The Romanian Army 5.56x45mm Rifle

The Romanian Army has publicly unveiled the prototype of their new 5.56x45mm service rifle at the Expomil 2013 military exhibition in Bucharest. The rifle does not yet have an official name and is just being referred to as the “New 5.56mm Army Rifle”. The prototypes have been in use with Romanian soldiers in Afghanistan and will soon enter mass-production.

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As you can see in the photos, it is based on the AK platform but with quite a few changes. They moved the charging handle to the right side of the gas tube. It point upwards at a ~45 degree angle and is non-reciprocating. The handle cannot be switched to the left side. All the new rifle designs, including the AK-12, have either ambidextrous charging handles or handles on the left where it is more ergonomic for right-hand shooters. Placing it on the right hand side, and at a upward angle, is a strange design decision.

The fire control selector has safe, semi-automatic, 3-round burst and automatic modes. The switch is ambidextrous. The dust cover is hinged and has a standard picatinny rail on top.

It will be made in a rifle version with a fixed adjustable stock and a compact carbine version with a shorter barrel and fixed wire stock.

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Many thanks to Val for the information.

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.


  • William_C1

    Not horribly impressive but if it works it works I suppose.

  • Not horribly impressive but if it works it works I suppose. said no one ever oh wait.

  • Anders Albertsson

    Come on Century! Bring it forth unto us.

  • Miško

    Zastava’s “new” M21BS prototypes (and new grenade launcher)

  • Looks like Polish Beryl and Tantal clones.

    • Agitator

      I was thinking the same thing. Charging handle is an interesting difference though.

  • Nicholas Mew

    Zastava’s M21 S-5 seems to be better to me.

    • RobGR

      Doesn’t look like anything new at all either. Are these guys even trying? It doesn’t seem like they are. It’s basically a Galil abortion.

  • BetonPL

    By the way the stock is a new Polish wz.96c Beryl buttstock, it was officialy bought from Radom “Łucznik” arms plant by Romanians 😉

  • Neal R

    I’m sure it’s a fine weapon, but there’s certainly nothing revolutionary about this one. It’s a slightly refined AK in 5.56, something we’ve all seen before.

    • Esh325

      Externally, it doesn’t look like anything special, but it’s possible they might have modified the internals like they did with the AK-12.

  • mikewest007

    Bah, I believe that in four or five years we’ll be able to sell them the MSBS after the Polish Military is armed with enough of them.

  • Lance

    Seen similar AKs in the past so I don’t know if this will be adopted by the Romanian Army since there quite happy with there 5.45mm AKs. This is not new remember the .223 SAR-3 was based on these rifles in the late 90s so 5.56mm Romanian AKs are not new. I believe it when I see it if they adopt it.

    • wysoft

      The Romanian Army gave trials to the 5.56 AK designated Md.97 (as you mentioned, SAR-3 and WASR-3 are based on this rifle) but decided not to adopt. Given that the model was released in 1997 (you might have guessed), it’s definitely nothing too new.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they simply chose at the time to stay with 5.45×39 because of the huge costs involved. Romania is not exactly rich, but has been pressed to adopt more NATO standards as they integrate into the EU. 5.56 will eventually happen, and then hopefully Romania will start sending us more of those nice 5.56 AKs.

      Some people have had problems with the WASR-3 but I’ve shot both WASR-3 and SAR-3 and had great experience with them.

  • Esh325

    It’s very interesting. The Poles are going away from the AK for the MSBS, while the Romanians and Russians are sticking with the AK. I wonder are the internals new like the AK-12? And how do you guys think it compares to the AK-12? Personally, the AK-12 looks more refined and more advanced from a technical standpoint. The stock should have a cheek riser, it wouldn’t have an ideal cheek weld with the EO tech. I imagine such a rifle would be successful in the US market, since nobody offers an AK out of the box with a reliable dust cover rail.

    • wysoft

      Based on how much stuff they seem to have “borrowed” from the Polish Beryl, I wouldn’t be surprised if it has the same overall internal design – that is, the addition of the ratcheting mechanism for the 3-round burst.

      • Miško

        original M80s had 1mm receivers but already on the M85 Zastava returned to strengthened M70 receiver/trunnion and since then all Zastava 5.56 AKs (M90, M95, M99, M21, new prototypes) use strengthened receivers and trunnion

        • wysoft

          Do you know why then the two “Krink” models are different depending on caliber – e.g. M92 7.62×39 uses the standard AKM pattern receiver, while the M85 5.56 uses the heavier receiver – despite otherwise being virtually identical firearms.

          • Miško

            probably on customer request, M92 was not designed with Yugoslavian military in mind.

          • wysoft

            OK, thanks.

            Is M85 in its carbine version in real use by the military currently?

          • Miško

            No. only 5.56 AK in service is M21 (long barrel) but not in large numbers, M21 (short barrel) is sometimes seen in the hands of anti-terrorist units. While Yugoslavia wanted to adopt 5.56 AK in the early eighties (M80, M82, M85) this has been postponed until M21.

            But M70 is still the main rifle

          • Esh325

            I don’t want to get political, but I find it unusual the Serbs adopted NATO calibers like the 5.56×45. Why not adopt the 5.45×39 of their Russian allies?

          • Miško

            decision was made in the eighties, JNA chose 5.56×45 and factories slowly began production. SFRJ – SSSR relation was neutral at best……. As for the Russian allies, they never have actually helped us.

      • Esh325

        The bolt carrier would have to be different I think because of the moved charging handle. It does sound very plausible about the receiver having to be beefier for the 5.56×45 or grenades. I’ve read the Polish didn’t make a rifle grenade version of the AKM because of the lighter receiver, and regulated rifle grenades only to the milled receivers. Perhaps NATO standards dictate a thicker receiver? My personnel opinion is that the thicker receiver isn’t necessary.

        • wysoft

          you’re right and it would be interesting to see the mechanism for the NR charging handle, even though I’m not sure it’s something I would want on an AK.

          • Esh325

            I’d have to take a good look at it first to judge it.

    • Cristian

      As a Romanian, I can proudly say that it’s gonna brake down into pieces in the most unpleasant of moments. It will cost too much,be too heavy,and people will swear by it’s accuracy ( better than precision sniper rifles,anyway).
      Just like all crap we produce,it will have to be built because otherwise people will loose their jobs,and that is bad for the voters.
      In other words,we deserve (not he best) all that happens to us.

      • Rudolf

        you sure we are not related??? 🙂

      • Esh325

        I’m not Romanian, but I’ve used a Romanian SKS and it’s every bit as well made as the Russian SKS’s I fired. Romanian SKS’s were made on Russian machinery I believe. The Romanian Tokarev’s are pretty good too. The Romanian guns that can be spotty are the AK’s I think. I’ve fired ones that are decent, and some that are not so good. The Russian ones are generally much better. Perhaps Cugir will improve the quality this time?

  • Frosty_The_White_Man

    Looks like a solid rifle apart from the wire stock.

  • LCON

    Given Romanian names in the past I expect something ghoulish will soon be attached to this rifle. Odd pick with the charging handle I wonder if that will change in the future?

  • Martin Grønsdal

    Someone in the factory has served in the French Foreign Legion, and that charging handle just got embedded in his mind.

  • Kwong

    The optic looks interesting, any info?

  • 97854321

    The stock on the left rifle looks like the stock of polish wz. 96C Beryl 5,56×45 standard service rifle.