Russia’s Big Bore Bullpup

An ASh-12 with a suppresor and a 10-round magazine (Modern Firearms)

Over the past few months more information has emerged on one of Russia’s most interesting firearms – a big bore close quarters assault rifle. The Tula-based Instrument Design Bureau (KBP) designed ASh-12 (or ShAK-12 according to a recent Jane’s article) is a bullpup chambered in a huge 12.7х55mm round.

Allegedly designed at the request of the FSB and adopted in 2011, information on this unusual rifle has be scant. Despite unofficial photos periodically appearing online little was known about the ASh-12/ShAK-12 until recently. Developed to be a ‘man-stopper’ for the FSB’s elite counter-terrorist units the weapon fires a range of specialist ammunition. It weighs 5.2 kg unloaded and feeds from single stack 10 or 20 round magazines and comes with a range of sound suppressors. The rifle has rails for accessory mounting along with a folding front backup sight and a railed carry handle for mounting optics. The ASh-12/ShAK-12 also has side and bottom rails on its lower receiver for mounting a vertical grip and accessories.

Left-side profile of the ASh-12, with a 20 round magazine (Modern Firearms)

The ASh-12/ShAK-12 uses a short recoil operated action with a rotating bolt. The bullpup configuration maximises barrel length and handiness for close room to room or urban combat. Designed to be able to deal with assailants wearing body armour which might defeat the FSB teams’ conventional weapons. The ASh-12/ShAK-12 fires a range of ammunition that includes armour piercing, subsonic and duplex rounds.

In an August 2017 article for Small Arms Review, Russian small arms expert Maxim Popenker outlines the range of rounds developed for the FSB’s big bore bullpup:

12.7 PS-12B Armor Piercing round with steel-core projectile with exposed tip, projectile weight is about 18 gram / 280 grain. These rounds can be used against terrorists wearing heavy body armor or to shoot through steel doors, vehicle sides and other similar barrier.

12.7 PS-12 subsonic round for use with sound suppressor, with jacketed lead core projectile; bullet weight is around 33 gram / 510 grain.

12.7 PD-12 duplex round with two jacketed projectiles stacked one in front of another increases short-range effectiveness against “soft” targets.

12.7 PS-12A with light and fast jacketed bullet for general short- to medium-range work

The ASh-12/ShAK-12’s ammunition is based on the .338 Lapua Magnum case.

An ASh-12 with a suppressor and a 10-round magazine (Modern Firearms)

This formidable array of ammunition caters for a number of situations FSB operators might find themselves in ranging from close range room clearance to soft cover targets to engagements out to 300m. Photographs show that the rifle has a steel upper and a polymer lower receiver with ambidextrous controls. However, it appears the weapon is configured for right side ejection only. The controls include separate safety and fire-selector levers. The safety is positioned just above the pistol grip while the fire-selector, marked ОД and AB, located behind the magazine well.

With the ASh-12 in service for over five years it seems KBP have finally be allowed to share details on the rifle and potentially offer it for sale.

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UPDATE (10/18/17): My thanks to Hrachya H who took these great photos at the INTERPOLITEX 2017 Expo in Moscow!

Profile view of the ShAK-12, with 20-round magazine (Hrachya H)

Close up of the ShAK-12’s magazine, the weapon can feed from either 10 or 20 round, double stack magazines (Hrachya H)

Close up of the ShAK-12’s top rails and optics mounting rail (Hrachya H)

A view of the ShAK-12’s muzzle – a specially designed suppressor can be quickly fitted, note also the folding back-up iron sight (Hrachya H)

Profile photo of the ShAK-12 without its magazine (Hrachya H)

Thanks again to Hrachya for kindly supplying these great new photos to update the article!





Matthew Moss is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written for a variety of publications in both the US and UK he also runs www.historicalfirearms.info, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matthew is also co-founder of www.armourersbench.com, a new video series on historically significant small arms.


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  • iksnilol

    They should call it freight train. Because I imagine it’s a similar experience to get hit by either.

    Wonder why they went with single stack though?

    • Reef Blastbody

      I’d imagine feeding issues and magazine bulk with double stacks with that big a bullet in something with the receivers having similar width as an AK.

      • iksnilol

        Didn’t think that they’d use similar receivers to AKs (in regards to width).

        but with a doublestack 40 rounder it’d be like the more cash money version of the AKS-74U.

    • William Elliott

      same reason the .50 Beowulf in an AR is a single stack.

  • Martin Grønsdal

    Never to be pointed at our boys, I hope

    • USMC03Vet

      By God if McCain has to personally fly a jet into the Kremlin to get his war he’ll do it.

