We’ve looked at a number of different bullpups currently in use with Ukrainian forces, ranging from Tavors to the locally developed Malyuk/Vulcan – check out those articles/videos if you haven’t already.
In this article/video we’re going to take a look at another Ukrainian development which converts a standard AK-74 into a bullpup. The Black Storm BS-series of kits has been around since the mid 2010s and in recent months more and more imagery of Ukrainian personnel with Black Storm bullpup AKs has been emerging.
The Black Storm kits are compatible with both AKM and AK-74 pattern rifle and the relatively simple designs allows the conversion of a conventional rifle into the bullpup with not alterations to the base rifle.
To convert the rifle the stock furniture is removed, the pistol grip, forend and butt. The trigger transfer bar is then put in place and the lower receiver of the chassis is then attached which holds it in place. The new lower receiver has the pistol grip already attached. The butt assembly is then slide into place – this also covers the original trigger but leaves the magazine release exposed. There is a hinged cheek piece attached to the butt assembly. This can be pivoted out the way for access into the receiver and to allow the gas piston and bolt assembly and receiver cover to be placed. Finally, a top cover is slotted into place and retained by a catch to the lower. This covers the gas tube and barrel.
The kit appears to be made from simple sheet metal stampings and is held together by slotting into pre-existing parts of the rifle’s original receiver and a couple of screws. While the chassis obviously adds weight to the weapon it does have the benefit of shortening the rifle and also shifting its centre of balance back.
The BS3 adds no additional controls to the rifle and the weapon is manipulated using it’s existing charging handle and safety-selector lever. The BS4 was developed in 2017 and introduced in 2018, adds a number of new ergonomic features with a left-side forward charging handle which makes the rifle much easier to cock and a new thumb actuated safety – which probably acts on the trigger transfer bar. A new extension to the magazine release lever has also been added to make magazine changes easier. Black Storm describe the BS4 as: “easy to put on and take off in the field, without intruding into the weapon. It is enough to remove the butt and stock, and you can install the Bullpup with one mounting bolt.” Both the BS-3 and BS-4 have a length of Picatinny rail under the lower receiver and require an optic riser rail for mounting an optic.
How well an optic mounted on a rifle in a Black Storm kit retains zero is unknown but the mount is fitted over the rifle’s rear sight block and held in place by a bracket under the barrel. This is then secured by four small bolts.
The company says that both the BS-3 and BS4 are made from 1mm stamped steel and polymer. Black Storm list the weight of an AK-74 with the BS-3 kit installed, but without a magazine, as 3.4kgs. The weight of the BS-3 kit’s components is 1.2kg. A 2018 video, however, suggests that the kit’s components weigh just over 1.6kg (not including the rifle’s receiver, barrel and bolt assembly).
Black Storm list the weight of an AK-74 with the BS-4 kit installed, but without a magazine, as 3.9kgs. The weight of the BS-4 kit’s components is 1.7kg. Once installed with either kit the rifle has an overall length of 70cm (27.5in) down from 94cm (37in) for a standard configuration AK-74.
Black Storm list the BS-3 at 14,250 UAH ($387) and the BS-4 at 21,500 UAH ($585). From the information available it appears that the kits are purchased by servicemen privately, to adapt their issued service rifles.
A BS-5 has been developed, it’s unclear if this is in production but it is listed on Black Storm’s site and is said to be available. It has a length of rail along its top cover removing the need for an optic riser and also allowing the use of back up iron sights. It’s price is listed at 28,500 UAH ($775).
Photos of the BT-2 were shared in January 2015 and an early version of the kit was displayed at a Ukrainian military exhibition in 2015, the BT-3 and BS-3 variants were introduced in 2017 and 2018. The guns have seen combat use since at least 2017, with Black Storm sharing photos of a BS-3e used in Donbas in July 2017. Since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, a number of photos and videos have shown the conversion kits in use with personnel from a variety of units.
During the first week of April combatants from the Georgian Legion shared a photo featuring a BS-3. In July a member of Azov Dnipro was photographed with a BS-3 outfitted with a thermal optic, bipod and suppressor. Interestingly you can see the remains of a green paint on the AK-74 receiver while the Black Storm kit has not been painted.
In October 2022 a series of photo featuring rifles outfitted with the kits were shared. Two were shared by a member of ‘Cats Squad Special Company’ showing a BS-3 with an EOTECH HWS XPS2, a laser/light module and a custom green camouflage paint job.
The member of the Cats Squad shared another photo in November 2022, the rifle can now be seen fitted with a suppressor. On 7 January, photographer Viktor Fridshon took photos of Ukrainian soldiers in Krasna Hora, Donetsk. One of the soldiers had a BS-3 fitted with a micro red dot sight and painted in a green camouflage scheme. A the beginning of February a video of a Ukrainian combatant showing off his BS-3 was shared on line, in it he explains its features and demonstrated how handy it is. He has a vertical foregrip fitted and an Aimpoint red dot.
Most recently in early February, Yuri was kind enough to share some photos he took of a Ukrainian soldier’s BS-4, identifiable by the visible left-side charging handle and safety on the pistol grip. The rifle was kitted out with a vertical foregrip, suppressor, a thermal optic, laser/light module and a red dot sight on a 45-degree mount.
It’s unclear just how many of these Black Storm kits are being used by Ukrainian personnel and this brief look at examples from the field can’t be considered a representative survey. The kit itself, while heavy, does have the advantage of shortening the rifle’s overall length which is useful in some of the urban and close quarter fighting that’s ongoing. The fact the base rifle doesn’t have to be modified is also useful and means that users don’t have to physically modify issued service weapons.
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Thanks to Yuri, the guys at Streaking Delilah, War_Noir and Abraxas Spa for their help with this video.
Ukrainian Black Storm BS-4 Bullpup Conversion Kit for AK Rifles, TFB, (source)
BS-3, Black Storm, (source)
BS-4, Black Storm, (source)
BS-5, Black Storm, (source)
Black Storm’s Facebook Page (source)
Bullpup AK47/74, Reibert.info, (source)