The Russian armed forces have been using the AK-74 pattern rifles since before their fun little excursion into Afghanistan. That version included many improvements over its 7.62×39 flavored predecessors and has actually been the main firearm of the Russkies longer than the original AK-47. But the time has come for the country to move on and enter the 21st century and toward that end, they are about to start phasing in the AK-12 (for 2012) rifle to all branches of service. There are some differences and improvements, but in general they will be doing what every pimply faced first-time gun owner does to their milsurp rifles to make them “tactical:” slap rails on every imaginable surface . . .
From Ria Novosti:
Various modifications of a new Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle as well as a host of other small arms will be put in service with the Russian armed forces in 2014, a senior government official said.
“In 2014, the Russian army will start receiving new assault rifles, handguns, machine guns and sniper rifles, including 5.45-mm and 7.62-mm variants of the Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle,” Deputy Chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission, Oleg Bochkarev, said in an interview with Echo Moskvy radio on Monday.
The guns do have some other improvements along with acres of picatinny railage, namely an ambidextrous safety and a 3-round burst option (which will no doubt further ruin the trigger pull, if that’s even possible). But in general, what we see the Russian armed forces rolling out is the exact same operating mechanism and overall design that they’ve used since the end of World War II.
Then again, we’re talking about the same people who still use the Mosin Nagant model 1891 well over a century since it was designed, and all they’ve done to it is chopped down the barrel and added a scope. So this “slow and steady” approach to arms manufacturing seems to be about on pace with their previous decisions.