This modular weapon is gaining the appreciation of many Ukrainian soldiers

MSBS Grot, the Polish ambidextrous rifle that manages to rival the prestigious HK416

Poland is a country with a great military tradition and already has a very extensive and experienced defense industry.

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An industry until now greatly influenced by the Soviet AK

During the Cold War, when the country was subject to a communist dictatorship imposed by the USSR, Poland was part of the Soviet bloc and this had implications for its light weapons. Soviet Kalashnikov (AK) rifles had a notable presence in the Polish Army at that time and their influence still endures today. The main Polish small arms company is Fabryka Broni "Łucznik" Radom (FB), founded in 1922 and today part of the conglomerate of state military companies Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa (PGZ). In recent decades, Fabryka Broni has produced rifles clearly inspired by the AK, such as the FB Tantal and the FB Beryl, which is still today the standard rifle of the Polish Army Land Force.

The bullpup version of the MSBS Grot (Photo: Fabryka Broni).

The surprise of the first Polish rifle with NATO standards

In 2007, Fabryka Broni and the Warsaw Military University of Technology (WAT) began work on the first rifle entirely designed in Poland since World War II. The new rifle sought to adapt to the demanding standards of NATO, which Poland joined in 1999. The Poles started at a disadvantage compared to other countries: they were starting from scratch at a time when other famous Light weapons companies such as the German Heckler & Koch or the Belgian FN Herstal had been working for many years on weapons designed according to the canons of the Atlantic Alliance. But like so many other times in its history, Poland gave a surprise.

The classic version of the MSBS Grot, with maximum accessories. This is the version purchased by the Polish Army and is also being used by the Ukrainian Army (Photo: Fabryka Broni).

FB and WAT designed a modular 5.56 x 45 mm NATO caliber weapon with two variants: a classic assault rifle, with some resemblance to the Belgian FN SCAR, and a bullpup variant, that is, with the magazine behind the pistol grip (in the style of the British SA-80 and the French FAMAS). The weapon was presented in December 2009, under the name MSBS (Modułowy System Broni Strzeleckiej, Modular Light Weapons System). It was a weapon adaptable to the needs of the soldier, which could easily change its barrel for a longer one for precision shooting.

The MSBS Grot has Picatinny rails to attach accessories (Photo: Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej).

A rifle that was designed with left-handed soldiers in mind

In addition to the already typical Picatinny rails for attaching accessories, the MSBS had something unusual: ambidextrous controls, so this rifle can be handled by a left-handed soldier, since it has rate of fire controls and with buttons to remove the charger on both sides of the box. In addition, it has two exit holes for empty shells, so that with a simple modification it can be adapted to the needs of a left-handed soldier.

The civil version of the MSBS GROT S16-M1 (Photo: Fabryka Broni).

The beginnings of the MSBS Grot in the Polish Army

In 2014 the Polish Army acquired its first 150 MSBS of the representative version (MSBS Grot R) for its Representative Company, made up of soldiers from the different branches of the Armed Forces and who are in charge of rendering honors in Public acts. In 2017 The purchase of 53,000 MSBS Grot C rifles was approved for the Polish Army, specifically for the Territorial Defense Force (WOT, the Polish equivalent of the US National Guard).

The MSBS Grot is an ambidextrous rifle: it has the same controls on both sides of the receiver and has an optional shell ejector on the left side (Photo: Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej).

At that time, the Polish Army decided to name the new rifle MSBS Grot, in tribute to General Stefan Rowecki, alias "Grot" (arrowhead, in Polish), commander of the Armia Krajowa, murdered by the nazis in the Sachsenhausen concentration camp in 1944.

The MSBS Grot is on par with the excellent German HK416 rifle

Regarding the quality of the weapon, in 2017, the Military Technological University of Warsaw subjected the MSBS Grot to exhaustive warm-up and failure comparisons with other rifles used by the Polish Army, including the prestigious German HK416, used by the Special Forces of that and other countries and Considered one of the best assault rifles in the world. The surprise was that the MSBS Grom obtained results very similar to the HK416, even surpassing the German rifle in some characteristics. It was quite a bit for the Polish industry.

Poland has purchased three lots of 150, 53,000 and 70,000 MSBS Grot rifles for its Armed Forces (Photo: Fabryka Broni).

