More Information On The AK-12

There has been a lot of news about the Russian AK-12 rifle to come out this past Winter, and we at TFB have stayed on top of our coverage of the design’s evolution. However, since late January, there are a few things we have learned, so now it’s about time for an update. One of the most informative videos regarding the rifle itself that I have yet seen is this one from December of 2014, which besides showing the monolithic upper rail fifth prototype in action, also comes equipped with both automatic and human translations. I encourage readers to watch it with both comments and subtitles turned “ON”:

First, this video tells us that the chief designer of the AK-12 is one Vladimir Zlobin, who features prominently in the video, demonstrating and talking about the rifle. Wikipedia-based rumors that Mikhail Kalashnikov himself was involved appear not to be true, though apparently before his death Kalashnikov did approve of the design. The video claims the rifle offers greater firepower (apparently through larger capacity magazines, including a 95 round drum) better accuracy through an enhanced stabilizer/brake, and better wear characteristics and unit lifespan. The rifle’s suitability for use at night has been enhanced and optimized – via the redesign of the muzzle brake to accommodate a quick-detach suppressor, and the full-length Picatinny rail (Zlobin confirms this is a 1913 standard rail, and not a Russian copy of proprietary dimensions), allowing night vision devices to be mounted directly to the rifle.

Zlobin tells us that the ergonomics of the rifle have been improved, that the AK-12 is much more friendly to both right and left-handed shooters, but that despite these changes the basic mechanism has stayed the same. While offering all these new enhancements, the rifle weighs 0.2kg (0.44lbs) less than its predecessor the AK-74M, and Zlobin states that there is room for further improvement in this regard. Current AK-12 prototypes weigh in at just over seven pounds (3.2kg) unloaded, which is indeed light for a 21st Century assault rifle design. Interestingly, the buttstock can be folded in either direction, though it is my guess that it can only do this after partial disassembly to configure the butt to fold to either side. However, this is a particularly good feature, as the previous AK-74M suffers from an inability to fold the stock completely when optics are mounted to the side rail. The AK-12 also features improved iron sights that allow easier adjustment for windage and elevation. Zlobin also mentions that the rear sight is no longer fixed to the rifle, but is removable from the 1913 rail, and can be placed anywhere the user chooses.

One improvement that is visible on the fifth generation prototypes is a new magazine kick lever attached to an improved ambidextrous magazine release. This device and the new release are visible clearly in the image below:


The AK-12 in camouflage drag. The improved ambidextrous magazine release can be actuated by the pointer fingers, while a spring-loaded kick-lever ejects the magazine from the rifle automatically.



The kick-lever allows much faster reloads while retaining existing AK-74 pattern magazines. Older AK pattern rifles do not drop the magazines even if the magazine catch is activated.

Zlobin also mentions the existence of an AKS-74U-type subcarbine model, as well as versions of both subcarbine and the carbine chambered for 7.62×39.

Conflicting reports exist as to the AK-12’s status. The rifle passed state acceptance trials, and some officials reported the rifle was adopted for the Russian Army, however other sources have contradicted them and said the decision is not yet made. TFB recently fielded reader questions to Kalashnikov Concern’s CEO Alexey Krivoruchko, who told us that further trials of the rifle would be conducted in 2015, and that the rifle would be produced by the end of the year.

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


  • A

    1. how did they Get the weight down?
    2. Would you trust that rail?

    • iksnilol

      I am wondering about the weight too.

      Regarding the rail, if it is attached to the sight block then why not? Though I prefer the siderail.

      • roguetechie

        Iksinol, I like the original scope rail on the left also. Though seeing the ak12 iterations for the last few years has made me wish for a custom AK whose only fitting acronym would be AK-ABaUd LOL

        (Ass backwards and upside down)
        This is what being a lefty does to surplus rifle addicts…

        • iksnilol

          I have a similar but not so similar problem. Ever since I learned to shoot with both eyes and arms I have looked sceptically at rifles that can’t be used with either hand. If I buy a rifle I can’t use left-handed I sorta feel like I have bought half a rifle at full price.

