Sunday, February 11, 2018

A look at the new Singapore Technologies Kinetics STK BR18 bullpup rifle

Move over M16. Here comes the BR18.

11 March 2023 update: Books Kinokuniya in Singapore has stocked Pukul Habis. Please visit its main store in Ngee Ann City or Bugis Junction, or check the Kinokuniya online store here. The title should be available via Kinokuniya Malaysia soon. Please enquire with the KL store.
For readers elsewhere, please check the Amazon sites that serve your location. "Look Inside" function on some sites shows sample pages.


For readers elsewhere, please check the Amazon sites that serve your location. "Look Inside" function on some sites shows sample pages.


United Kingdom: Look Inside

USA: Look Inside. When ordering from Singapore, please click on the "Shipping to Singapore?" button. Ignore the "Temporarily out of stock" notice on the page.

This new Made in Singapore 5.56mm assault rifle - its name stands for Bullpup Rifle 2018 - was unveiled at this week's Singapore Airshow 2018.

Developed by Singaporean weapons maker, Singapore Technologies Kinetics (STK), the land systems arm of the Singapore Technologies Engineering group, the BR18 builds on a concept weapon called the Bullpup Multirole Combat Rifle (BMCR), which made its public debut at the February 2014 edition of the biennial airshow held in the city-state.

The prototype BMCR was then touted as "the world's shortest bullpup rifle", with the basic design adaptable for a long rifle and light machine gun variant.

After four more years of research & development and feedback from field trials, the BR18 displays several new features absent on the prototype BMCR.

Chief among these is the cocking mechanism. While the BMCR had a peculiar cocking mechanism that appeared to be a finger trap for unwary or careless firers, the BR18 has a more conventional cocking handle with a flip up/pull back action. A cocking handle is found on the right and left side of the weapon, along with firing selector and the magazine release button which are duplicated on both sides of the rifle. This makes the weapon easy to use whether you are left or right-handed, or to use STK marketing-speak, the BR18 is capable of "fully ambidextrous operations to enhance the solder's warfighting capabilities in urban operations".

The BR18 is said to be ready for full production. The weapon retains many features found on the SAR-21 5.56mm assault rifle, which is the standard infantry rifle fielded by the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). These include the rifle's well-balanced design, sturdy construction and armoured butt which protects the user using composite material which is designed to absorb fragments in the event of a chamber explosion. However, the laser aiming device and 1.5x magnification factory zeroed optical sight embedded as part of the SAR-21 carrying handle are not found on the BR18.

In addition, the BR18 retains the front-facing ejection tube on the right hand side of the weapon, found on the BMCR prototype seen in February 2014. Spent cartridges are ejected forwards through this tube, thus reducing the risk of hot spent brass hitting the face of lefties. The gas regulator is found on the front of the weapon, to the left of the barrel.

The basic BR18 has an overall length of 645mm and weighs in at 2.9kg.

According to STK literature, the BR18 can be adapted as a "Marksman Rifle" and a "Machine Gun Rifle" (an unusual nomenclature). These variants extend the BR18's overall length to 785mm, with the weight of the rifle raised to 3.2kg and 4.0kg respectively.

The BR18's compact size and lightweight would be a boon to soldiers who need to deliver assault rifle firepower while fighting from a confined space. Apart from urban settings, the weapon could potentially appeal to motorised infantry or AIs.

Here's the full data sheet for the STK BR18 bullpup rifle for your reading pleasure.

Firing detail: Close up of the STK BR18 5.56mm assault rifle. Note the front facing cartridge ejection tube and EOTech holographic sight fastened to the picatinny rail as primary sight. The pair of thumb levers (which are also found on the other side of the weapon) are said to be the rifle's firing selector and locking/unlocking mechanism for the charging handle. 

You may also like:
A look at the STK BMCR - the world's shortest bullpup rifle. Click here


Kenneth Kwok said...

Move over M16? Should be move over SAR-21, is it not?

It is good for everyone to get an EOTech or ACOG or MARS sight but how about some flip-up iron sights as backup?

Glad that the P-rails are only at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions, doubt the average soldier would need more than that.

Would like to see the insides and take a few shots but I MRed 2 years ago

Betacha that 10 years from now, some people are still using the SAR-21.

Unknown said...

Bad design

sepecatgr1a said...

A great improvement with the adoption of the more ergonomic M16 / M4 style thumb operated firing selector as used by most modern rifles. The ambidextrous firing selector, bolt catch & mag release is most welcome as 10% of shooters are lefties.

Another great improvement is the reduction in weight to 2.9 kg unloaded. The SAR21 is really heavy at I believe 4 kg ! But I only wonder how rugged & reliable the BR18 will be when operated in the field.

Removal of the totally impractical LAD as installed in the SAR21 is a wise move.

I do not know what optical sights will the SAF adopt. There are a number of excellent sights that have been adopted in large numbers by major armies which come to mind - ACOG, Aimpoint, EOTech, Mepro. The SAR21's non illuminated 1.5X sight with thick black reticule lines which obscure targets at the longer ranges should be totally retired from service.

Curiously , the LMG version is stated to be a closed bolt design. Most LMGs are open bolt designs to prevent cook off.

P rails at the 12 and 6 o'clock positions are the bare minimum. But I guess for the normal SAF rifleman, it will suffice.

Looking forward to the BR18's adoption in the SAF.

AARONQFW said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
sepecatgr1a said...

The SAR21 has a 20 inch barrel while the BR18 has a 14.5 inch barrel and this accounts for some of the weight reduction. Weight reduction has also been achieved by using lightweight polymer composite materials.

