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Vietnam has upgraded Kalashnikov AKM under the name STL-1A

Vietnam`s defense industry has upgraded the Kalashnikov-derivate STL-1A 7.62 mm assault rifle, a Vietnamese military source told TASS. The STL-1A is a locally made copy of the renowned Kalashnikov AKM assault rifle. The STL-1A has received an attaching lug for the M203 40 mm under-barrel grenade launcher (UGL), new plastic handguard, folding buttstock, ergonomic pistol grip, and updated muzzle brake.

Viertnam has upgraded Kalashnikov AKM under the name STL 1A assault rifle 925 001
STL-A1 assault riffle, modernized AK-74/AKM assault rifle, with AK-74M muzzle break and folding stock, along with the 40mm M203 grenade launcher style. (Picture source

"Since the early 2000s, the People`s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) has been searching for a new organic firearm. A Kalashnikov-type assault rifle is the best option as its gas-operating scheme is the most reliable one and can be used in hot and wet climate in an effective manner. Along with the manufacturing of the Israeli-originated Galil 31 ACE assault rifle under license, the local industry is considering modernization of previously developed Kala[shnikov]-type firearms, namely, the AKM-VN and STL-1A," the source said.

The Vietnamese defense industry does not disclose any specifications of the STL-1A. "We convert ageing Soviet-made AKM assault rifles into the STL-1As," an industrial source told TASS. "The Vietnamese military is now receiving the STL-1A," he added.

Vietnam`s new development in the field of small arms resembles the Kalashnikov Group`s (a subsidiary of Rostec state corporation) AK-103 7.62 mm assault rifle. Like the AK-103, the STL-1A has received an AK-74-type single-chamber muzzle break, folding buttstock and polymer handguard. However, the Vietnamese weapon is fed by 30-round metal magazines of the basic AK. The GP-25/GP-34 40 mm UGL has been replaced by the M203 40 mm launcher that is being produced in Vietnam. It should be mentioned that the STL-1A carries a Vietnamese-type side-mounted attaching lug for sights. "The optical or red dot sights with the dovetail mount can hardly be installed," the industrial source said.

Vietnam is planning to upgrade the STL-1A assault rifle. "The modernized variant of the firearm will be designated STL-1B. The updated weapon will be fitted with a Picatinny [MIL-STD-1913] rail interface system (RIS). The RIS will allow an operator to use various optical and electronic sights," the industrial source said.

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