THE NEW RIFLE FROM SINGAPORE: Chartered Industries of Singapore has released its new SAR-21 rifle, designed to replace the M16A1 in the service of the Singapore Armed Forces. It is a bullpup design, and is intended to provide more accuracy than the M16 at a lower weight and shorter length. The SAR-21 is 805mm long (31.7 inches), with a 508mm barrel (20 inches, same as the M16). It weighs 3.95kg without a magazine; a loaded 30-round magazine weighs 0.46kg (about a pound). The barrel twist for the version to be used by the Singapore Armed Forces is 1:12, correct for the original M193 cartridge. (The SS109 cartridge used in the M16A2 cannot be effectively fired from the SAR-21 at ranges beyond 80 meters; those nations that use SS109 cartridges can order the rifle with a 1:7 twist.) The SAR-21 is gas-operated and has a rotary bolt. It fires 450-650 rounds per minute. It can fire semi-automatic or full-automatic, both from a closed bolt. (The light machinegun variant fires from an open bolt to provide increased cooling of the chamber.) The ambidextrous charging handle is on top of the weapon, under the sight rail. Ejection is to the right only. The SAR-21 has a built-in 1.5x scope sight; and a built-in laser aiming device that uses a AA-size battery (which provides four hours of use). Because of the nature of a bullpup weapon (with the bolt almost directly beside the soldier's temple) the rifle has a built in composite blast shield to keep a rupturing chamber from driving metal into the brain of the soldier. The SAR-21 comes in several variants, including:
@ Sharpshooter variant with a 3x scope. (This can be swapped for the standard scope in the field.)
@ M203 variant: a version of the rifle with a modified barrel group can be fitted with an M203 grenade launcher identical to that used by the US Army.
@ Picatinny Variant: This version has a Picatinny rail, allowing it to be fitted with various special sights and scopes for special operations use.--Stephen V Cole