AK-12, via Wikipedia

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.

99 Responses to Russian Military to Replace Rifles with New AK-12 in 2014

  1. A gun so fugly I kinda want one… but my SGL20 keeps me happy and I can “tacticool” it to my heart’s content. Also love my SCAR17, my pick for the 21st century new age space battle rifle.

    I do want a report on those quad stack 60 rounders though

  2. Russian version of the article reads a bit differently. In it, the competition from Degyarev plant (makers AEK-971)is mentioned. Also, in a more recent article (http://ria.ru/defense_safety/20130924/965470551.html), it’s mentioned that Kalashnikov is paying for military acceptance trials for AK-12. To me, this sounds like the military is really not interested purchasing AK-12, while Kalashnikov is frantically trying to push them to take it.

  3. It apparently shares at least one feature, besides the rails of the SCAR – sliding buttstock. I wonder how dirty it will be after firing…

    • You sir should be president! would love to see these Aks brought over here. Imagine how much they would cost once there are 200,000+ new Aks brought to America…can we say 399$ like the good old days?

  4. Perhaps the Russians are on to something. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Improve it. The US Army had the right idea when they replaced the M-1 with the M-14. If they wanted to move to the 5.56 to better exploit fully automatic fire then they should have downsized the Garand based M-14. No going back but there is something we can do. Get a better round for an AR patterned rifle.

    • The reason they didn’t just downsize the Garand system is that while it’s a robust, the Garand action doesn’t lend itself to modern production capabilities as well as the AR-pattern rifles. Simply put, downsizing the Garand action wasn’t as economical as switching to the AR. The AK pattern, on the other hand, requires less finesse and, therefore, cost less to produce in different calibers. This is why although the Garand is really a great firearm that can still perform in the 21st century, we wound up with the AR.

      And +1 on getting a better round for ARs.

      Does the russian 5.45 have similar issues to the 5.56? For all the complaining about the 5.56 I haven’t seen much complaining about the 5.45.

      • The Russians still make heavy use of 7.62×39 as a stopgap between 5.45 and x54r. 5.45 is not preferred by some, especially internal police forces, largely because 7.62×39 has such superior barrier penetration and can really bust through walls in an urban setting.

      • The 5.45 has a number of differences from 5.56 that allow it to make the most of the smaller projectile. They use a longer twist rate leaving the bullet slightly under-stabilized as well as a small air-pocket in the nose of the bullet allowing an FMJ round to act more like a soft-point, inducing tumble much more reliably.

        Ironically enough, the 5.56 was actually more effective in Vietnam era 1 in 14″ and 1 in 12″ barrels as the under-stabilized bullet tumbled quite violently, with anecdotal evidence that it may have even outperformed 7.62×51 in terms of wounding capability. However, the slow twist rate of the 5.56 negatively affected accuracy, so it was tightened. This combined with more recent changes to projectile design in an effort to increase barrier penetration has increased the chance of “ice-picking” reducing terminal effectiveness.

      • No complaining about the 5.45 because it’s a good round, and hella cheap. I’d even say more accurate that the .223/.556 past 150 yds.

        Also, there are tons of better rounds for the AR platform; I’m thinking .300BLK, 6.8 SPC, 7.62×51 NATO, .50 Beowulf, hell, they make 5.45 uppers for ARs too…part of the appeal of the AR is that it is modular, basically two pins on a multi cal lower, a different upper, and you’re pretty much good to go.

      • I was sort of getting at that. I don’t see the difference between a mini-14 and an AR-15 for civilian use. I don’t know if it is robust enough for fully automatic fire.

        • @td, I really like the Mini-14 — a lot. It’s a great civilian rifle and a lot of fun to shoot, but I’m not sure that our Army would like to go to war with it, even with the Tactical model. The accuracy of a standard SA Mini is just okay, although they can be tweaked. An FA Mini might be a bullet hose.

