Izhmash prototype of the updated AK [BIG NEWS!!!]

Last year I reported that Izhmash would launch a new line of AK-style rifles this year. While this new line has not yet materialized, a prototype has been unveiled. It modernizes the AK-74M / AK-100 series by adding rails for optics and other accessories, as well as a few other minor improvements.

Head of Izhmash (I think) holding the new rifle. Note the nifty fore-grip / bipod.
President Dmitry Medvedev.

The following photos show one of the new prototype AK rifles.

Chambers 7.62x39mm. This means Izhmash also plan on updating their export rifles (the AK-100 series).

In the above photo you can see the new thumb safety. It simply prevents the trigger from being pulled back when it is engaged, very much resembling the SKS safety. One of the problems with the AK rifles is that it is slow to disengage the safety. This safety allows the operator to disengage the standard safety and put the rifle on semi or full auto mode, but reduces the chance of an accidental discharge.

The pistol grip has been updated and made more ergonomic.

The dust cover now features a rail for optics. To prevent a loss of zero when opened, the dust cover features a lever to lock it in place. The cover does detach from the gun but instead it hinges just in front of the rear sight.

The butt stock now stores the cleaning rod. It appears to have a slot cut in it for a sling, as well as the standard sling swivel. UPDATE: The slot exists so that a recoil pad can be attached. (Thanks Johnny for the correction).

The rear sight is now adjusted differently. The dust cover hinge can be clearly seen.

The forward rail sits above the gas tube.

I can’t decide if that is a side rail or not.

Bottom rail and a side rail.

While many of these modification are not pretty, they all seem like good ideas. In Iraq and Afghanistan all the allied forces are issuing optics (expect, of course, the cash-poor indigenous troops). I am sure the Russian Army does not want to fall behind everyone else and Izhmash does not want to lose sales to because their current stable of rifles lacks a decent rail system for optics and accessories.

Many thanks to Max Popenker for his help and insight.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Erwos

    Pretty nice rifle – I’ve been thinking about getting an AK-74 to take advantage of the cheap 5.45×39 floating around, and this would certainly seem to be a contender. Any idea on when this thing will make it to the market here in the US? 2010, 2011, 2012?

  • subby

    It warms the heart.

  • bullzebub

    thats a side rail.
    im a bit sad that they didnt made a better mag release and maybe a better cocking mechanism…

  • The slot in the buttstock is to allow the fit of the bumper pad when the rifle is fitted with a grenade launcher, it’s not for a sling.

    • Johnny, thanks! That makes sense.

  • Vak

    Well, that’s not exactly the improvements I would have made, but hey, I’m no firearm engineer. I was thinking of a peep rear sight ala RK62, put some non reciprocitating charging handle on it and maybe thicken the recever a bit to improve accuracy. But the new safety is nice (though it would have been wiser imho to adopt the thumb safety switch from the Galil) and the folding stock with the cleaning rod is an excellent idea.

    (stupid question is stupid : are those rails mil 193 or is it another similar russian standard ?)

    On a related note, as this article is also kinda about izmash, I recently found that european importers are going to import the (somewhat) new Vityaz (converted for semi auto) from russia, and Izmash is currently manufacturing semi-auto Vityazs. I would have liked a bizon or a PP-2000 more, but whatever.

  • CMathews

    I’d be curious to see an unbiased test on their zero holding lock lever dust cover. I’ve never had luck with dust cover rails, but then again none of tue aks I’ve shot were accurate enough to necesitate the use of optics. I like the improvements, but as mentioned a mag release or maybe a new mag well design would be killer.

  • Fred

    Are there any changes to the operating system, or are the guts still the same?

    • Fred, I have not heard anything to suggest that the internals have changed.

  • Lance

    I like th scope rails. But with the Russian army and Ishmash still in bad money conditions I doubt it will be the standerd Russian/CIS infantry rifle. While the Spetz Naz probaly will adopt them soon. Regular troops wont see them. I thought the Russians have there own optics anyway I.E. Side rail and have a veriaty of reddots and scopes to accomadate them. SO this project may be more a export than a military adoption.

    • Lance, having a longer rail allows for more combination of opics, such as red dot mounted in front of a magnification scope. Or a red dot in front of a night vision scope.

