Many think of Russia as a land of Kalashnikov and the US as a realm of AR-15, but the reality is always more complicated. Many US companies produce different variants of an AK platform and several Russian companies manufacture AR-style rifles. Until recently, those Russian ARs were pretty typical run-off-the-mill builds, but recently one of the designers went a little further and actually came up with something different called RA-15.
This rifle was designed by a Russian special forces combat veteran, instructor, and weapons design engineer Dmitry Chuchaev. I asked him about the name – RA-15, and he explained that “RA” stands for Russian Arms company that supported the development of the rifle and “15” is added to pay homage to Eugene Stoner and signify that despite all the new features, it is an AR15.
The idea behind RA-15 development was to increase the reliability of an AR-15 without compromising all the great things that it can offer – light weight, accuracy, and good ergonomics.
I had a chance to check out the second generation of RA-15 chambered for 5.56×45 which has original lower and upper receivers. The upper receiver is monolithic with an M-LOK handguard, it also does not have brass deflector or forward assist or dust cover.
The charging handle is on the left side of the receiver. The magazine release is ambidextrous. The bolt release is similar to Bushmaster ACR and is located in the front of the trigger guard.
RA-15 uses a short-stroke gas system with an adjustable gas block which helps to reduce backpressure when using a silencer.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the whole system is a bolt with modified locking lugs. According to Dmitry Chuchaev, change in the geometry of locking lugs considerably enhanced the reliability of the weapon in harsh conditions. I am usually skeptical about such claims, but after a brief research, I found that it has been done before at least once with Sharps Relia-Bolt.
Only time will tell how effective those measures will be. During the demonstration, the weapon worked well but that is not saying much for anyone who was involved in real weapon trials. Only long term professional testing will show how good this design is.
The first batch of the rifles should be produced sometime this year. Primarily it will be sold in the Russian civilian market and chances that it will be officially accepted into service by Russian MIL/LE is minimal, for obvious reasons.
In the past, a particular Russian special forces unit used the AR15 platform in combat, but it never caught on because 5.56 ammo is not issued in the Russian MIL/LE forces and as a result, guys armed with AR15 variants were essentially cut off from the supply chain. Perhaps a version of RA-15 chambered for 5.45×39 can change that situation.
What do you think about the design? Are those features necessary or is it another attempt to fix what is not broken?
Featured picture provided by Turaev Akbar: https://www.instagram.com/alex_shoot_gun/