The AK-107 Balanced-Action Rifle In Slow Motion – Larry Vickers’ Moscow Trip

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There’s very little that has truly been new in the way of firearms mechanisms in the past century. Materials and ammunition design have improved steadily, but the great bulk of firearms mechanisms in use today were designed in the early part of the 20th Century or before. However, there are exceptions, and one truly innovative piece of small arms mechanical technology of the past 30 years is the balanced action concept. This concept exploits the fact that, for automatic weapons chambered in small caliber rifle rounds like the 5.45x39mm, the greatest contributor to the disruption of the weapon after each shot isn’t the rearward force generated by the round itself, but the recoil of the moving parts group, especially as it bottoms out against the rear of the weapon’s receiver. Larry Vickers, on his recent trip to Moscow, got the once-in-a-lifetime chance to fire Kalashnikov Concern’s entry into the balanced-action game, the AK-107 alongside famous Russian 3-gun champion Andrey Kirisenko:

The AK-107 is not the first rifle to use the balanced action, however. We ran an article back in August on the AEK-971, designed at Degtyarev Kovrov, which eventually evolved into the A545, the prime competitor to the AK-12 to be the next Russian service rifle. The AK-107 and AEK-971/A545 have slight architectural differences, but mechanically operate the same way. Even the balanced action AEK-971 itself is not without its precedents. As the inimitable Maxim Popenker explains in this article for All4Shooters.com, inventors were playing around with mechanisms that, while not identical or as refined, sought to do essentially the same thing: Eliminate the rearward impulse caused by the moving parts group.



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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  • iksnilol

    I wonder if the balanced recoil concept could make things more viable for disabled/”fragile” people? People who are otherwise stuck with a .22 LR.

    I am thinking something “cheap”: blowback PCC with a “bolt” around the barrel and a gas system to push it forward while the real bolt goes back. Chamber it in 5.7mm and it shouldn’t recoil much while being able to be light and usable by disabled people.

    • Dracon1201

      Or it could just be a viable PDW for the rest of us.

      • iksnilol

        Or that.

        I am just thinking it’d be helpful for people who are otherwise stuck with a 10/22 for home defense.

    • Core

      You’d still be dealing with the weight limitations of said fragile person. They probably couldn’t hold a 10 pound gu while it was ripping lead downrange.. With exoskeleton technology on the horizon, that will be a game changa..

      • iksnilol

        “What was that noise?”

        “Gimme a sec to put on the power armor”

        xD

        In all seriousness, the weight could be reduced by using a “weak” cartridge such as 5.7×28 or something.

  • mig1nc

    I’m sure being nearly 10 pounds helps with the recoil too.

    • andrey kireev

      its much closer to 8 pounds than it is to 10 lol

      • J.J

        Closer to 8 unloaded. With magazine and any accessories that’s a different story.

  • Tassiebush

    That looks very effective. The next question will be how this compares to constant recoil. The two systems could probably even be used in tandem.

    • Tassiebush

      Actually scratch that last point since presumably this system wouldn’t need extra buffering if it allowed enough travel.

    • The effects of the two systems are very similar, and would be redundant when combined. A constant recoil gun is basically eliminating the same part of recoil by giving the moving parts mass a looooooong travel on a spring, so that it never gets a chance to bottom out in the receiver. A balanced action is making sure that two elastic collisions are happening at once, which causes them to cancel each other out.

      Keep in mind that there’s a little more to it than that, and I think the guys working on these balanced action guns have actually teased the action a little more to get softer collisions on both ends, which makes the gun even more stable. Combine that with the fabulous AK-74 brake, and you end up with an exceptionally stable rifle.

  • BattleshipGrey

    This gif was the first image that came to mind.

  • carango772

    i am not really an AR guy but i would like to see something like that applied to the AR platform wich is famous for producing a very lineal and consistent recoil, something like that combined with a heavy barrel, a good muzzle brake and a drum magazine could make for a very good autimatic rifle for military applications

    • gunsandrockets

      I don’t know if AR would gain much. The mass of AK moving parts is considerably more than an AR, and therefore gains more benefit from the counter-mass mechanism.

      I do wonder though about the benefit an M27 automatic rifle would gain from a high efficiency muzzle brake.

      • jono102

        That’s kind of what I was thinking. Its a AK solution to an AK problem. The likes of a WARCOMP break/suppressor on an AR is very effective for rapid and automatic fire for mitigating both barrel climb and flash.
        For the likes of the M27 I think it would be very practical. It would be more suitable than some of the breaks out there in a tactical environment that though very efficient, punishes any poor sod who happens to be left or right or the firer in tight environs.

  • USMC03Vet

    Well time to see the doctor about this erection that’s been there for 3 hours due to this video.

    • datimes

      Gaze upon a photo of a woman running for President and you should be okay.

      • oldman

        Isn’t that considered cruel and unusual punishment?

        • datimes

          This is the visage I was afraid to post earlier. I did not wish to frighten children or the weak of heart.

          • oldman

            That is a bad picture Though now that I think about it I don’t recall ever seeing a good picture of her. If she does not win the election maybe she can get a job haunting houses.

