ARES & Ian Bring Us The AN-94

One of the more captivating and fascinating designs to come out of Russia in the past several decades, the 5.45x39mm AN-94 has recently been covered in great detail by Ian of Forgotten Weapons, in conjunction with Armament Research Services on The Hoplite Blog. If you have a chance, go over to The Hoplite and read about the development, history, and current usage of the AN-94 written by Jonathan Ferguson of the National Firearms Centre. It is very well written!

The AN-94 was the result of a number of programs that began in the United States and in Soviet Russia during the 1980s. The aim was to ultimately increase hit probability at the individual soldier level. Both countries experimented extensively with this “Hyper Fire” concept in reducing felt recoil and in firing multiple rounds or even projectiles at once. It should be noted that this work had actually been going on since the 1950s with Project SALVO, but in all cases, the countries couldn’t get a working rifle for mass production and issue.

In the example of the AN-94, we have this very advanced but also amazingly complex (especially for a Russian Infantry design) rifle that solved the issues of felt recoil and hit potential in two ways. The first was that it utilized a sort of “dual” loading system. When two round burst was selected, the rifle would fire the first round, then chamber the second, fire that, all before the bolt fully reached the rear of the receiver, thus creating one recoil impulse for the price of two rounds downrange with the same site picture and trigger press. Although it sounds brilliant, the cost of this is through the complexity, in which Ian goes through in agonizing detail.

While Ian didn’t get a chance to actually shoot the AN-94, Larry Vickers did on his tour in Russia!



Miles

Infantry Marine, based in the Midwest. Specifically interested in small arms history, development, and usage within the MENA region and Central Asia. To that end, I run Silah Report, a website dedicated to analyzing small arms history and news out of MENA and Central Asia.

Please feel free to get in touch with me about something I can add to a post, an error I’ve made, or if you just want to talk guns. I can be reached at miles@tfb.tv


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  • When Russians go nuts, they go absolutely full bore honey roasted nuts. What a magnificently Goldbergian rifle!

    • gunsandrockets

      All that energy, all that effort, when nothing more than a good optical sight would probably give a greater practical benefit.

      Of course Americans certainly shouldn’t cast stones, considering the decades and millions wasted on abortions like the SPIW, ACR, and OICW programs.

      • 8166PC1

        Are you sure the an optic would have given the same properties as a 2 shot burst to increase hit probability?

        • gunsandrockets

          Sure of improvement? No. Which is why I said “probably”.

          But the anecdotal evidence for optics seems pretty strong. The theories supporting salvo fire, though surrounded by a patina of Scientism, always seemed pretty weak to me. But that’s just my amateur opinion.

          Same properties? I never asserted that. I think an optic sight (along with better training) is a better route to increased hit probability than a bullet shotgun.

          It seems that the real advantage of SCHV rifles isn’t from better control of FA fire, it is the improved results obtained from conventional rifle training. The theories supporting salvo fire always seemed dependent on assumptions regarding the limits of training.

          • 8166PC1

            I just think there’s been a lot of research into the Salvo concept for it to be just another idea. The Germans invested a lot into the G11 rifle with the idea of controlled bursts. Making hits on the enemy with the stresses of combat has always been a problem.

          • The_Champ

            Your line of thinking here seems to be that because so much was invested in a project, there must have been benefits.

            If you’d like I could compile for you a very large list of examples where enormous investments were made for absolutely no benefit, and sometimes negative benefit.

            Of course I’m speaking in generalities, and I do find the G11 itself very interesting, and with many potential benefits.

      • The_Champ

        I’d tend to agree with you on this very interesting point. The G11, this AN-94, the many American programs you mentioned. With enough refinement and spending they were all technologically feasible but they all sunk because the practical benefits weren’t anywhere near worth the cost.

        Slapping good rugged optics on every infanteer’s rifle was certainly a cheaper and more useful step forward. And you could very well be correct that practically speaking it puts more rounds on target than any multiple projectile weapon would have.

        Of course you could always throw an optics on one of these fancy space gun and really start making hits 🙂

    • Giolli Joker

      Two words: German Korobov.

      • roguetechie

        Tkb-0146 tkb-0249 tkb-022 pm1

        And just because it’s F***ING KOOL the Korovin Bullpup from the original AK competition. For the life of me it looks like a bullpupped vz52.

        I would so give a crate of them a home while I painstakingly cloned them so I could experiment with fun stuff like full length Grendel!

  • JD

    I thought Ares was now Flightlite industries?

    • Ian McCollum

      You are thinking of a different company. Armament Research Services is not a manufacturer.

  • Green Hell

    This is a deactivated (ММГ) gun, they are sold basicly like toys in Russia, even in airgun stores (no permitions needed), but cost as much if not more than real guns. I wounder if it’s possible to get one into US so you guys could reverse engeneer the missing parts and do a proper indepth shooting video about it. You’ll get 6 years in jail if you do it in Russia, sadly.

    • JonG

      there’s a note at the bottom of the blog- Note: whilst the AN-94 in the Royal Armouries’ collection is a factory-made inert (MMG) example, as shown in the video and images here, ARES staff had access to a ‘live’ example from another confidential collection. This example could not be photographed for security reasons.

  • Michael R. Zupcak

    I don’t care how anti-gun someone is, if they have any engineering blood in them, it’d impossible not to appreciate the complexity of the AN-94.

  • Keme Lochesh

    Russians are really creative, when it comes to weapons.