      It also allows the optics to be mounted slower than with the side rail.

  • jdun1911

    I’m surprise the Russians are using 1913 rails. They are 1913 rails right?

    • jdun1911, they look like 1913 rails, but it is hard to say.

  • jdun1911

    I shot AK and made hits on man size target at 300 constantly with the crappy iron sight. However the group were very large. Putting optic will improve the performance of any weapon IMO.

    For red dot optics, what you want to do is to put it far away from your eye as possible (front of the rifle). This give you a better faster sight picture. That’s why you see a lot of AR red sight mount (cantilever) that slant forward. The vest majority of AR red dot are mounted on the middle of the rifle because the forward part of the rifle already have a lot accessories.


  • Bill Lester

    I’m an AK enthusiast and the only improvement that really interested me was the top cover. The new lock is essentially the same as the gas tube lock that has proven itself strong and durable for over 50 years. The steel also appears to be quite a bit thicker than on conventional top covers. These new carbines should hold zero quite nicely with anything mounted on the integral rail.

    The new safety really looks jerry-rigged.


    This is a prototype military weapon. Full auto capable. We won’t see this model for sale in the States.


    I hadn’t heard there was a semi-auto Vityaz* on the way. Hopefully someone like Arsenal will make a 922r compliant version available for the U.S. market.

    *For those who don’t speak Kalashnikov :), Vityaz is the nickname for the AK-based PP-19-01 9mm Para SMG. The real deal comes with an eight inch barrel and AKS-74 style skeleton side folding stock. If they come to our shores, I’ll almost certainly buy one.

  • Lance

    I dont see this as a BIG improvement on the AK-74. The only real differnce is that of the top rail. I dont hink thats a great place for a AK rail. MAny commercial AK did this and the recoil of a AK have been too brutal for most optics to last long. The recoil of the AK bolt hitting the top cover is alot harder than it is on the side rails. Thats why most AKS use side rails and the top rail never cought on.

    Plus I dont see too many of these AKs as Russian issue. I think the regular AK-74 and AK-74M will be the standerd for a while in that section of the world.

  • Lance

    I perfer a US 922r complient 9x18mm Bison SMG, over a 9x18mm or 9x19mm Vityaz.

  • The improvements are cool, but I was kinda hoping for more. I think they could have added a improved magazine release or maybe a bolt hold open device. What’s cool about the pictanny rails is they might be able to have a peepshight easily mounted there.

  • Gutao

    Im only a enthusisast,but,what do u guys think about both sides charging handles,but above the receiver,so u could still put a round on the chamber with the safety on,and plus,every body could reload it.
    The mag release could be ondy a small improvement,so it could be like the XM8 one,wich is kinda like the AK’s mag release,but u can drop the mag with one hand…other than this,a adjustable stock should be enough.The Ak is an awesome rifle without all this stuff,this would only make it better.

    (is a multi-caliber AK a dream too big??)

  • MANG

    The only actual new rifle Russia has come up with in a loooong time…

  • jdun1911

    AN-94 is expensive to produce and use pulley strings to operate. Anyone want to trust their live on a pulley and string system? I don’t think so.

    I have said this many times, Izhmash needs to modernized the AK in line with western type small arms. As is, the AK still have a very very poor ergo. The XCR took care of those problems. Izhmash have the resources and brain trust to do it but not the will.

    If you want a modernized AK try the XCR.

  • Lance

    The AN-94 was only accepted into service for SpetNaz forces since it had over 150 parts to clean and operate. It is still made and used by Russian Spec Ops. AN-94 is like the SCAR of Russian weapons its a Special Forces weapon only.

    The regular army’s satnderd weapon is the AK-74M and has many Ak-74s also in service.

  • SpudGun

    If they do producer a semi-auto version for export, I wonder how many of the new bits and pieces will survive after it’s stripped down to make it into the American market?

    If you were to put these Izmash rails and accessories on your imported AK, how will that effect it’s legality and quota of American made parts?

    Is there a point in getting one if you have to take off all the bits and replace them with American made rails, stocks, etc.?

    Anyone know?

