The GROT machine gun, despite the fact that everyone writes about it as a completely new weapon, is with some qualification. The fact is that this weapon was previously planned to be called Radon, in continuation of the tradition of giving the Polish arms the designation of the names of chemical elements and minerals. Explain this renaming only marketing - a short designation, euphonious, only those letters that are in the Latin alphabet are used. This weapon has identified itself in 2014 year, when it was presented as a prototype, not ready for mass production with the name MSBS-5,56. Work on this project was started back in 2007, the goal, as you can guess, was to create an automatic machine meeting NATO standards and avoiding weapons based on a Kalashnikov machine gun.
You can easily build a chain that shows how long it took the Polish designers to create a machine of their own design. From 2007 to 2014, the designers worked on the creation of a new weapon, while the first, still completely “raw” version of the machine gun was assembled in 2010. The time from 2014 to the end 2017 was spent to bring the weapon to acceptable levels and to prepare for the production, for mass production of these weapons.
To be objective, it is not so much more than ten years spent on the creation of a new machine, given that weapons are already in full swing and, after satisfying domestic needs, will be exported. Of course, such works require either a good base in the form of their own specialists, or invited from abroad. The Poles have managed on their own, at least so they say, and there is no reason not to believe them. To say that the new weapon is really completely Polish, allows the work of designers, which was done earlier. And although the work was mainly carried out as part of the modernization of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, it is difficult to deny the fact that certain experience was gained and it was quite successfully used in the design of the GROT machine. It is logical to try to briefly get acquainted with the whole chain of works of Polish designers, before they get acquainted with a new weapon.
Polish machines based on AK
As mentioned above, the previous designs of Polish automata were based on the Kalashnikov machine gun, and if the first AK and AKM were made virtually without significant changes in the design, then with the transition to a low-pulse cartridge, the situation changed somewhat and the Polish gunsmiths began to introduce their designs into the design of the Soviet weapon.
Automatic wz.88 Tantal and wz.89 Onyks
Work on their own weapons under the low-pulse cartridge 5,45х39 in Poland began in 1980, and the AK-74 machine gun became the basis for the new weapon. In Polish sources it is indicated that this development is completely Polish, for the authorship of the designer Bogdan Szpierski and other Polish gunsmiths. It is usually noted that gunsmiths tried to make the weapon as close in design as possible with interchangeable nodes with a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
If the work was really carried out "from scratch", then it is absolutely unclear for what purpose, if the result of the work was to be the same Kalashnikov assault rifle. But it is impossible not to notice that the changes are present and they are not only in a few millimeters of the differences between the individual details.
The main changes that were made by Polish gunsmiths in the design of AK, relate to the trigger mechanism. The weapon taught to shoot with a cut-off of three rounds. The possibility of firing with a cut-off is often criticized, since after the first firing any person knows how to fire on the cartridge's 2-3 and such a skill is akin to the ability to ride a bicycle - is not forgotten. A really useful realization of this possibility is carried out in systems like Nikonov's automata, which is also a controversial advantage in combination with the complexity of the entire structure. Nevertheless, the Polish designers added a new firing mode and, as a result, got several problems at once.
The main problem was to bring the weapon to acceptable levels of resource and reliability. So, the weapon was already ready in 1988, however, they were able to accept it only in 1991. The reason for this delay, in addition to financial, was not the highest reliability of the firing mechanism. Of course, all problems were eventually eliminated, but time was spent on this.
In addition to bringing the USM design to acceptable performance, the designers were faced with another problem, namely the implementation of the control modes of operation of weapons. It would be strange to overload the standard switch of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, so the Polish gunsmiths added another switch, which many often confuse with the switch duplicated from the left side of the AK switch. As a result, the switch on the right side of the weapon began to control only the fuse and had two positions, and the small switch above the pistol grip on the left side switched fire modes and, accordingly, had three positions.
