Izhmash 5th Gen AK-12 Photos and Video

More photos of new Izhmash AK-12, and the first video I have seen, have been published by Russia Today. Russia Today is calling the AK-12 the Kalashnikov 5.0. I declared it the 5th generation AK back in November and so am very pleased to see I counted up the AK generations correctly.

The video at the bottom of this post includes a lot of stock footage from the Izhmash factory but there are clips of the new AK-12 being fired and of what appears to be a torture test comparison with an M16.

The safety/burst selection is not aesthetically pleasing, but it looks functional.

[ Many thanks to Zoltan for emailing us the link. ]

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.


  • Colin

    Man i want one of those! My question is where is the charging handle? If its on the left side wouldnt that mean the “upper” would have to have cuts on both sides?

    • Colin

      Nevermind, clicked on the link lol! Im assuming the charging handle is fixed. If it is, shame its still on the right side.

      • Kav

        The charging handle can be switched to either side.

      • Colin

        It says that it can be operated by lefties or righties but is that just the firing controls? I dont see anywhere that says the charging handle can be switched. If you could link to your info that would be much appreciated! Thanks man

      • Gareth

        ” Charging handle is moved forward to be removably attached to the gas piston, and can be installed on either side of the gun. ”
        according to http://world.guns.ru/assault/rus/kalashnikov-ak-12-e.html

  • Charles222

    Wow. Talk about a lack of workmanship. Just looks cheaply made.

    • Alexander_Degtyarev

      And you know it’s still going to be more reliable than any ‘quality’ AR.

      • Mike

        I’m begging you, stop thinking about M16A1, its not the only AR in the world.

      • Charles222

        And no it’s not. When even the damn PLA has ditched the AK as their service rifle (interesting how virtually every AK-based service rifle has been retired) the writing is definitely on the wall. 😉

      • Rob

        charles, how much of htat is the AK isn’t a good platform and how much is national pride in wanting to use a rifle designed and built in country?

      • Riceball

        As I understand it that’s not a result of superior craftsmanship or manufacturing techniques or design but more the opposite. The AK’s legendary reliability is a result of its loose tolerances which allows for more room for dirt, mud, carbon, etc. to build up without affecting any moving parts.

      • Lance

        Not all PLA services ditched the Type 56 militias and Naval units still use them. Yes the regular infantry in China uses Type 95s.

      • W

        objectively and technically, alexander is right. I have seen a modernized M16/M4 go head to head with a AKM/AK74 with sheer long term use and number of rounds before failure. That goes without saying that the new Ar15s are extremely reliable, though the AKM is rugged and its long stroke gas piston is also extremely reliable. When you throw in factors like dust, poor maintenance, and extreme cold, the AK easily tops any AR15. It goes back to comparing apples to oranges; the AR15 is a rifle…the AK47 is more like a machine gun. Different doctrines and TTPs.

        The PLA didn’t “drop” the type 56, it just introduced a modernized replacement (the Type 81 and 95 carbines, which short-stroke gas piston systems) and still remains in service and exported worldwide in large numbers. Type 56 carbines and their derivatives, while crude, are arguably the most reliable AK variants produced.

      • Nater

        Yes, it will be. After shooting ARs and AKs for awhile, it basically boils down to the magazine 99% of the time. The AK is difficult and rather slow to reload, but it has a bullet proof magazine design that rarely, if ever, double feeds. Also, with the safety on, the AK is pretty much sealed up. It’s impossible to forget. You put the safety on, the gun is sealed. With the AR you have to flip the dust cover up and I cannot tell you how many people I see neglect to do this.

        But in reality, the AR is more than reliable enough. It always had been a reliable design. The M16A1 was very reliable. The rifle length ARs are the most reliable of the bunch. The example in that video has probably had a hundred thousand rounds through it. The action spring is probably worthless.

    • Matt G.

      I have to agree Charles, that thing looks like it was hammered out in a basement on a rock. You can tell in the second pic that it looks like someone took a ball peen to the ejection port. But it’s hopefully just a prototype.

      As for the overall design, I thought they couldn’t make the AK any uglier. I was wrong. The safety looks much more usable than the old one though. But what exatly does that lever to the right of the safety do? And what is that button in front of the trigger guard? It’s not a mag release.

      Also, I like that they moved the rear sight back, but I wonder if the dust cover is any tighter than the old design.

      • mr_lorenco

        The dust cover is MUCH tighter than on most AK`s previously made by IZHMASH,the lever above the fire selector is a dis`assembly lever as stated on their site,they also mentioned the button above the magazine drop lever,it`s a bolt catch button.

