The Tactical Kalashnikov: The AK-12 In Full Auto

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Kalashnikov Concern has been hard at work improving the AK-12 rifle, which – although its status has waffled between “adopted” and “not” – is expected to be adopted and standardized by the Russian armed forces. The YouTube channel of Grigory Rhein has posted a few videos of shooting the latest incarnation of the AK-12, which differs in a few ways from its predecessors:

The stock aesthetics have changed, and the front sight has been moved from a dedicated front sight block to the gas block. The dust cover has also been changed, and the selector has been modified to a four-position ambidextrous type that improves upon the previous version. The handguard has also been modified with slots that most likely allow the mounting of additional rail segments and accessories, a la M-LOK and Keymod.

While the AK-12 has made appearances at major Russian expos recently, its competitor the A545 (formerly AEK-971) seems largely absent. This, as well as some Russian government officials declaring the AK-12 as standard (upon which substantial doubt has been cast), have made the AK-12 the safe bet for the next Russian service rifle.

 

Thanks to Retiv for the tip.



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 can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • Plumbiphilious

    Hmm, if there are any industry bigwigs and international movers here on TFB…you think that maybe any Russian company not hit by sanctions, like say…Molot, could invest and buy the AEK-971 design?

    You know, for…export as a sporting design?

    • Otis

      I wonder if they had a Magpul stock in their hands when they reinvented the Magpul stock?

      • iksnilol

        The AK-12 stock looks more like the Zenit stock than the Magpul one.

  • A

    I suspect that politics and corruption are the main causes behind the paradox that the innovative yet tried and proven A545 rifle is being set aside for the ak-12 project, but it would be very interesting to learn of any technical reasons for this development.

    • When has the A545 been tried and proven?

      • Jay

        It was tested extensively against ak12 and it was found superior in all respects.
        Politics, bribes and usual Kalashnikov too big too fail BS, brushed all that aside and the ak12 was declared “winner”.

        • Comparing the new A545/AEK-971 design against a Kalashnikov derivative is an odd time to use “tried and proven” to describe the former.

          • toms

            The AEK-971/A545 is not really a new system. They have been playing with it for 40 years. The originals look a little different but internally they are pretty much the same. I have seen soviet specimens from the late 70’s or so. It is much less complicated than the AN94.

          • Yes, well, the same can be said for the G11, as well.

            The AK design has been in continuous use for almost 70 years, so it’s a bit weird to call the AEK “proven” in comparison.

          • toms

            The Russians (especially soviets) generally test the snot out of stuff before adoption and do/did all kinds of tests that westerners may feel a tad bit excessive. The exception being weapons like the AN94 which was rushed based on collapse of soviet system, and perceived need to match western developments (like the early 90’s ACR program). Nothing gouged the Soviets more than weapon advances by NATO. One would be surprised at the vehemence and anger weapons superiority discussions can bring about in parts of their society. I thought a Russian girl I was dating was going to stab me with a toe nail file because I said the M1 abrams was a better tank than the T72. Nato weapons advances in the 80’s literally caused hundreds of soviet heart attacks and forced premature material responses that were sometimes ill advised on there part.

          • Tritro29

            The BARS and some of the Internals on the A545S were modified as to allow less hassle during field stripping. The Bolt too was tweaked so it was dumb-prooof. The A545S is even simpler than the early AEK’s. I see that People still hold on the Larry Vickers issue as the ultimate proof.

        • Esh325

          How do you know for that sure?

      • Anonymoose

        About 30 years ago at Akaban.

        • Given the finickiness of the AN-94, I’m not sure anything can be said to be “tried and proven” based only on its performance at the Abakan trials.

      • Alexandar Radmanovic

        AEK 971 saw service in Chechen wars and it is combat proven rifle.
        Google it

        • Oh, interesting, I didn’t know they were used in Chechnya (though it doesn’t surprise me based on the tendencies of Russian SF to order anything they please).

          I think you will agree that “combat proven” and “tried and proven” are both pretty meaningless phrases in this context. For example, the AN-94 is also “combat proven” – it’s probably seen more combat than the AEK-971 – but it’s an unreliable pile.

          • Esh325

            Honestly, there’s so little known about the AN-94’s performance it’s hard to say for sure they were unreliable rifles. In fact, in a book I have they actually put them as having less failures between rounds than the AK series. The reasons for them not being adopted are not really clear. Some say cost,unreliability,complexity,politics, etc.

          • Giolli Joker

            Having seen Vickers’ video I’d speculate that the complexities of clearing an occasional jammed round might have played a role… in that field any AK version is vastly superior.