  • Bill Lester


    What makes you think an AK bolt hits the top cover? It doesn’t unless the gun in question is defective. The problem with many TC mounts or sights is poor fit of cover to receiver. If there’s play at either end you have a problem. If the parts are tightly fit together you have a good base. The TC on my Arsenal 106F is almost too tight. I really have to bear down on it to reassemble after cleaning. The couple of IMI Galils I’ve examined also exhibited a tight TC fit. Cheaper AK’s with looser tolerances can be shimmed some times to reduce or eliminate the slop.


    People have been trusting their lives to strings and pulleys since the dawn of aviation. That’s exclusively how flight controls were operated prior to the introduction of “fly-by-wire” avionics in the 1970’s.

  • Jason Smith

    Is it just me or does the magazine in the gun in picture 2 (the one being held by Medvedev) look like a 60 round quad-stack mag? Check the “exotics” section of this AK magazine reference page: http://home.comcast.net/~shooter2_indy/ak74_mag_guide.html

    • Jason, I think you are right. I did not realize they were “rare”.

  • Lance

    I enjoyed the Ak-74 mag article showed on this forum. Since Ive worked at gun shows and look threw the internet for anythin Ak-74 ive found some of my own conclusions on 5.45×39 AK mags.

    The most numorious are East German and Bulgarian mags. Since Germany sold off all of there at that time recently reunified East German military equipment all were sold off mostly to US importers before German banned weapons accessories from being sold to comercial sellers. Bulgaria has its own now private corperation that makes alot of money selling as close to athentic AKs into the US. Since the Bulgraian military still uses Ak-74s and of course the AK-M1 (AK-103) both 7.62×39 and 5.45×39 modern polymer mags are sold by the crate fulls here.

    Poland is now the newist seller of AK-74 accessories to the US market. Since they are they only countries to adopt a 5.56mm AK they have alot of older AK-74s in surpluse and made money selling guns and now mags to CAI and other gun sellers here.

    As for Russia its difficult to say. Ive havent seen any modern Russian mags on the market here. Some Soviet era mags have flowted in by either by third party buys and or from our troops in Afghanistain bringing some 1980s vintige left overs in. Some Soviet era mags I.E. 45rd RPK mags ive seen but they are very rare and Expensive!This goes to a Clinton era polocy with the Russian government and the ATF to keep AK and SKS guns parts and accessories as difficult as possible to get to US comercial sellers. Only guns the Clinton administraion aproved of like the Seiga where alowed in. Dispite President Bush’s 2 terms in office no reversial of this policy ever come into existence.

    As for China I did read of a Type 88 Ak-74 clone the Chicoms made. But no one outside of private US gun owners where interested in a AK-74 and with no commercial interest the gun died before the 1989 import ban which was the real killer of Chinese AKs the 1994 ban came later but by then only MAK-90 where alowed to be imported. The military model died before it began since China stayed with the 7.62x39mm round and the Type 56 rifle and crbine with it. No one in Middle East or Africa wanted a 5.45 AK since ammo was hard to fine so they bought Chinese type 56s. To this day they only county outside of Rissia/CIS and Eastern Europe to us the AK-74 is Vietnam which recently adopted the AK-74 for Vietnamese Navel Infantry units . And the other was Venezeula which Dictator Hugo Chevez had swichted from the ageing FN FALs and FNCs they army was useing to AK-74s and AK-103s. He wanted to have common calibers with his allies in Russia and Cuba.

    As for North Korea they never adpoted a 5.45 rifle period. The 7.62mm AK-47 is the standerd North Korean rifle. Intel has shown some AK-47s in Korea to been modernised with a AK-74/103 style muzzle brake and plastic stkes but there all 7.62×39. North Korea may had looked into the AK-74 in the late 1980s and made some accessories for them. But never was adopted. The mags seen where export only North Korean made that are bought by illict groups like the Talliban and Hezbolla who buy stolen or 3rd party AKs from the CIS.

    As for Romania they have gave us some of the best 5.45 rifles only 2nd to Bugaria as per being as close to a real Russian military AK-74 Assult Rifle can get. The SAR-2 is a great rifle and Only Arsenel AK-74 come close to the rifle closeness to the real thing. However since the Romanian Army is going to useing Ak-74s for quite a while longer mags and accessories are hard to come by since most mags and accessories in that country are stilll made by the governmant and are mostly given to the military. SOme compaines have bought a few mags for sale here from Romanian surplus dealers but there are hard to find (Ive never saw one ever in person). The Polish and Romanian mags are quite valuable since they are made from steel and live onger than Bakelite and Polymere mags.

