Fully Loaded Izhmash AK-12

Lionel attended TVM 2012 in Russia and took these photos of the new AK-12 fitted out with a red dot sight, flashlight, foregrip and laser/target designator.

Is it my imagintion, or does the stock looks really low compared to the optic? The distance is similar to an AK-74 with a side-mounted scope rail. The reason for the high scope mount on the AK rifles is that the top receiver cover is to flimsy to maintain a reliable zero of a scope directly mounted to it, so the engineers at Izhmash added a scope mount to the side of the stronger receiver.

Izhmash had the opportunity to correct a historical mistake, but chose to go with the status quo. This attitude is why they are having financial problems.

UPDATE: I have been informed that the stock is adjustable. The reason for the large gap in the photo is to accommodate operators with helmets and night vision gear.





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.


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  • charles222

    IIRC the AK-12 receiver cover hinges. Also, a weapon against a plain blue background doesn’t really tell us anything. Show me one being shouldered and I’ll be able to accurately judge it; I thought the SCAR looked huge and ungainly until I started seeing photos of them actually being used instead of sitting on a table.

  • xVIPERxAP

    I know that the GRU units use lots of ballistic facial masks along with plate carriers and thus prefer too have the sights rather highup because it is hard to get behind the regular sights.

    • AKMSF

      This is exactly why.

  • dan

    Looks like an aimpoint with a high mount maybe the qrp2. Probably just dressed it up for a press photo . Chang the spacer out on the mount or using a low 30mm ring and it probably can cowitness.

  • Ivan

    I remember seeing some AK-12 prototypes being held with optics and the optic is a little higher than normal. What is with the bashing of Izhmash anyway? I feel they were out of touch with the modern firearm market by not putting civilians first and by giving out too many licenses to other nations like India and Venezuela instead of manufacturing weapons themselves.

  • Other Steve

    Dear god that thing is horrible. Where is the 40 years of progress past the 74? Because all I see is a crappy Tacpo clone of what once was an AK

    • -V-

      Eh, other then the rear-mounted sight and significantly lower sight radius, the hinged top cover that locks into the receiver for return-to-zero and mounting optics, the forward mounted charging handle, the side folding and collapsing stock, and a last-round bolt hold open, and fire controls you can operate with your thumb, yeah its just an AK with a bunch of crap bolted onto it.

      • Esh325

        It’s not just an AK with stuff bolted on to it. They changed the dynamics of the bolt and bolt carrier to have less disruptive harmonics, which increases accuracy and decreases recoil, especially on fully automatic. They also lightened the bolt and bolt carrier. The designer of the rifle claims that the AK-12 is just as effective as the AK-107 in terms of recoil reduction. The rifling pitch was also changed to increase accuracy.
        http://expert.ru/2012/07/30/generalnyij-plan/

        While it is true that many features of the AK-12 could be added to an existing AK, you have to take in mind that the AK-12 was specifically redesigned to accept these new features. A modified AK wouldn’t be able to do them as well as the AK-12.

  • 15yroldgunman

    Anxious to see the other calibers this is in especially 7.62×51 NATO and 6.5

    • Nick

      I hope the 308 variant has the BARS system.

  • Kenny Blankenship

    If you take the westernization of the AK to its logical conclusion, you get the SIG 550 series. Izhmash went halfway there. I think that the Russians just aren’t willing to go that far, for the same reasons we aren’t moving past the AR platform.

  • -V-

    Looks like a Standard height aimpoint mount designed for an M4. Naturally its going to look high. Use a low ring mount as another poster said, and chances are it’ll co-witness with the rifle.

    Also as others have pointed out – with the face shield helmets that the Russians prefer to use, a high-mounted optic is the only option if you want to be able to use your optic.

    My suspicion is that if this gun is used for mobile shooting, that scope is in just the right place to get you an effective sight picture and body position. Any lower and the body would be stretched out and hunched over the rifle in an unbalanced position. I’ve noted this effect many times with the “high mounted” optics on my SGL. For the bench they seem high, for when you are running a 3 gun stage, they seem to suddenly be in the ideal position.

