Via his Facebook page, Larry Vickers shares with us some photos of a prototype upgraded AK-74 rifle, made by Kalashnikov Concern and adopted by the Russian Army:
Kalashnikov’s upgrades are designed for both the AK-74M and the more common fixed-stock AK-74 rifle. Here, an AK-74 is modified with a 74M-style folding butt, similar to retrofit kits that have been available on the US market for years. The top cover is similar to but distinct from the Texas Weapons System top cover, and the modified safety lever is extremely similar to a Kreb’s lever.
The new top cover/rear sight design offers a Texas Weapons Systems-type mount with a two-position flip up back up rear sight.
Unlike the TWS top cover, the new AK-74 upgrade package has a claw that probably acts to tension the top cover.
The new front handguard pattern slides and locks onto this bracket mounted to the barrel.
The handguard on this particular rifle appears to be a 3D-printed prototype. The design offers additional rail space, but appears to delete the heat shield of the old AK handguards.
AK top handguards have the freedom to rotate about the axis of the gas tube, a characteristic that makes them obviously unsuited to a Picatinny-type rail installment. KC has opted to fix this through a spring loaded locking lever that sits flush within the rail.
The new top handguard incorporates KeyMod slots, or something very much like them. The mounting system seems well thought out and solid.
The new muzzle brake appears to combine the functions of the AK-74 muzzle brake and a sound moderator. Without these parts attached, it functions identically to the old brake, but installing them most likely gives it sound moderation properties. The machined ridges on the external sleeve suggest it is sized for grenade launching, though I am unaware of what grenades would fit that very wide diameter.
The new pattern grip sports what may be a more comfortable contour and a compartment for what appears to be an oil reservoir.
The insides of the moderator when assembled. The standard AK brake or something like it is inside, and the device fits at the muzzle. There are no visible threads and it most likely is held on by the external sleeve.
A new Western-looking multi-position stock completes the modernization package.
The modernization package offers the Russian Army the option to retrofit existing rifles to a newer standard, most likely with a significant cost-savings versus buying new AK-12s which are expected to cost the equivalent of about $1,000 per. I suspect the Russian Army will pursue both strategies, retrofitting AK-74s to the new standard and adopting the AK-12 or A545 in more limited numbers, slowly replacing existing and worn-out rifles with the new type.