By David Crane
defrev (at) gmail (dot) com
November 23, 2009
A company called VBR-Belgium (Van Bruaene Rik – Belgium) has developed a rather interesting and potentially important pistol-format compact PDW (Personal Defense Weapon) system. While it may look like a futuristic movie prop, the VBR-B Compact PDW is arguably the most intelligently-developed PDW weapon/ammo concept to date. So, what’s so intelligent about it?
Well, pretty much everything. First, the VBR-B Compact PDW is a multicaliber (9mm/7.92mm) PDW pistol that utilizes a Glock 17 configuration grip frame that accepts/utilizes Glock 17 (G17) and Glock 18 (G18) pistol magazines (with a capacity of 17-19 and 30-33 rounds of 9mm ammo, respectively, depending on the magazine floor plate used). Smart. As simple as a box magazine is, designing and developing a reliable one is harder than it looks, so why not design a PDW that can utilize the most prolific 9mm Parabellum/9x19mm NATO mags on the planet (Glock 9mm mags) that also happen to be some of the most reliable mags out there? Glock’s already done all the work for you, and there’s a ready supply of the mags out there on the market. This also allows you to carry a Glock 17 or Glock 19 as a secondary weapon and enjoy magazine compatibility between either Glock pistol and the VBR PDW, provided your spare loaded magazines are G17 (17-19 rounds) or G18 (31-33 rounds) mags.
Second, the VBR-B Compact PDW can be carried on the hip 24/7 just like a standard military pistol, albeit a large pistol, and thus act as a true military or law enforcement combat/duty pistol replacement. This is a feat that even the relatively compact HK MP7A1 PDW (a weapon we like and have enjoyed shooting) can’t realistically accomplish. Remember, this was the original goal of the military PDW concept–to give tank crews, rear-echelon troops, support personnel, and pilots a pistol-sized weapon that they could carry with them at all times and that would allow them to engage and combat assault rifle-wielding enemy troops at ranges of approximately 100-150 yards out. Like a modern, backwards-compatible multicaliber version of the old Colt SCAMP PDW, the VBR-B PDW weapon/ammo combo fits that bill to a tee. The VBR PDW appears to be similar in size to the HK MK23 MOD 0 SOCOM pistol.
The third intelligent aspect of the VBR PDW system is the ammo aspect. As touched-on above, the weapon is available in multiple calibers, one of which is 9mm Parabellum / 9x19mm NATO caliber, which is the most prevalent and popular Mil/LE/civilian pistol caliber in the world, and is already in all Western military ammunition supply chains. But the company doesn’t stop there. They’ve also designed and developed their own armor-piercing (AP) 9mm NATO round. The VBR-B 9mm AP round has a conical profile and utilizes a 6.3mm hardened (steel or tungsten carbide?) penetrator.
However, if you need some more range, penetration, and ammo capacity, VBR-Belgium has also designed and developed a proprietary 7.92x24mm AP PDW round/cartridge that also utilizes a 6.3mm penetrator and bumps up the PDW’s ammo capacity to 21 rounds (short magazine) and 37 rounds (long magazine), respectively. DefenseReview believes that the short mag is a modified Glock 17 mag, and the long mag is a modified Glock 18 mag, although we haven’t confirmed/verified this. This would seem logical, though. VBR-Belgium makes 7.92x24mm conversion kits for the Glock 17 and Glock 19 pistols and 1911 pistol, which means you can carry both a VBR PDW and Glock 17/19 pistol in either 9mm NATO or 7.92mm (7.92x24mm), depending on the mission profile, and enjoy magazine compatibility between the two weapons.
VBR-Belgium also makes a .45 ACP AP round, but we don’t know if the the PDW can be chambered in that round. If not, the company should definitely consider developing a .45ACP version and a Glock-profile extended high-capacity 30-round (or 25 rounds, at least) magazine.
All VBR-B AP ammo is designed to penetrate NATO CRISAT body armor and pass the CRISAT test protocol for armor penetration. VBR also makes some interesting and expensive-looking 3-segment, controlled-frangible “B3F” ammo. The ammo looks pretty nasty. DefenseReview doesn’t see how the machining on this ammo can possibly be inexpensive.
Additional VBR-B PDW features:
- Double-action-only (DAO) trigger (we think). The VBR-B PDW’s trigger appears to be a bit long and heavy from the videos, but we’re not positive about this. Defense Review would recommend that VBR-Belgium develop a double-action/single-action trigger or Glock Safe Action-type trigger with fast/shortened reset for the PDW that weighs no more than 5.5 pounds in single-action mode, or 5.5 lbs period, if it remains a DAO trigger. If an operator wants to use the pistol in semi-auto mode, which will most-likely be most of the time, he/she shouldn’t have to fight a long, heavy trigger in addition to his adversary. If it has to be a DAO trigger, make it a relatively light DAO trigger with quick-reset (short reset) capability, just like the Glock.
- 1911 sweep-down thumb safety-style frame-mounted selector switch. The “up” position gives you semi-auto fire, and the “down” position gives you full-auto fire, which we believe is true full-auto, and not 3-shot burst. This is a good thing, as 3-shot burst is a bad idea. 3-shot burst mechanisms/trigger systems are also a bad idea.
- AR-15/M16/M4/M4A1-style rear-mounted T-type ambidextrous charging handle
- MP7A1-style dual-arm skeleton sliding/telescoping/collapsible/retractable stock. The
- Integral molded vertical foregrip with finger grooves.
- Short Mil-Std-1913 “Picatinny” top rail system for mounting combat optics (optical sights).
- Threaded barrel for silencer/sound suppressor use. Hey, muzzle cans are in, and if you’ve gotta’ pop somebody’s melon, you might as well do it quietly. Plus, suppressors aid in tactical communications.
- In one or several of the VBR-B Compact PDW videos, you can briefly see an interesting dual optic that straddles the top rail. This would appear to be VBR-B’s proprietary design. An off-set optic like this can cause problems at distances past that to which the weapon is sighted, so we’re not sure how viable this optic is. This optic(s) may be removable. Then again, it may not be.
So, how reliable, accurate, and durable is the VBR PDW under adverse conditions at high round count? We don’t know. How manufacturable is it? We don’t know. How expensive is it? No idea, but it’s obvious that VBR put a lot of thought into the weapon and ammo, and it’s worth watching, at least on YouTube.
Company Contact Info:
Mr. Rik Van Bruaene
Van Bruaene Rik / VBR-Belgium
Sint Germanusplein 6
Mobil: 0032 (0)495 77 32 77 (Workshop)
Office: 0032 (0)51 20 43 20
Fax: 0032 (0)51 20 53 20
Website 1: http://www.vbr-belgium.be
Website: 2: >http://www.fsdip.com/