    Also, still wondering if it has a notch rear sight or did they decide to go for a rear ghost ring sight after all. (Note that the rear sight is at the end of the top rail)

  • Kav

    Frankly, between the “I think this scope might be a bit high above the stock, AND THAT’S WHY THE IZMASH FACTORY SHALL BE ENGULFED BY HELLFIRE” bit and the completely unsubstantiated way that the conclusion was arrived at, I’m pretty disappointed with this piece of writing.

    • Alexander

      I absolutely agree with comment.
      Uninformed opinion journalism… *(92% of the blogasphere).

  • fred

    Umm I could be wrong but I think the optic is mounted on a rail.. on the receiver..
    I think the optic looks high because the stock is more narrow..

    Anyhow, lets wait and what folks that actually fire the thing say..

    • Nick

      The Stock has an adjustable cheek riser though.

  • Adam

    The reason for this stock to be so low is not shooting with ballistic visors, it would help a little but you need a specific stock (like B&T MP5 stock) to really make it work.

    The reason for it is the use of standard iron sights, ruining the idea of flattop rail. I agree with Steve, not understanding such issues is one of the reasons why they don’t progress. But well, conservatism is one of the ways to go and who said its a bad one?

    • 276 pedersen

      I would say it’s a bad way to go when it negatively impacts the funcionality.

  • Matt in AZ

    All I see is Tank Sgt. Mikhail Kalashnikov thinking “get that ridiculous shit off my (our?) AK”.

    • raven

      Would Eugene Stoner say the same about his (our) M16 series?

      C’mon now, all of those accessories can be removed if desired and this is clearly a showcase of what this weapon system is capable of, considering the previous generation AK platform did not have the ability to mount these.

      I love a basic wood AKM just the same as I love this version of the AK. They each have their place. The battlefield has changed, so when Izhmash desides to change thier weapon system to adapt to the needs of a soldier in the year 2012 why do people get so upset? Izhmash is not going to come to your door and take your standard AKM and replace it with this…

      • W

        “Izhmash is not going to come to your door and take your standard AKM and replace it with this…”

        i wish they would do that to me. ill even open a bottle of scotch to thank them.

      • JonathanF

        Yes, Stoner probably would say that – considering he designed the AR as a wonderfully light rifle that now weighs more before you even start adding accessories. I’m not saying he’d be right to do so, but considering he thought the forward assist to be a pointless addition, there’s every chance he wouldn’t be wild about all the crap we hang off the things nowadays.

    • Mike

      Odds are Kalashnikov had little to nothing to do with the AK design. My money is on Schmeisser, who was at Izhevsk at the time the AK was designed and prototyped.

  • mechamaster

    Huh ? It’s missing some underslung grenade launcher.

    • Anonymoose

      They’re probably still developing the rail-mounted version of the GP-30/34 right now.

  • D

    Considering the (long and venerable) history of the AK, i’m pretty well willing to say i expect the rifle would be functional, regardless of how it looks. Only question is if it’s competitive with other, similarly priced rifles that perform the same functions. Won’t know that till people start putting bullets through it.

  • Devon

    For want of a cheek weld, Izhmash went bankrupt…

  • Nigel

    The AK-12 is an interesting weapon. I will point out some things you seem to have missed that have probably been mentioned in the comments already; with five minutes until work I can’t go through the existing comments in detail.
    1) AK-12 receiver cover hinges near the front of the receiver, it is more like an RK-62 cover than the original AK; hence optics mounting.
    2) The stock “drops” to enable shooters with heavy helmets and visors to use optics. This is something seen on other late-generation Russian weapons like the newest production Vikhri.
    3) Of interest is the attachment of the charging handle to the gas piston instead of the bolt carrier. It can be swapped to either side of the receiver, based on operator preference. My understanding is that it does not reciprocate with firing. As a result, weight of the bolt assembly has been reduced and this will help reduce the AK’s recoil characteristics. In 5.45x39mm this rifle will be very controllable despite the high relative bore height to the stock. This placement however may not be as rugged as the original AK layout.

    • LJK

      The dust cover of an RK-62 (or any model) isn’t hinged anywhere. It works just like it does with a regular AKM (with the only difference in the later RK-95 and 92 rifles which have a tightening thumb screw at the rear of the cover). The Sako rifles get away with mounting the rear sight on the dust cover by just machining the receiver and fitting the cover to a tighter spec.

