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.
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.
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.