          • Esh325

            It’s hard to judge it off of a single rifle. Yes I have seen it.

          • Giolli Joker

            I understand, I wouldn’t think that the jam can easily happen on all rifles, but the complexities of its clearance seemed inherent of the design.

          • According to Maxim Popenker, they were five times the cost of an AK-74. And, realistically, Larry Vickers’ video doesn’t encourage me that the AN-94 was a particularly reliable or field-serviceable gun.

          • Esh325

            About 1200$? I guess that might be expensive by Russian standards. It’s possible the rifle could have been very used and might have had worn parts.

          • Where are you seeing figures for $1200/rifle for the AN-94?

            Kalashnikov Concern recently quoted about $1,000/rifle for the AK-12, and I can hardly imagine it’s much more expensive than the AK-74.

          • Esh325

            “A brand new Kalashnikov from a Russian factory costs around $240,
            depending on the derivative and size of the purchase.” Times 5.

          • Amnesty International is not where I typically get my cost figures for the international weapons market. :

          • Alexandar Radmanovic

            I partially agree, but… AEK is on trials for more then 30 years and is still not adopted…
            Why?
            I didn’t read anywhere that rifle failed at testing or in combat.
            Reasons for not being adopted are probably economical and politics.
            Benefits of both AEK and AK12 over AK 74/74m are not economical enough to justify upgrade to new rifles.
            Little less recoil and little better ergonomics don’t mean much to regular soldier.

          • toms

            The AK12 will not see widespread use for a long time if ever. Russia literally has millions of AK74’s in storage. The AK12 is not a substantial upgrade over 74M. Russia’s priority is on upgrading other systems first, given projected financial growth ect, money will go into upgrading fighters, comms, missile’s and ships. Special forces may get these but the average soldier will be stuck with the 74 for many years to come. Bet on it. Many feel that the AEK is a better system but behind the scene politics pushed the AK12 into better position.

          • Para

            Yep. The AK74s in service are sufficiently modernized to stay in service for a long time. If anything, they’ll do an upgrade program a la the recent M4A1 upgrades.

          • That may be so, but there may come a time where Russian forces feel they need better compatibility with accessories. The AK-12 is one option, but KC is clearly hedging its bets with the AK-74 upgrade kit, as well.

          • Max Glazer

            Upgrade of AK-74 is merely keeping in step (or more correctly CATCHING UP) with time. US issues M-16 with quadrail these days and with a flat top receiver. The telescopic stock proven its worth by allowing comfortable grip and confident shot irrespective of the amount of clothing/protection worn while the amount of sights available on the market for picattini rails compared to that made for side rail is much larger despite side rail being able to hold zero after remove/refit and picattini system often doesn’t. Russia is modernizing its military and that modernization has been long in order.

            As far as replacing the AK-74 goes – if there are superior designs available then why not get them?

          • In some ways that’s true, but I gotta admit that my SLR-104 is a softer shooting gun than my Colt 6920. The former runs like a well-comped racegun.

          • Max Glazer

            I meant that those features that Russians introduce on the AK-74 modernization kit have long proven themselves on M4A1 and some others. They make the gun easier to hold comfortably.

      • Esh325
      • Tritro29

        Both rifles are going to be adopted. The issue as for “exposition”, is that Kovrov (ZID) doesn’t get the same kind of exposure out of habit. They do make some of the most specialized and “exotic” weapons out there. The AN94, nothing to do with unreliable. Just issued in small numbers for familiarization while the level of quality control was abysmal. There it proved fairly more complicated to maintain than the venerable AK. BUt nothing of the kind with the AEK. It served quite well in Spetsnaz units up and is no more complicated to maintain, clean and strip than the AK. The 1000 USD figure has been quoted for the AK15 in Hungary earlier this year. Which is a BARS equipped rifle. The AK12 isn’t going to cost that much, since ZID has been pusing a revised AEK for 5/600 dollars since 2009.

    • Victor Lourenço

      Apparently Izmash has a lot of pull due to being the birthplace of the AK-47.

  • jcl

    In all the videos the bolt isn’t held back when the rifle shot it’s last round. Kalashnikov Concern claimed they add bolt hold open feature to ak12, or is that suppose to meant as bolt hold for maintenance and not last round bolt hold open device?

    • I’m not sure. My guess is it’s mag-dependent.

      • jcl

        But they specifically said it use existing magazines

        • Esh325

          It can use existing magazines, it just needs special mags for the BHO to work.

          • iksnilol

            Or more specifically, special followers.

