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SADF Equipment & Specifications

Featured Equipment: The tough R4 assault rifle

The R4 is a superb South African assault rifle developed in 1980 for the South African Army to replace the R1, which was a variant of the FN FAL, and the Heckler & Koch G3s. The R4 was first issued during the early 1980s, and is partly based on the Israeli Galil which in turn was based on the Finnish Rk 62. The Rk 62 was derived from the AK-47. It was manufactured by Lyttleton Engineering Works (LIW).

The R4 makes greater use of a high-impact nylon/glass fibre mix in its construction than the Galil and is generally stronger and larger than the Israeli gun, although it weighs approximately the same. A bipod fitting comes as standard for the rifle, which also has a wire-cutting feature and a bottle-opener (the latter prevents soldiers opening bottles on precision gun components, such as the magazine

receiver lips, and thus damaging them). A further feature is the use of tritium inserts into the sights for night firing. The R4 is at the top of a series of weapons which includes a carbine version, the R5 and the even shorter R6, with its 280mm (1.10in) barrel.

The R4 was issued to all branches of the South African Defence Force, which used the R4 in the Border War.

The R4 was a versatile weapon well-suited to the harsh conditions of northern South-West Africa and Angola.

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Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET

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