The AK-12 In Action

The AK-12 has just been approved for use in the Russian Army, but what else do we know about the weapon? TV Zvezda has released a helpful video describing the rifle to the public:

The problem for monolingual English-speakers such as myself being that we cannot understand Russian. EnsignExpendable, of the Soviet Guns Archive blog, has provided a short summary of the high points:

The recoil is reduced, better ergonomics (tester says it doesn’t slide around), extensible stock, lighter and shorter. There’s now a short burst feature. You can now reload the gun with one hand due to the new bolt release latch. The AK-12 can fire at -52 degrees. Production can be ramped up to 50,000 new AK-12s per year.


Approved by Kalashnikov himself.

Even with corporate spin being what it is, the AK-12 does seem like a serious improvement over the AK-74. Russian Army testing seems to indicate that the AK-12 significantly improves on the full auto and semi-auto controllability of the AK-74, though not quite approaching the level of the A545, its AEK-571-based competitor.

In 2012, before the death of Kalashnikov, RIA Novosti posted a video of Russian competition shooters evaluating the then-new AK-12 prototype. Their impressions were positive:

If sanctions are eased or even lifted, and the importation of AK-12s occurs and they are available for sale below $1500, I think they would be a strong competitor to the AR-15 on the market. Lighter than most AR-15 challengers, while supporting the range of modern optics as well as using the proven Kalashnikov mechanism, I think Kalashnikov Concern could in that scenario enjoy considerable US civilian market sales.

Even without the repeal of sanctions on Russia, the AK-12 offers more than the Galil ACE, a similar rifle that has been very successful recently. What remains to be seen is whether the AK-12 will be price competitive on the world market.

H/T, LooseRounds. Thanks to EnsignExpendable for translating for me.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • Zachary marrs

    “strong competitors for ar’s”

    Lol, not at $1500

    • KestrelBike

      As a modern-weapon enthusiast, I’d definitely consider putting $1,500 down for one. In 5.56, please.

      • Joshua

        Alot would, but when a 6920 costs $950 and other brands even less it would be a tough sell.

        • Ben

          How many people buy a 6920 and then leave it stock though? By the time you add a new grip, stock, trigger, sights, and handguard, you are easily at or over $1500.

      • Grindstone50k

        I prefer my guns in what they were originally designed for: 1911s in .45, AKs in 7.62×39

  • sianmink

    They would have to sell it in 7.62×39. Simply put when people in the US buy an AK they want that .30 caliber round. I don’t think 5.45 would sell nearly as well, simply because the AR-15 is so dominant in tinycaliber.

    The cheap 5.45 and 7.62×39 has dried up. Everything left is $.25 a round so the previous extreme price advantage these calibers had are pretty much gone.

    • Ethan

      Yeah they would have to be either a return of massive quantities of cheap 545 surplus ammo or someone would have to develop cheap 556 AK mags… The former is more likely.

      In 7.62×39 this gun likely loses its controllability advantage. Still an awesome gun and a major improvement over the standard AK-47 but probably not so much of a quantum leap..

      Just thinking out loud…

    • Mmmtacos

      Unfortunately x39 is the choice caliber for AK because it’s just a given. Less knowledgeable shooters aren’t aware that an AK was ever chambered in anything else.

      While 5.45 would have been nice, you are of course right, the surplus has dried up after it’s ban. Personally I would like one in 5.56 if anything just to keep ammo commonality among my firearms.

      But all in all I’d take the AEK any day of the week. The AK-12 is nice and all but it’s the same rifle, only with standard features that the AK-74 should have mostly acquired when they switched over to it. I prefer variety anyway, and already own an SLR.

      • somedongus

        Baz? Is they you?

  • Evaris

    Honestly I’m more wondering about the rumored 6.5 Grendel derivative round I was hearing might be adopted for the AK-12.

  • ak1134

    If a SCAR and an AK had a baby it seems like the AK-12 is it’s off spring.

  • Grindstone50k

    AKs don’t have a reputation for being expensive, fancy guns. They’re supposed to be cheap, dirty, and utterly reliable. I don’t think that $1500 is what people are looking for in an AK.

    • DiverEngrSL17K

      Both you and Zachary might be right, but then again is it possible that with this “new generation” of AK’s, the intent is to take that step into the realm of more expensive, feature-laden guns with an OEM product while capitalizing on the basic simplicity and reliability of their predecessors? After all, the Arsenal and Krebs Custom AK’s have already paved the way to a great extent in bridging this gap, and have gained wide acceptance in spite of their high price tags.

