AO-46 Personal Defense Weapon

Sven emailed us this beautiful photo of the AO-46 Personal Defense Weapon. The Personal Defense Weapon was designed by Peter Andreevich Tkachev, the same engineer who developed the balanced recoil system used in the AK-107.

Its most striking feature is that the 5.45x39mm magazine double as the pistol grip. What I find most interesting about it is the gas system, as seen in the below photo. The barrel is ported for about half its length and the gas captured by a very large expansion chamber, before actuating the very short piston. The design is very nearly a gas trap system. Tkachev must have been compensating for the short barrel, in a slightly different way to the AK-74U and its muzzle booster.

Does anyone know in what year the AO-46 was designed?

[ Many thanks to Sven (Defence and Freedom) for emailing me the the info. ]

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.


  • Beaumont

    Reminds me of the old Swedish AK5; and like that gun, one cannot maintain a proper grip while changing mags. No doubt it will turn up in a movie soon, though.

    • Joel

      You must be stupid, or your misstaken about the ak5. Their is no difficulties in changing magazines while retaining a proper grip! I should know..

      Capten at the southern swedish regiment, p7

      • Beaumont

        Possibly your command of English is lacking, or your manners are. Please inform us which is the case.

    • Mike

      The AK5 is a BOFORS contract built FNC with a different foregrip.

    • Clodboy

      AK5? You sure you didn’t mean the Interdynamics MKS?

      • Beaumont

        You’re right, it was the MKS.

  • Merc

    While impractical for on-the-fly magazine swapping, that thing is gorgeous.

  • RDW

    I believe it was designed in 1969.

    • Josh

      That’s right I believe. It was a few years before the AK-74 came into service.

      • jagersmith

        It was actually designed by Tkachev in 1973 as a submission in the program that eventually yielded the AKS-74U. Source:The world’s assault rifles by Gary Paul Johnston, p. 751.

  • Lance

    Wouldn’t a AK-74SU be better and easier to grip?

    • Higgs

      Yes, but not easier to have in the bug out gear of a pilot.

    • RDW

      Yes…and that is why the AKЫ-74U won out over this design and others in 1973.

      • PBeck

        AKS-74U wasn’t introduced into service with Soviet forces until 1979.

    • Burst

      I’d love to see this prototypes gas system and topfolder stock on an AK74.

      Given the modularity of the state arsenals, that might even result in a working gun.

  • Higgs

    The finish of the handguard reminds me of the CZ 58. i want to know how thin that mag is compared to a standard 74 mag.

  • Komrad

    I like it, and I feel dirty for doing so.
    Mag swapping would be a pain, but this is probably the shortest you can make the action.

  • Vhyrus

    Oh my God you make me want to cheat on my Tavor in my dreams.

  • Bull

    i think he confuses the AK5 with Interdynamics MKS

  • bbmg

    Interesting that the barrel porting seems to follow the rifling in the same way as it does on the VSS:

    Surely it had a sound suppressing effect too, useful on such a short barrel.

    Since we’re talking about the “AO” series, the AO-27 flechette rifle deserves a mention:

  • This gun was designed in 1964

    • PBeck

      “This gun was designed in 1964” – Toten

      “I believe it was designed in 1969.” – RDW

      Designed for a cartridge that wasn’t introduced until 1974?

      Those fiendishly clever Russians. Always thinking 5-10 years ahead.

      • jagersmith

        It was actually designed by Tkachev in 1973 (in line with the introduction of 5.45×39) as a submission in the program that eventually yielded the AKS-74U. Source: The world’s assault rifles by Gary Paul Johnston, p. 751.

  • Jean Luc Picard

    I found some stuff but I don’t know the language of these

    however it may be a weapon made in 1969 or 1973

    Voila for what I found, I hope it helps, needs translators though

    • Vertigo

      Your second link says a prototype was released by 1969.

      • Jean Luc Picard

        Thank you, so does the 1973 date is about some gun competition against an other prototype ?

  • Aurelien

    Seems to work a bit like the Welrod pistol (as a concept).
    The mag/grip is a nice touch, this gun would fit pretty easily in a bag, suitcase or even concrete tubes. Must be easy to conceal.

    Does anyone know if they came with a suppressor ?

  • Jeff

    The magazine as a pistol grip idea reminds me of the Wimmersperg Spz-kr

  • Reverend Clint

    seems like that magazine pistol grip would be kinda unwieldy if you had small hands

  • S O

    Click on the photo for the full beauty.

  • KC

    everyone’s giving this design crap for having the magazine as the grip for reloading, but it’s just a different manual of arms.

    if it doesn’t have a bolt hold open like the AK does, you could pull the charging handle back and hold it open with your off hand and remove the magazine with your strong hand, let go of the bolt and you’d be reloaded

  • Netforce

    Uhh, how am I suppose to handle the gun? I don’t think my hand is big enough to hold that Magazine+Grip plus putting my finger around the trigger with firmness.

