The AK-12 has just been approved for use in the Russian Army, but what else do we know about the weapon? TV Zvezda has released a helpful video describing the rifle to the public:
The problem for monolingual English-speakers such as myself being that we cannot understand Russian. EnsignExpendable, of the Soviet Guns Archive blog, has provided a short summary of the high points:
The recoil is reduced, better ergonomics (tester says it doesn’t slide around), extensible stock, lighter and shorter. There’s now a short burst feature. You can now reload the gun with one hand due to the new bolt release latch. The AK-12 can fire at -52 degrees. Production can be ramped up to 50,000 new AK-12s per year.
Approved by Kalashnikov himself.
Even with corporate spin being what it is, the AK-12 does seem like a serious improvement over the AK-74. Russian Army testing seems to indicate that the AK-12 significantly improves on the full auto and semi-auto controllability of the AK-74, though not quite approaching the level of the A545, its AEK-571-based competitor.
In 2012, before the death of Kalashnikov, RIA Novosti posted a video of Russian competition shooters evaluating the then-new AK-12 prototype. Their impressions were positive:
If sanctions are eased or even lifted, and the importation of AK-12s occurs and they are available for sale below $1500, I think they would be a strong competitor to the AR-15 on the market. Lighter than most AR-15 challengers, while supporting the range of modern optics as well as using the proven Kalashnikov mechanism, I think Kalashnikov Concern could in that scenario enjoy considerable US civilian market sales.
Even without the repeal of sanctions on Russia, the AK-12 offers more than the Galil ACE, a similar rifle that has been very successful recently. What remains to be seen is whether the AK-12 will be price competitive on the world market.
H/T, LooseRounds. Thanks to EnsignExpendable for translating for me.