All in all, the first batch of MSBS Grot C rifles, the FB-M1, starred in a media controversy in Poland in 2021, after that a Polish media outlet presented alleged evidence that the weapon suffered damage in case of excessive use. The criticisms were refuted by Fabryka Broni, who filed a defamation lawsuit against that outlet, and also by the Territorial Defense Force. An article from the prestigious Polish media noted that the accusations and alleged tests made to the MSBS Grot "were substantially absurd and aimed at damaging or destroying weapons", rather than proving their durability.

The Territorial Defense Force has been the first branch of the Polish Army to receive this weapon (Photo: Fabryka Broni).

It should be noted that problems in the initial batches of weapons are common, and even more so when we talk about an industry that starts from scratch in the design of a rifle according to NATO standards. It is also common for soldiers to believe that weapons clean themselves, something that already happened with another good assault rifle, the M-16, initially giving it an unfair bad reputation. Finally, Fabryka Broni introduced a new version, the FB-M2, considerably improving the rifle.

The definitive test of MSBS Grot: the Russian invasion of Ukraine

However, the definitive proof that has contributed to spreading the good reputation of the MSBS Grot has been the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Poland sent 10,000 MSBS rifles to Ukraine shortly after the war began. These rifles have received praise from Ukrainian soldiers, who seem to be especially pleased with the resistance of this weapon to dirt, thanks to the gas regulator that allows the soldier to adapt the rifle to the conditions of each environment.

A Ukrainian soldier with an MSBS Grot in October 2022. Poland has delivered 10,000 Grot rifles to Ukraine. They are receiving a lot of praise from the Ukrainian soldiers (Photo: ArmyInform).

In February 2023, in the midst of the rearmament of Poland, The Polish Ministry of Defense announced the purchase of 70,000 additional MSBS Grot rifles. At that time, the Polish Army had already received 17,000 of the 53,000 rifles contracted in 2017. This new batch will make the MSBS Grot the main rifle of the Polish Army Land Forces.

The MSBS Grot has proven to be a weapon as resistant to heating as the prestigious German HK416 rifle (Photo: Fabryka Broni).

The current variants of the MSBS Grot

Today, the MSBS Grot has a variant with a grenade launcher, a designated marksman variant and a precision version of 7.62 x 51 mm NATO caliber, the Grot 762N, which will replace the already Obsolete Soviet SVD Dragunov rifle in the Polish Army. Fabryka Broni has also launched a sports version for civilian customers.

The Grot 762N, the precision version of the MSBS Grot, with 7.62 x 51 mm NATO caliber (Photo: Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej).

A review of several MSBS Grot evaluations

On the Internet I have found some evaluations of this rifle that confirm its reliability and, specifically, the great stability in automatic fire of the classic version, something in which Fabryka Broni seems to have surpassed the Kalashnikov. Here you can see an MSBS test done by BZ Team in automatic shooting :

Here you can see the evaluation of different versions of MSBS Grot made by Forgotten Weapons, a YouTube channel famous for its tests of all types of weapons:

And here is the test that the same channel did of the two variants of the MSBS Grot in automatic fire (the bullpup, due to the weight of the stock, tends to lean further back):

Another very popular channel specialized in weapons, Task & Purpose, published four months a very complimentary analysis of this Polish rifle:

But without a doubt, the most reliable evidence is that of those who are using it in combat. This evaluation was published by a Ukrainian soldier nine months ago:

Here is another piece of evidence from another Ukrainian soldier, published ten months ago:

The videos have automatic subtitles, you can activate them in the bottom bar of the player. One of the details that has caught my attention the most is the praise of the Ukrainian military for the bayonet made by Fabryka Obroni for the MSBS Grot, which seems to be of very good quality and saves the soldier having to than carrying an extra knife. What doesn't convince me much is the way the bayonet is fixed to the barrel.


Main photo: Fabryka Broni

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  1. rspl

    Wow what a great write up, thanks and congrats.

    A detail I think is worth mentioning though:
    The ‘polish outlet’ (Onet) that sparked the controversy in 2021 is a subsidiary of the german media outlet ‘Axel Springer SE’.
    Which many assume to have been one of many strategical smear campaigns to fight competition for german arms producers.

  2. Thanks for the information, RSPL. I read something about what you indicate. Coincidentally, one of Europe’s leading small arms manufacturers, Heckler & Koch, is a German company.

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