AK-12
AK-12 5.45×39mm assault rifle
Type
Place of originRussia
Service history
In service2018–present
Used bySee Users
WarsSyrian Civil War[1]
Russo-Ukrainian War
Production history
DesignerMikhail Kalashnikov, Vladimir Zlobin, Sergey Urzhumcev
Designed2011
ManufacturerIzhmash (now Kalashnikov Concern)
Produced2018-present[2]
No. built150,000+
VariantsSee Variants
Specifications
Mass3.5 kg (7.72 lb) empty (AK-12)[3]
3.5 kg (7.72 lb) empty (AK-15)[4]
3.5 kg (7.72 lb) empty (AK-19)[5]
3.8 kg (8.38 lb) empty (AK-308)[6]
Length
  • 922 mm (36.3 in) full length
  • 688 mm (27.1 in) stock folded[3]
Barrel length415 mm (16.3 in)

Cartridge
ActionGas-operated, long stroke gas piston, rotating bolt
Rate of fire700 rounds/min[3]
Muzzle velocity
  • 880–900 m/s (2,887–2,953 ft/s) (AK-12)
  • 715 m/s (2,346 ft/s) (AK-15)
Effective firing range
  • 440 m (481 yd) point blank (AK-12)[3]
  • 350 m (383 yd) point blank (AK-15)[4]
Maximum firing range3,150 m (3,440 yd)
Feed system
SightsBack-up iron sights and integrated Picatinny rail for various optical sights

The AK-12, "Avtomat Kalashnikova, 2012" (GRAU index 6P70) is a Russian gas-operated assault rifle chambered in 5.45×39mm designed and manufactured by the Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhmash), making it the fifth generation of Kalashnikov rifles.[7]

Kalashnikov Concern also offers a variant of the AK-12 chambered in 7.62×39mm, known as the AK-15 (GRAU index 6P71) due to the request of the Russian military. A variant chambered in 5.56×45mm NATO was later unveiled, known as the AK-19 upon the request of international clients. Compact variants of the AK-12 and AK-15 are also under development, respectively the AK-12K and AK-15K, which features a shorter barrel.

The AK-12 project began in 2011 by the IZHMASH factory, which became part of the Kalashnikov Concern as a private venture, in an attempt to participate in the "Ratnik" trials which were held by the Russian army.[8] It was further developed by the Kalashnikov Concern. Throughout its development and evaluation stage it has received multiple modifications to meet the Russian military's standard and to address the Russian army's concerns regarding the cost and issues in fully automatic fire of the earlier prototype models.

It went through three different prototypes in order to improve upon the "range of defects" that were discovered on the prototype models from 2012 to 2015. These were later abandoned in favour of the proven and improved AK-400 prototype, which took over the "AK-12" name designation and became the basis for the finalised model of the AK-12.[9]

History

On 25 May 2010, the Russian media published a Russian Ministry of Defence statement that the AK-12 was to be tested in 2011. The first prototype was presented to the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his official visit to inspect the products of the Izhmash arms manufacturing plant in Izhevsk. The prototype was fitted with a large-capacity 60-round casket magazine. On the early prototype model, the traditional locations of the cocking handle, safety lever, and fire selector remained unchanged, but the AK-12's production model featured revisions to all of these features.[10]

On 16 September 2013, the Deputy Chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission of Russia said the Russian Army would start receiving AK-12 assault rifles chambered in 5.45 mm and 7.62 mm in 2014. The new rifle would be put into service along with the new handguns, machine guns and sniper rifles. The AK-12 basic platform allows for nearly 20 different modifications to change into other configurations. State trials were to begin in fall 2013.[11] However, on 23 September 2013, the Izvestiya tabloid wrote that, according to an anonymous source, the AK-12 will not be adopted or even undergo state tests due to shortcomings in preliminary tests.[12][13] The AK-12 was to replace three previous of AK models and standardise assault rifles in the Russian military. The government's rejection of the AK-12 was because senior commanders said they had millions of stockpiled AK-74 models and did not need a new rifle. However, trials would continue for law enforcement agencies.[14][15]

However, on 23 December 2014, the Russian Army announced that the AK-12, as well as the KORD 6P67, had passed state trials and would be accepted into service with operational units for evaluation. It was expected that both weapons would begin being trialled operationally by Russian forces by March 2015.[16]

