Kalashnikovs of The Ukrainian Conflict

Rebel armed with a plum AK-74 in Slavyansk

Babywookie put together an epic collection of photos showing most (all?) of the AK variants that have shown up in the Ukrainian conflicts. The photos all have descriptions and are arranged in chronological order. Here is just a small sample of the photos …

PM and AKS-74U Wielding Slavyansk Police Chief Standing Up to the Rebels. He initially refused to hand over his police station to the (pro-Russian) rebels.

PM and AKS-74U Wielding Slavyansk Police Chief Standing Up to the Rebels. He initially refused to hand over his police station to the (pro-Russian) rebels.

A (pro-Russian) rebel is seen peering around a corner in Mariupol armed with an AKS-74 equipped with a POSP scope and a drum magazine.

A (pro-Russian) rebel is seen peering around a corner in Mariupol armed with an AKS-74 equipped with a POSP scope and a drum magazine.

A man in Ukrainian military uniform with colonel insignia, with the Russian coat of arms on his hat, holds a "Russian Red" AK-74 with a Russian flag on it. A red flashlight is seen taped to the hand guards.

A man in Ukrainian military uniform with colonel insignia, with the Russian coat of arms on his hat, holds a “Russian Red” AK-74 with a Russian flag on it. A red flashlight is seen taped to the hand guards.

A (pro-Russian) rebel woman in besieged Slavaynsk, looks on armed with an AKS-74.

A (pro-Russian) rebel woman in besieged Slavaynsk, looks on armed with an AKS-74.

Ukrainian serviceman  with AKM and a giant Soviet night vision scope.

Ukrainian serviceman with AKM and a giant Soviet night vision scope.

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.


  • Fox

    That female (pro Russian rebel) looks like she has had some training. I think the rest skipped class to watch some 80’s action movies. Love the bravado that cop is displaying- not to bright though.

    • Fruitbat44

      Politics not with standing, and I am hoping that the situation in the Ukraine comes to a just and equitable solution (and having a Supermodel deliver me a gold plated Porsche would be nice as well), the woman did look very striking. And the first thing I noticed was her finger outside the trigger guard.
      Though I am wondering if she’s wearing sandals? I mean, long flowing shirt and tie-dye top, it’s like the Hippies are back, only not so much peace and love as peace-through-superior-firepower . . .

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    Info on the Soviet night vision? Anyone? Bueller?

  • Grindstone50k

    That policeman looks like he’s guarding his virginity.

  • Don Ward

    So I guess both the Ukrainian and Russian troops are emulating Cobra action figures from the 1980s… Some of those uniforms are even blue for goodness sakes! http://img2.wikia.nocookie.net/__cb20100216123542/gijoe/images/9/95/Cobra_Officer_02.jpg

  • Clodboy

    Is it just me, or does the Ukrainian army mostly use the AKS-74 (i.e. folding-stock variant)? Atleast that’s the impression I get from most of the photos/videos of them out there.

    • BabyWookie

      Yes. They have a large stockpile of Afghan War era (plum furniture) AKS-74’s. They use those along with plum AK-74s and some AKMs.

    • toms

      The Uk military mostly carry 74’s with wooden or bakelite forearms/grips and triangle folding stocks. Many Airborne brigades are starting to show up with tavors too. Some militia and reserves have AKMs. Usually the proRussian media focuses on some absurd grandfather type carrying a beat up SKS or PPSD to give the appearance of, “poor grandmothers forced to fight fascists with looted equipment”. If you look real close, often you will see very modern AKs, PKMs and SVDs with polymer furniture in the hands of Cossacks, Vostoks, and other “volunteers” in unstaged photos. Everything that comes out of Russia now days is carefully screened and staged. Western journalists and amatures get some un-edited photos out here and there.

      • BabyWookie

        Plum polymer furniture was introduced in the mid 80’s. Black polymer furniture – late 90’s. Ukrainians and the rebels mostly use plum.

  • Jack

    Excellent collection of photos. I noticed right away the person who created the collection seemed to have quite a hard on for the Russians and pro Russian folks. So I wasn’t surprised when I read one caption towards the end that mentioned “we” with Russia. Gotta love the Novorossiyan crap too. Apparently all Ukrainians are fascists too.