        • @Jared – There is one for sale for <$8K at a LGS. I don't have $8K or I'd be telling you about how awesome it is…… 🙁

        • I’ve shot one (in California of all places) 🙂 bullet hose is an acurate description. If I had money and time I’d totally buy one too, if only for shiggles.

        • The huge difference between the AR and the Mini-14 isn’t operational, it’s the fact that the AR is an open platform, manufactured by dozens of companies, with hundreds of variations. It’s a tinker toy. The Mini-14 is only manufactured by Ruger. Ruger maintains control of the patent/licensing. Nobody else can make a Mini-14 clone.

          Pretty much the same holds true with 1911 popularity.

    • No, the M14 was a horrible idea for a select fire rifle when the FN FAL was available. It only won the trials because Springfield was given weeks of advance notice that allowed them to modify the test rifles for arctic trials whereas the FN was a stock version. When it came to replace the M14, the US screwed up again by overriding the British desire to base the next rifle on a .270 (or thereabouts) cartridge which would have been a great compromise. The US has not gotten main battle rifles right since the M1.

      • Jacknine, I don’t think that the M-14 actually won the trials. IIRC, it was a tie — if you can believe it — between the M-14 and the FN FAL.

    • The M-14 hd several drawbacks. number one was that the stocks would swell and crack in hte high humidity. Second, it is a long range round. It was designed for hte battles of eastern Europe, not the jungles of Vietnam. It was a waste of ammo in a lot of ways to have a 1000Yard round in 100 yard jungles.
      Another issue is that 7.61 is HEAVY. a guy can hump three times the 5.56 as 7.62. Next, in full auto, the M-14 is a sattelite killer IYKWIMAITYD. The 5.56 is more controlable, and in a night combat situation, most guys wanted spray and pray rather then aimed fire.
      That said, an M1A is my first choice to carry in a fight. I was an MP for a good chunk of my time in. An MP squad is usually well armed. I often carried an M-16 with 203 and an M-60 machinegun.

  5. just ‘cuase it’s a 100 yr old design doesn’t mean it’s bad. ever hear of a 1911? ok yes, I agree, the 1911 is brilliant and the rusky stuff is not. It’s best for our troops and our allies if the rusky’s keep using the 100 yr old rifles.

    • Aside from a bolt action rifle being essentially useless in a walking/advance movement, the only real fault I can find with the Mosin-Nagant is the strict limit of clip loading five rounds from the top. TTAG recently reviewed a (way over-priced) replacement stock for the M-N that included a 10 round magazine feed. If I were in the field and issued and M-N I would definitely want one of those.

      As I understand it from a stand point of military strategery the purpose of a different caliber round from that of your (real or suspected) enemy is to prevent them from capturing and using your ammunition against you. Is there really that much difference in ballistics between a 5.45 Russki and the 5.65 NATO? Unless they still fear that we will face each other on the battlefield they would (from a marketing perspective) really enlarge their customer base by providing a 5.56 variant.

  6. The bears sure do love their Kalashnikovs. Well except maybe this one. Maybe they can try fielding a western(ish) Euro rifle, like the Belgian AK5, its modern, pretty much made for cold conditions, and has the letters AK in it. It uses 5.56, which is Amerikan, and im fairly sure that’s why they don’t like it, but maybe they can ignore that part or have it re-chambered.

  7. Russian soldiers have the same issue American soldiers have. THEY want a new gun, but the brass hats don’t want to spend the money on something they feel is already “good enough”. It’s like the US Army’s perennial efforts to replace the M-16/M-4 that spawned the ACR/XCR/SCAR. Only Kalashnikov can’t just sell their product to civvies. Hence their desperation.

    • Is the Russian army still a conscript army? If so, they should stick with the simple AK.

      They’ll probably warehouse the 74s in case of another invasion of their homeland. Having had that unpleasent experience a number of times they tend to think it can happen again.

      • that’s about it, the Russians are serious hoarders.

        they still have nagants in their military warehouses, along with PPsH and all of those…

        if the motherland is ever credibly invaded they’ll just hand out everything they have to the peasants…

      • >> Is the Russian army still a conscript army?