The weight of the new weapon was 3,37 kilogram without cartridges. The length was equal to 943 millimeters with a butt out and 748 millimeters with a folded. The rate of fire was increased to 700 shots per minute.
On the basis of the wz.88 machine gun, a machine with a shorter stem, an analogue of our Ksyusha, was developed. This weapon was intended to arm the crews of armored vehicles, drivers, and so on. The designation of this machine received wz.89. The weapon turned out the mass of kilogram 2,9 without cartridges. The 720 and 519 are millimeters long with the butt folded and folded, while the barrel length was 207 millimeters.
There is one interesting fact about this weapon. At the end of 1989, work began on the adaptation of these machines for the cartridge 5,56х45 and these works were even completed. As a result, wz.90 Tantal and wz.91 Onyks automatic rifles were obtained, but no weapons were made for their own use. Apparently, the transition to a new ammunition considered unaffordable luxury at that time.
Automatic wz.96 Beryl
Obviously, the transition of the Polish army to a new ammunition 5,56х45 was inevitable and soon it really took place. In 1994, work began on improving the design of the Tantal and Onyks machines. Taking into account the fact that both machines had already been recalculated to the chuck of the NATO standard, no complicated work was done, the designers changed the butt of the weapon, and also added a mounting bar to the cover of the receiver. Subsequently, the rifle continued to acquire additional fastening straps, the butt changed, but this did not stop being, in fact, a Kalashnikov rifle with the possibility of firing with a cut-off of three rounds.
Already in 1996, the new weapon was adopted and began to force out automatic weapons chambered for 5,45х39. Until last year, this machine was the main one for the army of Poland, although the country purchased foreign samples, such as the G36 and HK416.
In total there is a 4 version of the wz.96 machine. The first with the designation Beryl c barrel length 457 millimeters. Beryl Commando with a barrel length of 357 millimeters. And a mini-beryl with a barrel length of 235 millimeters. In addition, there is also the Beryl IPSC sports carbine, which differs from Beryl only in the absence of automatic firing and in small details, in the form of fastening aiming devices and other things.
Automatic wz.2005 Jantar
In 2002, on his own initiative, Polish designer Mikhail Binek demonstrated the result of his work, namely, an automaton in the bullpup layout. As it is not difficult to guess, the weapon was based on the Beryl machine gun, which, probably, gave movement to the project, which grew into a full-fledged finished sample with the designation wz.2005.
Since the Beryl machine gun was based on the Tantal machine gun, which, in turn, was built on the AK-74 base, the Jantar is nothing but a Kalashnikov gun in the bullpup layout, which has a fire mode with a cut-off of three rounds.
Like most weapons models created in an attempt to change the AK layout, the wz.2005 has a number of drawbacks that are difficult to accept. In addition to the proximity of the window for ejection of spent cartridges to the face of the shooter and the cocking handle, which you have all the chances to catch with your front teeth when shooting from the left shoulder, the location of the fuse switch is clearly inconvenient. In addition, on the other side of the weapon is also a small switch of fire modes, while with both elements it is necessary to interact with different hands.
The combination of all these shortcomings was the reason that the weapon was not adopted. However, the advantages of the bullpup layout were appreciated, and subsequently the experience of creating such weapons was applied in the MSBS-5,56 project, which grew into a GROT machine gun.
The general concept of the GROT
It is no secret that Poland is trying with all its might to disown all Soviet, because the rejection of weapons, even if it was processed by itself, but on the basis of the Soviet Kalashnikov, was only a matter of time. In this regard, the question was raised about exactly how the new Polish machine gun will be. It goes without saying that the new weapon had to meet all NATO standards and at the same time have a basis for further cost-effective modernization, but the details that would be decisive in the further development of Polish weapons in the army were important.
Taking into account the operating experience of foreign automata, as well as their own developments, the choice was made in favor of the modular system, and modularity was not limited only to the ability to quickly change the barrel of the weapon; modularity had to be truly complete.
