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wz.88 Tantal: Poland’s Alternative to the AK-74

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As part of the Warsaw Pact, Poland anticipated adopting the AK-74 after it was developed by the Soviet Union. However, the eventual Soviet terms for license fees and export restrictions were too severe for Polish taste. Instead, Poland opted to develop its own new rifle to use the 5.45x39mm cartridge. This would essentially be a 5.45mm version of the AKM. That sounds like an AK-74, but the 74 actually involved a significant number of changes to parts which the Poles though could be leave identical tot he AKM (like the rear trunnion, for instance). The Poles also wanted to separate the selector lever into two separate controls, with a safety lever on the right and a selector lever (including a 3-round burst option) on the left side.

This new project, codenamed Tantal, was adopted as the wz.88 just before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Production ran for only a couple years, with a total production of 30-50 thousand rifles. Once it became clear that Poland had a path to join NATO, the Tantal was dropped in anticipation of a new rifle in 5.56x45mm NATO. For much more information on the Tantal, see Leszek Erenfeicht’s extensive article at

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