02 November 2023

Reconstruction and Modern Times

The restructuring of "Łucznik" into two separate companies - civilian and military - was a turning point in the history of the factory. The accompanying bankruptcy put its assets in the hands of a receiver who began selling them to satisfy the claims of creditors. This greatly affected the fate of the sewing machine manufacturing company, which, operating under the name "Aspa Electro," increasingly struggled to stay competitive in the market. As a result, the trademark "Łucznik" was sold to a private investor. Although machines bearing that name continued to be sold, their production became less and less connected to Radom.

The fate of the company responsible for production for the Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs took a different path. On June 30, 2000, before the declaration of bankruptcy, Zakłady Metalowe "Łucznik" and the Industrial Development Agency formed a company called Fabryka Broni "Łucznik" – Radom. This name was a clear testament to a return to the traditions dating back to the interwar period. Two years later, the company became part of the "Bumar" Group, established by the Council of Ministers, which aimed to rebuild Poland's military potential.

The reconstruction process, which involved significant financial investments, was prepared for the long term. For the Radom-based factory, the choice of a location to continue weapon production was a crucial factor determining its success. Although Fabryka Broni purchased historical facilities and land from the receiver in autumn 2004, their continued use became increasingly problematic due to the inability to provide adequate security. This led to the decision to build a completely new facility. In August 2012, the Industrial Development Agency and the "Bumar" Group signed an investment agreement, laying the foundation for the construction in the Tarnobrzeg Special Economic Zone "Euro-Park Wisłosan," which benefited from significant tax incentives. The investment project began in November of that year and was ceremoniously opened on July 1, 2014. With an investment exceeding 100 million PLN, a complex of buildings was created, including production halls, laboratories, and a shooting range, widely regarded as the most modern facility of its kind in Europe. The construction involved the acquisition of a modern machine park and the implementation of new production technologies. This allowed the factory to offer a wide range of products, strengthening its position as a global firearms manufacturer.

The foundation of its production remains the wz. 96 "Beryl" carbine and the "Mini Beryl" carbine, which are standard equipment for Polish soldiers. They are produced in Radom in numerous variants, including those with optical, night vision, and collimator sights. These weapons are continuously modified, resulting in the development of the "Beryl" wz. 2004 and the introduction of a version with an adjustable stock, a semi-transparent plastic magazine, ergonomic pistol grip and foregrip, enlarged manipulator levers, and a set of universal mounting rails in 2009. In addition to the Polish Armed Forces, a relatively small quantity of "Beryl" carbines is also used by the Lithuanian Armed Forces. In 2015, Nigeria purchased a batch of 1,000 units.

The constant and highly dynamic changes in the battlefield observed worldwide led the government to initiate studies on the future individual combat system called "Tytan" to provide Polish soldiers with the best possible equipment. As part of this initiative, Fabryka Broni "Łucznik" in Radom and the Special Construction Department of the Institute of Armament Technology at the Faculty of Military Mechatronics of the Military University of Technology in Warsaw began developing a construction called MSBS (Modułowy System Broni Strzeleckiej - Modular Small Arms System), which, in the future, is expected to complement and eventually replace the "Beryl." The idea behind the MSBS is to create a carbine in two versions - a traditional one and a bullpup design - with common components including the bolt chamber, barrel, and breech. This entirely Polish design allows for quick configuration changes depending on the soldier's needs, transforming it into a grenade launcher, light machine gun, or a carbine with enhanced accuracy. The competition for a "common" name for the MSBS, conducted in one of the specialized shooting magazines, was won by the proposal "Radon" (sometimes also referred to as "Rawat"). The carbine received very high ratings from users. In 2014, Fabryka Broni in Radom prepared a special extended series of the carbine with a bayonet, which was provided to soldiers of the Representative Battalion of the Polish Armed Forces.

In addition to carbines, Fabryka Broni "Łucznik" – Radom also offers two submachine guns - PM-98 and PM-06 - intended for equipping heavy combat vehicle crews, reconnaissance units, as well as counterterrorism and police groups.

They are characterized by lightness, reliability in challenging operating conditions, and solutions that allow for the installation of a laser target indicator or halogen flashlight. The PR-15 "Ragun" semi-automatic pistol is a personal weapon designed for soldiers and officers of the State Police, Prison Service, Border Guard, and other formations. It is intended for combat and self-defense at short distances (up to 50 m) and stands out for its low weight, small dimensions, good maneuverability, and a high level of safety. Its effectiveness can be enhanced by adding tactical lighting or a laser target indicator. The standard service weapon for police officers is the P-99 "Walther" semi-automatic pistol, which has also been adopted by uniformed services and personal security personnel. It was designed in Germany and after acquiring the license, it was first assembled and then produced, including a modified version called "Rad," in Radom. It gained recognition thanks to its high level of safety, the ability to quickly fire the first shot, and a large magazine capacity. The PPS pistol also has similar advantages.

The range of products from factory is completed by firearms intended exclusively for the civilian market. The first place in this category is occupied by the "Radom-Sport" rifle, which is produced in two versions, featuring a long range and high shooting accuracy. The BRS 00 FX kit, which uses paint-filled projectiles instead of live ammunition, is also intended for training and sports purposes.

The described offer of the Radom plant has established its position as a well-established global firearms manufacturer for a long time. Its financial condition is improving year by year, which translates into an increase in employment. The most significant manifestation of the expansion of the Radom Weapons Factory was the establishment of a company in the United States, which aims to sell its products on the American civilian market and potentially supply the military and law enforcement agencies. The results of these efforts will certainly be evident in the near future.

Dr. Sebastian Piątkowski

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