        Yes.

        >> If so, they should stick with the simple AK.

        Bullshit. Most European armies were conscript-based until very recently – e.g. Germany was so until 2011. Swiss army still is. This did not and does not preclude them from using weapons as fancy as that US armed forces use (G36, SIG 551…).

      • @JWM: the Russian Army is still conscript. They’ve been making the push to transition to volunteer. In the last few years the required term of service has been reduced from 2 years to 18 months, and recently again to 12 months.

        • The enlistment length doesn’t really make any difference – soldiers don’t actually practice with their weapon for most of that time these days. In fact, a typical experience that I’ve seen repeated many times is that they get to shoot it on exactly one occasion, and usually get one magazine to do so – and that’s it, for the entire duration of the term.

          Russian conscript army is really a sad thing… it has to be seen to be believed.

  8. Still a damn fine weapon. Best in the world? Probably not. Works well for it’s intended purpose? Absolutely.

  9. Man, just imagine all the surplus 47’s and 74’s we could get if it weren’t for the import ban. Way to stifle free trade, gov.

    • There is still no ban against parts kits. What got banned was a) original “machine gun barrels,” which is why all AK parts kits coming in now have chopped-up barrels, and b) the latest Obama EO that bans “re-importation” of gifted/donated firearms that originated in the US.

      • True, but it’s still BS to have to jump through a bunch of loopholes instead of just getting fully functional complete rifles. Gov comes up with ideas so good they have to be forced on people.

  10. “I feel under-gunned.” Said no one carrying an AK rifle ever.

    Even 66 years later a body of men armed with AK-47 would be as well armed as any in the world.

    • For select fire it sucked except as it turns out full auto fire is not very effective. That’s why we have gone back to aimed semiautomatic fire or a three round burst which really addresses the 5.56 lethality issue.

      The effectiveness of rifle fire is subject to decreasing returns to technology:

      Smootbore muskets had a rate of fire of three rounds a minute but with a effective range of 100 yards you would be lucky to get off two rounds before contact. A rifled musket had the same rate of fire but with an effective range of 500 yards it could deliver devastating fire at attacking force. (See Fredericksburg, Gettysberg, Cold Harbor, etc). Then along came the single shot breechloader and you could get 8-10 rounds a minute from a prone position. Then the repeater shows up and you can shoot 15 rounds a minute unless you are a British regular in 1914. When the M-1 shows up you could get up to 20 rpm aimed. So firepower improvement ratio gets 3+x, 2x, 1.5x and 1.33x. The real improvement you got with the M-1 was the ability to deliver well aimed fire on the move. In theory full auto fire delivers a huge volume of lead down range except it’s flying all over the place and hitting nothing. Controlled burst is more accurate but the rounds are going to the same place. So your select fire M-4 gives you 10 trigger pulls per magazine versus 20 with the M-14. Is three rounds of 556 going to the same point more lethal than a single round of 308? Probably, but enough to compensate for the reduced effective rate of fire.

        • My point is that increases in effectiveness are not simply an increase in the volume of fire. The M-16 offered no real increase in effectiveness over the M-14 even though its select fire capability gave the illusion of an increase. The M-14, FN FAL and the AR-10 were all far superior to the M-16 despite their inability to be effective automatic weapons.

        • tdiinva, the M-14 was select fire. Your first round hit point of aim. The second, 10 meters over, hte third, the observation helio, the 4th, bomber support, and the 5th, the MARS satelite that linked command to Washington, and you to mom.

      • Very good points. One of the reasons Patton gave for his love of the Garand was the ability of his troops to fire continuously from the hip while advancing toward the enemy. The M-14 in semi fire would have allowed a much greater (20 round) advantage. The drawback, of course, was the limit of ammo a man could reasonably carry into the field and the weight of the weapon.

