This article was originally posted on Thefirearmblog.com
The Turkish national law enforcement special response teams (Police Special Operations Department, Polis Özel Harekât Dairesi) have recently adopted Accuracy International’s .50 BMG AX50 anti-material rifle according to Aybars, a Turkish defense analyst on Twitter. Mentions of this upcoming sale were made in the early part of June, but recently he posted photos and videos confirming the presence of AX50s within the PÖH response units. One image showed an AX50 being fired with a suppressor mounted, on a shooting rest made by a local Turkish company, Trapmak.
The AX50 is an extremely well made precision rifle. Although most Accuracy International rifles in use by LE/Military forces around the world are of the 7.62x51mm NATO, or .338 Lapua variety, this purchase stands out for the .50 BMG choice in the AX50, especially for a law enforcement entity. The reason behind this is twofold. First of all, much of the militant insurgency that Turkish security forces deal is in the eastern part of the country, with the Kurdish PKK organization. This part of the region is extremely rugged and mountainous, so an extremely accurate, precision long gun would be very useful as support for security operations. Of course, the second reason is most likely due to the expected rise of Kurdish nationalism in the area, and I assume that the rest of the Turkish Military/LE establishment is gearing up to face a possible surge in Kurdish PKK operations.
The choice of a .50 BMG is most likely also due to an operational requirement for penetrating armor, barricades, or fortifications that PKK members might have set up. As evidenced below, the PÖH already has 7.62x51mm NATO semi-automatic and bolt action precision rifles, but these appear to not have been enough for the mission sets that the PÖH are facing.
Of course, this is yet another example of a high functioning unit in Turkey that won’t buy into the countries own armament production, as MKEK just released an anti-material rifle, even chambered in .50 BMG, in May of this year.