      • noob

        my understanding is that the leaver next to the safety selector is some kind of takedown lever to release the hinged dust cover.

        If so, I sure hope that I don’t hit the wrong switch under stress!

      • mr_lorenco

        The lever will probably very harsh to push,since as u mentioned one could hit it instead of the fire selector under stress.

  • Mike

    Also, charging handle is reciprocating.

  • SAMMY!

    Thanx for posting. Here is a link to the movie.


  • Komrad

    There appears to be nearly no muzzle rise. Does this have that funky balanced recoil system (or whatever it was called) that the AK-108 had, or is the compensator just more effective?

  • Jon Mac

    Could they have found an older, more beat-up AR to ‘test’ against? Yeesh. Although in fairness, I can’t see an AK of the same vintage and condition failing to perform.

    • Ah, I thought maybe I was the only one to notice that they were testing against what appears to be an M-16A1.

    • john doe

      clip with AR vs AK testing is from an older documentary. it’s at least 6 years old. And even then god knows how old that footage was. Looks late 90s to me.
      Plus AR’s are no easily available in Russia.

      Check this for more up to date benchmarks.

  • Doesitmatter?

    “… not aesthetically pleasing” (says editor and I absolutely concur). But, keep on mind this is not commercial item like western rifles. These are made for one single purpose, so let them look like crap. It’s the objective.

    • Gareth

      I’m sorry I don’t mean to troll…but I truly could not think of a less meaningful argument than whether a gun is aesthetically pleasing. I mean, really?? I’m a graphic designer and I’ve always secretly fantasized and drawn AKs exactly like this. It’s like I like Kate Winslet and you may like Kate Moss. Or Ferraris and Zonda. Or twinkie and cupcakes. Do you maybe have strong personal preference to one instead of the other? yes. Does it make the other of any less virtue that it’s relevant to the discussion? Maybe yes too. But to me it’s a moot point.

      • Doesitmatter?

        To make tools of war (i.e.for killing enemy) aesthetically pleasing is just short of perversion. I cannot speak for Izhmash, but I tell you one thing for sure: this is for grunts of Russian army. Like it or not.

        In a broader sense, some weapons of past may have looked ‘easthetically pleasing’, true. Knight’s armours and swords of late middle age were such. But, this probably happened because we’ve gotten used to them and started to like them. Aesthetics was never prime purpose.

      • JonMac

        Military and civilian firearms design were intimately connected for most of history. Military weapons tend to be simpler and more functional looking, but aesthetics was still a consideration. A moment inside an arms and armour museum anywhere in the world will tell you that.

  • matt

    When are they going to ditch the sheet metal receiver/action cover? I guess that arrangement is integral to the design and the forward placement of any kind of sight make it eligible to be a “scout rifle,” but it is so counterproductive to accuracy with the iron sights.

    *I do know that one of the Jeff Cooper requirements is a bolt action, but as I read about the accuracy of semi-autos, I can’t help but re-think that.

    • Komrad

      There are hinged dust covers available on the civilian market that hold a zero. I assume the AK-12 has something similar.

      • Komrad

        Add 6.5mm Grendel to that list. It isn’t mentioned in the little fact sheet but it is mentioned in the body of the page.

      • Komrad

        Whoops, wrong comment. Disregard above.

    • Duray

      Actually, bolt action wasn’t a requirement of Cooper’s, just the action that worked out best. I believe he said that a single shot would theoretically work, and that there wouldn’t be anything wrong with a semi if one was made light and reliable enough (so far the weight is prohibitive to make a semi meet his definitions for a true scout.) The AK is a far cry from a Cooper Scout though. Cooper had no use for the Kalashnikov, considering it heavy, underpowered, and sloppy, all of which go against the scout rifle concept. Unfortunately, these days the shooting public thinks any carbine with a forward sight rail is a “scout rifle.” They’ve obsessed over his quirky sight concept and forgotten everything else that defined the scout.

  • Doesitmatter?

    Does it say anyplace what is actual caliber of base weapon? They talk about ‘modularity’ and ‘various calibers’. As much as this is wise approach, I still like to know what it is; after all it is the bullet who does the damage. Fancities are on side.

    • Komrad

      5.45x39mm, 7.62x39mm, 5.56x45mm, and 7.62x51mm.

      Source: http://world.guns.ru/assault/rus/kalashnikov-ak-12-e.html

      If you get virus warnings, just close and reopen the link. I wouldn’t trust my computer to world.guns.ru, but they do have great info.

      • Komrad

        Add 6.5mm Grendel to that list. It isn’t mentioned in the little fact sheet but it is mentioned in the body of the page.

