The producers of the multi-caliber rifle KAR-21, Ensio FireArms Oy, recently published a press release that criticizes Finland’s procurement process to acquire a new weapon system to replace the current RK62 and RK95 assault rifles. In the press release, Ensio FireArms claims it’s their opinion “that the current exclusion procedures are not in the best interests of national defense performance, cost-effectiveness, or the development of the Finnish defense industry.”
Below: About 6 months ago, The Firearm Blog was able to test the KAR-21 for the first time, at the Gunpoint indoor shooting range in Helsinki, Finland.
Furthermore, Ensio FireArms claims that their KAR-21A is the only traditional automatic rifle capable of firing 7,62×51mm NATO and 5,56×45mm NATO cartridges, using the same slide, upper, and lower receiver. Ensio’s rifle would also be able to use the 6.8x51mm cartridge, and it can be fitted with a foldable stock.
22.05.2023 at Sastamala. Publisher: Ensio FireArms Ltd.
KAR-21A weapon system has been ignored in choosing the new small arm family for the FDF.
KAR-21A weapon system has been offered to the Finnish Defence Forces
Ensio FireArms Ltd. has offered its KAR-21A weapon system to the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) since 2021. The weapon system has been ignored in assessing the up-coming replacement for the existing RK62 and RK95 assault rifles. In addition, the replacement deal has not been put out to tender. In terms of the new replacement weapon system, not the FDF nor the Ministry of Defence have organised a competition or testing, where the performance and abilities of the KAR-21A could be measured and quantified.
The FDF has stated to Ensio FireArms Ltd. that they have not yet set any required specifications for the new weapon system, and that inquiries to contemplate said specifications are still taking place. Ensio FireArms Ltd. has been in contact with and offered its KAR-21A weapon system to both the FDF and Ministry of Defence of Finland.
The company has been told that the future selection process for the new small arm family will be based on fair competitive tendering, and that the mapping research was still underway. In addition Ministry of Defence have informed that no new small arms-related tendering nor purchases are set to take place. Instead, Ensio FireArms Ltd. has been adviced to keep an eye on public procurement listings. The company has followed these instructions in its activities and to guide its decision making.
Regardless of everything stated before, on 27.3.2023, a letter of intent for Finland and Sweden to jointly purhase small arms was signed. The letter of intent or its public contents do not match the message and image the FDF and the Ministry of Defence have given to Ensio FireArms Ltd. Like the new letter of intent, earlier automatic rifle deals have also been negotiated excluding Ensio FireArms Ltd. and its small arms. Thus, the company and its products could not even be taken into account in said competitive tendering.
Naturally, described practices make operating and doing business in the defence sector very difficult for a firearm manufacturer, when investments and innovation are discouraged through unequal treatment of companies. The practices also differ from those used and agreed upon in other Western countries, when adopting new service weapons.
The stance of Ensio FireArms Ltd. is that the current, excluding procedures are not in the best interests of national defence performance, cost-efficiency or the advancement of the Finnish defence industry.
The smaller size and market share of Ensio FireArms Ltd. should not exclude it and its products from these selection processes. The company is growing and has the capacity and necessary networks for industrial production of KAR-21 weapon system. In addition, Ensio FireArms Ltd. has stated, when asked by the FDF, their willingness to cooperate with other domestic small arms manufacturers. The company, for the benefit of Finland’s defence ability and security of maintenance, stands by this willingness to work together with any necessary entities also in the future.
The performance, security of maintenance, and effects on the expenses to the taxpayer of the fully Finnish KAR-21A weapon system
KAR-21A is a modern, entirely Finnish breakthrough in weapons technology
Ensio FireArms Ltd. has a full confidence in its weapon system’s performance. KAR-21A has been designed specifically for the needs of a conscription military, paying extra attention to rough Nordic weather conditions, possible advancements in cartridge technology, and switching the caliber.
KAR-21A is the only traditional automatic rifle capable of firing 7,62×51mm NATO and 5,56×45mm NATO cartridge with one and the same slide, upper, and lower receiver. Ensio FireArms Ltd. also holds the patents for the technology. The KAR-21A weapon system has been designed and manufactured entirely in Finland, for the company is 100% Finnish-owned. It does not have activity or business outside the arms industry. However, on its field, Ensio FireArms Ltd. is a trailblazer, for the KAR-21A weapon system utilises technical innovations and characteristics that enable features and performance competitors cannot provide.
The benefits of exchangeable caliber
KAR-21A weapon system’s ability to alter between calibers enables the possibility to use it in multiple roles. In 5.56x45mm NATO it can be used as a compact assault rifle, while in 7.62x51mm NATO it works as a support weapon or even as a designated marksman rifle. The maintenance or switching between calibers do not require machinery nor specialised personnel. If the NATO standard changes for example to 6.8x51mm cartridge in the near future, tentatively KAR-21A are exchangeable into that caliber as well. In the United States, there have been talks about adopting a new caliber for quite some time. If actualised, it would affect the NATO standards and virtually would mean the rest of NATO eventually following suit. If the standard changes in the near future, the 5.56x45mm rifles Finland has decided to acquire would become costly. The caliber of those rifles could not be changed afterwards without extremely high logistical, material, and labour costs. KAR-21A’s caliber can be updated with the cost of replacement parts and without expensive, specialised workforce. In addition to money, other resources can also be saved since conscripts would only need to learn the mechanics and handling of one weapon system, possessing all the required characteristics for diverse scenarios, instead of several. (Assault rifle, personal defence weapon and designated marksman rifle). After a caliber change, all the basic characteristics remain the same. Thus, the reserve would not be required to learn new systems, when all weapon skills learnt during military service would still hold. Changing the caliber takes roughly three minutes and only requires an Allen wrench.
Other performance-enhancing characteristics
In addition to its patented exchangeable caliber, KAR-21A weapon system differs from its competitors in other ways as well. Unlike AR15-based rifles, KAR-21 can be equipped with a folding stock. The gun has few parts and no loose rods or springs. Its technical solutions enable fixed ejection of spent casings. The method is reliable even in harsh conditions, reduces the number of parts needed, and thus improves overall operational reliability of the rifle. The firing mechanism consists of big, sturdy springs making sure the gun fires in typical, harsh and cold Finnish weather conditions.
KAR-21A weapon system differs from its competition also in terms of security of supply. The firearms can be produced and assembled entirely in Finland, with no need for parts nor materials from outside the EU. Because of the technical solutions used in KAR-21A, frame parts can be made from modern polymers, which are cheaper than aluminium.
The great national significance of the matter
The way, in which the new small arms family for the FDF was chose, perplexes Ensio FireArms Ltd. and both domestic and international interest groups around it. This press release is published in the name of great national and societal significance of the matter.
Questions considering this press release and KAR-21A weapon system in general to: [email protected] (In Finnish, Swedish or English)
Ensio FireArms Oy
All images (except the TFB watermarked one) are from Ensio FireArms.
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