The war in Ukraine is in its sixth month and shows no signs of slowing down. Today, we’ll take a peek at the weapons used by the Ukrainian special forces.
Like a lot of former Soviet bloc countries, Ukrainian special forces’ tactics, equipment, and even special operations forces are very Russian. This also applies to their names, with units like Spetsnaz and Alpha group existing in both Russia and Ukraine. Ukraine has had a bit of a western influence as of late, and that’s even beginning to show with its small arms.
The Backbone of the Ukrainian special forces – Assault rifles
While the Ukrainian special forces are modernizing, they do retain a large number of small arms from Russia. The main rifle of the Ukrainian military is the AK-74 series. These 5.45x39mm assault rifles provide a very reliable and controllable platform. The smaller 5.45 caliber provides softer recoiling rounds with less muzzle rise.
The AK-74 is very easy to control and well suited to the cold environments of Ukraine. The long-stroke gas-piston system works very well in cold environments that make up a large portion of Ukraine. The Ukrainian special forces outfit these rifles with the latest in modern accessories. This includes Eotech optics, backed by 3X magnifiers. They often use M4-style stocks, rial systems, lights, and suppressors.
When you need an ultra-short platform in the AK world, the AKS-74U, aka the Krink, is the way to go. This ultra-short platform fires the 5.45 cartridge from an 8.1-inch barrel. This platform excels for use inside vehicles, armor, and for extreme close quarters. Ukrainian special forces seem to use them only for specific situations, and these fire-breathers are armed with suppressors.
These ultra-short designs lose lots of range when compared to the AK-74, and it’s why they are rarely used and are niche weapons. The AKS-74U wouldn’t be a common-use item due to its extreme limitations.
The Fort-221 is a Ukrainian-licensed and -produced assault rifle that hails from Israel where it’s called the 5.56 Tavor. The Fort-221 swapped the caliber to 5.45×39 to make it more appropriate for their current caliber of choice. This is a big step forward in the modernization of the Ukrainian military.
As a bullpup, the weapon places the action and magazine behind the trigger and creates a much more compact weapon without a loss in barrel size. In fact, its overall length is slightly shorter than the AKS-74U with a 15-inch barrel. Ukrainian soldiers wielding the Fort-221 have a very compact rifle that’s quite capable at all infantry ranges.
Related: Is the service rifle of the future a bullpup?
The Fort-224 took the Fort-221 and shrank it into a submachine gun platform. It’s the same design as the Fort-221 but chambered in 9mm with a 12.9-inch barrel. The weapon is slightly smaller, and using 9mm makes it easier to suppress while retaining a much shorter barrel. Like the Fort-221, it remains modular and modern.
While the majority of the Ukrainian army utilizes the SVD Dragunov for sniping and designated marksmen roles, the Spetsnaz units of the Ukrainian special forces wield a much more modern weapon. The Zbroyar Z-10 is based on the United State’s own AR-10 and chambers, the 7.62 NATO round.
As an AR-10, it’s incredibly modular and very accurate. Shooters can outfit the weapon with a variety of optics, bipods, lights, lasers, and accessories. Collapsible and fixed stocks are available, as are various barrel lengths and magazine capacities. It’s a precision rifle that’s semi-automatic and offers increased range and accuracy over both the Dragunov and the AK series of rifles.
Related: Weapons and gear of the US military’s top special operators
The Austrian Glock 17 is one of the most popular pistols on the planet. It arms dozens of countries and hundreds of police forces. Its adoption by the Ukrainian special forces is one more notch in Glock’s belt. These pistols are well made, extremely reliable, and very simple. They chamber the 9mm NATO round.
The polymer frame construction and striker-fired design changed the firearm forever. The Glock 17 is one of the top chosen pistols by special operations units around the globe. It’s not a surprise to see them in the hands of the Ukrainian special forces.
The Fort-17 is a new, domestically produced handgun for the Ukrainian special forces and potentially the Ukrainian military as a whole. The Fort-221 chambers the 9x18mm Makarov, which is the standard pistol round for the Ukrainian armed forces.
The Fort-17 features an exposed hammer with a double-action / single-action trigger. The frame appears to be a polymer, and the weapon chambers 13 rounds of 9mm Makarov. Not much information is out there, but the trigger guard appears massive and accommodating to gloved hands.
The machine guns
In terms of light-support weapons, the Ukrainian special forces turned to Israel once more. The Israeli Negev light machine gun became the Fort-401. The Fort-401 is a 5.56x45mm caliber, belt-fed, light machine gun designed to provide squad support. It’s a modern and modular choice that outperforms the automatic rifle-type RPKs in common service.
At a little under 16.8 pounds, the Fort-401 provides plenty of firepower for the Ukrainian special forces. It’s a very reliable weapon designed to work in a variety of different environments, from the harsh deserts of Israel to the frozen Ukrainian landscape.
