Konstantin Lazarev has some excellent photos on his Facebook page of an AK-12 undergoing testing. The rifle has been painted in earth tones, and has clearly already seen fairly heavy use, judging by all the wear. These photos also offer a look inside the receiver of the gun, which reveals a weapon that, while its designers were clearly cribbing notes from Western rifle development, is still uniquely Russian in design.
The trunnion of the AK-12 appears almost unchanged from the AK-74, despite the new pattern of receiver and bolt carrier. Its engineers solved the problem of mounting optics to the AK-style receiver by creating a monolithic rail – entirely separate from the receiver – that dovetails and locks into either the handguard or a vestigial sight block, which is different than the hinging AKS-74U-type cover of earlier AK-12 prototypes. This entire assembly, receiver cover attached, is removed from the rifle for cleaning, which allows a virtually unprecedented level of receiver access at the field-stripping level. The charging handle remains in the same location as earlier AK-type rifles, but is now non-reciprocating, and switchable from right to left. The AK-12 adopts a very slim profile M4-style collapsing buttstock, which folds, but also has a very interesting looking approximately 320-degree “ring” type sling mount that surrounds the wrist of the stock, something I don’t think I’ve seen before in the West. The separate safety and selector arrangement of the prototype AK-12s has been replaced with a unified, not-quite Western looking selector and safety lever. An extended, ambidextrous magazine release, which is capable of being activated either in the conventional Kalashnikov manner or with the trigger finger (very reminiscent of the H&K XM8) supplants the decades old AK-style lever. A new muzzle brake and front sight block round out the rifle.
It’s difficult to imagine a rifle that more exemplifies the small arms of the early 21st century: At its core, a near 70-year-old design, conceived to meet the needs and rise to the technology of the post-WWII world, tempered and evolved through decades of experience fighting “down and dirty” wars against paramilitary forces in unstable regions everywhere from Afghanistan to Georgia.
H/T, Remiguisz Wilk, of Broń i Amunicja