The South African Denel-Mechem NTW-20 is a 20mm anti-material rifle and qualifies quite admirably for the title of worlds most powerful sniper rifle, and I don't think that this will be disputed. This rifle is a serious take no prisoners weapon!



The Denel-Mecham rifle fires massive 20mm cannon rounds as more favored by helicopter gunships, fighter aircraft, warships and armored fighting vehicles.

Since the 20mm's development until recently, the round has never been considered suitable by the military as rifle ammunition.

The rifle required to fire it would be fantastically heavy and way too cumbersome for any infantry soldier to carry.  Plus the fact that the 20mm cartridge produces such excessive recoil that nobody would withstand the force.

The rifle would have to be carried like a bazooka and become a squad operated support weapon and would then lose its prime role as a rifle. The Denel-Mecham, as seen below, hopes to push all this aside and become a singular operated weapon.



Heavy, cumbersome weapons didn't stop the Japanese in 1937 from building about forty 20mm caliber assault guns though.  The semi-automatic Kawamura Type 97  20mm anti tank rifle, seen below, was a very heavy gun.

It weighed 110 lbs and at nearly 7 foot long it needed a four man team to operate it.  The four man squad comprised of the main gunner, the loader, and two ammunition carriers.



The Kawamura Type 97 could be taken down into two parts, but generally it was carried by two men with a detachable handle fitted at each end of the gun.

The violent recoil could also injure the firer as it was not adequately suppressed and brave volunteers were needed, however, there were always some hardy souls willing to fire it.




With armor penetration at three centimeters from 350 meters distance and two centimeters from 700 meters, the Japanese thought it a worthwhile tank did the Finish...

 ...below is the 20mm Lahti L39  anti-tank rifle from Finland, standing next to a Russian 7.62 machine gun for comparison.



Primarily designed to knock out tanks was a little bit optimistic from the designers, but the 20mm AP - Armor Piercing shell could still do a lot of damage to other vehicles.

The 20mm HE - High Explosive shell could also perforate a multitude of targets.



The big ski like bipod under the rifle is presumably so the heavy rifle at 100 lbs can be dragged along instead of being carried. It had a 5 round box magazine that added an additional 8 lbs of weight to the rifle.

The Lahti L39,  seen below, had a muzzle velocity of 2,625 feet per second and was positively lethal to armored vehicles, especially at close range.



Below is an image to illustrate the size of a modern 20mm round, standing next to the more common big caliber rifle rounds.  Have no misconceptions...these 20mm cartridges are big!

20mm cannon rounds usually have the bullets painted bright blue, with a description of the dimensions and type of cartridge painted on it in white letters.


Left to right: .223 - .338 Lapua Magnum - .50 cal Browning and finally the  awesome 20mm cannon round.  The Barrett Light 50 has a reputation as being an awesome man stopper, the 20mm however, literally blows that away.



It makes its own stance on the stage as the ultimate big bad bully boy...indeed the new kid on the block is a super heavy weight.

Below is the Denel-Mechem NTW-20 finished in desert sand colors...indicating that it may be in service in the Middle East by Special Forces.



Regarding the Japanese Kawamura Type 97  20mm rifle, it was heavy, difficult to fire and hard to operate.  All this changed in 1998 though, when Anthony Neophytou, a South African arms designer, developed a relatively lightweight 20mm, recoil buffered rifle.

It weighed 57 lbs and could now be carried by an individual and indeed fired by an average build infantryman.

You did not need to be Superman on steroids to be able to handle it! A live-leak  video below shows the total awesomeness of the 20mm cannon round.



Mechem a division of Denel a South African arms manufacturer were so impressed with the rifle when it was shown to them they bought all the rights and patents of it.

They then manufactured it themselves on a production line, all quality control being followed to the letter.  The rifle was sold to the SANDF  South African National Defence Force, it was also available for overseas purchase.



On the 19th June 2006, Denel-Mechem introduced and upgrade to the NTW-20 whereas the barrel and firing assembly are interchangeable with the awesome 14.5mm caliber ammunition.

