In an earlier video we looked at the Black Storm series of bullpup conversion kits for AK pattern rifles. Black Storm have also developed an interesting standalone stock for the GP-25 under barrel grenade launcher called ‘Defender’. The impetus for this is s aid to be that the Black Storm rifle kits aren’t able to support the grenade launchers so a standalone stock into which they can be mounted was developed.
The GP-25 is a 40mm grenade launcher designed in the late 1970s by the small arms design bureau based at Tula. It is an under-barrel grenade launcher designed to slide onto standard issued AK-74 pattern rifles. Its ammunition uses a high–low pressure system and has a range of up to 400m.
The most interesting feature of the GP-25 stock is that it has a recoil mitigation system. This appears to be a strong spring in the telescoping stock tube which acts as a buffer. The stock kit is made up of a telescoping stock with butt pad, onto which the grenade launcher is mounted – just as you would onto a rifle, a forward vertical grip can be attached by a clamshell pair of metal stampings with allow the grip piece to be centered and held in place by two cross nuts. There is also a press-fit pistol grip extension for the GP-25’s short grip to help improve ergonomics.
Black Storm list the stock kit without launcher as weighing 200g while the Defender with GP-25 is listed as weighing 500g (1.1lbs). Black Storm sell the V2.0 of the stock for 5,950 UAH ($162).
With some units also transitioning to NATO calibre rifles like the M4A1, MSBS GROT, FN FNC and F2000 amongst others, the ability to use the GP-25 as a stand alone weapon has proven valuable as the GP-25 can’t be mounted on Western rifles but with ammunition for the grenade launchers still plentiful they can continue to be used.
The earliest imagery I could find of the Defender in the field dates to 22 April, when Russian reporter War Gonzo posted a short video showing a Defender captured by Separatist DPR troops in Mariupol. The DPR soldier examining it notes that the weapon doesn’t seem to work and also compared it to the GP-25 fitted to his own AKS-74.
In May a good, clear photograph of a GP-25 in a Defender stock was shared, shown fitted with a sling. In mid-May Ukrainian operators shared a video of the Defender being fired at the range.
Also in May a short video of a Defender kit being fitted to a launcher was shared – this particular example apparently requiring some hand fitting to the sheet-metal pieces that attach the forward grip.
A number of other stand alone adapters for GP-25s have also been seen in the field, In late May 2022, this example of a simpler adapter was shared online featuring a rigid stock onto which the grande launcher can be fitted. Simple adapters like this may be craft made in the field or manufactured by commercial companies.
In June a short video was shared of a Ukrainian soldier firing several high-angle rounds from a GP-25 mounted in a Defender stock, we can see that the sight has been set to its highest elevation.
Ukrainian operators shared another photograph of a GP-25 in a Defender stock in September. The North Side Group shared a photograph of a GP-25 in a Defender at what appears to be a range in mid-September.
Russian operator shared photo of two standalone stocks for the GP-25 – the first is the rigid stock type seen in the photo from May. I haven’t been able to ascertain who produces this stock yet. In these photos, however, it is clear that the butt is wider than the Ukrainian design. The second stock appears to be a Black Storm Defender [Update: since identified as a RGL Север 1].
On 30 November the Belarusian volunteer unit, the Kalinouski Regiment, shared a video demonstrating the Defender, showing how its loaded, fired and carried noting that it is “designed to destroy enemy manpower located in trenches, and open terrain.”
In early January, Assistance Group – a German group active in Ukraine, shared some photographs of load out for operating in urban and woodland environments and a GP-25 in a Defender feature in both photographs.
At the beginning of February 2023 a video was shared featuring an operator with Russia’s SOBR “Granit”, he fires a couple of rounds from a GP-25 in a stand alone stock [Update: since identified as a RGL Север 1].
The ‘Lubart’ Ukrainian special operations forces unit recently shared a number of montage video of operations around Bakhmut. In it one operator loads and fires a Defender several times. The Defender in the clip lacks the pistol grip extension that comes as part of the kit.
On 2 March a member of the Forward Observations Group shared a photo of is various weapons including a Black Storm Defender.
Finally, most recently, a short video from a Russian anti-Putin group – the Russian Volunteer Corps, filmed during an apparent raid into Bryansk. The video featured one of the group’s leaders with a Defender slung at his side.
It’s unclear just how many of these Black Storm Defender stock kits are being used by Ukrainian personnel but they do continue to appear regularly in imagery from the field. While unsurprisingly they appear to be favoured by units armed with Western rifles they are also being used by combatants armed with weapons which could mount a GP-25, perhaps indicating a preference for using the launcher as a stand alone weapon.
Update 30/04/22 – Russia’s RGL Север 1
Since writing the article further research has discovered a very similar stock design originating from Russia. Developed by a company called RGL (redgreenlight.ru). RGL have developed a number of products including a sight mount for RPG/RPO pattern shoulder-fired launchers and a small light which can illuminate turrets on optics for use in lowlight conditions. They developed their stock for the GP25 and GP34 in 2019, with refinements in 2022. It was reportedly developed independently of the Black Storm Defender – with both companies developing very similar products.
RGL’s website has some specs on their system – the Север 1, noting its length is 480mm and its weight is ‘no more 1100g’. The stock adapter is priced at 17,000 Russian Ruble (or around $220).
So similar are the two designs that images at 5:21 and a clip at 6:55 actually show Север 1s rather than Defenders. A Wagner-affiliated Telegram channel posted the photo below, with the caption: “For those who want to order – mid-May production time, place an order in advance.”
The key differences between the two appear to be a different kind of butt pad, the positioning of the sling loops, some machining on the extension which attaches to the launcher and most fundamentally a reversal of which parts of the stock telescope. On the Defender the rear section telescopes inside the front while on the Север the front portion appears to telescope inside the rear section. The Север 1 does not appear to come with a frontgrip or a grip extension. The Север 1 has been seen in use in Ukraine with Russian combatants.
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Black Storm Defender, Black Storm, (source)
Video demonstrating assembly of Defender, Black Storm, (source)
Thanks to the guys at Streaking Delilah, War_Noir and to Abraxas Spa for their help with imagery for this video.