The HS Produkt company, best known for making the XD pistols sold in the US by Springfield, was originally called IM Metal, and was a general fabrication company in Croatia. When the Croatian Homeland War began, there was a clear need for domestic small arms production, and the two engineers at IM Metal stepped up to try their hand at rifle design. The very first effort was a bullpup AK, intended to be made as a conversion of Yugoslav M70 rifles.
Only one example was made, and HS Produkt has kindly given me access to film it for you (thanks, guys!). The receiver was milled from steel billet, but mimics the construction of a stamped receiver, as would have been used in large-scale production (had that ever taken place). The charging handle has been removed form the bolt, and in its place a non-reciprocating handle mounted on the gas tube. The safety was moved forward to the trigger, but the selector lever left on the back of the receiver.
There are some neat ideas in this design, but it was clearly not up to the standard needed to serve as a standard Croatian Army rifle. The is how gun designers improve – they start with no experience and make some things that aren’t so good, and then learn and grow and improve. This is the first video in a periodic series showing the development of rifles by IM Metal / HS Produkt which ultimately lead to the VHS-2, so stay tuned!