This article was originally posted on Thefirearmblog.com
The independent Turkish small arms company Sarsılmaz has released their first pre-production prototypes of the MPT76 and should soon begin production on their share (10,000 rifles) of the 7.62x51mm NATO MPT76 rifle contract ordered by the Turkish Armed Forces. MKEK has since already been producing MPT76s since 2015(20,000 rifles), and along with Kalekalip (15,000 rifles) will form one of the three companies producing the infantry rifle slated to replace current HK33s in service with the Turkish Armed Forces. Approximately 35,014 (later upped to 45,000) are slated within this contract, but that will certainly not be enough to arm the entirety of the 500,000 plus service men and women currently in the armed forces of Turkey. These MPT76s appear to be making their way to the infantry community, with follow-on contracts to arm the rest of the military in the ensuing years.
In February of 2017 Sarsılmaz signed an agreement with the Turkish MoD for production plans of the rifle and has just now completed prototyping. Although the rifle that Sarsılmaz produces should be identical to the MKE and Kalekalip versions, the company obviously has to undergo a testing process to make sure their production version fits the specifications and is parts interchangeable with the rifles from the other two companies. As a side note, the company is perhaps the oldest currently operating small arms company in the Turkish Republic, having been established in 1880 and is currently run by a fifth-generation family member.
From what we can ascertain at TFB it appears that the whole MPT76 procurement and manufacturing process has drug on for at least the past decade with barely a dent in actually getting the rifle to Turkish forces operating in the eastern part of the country against Kurdish insurgents or even those deployed along the Syrian border. If this were a new design it might be understandable, but the MPT76 is essentially a Turkish copy of the Heckler & Koch HK417. The Special Forces and the elite Turkish cops, the PÖH, still don’t want anything to do with the design, preferring imported foreign small arms instead. In fact, it appears that the MoD is almost more interested in gifting foreign allies (Somalia, Northern Cyprus) and the intelligence service with MPT76s instead of the infantry. This begs the question of whether the Turkish infantry high command even wants the rifle to begin with, possibly preferring the lighter 5.56x45mm HK33s.
“Sarsılmaz” MPT-76 tüfənginin ilk prototipini hazırlayıb.” Azeri Defense, 13 Jan. 2018, az.azeridefence.com/sarsilmaz-mpt-76-tufenginin-ilk-prototipini-hazirlayib/.