Ukrainian Mayak arms plant has designed an AK variant called KalashNash that has a quick barrel change feature. It is possible to change the caliber of this rifle to any popular intermediate cartridge (5.56×45, 7.62×39, 5.45×39, 6.5 Grendel, etc.) by swapping the populated barrels and using caliber-specific bolts and magazines. Presumably, the two slots cut at the front bottom portion of the chamber area (see the picture below) are where the barrels are retained in the front trunnion.
At the moment of writing this article, the only sources showing the KalashNash rifle or its components are the picture of barrels published by the manufacturer and the below-embedded video published by a Ukrainian channel called Spetskor (Спецкор).
In the video, Oleksandr Gordeev, chief engineer of Mayak plant, says that the reason that necessitated designing this caliber change system is the concerns with 7.62x39mm ammunition supply as this cartridge is mainly produced by Russian plants or companies affiliated with Russia. Considering Ukraine’s efforts of integration into NATO, I think a conversion system like this may also allow to relatively cheaply transition to the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge by converting the existing stockpiles of AKs, yet retaining the possibility of using the 7.62x39mm cartridge which is still ubiquitous and likely the most common cartridge in the region. A post on the Mayak plant’s Facebook page mentions that this rifle will also have a bolt-action mode (probably by means of a gas block shut-off feature) and that a civilian version of the KalashNash rifle is in the works as well.
We’ll make sure to follow the development of the KalashNash project and report the news to our readers. Stay tuned!
P.S. KalashNash (КалашНаш) translates “Kalash is ours”. This model name has sparked quite a bit of criticism in various Russian online communities and media outlets because of the current relations of the two countries and how sacred the Kalashnikov rifle is in Russia.