaints about plastic components. The AUG made these work quite well back in the 70’s. When are we going to accept that maybe materials science has advanced since Bakelite was invented?
- The complaints about the barrel length. If this were a PCC, yes, I’d agree that the extra barrel length is useless. I always chop my PCCs! But you get somewhat improved ballistics in 5.56×45, enough so that the “extra” barrel length can be justified.
- It’s hard to argue that the Tavor’s bolt release is not in a somewhat weird place. But the problem in actual usage is pretty minimal. In terms of reloads, you just rack the charging handle, which is conveniently located right above your support hand. And if your gun has failed badly enough you need to lock the bolt back, you’re not going to be shouldering it, and thus have two hands free for the manipulation. I suppose it’s annoying on the one-way range when you constantly need to show a clear chamber while the range is cold… but that’s not a high priority for me.
According to a Facebook post by IWI-US, the Galil ACE release has been delayed:
As all of you know, we have been seriously delayed in bringing the Galil ACE to market. Suffice to say that we believe it is better to delay deliveries if a problem is discovered, rather than bring the product to market prematurely. (Most of the issues encountered were in converting full auto to semi-auto configuration.) In any case, here is our revised delivery schedule (which could still be modified if necessary):
Galil ACE pistol in 7.62x39mm – September, 2015
Galil ACE pistol w/Stabilizing Brace, 7.62x39mm – October, 2015
Galil ACE rifle, 7.62x39mm – late October/early November, 2015
Galil ACE pistol in 7.62 NATO – January, 2016
Galil ACE pistol w/Stabilizing Brace, 7.62 NATO – February, 2016
Galil ACE rifle, 7.62 NATO – March, 2016
Galil ACE 5.56 NATO – 2nd Quarter 2016
We apologize for these delays, but again, we want to make sure that what we bring to market meets our standards and your expectations.
I am not surprised, given the delays the Tavor and Uzi Pro had. I am also slightly skeptical of the reasons given, too – converting AK platforms to semi-auto is a well-known problem that is easily solved by widely-available parts. The parts diagram of the Galil ACE that I’ve seen doesn’t really seem to suggest that the FCG is any different than the Galil’s, either. Personally, I would theorize some sort of import-related issue, especially with the suggested uncertainty of even this revised delivery schedule.
On the other hand, this is good news in the sense that the pistol version is going to be out in 2-3 months, in time for the holiday buying season. That should be good news for the IWI-US bottom line.
Much like I enjoy using my Uzi mags in different guns, I’ve been looking for ways to use my Galil mags in other platforms. Galil mags are interesting because they fit standard AK-47 magwells. So, if you’ve got a gun with an AK magwell, you’re halfway there.
Well, an “undocumented feature” of the Sig 556 platform is that if you put a Sig 556 upper on a Sig 556R lower, the gun will function just fine with Galil mags. There’s a small caveat there – polymer magazines won’t fit – but steel mags are just fine. I don’t know if this an improvement on the standard Sig 556, but it’s a clever hack.