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Vepr assault rifle (Ukraine)
Caliber: 5.45x39 mm
Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt
Overall length: 702 mm
Barrel length: 415 mm
Weight: 3.45 kg empty
Rate of fire: 600-650 rounds per minute
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds
The Vepr ("wild boar" -Ukrainian language) has been announced in 2003 as a new Ukrainian-designed assault rifle. Ukraine is a former Soviet republic and since dissolution of USSR its armed forces used Soviet-era small arms, including the Kalashnikov AKM and AK-74 assault rifles. The Vepr has been advertisedas a major improvement over AK-74, but, in fact, it isno more than yet another conversion of standard AK-74 into bullpup layout. The standard AK-74 is stripped from its furniture, and the buttplate is fitted directly to the receiver;polymer cheek rest is fitted to the receiver cover, and pistol grip is fitted ahead of the magazine; the cocking handle is moved to the left side of the forearm, but the safety/fire selector lever remained in the same position, now well behind the pistol grip and almost out of reach when gun is shouldered. Vepr is fitted with adjustable open sights and a standard side mount for day or night scopes. Relatively large red dot scope of Ukrainian manufacture is fitted as a standard. Latest version of the Vepr also feature an integral 40mm underbarrel grenade launcher, with dual trigger arrangement (front trigger controls launcher, rear trigger controls the rifle).
It is yet to be seen if the Veprwill be procured and issued to Ukrainian forces in any numbers, but the claims of "clear superiority to AK-74 " from Vepr manufacturers seem to be rather optimistic, to say the least.
PS: there were plenty of conversions of Kalashnikov rifles to bullpup layout before the Vepr, like Russian OC-14 Groza, Finnish ValmetM82, Chinese Type 86 or South African CR-21. None of these had any success so far.