BREAKING: Kalashnikov Concern Discontinues AK-12, Replaces It with… The New AK-12!

The AK-12 is dead. Long live the AK-12! That’s the song Kalashnikov Concern is singing this week at the recent ARMY 2016 expo in Moscow, Russia. The radical AK-12 prototypes that have dominated Kalashnikov’s press over the past two years are gone, replaced by a more conservative rifle – also called “AK-12” – based on the Concern’s previous AK-400 prototypes. The new rifle addresses the Russian Army’s concerns regarding the AK-12’s cost and issues in fully automatic fire, an anonymous source told TFB, and is expected to be much cheaper to build than the previous model. It incorporates many of the same improvements developed for the previous AK-12 model, but improves the strength and resilience of some of the components.

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The new AK-12’s design shares more in common with the existing AK-74 than its predecessor, but it will not be a retrofit to existing rifles, the source said. Several improvements were made to the rifle’s receiver, such as an improved and far more rigid top cover interface and a new free-floated barrel. The new AK-12 reportedly outperforms the existing AK-74 by at least the margin requested by the Russian government. The 5.45x39mm AK-12 appears to also be accompanied by the 7.62x39mm caliber AK-15, evidently of similar design.


The 7.62x39mm AK-15.


Our source told us that the new AK-12 is already undergoing troop trials with the Russian Army, where it competes against the Degtyarov A545 balanced action rifle. The winner of the Ratnik rifle competition is expected to be announced later this autumn.

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


  • Mark

    Yep… I need one of those!

  • Moose-Bear

    Just how close to an Ak-74 is it? If it’s just an updated Ak-74 I would think it’d be more economical to just update their current inventory. Not an AK owner though so I could be wrong, lol.

  • Tritro29

    The AK-12 is still in state trials. I don’t know who the source is but we’re talking about two different systems.

    The AK-400 is a Dragunov based system that will not be accepted in formal service because of several features that disqualify it from Ratnik.

    The only thing that is currently being tested based on AK-400 is the RPK-16 (RPK/RPD 400) you can also see on the picture that the black rifle has an RPK sight with windage added to elevation.

    Wait and see.

    • J

      Do you know what material ak-12’s handguard use? Is it polymer or aluminium?
      And considering Russia’s preference for automatic fire, why didn’t they give ak-12 and A545 thicker barrels or at least fluted ones?

      • Tritro29

        Initial material for AK-12 was PVC/Polymer 3D printed, then they went to Aluminium,3D printed for the Field trials prototype after the initial protos were worn out pretty bad from GRAU trials .

        There’s no preference for automatic fire, there’s a preference for a rifle that can offer high volume of fire. We qualify on single like the rest of the world. The automatic fire is something out of the past that still gets too much press because we had developed solutions for burst fire that maintained a certain degree of accuracy (Nikonov, Alexandrov, Nikitin).

        Also the barrels are quite thick where it counts…

    • Thanks for the comment, however I am pretty confident in my source. 🙂 Things should be interesting.

      • Tritro29

        Nath, don’t make me dissapoint you, could you check my post and approve it, you’ll see that AK-12 is going to be AK-16 and it’s not going to be an AK system.

        Just please check my pending post…

        • I don’t see it. Feel free to email me at

          • Tritro29

            check your inbox…

          • forrest1985

            Wheres this promised post? Really interested in reading more on this please

          • Brody Kennen

            Ditto. Waiting on this post. Come on TFB.

          • Tritro29

            The post is on the thread.

    • randomswede

      Being a pessimist so I’m sure that if the Kalashnikov doesn’t/can’t win they’ll just not pick anything and order more AK-74m’s.
      Not that I’ve ever even seen an A545 in person, it just seems the better choice.

      • Tritro29

        The thing is that Kalashnikov has so much models sitting around collecting dust that they can pick one that can go toe to toe with the A545 and win on merits (cost-effectiveness), just like they kicked the dust from the Dragunov MA to make a whole family of rifles…

        There are some very good things going for the A545, it just happens it is the smaller guy.

      • Stan Darsh

        Sounds about right. It looks like the closest i’ll be able to get to a 21st century Kalashnikov is the M+M Industries M10X Elite.

  • Cancer

    Woah, that doesn’t look like a bubba’d up ak at all. Hilarious and original.

    • Tritro29

      That’s because it’s not an AK…as in Avtomat Kalashinikov, but should be named Avtomat Dragunov to be correct.

      • AK

        That gun still seems to have a long stroke piston system, so no Dragunov there. Just seems the free floating handguard is really “new”. It is also interesting they went with an M4 type stock – not really independent thinking there. I really think they missed an opportunity here, a lof of small tweaks could have made the basic AK rifle much better. For example, full length handguard (up to gas block), lowered gas piston axis to the barrel, improved barrel and handguard attachment (easier barrel change, better support for free floating handguard), better selector design (maybe a saiga-12 type cover for the back of the bolt, eliminate the big selector and replace with thumb operated AR-style ambi selector), slim adjustable stock.
        Now they just reinvented an AK-74 with some aftermarket-style parts. How dissapointing.

        • Tritro29

          Wait for my post…Let me just say this. Kalashnikov design is almost dead for CK. Also the gun you’re seeing is a direct copy of the AK400 with a couple of tweaks. I will post the Larry Vickers video to explain you why you are wrong about this rifle being a long stroke.

