AK-74 Assault Rifle

Russian Kalashnikov AK-12 Assault Rifle Trials

posted by Paul Fiddian | 08.02.2012

Russian defence officials are to soon start testing a brand new rifle - one of 12 designs currently being worked on by the dominant Russian weapons production firm, Izhmash.

Russian defence officials are to soon start testing a brand new rifle that updates the classic Kalashnikov design

According to a statement issued by the firm, the Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle will act as a platform for 20 new types of handgun and among the other products to be released alongside it in coming months are new snipers, set to become available next year.

2011 saw Izhmash upgrade no less than 70 existing rifles - including combat versions - and, in addition, it signed a lucrative contract with the US for the supply of Saiga 12 gauge combat shotguns.

Kalashnikov AK-12

Details of the new Kalashnikov AK-12 emerged at the very start of this month.

Adaptability is a key element of its performance and, as per data published by Russian news agency RIA Novosti, it'll be compatible with a range of cartridges, from 5.45x39mm up to the 7.62x51 NATO.

These can be fired in three different ways - as a single shot, in a three-shot burst or completely automatically - 850 rounds a minute at maximum velocity - and other features include Picatinny rails - permitting the fit of night sights, optical sights and grenade launchers.

AK-12 Assault Rifle

According to its designers, the AK-12 assault rifle, which has a 625 metre range, bears all the classic Kalashnikov hallmarks but brings them up to date.  The weapon – Izhmash said, in a statement – has been modified ‘to modern combat requirements, having preserved Kalashnikov's unique qualities - simplicity, reliability and relatively low production cost.’

While the NATO cartridge is a US design, the 5.45x39mm cartridge was developed in the former Soviet Union and pressed into service in 1974. It was designed to be fired from Izhmash's AK-74 assault rifles, which remain in widespread Russian Army use.

The AK-12 is intended to replace the AK-74 but, so far, there's not been a huge amount of interest expressed, especially given the massive number of spare AK-74s (estimated at 17 million) in the Russian armed forces' reserves. Still, Izhmash intends to carry on testing the design and supply it to foreign armed forces and other Russian organisations, if the demand's there.

Armed Forces International will catch up with the AK-12 rifle project in future News Coverage.

AK-74 image copyright US Department of Defense

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