      • Grindstone50k

        They’re going to have to market hard to hurdle the aforementioned reputation. Not a huge market for expensive AKs.

        • DiverEngrSL17K

          True. I guess only time will tell. It might prove to be an interesting process, though.

  • SP mclaughlin

    There is a 5.56 AEK, it’s the 972.

  • roguetechie

    I’m seriously irked at the sanctions for killing ak-108 which probably would have started hitting gun shops in July 2015!! That is the one I’d have happily handed over a couple grand to get my hands on

  • Ben

    That has always been a problem with the AK long stroke piston. The same force that pushes rearwards on the piston pushes forwards on the gas block. This is largely what causes the barrel whip, and is exaggerated by thin barrels.

    • I think the thin barrels are the biggest problem, although it could also be the area of the face of the piston that is also a factor.

  • Zachary marrs

    Good ar’s like dd, or bcm can be had for around 1k, hell, my local wally world has colt 6920’s for 900

  • William M Durham

    From the pics and what it does in terms of recoil and accuracy, its a beast regardless what you fell like saying, when have you seen such accuracy at speed from a rifle like this. Once it get around the world we will again have to admit its one hell of a weapon.

    • Joshua

      Recoil is mainly that very smartly designed compensator. As for accuracy they are firing a compensated 5.45 at what looks like 25M in Auto, any SCHV gun with a compensator the size and length of the one on the AK-12 would do the same.

    • Uniform223

      How the AK-12 is handled in this video ( in my opinion ) seems a little skewed to me. The person “running and gunning” looks to be a professional competitive shooter. You give your standard “run of the mill” M4 to someone like say, Jerry Miculek and he’ll make that rifle look impressive. Also in my opinion the AK-12 is just now catching up to the M4 in terms of modernization in which the M4 has already been doing for years.

  • As mentioned in his article, it has been approved for field trials. That is a form of being approved for “use”, though it hasn’t been adopted yet (it looks like the AK-12 and A545 will have an operational trial-off).

    The wording could have been improved, though, yes.

  • Could you cite any source that mentions that Kalashnikov Concern wishes to kill Americans?

    • Tinklebell

      Of course he can’t. Even if they did, I doubt they would be talking about it openly.

  • Toms that’s really an inappropriate comment as far as the reference to killing Americans. There is no reference anywhere that I can find that refers to the allegation you made against Kalashnikov Concern.
    Also as I’m sure you know we stay away from politics which your post has a considerable amount of. Lets just stick with talking about guns.

  • According to what we at ALL4SHOOTERS could gather from our Russian contributors, the AK-12 is not nearly as good as they’d want you (us) to believe.

    The A-545/6P67 rifle (upgraded AEK-971) is a better performer under all points of view. The reasons why the AK-12 was accepted to the last phase of the “Ratnik” trials can be summed up as follows:

    #1 — The “Kalashnikov Group” has an enormous power to exert political influence over Russian decision-makers in this field.
    #2 — The “Kalashnikov Group” is (once again) at the verge of bankruptcy, and the Russian government can’t ignore that.

    Funny thing is, ever should the Russian government adopt the AK-12 over the best performer (the A-545/6P67) just in order to save the “Kalashnikov Group” (again), they may not even have the money to pay for the rifles.

  • Amsdorf

    I’m definitely interested!

  • DiverEngrSL17K

    Ah, once again the old bugbear of “market timing” raises it’s ugly head. Looking at the history of firearms, I doubt if there has been a single manufacturer that hasn’t been affected at one time or the other.

    I agree about the AK-74. It is an excellent and highly-efficient modern rifle with a proven pedigree that simply needs to have what we usually add as aftermarket accessories incorporated as OEM items on the production line in order to have a wider appeal to the civilian ( and perhaps also the military / LEO ) market.

    To those of you who are “purists”, please understand that I am not against the basic, bare-bones AK-74. I have one which I easily appreciate as much as the other AK-74 I own, which itself is fully accessorized to bring it up to current standards. Instead, I am simply trying to see this issue from the business standpoint of a manufacturer having to deal with certain commercial realities.

    Many thanks to Nathaniel and EnsignExpendable for this article.