SHAH ALAM: Back in 2019, the Home Ministry issued a tender for the supply of 155 lightweight modular 5.56mm calibre piston-operated, magazine fed carbine for the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) based in Lahad Datu.
The specifications call for a rifle with an operating system of an M-16 to ease operations and training but with a short stroke gas piston. A rifle like the HK 416, IAR M27 or the Colt Advanced Piston Carbine.
The contract was awarded to Lembah Sembilan Sdn Bhd, a Kuala Lumpur based company which offered the Ferfrans Special Operations Assault Rifle (SOAR) rifles. Unfortunately, the Eperolehan page on the winning tender did not reveal the contract price.
Lembah Sembilan has also supplied Ferfrans SOAR to the UTK in 2013 (300 units). It has also supplied similar rifles to two Indonesian and Vietnamese companies likely meant for the country military or para-military units.
The Ferfrans SOAR was delivered to ESSCOM in 2020. In the past, I have seen pictures of ESSCOM operators with the new rifle but it was difficult to identify the make (and I do not have the time to check out the page every day). However, thanks to various postings by ESSCOM within the last three months, Malaysian Defence finally can identify them as the Ferfrans P10 SBR with a 10.5 barrel. The gun is equipped with optics, lights, and short/long suppressors. The accessories are among the items listed in the tender specifications.
The security situation in ESSCOM has become more benign for the last six months or so, which allowed the operators to take part in career fairs and exhibitions where their equipment are displayed. The Sabah sea nightly curfew imposed since 2014 has also been recently modified to exclude the Tawau division. The curfew now covers Sandakan, Beluran, Kinabatangan, Semporna, Kunak and Lahad Datu divisions.
It must be noted that the Ferfrans SOAR with the UTK is the sub-compact version, which is very loud, according to the UTK operators, when fired without the suppressor.
Ferfrans claimed their SOAR is more controllable than standard M16/M4 when firing in full automatic mode, as the guns are fitted with a rate reduction system. Many Western special operators have converted to the short barrel rifles chambered for the 300 Blackout ammo which is optimised for suppressors. The ammo also has higher velocity than 5.56 ammunition when fired from short barrels.
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