Despite concerns ( proven or otherwise ) that the lethality of short barreled ( less than 20 inch ) rifles is much reduced, the trend is towards these shorter barrels for standard rifles issued to infantry.
e.g. M4 - 14.5 barrel , Tavor 16 inch barrel, Thales F90 16 inch barrel.
I believe the main reason for these shorter barrels were to make the rifles as used by the US Army such as the M4 more compact and hence 14.5 inch M4s. However, the US Marines retain 20 inch M16s although this may change.

But bullpups are inherently compact and so IMHO the standard BR18 could have 16 inch (instead of 14.5 inch barrels) as in the Tavor & F90. Shorter barrels mean less muzzle velocity and a 2 to 4 inch difference translates to a significant reduction in velocity and logically in lethality.

The BR18 specs table is probably incorrect since different barrel lengths in reality translate to different muzzle velocities & effective ranges.

Also, the 40 mm LV underbarrel grenade launcher variant is not mentioned.
Hope that the outdated M203 will be replaced with more modern side opening unit which can feed newer longer 40 mm grenades. Also, the 12 o'clock p rail now offers the opportunity to affix a digital fire control with laser range finder for high probability first round hits with more powerful & longer ranged 40 mm munitions.

International Defence Review reported in its Sept 2015 issue that the heavy barreled LMG version will come with 50 round box magazines.

dtay said...

The Tavor x95 has been around for > 5 years now with a variety of barrel lengths, after market triggers that are crisper than the standard trigger and other accessories.

Wonder how the gun really shoots (< 2MOA at 100m) and if the trigger pull for the BR18 is crisp and about 5 pounds.

dtay said...

other questions
1. How would one check the rifle for malfunctions since there is a forward ejecting mechanism obscuring the ejection port?
ie -
a. bolt fully forward, but no bang when trigger is pulled. Could be due to either a bad round or the bolt not holding open when the magazine is empty.
b. bolt is not in battery perhaps due to a round not being properly seated/ cartridge over bolt jamming the gun.
c. bolt fully back as the magazine is empty.

2. Why only 2 pic rails? How about having m lok slots?
3. BUIS (back up Iron sights) deleted?
4. Presumably multi calibre - 5.54, 5.56, 6.8, 7.62x39, ...?
5. No more bayonet lug?

Alan said...

Can you still slide the cheek rest to check the chamber as in the BMCR prototype? Because if not it would be a shame, that was a very neat and clever design feature

Zi'Ang.C said...

The move to a 14.5" barrel in the BR18 is, while, in some quarters a compromise in the effectiveness of 5.56mm ammunition in longer ranged engagements (300m and above), it definitely contributes to reducing the weight of the BR18 and makes it comparable to the M4s used by the US Army (and even Marines!)

The BR18, like recent iterations of 5.56mm rifles, isnt primarily intended for longer-range conventional engagements but urban engagements where weapon handling and volume of fire are primary factors to gaining an upper hand.
**Note the bump in ROF, drop in weight, front grip (P-rails), frontal ejection, these very features the antithesis to the design intent of the SAR21 which itself was intended as an AR15/M16S1/SAR80/SR-88 replacement.

Whether the SAF adopts this as their next mainstay rifle is not for me to say, but it makes clear the pressing need to better equip (our) soldiers for anticipated closer-quarters combat.

In a passing note, higher capacity SAR-esque polymer magazines in the style of the AUG HBAR's 42-round magazine would be a nice addition, ontop of a heavy (free floated) barrel would make the Automatic Rifle variant of the system that bit more loved.

David Boey said...

@alan chokler,
Yes, the firer can slide back the rear upper receiver (i.e. the cheek rest) to access or inspect the chamber, if required.

Best regards,


don Duan said...

- The two thumb levers on either side will most likely create a confusion especially during night operations.
- Bullpup style assault rifles with more massive rear including magazine housing and rifle butt are a hindrance that may make close quarter bayonet fighting very awkward to users.

don Duan said...

5.56 mm NATO rounds may be outdated soon if the US military adopted the 6.8mm SPC Remington rounds,due to lacking in stopping power at ranges above 300 meters as dictated during the recent Ops Daulat in Sabah and Afghanistan campaigns by ATM and US forces respectively.

don Duan said...

5.56 mm NATO rounds may be outdated soon if the US military adopted the 6.8mm SPC Remington rounds,due to lacking in stopping power at ranges above 300 meters as dictated during the recent Ops Daulat in Sabah and Afghanistan campaigns by ATM and US forces respectively.

don Duan said...

It looks like it's already butt heavy even without a fully loaded magazine attached. Where it the center of gravity of this rifle length wise? The barrel would most likely to rise excessively in a single or automatic firing mode and the rounds might hit the firer's chin due to the very short barrel. Very distressing.

The-saviour said...

i do disagree with some comments that the LAD is useless. Given the heavy use of night fighting equipment such as NVG. One might not have already noticed that the only way to fire your weapon accurately with your NVGs down is with the use of a LAD. LAD, especially in an infra red mode is also a useful target designator, provided the adversary isn't at the very same time using his NVG. Thats why its interesting to note that in the BR18 Spec Sheet, reflex sights seems to be a standard accessory, but LAD is not. 3 and 9o'clock Picatinny rails would then be essential to mount the LAD or tactical flashlights, saving the embarrassment of field expedient measures of taping your torchlight to the hand guard. Fun fact is that current SAR21 MMS uses an ITL MARS sight which doubles as a LAD.

dtay said...

The stock LAD on the SAR 21 is not capable of IR.
With a rail mounting system, a LAD (eg Steiner DBAL series) can be attached when necessary and otherwise left off the weapon.

It would appear that the built in LAD on the SAR 21 was deleted on the BR18 as better solutions are available and it was more sensible/ practical not having a LAD in a conscript army