          I thought there were scope mounts on the siderail that allowed the scope to be centered? No problem IMO if the new rail is solid, you can just get taller rings if you want to use the irons.

    • Esh325

      Perhaps they lightened the bolt group similar how the bolt group was lightened with the AK74. I would trust that rail as they redesigned the AK’s accept a dust cover rail, unlike some shoddy aftermarket part you might find.

    • The rail seems repeatable enough, though only time will tell.

      I imagine they brought weight down by not insisting on the sort of modularity that Western rifle designers do, and by using light gauge sheet steel instead of a thick aluminum extrusion as is fashionable in the West.

      • All the Raindrops

        I have ak builds that are under 7 pounds. light furniture.

  • Riot

    Very nice.

    Does anyone else think the new angular look of the body is reminiscent of the FNC?

  • KestrelBike

    3) if this rifle sees the light of day for U.S. civilians, will anybody buy it in 5.45, and should people hope that the 7n6 surplus ammo becomes unbanned for import? (Or however it’s referred to)

    • Andrew

      Honestly, i feel 7n6 is overrated, even though it definitely should be legal. I found if I treat my Saiga 74 the same way as I do my AR, I get a rusty action pretty quickly. So future ammo purchases will be new manufacture steel cased. But, yeah, I want it in 5.45.

      • KestrelBike

        I mention the 7n6 not because of any quality, but because of the quantity that kept 5.45 prices cheap and thus the caliber alive in the US market. If 5.45 is just as expensive as .223 (which it isn’t just yet, because of the new manufacture steel case that you mention, some of which became unavailable during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine/Crimea) then it will severely hamper the market for 5.45 caliber weapons.

  • Nicholas Mew

    I am liking this rifle more and more, but there will be things that I will miss from the older rifles that this does not have from my observations.

    • Sigivald

      … like what?

      • Nicholas Mew

        The fact that they can operate without the top cover and is stupid simple.

  • SS Totenkopf

    Ich will.

    • sal

      just get tavor… much better.

      • iksnilol

        Judging by his username he might prefer a Galil.

  • iksnilol

    Hope they make a version with 30 cm barrel and short gas system. At the very least something like the AK-104.

    • Esh325
      • LCON

        Russian fingers and triggers its a love story…

        • Esh325
          • Barry

            One is a soldier in combat–finger on trigger probably ok if enemies are advancing. The other is a dicktator playing with toys–probably ok because no one will say anything to him.

          • Esh325

            How do you know Putin isn’t just trying the trigger out? The second picture is even worst because it is in fact a loaded gun where the first picture isn’t.

          • LCON

            I side with Barry on this The guy with the M9 is out side the wire in battle conditions. If what ever he’s looking at so much as blink in the wrong way it’s getting a bullet.
            Putin was being handed a weapon at a trade show surrounded by people. More over even when standing post Russian manual of arms seems to have the finger on the trigger.

          • Esh325

            So it’s worst to have your finger on the trigger of an obviously loaded gun rather than an unloaded gun is what you’re saying? Which do you think is a bigger safety violation? How do you know he isn’t trying the trigger out?

          • Uniform223

            its a loaded gun in a combat zone… point up and down range towards the enemy, pretty sure he can get away with that… also the safety is on.

        • Lysenko

          Hey, YOU wanna tell Vlad to get his booger hook off the bang switch?

        • iksnilol

          Well, I always found Americans weird at this. It is pretty normal to test the triggers of show guns. That’s also one of the reasons all show guns are unloaded.

          You safety guys would get a heart attack if you saw someone fit a shotgun to someone (hint: It involves a deal of staring down the barrel of a shotgun while someone is aiming it).

