Today we were lucky enough to get our hands on the new Polish Breyl Archer AK-47 Rifle chambered in 5.56 NATO. This rifle is being offered for the first time in the US as a civilian version, and of course we have the best price out there!
The kbs wz. 1996 Beryl (English: beryllium) is a Polish 5.56mm assault rifle, designed and produced by the Łucznik Arms Factory in the city of Radom. The rifle is to replace 7.62x39mm AK-47 and 5.45x39mm Tantal used in the Polish Armed Forces.
Development work on a new service rifle (both a standard and carbine variant) adapted to use the intermediate 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge had been undertaken in 1995, however a functioning 5.56 mm rifle and carbine variant had already been available in Radom since 1991, known as the wz. 1991 (a rechambered wz. 1988 Tantal rifle). The new weapon’s specifications were approved in February 1995 and in December the same year, a prototype production batch consisting of 11 Beryl rifles was produced. In 1997 the weapon had been successfully evaluated and adopted into service as the5,56 mm karabinek szturmowy wz. 1996 (“assault carbine pattern 1996″).
The Beryl subsequently became Polish standard rifle. In 2011, there is more than 45,000 in the inventory, which is about half of assault rifles in the Polish Army.
Apart from Poland, 80 Beryls wz.96 and 10 Mini Beryls are used by Lithuania (donated in May 2000 by Poland, including 10 rifles with Pallad grenade launcher). Until 2002/2003 they were equipment of a special forces unit SOJ Aitvaras, operating in Afghanistan.
A Beryl fitted with an under-barrel wz. 74 Pallad grenade launcher.
The Beryl’s design layout and system of operation are similar to that of the Tantal rifle, and the principle differences, resulting primarily from using a different cartridge, include the following components: the barrel, receiver housing, buttstock, foregrip, muzzle device, sight system and magazine. With an adapter can use M16 NATO standard magazine.
The 457 mm-long barrel, has 6 right-hand grooves and a 228 mm (1:9 in) twist rate. The barrel’s external profile (from the breech to the front sight base) is identical to the Tantal’s barrel, but the length from the foresight base has a visible tapered contour with a decreasing diameter towards the muzzle end, used to mount a flash suppressor.
The flash hider can be used to mount and launch rifle grenades. The flash hider has a slight taper at the front that supports a bayonet and a little further to the rear – six side ports arranged in pairs. These ports are placed asymmetrically around the circumference of the flash hider and stabilize the weapon during continuous fire. Internally the flash suppressor features threading at the muzzle used to screw-in a blank firing attachment. Located mid-length on the flash hider is a cut-out with a ring retainer spring that secures a rifle grenade to the barrel.
The side-folding tubular metal stock is coated with a thermal polymer shrink film. It has a metal shoulder stop covered with a rubber recoil pad. More recent models come with a collapsible stock (see picture of wz.2004 model on right side of page).
The standard lower handguard features an angled rib pattern designed to enhance gripping by the support hand. The rear of the handguard features two molded notches that enable the 40 mm wz. 1974 grenade launcher to be mounted under the barrel (early versions of the wz. 1996 lacked these notches, fitted instead with handguards with lateral grooves). Some Beryl handguards are equipped with short Picatinny rails and an integral vertical foregrip.
The Beryl’s sighting system is very similar to the setup used on the Tantal, it does however differ with the addition of twin cuts made into the sides of rear sight base that are used to fasten a bracket for mounting the following optical sights: the passive PCS-6 night sight, a CK-3 reflex optical collimator (red dot sight), LKA-4 telescopic sight and CWL-1 scope with integrated laser rangefinder.
The weapon’s unique magazine is molded from plastic and is not interchangeable with magazines from the kbk wz. 1988 Tantal.
The Beryl fires 5.56x45mm ammunition with a steel-core standard round, a tracer cartridge and a training slug, which are produced by Zakłady Metalowe Mesko in the town of Skarżysko-Kamienna.
Standard equipment shipped with the rifle includes: three spare magazines, four 15-round stripper clips, a stripper clip guide, bayonet, cleaning kit, lubricant bottle, cleaning rod (2-piece, stored in the cleaning kit pouch), sling, a magazine pouch and bipod. The rifle can also be fitted with a mounting system for optical sights and a blank-firing adaptor.
The Beryl was used to create a carbine variant known as the Mini-Beryl.