The 20mm setup can be changed over to a 14.5mm setup in less than a minute making the NTW-20 more versatile than ever before.

The NTW-20 is designated an anti-material rifle as it is designed to destroy material rather than men, although it will destroy the latter very easily. Basically, if you can see it in your sights, then you can destroy it, with one shot!



The  main purpose of the NTW-20 is to totally destroy enemy ordnance, fuel silos or render inoperable such things as radar installations, parked helicopters, planes, vehicles and well, anything you can think of!

The 20mm cannon round will obliterate anything it blasts into, it is a powerful big bullet and blasts big holes into things!

Below a soldier takes careful aim with his Denel-Mecham 20mm sniper rifle, if he is accurate, then his target will be obliterated.



The 20mm round is basically designed from Word War Two German Luftwaffe MG151 fighter ammunition, the round can be of a high explosive, incendiary or high fragmentation  type.

The accuracy although adequate at 1500 meters is not as good as the M82 Barrett Light 50 or other .50 caliber rounds or the superior Russian super high velocity armor piercing 14.5mm round that exceeds an accurate distance of 2300 meters. 

The 20mm does make up for this though, by the devastation it delivers to any target via  comparatively massive explosive capability even if its an "off target" hit.

The damage a 20mm round can inflict on a vehicle, be it fired from the NTW-20 or even an F-16 fighter jet, is graphically illustrated below...



The car, as pictured,  was driving three miles behind a live fire training ground in Utah, U.S.A, by off duty Air Force personnel when it was accidentally hit several times by stray rounds fired from an F-16 Fighter Jet. Luckily nobody got seriously hurt!

The bullets were normal non-explosive 20mm training rounds.  Had the F-16 been firing incendiary or explosive ammunition, then the car would have been blown wide open killing the occupants too.

Even so, the 20mm ball ammunition that's used as training rounds, smacked into this car sending shrapnel straight through and out the other side, as if the car was made of tissue paper!  The bullet fragments and flying shrapnel from the impacts also punctured all of the tires.

Below is a great graphical representation of the shear size of the 20mm cannon round when compared to the big .50 caliber Browning round.  That's a mans hand by the way not a childs!



Normal 20mm ammunition can put big holes into the side of a car  and 20mm Armor Piercing has the potential  to do the same but this time to an armored vehicle.  Therefore the NTW-20  with its anti-tank application is superb.

The Denel-Mechem  NTW-20 is also available in the aforementioned Russian 14.5mm round, so as not to deprive the discerning NTW-20 shooter of this other superb performance caliber.



The operation and design of the NTW-20 is such that it can be carried in two separate parts each about 26 lbs by two soldiers with ease and minimum effort. 

The NTW-20 is a bolt action rifle, making it very strong in design and more accurate than a semi-auto loading weapon, the bolt actually locks to the barrel with no less than 6 positive locking lugs.

The recoil is efficiently compensated for by spring buffers and hydraulic dampers, whilst the entire barrel and firing assembly move backwards the frame remains static.

Also, a large vented double chamber muzzle brake is incorporated onto the end of the barrel, this is to arrest even more recoil.  Therefore the blast and tremendous gases of the fired round is diverted sideways as the bullet exits the muzzle.




The recoil compensation is exceedingly important otherwise the rifle would not be able to be fired without literally smashing the bones in the firer's shoulder.

The NTW-20 has a 3 round box magazine that is situated on the left hand side of the receiver, it is quick and easy to change during firing.

There are no open sights on this rifle, instead a telescopic sight set for 8 x magnification is fitted and this has a very long eye relief (the distance between the scope and the firer's eye) due to the recoil, that even though suppressed, is still severe.

The 20mm cartridge and its possible uses as a rifle round has not been overlooked by other arms companies either, and Finland produce the APH RK20  whilst Croatia produce the RT20.  The awkward looking Croatian RT20  with its bullpup  design is pictured below.




