While several world powers have embraced the "bullpup" configured assault weapon, it is mainly the United States and Russia who present two major holdovers preferring a traditional rifle arrangement. A bullpup weapon is one that sets the action and feed aft of the trigger unit, allowing most of the weapon's bulk to be concentrated at the shoulder and a full-length barrel to be utilized. While presenting obvious benefits in bringing the gun up to fire quickly and allowing for a more compact form to be achieved, it displays some disadvantages such as awkward reloading, a shortened forend and rear-set center of gravity. The British L85, Belgian P90, French FAMAS and Austrian Steyr AUG come to mind and several other weapon designs have followed suit at an increasing rate.
Introduced in 1994, the OTs-14 "Groza" is a Russian-originated, bullpup-configured assault rifle built upon the successful pedigree that is the AKS-74U assault carbine - an automatic weapon utilizing the classic Kalashnikov action and mimicking the famous AK-47 in its general form - albeit more compact. The Groza represents a major departure from the tried-and-true Kalashnikov "look" and brings about a handier weapon system which has already been trialed across the First (1994-1996) and Second (1999-2000) Chechen Wars as well as actions making up the South Ossetia War (2008) against Georgia. Design of the OTs-14 is attributed to V.N. Telesh and U.V. Lebedev while manufacture of the weapon is provided through the TsKIB SOO bureau.
The OTs-14 carries a unique appearance when compared to previous Soviet-era and modern Russian gun offerings. As expected, the action and feed are set at the rear as part of the shoulder stock. This promotes use of a full-length barrel within a shorter receiver and, thusly, a shortened length can be achieved. There is a carrying handle set about the top of the receiver in the usual way and magazines are curved by design and inserted aft of the pistol grip. The pistol grip is angled ergonomically rearwards and sits under the aft part of the receiver, attached near the trigger which itself is protected by a rectangular ring guard. The barrel protrudes a short distance away from the receiver and can feature an optional vertical forward grip (foregrip). The weapon is cocked and spent casings ejected along the right side of the body. Sights include a standard iron arrangement as well as support for a PO4x34 series scope. The forward portion of the weapon accepts an optional, Russian military standard GP-30 grenade launcher to help increase the tactical value of the rifle. The Groza weighs approximately 3 kilograms and sports a running length of 610mm, its barrel measuring 415mm long. The weapon does not support ambidextrous firing for the ejection port is fixed permanently to the right side of the frame. The result is a useful, short-to-medium range assault system suitable for close-confine fighting in the urban environment.
At the heart of the Groza is the standard Russian 7.62x39mm rifle cartridge to which 30-round magazines are supplied - the same magazines as used in the AK-47/AKM family. The action relies on a gas-operated system with a rotating bolt mechanism (based on the AKS-74U) allowing for a rate-of-fire of 750 rounds-per-minute to be achieved. Muzzle velocity is listed at 300 meters with a maximum engagement range of 500 meters. Selective fire is achieved via an integrated selector.
The ITs-14 has been developed beyond its initial OTs-14-1A "Groza-1" offering to include the OTs-14-1A-01 carbine (with vertical foregrip), the OTs-14-1A-02 special carbine (supporting a suppressor and shorter barrel), the OTs014-1A-93 sniper variant (supporting a suppressor, shorter barrel and mounting for more advanced optics) and the OTs-14-1A-04, a grenadier variant supporting the underslung grenade launcher attachment.
Beyond some other experimental variants, a more distinct form is the OTs-14-4A "Groza-4" as this is chambered for the 9x39mm subsonic cartridge highly suitable for clandestine work, particularly when paired with a suppressor. This version utilizes a shorter 20-round magazine and initially appeared in 1994. As in the Groza-1 family, the Groza-4 has been evolved along the similar lines to include the OTs-14-4A-01 assault carbine, the OTs-14-4A-02 special carbine, the OTs-14-4A-03 sniper variant and the OTs-14-4A-04 grenade launcher-supporting model.
The OTs-14 has been adopted by Russian special forces (SPETSNAZ), paratroopers, army engineering units and government internal security forces.