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Posted: 10/3/2004 5:13:34 AM EDT
I thought some of you might be interested in the current "state of the state" so to speak, in SA, where the Vektor built version of the Galil, the R4 / 5 / 6 series rifles, has been in continuous service for many, many years now. I recently returned after spending most of a month there hunting, shooting, drinking Castle Lager and generally having a great time. I have many good friends there who are LEOs and all served in the old SADF as well, so I spent a goodly amount of time with quite a few cops and about 30 or so R5s and LM6's. The LM series guns are the semi auto only version but otherwise the same as far as I can tell.

Like most less than first tier countries, SA is locked into a cash economy in many respects, which makes armed robbery on a large scale a popular pastime. There are many large robbery "syndicates", several of which are very well organized and equipped with AKs and R5s, with members trained by the Russians and Cubans back during "the struggles" prior to 1994. It is not at all unusual for a cash van or large mall, etc, to be hit by 10-20 armed gunmen in what is usually a very violent robbery with shots fired at any and everyone and thing in sight. LEOs who allow themselves to be taken by surprise are often executed without mercy. Many...certainly not all by any means, but a fair number... of these robberies are planned with inside information and executed with military precision. "Hijacking" (carjacking) is also rampant and the murder rate for these holds constant at about 70-75%...rape rate for females of ANY age...including babies...is about 100%, usually followed by murder. It is not a "fun" place to be a street cop.

Vektor...a division of Denel...is still in business, but says they have not built any R series rifles for many years. There is some doubt about that, but that is their official line. While there I was able to handle and shoot a prototype of the bullpup "upgrade" of the R4, complete with newfangled optical sight. (It sucked, but it did work) and...once again according to the official line...they made only 200 for testing and are not making any more. It was originally designed to be fitted to rifles already in service. One thing you can always count on in Africa is that things are never quite what they may seem, and with SA recently being cleared to sell arms to the US, it will be interesting to see what develops with Vektor / Denel products, but I certainly don't see us buying any rifles! Parts for the R4 / 5 / 6 series rifles ARE still being made (!) and are available to authorized buyers, but Vektor says the barrel and receiver line has been shut down for years. (As an aside, I can tell you that the Vektor plant was the only place in SA I went where we were not allowed to carry sidearms inside. Security there is TIGHT!)

The rifles I saw in service ranged from almost new to a few that looked like they had been dragged through Georgia by a drunk redneck with a rope tied to the back bumper of a 4x4. The ones in halfway decent condition all worked well provided decent ammo was used. Ammo is a MAJOR problem there, and I saw more than one local / metro agency using crappy reloaded stuff just so they could be able to shoot something in training. I am certain there are some hoarded tubs of SA there, but you can bet they stay hoarded and are not broken out for training! Only the SAPS (South African Police Service) guys had good ammo and enough of it. There are no "state" police agencies there, so it is just the local or metro agencies and the SAPS...the feds. Having several friends within the SAPS, I was able to get some late factory ammo to shoot...worked just fine...still smells like cat piss. Rank and file officers may, or may not, depending on which way the political wind is blowing that week, get issued a rifle for on duty use. The LM version is very popular with LE agencies due to the semi auto operation because many newer officers not trained by the SADF (the current SANDF is a whole 'nother animal!) have all the fire discipline of the average Afghani militiaman...can you say "spray and pray"?

Concensus among the actual shooters there...and there are many...is that the R4 series guns are tough and extremely reliable if even halfway maintained, but they do not lend themselves well to upgrades for the type of tactical gear we now take for granted in police and military work, such as optical sights, lights, lasers, etc. There are at least two companies there doing some upgrades to these rifles for the few agencies who can afford it and whose leadership is able to understand the "why" of the mods. I was able to visit one of them for a couple of hours and see what they are doing. Using short pieces of rail, they are attaching either SureFire...very expensive over there...or Streamlight weapon lights and are using a very small, compact battery operated red dot optic mounted well forward...can't recall the brand right now, but will look through my notes later. It worked well in the shop, but I never shot it. Let us just say that there is a market there for a sight which operates in this manner, but it damned sure better be tough and theft-proof. The Galil stocks are shorter and use metal rather than plastic so are better suited to further shortening if needed, and some are being used there for this reason on CQB guns. They all want M4's! Hah!

