The RPC "Fort" Science Industrial Association of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine introduces the FORT-20 9mm semi-automatic striker-fired, polymer-frame pistol: a cost-effective service, defensive, and sport shooting alternative for emerging markets
The FORT-20 9x19mm caliber semi-automatic pistol is one of the latest creations of the RPC "Fort" Science Industrial Asociation, headquartered in the Ukrainian city of Vinnytsia, of which we already told about when we reported about the recent launch of their brand new FORT-230 sub-machine gun.
Wholly owned by the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine, the RPC "Fort" Science Industrial Association was established in 1991 in the newly-independent Ukraine to manufacture service small arms and equipment for the Ukrainian law enforcement, military, and border security agencies.
Ever since, the Company acquired a significant know-how particularly in the field of handguns and sidearms in general. While it's true that RPC "Fort" also produces sub-machine guns, semi-automatic and select-fire rifles, pump-action shotguns, grenade launchers, and riot control equipment, semi-automatic pistols have always been and still are the Company's core business.
It's worth pointing out that most of the handguns manufactured by RPC "Fort" are based on the tried and true CZ-75 pistol design, and that most of their manufacturing is based on technologies transfered from the CZ group, in some cases dating as far back as the late 1990s. The Company thus enjoys a significant level of experience in the field, fueled by high-end manufacturing technology and machineries.
The production of the RPC "Fort" is mostly aimed to the internal civilian, law enforcement and military markets; in relatively recent times, however, the Company started to look towards civilian and professional/government sales on other markets, chiefly in eastern Europe, the Middle East, central Asia, and other so-called "emerging" markets.
Under this point of view, the RPC "Fort" products – and those of the Ukrainian military-industrial complex at large – sometimes represent a more viable alternative to expensive, hard-to-obtain products of the European and north American industry.
The new FORT-20 semi-automatic pistol was showcased back in mid-June at the 2021 "Arms and Security" in Kiev – the same expo that saw the launch of the FORT-230 sub-machine gun. As of today, RPC "Fort" is in the final stages of testing for the design, and is finalizing the gear-up for production. If everything goes according to plan, the manufacturing of the FORT-20 should begin in early 2022.
The FORT-20 isn't the first polymer-frame pistol manufactured by RPC "Fort" – that being the FORT-17, first introduced in 2004 – nor their first striker-fired pistol – that being the FORT-28, introduced in 2018 as the first 5.7x28mm pistol manufactured outside of Europe or the United States; it still represents a reportedly good, modular design, perfectly fitting the modern canons and market trends concerning semi-compact and compact pistols for service, defense, sport shooting, and tactical applications.
The polymer frame of the FORT-20 features a MIL-STD 1913 Picatinny rail for tactical accessories and a fully checkered grip with interchangeable backstraps that make it adaptable to any shooter, regardless of hand size. The controls are extremely simple, very intuitive to familiarize with: a "Glock-style" trigger safety and ambidextrous disassembly lever; a hold-open release lever and magazine catch located only on the left side of the frame; no manual safety of sorts.
The slide of the FORT-20 pistol is machined out of steel and features a set of front and rear serrations, and dovetailed front and rear sights – both adjustable for windage – with bright white dot reference points. It also appears to feature a pop-up loaded chamber indicator located on top of the slide, just behind the ejection window.
Other features of the FORT-20 pistol include a single-action only trigger and a polygon-rifled barrel, approximately 4" long, with six right-handed grooves. A "tactical" version will also be made available, featuring a slightly longer barrel with a muzzle thread protected by a removable nut, allowing the installation of flash hiders, muzzle brakes, or sound suppressors.
The FORT-20 pistol is 18 cm / 7" long overall, and weighs in at 750 grams (1.65 lbs) with an empty magazine. The magazines are double-stack, manufactured out of sheet metal with a polymer baseplate, and offer a capacity of 14 or 16 rounds of 9x19mm ammunition, with the possibility to host an additional round in chamber. The FORT-20 will be available in full matte black or desert tan variants.
Based on what we know about this pistol so far, we can fairly safely assume that the FORT-20 may have a good chance for success on the "emerging" markets it is mostly aimed to: the Ukrainian manufacturer has managed to come out with an overall simple, yet modern design, easy to familiarize with, easy to operate, and potentially very cost-effective – this being an important feature for the Countries where RPC "Fort" sells most of its products.
It's a pity that the firearms manufactured by RPC "Fort" aren't available in the West; European Union -wise, the Ukrainian Company has a distributor in Poland, but that's pretty much it. Being able to put the FORT firearms head-to-head at the range with their competitors manufactured by bigger, more famous European and north American gunmakers would be an interesting experience, and might return some interesting results.