[ADEX 2022] The Small Arms of Azerbaijan (Part 1) By: Vladimir Onokoy

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The ongoing conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia brought a lot of attention to the military-industrial complex of Azerbaijan. And while many of their heavy weapon systems were procured abroad, when it comes to small arms, Azerbaijan demonstrates a surprising abundance of domestically produced firearms, which were demonstrated at the ADEX 2022 defense exhibition in Baku. That is especially interesting considering the fact that after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Azerbaijan did not inherit any significant firearms manufacturing capability and their entire military industry was built from the ground up in the last 30 years.

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Azerbaijani Firearms @ TFB:

  • Azerbaijan’s Prototype 23mm Anti-Material Rifle
  • Developments from Azerbaijan
  • Azerbaijan to produce AK-74M “Khazri” assault rifles
  • Azerbaijanian Istiglal 14.5mm Sniper Rifle

Some of the current Azerbaijani weapons are a direct result of the transfer of technology (ToT), and some were developed from scratch. The most significant example of the direct ToT is Azerbaijani AK rifles.

[ADEX 2022] The Small Arms of Azerbaijan (Part 1)

Originally, Azerbaijan only received documentation for the production of AK74M chambered for 5.45×39 but with some help from international companies, they developed variants in 5.56 and 7.62. Note that both 5.56 and 7.62 magazines are clearly not made based on the Russian design.

Azerbaijani AK rifle chambered in 5.56x45 called EM-14

Azerbaijani AK rifle chambered in 5.56×45 called EM-14

Azerbaijani AK rifle chambered in 7.62x39 called AZ 7.62

Azerbaijani AK rifle chambered in 7.62×39 called AZ 7.62

Another example of a locally produced variant of an established design is HP 7.62, a shortened version of the Kalashnikov PKM with simple, but much-needed improvements: it has a railed receiver cover and handguard, adjustable stock, and a new charging handle.

HP 7.62 shortened version of the Kalashnikov PKM

HP 7.62 shortened version of the Kalashnikov PKM

While those updates might appear quite rudimentary, it should be noted that the three main manufacturers of the PKM machinegun variants, Russian, Bulgaria, and Serbia do not offer a shortened version PKM machinegun optimized for CQB and special forces. Perhaps the Azerbaijan “Iglim” factory, being smaller is more responsive to the feedback from the users.

There are also several original designs, such as the YST-7.62, a semi-automatic sniper rifle that uses a Dragunov rifle magazine.

YST-7.62 semi-automatic sniper rifle

YST-7.62 semi-automatic sniper rifle

Chambered for 7.62×54, it was developed to replace the venerable SVD rifle and offers several key advantages: full-length Picatinny rail, an adjustable stock with a monopod, and an ambidextrous safety catch.

In Part 2, we’ll take a look at Azerbaijani anti-material rifles and heavy machine guns.