    As for the article ive read some guns are AK-103s and are 7.62x39mm for Spez Naz and export reasons. As for the AK-74U shown with a 60rd mag it may be that weight of a double mag may have killed the double mag concept since the new drum mag came to be for the RPK-74. And since the drum mag is made in Russia it wont be imported here untill they unoffical ban of Russian aussult weapons and gear is lifted.

    • Lance, thanks for your comment.

  • Lance

    Sorry for selling errors hope Steve can correst them.

  • vtb

    it’s good to watch the izhmash is trying to catch up ipsc crowd already upgraded their saiga’s. Because but the new rear sight and top cover with rail which holds in place by SVD-type level-lock – are good things for shure.

    Meanwhile anyone can make their AK comfortable to shoot:

    1. TAPCO SAW grip (or MAGPUL MIAD)
    2. TDI stock adapter
    3. MAGPUL UBR stock (slimmest cheek piece)
    4. railed gas tube
    5. RPK rear windage & elevation adjustable sight
    6. TAPCO white post for front sight
    7. aimpoint micro H-1 (T-1) with reddot calibrated to make reddot lie on front post top.

    M93 magpul shown – was waiting UBR to arrive.

    this exact 7.62×39 saiga is capable of 2.5MOA accuracy with cheapest factory ammo – while not good to hit a steel plate 15×15 cm at 250 meters but enough to hit a IPSC popper at 300 meters from first shot in day without wind.

    anyone complaining about absence of a drum mag should just practise fast reload on the move. Roundmag is not good – it changes the grip angle of a weak (supporting) hand and dramatically moves balance of AK to the front which is not so good because on AK it’s hard to use forward grip due to the geometry of magazine change.

  • Gutao

    sorry ’bout the noob comment,but are the AK’s that hard to aim/control?

  • jdun1911

    Vtb, that is a very nice mod AK you got there. Very nice. The M93 stock is a classic and a lot of people would paid a premium price for it even if it is used.

    If I ever get the time and funds, I’ll mod one of my AK to something like yours.


    Like everything, experience and a good muzzle brake greatly help in the control and aiming of the firearm.

  • Bill Lester


    No, the AK family isn’t hard to aim or control. Do other carbines have better iron sights? Certainly, including non-former Com Bloc AK variants like the Finnish RK.62 and 95, Israeli Galil and South African R4/R5. Use of electronic dot sights is easily facilitated with Ultimak’s railed gas tube. http://www.ultimak.com/BuyAK.htm

    Control isn’t an issue either. The 7.62×39 AK recoils more than an M-16 but it’s far from uncontrollable. AK’s chambered in 5.56 NATO recoil the same as an M4. In fact, comparing my Arsenal SLR-106F to a Bushmaster M4gery in a side-by-side test left me thinking the Kalashnikov had a slight bit less muzzle lift during fast pairs. This is probably due to the AK-74 type muzzle brake more than anything else. I’ve never fired a 5.45mm AK but can’t see it being any different than a 5.56mm Kalash.

  • Lance

    5.45x39mm Aks have even softer ecoil than a 5.56mm gun they are very easy to control.

  • Bill Lester


    You’re right. After posting my last response, I remembered seeing Larry Vickers* on a television program saying the AK-74 is THE most controllable assault rifle ever fielded when fired full auto. I think it’s safe to say someone with his credentials has a lot of clout in opinions of small arms.

    *If anyone isn’t familiar with Larry Vickers, he was a member of the Delta Force for over 20 years as both an assaulter and weapons trainer. He knows his stuff firsthand.

  • Daniel

    it is interesting the new buttstock however, i like the folder option, and like the RIS rails torwards the gas tube. the remaining ris looks like to much the SF craze on the m4. that every folk whom goes ape s**t on accessories. Me i’d just be happy with a folding stock, gas tube ris rail, 4 moa sight co-witnessed on the gas tube and, maybe an torch. all of the other fancy stuff is to much wannabe SF in my opinion, although others may differ. I like it simple Gabe Saurez style, while SF m4 crowds rather have every god dam accessory on it; 4moa, illuminator, laser, bipod, and more junk

  • Bill Lester


    I have the same folding stock design on my Arsenal. It is amazingly strong. Deploy it and there is absolutely no movement at the hinge. None. Folding and unfolding is a snap. I always preferred fixed stock AK’s over the older under-folding and side-folding metal stocks. That was until having one of these AK-100 series folders. They are the best.