    • tempest

      Just from looking at the pictures, the bore seems to be in line with the stock, so that shouldn’t be an issue when it comes to recoil management.

  • BLG

    When I first heard of a redesign, I was hoping that the lower handguard would be extended from the receiver and the top receiver cover integrated with the top handguard while it hinges near the gas block with some sort of quick release on the stock tang. Guess that would have been too much.

  • RocketScientist

    Every time I see a railed and accessorized AK, I can’t help but hear the voice of the infamous Ivan Chesnokov in my ear (edited for profanity, capitalization kept for comedic affect):

    “WHY YOU WANT RAIL FOR KALASHNIKOV? IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH AS PROCURED FROM IZHEVSK MECHANICAL WORKS? YOU THINK NEEDS IMPROVEMENT? THEN MAYBE YOU FIND JOB WITH ARMY OF RUSSIA! YOU HAVE DRINKS WITH MIKHAIL KALASHNIKOV, TRADE STORY OF MANY WEAPONS YOU DESIGN AND DETAILS OF SCHOOL FOR ENGINEERING!

    OR MAYBE YOU NOT DO THIS. PROBABLY IS BECAUSE YOU NEVER DESIGN WEAPON IN WHOLE LIFE. YOU LOOK AT FINE RUSSIAN RIFLE, THINK IT NEED CRAZY S**T STICK ON ALL SIDES OF WEAPON. YOU HAVE DISEASE OF AMERICAN CAPITALIST, CHANGE THING THAT IS FINE FOR NO REASON EXCEPT TO LOOK DIFFERENT FROM COMRADE. YOU PUT CHEAP FLASHLIGHT OF CHINESE SLAVE FACTORY ON ONE SIDE, YOU PUT BAD SCOPE OF AMERICAN MIDDLE WEST ON OTHER SIDE, YOU PUT FRONT PISTOL GRIP ON BOTTOM SO YOU ARE LIKE AMERICAN MOVIE GUY JOHN RAMBO. MAYBE YOU PUT SEX DILDO ON TOP TO F**K YOURSELF IN A**HOLE FOR MAKING SHAMEFUL TRAVESTY OF RIFLE OF MIKHAIL KALASHNIKOV, NO?

    RIFLE IS FINE. YOU F**K IT, IT ONLY GET HEAVY AND YOU STILL NO HIT LARGEST SIDE OF BARN. GO TO FIRING RANGE, PRACTICE WITH MANY MAGAZINE OF CARTRIDGE. THEN YOU NOT NEED DUMB S**T PUT ON SIDE OF RIFLE.”

    • RocketScientist

      And just to be clear, I don’t really have an opinion on the AK-12. I’ve only fired 2 AK-pattern rifles (in 7.62 and 5.45) and then not really enough to form a solid opinion about them, much less enough to decide if I am in favor/opposition of the changes made for the AK-12. I just think Comrade Chesnokov is hilarious, and this post of his popped immediately into my head when I saw the AK above.

      Plus the idea of swapping gun-design ideas/anecdotes with Comrade Kalashnikov over shots of samogon gives me a hard-on.

  • Esh325

    It has an adjustable cheek piece to accommodate for high optics.

  • JMD

    Because of the AK design’s long stroke piston, which occupies a fair bit of space vertically above the bolt, the only possible configuration is low sights and a droppped stock.

    ARs don’t have this problem, because they use raised sights and an in-line stock.

    There is literally no way to get an optic mounted lower on an AK because of that simple fact. That situation is an inescapable fact of the configuration of the Kalashnikov design. The solution is to put a removable cheek riser on the stock. Simple.

    I don’t understand why that merits complaints, and it most certainly is not the reason why Izhmash is in financial trouble.

    • tempest

      Exactly! One can see the same thing looking at the SIG 55x rifles and, to a lesser degree, the RobArm XCR rifles. For the XCRs, this is mitigated somewhat by the new FAST stock.

    • Tinkerer

      Actually, if one was to look at the second picture, one would see that the stock is on the same line with the bore axis -just like on an AR-15.

      So, it becomes only natural to have the iron sights placed higher above the bore axis -just like the AR-15 does-, only that because of the gas piston, there is actually no need for a riser for the rear sight, but there is evidently a riser for the front sight -just as in the AR-15.

