The Turkish Army hasn’t been getting the best press for the last couple of weeks. Right now it’s firmly linked to the recent failed coup against Islamist strongman Recep Erdogan, and a savage purge of the senior ranks is underway. This all seems a bit negative, so just to balance it out here’s something else about the Turkish Army: they have a pretty nice new rifle.
For the last few decades, Turkey has mostly used the Heckler & Koch G3, which they made under license, along with a few thousand G1 FN FALs they got from Germany in the 1960s. These classic rifles are getting pretty worn out though, so in the late 1990s the Turks decided to go for a replacement. Turkey doesn’t traditionally have much in the way of weapons design expertise, so they’ve usually bought off the shelf before, but they are getting more ambitious and this time felt it would be nice to start with someone else’s design, but modify it to suit themselves.
The first rifle they came up with was an AR-15 derivative called the Mehmetçik-1. This is basically the equivalent of the British Army calling its new rifle the Tommy Atkins, but never mind. In 2008 a few hundred lucky Mehmets got their new rifles issued for troop trials, and as soldiers do they immediately started complaining.
Turkey is a pretty big place and there’s a huge variety of terrain in and around its borders – everything from forests and large urban areas to deserts and mountains. The ideal rifle would be light and handy enough for close quarter battle, but also have enough long-range punch to hold its own in the open spaces. The Mehmetçik-1 was definitely handy enough, but the troops didn’t think its 5.56mm NATO round had the guts for longer distances.
This isn’t exactly an unfamiliar complaint from soldiers; the amazing thing is that the Turkish generals actually listened to them. The designers were told to go away and come back with something in 7.62mm NATO, and that’s exactly what they did.
Government-owned arms maker MKEK started out with the basic design of the HK417, so the layout of the MPT-76 – also called the Mehmetçik-2 – is familiar to anyone who knows the AR platform. The safety/selector lever and mag release are both ambidextrous, which is a nice touch. MKEK have also come up with their own collapsible stock design. This is incredibly robust and has no less than twelve positions; numbers along the top of the buffer tube make it easy to find your own preferred stock length. It’s possible to get much longer reach than with most AR-style rifles, and the locking mechanism is also very solid.
There’s a full-length 1913 rail integral to the top of the weapon, and the sides of the fore end are tapped so additional rails can be screwed on; as standard it comes with a short section on each side, ideal for aiming aids. The underside has another integral rail. A short, curved polymer handguard is usually fitted to this; it fills in the corner between the magazine well and the lower rail, giving a comfortable grip. It can also be slid forward to suit your preferred hold, and again it locks firmly in position. Of course it can also be removed, leaving space for a grenade launcher or other accessories.
Practically any optical sight can be fitted to the MPT-76, and it also has integrated fold-down iron sights, which are similar to those on FN’s SCAR series. A carry handle can be fitted to the top rail; it has large cut-outs so the iron sights can still be used.
Right now the only user of the MPT-76 is the Turkish Army, who plan on replacing their huge stock of G3A4s over the next few years. MKEK are working on a semi-automatic civilian version though, and there’s a strong possibility it will hit the US market in the next couple of years. That’s going to be good news for anyone who wants a rock solid, and relatively affordable, AR-10 style rifle with a piston gas system.
Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.