frankenrifle in mali

A Chadian soldier in Mali with a hybrid assault rifle
The above screencap from a BBC report on the conflict in Mali was made by @ByronDoerfer and sent to C. J. Chivers, who gave a first diagnosis:

This gentleman, reportedly a Chadian soldier in Mali, is holding what appears to be a well-worn AKM variant with a host of after-market add-ons, creating a cosmetic hybrid between the globally established Kalashnikov operating system and the modern Western military obsession with rails, sights, tactical grips and collapsing stocks. [italics emphasis mine]
    […] I haven’t had time to review the kit of Chadian soldiers generally. So I can’t say whether this rifle is a one-off or now a standard in some Chad ground units. If the latter, and Chad’s arms-procurement officials have fitted out their AKs in such fashion, then some defense contractor or arms salesman somewhere may have made a fine penny. And if the latter, it would also be interesting to see a thoughtful analysis on whether such supposed upgrades have had any measurable effect on any units so equipped, or if money has been misspent.

This raises even more questions. First, no matter if it’s a one-off or a whole lot, why has it been assembled? Were there simply worn AKMs and parts of other rifles around? In other words: Is the hybrid the result of a chance seen within necessity? Or has it been designed deliberately? Following a set of æsthetics? If so, by whom are these æsthetics shared? By the manufacturers and the soldiers? Then, as Chivers hinted at, it’s completely unclear if the hybrid makes operational sense. Is it a good or a bad bricolage? Does it cater to operational needs, to æsthetic sense, to both, or none? The same question can be posed to ‘the modern Western military obsession with rails, sights, tactical grips and collapsing stocks.’ It’s quite probable that there are more hybrid weapon specimen around Africa and elsewhere—I’d like to see them and hear their stories.

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Comments
  • Kerleone Wednesday, 13th March 2013 at 11:31

    Probably it isn’t even working at all ;-)
    http://i.imgur.com/w68SbO3.jpg

  • Alexander Rabitsch Wednesday, 13th March 2013 at 14:49

    Nothing can beat some excellent camouflage xD

  • klandestino Wednesday, 13th March 2013 at 16:24

    very interesting pic and thoughts. Following Kerleones link and returning back to your pic, zeph, what caught my eye was the ways he’s holding his AKM. I’m not a specialist, wasn’t even in the Grundausbildung of the DBwV, but it seems very uncommon to me…following the æsthetics of FPS games..*haha*

  • zephyrin_xirdal Monday, 18th March 2013 at 13:48

    That’s a fine picture, KerLeone, tnx! Still I think it is probable that the rifle is working, because the non-AKM parts, as C. J. Chivers pointed out, make the whole contraption into a ‘cosmetic hybrid.’ Meaning that those parts aren’t essential for the gun’s basic working. They should be attached stoutly, though. The stock especially.
        In respect to the soldier’s stance Chivers wrote: ‘Not sure why he has his finger on the trigger, given that his weapon’s selector lever is clearly on safe. But then cameras often do bring out poses (and bullshit) in soldiers, as with anyone else.’
        Apart from finger-on-trigger making no sense when switched on safe, the whole way the man holds the gun doesn’t make much sense. It’s a pose for the picture, for sure. By the way, klandestino, the way the characters in FPS’ like e.g. ‘Counter-Strike’ hold their assault rifles is exactly the way you are taught to in military CQB (close quarters battle) training courses.