from the August 2016 issue

Israel's CAA develops "improved" Kalshnikov

By improving the rifle's shape and making it more user-friendly, CAA founder Moshe Oz claims to have created the world's best assault rifle.

What has not been said about the Kalashnikov assault rifle? It is too heavy, cumbersome, and its human engineering is scandalous. They have called it ugly, and said that it is outdated. Some said that it is too greatly identified with murderous militias and terrorist organizations, and they are right.

There are two things, however, that cannot be said about the Kalashnikov: that it is unreliable, or that it does not do a good job. In other words, it is very good for killing.

Developed 70 years ago by Mikhail Kalashnikov, a Red Army soldier wounded fighting the Germans in WWII, the Kalashnikov, regarded as the world's most common weapon, is here to stay.

Since the first Kalashnikovs were developed, it is estimated that over 100 million of its various models have been sold, probably not including imitations, one of which is the Israeli Galil rifle, called "more Kalashnikov than the Kalashnikov" by weapons experts.

With all the Kalashnikov's prestige and lousy user experience, Israeli weapons company CAA has entered the picture over the past year. CAA aims to improve this outmoded rifle's shape and make it more user-friendly. It can already shoot; what it needs now are up-to-date accessories that will make people want to hold it, take it to the firing range, and be photographed with it. Meet CAA's Alpha Kalashnikov, made in Kiryat Gat. "It's the most reliable one in the world. You can shoot it as much as you want; it never jams. You can throw it into the water, or bury it in the sand – it won't jam. It does what it's supposed to do: shoot," says CAA founder and owner Moshe Oz. "For the Alpha we took the Kalashnikov 'engine,' and renovated and improved everything else – the entire envelope. We left what was good in the rifle - the firing mechanism, which is the best and most reliable, and added things around it. We improved and corrected. In our opinion, we have created the world's best assault rifle."

Up until a year ago, CAA focused its activity on weapons accessories, saying that a "user experience" was also valid for something designed to kill: innovative and easy-to-use magazines, advanced sights, handles and butts that make things easy for users of the various weapons, user-friendly clips, powerful miniature lights, night vision equipment, bipods that open at the push of a button and help improve shooting performance – in short, the production and marketing of toys that men like.

The company has developed and put on the market more than 300 items, some of them groundbreaking. CAA promises more to come, and that its development teams in Kiryat Gat have all sorts of creative ideas in their heads.

Oz, however, is not satisfied with weapons accessories. For him, it was spending too much time in the proximity of the real thing he has been aiming at for years with a great deal of determination, and especially patience – making a weapon.

The breakthrough came five years ago, when Oz visited Kalashnikov factories in Izhevsk in Russia. He was there to promote sales of one of CAA's biggest patented devices – the Roni, which can turn any piston into a submachine gun within seconds. Named after Oz's daughter, a suitable Roni kit is being offered together with pistols on sale by almost every weapons company solicitous of its customers – and itself.

Oz returned from Izhevsk with an understanding in principle: the Russians would give him the good old mechanism that made the Kalashnikov what it is, and CAA would add to this clumsy, uncomfortable, and unbelievably ugly rifle human engineering to make it a hit sold like hotcakes throughout the world.

Manufacturing weapons in Israel under license is a long story involving a great deal of supervision, background checks, and mainly bureaucracy that can shorten an average person's lifespan. Oz, however, has patience, belief, and mainly a handsome prototype of an upgraded Kalashnikov. Every time he looked at it or shot it on the firing range, he became convinced that one day, it would.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report August 2016

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