In part one of this series, we looked mainly at the venerable AK family of weapons carried by troops of the Ukrainian armed forces. Today, we’ll look at a few other weapons carried and employed by the Ukrainians, but in smaller numbers than the Kalashnikov.
The Fort-221 carbine is a straight-up license-built copy of the Israeli TAR-21 manufactured by RPC Fort in Ukraine. This is a bullpup-type weapon with the firing grip ahead of the breech. I’m personally not a huge fan of these types of weapons as they are notoriously inaccurate. However, the upside to this kind of firearm is that the barrel length is increased relative to the length of the entire weapon. This saves weight and increases mobility.
The Fort-221 chambers a 5.45×39 round, the standard issue for Ukrainian ground troops. It also makes use of a proprietary 30-round magazine for that cartridge. The 221 is intended to effectively engage enemy targets out to 500 meters. It is gas operated, weighs 4.3 kg with a loaded magazine, and is 645 mm long (a tad over 25 inches) with a 375 mm (14.7 inches) barrel, primarily internal. The advertised rate of fire is between 500 – 1000 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 890 meters per second.
This bullpup is utilized mainly by Ukrainian Special Forces – 1st Spetsnaz, 3rd Spetsnaz, 8th Spetsnaz, and the “Tornado” battalion of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. There is a variant known as the Fort-224 that is shorter yet (585 mm or 23 inches)
These were initially used in the civilian sector for hunting and long-range sports shooting. They are made in Ukraine by the small privately owned company Zbroyar (which translates to something akin to “gunsmith” or “armorer” in English). The heart of the Z-008 is the proprietary action (developed by Konstantin Konev), which is built around a massive, extremely solid stainless steel receiver. The barrel is screwed into the receiver but in such a way as to relieve the threads from most of the stress. This design feature is intended to improve accuracy.
Every barrel for the Z-008 is manufactured in-house from rifled barrel blanks supplied by Lothar Walther from Cumming, Georgia, in the good ole US of A. The bolt has six radial locking lugs arranged into pairs at the front of the bolt to lock into the receiver. This is one sturdy firearm. Zbroyar can manufacture the weapon in single shot or magazine-fed configurations. The tactical versions utilized by the Ukrainian army are shipped with Bell and Carlson adjustable stocks (out of Dodge City, Kansas) with aluminum bedding blocks and professional bedding.
Each Z-008 comes from the factory with a 0.5 MOA (Minute of Angle) guarantee. Still, most can deliver up to 0.15 MOA accuracy with appropriate ammunition and a skilled sniper behind the trigger. Not exactly sure what MOA means? Click here and learn all about it from our boss Brandon, who just happens to be one of the most accomplished sniper instructors in the world.
The weapon weighs 6940 grams (a bit over 15 lbs, has a barrel length of 530 mm, and can be chambered in many different calibers. When utilized with a magazine, that magazine holds five rounds of ammunition.
XADO Snipex Alligator
This Ukrainian anti-materiel sniper rifle easily wins the most badass weapon name of the year award. It looks the part as well. The Gator is a long-range magazine-fed anti-materiel rifle firing 14.5×114 mm (.57 caliber) rounds. I should note that it is also capable of firing 12.7×108 mm Russian-made ammunition as well as 12.7×99 mm NATO rounds.
It is manufactured by the multinational corporation XADO (Ukrainian, ХА́ДО) which is headquartered in Germany, the Netherlands, and Ukraine. This is a fairly new weapon, first being produced in 2020 and officially being adopted by the armed forces of Ukraine in 2021.
The Gator was made to engage both moving and stationary targets, vehicles, communications, and air defense systems, parked aircraft, and fixed positions. Basically, anything heavy duty that you want to put a hole in, and it will do that quite readily. For example, it can pierce a 10 mm thick armor plate from a distance of 1.5 km with a single round.
When I was in training with the Army there was a long-running joke that these anti-materiel type weapons were not to be fired at people, only equipment, but it was OK to shoot at someone’s canteen or ammo pouch or something like that as it was technically equipment.
The weapon’s effective range is 2000 meters, but the maximum range can reach 7000 meters. The muzzle velocity is 980 meters per second. It is 2 meters long with a barrel length of 1.2 meters and weighs in at a hefty 22.5 kg (49.6 lbs).
Snipex also produces the colorfully named “T-Rex” and “Rhino Hunter” rifles.