  • vtb

    basically AK is the answer for M4 problems (reability, jam issues etc.) and M4 is answer for AK issues (poor basic ergonomics, design of mid-ex-century etc.)

    What i’m trying to say – don’t 100% abandon idea of M4 parts (grips, stocks, rails) when you build your AK. Stock AK parts were made mainly with technological aspects of production in mind (how to minimize cost while building 1 mln AK in month). Yes – they will work and will do that fine from -50C to +50C but it’s strange to see that while you get free source to R&D base which you get as granted (done in a sandbox just during couple of last years) you still buy a stock which was designed 40 years ago.

  • Spiff

    In the “action” photo, the foremost shooter is left handed – does the AK come with a deflector, or is that the reason the shooter is wearing a visor?
    The AK is best known as a “pray and spray” weapon…

  • The rear slot is for a recoil pad… the long slot, towards the pistol grip IS for the cleaning rod.

  • Kevin

    Great post and good info!!! Thanks for posting this article. Unfortunately, Izhmash’s attempt to modernize the AK is not as impressive as I had hoped. The whole gun looks like a “jerry-rigged” -74. Then again, the 47 went through many prototypes before becoming what it is now. The AN-94 is a much more impressive design than this. The dust cover is an improvement over the old one, but it still doesn’t allow cowitnessing. The new rear sight looks better, but they could have upgraded to an aperature or at least moved the rear sight further back. The top rail looks great, but once again it doesn’t cowitness. The second safety is a great idea with a horrible implementation. The bottom handguard rail is almost moot point, and the side rails are a great idea… if they are in fact side rails. Looks like someone could have done this in their basement.. actually, I’m certain that an american DIY-er could come up with an even better design than this. I love the Ak-100 series.. but this prototype is a disaster. I’d buy a gas-piston AR style system before I bought this monster.

  • Would have loved to see the true 108 counter-balance system implemented in a .308 bullpup feeding M14 mags and a decent mag release.

    For my .308 AK-108 I added:
    Tapco SAW Grip (prefer the no longer available ACE FAL style grip),
    the TDI Forend,
    UTG Forend grip (cheap),
    K-Var Scope mount (side slab style),
    ACOG for .308,
    Ace Folding stock (7.5″)
    Cheap green laser (zeroed for 21′)
    Cheap 500 Lum Light (good for wildlife erradication Mtn. Lion/Bear when they start comming in close at night)

    All so far holds up under repeated recoil

    Had to repair the FBMG Magazines by fitting followers, trashing springs and using Wolff AK springs, and removing interal floorplate. Buy the steel cspec mags!

    Things are good now.

    I have extra large hands so I can move the mag release with my trigger finger and knock it forward as I insert the replacement mag. (let it fall)

    Only thing left to want is a Titanium suppressor (on a Bull pup or not) and the 50 rd. drum, but the present configuration will do well for mount and dismount from vehicles.

    I should be careful what I say. Last time I said things in front of a SWAT Armorer about a .45 sub gun with integrated modern compensators, buffers, sound suppressor. light and lasers that fed .45 Glock magazines to be compatible with a G21 or G30 sidearm….3 years later the Kriss Super V was made.

    Since the (.308) M-14 is back in force with the Sage stock and cut to 16″, the a suppressed True counter-balanced AK-108 Bullpup (for MOUT and mounted ops) is the future… unless TDI beats someone to the idea and takes things to the next level.

    Whoever does this better use the FAL pistol grip angles.

  • Billy

    The US aftermarket still has more accessories and bling for the AK than the Russians do themselves! FAIL! The AK even has an American ACOG.

    • Partizan1942

      That is just it… you do not see anyone in Russia with an AR-15 but un the us people buy AKs why on earth do you think that is??? 🙂

  • Hudson Wolfe

    I think that in the top picture the head of Izhmash is holding the new RPK-12 Light Machine Gun.