          Also CK have different stocks in the pipe, just wait for my post with images to be approved. Also what’s the deal with the approval being so slow?

  • Anonymoose

    Looks mostly like a mix of CAA and Crapco stuff on a regular AK74M to me…

    • Tritro29

      Wait until my next post is approved please.

  • mechamaster

    My tribute for old AK-12 design *sigh*

    Honestly, Russian should make it like the Sako / Valmet RK-95 or Galil ACE feature, especially the gas tube design. Make it more simple to fieldstripped it in the field.

    But yeah, it is what it is…

    • Tritro29

      What’s difficult to take down on the AK gas tube?

      • mechamaster

        The tight gas tube lever, especially when our hand is wet or oily and dirty.

        I know the AK hack-tips for opening the tight lever by using the bolt-carrier built in slot as a leverage.

        But it’s more easy and breeze in my opinion if the gas tube can be made like the RK-95 / Galil.

        • Tritro29

          Again what’s difficult? The lever is OK from where I stand, if you’re going to take down the gas tube while you have dirty paws, then there’s something that you’re not doing right…There’s a lot of things that come down to the fit and finish of each AK. But just putting a captive tube or a serrated tube it’s all the same to me. The sights from the RK on the other side…

          • mechamaster

            Yes, it’s not that difficult really ( with the help of bolt-carrier as the leverage tool ).

            I’m just admire the Galil / RK-type simplicity in the gas tube design ( leverless ). A little bit simple than traditional AK design.

            But hey, if one or two extra step can be simplified without sacrificing the functionality, why not ? Especially in the new production rifle.

  • Major Tom

    The AK is dead! Long live the AK!

  • forrest1985

    This makes more sense from an upgrade perspective, but kind of liked the old AK12 especially the longer sight radius. Some of these seem to have it, some just look like an older style AK with tacticool furniture added!

  • ReadyorNot

    j/k, looks good modernized with apparent western influences. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Russian govt does a split purchase of both competing systems.

  • Vitor Roma

    Wait, now the AK-12 has a short stroke piston?

  • BrandonAKsALot

    So, we’re back to the 74m, with a reinforced dust cover? That’s what’s in the pictures unless something is vastly different internally, which doesn’t not appear so from the rivets and pin locations. Definitely some cost savings considering they’ll have to change almost nothing and just add rails and an AR stock. I really liked the AK-12 stock too.

    • Tritro29

      The first picture is the MR upgrade on the standard 74M. The second is the “new” AK-12. Which is the AK400.

      • BrandonAKsALot

        I’m still not seeing a whole lot that’s different from the 74m aside from what appears to be a gas regulator or plug at the front that would have me believe it’s short-stroke.

        • LCON

          the Gas system and Front sight is the tell. The older AK74M update in the first image has the traditional front sight post. the newer model has the front sight on the gas system more like they did with the AKS74U/AK107/AK105.
          LAV did a Video on a Preproduction gun that was posted here back on May5th of this year and they did change the operation to a short stroke gas block and the barrel is now free floating with the hand guard fixed to the receiver. Basically this is a Overhaul as opposed to a revolution.

          • BrandonAKsALot

            Pretty much what I suspected.

  • LCON

    this would be A major Shocker, As Such I am waiting to see a secondary confirmation first. A reason why would likely be cost I mean the full AK 12 they were showing off is a totally new weapon with abmi everything and then some and a modularity that surpasses all but the Old Stoner 63. where as the Ak400 is far more conservative More like what Izmash did to the 100 series especially the 107 and 108 where they made massive change to the gas system but overall controls and training are AK.

  • Tritro29

    So Max reckoned the AK-12 that was subbed for Ratnik was failing on both accounts, not cheap enough and not reliable enough…

    Why doesn’t this surprise me?

    • Patriot Gunner

      You have piqued my interest….please elaborate

  • Patriot Gunner

    I highly doubt that the AK-12 is dead, probably going to be renamed like Trito29 stated. The buzz around that rifle is that if they can find a way to lower the cost its going to be the new rifle and if they can’t, well spetsnaz and FSB still want it. The AK-12 is not dead.

  • van5683

    It’s a shame really. When I saw pictures of the first AK-12 (prototype, I think), I almost bowed down to it. But as time passed, and new pictures came in (and now this) – utter dissapointment! Like watching it devolve. For want of better term – I’d say someone ought to knock some sense into CK folks (using the prototype’s buttstock) – several times.

    • Tritro29

      the initial rifle was very average, nothing special. The Second prototype had all the goodies. Then the third was the closest the AK12 came to production stadards. From then there was not much to talk about…

  • Tritro29

    Max is only the PR guy, the source actually must have been one of the CK people that were there. Max doesn’t get to say much if there’s no follow up in the pipe. However, my source is with the MO (MinOboron) and they state (probably to mitigate backlash from ZID) that the rifle is still on trial.

    As for the issues. I already said it two three months ago, the AK-12 was too tight of a gun to be as cheap and versatile as the old Ak’s.

    But thanks for pointing out the actual quote, it saves me that trip.

    What this means is that basically there will be NO winners come October.

  • Squirreltakular

    So it has a better rail system. Cool.

    All they got rid of was the improved safety, improved charging handle, longer handguard, improved mag release, and the bolt hold-open!

  • Fred Lead

    Russia reduced the cost of the AK12 program by instead just buying Polish Beryls from 1996. /s