      • Doesitmatter?

        I believe what you say Komrad, except that 7.62×51. That is not doable from same receiver. Thanks for warning at guns.ru page. As I mentioned in one recent chat, I contracted deadly virus there, 2 times. Now I naturally avoid the page. Yet, interestingly enough, the webmaster is also programmer. I don’t get it…..

      • Komrad


        Yeah, it’s because it’s a .ru site. The add network he uses probably doesn’t screen ads very well. I don’t think it’s the site itself, just the ads. My solution is to browse it with my linux box or using Tor with all add-ons turned off.

        Anyway, about the 7.62×51. I suspect that if that does happen, it will be like a PSL or a Saiga 7.62. The receiver would be longer and not interchangeable with the smaller calibers.

      • Fritz

        Thumb down???

  • Vitor

    Komrad made a good observation, it seems to have a quite straight and soft recoil.

  • Raven

    Why does the AR platform come up in just about every AK related topic? Comparing the two is silly… how much more dead can you beat that horse?

    Now, let’s focus on what is interesting here. Yes, I’m a diehard AK fan (I own several from surplus guns to high end Krebs Custom rifles) so you can completely ignore my post if you so wish. What do most people, ranging from the local gun nut shooting at his favorite range to the operators overseas in combat, wish the AK platform had?

    1) ambi controls and charging handle?

    2) a simple optic mounting platform (rails)?

    3) adjustable stocks?

    4) an AR style mag catch and bolt hold open?

    Looks to me like Izhmash was listeneing because this new gen AK has most of those. Add the fact that it comes in 5.56×45, 5.45×39, 7.62×39 and possibly 7.62×51 along with what appears to be some sort of balanced recoil system (AEK/AK108) and now we are cooking with fire.

    Say what you will about stamped sheet metal receivers these (AK) rifles have proven that they work time and time again. It’s not as fancy as a $3000 POF or LWRC AR15, but it gets the job done for a lot less, which would appear to be a very important goal that Izhmash was shooting for. I won’t knock any high end AR15, after all I do own a nice AR15 or two and would love to have a rifle from either of the afore mentioned companies. Just stating facts here.

    Love it or hate it, this new gen AK looks to be a real winner here and I for one look forward to seeing how it does in testing.

  • Lance

    I doubt this will ever become a issue weapon for Russian forces. This is more of a export brand to get more sales of Russian AK sales over rivals Bulgaria, Romania, and China. Though the Spetz Naz might buy some for use in its arsenal. Even Steve here agrees the AK-74M is going to be standard issue for many years to come.

  • fred

    Looks better than the old ones.
    Make it in 6.5 and I will take one..

    • Komrad

      It may happen.


      It isn’t mentioned in the stats sheet, but it is mentioned in the body of the page.

      • noob

        I wonder how hard it is to do a barrel swap?

        Is the barrel trunion still pinned to the receiver?

      • W

        speaking of that, where in the f–k did i see that AK that has a quick change barrel? For the life of me, i cannot remember where i saw that.

      • JMD

        That’s from US Palm. They debuted it at SHOT this year, but I don’t think it’s available for sale yet.

  • mat

    I agree with Raven

    as a fan of iron sight shooting peep sight is the thing i was waiting for , for short range AK sights are the fastest but for beyond 100y Ak was limited mostly by sights. As for recoil ,gun is is 5.45×39 no balanced action but as the ammo is low impulse even the old AK74 doesn’t have much recoil.

  • West

    I dont think it looks half bad and if it shoots straight without jamming then who cares anyway?

  • Peter in DC

    The detail of the ejection port area seems to show a bit of a lack of detail to workmanship. Is it me or is that sucker bent already?

    • Doesitmatter?

      You are right Peter, the workmanship is atrotious. If it was German gun it would look completely different. They could have used at leat gusset along the edge. This calls for dent and following stoppage.

      • JMD

        If it was a German gun, it would also cost five times as much.

  • Ben

    I hate how it looks but I would bet any amount of money that it will outperform any AR(except piston driven) system when it comes to reliability. This argument is on the same level as the one about Japanese cars vs. American ones. Because even though the quality of American cars has improved the majority of car buyers in the back of their minds still believe that a Toyota will beat a GM car every time when it comes to reliability.

    • Nater

      You do realize that an AK is more inherently reliable than any Western design? It uses a huge amount of gas to cycle, it has a very heavy reciprocating mass, it has an ejector that is simply a chunk of steel, there is a huge amount of room in it for dirt and crud to collect.

