As the Russian invasion of Ukraine rages, a firearms enthusiast might be excused for wondering what small arms make up the guns of the Ukrainian Army. Let’s take a look at the weapons now on the front lines.
Guns of the Ukrainian Army: Rifles
If you got your news just from the mainstream media, you might think that this is primarily an AK-variant army. You’d be mostly correct, but not entirely. That’s because some units of the Ukrainian Special Operations community carry license built IWI Tavor rifles.
The Fort-221 Carbine is a licensed built copy of the Tavor TAR-21. Manufactured by RPC Fort in Ukraine, it’s built around the 5.45×39 round that is the standard issue round for the Ukrainian Ground Forces. The Fort-221 uses a propriety magazine for the 5.45 cartridge.
The AK-74, chambered in 5.45×39 is the standard issue rifle for the Ukrainian Ground Forces. It’s also incredibly common in their stockpiles. There are hundreds of thousands of these rifles on hand. The Ukrainian president said during the early stages of the invasion that they’d give one of these to anyone who wants to fight the Russians.
One of the variants of the AK-74 is the AKS-74U, often called a Krinkov or Krink for short in the states. The Krinkov shortens the barrel of the AK-74 by several inches, making it an excellent platform for CQB and close-in fighting.
The last generation of the 7.62×39 AK-47, the AKM also exists in huge numbers in Ukraine, and world-wide. They’ve been deployed to the front lines of the fighting along with reservists and volunteer fighters.
One of the most interesting guns in the hands of the Ukrainian army is the WAC-47. This was a prototype rifle, fielded in an unknown quantity starting in 2018. As you can see, it’s an M4 style design, however it’s chambered for 7.62×39 ammo. The reasoning that, in the event of the Ukraine partnering with a western nation, this rifle’s upper could be easily swapped for a 5.56 upper. There are an unknown number of these in the hands of Ukrainian soldiers.
Ukrainian Ground Forces Handguns
Like their small arms, the pistols riding around in Ukrainian holsters is a bit of a hodgepodge. However, these guns of the Ukrainian army are far less likely to see combat than a rifle. Handguns are a secondary weapons system to the combat soldier.
Like much of the planet, Ukraine’s special forces carry Glock pistols in 9mm. Because of their reputation for reliability and ready parts availability, the Glock is the logical choice for any elite force.
Before the invasion, Ukraine was in the process of replacing their stock of existing pistols with the Fort-14P. Although the Fort-14P is a large frame handgun, it’s chambered in 9×18 Makarov. Early designs of the pistol chambered 9mm Luger, but the gun eventually reverted to 9×18. Given that the Makarov pistol was Ukraine’s standard service pistol prior to this, that chambering makes sense. There are likely large stocks of 9×18 ammo in the country.
Other Guns of the Ukrainian Army
Some of the other weapons in Ukraine’s arsenal include the Barrett .50 BMG rifle system. Additionally, the Ukrainian military fields a large number of SVD sniper rifles. Finally, they have the expected collection of former Soviet-bloc belt fed weapons. However, like the Fort rifles, they do license build the Negev machine gun. The Fort-401, as its called, is also chambered in 5.45 so it can share ammo with other common Ukrainian weapons systems.