          • Uniform223


          • LCON

            Can’t a Guy make a A political, not sexual, Snarky comment with out the Spanish Inquisition….

          • iksnilol

            Yes, yes you can.

            I just don’t see the big issue is all.

  • Esh325

    I think the Russians really have something going with the AK-12. Although, I think it’s something that they should have made a long time ago. One thing to note is that the rifle has a true BHO, and a bolt catch which they seem to have accomplished without using new magazines. I believe the mechanics have been slightly modified. The bolt group is suppose to have a softer impulse to reduce recoil and increase accuracy. Supposedly, there was an AK-12 in development that had barrels that could be changed out for other calibers and lengths, but I’m not sure what happened to it.

  • Mario AK

    Expect an AK-12M in about ten years, after the poor sods on the front lines finally finish “testing” it…

    • d_grey

      That is a possibility……

      • Mario AK

        i think i’ve accidentally downvoted you, i was just checking something in my inbox, and I noticed it, it’s fixed…

        • d_grey

          No harm done. 🙂

    • Not sure what you mean. Both the AKM and AK-74M brought design improvements more than bug fixes.

      • Mario AK

        Yes, but the Russians fielded both designs way too early, letting their troops shoulder the vast burden of testing a rifle… I’m not trying to reinforce any stereotypes, it’s just the way it was. Best of luck to them, Russia could use a break from almost a century of being ostracised for no reason.

        • iksnilol

          They aren’t ostracised for “no reason”. Just ask people from former Soviet Union countries, most of them don’t like Russians. That is for a good reason aswell.

          Not encouraging people to hate Russians, but be sceptical and take what they say with a bucket of salt.

          • Mario AK

            I know just how much pain they’ve inflicted on their former bordering lands, I live in a country nearby which sucked up a lot of damage from the hands of their closest allies. All I’m saying is their actions have always been in the service of maintaining their core security interests, they’ve had their backs against the wall ever since the US started the cold war…

          • iksnilol

            Yes, their security interests. That explains and justifies the genocide and all.

        • I know the AK had some teething troubles, but I’m unaware of the AK-74 having any. Do you have any sources on that?

          • Mario AK

            I was just generalising really, i heard things, but nothing stuck with me…

          • All the Raindrops

            So you’re just full of crap?

          • Mario AK

            Yeah, i forgot my notebook, sorry

        • Max Glazer

          Original AK had teething problems. That is back from 1949 when original had a milled receiver. Stamped AKM didn’t really have much in terms of problems since those were rectified with switch from AK to AKM. The only thing that soldiers didn’t really like is when laquer was sometimes coming off the front hand guards during prolonged firing sessions. Was solved with sanding.

  • I am hearing a different story from pretty much everyone I ask, so I’m not going to leap to conclusions.

    • Doug73

      Good idea not to leap to conclusions. In this industry, for every 10 guys who claim to be “in the know” about a particular gun or other happening, you’re lucky if even one of them is TRULY in the know. Gun guys like to gossip as much as old ladies at a bridge table. And just like those old ladies, most of them THINK they have the inside scoop…but really don’t.

  • Southpaw89

    I need to see this subcarbine version, always had a soft spot for the AKS-74U, enough to strongly consider going through all the SBR BS.

  • Uniform223

    really digging this new modernized AK variant. Though in my opinion that barrel profile looks a bit too thin for military applications.

  • J S

    I like that new mag release. Cant wait for someone in the aftermarket to pick up on that and make one to retrofit older AK pattern rifles

  • Avery

    Wonder why they kept the front sight if the rear sight is removable. You’d think they’d go with a folding front-sight at least if they wanted to keep it as a BUIS.

    • iksnilol

      Maybe they did it to increase sight radius? You have a short sight radius if both sights are rail mounted.

    • All the Raindrops

      M4a1 is the same way

  • borekfk

    It’s like the Duke Nukem Forever of the gun world. We hear so much about it, yet the release date is always being pushed back.