First of all, the design should provide for the possibility of not only assembling a machine gun with the desired barrel length, but creating a complex, on the basis of which one could assemble both a machine gun, a self-loading rifle, and a light machine gun with the maximum possible use of common components and parts. Such a solution would significantly reduce the cost of rearmament, and also would solve the problem of weapon repair and personnel training.
In addition, previously, the Jantar machine gun showed its clear advantage over the versions of the machines with a shortened barrel, since the full length of the barrel is preserved when the bullpup is assembled. This caused another requirement for a new automaton, which was to be developed in two different layouts, back with the maximum possible amount of common parts.
In other words, the gunsmiths were faced with the task of creating a constructor from which it was already possible to "sculpt" anything, and it should be noted that the Polish gunsmiths managed, though not without controversial moments.
The appearance and ergonomics of the machine GROT
If we compare this machine in its appearance with other modern developments, we can confidently say that the weapon is made at a decent level. Although beauty is a subjective concept, we have seen really strange constructions, against which GROT looks handsome in general.
Obviously, considerable attention was paid to ergonomics and ease of handling weapons. Designers abandoned the possibility of firing with a cut-off of three rounds, which made it possible to combine both the fuse switch and the translator of fire modes in one piece, which was placed above the pistol grip under the thumb of the holding hand and duplicated on the other side. The magazine eject button is located in front of the safety bracket, large enough and convenient for pressing with the index finger of the hand holding the weapon.
The shutter lag is turned off in an interesting way, which is also present in the GROT machine. Since at any layout the store needs to be changed manually, respectively, the hand will be next to the store receiver, the designers decided to move the shutter lag off button immediately behind the store shaft, which seems like a reasonable decision.
On both sides of the weapon, there are handles for cocking the shutter, which remain motionless when fired, did not ignore the possibility of choosing the side for ejection of spent cartridges, however, the decision is not the most beautiful, but the cheapest. The choice of the side is carried out by turning the shutter larvae, for which, of course, the weapon must be disassembled. An unused window for ejection of spent cartridges is closed with a lid.
The design and characteristics of the GROT
The basis for the new machine has become the automation with a short stroke of the piston and the locking of the barrel when the valve is turned on the 7 stops. Taki Polish designers managed to move away from the AK, but not far.
The upper part of the receiver of the machine is made of aluminum alloy, it is located in the barrel and bolt group. The receiver for both the classic layout and the bullpup layout is the same, the latter differs only in the additional mounting bar above the barrel. But the lower parts of the receiver for different layouts differ. They are located trigger. The lower part of the receiver, forend and stock are made of plastic.
Despite the fact that there are quite a lot of details in the GROT machine that should make it light, it is not a champion in low weight. In the classic layout of weapons weighs kilogram 3,65 without ammunition. In the bullpup layout, the weight of the automaton is equal to 3,55 kilograms. The length of the machine in the classic layout with the butt spread out is 900 millimeters, with a folded butt — 670 millimeters. The same 670 millimeters are the length of the weapon in the bullpup layout. In both cases, the barrel length is equal to 406 millimeters.
Say what you like, but the Polish designers really managed to create a modern and quite comfortable weapon. Personally, I really liked the decision to abandon the version of the machine with a shortened barrel in favor of the bullpup layout. A well-thought-out arrangement of controls is also not the most frequent phenomenon, although it would seem that this is the place to start when creating a new weapon.
Since the machine has just entered service, reliability issues remain open, especially in operating conditions other than the Polish climate. Since the weapon “brought” 4 of the year before adopting it, it is likely that the shortcomings that could have been encountered in local conditions were eliminated. How the automaton will show itself at high operating temperatures, under prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, or at the lowest possible temperatures is unknown. Given the fact that Poland often participates in various operations within NATO, we can expect feedback in the near future, including a comparison of weapons with other foreign models.