    • guest

      I am sorry that you feel this way. Come to think of it probably 90% of all media from the war (not the number of pictures/videos shown, but unique pictures/videos) in total is mostly coming from the rebels. Might have something to do with Kiev banning all russian channels, actively persecuting and killing journalists not affiliated with Kiev, and not providing access to their own journalists into the “ATO” zone or even near it. So much so that state run channels often rely on rebel media as a basis, and they provide the dubbing/comments for it.
      But that’s what happens if a country is actively engaged in a war not only in military but a media war as well. They didn’t invent it though – the nails in the coffin of journalism were being hammered already during Vietnam, where the apparent and obvious became too inconvenient.

      Interwebs to the rescue! You’ll always find unfiltered, “uncooked” footage there, and judging by your attitude you won’t like that even more than you disliked this brief presentation. But that’s life for you, it does not adapt to your views, but it will force you to accept its truth sooner or later. Including the “Novorossian crap”.

      • Tinkerer

        “The Firearm Blog: firearms, not politics”.

        Is it REALLY that hard to understand the motto of this site? It’s right on the top, for everyone to see. Why ruin an interesting article?

        • dp

          In all fairness it was previous reader who started it. ‘Guest’ is responding according his level of consciousness.
          Is there a way out of this conflicting situation in future? Perhaps, but editor seem to have his preferences and they are in line with mainstream.

        • guest

          The “article” shows select images.
          Now I am no reporter but as far as TFB goes and the staff’s… unique… journalistic abilities I can tell several things.
          1) The conflict from a purely technical point of view is somewhat interesting: I have seen PTRS and PTRD rifles being looted from old military stores (could not believe my eyes at first! We are talking WW2 AT rifles here! Actual WW2 vintage!), the infamous crimean “wannabe operator” showing off his tacticool AR-15 clone. Some people armed with same old 50’s vintage SKSs. T-34 being taken off a display pedestal, fuelled up and run trough the streets of Donetsk. Finally ukrainian mercs/volunteers/various namesake battalions/PMCs etc sporting heavily modded AK-74Ms with Eotechs and camp finishes, a miss-mash of gear and uniforms etc. Yet these photos don’t show even a tiny bit of this small arms plethora.
          2) These images are old and boring. There are way better images out there purely from the artistic photographer’s POV.
          3) If I see someone poking sarcastic fun at an ongoing or historical conflict from a very polarised standpoint… then it just begs from a real reality check and somewhat of a verbal slap in the face. Even out of decency and “site rules” here I just can’t let stuff like this pass me by and not take a swing at it.
          4) Apropos point 3 this site has a policy, but in several articles it violates that as the editors see it fit. From time to time, not often. I simply do not honour half-truths or selective measures.
          5) Apropos points 3 and 4; guns and politics always go hand-in-hand. They never divorced one another, in fact they came closer together than ever in recent decades, so there you go.

          I do not expect everyone to understand or agree with the above, this is my opinion and like with rear cavities I’m entitled to mine just as much as the next guy.

          • guest

            Damn autocorrect f’ed up some words, sorry for that.

          • Yes you are entitled to your opinion as is everyone else. That said ignoring the rules because you can’t help yourself and have to take a swing is no excuse. The rules are the rules.

          • guest

            For the other guy it is apparently OK since you didn’t comment his opinion. For you guys it’s apparently also OK from time to time depending on what article and who writes it. So the rules are not the rules. It’s hypocricy. Oh and I *love* taking swings at hypocrisy even more than that other topic.

        • Sigh. I get crapped on by both sides. Some Russians are annoyed we are pro-Ukraine and some non-Russians get annoyed because they think we are anti-Russia.

          Our coverage has always been neutral, and by neutral I mean focusing on what is happening (from a gun perspective) rather than worrying about if a photo makes one side look overly good or overly bad.

          My team and I keep our personal opinions to ourselves.

          If we are against anything, its against punishing the American, Russia and Ukrainian gun industry for political purposes.

          • Steve

            The cost of doing business, in today’s information environment.

      • ColaBox

        Too bad the uncensored footage is always plagued with the convenient blur or camera drop the moment before something actually happens.

