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AK-12 Assault Rifle

Avtomat Kalashnikova 2012
Автомат Калашникова образца 2012 года

by Timothy P. Banse

The Kalashnikova AK-47, the world's most popular rifle, has an understudy waiting in the wings.

The new AK-12 is intended to replace Cold War era AK-47 and AKM rifles. And with this fifth generation of AK engineers kept what worked (simplicity, reliability and low production cost), eliminated the deficiencies and adapted its design to the modern battlefield.

The weapon's general designer, Vladimir Zlobin says, "The main goal in development of the Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle was to improve ergonomics and tactical flexibility of the weapon, while maintaining traditional high reliability and enviable simplicity of the original weapon." At first blush it looks like mission accomplished.

The AK-12 assault weapon was first displayed to press in January, 2012. Available in two versions, light and heavy, the light version is chambered in calibers 5.45x39, 5.56x45, 6.5 Grendel and 7.62x39, while the heavy version is intended for more powerful cartridges like 7.62x51 NATO. Variants include a carbine, compact carbine, submachine gun, sniper rifle and light machinegun.

True to its lineage Kalashnikov AK-12 is a gas-operated, selective-fire weapon using the traditional Kalashnikov action featuring a long stroke gas piston and rotary bolt locking.

This new incarnation of battle rifle features a muzzle brake with a NATO-standard external diameter of 22mm which of course allows launching rifle grenades of foreign manufacture. Receiver modifications include a more rigid top cover that's hinged at the front and opens up and forward for dis-assembly and maintenance. The cover latch release lever is located at the rear of receiver, right side, behind the safety.

Early on we mentioned the elimination of Kalashnikova's inadequacies. To that end AK-12s Safety/Fire selector has been revised to provide significantly better ergonomics. The now ambidextrous thumb switch boasts 4 positions (Safe, Semi-auto, 3-round bursts, and Full Automatic) and is located above the pistol grip on both sides of the firearm. Similarly, the charging handle has been moved forward. The operating handle can be mounted on either side of the receiver, another blessing for lefties. The push-button magazine release is also ambidextrous. Some soldiers are short, others are tall. To accommodate them the buttstock is telescoping and adjustable.

Picatinny rails resides on the top and are also arrayed at 3-, 6-, and 9-o'clock positions, accommodating a multitude of modular accessories like optical sights, laser illuminators, flashlights, vertical fore-grips, bi-pods and grenade launchers. More particularly, the bottom span of the forearm grip is available in two versions: Either plain, or with a rail (to accommodate 40mm grenade launchers like GP-25 or GP-30).

To improve accuracy the barrel has improved rifling and new muzzle brake. The rear sight has been moved aft from the front of the receiver to the rear, lengthening the sighting radius.

Light version Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifles accept all legacy magazines in respective caliber, such as 30-round AKM or AK-74 and 40-round RPK / 45-round RPK-74 magazines. It feeds from RPK-74 100-round drums. A new, 4-stack, large capacity 60-round box magazine in development.

Chamberings include 5.45X39mm, 7.62X39mm and 7.62X51mm NATO. The civilian version is semi-automatic and will available in .223 Remington, 5.56X45 mm rifle calibers and well as 12 gauge shotgun. Three new cartridges are on the way, one of them in 6.5 caliber. Rate of fire is from 600 to 1,000 rounds per minute.

An experimental self-lubricating, nano-composite coating is undergoing testing.

Finally, Izhmash, the Russia-based developer and manufacturer of the AK-12 produces more 70 types of weaponry, including firearms, aircraft guns, precision artillery rounds, as well as a variety of sporting and hunting weapons. With an estimated 17 million AKs greased up in cosmoline the Russian military is not expected to purchase any of the rifles in great quantity. that said other military units from around the world and civilians will likely be most interested in this the latest incarnation of battle rifle. Автомат Калашникова образца 2012 года © Copyright 2013 by Timothy P. Banse

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