          • Esh325

            It is interesting how they managed to pull it off by having a rifle that has a bolt catch and bolt hold open without needing totally new magazines.

      • mechamaster

        Maybe they use upgraded existing AK magazine follower for bolt-hold open capability to be used in AK12.

    • Esh325

      “Gun features bolt hold-open device which is controlled by a lever, located at the front of the trigger guard, above the enlarged magazine release lever. It must be noted that this bolt hold-open device works only with modificed magazines. ” http://world.guns.ru/assault/rus/kalashnikov-ak-12-e.html

  • USMC03Vet

    Obama’s executive order 13661. Saving gun owners in America from fun.

    • G0rdon_Fr33man

      That is really what it is about. Yeah.

      Thanks Obama.

    • Darren Hruska

      Don’t agree with Russia’s politics, obviously, but I still have to wonder if a hard-working Russian is really any different than a hard-working American. If anything, these sanctions hurt the employees, the working man, more-so than Putin’s ego. But yeah, “No fun allowed!” should be Obama’s punch line.

      • Max Glazer

        Correct. Everyday working Russian is pretty much same as average American.

        Obama is doing what US political establishment wants him to do: completely castrate the Second Amendment and make sure that US citizens can’t make an armed revolt against the government that has become tyrannical. And US citizens ARE under tyranny. It’s just that zombie-box and “correctly written” school curriculum make it REALLY hard to realize.

  • kev

    Back in January both the A545 and AK 12 passed selection and afterwards Many reported that the AK 12 won however Janes and many Russian websites reported a few months ago that both the AK 12 and A545 would go into service, contradicting past claims and renewed hope for the A545. Many speculate that the AK 12 will become a standard issue weapon while the A545 would be a special forces weapon like the SCAR

    • BonJoveeez

      This would make sense as the A545 is a more complex weapon internally, leave it for special forces who will be getting more hands on with it, the AK-12 doesn’t venture far from the AK internals much except for the new safety

      • Kev

        Exactly, Spetsnaz and other units are already eyeing it up and the original design AEK 971 has limited experience in Chechnya. Currently Russia is looking to recruit and train professional soldiers so their units could also get it, however as you mentioned the AK 12 is not that internally different to a AK 74 and is also cheaper to mass produce on a lage scale to the bulk of the Russian army tha is predominantly conscripts.

    • Esh325

      There are so many contradicting reports from the Russia press and military, it’s hard to believe any of it. It’s possible they could completely change their mind and not adopt the AK-12 at all, and opt for the modernized AK-74’s.

      • Giolli Joker

        The so called Indian route…

        • kev

          That’s a road to hell paved with broken springs, melted hand guards and ineffective procurement and products.

      • Kev

        Hat would not surprise me, as long as it doesn’t become a fiasco like the Indian INSAS

    • Initially, reports said both were accepted for service. Then some Russian official(s) claimed the AK-12 had been adopted.

      The actual status of both I think is that they’re still undergoing troop trials and improvements, but we haven’t heard nearly as much from the A545 team as we have from KC.

      • Kev

        That is true, the plan is make a decision around the the end of the year, only time will tell. There is a major russian defence expo coming up soon so we might get an answer soon.

  • J.J

    Too bad the Russians have no money.

    • MPWS

      Have money – don’t have money… do you know what it means? If their banking is independent from dollar system (which I am note sure of) they can have as much money as they need; for military for sure. In US it’s done simply – just get printed.

  • Aaron

    Great looking rifle

  • mechamaster

    The charging handle design seems a little confused design, they want to maintain older-style design by added “L-shaped” extension rather than front ejection position.

  • iksnilol

    Can’t help but feel that a short suppressor would be better than the big muzzle brake. Then again, probably easier to sell without a suppressor and of course cheaper.

    Though it does look pretty controllable on FA.

    • Esh325

      The Russians seem to have a lot of value in fully auto and burst than most countries, hence the big muzzle brake.

      • iksnilol

        You misunderstood me. My point was, wouldn’t a suppressor of a similar size reduce recoil just as much (if not more) while making the rifle quieter?

        • Esh325

          You mean a sound suppressor or flash suppressor? I’m not sure what you mean.

          • iksnilol

            Sound suppressor of course.

          • Esh325

            I don’t think your conventional flash suppressor would be as effective in reducing the recoil.

          • iksnilol

            I meant sound suppressor, silencer, moderator, lyddemper, prigusivac, exhaust pipe, . I don’t know more words for it.

            Flash suppressor are just for the saps who can’t have a silencer and don’t want the increased noise of a muzzle brake.

          • Giolli Joker

            You forgot “can”.