    • Thetruthaboutbabywookie

      The collector of these photos is well known on websites as a Russian apologist, being a Russian who now lives in America. His bias is obvious, and ironically, he is also an antisemite while claiming that Ukrainians are nazi fascists.

      • BabyWookie

        Well known? Damn. I didn’t know that I’ve become so famous! I just knew that there were at least couple of guys who have nothing better to do than to Reddit stalk me. Once again, get a life.

        By the way, apparently I am anit-semitic because I jokingly used the term “jewed” once. Sigh.

      • Krasnaja Zvezda

        What “claim”?

        Have you not seen the Kiev regime troops that wear Wolfsangel armbands?

    • BabyWookie

      I don’t hide who I am rooting for in this War. Not all Ukrainians combatants are neo-nazi/fascist, but the “Azov Battalion” and “The Right Sector Volunteer Battalion” are. Note that both of those units are a part of Ukrainians’ official force structure under the Interior Ministry. President Poroshenko was recently filmed handing out medals to the Azov guys, wearing their “Wolfsangel” SS insignia.

    • USMC03Vet

      Yeah caught the same thing. Pro Russia propaganda pieces in there.

      Still some good arms pictures in there.

  • Jimbo Schmakumz

    AM I THE ONLY ONE THAT NOTICED THE AKS-74 WITH A DRUM???? A DRUM!!!!! WHADDA HYELL??? seriously, though a 5.45 drum, did he get sent that from the people who modified them in the US? or is it a civilian Saiga model available there that is 7.62x39mm?

  • Ken

    No AK-74M’s? I remember those were commonly pictured earlier int he conflict in Crimea.

    • BabyWookie

      Did you check out the collection? Plenty of AK-74Ms can seen wielded by the Russian troops during the Crimean Events, but not since, as Ukraine has never adopted that weapon in any significant numbers.

      • toms

        They show up in the hands of “volunteers” in amature photos. Definitly not something you see from prorussian media though, it goes against the we are a poor grassroots organization fighting to save our wives and children from nazi thugs. There is good video of materials left behind in Sloviansk that show very modern if not new Russian military kit including SVDs, PKMs, and modern 74s with red dots.

        • BabyWookie

          I would absolutely love to have even one pic of a separatist with an AK-74M (modern AK)! Can you point me in the right direction? Problem is, you can trust any of those amateur photos from Facebook, etc, as Ukrainians have been known to take photos taken in Russia, slightly edit them (like mirroring) to confuse Google reverse image search and then present them as separatist photos. 🙁

          By the way, Ukraine uses SVDs and PKMs and it’s very easy to outfit something like an AKS-74 (AK-74 with a metal folding stock) or any other stamped receiver AK with rails, red dots and other accessories. We sure do that in the US.

          • toms

            The videos are on youtube in Russian. I will look to see if I can find them quickly. Many of the ones posted by the rebels have been pulled down since the Russians got fully involved. The modernized versions are very very easy to tell apart, especially the SVDs and PKMs. The ones that were captured were brand spanking new, with the new Russian barrel profiles, flash hiders, furniture, sights ect. Having extensively seen what Ukrainians have in their arsenals, I can tell you that many of the captured items were not of Ukrainian origin. Most of the Ukrainian military rifles were old 20 years ago. I lived there for three years and only recently returned home, so I am well aware of what they issue. The Ukrainians have also stuck to soviet style weapons and doctrine, while the Russians have been modernizing their weapons extensively. With the exception of a few thousand modernized AKs bought from Russia a few years back for UKs marines and SF, which were mostly captured in Crimea I might add, The UKs have been relying on old soviet stockpiles from the 70-80’s. They have started to issue tavors in large numbers recently, which is a good thing.

          • BabyWookie

            Issued Tavors in large number? Thus far, I have only seen them on their Independence Day parade and not anywhere near the “so-called” ATO. You know that all those latest flash hiders, railed furniture, collimator sights etc are available to anyone, including in the US, right? Both sides have been accessorizing their AK with the latest and greatest (and not-so-greatest). As you might imagine, I didn’t randomly pull these pictures out of my ass and have been collecting them for a while. I have yet to see something like a Pecheneg (modernized AKM), SVU (modernized SVD), Groza or even a typical Russian issue AK-74M. Basically, I haven’t seen anything that screams “Russia” (post-Soviet) used by either side in the “ATO”.