      • iksnilol

        It would be funny if Europe wouldn’t be the battleground. Goodness forbid you two wreck your own countries.

        • Brett baker

          Look at the bright side. You’ll still be underpaid and undersexed, but you won’t be under Merkel!

          • iksnilol

            I’m not under Merkel. I’m not in the EU. And I earn a decent living despite no higher education and being busy with fulltime studies.

            Git gud, poor scrub.

        • USMC03Vet

          The EU is a larger threat than Russia ever was to the poor saps that live there and is well on it’s way to destroying countries already.

          • iksnilol

            I dunno, last time Germoney and co fought was WW2. Last time Russia fought someone doesn’t exist since they constantly attack neighbours .

      • mosinman

        Can he make it there without crashing though?

    • Paul Rain

      Is it political to wish that Lindsey Graham and John McCain not succeed in stirring up war with Russia to defend their allies in ISIS?

      • UWOTM8

        The American people will telepathically reactivate that old fart’s cancer just to finish him off and stop that from happening.

      • Brett baker

        Well, somebody has to defend the Gulf States from Iran. They can barely hold off Yemenis and Qatarese who aren’t even fighting that hard. What would they do against someone equipped and trying?

        • nadnerbus

          It’s not so much their ability to fight that is valued by our politicians, as it is their ability to pay large sums of money for all the wares and goodies offered by our esteemed defense contractors.

  • wetcorps

    Man this would have be handy against all these exosqueleton clad Monolith soldiers when clearing the NPP.

    • anon

      Bruh, just get an exo and like 90 f1’s, toss mini hand nukes into every room and down every hallway, shotgun the stragglers, and boom. Easy.

      • wetcorps

        I did it with the 8×18 MP5 once, as a challenge.

      • iksnilol

        I just used the groza and the improved ammo that the enemies use, made the level hella easy to be honest. Since the bulky exo troops are easy to hit and you got the best rifle and ammo lying around everywhere. Just dump 20 rounds of 9×39 every hallway at every guy.

        I came too prepared to that level. 1000 rounds of 5.56, 1000 rounds of 5.45 (used the 5.45 Groza in the beginning).

        • anon

          I’ve never really used 9×39 weapons in my like 10+ playthroughs of the games and mods, because I have a huge problem actually realizing that its alright to spend the 400,000 ru I have stockpiled instead of scavenging.

          • iksnilol

            I used them because everybody else at the NPP used them.

            That’s why I stuck with the 5.45 groza for so long.

  • zellgato

    Whelp. I’d like one of these. They sound like a kick in the pants

    • Longhaired Redneck

      Or at least a kick in the shoulder. I’d like to have one anyway. What a great bedside gun to have available when your neighbor two doors down is experiencing a violent home invasion, just shoot through the 8 or 10 walls between you and the bad guys!

      • zellgato

        haha. I’d probably not use it outside the range in general

  • Brett baker

    Glad to see Russians are still handist right bastards.

  • Matt

    I want 2

  • Porty1119

    12.7×55? Why does this sound like the Russian .45-70?

    • bojan

      More like 50-70

  • Paul Rain

    Decent. Looks good, for when even .45 isn’t enough.

  • Gus Butts

    Why does Russia always make the coolest, most badass firearms ever? They just can’t stop!

    • Scott Willbanks

      National pride

  • Some Rabbit

    How about a 12ga. sabot throwing a .50 cal tungsten slug? Taofledermouse, “Hold my beer.”

  • John Bear Ross

    If we could get .510 Beck going again, we could have our own version over here. That’d be nice.
    Best,
    JBR

    • iksnilol

      Or .510 whisper.

      That’s a trash daddy round indeed.

  • nadnerbus

    Oh man! Too bad they canceled the ICSR program, this would have been just perfect.

    Weighs over eleven pounds unloaded, heavy lethal ammunition that the soldier would never be able to carry enough of. Over match!

  • Benigmatica

    Imagine this gun with full-auto capabilities… For now, it seems that it only has safe and semi-auto.

  • William Elliott

    I’m still waiting to see someone do the Revolver that shoots the same ammo…

  • William Elliott

    I soooo want one…

  • b. griffin

    Rooskie .458 SOCOM

    • Jon

      Soviets started this type of ammunition far earlier than any other, look at the 9×39. There is an entire world outside of the anglosaxon world.

  • William Elliott

    I know, I mean I want to see it at the range, hear recoil opinions, see the muzzle blast…and put one on lay away…