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US special operations forces have received a small number of new assault rifles optimised for the type of cave-complex fighting experienced in Afghanistan.
The weapons are based on the M-4/M-4A1 carbine variants of the M-16 assault rifle family, but fire the 7.62 x 39mm Soviet-designed cartridge and magazines used in the AK-47 assault rifle.
In addition to the extended upper and lower receivers, another challenging design effort in the SR-47 involved getting the M-4/M-16 magazine catch to externally function like the M-16 magazine but work with a curved AK-47 magazine. In practice, US soldiers use gravity to 'drop' their empty M-16 magazines. The SR-47 design requires the introduction of an internal magazine ejector to push the empty AK-47 magazine from the bottom of the weapon. Additional design features include the introduction of a free-floated match grade barrel.
"This particular 7.62 x 39mm is probably the most accurate 7.62 x 39mm in the world because it's got a really fine free-floated barrel," Lutz added.
"And, of course, it has the rail system so all of the other SOPMOD accessories off the M-4s are compatible.
"There's also a possibility, although they haven't let the contract yet, that there could be another variant that we'd call the SR-74. That could be used if our special operations guys go to a country that has the 'newer' 5.45mm former Soviet weapons. Then they would also have the same ability to pick up magazines."
All six of the SR-47s were delivered with sound suppressors, which Lutz described as "essential" in tunnel operations because of the weapon report.
"We don't know how the six did," he said. "We don't know if they are ever going to order one more. We don't know if we're going to get the second phase, which is to develop the 5.45mm version. But this is probably the hottest weapon that's out there right now."
Lutz concluded: "The SR-47 is a great gun because of the three technologies that it marries: the basic Stoner gun design; the AK-47 series cartridge and magazine; and the modular weapon concept."