        The M-16 of course was attempting to address those issues, but I think the biggest problem was the reliance on volume of un-aimed fire as opposed to reasonable amounts of aimed fire. The ideal solution, IMO, would have been to field the M-14 as a carbine in 7.62 in a ratio of about one to five. This would be a similar solution to the addition of the M-60 to squad level formations, but the M-60 once again only provided volume of fire without specific accuracy and therefore burned up lots of very heavy ammo that someone had to schlep into the fight. Full auto weapons have their place, obviously, especially machine guns across a defended front, but full auto for each man in trench warfare or jungles or maneuvering through forests or across deserts does not seem to have been a good solution.

      • Sorry guys I’m with gloomhound. I have no idea why you’re saying what you’re saying in response to his original comment.

        Someone mentions the AK-47 and seemingly – even a lot of gun people – imagine massed Soviet infantry tactics with soldiers just spraying their rifles wildly about. They think of the AK-47 as some sort of transitional rifle that has been somehow been left behind by modern infantry tactics.

        What gloomhound was saying is true… The AK design today is really no different than any other battle rifle. The design has undergone many minor and major improvements, and today it’s really not all that different of a rifle in its capabilities when compared to the AR or most other modern military rifles.

        But more to the point of gloomhound’s original comment: It’s actually pretty amazing when you look at a design that’s seen the better part of 3/4 of a century, and even if you look at some of the first versions of it, they would still today be an equal threat on the battlefield as most other modern firearms of the same type.

        Same goes for quite a few of the other “old timer” battle rifles that we all love.

        • Except for the AK’s crappy sights, crappy ergonomics, slow magazine change, excessive weight, mediocre practical accuracy.

          There’re very good reasons why no one in the developed world is buying new AKs for their military forces. The AK was a “success” because for decades the USSR would supply them for little or no cost to their allies in the third world.

          The AK-12 is just the same old pig with a fresh coat of lipstick. The Russian Army doesn’t want them, but the corrupt politicians and their pals at Izhmash are trying to shovel some more funding into their own pockets.

        • >> AK’s crappy sights

          I’ll grant you that (as evidenced by the fact that the first thing every AK clone did is change them).

          >> slow magazine change

          Same as SIG SG-552. I suppose Swiss don’t know shit about firearms?

          >> excessive weight

          Really? The dry weight of AKM is 6.8 lbs. This is less than pretty much every NATO rifle, except for some from the AR family (notably M4 at 6.3 lbs). For comparison: M16A2 – 7.2 lbs, FAMAS – 8.4 lbs, SG 550 – 9 lbs, Tavor – 7.2 lbs, AUG – 7.9 lbs. L86A2 – 8.4 lbs.

          >> mediocre practical accuracy

          In full auto mode, perhaps (but who cares about that)? In semi-auto, it’s minute of bad guy accurate out to 300 meters (and out to 500 for AK-74), and what else do you want from an infantryman’s rifle?

          >> There’re very good reasons why no one in the developed world is buying new AKs for their military forces.

          Buying? No. Making their own slightly improved clones? Yes. Finns still use their Valmet (chambered in 7.62×39!), and then there were Galil and INSAS.

        • >>> The AK was a “success” because for decades the USSR would supply them for little or no cost to their allies in the third world.

          You mean kind of what the US did with the M16 and variants? As to the point it would make locally manufactured weapons not economical (Galil anyone)?

  11. First, Kalashnikov Corp. landed a $400 million contract for missiles in July. Then Russian arms manufacturers Izhmash and Izhmekh were merged into Kalashnikov Corp. Now Kalashnikov may end up selling a boatload of AK-12s to the Russian military. At the same time, the Russian government is selling 49% of the company to private investors for what seems like peanuts.

    http://en.rian.ru/business/20130923/183675583/Kalashnikov-Corp-Sells-49-Stake-for-75M–Rostec.html

    It seems that crony capitalism isn’t confined to the USA.

