B&T Universal Service Weapons: How about Swiss Quality with a Swedish Touch
ABOVE: The B+T Universal Service Weapon with folded stock, light, Nano sight and ‘+2’ magazine, left and right side
The recent terrorist threat to Europe has spurred the EU to do SOMETHING, which in their vocabulary means a knee-jerk reaction of imposing more gun bans, so that their subjects, err, citizens, would not realize they are in fact sitting idly, doing nothing. At the same time, the Swiss, always far from gun-grabbing EU politics, instead of just disarming more targets for the criminals, have proposed a real response to the threat.
The Swiss proposal may be convincing for some more than others (after all, the idea of making another CZ 75 copy isn’t either bold or particularly original), but it comprises an accessory that already made a lot of fuss the world over.
Ever since the premiere of the Aimpoint Micro T-1/H-1, after its second Generation Micro T-2/H-2 made a splash, the question was raised of Swedish company following the punch with something still smaller, which was partly provoked by the size of the Micros–they were only “micro” compared to the Comp M4, let alone the Aimpoint Hunter. The Micro was still a rifle-sized sight compared to open red dot sights, the likes of say, the Leupold Delta. Company reps responded carefully that yes, something is brewing indeed. But it is still too early to go into details, and they have enough orders for their cement-mixer-sized models not to have to compete with those who can’t make a decent-sized sight.
No one knows how the Swiss did that, but they succeeded not only in convincing the Swedes to wrap it up and come to market with a viable proposition–but to give them a (temporary at least) monopoly on that new product!
In June 2016 Aimpoint rolled out their newest product, the Nano. It tends to be a tad bigger than the main rival, Insight MRDS, but–in keeping with the new Aimpoint tradition–works much longer on one battery change. The battery in question is the .50 dia., .1 thick lithium CR 1225 of 3 Volts–not your customary CR 2032. The battery compartment is situated in the sight base, in front of the optical system. The sight is fastened to the base by two screws, covered with a polymer insert. POI adjustment is all internal, by outside-accessible screws, turned with a Torx-headed wrench. Right side screw shifts windage, elevation, is taken care of by an identical screw on top.
The red dot is brightness-adjustable via two rubber-covered buttons on the sides of the casing. The left button is marked with minus and dims the dot, while the right one marked with plus makes it brighter. Pressing both at the same time switches the sight on and off. The manual of the sight is instinctive and instantly comprehensible to all who are familiar with such sights.
The optical system is a closed one, traditional for Aimpoint, as opposed to smaller open units. It is enclosed inside the sturdy aluminum alloy casing; the front lens is–as usual in Aimpoint products–deliberately askew and tinted red to reduce internal reflections, which might harm the red dot visibility.
The sight is anchored in the base with a perpendicular cutout in the bottom; fitting the rectangular ridge of the base with threaded holes for the two mounting screws. The base allows no external means of POI adjustment–the adjustment and zeroing is 100% internal. So far, as long as the B+T monopoly holds, there is, but one type of mounting base profiled to the USW frame and affixed to it with six Torx screws. The sight does not reciprocate with the slide. One would expect, that if the larger Micro sight was able to withstand mounting on top of a Glock, so would the much smaller Nano. When the mass production starts, providing a mounting bed fitting the Glock MOS or S&W C.O.R.E. mounts should pose no problem at all. Even on that early stage the company already warns that the Swiss-mounted sights were but a prototype batch, and the production batches would differ at least in casing, if not internals. The world premiere of the Nano would have to wait until perhaps the major early 2017 trade shows, like SHOT in Las Vegas or IWA in Nuremberg.
So having thus dealt with the Swedish bait, let’s take onto the Swiss hook–or the USW pistol (or is it a carbine? Fortunately there is no SBR built as such in Europe). As per factory brochure, it was designed as a first-responder weapon to deal with terrorists perpetrating whatever their dastardly deed is in an urban environment, where patrolling with long arms could be awkward. The draw-and-extend time (once again according to B+T) from the Retention Level III holster is under 1.5 seconds, and with the Nano and extended stock, the USW groups within 1.5 inches at 30 yards, enough to safely administer lead injections in an urban environment. To avoid collateral damage, the USW is strictly a semiautomatic only weapon. The same serves to keep the design simple enough, with no switches to get accidentally moved and no need for a compensator to keep the muzzle on target.
The USW A1 shown in this article has an aluminum alloy frame, while the rest of parts are borrowed from a Swiss copy of the CZ 75, the Sphinx 3000. This looks like an attempt at finding a use for the stock of the 3,000 unassembled parts bought at the Sphinx demise by B+T. The Swiss company is consistent in such zombie-reheating and likes to get their new models cheap, like the MP9, being a demised Steyr TMP. Of course, B+T are not cheapskates, and their APC series proves that they are perfectly capable of putting their money where their mouth is. It is just that the Swiss affluence wasn’t born overnight and is deeply rooted in national frugality; why waste perfectly usable gun parts? The recent MP14 SMG by B+T goes even deeper by using surplus 50-rds Suomi coffin magazines! (BTW, did you know that the Swiss company of Hispano-Suiza, famous for its 20 mm HS404 cannon, a brace of which armed the later marks of the Supermarine Spitfire as of 1941, has license-manufactured between 1944 and 1948 almost 25,000 Suomis for the Federal Army, called the Mp 43/44, and that these were still used by the Swiss military, including the Papal Swiss Guards in the Vatican, until the 1990s?) The CZ 75 copy is not considered the end of the trail for the USW–the aluminum framed, hammer-fired A1 is scheduled to have a striker-fired, polymer-friend brother within 2017.
The USM folding stock does not look like it is rock-solid, but at the same time, it is not a slap-on accessory. It is integral to the frame, a non-detachable item.
As the back of the slide is covered by the sight bridge, the racking grooves were moved to the front of the slide, where winglets were provided for better gripping, the latter being of steel rather than polymer as in HK SFP 9 (VP9) and non-detachable.
Another novel (for B+T at least) accessory is the frame dust-cover Picatinny rail-mounted B+T Advanced Pistol Light, conforming to the USW contour. The USW is intended to be carried in a dedicated holster with integral compartments for both a light and folding stock. It is to be affixed to a belt, a leg platform or carry vest, wherever there is MOLLE/PALS interface, with which the semi-detachable belt loops correspond. It is a polymer injected holster, with a Level 3 weapon retention hood, doubling as a sight protector, shielding the Nano from bumping into door wells, etc. A twin magazine pouch is a separate item, also polymer, and fitted with the same hanger layout for belt or MOLLE/PALS carry. The pistol is delivered with three 15-round magazines, but extended capacity polymer magazine bottoms are available as well. There are two types of these; one is a mundane ‘+2’ type extender to make the magazine capable of holding 17 rounds, equalizing it with a factory Glock magazine. The other should be thus called the ‘+15’–as it not only extends but literally DOUBLES the capacity to 30 rounds! Of course, it comes with its own follower spring, as the regular one would obviously not fit the long casing.