Eight Models of Heavy Caliber Anti Material Rifles produced by Houthies in Yemen

Introduction

After the Houthi and former Republican Guards of the former president “Ali Abdullah Saleh” took over “Sana’a” (the Yemeni Capital), The Yemeni Official TV released a video report introducing 8 different models in a local firearms exhibition in 2017.

Various models of heavy caliber rifles had been lined up for a show in Sana’a – note Zul-Faqqar rifle in the center of the pic

Later, Houthies assassinated their ally “Ali Abdullah Saleh”  and manipulated all of the Yemeni Capital “Sana’a” after he shifted against them offering talks to the Saudi side which leads a coalition against Iran’s expansion in MENA region.

To give you an idea of what’s going on there, a military intervention was launched by Saudi Arabia in 2015, leading a coalition of UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan supported by limited involvement from the U.S.A., U.K., Australia, Turkey, Canada & NATO.  This was done to influence the outcome of the Yemeni Civil War in favor of the government of President “Abd-Rabbuh Mansour Hadi” against the Houthis (Shiite Yemeni Pro-Iran Tribes; who are allegedly supported by Iran, Hezbollah and North Korea).

Houthi’s  Ministry of Defense (backed up and supported by Iranian experts and machinery) has declared that they have locally designed and manufactured Eight different models of sniper and anti-material rifles (even a 30mm anti-material recoilless rifle).  There are some interesting variances.  Some models adopted a mechanical trigger and others use an electric trigger to operate.  Some of these rifles are clones of western designs and there are others are newly designed.  We will try to take an in-depth review of these rifles and the threat it makes especially to the coalition forces.

ASHTAR 14.5x114mm

Ashtar 14.5x114mm Heavy Caliber Rifle as shown in the exhibition

Ashtar ( أشترin Arabic) is intended to serve as anti-personnel, anti-armor/material and low altitude air defense (possibly against low-speed roaming helicopters), they claim that it has a range up to 3000 meters, but the tactical effective range of the 14.5x114mm round is usually up to 1800 meters only.

The weapon is really huge and heavy, it comes with an overall length of 2120mm (83.46 inches) and weighs 28 kilograms (61.72 pounds) which makes it very heavy for maneuvering but that weight is very useful to absorb the recoil of the rifle caused by such a huge caliber.

Ashtar is a single shot bolt action rifle using a mechanical trigger which appears to be very simple design. An adjustable bipod is attached to barrel for facilitating an operator’s aiming and a monopod in the rear for more stable shooting and more protection from the recoil.

A picture showing Ashtar anti-material rifle and stating it’s technical data

Technical Data as shown :

  • Caliber : 14.5x114mm
  • Action : Bolt Action, Single Shot
  • Max. Range : 3000 meters
  • Effective Range : 1800 meters
  • Weight : 28 kg (61.72 lbs)
  • Overall Length : 2120mm (83.46 in)

Hassem 20mm

Hassem anti-material rifle shoots an explosive projectile to 1300 meters range

Hassem (In Arabic حاسم) means Decisive, this rifle is a unique design in which it uses an electric trigger to shoot a 20mm explosive projectile, it is also intended to be used as an anti-personnel, anti-armor and material and low altitude anti-aircraft. Unfortunately, there are not many close-up pictures available for the shooting mechanism.

Technical data for Hassem Rifle as stated :

  • Caliber : 20mm
  • Action : Electric Trigger – Single Shot
  • Max. Range : 2500 meters
  • Tactical Effective Range : 1300 meters
  • Weight w/ Tripod : 28 kg (61.72 lbs)
  • Overall Length : 2240mm (88.18 in)

Khatef 12.7mm

In Arabic, Khatef خاطف literally means hijacker or quick-picker but In this case, the meaning behind the name is Reaper.

Khatef 12.7mm in action from official Yemeni TV-note the huge bolt handle

Khatef 12.7mm in action from official Yemeni TV-note the huge bolt handle

A very simple design of bolt action single shot .50 cal. rifle with a heavy barrel and a huge bolt handle, rugged but reliable design.

As expected for .50 cal. rifle, this one is intended to be used as anti-personnel and anti-material only. Unfortunately, there is not enough info about which 12.7mm is the round; is it 12.7x99mm (.50 BMG) or the Russian 12.7x108mm.

The rifle weighs 14 kilograms which makes it heavy, but still easy to handle and maneuver and also controllable during firing as a result of the heavy barrel.

Technical Data as shown :

  • Caliber : 12.7mm
  • Action : Bolt Action – Single Shot
  • Range : 1500 meters
  • Weight : 14 kg (30.86 lbs)
  • Length : 1600mm (62.99 in)

Qasem 30mm

Technical Data as shown :

  • Caliber : 30mm
  • Action : Electric Trigger – Single Shot
  • Range : 5000
  • Weight : 75 kg (165 lbs)
  • Overall Length : 2320mm (91.33 in)

Qasem  قاصم which means a hurricane is a 30mm anti-material rifle (or you can call it a hand cannon if you like), this shooting device is electrically triggered, using aircraft cannon ammunition which is a massive payload compared to smaller diameter projectiles. The caliber used is most likely the Russian round 30x165mm which can be taken from former Yemeni Air Force stocks (who used Russian made jet fighters) or supplied easily, direct from Iran. The round is 390g (13.75 oz) explosive projectile.