The Ukrainian special forces are seemingly well armed with an interesting mix of firearms, from the AK series, first built in the 1940s, to the very modern Tavor. This eclectic combination gives them a weapon for almost any task and an ability to fight on any ground.
While I did my best to figure out the weapons of Ukraine’s special forces, I’m sure I missed some. If you know of any I missed, please share them in the comments below.
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Just found this. There are a few pictures floating around out there of UKR Naval Spetznaz using the Sig MCX and MPX but in very low numbers so possibly not worth mentioning. Great writeup nonetheless.
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The responses to this article clearly demonstrates how ignorant Americans are about Ukraine. The country is the center of child trafficking in which children ranging from 18 months old to pre-teens are used as sexual playthings by Europe’s elite after which they are used to make child porn eventually ending with these children being harvested for their organs. Putin has already rescued over 87,000 children who without Russia’s intervention, their fates were already sealed. Ukraine is the undisputed center of money laundering, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars flowing through the country back to the coffers of crooked American politicians through their sons named Hunter. Lastly, as a veteran of the biopharm world, there is never a need to have 36+ underground bio-labs unless the pharmaceutical companies (we all know and love) are actively pursuing the development of some real nasty germs, which Zelinkskky was backing 100%… not to mention that the Ukrainian NAZIs have been shielding the Biden family’s nefarious acts, which proved to be fact after the “Biden Compound”, which is located 35 klicks west of Kiev was raided. During that intercession, over 300 million dollars worth of gold bullion was found stored in underground tunnels beneath Slow-Joe’s compound…. Nothing to hide here folks, just move along!
Bottom line facts: you support Ukraine, you support the destruction of children, the development of DNA specific germ warfare and the total fleecing of America’s wealth by domestic and foreign enemies. You aren’t as effing noble as you may think.
You appear have misplaced your tin foil hat.
Desmond, you are a tyrant beta male, and like all you use manipulation to push your grandiose sense of self agenda. Accuracy is spoken by alpha males who are comfortable in their own skin, we can see and tell the truth with accuracy. Now let’s see how quickly I can destroy your beta male logic. One, we are NOT supporting bidens son or a group of pedophiles you fool, we are talking about a free COUNTRY you pea brained moron, also we are talking about DICTATOR who brainwashes his citizens and kills or locks up anyone in his path who doesnt agree with him. A free country evolving works to solve injustices and corruption through elections and voting. How many Ukrainian kids has Putin murdered so far? Haha he’s the abused kids savior?? Haha you fool. You get me yet moron? How about russian soldiers raping kids in front of their mothers and murdering their parents, Putins saving kids? Hahahaha. Little specks like you on this planet with heads the size of the moon are the cause of injustice, your sad little manipulation of comparing a country to bad individual acts logic is the root of all injustices since the begininHahaha ha. You see your agenda is just arrogant beta male emotions you function on, you little weak coward.
Awesome write-up, thanks for the hard work on this and for serving our country in Afghanistan.
You answered a lot of my questions. It must be challenging for the Ukrainians to stay supplied given so many different calibers. Then again, if you’re using many of the same calibers as your opponents, there’s opportunity there to get resupplied from your adversary after a successful engagement. There is wisdom after all, in the NATO standardization.
Randall, Ft. Lauderdale Fl. USA.
“… frozen Ukrainian landscape.” LOL bro. With all due respect Travis, learn some geography my man! Geography (ge·og·ra·phy /jēˈäɡrəfē/ ) is the science of how to put places in a world around you on a map so you know where it is on a map. You do know what the map is, riiight?
jerry sextom says
I am an American and I completely support. Ukraine
Have heard stories of war crimes in there treatment of Russian speaking combatants from what they have gone through I would not blame them for. Returning the favor
It’s hard but they as a nation will win this struggle
And there treatment of the enemy must be humane and” I believe it is !”
There always. Bad apple s
The fact that the Russian are surrendering in large numbers indicates that the Russian soldiers are not hearing stories of torture and mass shootings stay strong and show the world what men and women of honor are all about
Mooli Erinamu says
Whatever the mind of man can believed and conceive, it can archive, at the end Ukrainian will still get success
Mooli Erinamu says
Always stay focused u will still get success
Mooli Erinamu says
Whatever the mind of man can believed and conceive, it can believed, at the end Ukrainian will still get success
Mooli Erinamu says
With GOD Ukrainian will still get success in the war
george E. Hand IV says
Nice job, Travis…
It’s disappointing to see insults in the post-write forum; honorable men aren’t about that.
I’m sure the Ukrainians would gladly straight to the front when you start talking about how you learned everything you know from CoD
Jay Adams says
Please send more info. Need to know if you have contacts in Ukraine. Have battle plan and strategy that Russia will have no answer for. Need to get there now.
Is this ok with your momma ? Better ask her first –