European small arms market is dominated by titans that have history spawning decades and centuries long, so 15 years does not seem like a long period in comparison. On the other hand, successfully surviving for 15 years in a market dominated by such respected and established brands as Beretta, CZ, Glock, Heckler-Koch or Walther is no small feat in itself.
So, let’s take a closer look on the relatively young, but quite strong contender that emerged from Slovakia decade and a half ago, namely the Grand Power company from the city of Slovenská Ľupča, in the middle of this quiet and peaceful country.
Grand Power: history of the company
The key man behind the success story of the Grand Power s.r.o. is someone Jaroslav Kuracina, also known among his many friends as Jaro. Jaroslav started his career as an ordnance officer in Slovak army. He also inherited passion for firearms and shooting from his granddad, who was an avid hunter.
By 1994, Jaro has a concept of an indigenous rotary barrel locking system for handguns, but nobody was interested in it. For several years he unsuccessfully tried to sell his patents, obtained in 1996, to established companies like the CZ in Uhersky Brod, or to find investors, and failed.
Not defeated, he borrowed money from his friends to finalize his design, and ordered first prototypes made by an outside company.
By 2002, he had what he believed was a completed design, a service-type semi-automatic pistol named K100. It was a fairy modern weapon with polymer frame, external hammer and double-action trigger, and patented locking system that employed rotary barrel.
It must be noted that short recoil, rotary barrel systems are known for more than 100 years, and first production pistols of this type were made and adopted by Austro-Hungarian military as early as 1907.
However, for some non-obvious reasons this system never became too popular, living in the back-waters of the sea, dominated by Browning-type toggle barrel systems.
Grand Power: the K100 pistol uses a rare locking block system
Particular design, invented by Mr.Kuracina, was different from most predecessors because instead of the typical arrangement of cam on the barrel and angled slot on the frame of frame insert, he employed a spiral surface machined on the bottom of the barrel that rode over steel cross-pin inserted in the frame.
Combined with good ergonomics of the gun, quality of manufacture and affordable price, K100 soon became a well-respected firearm in its own right. And it also spawned a broad number of variations, including “race-guns” for practical sport shooting, compact pistols in various calibers for self-defense, small-bore pistol for practice and fun.
Grand Power: other new products
Going with the market trends, Grand Power company also introduced a family of striker-fired pistols (Q100 and Q1) that use same rotary barrel locking and offer a true double action trigger system (with second strike capability) to those who do not like Glock-type triggers.
Over recent years, Grand Power also extended its products line to long guns, and introduced an excellent pistol-caliber semi-automatic carbine (and a submachine gun based thereof) called “Stribog”.
Overall, this seems like yet another “veni, vidi, vici” success story, but like every true life story it involved sweat, hard labor, and stubborn determination to do things that one else feels are right. So, on this day, we all wish Mr. Jaro and his company Grand Power a Happy Birthday, and ask them to bring us even more interesting, practical and indigenous guns.