      As for the optic sight they had installed: it is obvious that they chose to install it on a high mount for this pic. They evidently didn’t need to, but chose to -maybe for use with facial ballistic armor, maybe for another reason-.

      • JMD

        Having the stock in-line with the bore axis isn’t what’s important. Having the stock in-line with the axis of recoil is what’s important.

        On an AR, the bore, stock, and axis of recoil are all in line. That’s only possible because there’s no piston. G3 rifles also have the same situation, because they have no piston.

        With an AK, the axis of recoil will always be higher than the bore. Putting the stock behind the bore (which is where it always has been on the Kalashnikov design) does not magically lower the axis of recoil until it’s in line with the stock and bore.

  • Lance

    nOTHING MORE THN A ak-74 UPGRADE NO NEW NEWS HERE.

    • W

      and the M4 is nothing more than a M16 upgrade…jesus ever loving christ

  • W

    I actually think this is well engineered, considering the characteristics of the design. I know krebs has a rail system that is positioned over the cover and attached to the rear sight support and the tang, though i honestly cannot give a opinion about its durability or ease of removal for cleaning.

    rails on the upper handguard are A solution, though are comparatively undesirable because of they are inadequate for magnified optics.

    you can somehow reinvent the kalashnikov like the SIG 550 and have the upper and lower receiver disassemble, with the upper receiver having a fixed rail. Its a idea.

    Other than that, since they didnt want to reinvent the wheel i can understand what they did.

  • Mike

    The stock is low to the barrel, too. The top of it barely is even with the bore.

    The optic is way too high. Soviets, err Russians need to learn how to make lower optic mounts… The fact that it won’t co-witness is points lost.

    • Esh325

      It’s hard to really draw conclusions about how high or low the mounting system is from just a picture, and never firing it. It could be perhaps the particuliar mount configuration that’s high, I don’t really know. Even if it is high, it DOES have a cheek riser to fix that problem like lots of people already mentioned.

  • Anonymous synonomous

    With respect to the bore axis in line with the stock, it’s a little bit more than that; yes, having a low bore axis is important, but it is equally important to have a low point of recoil. This means having the recoil, buffer, or mainspring in a location in-line with the bore and shoulder, which is one of the strongest points of the AR, SCAR, and many other modern platforms.

    This is because the recoil spring produces tension in both directions, and a recoil spring located above the bore axis/ stock will create an off-center force, creating muzzle rise. This is a problem with both this AK platform, and generally all AK platforms, because the recoil spring is placed behind the gas piston, above the bore, and on an axis higher than the stock. This is one of the great things about the AR platform; the bore is inline to the shoulder, the gas impinges on the center of the BCG which is inline to the shoulder, the buffer spring is inline to the shoulder and contained in the stock, which is, you guessed, inline to the shoulder. All of this results in greatly reduced muzzle climb. Right now, it seems this AK12, despite it’s advance, still isn’t at the same point as an AR design, simply because it has to work around numerous design features that were made to expedite production, not increase end quality. The latch for securing the dust cover to the receiver doubling to hold the recoil spring in place is quite a nifty idea for decreasing part count, etc. However, this feature is no longer required, and has only insisted on hampering getting everything out of the design.

    Admittedly, they did a terrific job with what they had to work around, but if it were me, I would either lower the trigger pack to free up space to move the overall mass of the BCG lower and more inline to the stock, or raise the stock to be inline to the recoil spring and raise the sight’s height. Either way, it’s working around a BCG that wasn’t designed to be a modern combat rifle, and better options exist.

    • Esh325

      I don’t know know how you could say it’s a problem with it when you never fired it. According to the Russian shooting team and law enforcement who tested the AK-12, they reported the rifle to be much more controllable and accurate than the AK-74M, especially in fully automatic.

      I’m not an engineer, but the method Eugene Stoner used in the AR15 is not the only solution to effectively reducing recoil and muzzle clmb. The designer of the AK-12 approached the recoil and muzzle climb problem by lightening the bolt and bolt carrier, and softening the dynamics of them. He also added a more effective muzzle brake, not to mention the more in line stock.

