The rise of the tank in World War 1 gave rise to the anti-material rifle - specifically the German T-Gewehr of 1918. In the span since World War 1 and World War 2 there proved few anti-tank rifle designs of note and it was not until the height of the Cold War that the system really began to gain significant market traction. While most of these newer designs emerged from long-running powerhouses such as the United States and Russian/the Soviet Union, the nation of Azerbaijan has recently unveiled an indigenous design all their own - the "IST-14.5 Anti-Material Rifle", otherwise known as the "Istiglal" (or "Independence"). Design of the system is attributed to RPE Automatic Lines with production handled by Azerbaijani Defense Industry. Adoption by Azerbaijani forces was recorded in 2008 to which the weapon was publically unveiled in 2009. The capabilities of the Istiglal are not lost to the militaries of the world for the rifle has already been adopted by forces outside of Azerbaijan, these to include Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey. Other nations (including Israel, Ukraine and Russia) have shown interest in this product for their own anti-material needs.
Design of the Istiglal is conventional featuring a long-running barrel assembly, heavy bipod support structure and padded shoulder stock. The receiver is tubular in shape and contains the major internal working components. The weapon is operated by way of a charging handle set to the right side of the body and a pistol grip hold with integral ringed trigger. The five-round detachable box magazine is set ahead of the trigger group in a conventional fashion. A bipod is situated at the end of the receiver proper to which a perforated heat shield extends. From this extends the barrel itself which is capped with an appropriately sized muzzle brake to contend with the vicious recoil inherent in firing such a large cartridge. While optics are optional they are highly required for the system to fulfill its long range potential. Optics are offset to the left side of centerline which provides access to the iron sights to be used as back up should the optics fail. A carrying hand is set to the right side of the receiver near the bipod and useful in relocating the Istiglal to a more favorable firing position. The shoulder stock is adjustable and its hollowed design makes it another grip handle. In addition to the integral bipod assembly, the weapon sports a monopod under the shoulder stock for more support.
The Istiglal is fired in the usual way concerning large anti-material rifles; the firer lays prone with the shoulder stock pressed up to his shoulder. The firing action is of a recoil-operated rotating bolt function while the primary ammunition size is the 14.5x114mm cartridge, a heavy caliber Soviet-era design dating back to World War 2 (1941). Support for the lesser 12.7x108mm Soviet cartridge is also noted though this will be tied to an upcoming anti-material rifle design chambered for that specific round. Being an inherently oversized weapon, the Istiglal can be broken down into two parts for ease of transport, though it remains a large, heavy and cumbersome form regardless (an attribute shared by many weapons of this class). The weapon produces noticeable recoil and much noise when fired though these detrimental qualities are offset to a certain extent by the range and penetrating capabilities of the firearm.
Manufacturing Azerbaijani Defense Industry - Azerbaijan
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