          • C_Low

            Don’t know what or how this happened but WTF. After O the first gay pres if we get this the world really will die of laughter.

      • #FeelTheBern

        (Leftist with a CDWL checking in.)

    • Dan

      Wait one more hour then go in

  • Ceiling Cat

    Great, 4kg rifle. How about shooting on semi for a change?

    • gunsandrockets

      They did.

    • DannyBoyJr

      The Russian was firing semi-auto at around 3:37. His trigger pull was quite fast so maybe you thought it was full auto. Then Larry and the Russian did a simultaneous mag dump around 4:00, again in semi-auto, and again with fast trigger pulls.

  • Kevin Harron

    That looks almost like sorcery. Pretty amazing at how well that eliminates the recoil impulse.

  • Mister Thomas

    Love the AK-107 AND the 90 round drum. What a sweet combination.

    • iksnilol

      Why is the drum specifically 97 rounds!?

      It just… kicks of my OCD.

      • Zugunder

        You see, Ivan, when having 97 rounds drum, enemy become distracted with OCD, making them easy for shooting!

  • JumpIf NotZero

    … Take away the giant muzzle brake, list the actual weight of the red keymod gun, take away the 4lb 97 round drum, and put a sub-200lb person behind the gun and let’s compare to other guns where we see the targets.

    I’m certain this “removes” recoil, but I’m seeing some trickery to make it look more effective than it is.

    • Ceiling Cat

      This.

    • Zugunder

      The muzzle brake is basic feature on pretty much every AK, this one looks like AK-74M muzzle brake. Watch video again, he shoots with standart magazine too. As for the weight of shooter, that’s not a problem of a rifle.

    • Green Hell

      Why should they ever remove the muzzle brake, that’s not even an accessory, just a normal AK-74 muzzle device being standart issue for over 30 years. And if you want to see balanced action AK-107’s and AEK’s with 30 rounders and no rails, there are plenty of old russian videos on youtube.

    • BrandonAKsALot

      It doesn’t really remove recoil anyway. It’s a stabilizing system. It’s about balance to keep the muzzle more on target during cycling. You’re still getting the recoil from the cartridge/projectile minus what the muzzle brake negates, but it’s taming the other forces that go on during the guns function. It probably would lose a lot of effectiveness with the 7.62×39.

    • Methinks you haven’t shot an AK-74 very much. Same muzzle brake as those rifles, approximately the same weight as an AKM, and a very well stabilized system, still.

      Why would they bother with all the additional mechanics of the balanced-action series if it wasn’t further stabilizing the gun?

      The balanced action doesn’t eliminate recoil, either, it helps provide a counter-balance to the elastic collision of the moving parts group bottoming out at the back of the receiver. This greatly reduces the “jolt” of firing when that happens.

      If you demoed it without a brake, you’d still have the recoil of the cartridge itself… Because a balanced action mechanism does nothing to counteract that. So the brake is an essential part of the system.

      The skeptical perspective I get, but man, I gotta ask, do you do this same kind of song and dance when someone shows you a video of a recoilless rifle being fired, too?

      • BrandonAKsALot

        There are so many misconceptions when it comes to recoil from a firearm. There are so many physical forces that affect auto-loading firearms and it doesn’t help that marketing for products tends to muddy the waters further. A locked breech is a locked breech for the most part and will experience the same rearward force from the projectile no matter what. At least we sciency geek types are around to bore everyone to tears with technical details of force vectors and the like.

  • John Bear Ross

    That was a hell of a thing. Neat.

    Best,
    JBR

  • hydepark

    If the receivers are similar enough maybe we can get parts kits in and go to Nodak? Also I wouldn’t doubt that Russia would be hesitant to send anything this modern our way these days given our disruptive and nonsensical geopolitical aggressions these days. I find myself seeing more reason and logic in Putin’s foreign policy all the time. Including what went down in Crimea and Donetsk / Luhansk. Either way great stuff from Larry as always.

  • guest

    Only one thing remains: the torque form the barrel rifling. If you pay close attention to the slow-mo you can see how the gun cants to the side because of just that. But I guess the final fine-tuning can be addressed with with a good muzzle break.
    That plus whatever legacy harmonics plus new harmonics that this balancing rig may induce on the already thin barrel.

  • Riot

    At 1:20 that is the most genuine reaction I’ve seen from Vickers.

  • Lance

    Interesting design. Russia passed over for the improved AK-74M and for elite troops the AK-12.

  • iksnilol

    Probably loaded if it is 4.5 kg.

  • Twilight sparkle

    Did that gun jam at 1:20??

  • TimeHasCome

    Cabbage Patch fad for guns.

  • Core

    Awesome! Just when I think I couldn’t get more jealous of Larry, he proves me wrong..

  • Kivaari

    Didn’t the G11 use a similar 3 round burst?

  • Kivaari

    One of the prototype European rifles fired a three shot burst as the action continued in a rearward motion. It was so fast that the 3 shots sounded like one. It may even have been an AK. Unlike this the whole firing mechanism moved within the stock.

  • Kivaari

    Impressive. Finally a Russian AK having an aperture sight. Sights have always been the big failing with AKs. Except of course the Valmet/Galil.

  • shooter2009

    Me want.