The polymer magazines are not well liked there and I saw many split and cracked at both the front and rear of the feed lips, Some still worked and others did not. The serious guys I talked to will only use the metal mags...35 rounders preferred...and usually have managed to procure their own. Interestingly, in SA the barrel is serial numbered and is considered to be "the firearm", not the receiver as is the case here. I saw a couple of R5s and several AKs that had been confiscated from felons and they were, without exception, in crappy shape, but all allegedly still worked...at least two did for sure since we shot a couple of them.

No such thing as "high performance" ammo other in police service there except for a few WW Black Talons in use for some 9mms. Pretty much hardball for handguns (virtually all 9mm) and mil-spec stuff for rifles. Shotguns are another story unto themselves, but SG (about like #00) and SSG (about #3 Buck sized) are widely used. There have also been quite a few FALs brought back into service for use by Freeway Units against vehicles as the 5.56 does a poor job they say. (Remember, you don't sue the SA cops or agencies, and they still regularly shoot drivers and vehicles to stop them there...done every day) The FALs I saw...some dozen or so...were all folding stock carbines with barrels cut to about 11-12 inches and are used with standard SA 145gr. ball. Having personally viewed the results of one such freeway incident involving two officers and four robbers, I can say they work very well indeed for this use.

While I do not want this to turn into a political discussion on SA, I will add that on 1 July 2004 their new Firearms Act went into effect, and it is an absolute draconian nightmare, obviously "aimed" at eventual total disarmament of the population. It remains to be seen just how willing the South Africans...black, white and colored alike...are to actually BE disarmed. I think there are some surprises in store, myself...I do not see any surplus stuff coming out of there for a long time...if ever again.
Link Posted: 10/3/2004 5:25:05 AM EDT
Good post, thanks.
Link Posted: 10/3/2004 12:05:57 PM EDT
Wow, nice info, thanks for sharing.[/size=4]
Link Posted: 10/4/2004 4:00:36 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 10/4/2004 4:00:59 PM EDT by BlackRifleJihad]
Thanks for the info, I'll be heading to the horn of africa shortly.

Link Posted: 10/4/2004 4:47:07 PM EDT

Watch your six, brother! I am not kidding about things never being just what they seem...never. Very dangerous place, but it can lull you to be careless if you let it. Remember, "African Time" makes south of the border look positively lightening fast!

Link Posted: 10/15/2004 7:07:08 PM EDT
Mike can you get any literature or parts out of South Africa?


Link Posted: 10/16/2004 4:42:43 AM EDT

Originally Posted By jyuzamas:
Mike can you get any literature or parts out of South Africa?



Replied to your IM on this, as well.

I can probably get the literature from Vektor, but you should be able to do that as well. Parts is a whole 'nother can of worms. SA has adopted the UN "Disarm Them All" policy and shipment of firearms parts is not as easy or simple as throwing something in a box and sending it off. That can get you some time in the shower with guys named "Mongo" and "Bubba"...on both sides of the big water, since sending most firearms parts from here to there is also a big no-no. (Check out the US State Dept. site for more info...they have a list about a mile long that cannot be shipped without Government approval...and they have a very BAD sense of humor if you manage to violate the rules!)

The US just recently cleared SA to allow weapons sales from there to the US, but I think you will find that this means only authorized dealers and most probably stuff like grenade launchers (Vektor just finished a redesign on a really nice belt fed model) machineguns and bigger stuff...not surplus rifles or handguns nor "parts kits". Should you manage to find yourself in SA in person, do NOT try and sneak anything out! Trust me...you do NOT want to find yourself in a South African prison! They...errrr..don't operate quite like we do over here!
Link Posted: 10/17/2004 12:57:14 AM EDT
Link Posted: 10/18/2004 1:35:20 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Lumpy196:
Thanks Ikor

You're welcome!

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