          • toms

            Yes as a gun collector, shooter, and person with close contacts over there including friends in UK airborne, SBU, MVD I know what to look for. I shot one of the first production forte tavors when I lived there.The newer SVDs SVU have folding stocks, shorter barrels with different profiles, and plastic furniture, The newer PKMs have similar changes. They have both been captured by government forces, Not huge numbers but enough to know that they were not stolen from Ukrainian bases. For the most part, the Russians have been supplying the rebels with old surplus and weapons captured from Crimea. Same thing we do when trying to maintain plausible deniability. I looked briefly for the one video that I know had the above mentioned rifles and a modern KORD too, but was unsuccessful. I don’t have hours to rewatch the videos but I can point you in the right direction. Search youtube for combat sloviansk ukraine in Ukrainian alphabet. Some of the AT rockets I have seen are also post soviet union issue, I did see a video in the patriot war museum in kiev where the manufacture dates on many captured items were from the last 10 years or so. As to the TAPCO Aks you are right there. Both sides have been throwing on rails ect. Most of the units using tavors, galatz, ars and other western equipment don’t take photos in combat and have pretty strict 0 tolerance policies as putting videos out of your missions is poor opsec. I know there are some pictures floating around from early on with that one goofy looking cossak commander who was spotted in Georgia 08, Crimea, then sloviansk had a 74m. I have not seen a Groza anywhere except in crimea.

      • Ken

        Whoops, I just saw that there was a link. Interestingly enough, there is one picture of a Ukrainian honor guard with AK-74M’s.

    • LCON

      Most of the AKs seen in both sides are likely surplus units from Russian Stores left form the Cold war. the AK74M’s and other new guns were from Modern Russian troops.

      • BabyWookie

        Soviet stores. Yeah, most of their weapon are from the Afghan War era. Interesting fact:

        At the Fall of the USSR, Ukraine was the richest of the 15 republics and was left with one of the largest conventional militaries in the world, as well as enough nuclear weapons to make the third largest nuclear power!

  • Lance

    Love seeing some pretty nice AK-74s with wood stocks. Not too many AK-74Ms though used so far in the conflict. Think the Russian red photo is the coolest.

  • Guest

    What? Nobody is going to mention the Makarov the cop has in his other hand? I really, really, like Makarovs. Have four of them myself…

    • Guest

      Well, there’s nothing special about them in this part of the world. Makarov, you know, whatever.

  • ColaBox

    How about these Kalashnikovs?

    • ColaBox

      Pic didn’t upload, dammit.

    • USMC03Vet

      Dat ass

      • usmcmailman

        SEMPER-FI…..that !

    • sianmink

      VSS Vintorez on the right UNFFFF

    • CJS3

      How about the what?

  • Inigo Montoya

    Not a single suppressor?

    • Max Glazer

      Suppressor on AK is worthless unless you use specialized subsonic ammunition. Which is available only to SpetsNaz on request in that part of the world. Rather useless when the main mode of operation of Ukrainian pro-Kiev forces is shelling towns, killing civilians left and right and using area weapons rather then Special Forces. Rather few SpetsNaz from before revolution stayed loyal.

  • Richard

    They do seem to exercise decent trigger finger discipline.

  • Ben Waldron

    Is the 3rd picture Dale Grib….. Er, Rusty Shackleford?

    • Agitator

      If he has a last-ditch cigarette and match hidden in a plastic bag under that hat, then yes.

  • Sam Pensive

    …///giant Soviet night vision scope///

    now that would be a bad ass accessory …
    want it! simply because of how HUGE it is.
    sort of a RPG looking tube…? wow
    thing seems built…typical Russian – works anywhere type design.

  • bruce Cambell

    Ok, I’m going to point out the elephant in the room.. how many of you secretly wondered if Russia invaded Ukraine just for the hot women? Lets face it Putin is a recently divorced lady’s man, Figured he could get a warm water port and access to some hit chicks.