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!