This weapon imparts extensive collateral damage, as the shrapnel from detonating shells are sufficient to damage aircraft within a 200-meter radius from the impact center (including the cannon operator if exploded less than 200 meters from him)

The weapon, including a tripod which is crucial for operation, weighs 75 kilograms (165 lbs) and makes this weapon heavy to handle and maneuver by a single operator.  It has a great effect when ambushing in terrain like Yemeni’s to lay and aim at very high-value targets, it can also be moved and deployed to a distance where it can target opponents’ fortifications from a range further than the firing range of the defending/stationed forces.

Zul-Faqqar 1 & 2

Zul-Faqqar  ذو الفقار stands for the double-bladed sword which Arabs used in the old ages.

Once you look at these rifles, you might think they are recoil-less guns due to the appearance of the rear exhaustion nozzle which exists in guns like SPG-9 (a Soviet 73mm Anti-Tank recoil-less rifle) but when you take a deeper look on those designs you will find that they are stock-less heavy caliber single shot rifles.

The rifle still has a recoil damping system to absorb the massive energy produced by shooting such a heavy round.

Zul-Faqqar 2 consumes 23mm aircraft auto cannon ammunition

Zul-Faqqar 2 consumes 23mm aircraft autocannon ammunition

Both versions are identical in design, operation and overall length, the different feature is the caliber (Zul-Faqqar 1 shoots 23x115mm Russian short cannon round while Zul-Faqqar 2 uses the larger ZU-23 round 23x152B). This wide difference between the two rounds caused Zul-Faqqar 2 to be 37kg heavier (81.57lbs) as Zul-Faqqar 1 weighs only 25kg (55.11lbs) which makes it easier to handle in guerilla warfare conditions.

This difference also affects the maximum range and implementation, as the first version is intended to be used against personnel and armor, the second is intended to be low-altitude, anti-aircraft in addition of the previous uses.

The released video also showed scenes from the manufacturing process which we will be displaying here to take a better view on this rifle.

Assembling the recoil absorption damping springs

Assembling the recoil absorption damping springs

A close view on the recoil damping system which is linked to the barrel and rifle’s chassis

A close view on the recoil damping system which is linked to the barrel and rifle’s chassis

Welding process, probably for scope rails

Welding process, probably for scope rails

Filing and smoothing the sharp edges of the trigger – note the welded all-metal grip and the trigger guard

Filing and smoothing the sharp edges of the trigger – note the welded all-metal grip and the trigger guard

working on the rear end for a swift and smooth bolt travel

working on the rear end for a swift and smooth bolt travel

Assembling the barrel process

Assembling the barrel process

Operating parts assembled – note the metal chip welded on top for scope rail to be also welded on it

Operating parts assembled – note the metal chip welded on top for scope rail to be also welded on it

A front view for the fully assembled weapon before paint job

A front view for the fully assembled weapon before paint job

After the paint job

After the paint job

The weapon is ready for use

The weapon is ready for use

Zul-Faqqar 1 Technical Data :

  • Caliber : 23mm short
  • Operation : Single-Shot Bolt-Action
  • Range : 2000 meters
  • Weight : 25kg (55.11lbs)
  • Overall Length : 2460mm (96.85 in)

Zul-Faqqar 2 Technical Data :

  • Caliber : 23mm
  • Operation : Single-Shot, Bolt-Action
  • Range : 4000 meters
  • Weight : 62kg (136.68lbs)
  • Overall Length : 2360mm (96.85 in)

Sarmad .50 BMG

This is a typical M82 Barrett, they didn’t bother to change anything except a longer barrel since M82 overall length doesn’t exceed 1400mm (57 in) while Sarmad is 1700mm (66.9 in), the action and even the feeding magazine appear to be no different than the original American rifle, as Iran owns a number of them it’s no surprise that the technology is transferred to their allies in Yemen for reverse engineering.

Technical Data (as shown from the source)

  • Caliber : .50 BMG (12.7x99mm)
  • Operation : Semi-Auto, Recoil-operated rotating bolt
  • Feeding System: 10 rounds box magazine
  • Range : 1250 meters
  • Weight : 13kg (28.66lbs)
  • Overall length : 1700mm (66.9 in)

Sarem 8mm

This is another cloned design from Mauser K98 also with an extended barrel (the Original K98’s overall length is 1110mm vs. 1490mm for Sarem), everything else appears to be carbon copied from the German rifle.

Maybe one of the customized features is mounting a Russian scope on the gun, which can’t be considered a serious modification by any mean.

They claim that the range is 1600 meters but effectively and considering the longer barrel it can be 1200 meters to be realistic.

Sarem’s name came from the Arabic word صارم which is means “sharp cutting sword”.

Technical Data :

  • Caliber : 8mm (7.92x57mm)
  • Range : 1600 meters
  • Operation : Bolt-Action
  • Feeding System : 5 rounds stripper clip ,integral magazine
  • Weight : 4kg (~9lbs)
  • Overall Length : 1490mm (58.66 in)

We hope that we provided our readers with a useful review for these newcomers in the global armament.

CONTINUE READING HERE

Originally posted on The Firearm Blog