          • iksnilol

            Sorry, but I am not going to the toilet.

          • Giolli Joker

            Sound suppressors on full auto rifles have limited life and Russian fighting doctrine is usually focused on conspicuous use of full auto bursts.

          • iksnilol

            If silencers survive just fine on belt feds then an assault rifle shouldn’t be a problem. Only thing that happens as a suppressor wears out (during like 10k-20k round) is that it suppresses less.

          • AlanHan

            Cans make gun dirty fast, and can’t be, in the current state of the art, general items for front line infantry/combat. I have yet to shoot a select fire rifle that felt more controllable than the M16A1, and that includes the HKs and perhaps three others.

          • iksnilol

            ARs can live with dirt without problems. Same applies to other rifles. So why can’t they be general items for infantry?

          • AlanHan

            I suppose it’s the difference between “a little dirty, but some lube can keep it running” and “the bolt and chamber get really filthy quickly. You may have super-soldiers who are also possessed of lots of free time? To me it seems impractical to make suppressors a standard infantry item. I vote that a test be run on a few battalions!

          • iksnilol

            I doubt it is that big of a difference. Besides, soldiers can afford 15 minutes a day to clean their gun. Just like they do with all the others.

    • The AK-12 muzzle brake is an improvement over the AK-74’s brake, which makes the 74 one of the best balanced-shooting infantry rifles on the planet. My Arsenal, for example, really is easy to shoot quickly from the standing position with the red dot mounted, more so than my AR-15.

      The 12’s brake is improved in that it’s compatible with 22mm rifle grenades, and the designers also claim it further reduces and balances impulse – though I find that a little hard to believe, given how good the 74 brake is.

      • Esh325

        Probably in semi automatic there’s very little to improve upon in recoil reduction, but with burst and automatic the Russians never were completely satisfied with the performance of the AK-74. I’m not really sure what the point is in making it rifle grenade compatible, they are so seldomly used now a days. It can also take a quick detach suppressor, the muzzle brake.

      • Max Glazer

        There was a version of the 74 brake that had a zigzag pattern cut into the holes in order to REALLY disperse the gasses not just sideways but also in plenty of other directions. That was claimed in a book AK47 Assault Rifle: The REAL weapon of mass destruction by Nigel Bennett. Apparently it worked well but was stopped to keep production simple.

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    Since Kalashnikov is going to start building rifles in the US, does anyone think there will be a semi-auto civilian AK-12?

    • Dracon1201

      Kalashnikov is most certainly not building rifles in the US.

    • Jay

      Who told you Kalashnikov is building rifles in the US?
      The company in Florida that stole that name, is just a ripoff and has nothing to do with the Russian Company.

      • Jay

        The Florida company took advantage of the politically motivated ban, to flagrantly break basic copyright laws.
        Not only they make ripoff AK’s, but they also stole the Kalashnikov name.
        As lame as it gets.

        • Michael R. Zupcak

          Ahh, I thought the real company started another production line over here because they couldn’t import them anymore. That SUCKS!

  • Lance

    The way Russian brass put it the AK-74M stays in service for infantry but the AK-12 would be in use for elite forces.

  • Esh325

    I wonder is it better have the FSB gas block combo or would it be better to have a longer rail and a detachable front sight?

    • My gut feeling is that Russians prefer fixed sights, but I cannot immediately recall a source for that.

      • Esh325

        Probably so, but it seems like if anybody wanted a longer rail, it would be more difficult to have one with that front sight.

        • jcl

          Perhaps they should make the front sight foldable like in HK416

          • iksnilol

            That’d be nice in conjunction with red dots.

  • Azril @ Alex Vostox

    AA-12 looks bulky..

  • Vhyrus

    The videos are no longer working

    • Para

      Thanks, Obama.

  • MPWS

    My observation is that it’s gonna be bread&butter- Ak12 only. AEK is just too complex. Now think about it – they have all the time they need to adopt or not to adopt. AK-74 is far ahead of what is out there. You will not see rifle like that in US service, bar for completely new technology.
    Next Russian small arms drive may be in adoption of new round.

  • sliversimpson

    When I click on the videos, YouTube says “This video is private,” and will not allow me to play them. Anyone else having this problem.

    I am trying to play them on an iPhone 6.

    • Zugunder

      Lumia 535, was able to watch them initially. Doesn’t work for me too now.

  • javierjuanmanuel

    I have heard tgey simply kept production of the ak74 up, regardless, and they have maybe 7-10 million just sitting in warehouses. .. is this true ?

