The Shipka was developed to arm a variety of military personnel that would have a need for such a compact weapon capable of voluminous fire. This centered primarily around downed airmen and vehicle crews operating in confined compartments such as those in tanks and armored vehicles. The Shipka was designed in 1996 as a conventional submachine gun system from the Arsenal Corporation of Bulgaria which made for an indigenous weapon at cost. The Shipka was fitted with a conventional blowback/open-bolt operation and fed by a 32-round detachable box magazine chambered for the Soviet 9x18mm Makarov cartridge. Interestingly, the prototype form was chambered to fire the popular German 9x19mm Parabellum round from a 25-round detachable box magazine though this support was obviously dropped in the production design, most likely due to the availability of the Soviet cartridge in this part of the world. Production of the Shipka began in 1999.
The Shipka maintains a unique external shape especially with its long, straight magazine inserted. The polymer pistol grip is angled, smooth and featureless and integrated into the lower rear of the receiver. A collapsible steel wire stock is installed in the rear and folds over the receiver proper. Overall, the Shipka fields a rather elegant design with clean lines. Of note is the thicker forend housing the barrel assembly and serving as a forward handgrip. The magazine is inserted ahead of the polymer trigger unit (protected by a ring). The magazine release catch is just aft of the magazine feed. The barrel protrudes a short distance ahead of the forend casement. Sights are identified at the rear and front of the steel receiver top.
The Shipka sports an empty weight of 2.2 kilograms with a running length of 625mm with the stock extended. With the stock collapsed, this is reduced to 328mm. The barrel itself is 150mm in length. Rate-of-fire is listed at 700 rounds per minute with a muzzle velocity of 1,436 feet per second.
Incidentally, the Shipka is named after Shipka Pass of the Balkan Mountains in Bulgaria. The area was the site of a Bulgarian/Russian victory against Ottoman Empire forces in 1877. Arsenal Corporation maintains a headquarters at nearby Kazanlak.
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