This anti-materiel rifle is interesting from the two points of view:
- its function and purpose;
- methods of dealing with recoil.
The rifle is built around two cartridges: the South African MG151 20x83.5 mm and the Russian API or API-T 14.5x114 mm. Optionally, and for the purpose of decreasing cost of training, the rifle can be made in caliber 12.7 mm.
The NTW20/14.5 rifle is an anti-materiel weapon that can have many applications, including the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), i.e. in addition to a purely kinetic effect, the 20-mm warhead is the smallest round that can deliver a useful payload. Its fragmenting HE capability makes absolute pinpoint accuracy less vital, since target effect is not limited to bullet diameter.
it is only after one fired both commonly available 12.7's and 20-mm NTW extensively, without sophisticated target acquisition equipment on ill-defined ranges, that the 20-mm shows its superiority. The ability to spot the fall of shot enables one to compensate instantly with rapid follow-up shots to achieve hits if necessary.
Very little experience exists with 20-mm rifles by military users. The number of such rifles commonly recognized and known to the world at large is rather scarce: Croatian RT20, Hungarian APH RK20 and, finally, the South African NTW-20/14.5 guns complete this list. No wonder, the usual comments are that acceptable recoil and accuracy cannot be had in a weapon sufficiently light to be man-carried. The NTW-20 has been able to dispel this, most shooters firing the rifle for the first time are pleasantly surprised, first by manageable recoil forces and secondly and most importantly the ease with which targets can be engaged. There is absolutely no doubt as to whether the target has been struck or not!
In 20-mm format the rifle fires the 20x83.5 MG151 cartridge fired by the Vektor 20-mm GA1 cannon; the round is manufactured by Pretoria Metal Pressings (PMP). Ammunition natures fired by the NTW-20 include HEI, HEI-T, SAPHEI and Practice. Muzzle velocity is 720 m/sec and the operational range is given as up to 1,500 meters. In 14.5-mm form the cartridge fired is the Russian 14.5x114 in API and API-T form; muzzle velocity is 1,800 m/sec and a maximum effective range up to 2,300 meters.
Changing from one caliber to another takes less than 60 seconds. The barrel, bolt, magazine and sighting equipment can be interchanged between the two calibers as required.
The NTW-20 has been designed for maximum ease of use and low maintenance. The bolt action with three-shot magazine provided the most efficient system for accurate single shot fire. The high cost, complexity and lack of accuracy of a semi-automatic action is not justified, since the time it takes to re-acquire and accurately aim on target is much longer than it takes to reload.
The question is also often asked, - what happened to the WW2 20-mm rifles? They were conceived primarily as anti-tank weapons but their armor-penetrating capabilities were soon far outstripped by the armor of newer tanks. These weapons weighed as much as 100 kg and could hardly have been considered as man portable. The most significant difference between these and the NTW-20 is the role it plays and the reduction in weight and cost. The NTW-20 gives a user a cannon capability in a rifle configuration.
NTW-20/14.5 is aimed primarily for use by quick reaction, peacekeeping, and SPECOPS. Accurate long-range fire is available for high value targets, with low collateral damage. The actual deployment and use of the system varies between different nations and depends on doctrine and philosophy, and most importantly imagination of a shooter.
The system is supplied with two backpacks, each weighing approximately 15 kg loaded. One accommodates the weapon receiver section, while the other contains all of its ancillaries including the barrel and ammunition. These allow the system to be carried into relatively inaccessible areas so that it can be deployed from the least likely or expected areas.