    • iksnilol

      It’s Russians, of course they have a couple million AKs in storage.

    • Max Glazer

      They learned the hard way back in WW2 when there was a massive lack of firearms available as well as ammo being in short supply. Not stepping onto THAT garden rake again.

  • jeffrey melton

    Why are the videos marked private?

  • Tritro29

    They actually did get robbed as the AK12 wasn’t anywhere ready for the Ratnik program and Izhmash presented a very crude and different version for Ratnik. Compare the early Ratnik entry with the current issue. Oh and the said rifle won’t be ready until mid 2016…guess why? As for the dirt issue, let us say you don’t know much about this one. This coming from people who have actually shot the damn rifle. It’s really a sound little boom stick.

    • guest

      What do I not know? One of the things I sarcastically “love” are comments like this – you have not been there, you do not know, bla bla bla… alright already, you are the Spetznaz Bear Cavalry member, I will take what you say at face value. Sure. And then there’s of course the “state conspiracy”, which probably includes re-animating Kalashnikov so that he can live again and start producing milled AK-47 while the competition gets probably sent to gulags. Or something like that.
      As for the simplistic argument that someone used it and they liked it – what, are there no similar arguments for AK-12? Or did you just nitpick the ones you liked?

      The rifle failed for the same exact reasons AN-94 failed – because it is not a rifle for regular troops. Spetznaz can play with whatever toys they want, that they get to use .410 Cheytac rifles is as much “evidence” of the rifle being superior as any other – but what do regular frontline troops need? An overcomplicated balanced recoild gun, or a much more refined and perfected AK with no special bells ans whistles?

      AK won’t win because it is made by Izhmash, AK will win because it is the AK. And speaking of which – Izhmash also had a balanced rifle, and just like this “latest and greatest” 545 it used opposing pistons – but not some telescoping retard-o-matic but two very much conventional pistols. Still 12 won heads over heels both.

      You need to understand that russian army is not like US army, it does not jump at the first newest tech available. If you look at ALL state trials… from ww2 tanks and airplanes until the latest weapons it is an EXCEPTION to allow some very new technology into the limelight (by “new” I also mean unconventional), and that is ONLY warranted when the advantage is so great that it without any doubt leaves competition in the dust and is absolutely worth paing for. I dare you to find me an single state accepted weapon that was not chosen this way. Now how is virtually revamped AEK going to go against the already stabile AK-12? Not such a dramatic difference, yet very much dramatic in number of parts, price and complexity.

      • Tritro29

        I’m not bear cavalry Spetz, I actually have seen the rifles in persona in Hungary earlier this year (AK 12 & 15). I was explained by CK people WHAT they changed OVER TIME from the INITIAL project. And basically it was almost ANYTHING. Including metallurgy.

        Everything you see from CK today, including the Saiga MK-E (aka Saiga mk 107, aka AK 15) was honed during Ratnik .

        You are playing a nice smoke and mirrors game, but the fact remain. BARS is from the 60’s, There many forms of it under many names, AO-38/AL7/AKB/AEK etc

        The ZID BARS is with us since basically 72 when it was deemed better along with a handful of rifles than the 74 when it came to anything (Including the AL-7 designed and produced by Izhmash which would become the AK 107/8 line of rifles). Yet for reasons that escape most normal people, the decision was made to stick with the AKM on 7N6 calibre, basically because it would cost an arm and cause a catastrophe to a soviet Logistical System that was abysmally bad. The very slow start of the 74 production is testament to that. But hey you know better. AK is AK so end of discussion.

        BTW the 12 didn’t won , it lost the first trials…it was supposed to be dropped before…it was allowed to submit a new version. See you don’t know much about the 12’s trajectory within the Ratnik trials. And that’s normal. You only followed them through 2014/15 Sputnik releases I guess.

        Dramatic increase of parts? Have you seen the current AK-12 stripped or are you playing dumb?

        I sense that you don’t understand how weapons are built and fielded within Russian Armed forces.

        • guest

          No, the 12 was deemed UNFINISHED after inital trials and CK was asked to refine it and re-submit. Not from some Sputnik news, I read and speak russian fluently.
          Speaking of which there is an extensive article about 46-46-47 state trials, where the situation was almost identical, but by all means I should get back to Sputnik news and what not, since that is my sole source of information.

          • Tritro29

            There’s nothing unfinished. There’s ready or not for deadlines. The rest is simply lobbying to have a certain desired outcome become reality. The Procurement tenders for the Soviet Armed forces (and not them alone. cfr M1 tank) were always enigmatically special.

  • Jamie Clemons

    This video is private