Croatian VHS-D1 Rifle in Syria

A pro government combatant poses with a VHS-D1 rifle. Photo credit: Ivan Sidorenko

The Convoluted Path in Formation Flows

Photos posted to Twitter show a pro-government fighter in northern Quneitra, Syria, with a Croatian VHS-D1 rifle. These images were first posted to Facebook on August 31, 2013, and March 18, 2014, although the earliest appearance of the weapon appears to be April 8, 2013. The combatant pictured appears to be a Druze militiaman.

There are photos of numerous other fighters posing with a VHS-D1, however no more than one rifle is visible in any picture. The fighters mostly employ a mix of AK type rifles, including Chinese and Romanian variants, as well as FAL, AR-15 and SVD type rifles. Some photos show the fighters with at least one Iranian AM50 anti-materiel rifle. The VHS-D1 is a bullpup self-loading rifle developed by HS Produkt and chambered for 5.56 x 45 mm. It is a comparatively modern design that was developed in the early 2000s, entering military service in Croatia in 2009 alongside the shorter-barrelled VHS-K1. Despite external similarities to the FAMAS series of weapons, its operating design is distinctly different. The weapon pictured appears to be fitted with an ACOG type optical sight, however many visually similar (but functionally inferior) copies of these sights have been documented in Syria and Iraq.

ARES has previously documented VHS-1 series weapons with Kurdish forces in Iraq, with HS Produkt having supplied Iraqi government and Kurdish forces with VHS rifles for testing in 2014. In 2015 it was reported that HS Produkt had signed a contract to export 10,000 of the newer series VHS-2 rifles to Iraq, and that delivery of some of these rifles had already taken place. Whilst it is unclear how the VHS rifle in this picture entered Syria, one noteworthy possibility is that they were transferred through Syrian connections to Iraqi Shi’a militias.

Special thanks to Mathieu Morant. Technical specifications from HS Produkt. Photo credit: hs-produkt

VHS-D1 Rifle
Caliber: 5.56X45 mm
Length: 765 mm ( Overall), 500 mm (Barrel)
Weight: 55 mm, 3.52 kg (Unloaded Standard Frame), 3.54 kg (Picatinny Rail Frame)
Rate of Fire: 860 Rounds per minute
Magazine Capacity: 30 Rounds

This article is reproduced courtesy of Armament Research Services (ARES). See for further original content.