Kalashnikov Concern is designing a new family of AK rifles called 500-series. Despite having a high level of parts commonality with the AK-12/AK-15, the new 500-series rifles feature a completely different upper/lower receiver layout. The company has published some pictures and videos showing a prototype of 500-series rifles called AKV-521. Let’s take a closer look.
The primary reason for designing the 500-series rifles is probably the need for having a solid full-length top Picatinny rail. Kalashnikov’s Avtomat originally didn’t have any optics mounting provision as the gun was designed in an era where scopes were specialized gadgets and not something that every rifleman was supposed to be equipped with. Later on, facing a need for mounting scopes on AKs, some rifles were fitted with the side scope mount. In 100-series AKs, the side rail became standard. While the side rail is not a bad scope mounting solution, it has its limitations in terms of scope location and ergonomics. With the adoption of AK-12 and AK-15 rifles, the Russian military ditched the side rail and transitioned to using the Picatinny rail on large scale. However, these rifles have a Picatinny rail on the receiver top cover and although the Kalashnikov Concern came up with an advanced way of top cover attachment, it’s arguably not ideal either. Now, in the AKV-521, the railed upper receiver and barrel are basically “permanently” attached to each other. I think it is safe to say that this series of rifles will be the factory Russian AKs with the most rigid and reliable top Picatinny rail.
The upper receiver of AKV-521 is fixed to the lower receiver by the front pivot pin, rear takedown pin and the rear end of the recoil spring guide rod. The safety selector is ambidextrous with a miniature AK-style lever on the right side and an AR-style selector on the left. The handguard is free floated. The upper receiver of the prototype rifle is made of milled steel, however, the production models will have stamped steel uppers. Many of the parts of AKV-521, such as the trigger mechanism, are unchanged AK parts and the gun is compatible with standard AK magazines. Some parts have minor changes. For example, the BCG has a removable charging handle which is necessary for the disassembly. By the way, the charging handle attachment is compatible with QD sling swivel sockets which is quite a clever solution and allows storing the handle in a QD socked during the disassembly. As shown in the video below, the disassembly is quite a simple process requiring to remove the takedown pin and charging handle, then press in the rear of the recoil spring guide rod to unlock and pivot open the upper receiver and remove the recoil spring and BCG from the rear of the upper receiver.
Another benefit of the upper/lower receiver layout is the possibility to easily change calibers and barrel lengths. The AKV-521 is chambered in 5.45×39, but Kalashnikov Concern plans to make 500-series AKs chambered in 7.62×39, .223 Remington and .366 TKM as well. They will also make upper receiver assemblies with different barrel lengths. Apparently, the 500-series AKs will be offered in the Russian civilian market. It is unknown if the Russian military considers testing these rifles. We’ll be following the development of 500-series AKs and reporting the news to our readers. Stay tuned!
Images by Kalashnikov Concern, www.kalashnikov.com
Hat tip to Valentin Vlasenko