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The Indian Army’s need for a modern close-quarter battle (CQB) carbine has been a pressing issue since 2008. The outdated 9mm Sterling submachine guns are nearing the end of their service life, and a replacement program for nearly 4.25 lakh (425,000) carbines is long overdue.

Enter BSS Material Ltd., a company whose offer of the AK-19, a 5.56 x 45mm assault rifle, was recently rejected by the Indian Army. This decision has been challenged in court by BSS, highlighting the ongoing search for the ideal carbine.

As per media reports, AK-19 was not rejected due to poor scores in evaluations but since company lacked financial backing to execute this program in case it won the tender that required certain balance in the Bank Guarantees.

The AK-19 is a Russian-made rifle designed for export markets. It chambers the NATO-standard 5.56 x 45mm ammunition, a popular caliber used by many armies worldwide. This version of the Kalashnikov rifle is touted as the pinnacle of the AK series, boasting several improvements over its predecessors:

  • Enhanced Ergonomics: The rifle features a new, adjustable, folding buttstock and pistol grip made from impact-resistant polymer, ensuring better comfort and handling for soldiers.
  • Improved Accuracy: A free-floating handguard, longer sighting line, and an adjustable aperture sight contribute to increased accuracy and precision.
  • Modular Design: Picatinny rails allow for the attachment of various sights, lasers, and other tactical accessories, giving soldiers greater customization options.
  • Versatility: The AK-19 can handle a wide range of .223 Remington ammunition, including armor-piercing rounds, making it effective against troops wearing body armor. It also has the option to mount a bayonet, suppressor, and under-barrel grenade launcher for diverse combat situations.
  • Proven Reliability: Like other Russian military firearms, the AK-19 undergoes rigorous testing to ensure it functions flawlessly in harsh environments.

While the legal dispute between BSS Material Ltd. and the Indian Army continues, the AK-19 presents an interesting option for the carbine program. Its chambering for NATO ammunition, user-friendly ergonomics, and modular design all align with the Indian Army’s potential requirements.