TriCa (TAR Model 3) | Bulgarian flavoured Indian Krinkov
– Praful Kumar
A compact weapon from the OFT appeared on the internet resembling Russian AKS-74U in the early days of 2021. Indian small-arms nerds started analyzing the weapon and verdicts about the weapon were in circulation all over the defence forums. The weapon was given different names and the most popular among them was “BABY TAR”. As we welcome 2022, the weapon has already left its mark after receiving a small batch order from an elite Indian counter-terrorism (CT) unit. Let’s discuss the TriCa or TARSF or TARSU in detail.
So TARSU or TARSF?
TriCa (Trichy Carbine) or TAR-M3 is a gas-operated, magazine-fed, selective fire carbine chambered for the 7.62×39 mm cartridge. It was designed and developed by Ordnance Factory Tiruchirappalli (OFT), a small arms factory under the newly established state-owned defence company, Advanced Weapons and Equipment India Limited (AWEIL). Prototypes of the weapon were made during Q4 of 2020 and it was unveiled in the early months of 2021. The OFT finally launched it in the month of July, 2021. Brief history about OFT, the factory was established by then Prime Minister, late Mrs. Indira Gandhi on July 3, 1966 aftermath, 1965 Indo-Pakistan War to assist Small Arms Factory (SAF), Kanpur, and Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI) in increasing the production of small arms to meet the ever-growing needs of Indian Armed Forces. Currently, OFT is India’s largest small arms manufacturing factory with a wide variety of small and light arms.
Let’s get back to the carbine
What were you doing during the CoViD-19 lockdown? Netflix? Well, the designers at OFT decided to utilize the time and came up with what would become TAR-M3. So from where did the inspiration for the weapon came? The TAR-M3 is actually a carbine version of OFT’s Trichy Assault Rifle (TAR) which makes it the third model (M3) in the series after the TAR (Fixed Butt version) & TAR (Side and Underfolder version). The TAR shares design similarities with Bulgarian AR-M1, while the other versions of the weapon have borrowed features from other Bulgarian rifles. The OFT’s carbine is on the lines of legendary Russian General Kalashnikov’s design, the AKS-74U (chambered for the 5.45×39 mm cartridge), its early Bulgarian clone apart from other 215 mm Barreled Arsenal (all of them are available in 7.62×39 mm & 5.56×45 mm NATO cartridges), and Serbian Zastava M92 (also chambered for the 7.62×39 mm cartridge). All of them are shortened versions of their base rifles. Similarity with other firearms in this particular category isn’t merely a coincidence as Indian small arms designers are well-known for borrowing design features from eastern and western block firearms, i.e. Indian Small Arms (INSAS) family.
So? Now you agree? What, you want more evidence? OK Fine, we’ll explain how the weapon is a Bulgarian-flavoured Indian Krinkov with Data and Facts.
Design & Specifications
The TriCa or TAR-M3 is a medium-calibre carbine package which packs the stopping power of a 7.62×39 mm cartridge in a Submachine Gun (SMG) sized weapon, making it similar to its Russian, Bulgarian and other counterparts in this category. This will help bridge the tactical deployment gap between a submachine gun and a standard-issued full-sized assault rifle. The dimensions of the weapon will allow its use in concealed areas where the operator will have advantages over a full-sized assault rifle. Therefore, the weapon can be used by crews of Armored Vehicles and pilots of Helicopters. Apart from them, the weapon is intended for use with Special Operations Forces (Police & Military) due to its moderately concealable design. It has undergone a series of successful tests at the OFT. Although unofficially, Army also tested the weapon with an impressive performance of no stoppage in 2,000 rounds from different prototypes. Like its counterparts, it also has disadvantages like reduced range, less reliability, and less accuracy. But the design (shortened operating mechanism) increases its cyclic rate of fire in auto-mode, the cartridge performance (7.62×39 mm cartridge performs better from a shorter barrel than a 5.56×45 mm NATO cartridge), and one gets a PDW in Rifle-Calibre.
Barrel, Furniture & Magazine
➣ As the weapon is a compact version of TAR, they’ve chopped the barrel length down from 16.3 inches(of TAR) or 414 mm to 8.3 inches or 212 mm. This should put the barrel length of TriCa in-between Russian AKS-74U and Bulgarian 215 mm (barrel length) series of rifles or carbines. The barrel is chromium-plated for longer life. The designers at the OFT have solved the problem of excessive barrel heating by using internal metal reflectors and the weapon can fire up to four magazines of 30 rounds each without its barrel getting heated up. It has a right hand side metal folding stock with a shoulder pad at the end. It is fed by a 7.62×39 mm 30-round box magazine. The magazine as well as other furniture like pistol grip, upper and lower handguards are made with FRP (Fiberglass Reinforced Polycaproamide). It also has Picatinny Rails for various types of optics, flashlight and other accessories. They’re present on the dust cover, lower handguard, and if required a small rail can be fitted on each side of the handguard.
Receiver, Weight & Iron Sight
➣ Due to heavy Bulgarian influence on its base rifle, the TriCa also has a hot-die forged Milled-Receiver. Weapons featuring a milled receiver are generally heavier than weapons with a stamped metal sheet-made receiver. They are also more reliable, durable, slightly more accurate, and have more service life. The weight of the weapon is 3.1 kg (with an unloaded magazine). The front iron sight is fixed upon the gas port block and the rear sight is flip-up in nature with 100 and 175 m markings.
Muzzle Booster on the Yugoslav Model 92 (top) and Bulgarian AKS-74U (Bottom).
Operating System & Fire Selector
➣ The TriCa has a long-stroke gas system with a piston-driven rotating bolt just like the other Indian small arms like Amogh, JVPC (we did an article on the PDW, it’s available here), its base rifle (TAR) and Insas Family. The small dimensions of the carbine required designers to reduce the size of the gas piston operating rod. They also added a new gas port block with AK-74U/AKS-74U type muzzle booster to provide the extra propellant gas for the proper functioning of the system. This in-turn also helped in reducing some of the muzzle blast and noise. It has a conventional AKM pattern fire-selector on the right side of the weapon as well as a Bulgarian-styled left-hand side fire-selector lever on the pistol grip. This makes the carbine ambidextrous in nature. The cyclic rate of fire in auto-mode is close to 650 rounds per minute (rpm).
TAR Family | TEAM ALPHA DEFENSE ™
Ammunition Data (DoO 7.62 mm A-7 Mk-2 Ball)
TriCa impressed NSG
Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA)’s elite Counter-Terrorism special forces unit, National Security Guard (NSG) have recently placed an order for 100 units of the OFT’s TriCa. According to Officer-In-Charge (OIC) of OFT, Mr. Rajiv Jain, many of the states currently dealing with naxal insurgency have shown interest in the carbine. It’s to be noted that Trichy Assault Rifle, or TAR, is already in-service with many Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) and state police forces. Thus, ordering the weapon won’t be a logistical problem for these forces in terms of the ammunition considering the weapon can interchange magazines with existing AKM pattern rifles and TARs. Also, TriCa is going to cost less than the already cheap Trichy Assault Rifle and instead of importing a foreign carbine, security forces can induct the weapon saving the precious foreign exchange currency.
Enough talk, time for a meme
“With IPPRL’s AK-203i contract, which was signed recently, Indian Army should look to induct the TriCa as they’ve failed several times over the past decade in acquiring a suitable carbine. The NSG order for the weapon, although small, will attract more forces under MoHA towards it. Merci.”
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