Sloboda: Munitions in the Mountains
We thought it appropriate to focus and profile one of the exhibitors at Partner 2008, and Kompanija Sloboda from Ĉaĉak, Serbia seemed a good choice since most weapons users are familiar with them. Sloboda was started in 1948, and has a reputation for being able to produce almost any small arms ammunition above 14.5mm.
SADJ readers will recognize the name Sloboda as the company that hosts the Living History live fire events that are held at their ranges several times a year by JNJ Import Export. These Living History events allow industry, military and collectors to spend a week in southern Serbia and experience the culture, visit some of the arms factories, and fire the weapons used in the Balkan region since the First World War. This is truly an amazing six day experience, firing everything from Tokarev pistols and Yugo Mausers up to PKMs, AGS-17, NSV, DShK, shoulder fired rocket launchers, and crew served weapons. It would be a mistake to think this is all Sloboda does: this is just an interesting corollary to their main businesses. Sloboda has an arms production section, as well as producing some items for civilian, household use.
The factory is located about 140 km from Belgrade in the city of Ĉaĉak. Ĉaĉak (Cha-Chek) is a city of over 100,000 people, and it is a heavily industrialized area in the mountainous region of Serbia. There is an excellent labor pool of skilled workers, many of them second or even third generation workers at the Sloboda plant.
We toured the facility several times during and after the first Bosnian War, as well as just before the 1999 NATO bombing, when US missiles were dropped onto the facility. Much of the wreckage still remains, but it was not the critical parts of the facility that were damaged. The spirit of the factory is strong and production is very highly regarded as some of the best quality controlled munitions in the region if not the world. We have had several visits to the factory since then, most recently in 2008, and they are in full production on a range of artillery and grenade products including the VOG-25 series and 40x46mm rounds.
Sloboda is known for its engineering staff, as well as the fact that they have a full testing facility and certifications that are up to any standard in the European community. They are qualified in the ISO 9001:2000 category, and the production is strictly overseen by government inspectors.
Sloboda has a lot to be proud of, and is looking forward to many years of service to the military and police communities.