      • Nater

        It is probably 75% because of the brake. Brakes are great for competition guns or heavy precision rifles shooting magnum calibers, however, they’re probably not the best choice for assault rifles. More blast/concussion in close quarters and dramatically increased visible signature are night and a nightmare with NVGs. Mounting a sound suppressor can fix a lot of those issues, but I don’t see the Russians handing them out to the vast majority of soldiers and it doesn’t look like that brake can mount one anyway. A flash suppressor is a much better idea on a fighting rifle.

        They probably should have figured out a way to integrate the front sight and gas block as having two separate pieces makes the gun front heavy. I’d guess they kept the two piece solution because of mirage.

        I don’t see why people are complaining about how ugly it looks, AKs are ugly rifles to begin with, it’s probably part of their appeal to enthusiasts.

      • Esh325

        Nater, there are pros and cons to everything. Since one of the goals of the AK-12 is to increase accuracy and controlobilty on fully automatic, a muzzle brake is going to do that the best. The Russians have integrated the front sight with the gas block since 30 years ago with the AKS-74U. As far as being “front heavy”, it’s subjective. I haven’t handled an AK with an integrated front sight and gas block though. My understanding is that the reason why they integrate the front sight is for if the barrel is too short, or because it makes it easier to have a rifle grenade slip over the barrel.

  • jpcmt

    Honestly, do they ever actually look at the prototypes before they make this crap?? THis looks like some ugly monstrosity made in a cave in Pakistan or something. It’s hard to imagine an uglier gun.

    • Esh325

      These are weapons of war, not barbie dolls.

    • mike gee

      Hahahahahaha! It is!!! Read several reports that the AK 12 has multiple operating flaws, and does NOT perform better than the AK 74 it is designed to replace.

      With all the fan boyism here in the US for all things AK( still amazed at how even,folks here on TFB will praise a crappy wasr, but bash bushmasters!) Back yard bubbas will drool if the russians foist a civie ak 12 on the commercial market.

      The AK74 is the eastern equal to the M4A1, and with tons of them in stock, I do not see the wisdom of retooling by Putins thugs to make a new version that doesnt surpass the “old”.

      Its almost like the HK416 and SCAR L vs M4 arguement-why spend 3 to 4 x more,for little more performance?

  • Peter

    This article is very poor and ridiculous for a blog like this, here’s why, read this:

    “The reason for the high scope mount on the AK rifles is that the top receiver cover is to flimsy to maintain a reliable zero of a scope directly mounted to it, so the engineers at Izhmash added a scope mount to the side of the stronger receiver.

    Izhmash had the opportunity to correct a historical mistake, but chose to go with the status quo. This attitude is why they are having financial problems.”

    It makes it sound like the scope on this rifle is still mounted on a side-mounted rail-carrier and even says that Izmash did not correct that shortcoming (the AK as it is was never envisioned for top mounted optics let alone rails, they didn’t even exist back then. The fact that the AR can have top rails and optics is more of a coincidence than by design, it also wasn’t designed for picatinni rails, eotechs etc, but by design its upper receiver is fixed in place and carries the sights, so putting on rails and optics is not impossible. There are weapons from world war 2 that could have a picatinny rail put on them because their top is fixed, but it’s not a design flaw in the AK like this article also makes it sound like) and even goes so far as to draw a direct line to their financial status.

    When in fact, the whole upper receiver is different on this AK than on the previous ones (seriously, you run a, and this is even the title, firearms blog, you should see that at first sight) and the optics are in fact mounted directly onto the rifle. No more side-mounted rail.

    Also, the stock is not “really low compared to the optic”, first of all, there has been a drawing which compares the elevation between the stock and the sights for the AK-12 compared to an M-16. Secondly, how far away from your shoulder are your eyes? Maybe not every soldier should have to run around like Quasimodo when trying to aim with his rifle? Here’s a picture of someone shooting:
    http://www.recoilweb.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/AK-12-Test-Video1.jpg

    I will now stop reading your blog, this is just way too ignorant and demonstrates an unwillingness to look at pictures properly and think about what you see (and what you are accustomed to and why the things you are accustomed to are the way they are and why it doesn’t mean that they are the right or best choice), and suddenly makes the whole blog feel like it’s written by a 12 year old COD kid who can’t distinguish betwen more than “wood furniture and two pipes in the front” = AK! – “large and thick in profile, with a large and adjustable stock and cluttered appearance” = SCAR!! – “Short middle part with jagged short stock” = M4!!!”.

    Goodbye.