      The much-hyped piston operating system really doesn’t add much, if any, reliability to the AR-15 platform. Why? Because probably 99% of AR malfunctions (on a good, mil-spec AR) are related to the magazines. Obviously, this isn’t counting any shooter-induced malfunction (loading 31 rounds, short stroking the gun, ect). A piston isn’t going to fix double feeds. I see the advantage of a piston gun when you’re shooting a lot of round suppressed, particularly on full auto, or you’re doing OTB operations. That said, a piston gun will probably blow up just the same as a DI gun if it’s full of water and doesn’t have the requisite straking on the tail of the bolt carrier and doesn’t have any sort of drain holes in the receiver extension.

      I understand that some of the piston guns out there are very well made (LWRC, HK) but I no longer own any piston guns. I like the DI system better and so does pretty much everyone else.

    • JMD


    • W

      “I hate how it looks but I would bet any amount of money that it will outperform any AR(except piston driven) system when it comes to reliability.”

      AKs also outperform gas piston AR15s (and even non AR15 gas piston western firearms) when it comes to sheer quantity of rounds fired through, less than ideal maintenance, and rugged construction. Of course, they may be less ergonomic, modular, and comfortable than western guns, not to mention accurate. The AK’s inherent reliability is from its loose tolerances that western firearms have yet to match. Consider that the AK has a long stroke gas piston (meaning higher bolt mass) and reciprocating charging handle, which means bolt seizures are easily remedied. A gas key seizure or gas piston malfunction in gas piston AR15’s are BAD JUJU!!! this presents a large enough theoretical problem that many swear against gas piston AR15s.

      “This argument is on the same level as the one about Japanese cars vs. American ones. Because even though the quality of American cars has improved the majority of car buyers in the back of their minds still believe that a Toyota will beat a GM car every time when it comes to reliability.”

      This is an entirely different issue. Fact: japanese motor companies proved themselves more adaptable and ingenious than their american counterparts, which relied on obsolete methods and suffered profoundly as a result. American companies are slowly learning that times change…as they should.

      and nater, you are absolutely correct. Gas piston AR15s are love or hate for many folks. The most reliable gas piston AR15 I have ever seen was one with a long stroke gas piston (coincidentally enough, now that were on the subject of the AK). There is a compelling reason why special operations employ the 416, though i believe the military is better off with a proprietary gas piston weapon or (dare i say it?) a improved DI AR15.

      • Lemming

        So does anybody know for sure yet if the AK-12 will be interchangeable with different calibers, or will it just come in different calibers? I realize this has been asked before but I don’t remember there ever being a clear answer.

      • Lemming

        Apologies wrong place

  • Slava
  • mechamaster

    Need Brass Deflector in ejection port maybe ?

  • Lemming

    So does anybody know for sure yet if the AK-12 will be interchangeable with different calibers, or will it just come in different calibers? I realize this has been asked before but I don’t remember there ever being a clear answer.

  • chris

    glad to see they finally increased the sight radius. as an ak lover, i find the biggest draw back to the ak platform is the small sight radius/bad iron sights.
    you can increase the accuracy of the ak platform by a large margin by simply putting a good sighting system on it. you want to maximize the improved ballistic of the 5.45 round dont you?

    • GarryB

      I think part of the idea behind the AK-12 is that you use the iron sights for relatively short range engagements and for longer range stuff or at night you use various types of optics.

      An optical sight is far easier to use than any iron sight as with optical sights you keep the rifle aimpoint (the crosshairs in the scope) and the target in focus.

      With iron sights the rear sight and target are blurry and you focus on the front iron sight (because that is where the bullets should be going).

      With your head in the correct position behind the iron sights it should just be a case of putting the front sight onto the blur that is the target and firing a shot. Refocus on the target to observe bullet strikes and then either shoot again or find another target.

      With a scope there is no need to look at the front sight and then the target and then back at the front sight… the only problem is the potential for tunnel vision where you stay focussed on the targets visible in your scope… the solution there is to learn to shoot with both eyes open.

    • noob

      one interesting feature of having to align a distant notch type rear sight and a front post is that to me it seems that there is less variation on zero from shooter to shooter – much like a pistol. with a peep sight you really have to sight it in before you can shoot a friend’s rifle. this could be important if you have to pick up somebody else’s rifle and use it in a hurry.

  • Neblogenso

    I must say, Izmaish was consulting guys from group alpha while making this gun. Its a reliable war gun, not one of those plastic tactical toys.

  • Ryan

    Anyone know how the barrel change system works?
    At the MOST as fast as a G36 Barrel Change system? (For me, its tool-less and about 40 seconds)