Both of these 20mm rifles were actually developed from World War Two weapons that were originally designed as squad anti tank weapons.

It must be noted here though, that the World War Two Hispano-Suiza 20mm guns that these were designed on, weighed in at over 200 lbs and were far from portable.

Below is the more usual place to find a 20mm gun.  This 20mm Oerlikon gun is mounted as a deck gun aboard a U.S Navy warship.


More often than not 20mm guns were attached to a platform on a half track or even within the turret of a tank as coaxial support fire.

Generally they were used as anti-aircraft guns...such as the  depiction of a World War Two German anti-aircraft battery below.  In this instance four 20mm guns were used in tandem.



Today's high tech rifles are much lighter and infinitely more portable due to the use of advanced recoil suppression and more advanced metallurgy in the overall construction of the rifle.

Not forgetting that these modern 20mm cannon rifles can be quickly dismantled into two or three parts for unobtrusive transportation by just a couple of men.

20mm rifles are slowly becoming more and more realised by Special Forces for their complete ability to knock out the majority of vehicles with one shot at reasonable ranges of just under a mile.

A single, well placed 20mm  fragmentation round, as seen below, will take out  the principle target without blasting the surrounding vicinity like a bomb would do.



A good illustration of this would be to blast the hostile occupants of an armored car in a closely populated area with one or two decently placed shots without injuring innocent civilian bystanders in the process.

These colossal 20mm rifles are not just made with the military in mind, in countries where legal ownership of various weapons are allowed, a 20mm rifle would impress just about anyone down at the local outdoor range.





This is where The Anzio Iron Works Company  in U.S.A step in, with its single shot Anzio-20  that retails for a mere $7,500 or you can have the 3 round box fed version for $8,500.

A cammo pattern finish for the rifle is an extra $300, a 45 inch barrel is an extra $300 and a suppressor is an extra $1,800 (Prices as of August 2012)


"Parked" next to a Barrett Light .50 caliber rifle on the right, the massive 20mm dwarfs it.

The specification of this Anzio-20 rifle is quite impressive.  At 6 foot 8 inches long it sports a 49 inch match grade fluted barrel with heavy duty clam-shell brake recoil suppressor.  It also has a relatively huge bolt handle for ease of operation.

Below is a YouTube  video of the Anzio 20mm rifle firing three shots. Quite awesome recoil to say the least, it must have pushed him back half a foot! Check it out...


The Anzio 20mm has a detachable 3 round magazine and a super strong titanium firing pin.  Quick change take down barrel, four large locking lugs, heavy duty bi-pod, fully adjustable rear monopod and a Duracoat  finish of any color.

Below is shown the awesome Anzio Vulcan 20mm sniper rifle, it is accurate and very powerful.  These 20mm canon sniper rifles make the massive .50 Browning rifle look like a kids toy in comparison of shear destructive penetration and power.



The Anzio 20mm rifle has a super smooth operation throughout the whole firing experience.  It would of course be dangerous to fire this gun without the muzzle brake attached and serious injury could result.

The 20mm bullet that's fired is accurate up to 1500 meters, yes, that's just the accuracy we are talking about but the bullet is lethal at well...over 5000 meters (3½ miles) and more.

With 600 grains of Hodgdon extreme rifle powder behind it, its not surprising the bullet has so much energy and velocity to hit a target with maximum lethality at over a mile away or more.

Below the shooter has just fired the Anzio 20mm rifle, notice the burnt gas cloud around the muzzle!



With such potency, the firer of this gun should take precautions such as the strength of the  back stop where the targets are set up.  It would be recommended that an entire hillside be a suitable option! and I'm not kidding.



Available in three different flavors: The awesome 14.5mm, the incredible Browning .50 caliber or the fantastic Anzio Vulcan 20mm. Personally speaking I would prefer the 14.5mm as it would be cheaper to fire and is still an awesome round to fire.




Page created October 27th 2008.  Updated January 27th 2013.