  • PLUS

    How to change magzine in a severe firefight?

    Is it possible that the shooter has to hold the handle just like operating the bolt actions?

    Furthermore, that’s a magazine, a disposable item(Of couse in general it will be reused), which means the quality of grip won’t be very well.

    I don’t think it’s a good idea………

    • Tinkerer

      The only armed force that I know which considers rifle magazines a semi-disposable item is the US military. with their stamped aluminum sheet magazine for the AR-15 family. Every other military I am aware of considers magazines to be critical parts of a functioning rifle, so their rifles are designed to NOT DROP FREE AN EMPTY MAG, and their users are trained to NOT DISCARD AN EMPTY MAG. Yes, it is a tiny bit slower to detach the empty mag, save it, and then insert a fresh one than just dropping the mag and inserting a full one, but in terms of logistics and reliability, most military forces have opted for sturdier, more expensive magazines which are not meant to be discarded. Think of the steel mags on G3s, FALs, AK47s, etc., and the polimer mags on AUGs, SIGs, G36s, etc. Not a single one of those famous and respected rifles have the drop-and-discard system on their designs, and work with sturdy, reliable magazines that can be topped to full capacity and still work reliably.

      As for this particular firearm: I imagine that it is meant to be carried -with it’s magazine detached- in a bag in an emergency kit -for, say, downed pilots-, so the lack of pistol grip allows for easier storage.

      • El Duderino

        I believe — someone correct me if I am mistaken — but Canadian doctrine with the Thermold plastic mags is to use and dispose. I have a few, they are not very well made especially compared to USGI, not to mention a PMAG.

        I was a Marine for 6 years and was never taught to drop the mag and forget about it. The best technique is to run it almost dry and do a loaded-chamber reload.

      • PLUS

        You have misunderstand my word…..

        I mean magazine is a “relativity” disposable item, doesn’t mean it’s sheer disposable.

        Of course the magazine is an important item of a gun.

      • PLUS

        By the way, I think this gun should have a foldable front grip or something to handle it….

      • Jay

        Yep. The initial M16 mag was suposed to be disposable. The idea was that the ammo would come loaded in sealed mags straight from the factory and the troops would shoot the ammo out of them and just drop the mag.
        I don’t know who thought disposing of mags made out of a strategic material was a good idea.

      • W

        “I was a Marine for 6 years and was never taught to drop the mag and forget about it. The best technique is to run it almost dry and do a loaded-chamber reload.”

        In this case, it is a bad idea to just discard a magazine with rounds still inside of it. Tactical reloads are very fast and efficient, especially with the AK platform that requires cycling of the action versus just tapping the bolt release.

        Regulars are taught to discard the magazine as a disposable item while airborne or reconnaissance units are taught to keep their empty mags (hence the reason for the applicably legitimate, mall ninja favored dump pouch). While in afghanistan, i saw British and German NATO troops with 550 cord tied to their magazines so they don’t just drop them in combat. I dont know what to think about that…

        In a survival environment, such as in the case of a downed pilot, where such as weapon like this would be most effectively employed, discarding the magazine is counter intuitive to the principles of SERE and limits the opportunity of the pilot to find more ammunition and reload if necessary.

  • Hikerguy

    Granted the magazine grip may be unwieldy for some, and slippery if the user is muddy, sweatty, or bloody. However, it’s a PDW for cooks, truck drivers, tankers, and others who are not mainline combat troops. You need your assault or battle rifle for that. And, yes, it is a thing of beauty.

  • calool

    this design is really clever, and i guess for reloading you could just grab the handguard with your left hand, eject the mag and pop home a new one. something makes me think this design could work with the magwell at an angle, and with an ordinary grip, or with a normal grip at the rear of the receiver.

    • Reverend Clint

      i wonder if they did this but used a shorter round like say 5.7×28 or 4.6×30 if it would be easier

      • Quintin

        Make this in 7.62×25 (Ppsh mags of course) with a 16 inch barrel and I think you could sell alot of them.

  • MariusG

    A thing of beauty. Wish something like this had been serviced by the soviets…

  • W

    This is nearly as neat as that Sputnik/satellite gun 🙂

  • Mike Knox

    This.. This gun.. This gun is weird.. Like.. weird..

    Reminds me of a Welrod..

  • Alan

    I wouldn’t want to be holding one of these during a kaboom. We’ve all seen plenty of kabooms where the magazine is blown out of the magwell.

  • G.R.

    it was designed in 1969 (cfr. С. Б. Монетчиков, История русского автомата, 2005, II part, 4 chapter).