  12. I’ve really been waiting to see the earlier-announced version chambered in 7.62 NATO, but it may have been shelved. Izhmash was talking of taking the SCAR approach and making “light” and “heavy” versions, with the “heavy” version likely to be based on the Saiga .308 internals, e.g. heavier front trunnion with three-lug bolt.

    Interestingly there was never any mention of 7.62x54r, but then again the Saiga was never chambered in that caliber – only the RPK-based VEPR.

    They also have shown production blueprints of a 5.56 version utilizing STANAG mags via a magwell adapter, but no other info release as of yet. Molot showed off a VEPR .223 earlier in the year that used a STANAG magwell and standard AR-15 mags – something that the US aftermarket surprisingly developed before any armory offered such a thing on a 5.56 AK.

    Izhmash made some muttering about exporting the AK-12 to the US. I’ll literally throw my wallet at whoever can get it here first, and I don’t care what caliber it comes in.

      • It’s not that it hasn’t been done already, but I think the big reason why is magazine capacity – basically x54r is limited to ten rounds when used in a box magazine.

        Some people have cobbled together 20-round x54r mags for PSLs and VEPRs, but they’re not known to always work reliably.

    • The famous STANAG magazine! Can anyone tell me with a straight face it is more reliable and stronger than its competition and that the US did not use its weight to shove it into NATO’s members mouths?

  13. Finally! The AK nobody was waiting for. It looks like every other AK, but now has even more plastic and costs more than you’re willing to pay for it. One problem, if the AK74 was a whole 27 better than the AK47 (AK74 – AK47 = 27) that means the AK12 must be a whole 35 WORSE! How could they overlook that?

  14. AK-12 has been almost universally panned on Russian gun forums so far. Most people think that we need to pick one of the two: either a proper modernization, with a new weapon platform that is designed from ground up to be extensible, while retaining reliability (the result would probably look like SG 551); or just stick to the tried and true. All this in-between kinda stuff doesn’t really work that well.

    In the meantime, the people who are actually in the harm’s way (e.g. in Chechnya) are collecting money to buy EOTechs and mounting hardware…

  15. I’m quite happy to hear that they’ll be buying the AK-12 in 5.45 as well as 7.62×39… because that ensures that the factories will keep pushing 5.45 ammo into the Russian gov/mil supply chain for years to come, keeping my 5.45 AR fed with exported tins of cheap surplus ammo in the process.

  16. Makes sense. They have 10,000,000 AK-74’s in storage at the factory and they will make a good parts supply for the AK-12

  17. That’s all pretty funny, but the AK’s still kill. Being Russian, I’m also skeptic about AK-12 series, since the old AKM is still the most efficcient rifle of all AK family.

    • But,the old AKM still looses in the Mall Ninja tacticool factor enjoyed by the AR family. It seems the AK12 is aimed to close that gap

  18. Hi sir ,
    we have need about 100000 number Ak47 guns for you company .
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    if you could sent us your last price.
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  19. “So this “slow and steady” approach to arms manufacturing seems to be about on pace with their previous decisions.”

    Sometimes the old ways are the best.

    • I’m not even sure what the article is referring to, because Russian armed forces do not use Mosin rifles for anything these days. The only army I’m aware of that still has them in service is Finnish – those guys use old (some even really ancient, dating back to pre-WW1) Mosin receivers to build their sniper rifles on; the result is known as 7.62 Tkiv 85.

      Other than that, I would say that Soviet/Russian military is actually less conservative than US when it comes to small arms. Soviets moved to intermediate cartridge (7.62×39) much earlier, and have actually moved to yet another one since then (5.45×39), while US has adopted its new platform in, what, mid-60s, and still sticks to it? Soviets also had developed a bunch of specialty cartridges like 9×39, which in many ways is akin to .300 BLK, and exotic firearms like APS underwater assault rifle.

  20. There are times I think the only reason God put Russians on Earth was to make the “AK.”

    No offense of course…

  21. It’s 2017, and we now know this didn’t happen. The AK-12, as it was, was found to be too expensive and unreliable, and was not adopted.

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