AK-12 – the fifth generation Kalashnikov assault rifle

Kalashnikov AK-12 is a promising development of the concern group “IZHMASH” (renamed the concern “Kalashnikov“Since 2013), designed to replace the previous versions of Kalashnikov assault rifles in the production and armament of the Russian army and other security agencies AK-74 and AK-74M, AK-103 and earlier AKM and AKMS.

The machine was first shown in January 2012 (index AK-12 and means “Avtomat Kalashnikov 2012”). The main task when creating AK-12, to all appearances, there was an improvement in the ergonomic characteristics of the weapon, an increase in its versatility, while maintaining or slightly improving the combat characteristics (reliability, resource, accuracy of fire in different modes). The manufacturer initially promised the AK-12 in two versions – “light” for traditional intermediate cartridges such as 5.45–39, 5.56–45, 6.5 Grendel or 7.62–39, and “heavy”, for 7.62–51 NATO cartridges, however apparently, in the foreseeable future the “heavy” version will not be released.

The history of the AK-12

The development of the new machine has been carried out on its own initiative since June 2011 under the leadership of Vladimir Viktorovich Zlobin, the chief designer of Izhmash, on the basis of developments over the previous 10 years. In 2011, the assembly was completed and the first prototype of the fifth generation Kalashnikov assault rifle with the working title was tested AK-12. The machine was first shown in January 2012. The state did not provide support for the development of a new automatic machine due to the excessive number of old Kalashnikov assault rifles, of which there were more than 17 million in warehouses.

On June 2, 2012, Vladimir Viktorovich Zlobin, Chief Designer of NPO Izhmash, held a presentation in Solnechnogorsk AK-12 for the Interdepartmental Working Group (Laboratory) attached to the Military Industrial Commission, which included representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Federal Security Service of Russia. According to the results of the demonstration firing, the commission members noted that the automatic rifle behaves more steadily when firing than the samples of previous generations: the recoil and withdrawal during firing have decreased.

From June 27 to July 1, 2012, in the city of Zhukovsky, on the territory of the transport and exhibition complex “Russia”, the second international forum “Technologies in mechanical engineering” was held, where the show was scheduled AK-12.

During 2013–2014, the machine gun met with certain opposition from the military under the pretext of numerous shortcomings, and therefore the prospective machine gun was denied public funding for the tests.

On February 21, 2015, the Defense Ministry chose the Kalashnikov AK-12 as the main machine for equipping Ratnik soldiers, due to its lower price and lower weight compared to competitor A-545.

Tactical and technical characteristics of the AK-12

Year of development 2012
Weight 3.2 kg
Length 1100 mm
Barrel length 415 mm
Cartridge 5.45 x 39 mm
Principles of automation Removal of powder gases,
long stroke,
butterfly valve
Rate of fire 650/1000 shots / min *
Sighting range 1000 m
Effective firing range 600 m
Initial bullet speed 900 m / s
Sighting range 1100 m
Type of ammunition Box-type 30- and 60-charge stores or
95 round drum shops

* 650 shots / min means firing rate in automatic mode, and 1000 shots / min – shooting bursts with a cut-off of 3 rounds.

The AK-12 Kalashnikov assault rifle uses “classic” automatic equipment with a long stroke of the gas piston and a butterfly valve. To improve ergonomic and operational characteristics, the receiver box has been significantly redesigned, especially its upper part (lid). Machine AK-12 Received an elongated receiver cover with increased rigidity. The cover of the receiver is removable, it is mounted on two seats of the “dovetail” type on the receiver and is fixed with a cross pin in the back of the cover. To disassemble, the pin is squeezed out until it stops (while remaining on the lid), after which the lid shifts back and is completely removed from the weapon.

The cocking handle is moved forward and is attached to the gas piston rod, while after disassembling the weapon it can, at will, switch to the left or right side of the weapon (the Z-shaped handle can rotate around the gas piston during disassembly). This made it possible to exclude the gap between the lid and the receiver, which is characteristic of the AK family of weapons, in the stowed position, closed with a safety lever-translator and open to “all winds” in a combat position.

The fuse-translator of fire regimes has been redesigned – now its lever is extended to both sides of the weapon, under the thumb of a shooting hand, and has 4 positions:

  • Fuse
  • Single shooting
  • Shooting bursts of 3 rounds
  • Automatic shooting

In the design of the machine, a slide delay also appeared, allowing for faster recharging and controlled by a key in the front part of the trigger guard. Gate latch works only with modified stores, when using stores from AK-74 It does not automatically turn on. Of the other innovations of the machine AK-12 – Modified rifling and bullet entry trunk, designed to improve the accuracy of shooting, the new muzzle brake-compensator.

In addition to Picatinny-type guides, located on the receiver lid and on the top cover of the forearm, Kalashnikov AK-12 also has short guides on the sides of the forearm. The lower part of the forearm is offered in two versions – with Picatinny-type strips for fastening flashlights, handles and other devices or without guides, for attaching standard GP-25, GP-30 or GP-34 grenade launchers. The machine can be used as with regular magazines of the appropriate caliber with a capacity of 30 cartridges (from AK-74 or AKM, depending on the caliber), and with the shops of the RPK / RPK-74, as well as with promising 4-row box magazines with a capacity of 60 rounds and specially designed drum magazine for 95 rounds.

Features of the AK-12

So, in short, how AK-12 differs from its predecessors in a good way:

  • Improved accuracy of shooting due to the displacement of the mass of the bolt group and reduction of the recoil arm;
  • Improved ergonomics, introduced a two-way fuse-switch type of fire, double-sided shutter delay button and shift back magazine latch allows you to operate with one hand holding the weapon (without removing it from the handle, as before);
  • Built-in Picatinny rail on the fixed cover of the receiver for mounting attachments (sighting devices, range finders, grenade launchers, flashlights);
  • New, folding in both directions, telescopic butt, more ergonomic pistol grip type, adjustable pad and butt plate, butt locking mechanism in the unfolded state is now located in the butt itself, and not in the receiver;
  • The telescopic butt can now easily be replaced with a non-folding plastic butt, for this both Picatinny rail is located at the end, with which they are attached to the receiver (this also allows you to turn the hinge with the stem on the folding sample, changing the side where the stock is folded);
  • Ability to install reload handles on both sides of the receiver (for convenience of left-handers and right-handers);
  • The possibility of firing in three modes (single shots, with a cutoff of three shots and continuous bursts), previously optional for the “hundredth” series;
  • The muzzle device of the machine gun, which makes it possible to use foreign-made rifle grenades;
  • Mechanical sight with an increased aiming line;
  • Modified trigger mechanism;
  • Shutter stop (slide delay);
  • New bolt band design;
  • Barrel with improved performance accuracy, replaceable.

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