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.


    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

    _________________________________________________________________________ – Managing Editor – Managing Editor

    Matt is a British historian specialising in small arms development and military history. He has written several books and for a variety of publications in both the US and UK. He also runs Historical Firearms, a blog that explores the history, development and use of firearms. Matt is also co-founder of The Armourer’s Bench, a video series on historically significant small arms.

    Here on TFB he covers product and current military small arms news.

    Reach Matt at: [email protected]