Modern Firearms - Vektor CR-21
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Vektor CR-21 assault rifle (South Africa)

CR-21
CR-21

 

CR-21 - another view
CR-21 - another view

 

CR-21 with the 40mm Vektor grenade launcher
CR-21 with the 40mm Vektor grenade launcher

 

CR-21 disassembled into major components
CR-21 disassembled into major components

 

CR-21 1X optical sight with aiming reticle shown at left
CR-21 1X optical sight with aiming reticle shown at left

 

 

Caliber: 5.56x45mm
Overall length: 760 mm
Barrel length: 460 mm
Weight: 3,8 kg loaded
Magazine capacity: 20 or 35 rounds
Rate of fire: 650-700 rounds per minute
Effective range: 500 meters

 

The CR-21 assault rifle (CR-21 stands for Compact Rifle for 21st century) was developed by the Vektor, a small arms division of the DENEL corporation of South Africa. The rifle was first displayed on public in 1997, and is intended to replace in service with South African National Defense Forces (SANDF) the"old fashioned" Vektor R4 and R5 assault rifles (license-built  Galil ARM and SAR rifles of Israeli origin). The Vektor designers selected an interesting way to produce a new rifle. They simply stripped the R4 rifles ou tof all furniture, and the remaining receiver with the barrel and all actionin side enclosed into the futuristic-looking bullpup housing, made of moder nplastics. This decision saved a lot of time and money, otherwise required to develop and produce a new action, and also allowed to remanufacture existing stocks of the "old" R4 rifles into the "new" CR-21 bullpup rifles. On the other hand, the use of existing action of "traditional"origin imposed some design limitations. For example, CR-21 has no provisions forthe left-hand spent cases ejection, since this will require a serious redesign of the original R4 receivers and bolt groups. The fire mode selector also remained on its "original" place and is not comfortable to operate when gun is shouldered. But, in general, this is not an unique decision - for example, Russia developed some Kalashnikov-based bullpup rifles, which also have no left side ejection, and, furthermore, some bullpup rifles, designed from the scratch, also limited to the right-hand use only - for example, British  L85A1 or Singaporean SAR-21

Another advantage of CR-21 is that it inherited all the reliability and strengths of the original AK-47 / Galil design, combined with improved balance, ergonomics and advanced sighting equipment. It seems that this design will be successful in its service with SANDF. It is also interesting to note that the CR-21 is relatively light, despite the fact that it has a complete and relatively large receiver, milled from steel block.

Technical description.
 The CR-21 is a gas operated, selective fire, magazine fed rifle of bullpup layout.

The receiver, with the long piston stroke gas drive and rotating bolt, is taken from the R4 /  Galil ARM rifle, and thus for general description of functioning please refer to the  AK-47 article

The firearm housing is made from strong plastic and consist of lower part withthe integral pistol grip and a magazine housing, and the upper part with theintegral buttpad.

The fire controls of CR-21 consist of the separate safety switch (a cross-bolt type button) at the front of the triggerguard, and the ambidextrous fire mode selector, located at the rear part of the housing, near the buttpad. The trigger is linked to the trigger mechanism by long link. The cocking handle is located at the left side of the gun, above the forend, and does not reciprocate when gun is fired.

The sights of the CR-21 are mounted on the receiver, and are of reflex type,with 1X magnification and an illuminated reticle. The reticle consists of two horizonta lmarks and the inverted V-shaped center mark, that allows for faster target acquisition.Illumination is achieved using light-gathering, fiber-optic device at the top of the sight, and requires no batteries to operate. The sight can be quickly dismounted and remounted on the rifle, with no re-zeroing required.

CR-21 can be equipped with the 40mm underbarrel grenade launcher of the South African manufacture.