On 6 September 2016, it was reported that Kalashnikov Concern introduced the final production model of the AK-12, which is derived from the well proven AK-400 (Base Prototype) and has replaced the earlier prototype models. There were two base models that were introduced, the AK-12 which is chambered in 5.45×39mm cartridge and the AK-15 which is chambered in 7.62×39mm cartridge. Kalashnikov Concern also introduced a new light machine gun that is chambered in 5.45×39mm cartridge, the RPK-16 which is based on the traditional Kalashnikov layout and design and has several novel technical and ergonomic features derived from the AK-12 program.[17] It was also reported that the final production model of the AK-12 and AK-15 began participating in troop trials with the Russian Army, where it competed against the Degtyarov KORD 6P67 and KORD 6P68 balanced action assault rifles.[18] The AK-12 completed its operational testing and passed military field tests in June 2017.[19][20][21] Both AK-12 and AK-15 completed testing in December 2017. In January 2018 it was announced that the AK-12 and AK-15 have been adopted by the Russian military.[22][23]

Prior to the United States sectoral sanctions against the Russian arms industry in July 2014,[24][25] the United States civilian weapons market accounted for 90% of the Kalashnikov Concern civilian weapons sales.[26] In 2014, Kalashnikov Concern planned to sell 200,000 Russian manufactured weapons in the United States market through its sole US distributor, the RWC Group.[26] The sales of Russian manufactured Kalashnikovs to the United States significantly reduced both the production costs of current Kalashnikov weapons and the development costs of future Kalashnikov models that the Russian government purchases.[27]

Testing of the AK-12 concluded in December 2017, with the weapon being adopted by the Russian Army in January 2018.

In August 2018, the Armenian Ministry of Defence announced that they had secured the rights to manufacture the AK-12 and AK-15 in Armenia.[28]

The rifle's first confirmed use in a conflict was during the Russian invasion of Ukraine by some units of Russian forces. Ukrainian forces have captured a few AK-12s, in addition to limited usage by members of the Territorial Defense Forces.[29]

Design details

Prototypes from 2012 to 2015

The first prototype of the AK-12 in 2012

The first prototype model uses the same gas-operated long-stroke piston system of the previous Kalashnikov rifles, but many features are radically different from the other rifles in its family. The light version has the ability to change calibres by swapping the barrels. It is chambered in 5.45×39mm cartridge as for the standard configuration and can be either changed to the 7.62×39mm or 5.56×45mm NATO cartridge. Other intermediate calibres are also expected. The heavy version will chamber the larger 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge. It is fed through the standard AK-74M 30-round magazines and can also accept the 45-round magazines from the RPK-74. The 7.62×39mm Soviet-chambered version is compatible with the AKM's 30-round magazine and RPK's 40-round box magazine and 75-round drum magazines. The magazines specifically for the cancelled prototype model of the AK-12 includes a 30-round magazine with a bolt-catch actuator, a 60-round quad-stack magazine and a 95-round drum.[30]

The prototype model of the AK-12 is very different from its predecessors ergonomically. It features a telescoping buttstock that is in-line with the barrel for better recoil control and a stock latch, allowing for it to be folded to either side of the rifle. It has a rubber height-adjustable cheek piece and butt plate. The cocking handle is moved forward and can be attached to both sides for ambidextrous use. The receiver is hinged and more rigid with a Picatinny rail for mounting optics. There are several other accessory rails on the weapon, including on both sides, on the bottom and on the top of the handguard (in-line with the receiver for a longer monolithic rail), and on top of the gas block. There is also a lug under the gas chamber that can mount a GP-34 grenade launcher and another one under the front sight holder mounts a bayonet. The rear iron sight is further back on the receiver and can be set for aiming when the stock is extended or folded. The magazine release is in the same position but can be used by the trigger finger to detach magazines. In a departure from previous AK-type rifles, the dust cover safety selector has been replaced with an ambidextrous fire selector; it has four positions safe, semi-automatic, three-round burst fire and fully automatic fire. Other improvements include a smaller ejection port, more ergonomic pistol grip, improved rifling and a muzzle brake with a 22 mm threading that can fire NATO-standard rifle grenades.[30][31]

Final production model

The final production model of the AK-12 that is based on the AK-400 prototype

The final production model of the AK-12 is based on the well-proven AK-400 prototype, which is said to be more reliable, more accurate and better suited to the latest Russian military requirements.[8] A major technical alteration in the AK-400 prototype versus legacy AKs was the free-floating of the barrel from the handguards. On all previous AK rifles, the lower handguard of the rifle was mounted directly on the barrel with a stamped steel handguard retainer. As a result, a force exerted on the handguard affects the zero of the rifle. In the AK-400 prototype, the handguard is attached to the receiver and to a revised more rigid and non-removable gas tube, allowing the barrel to remain relatively isolated and flex and vibrate unrestricted for increased accuracy. The AK-12 is chambered in 5.45×39mm and due to the Russian military requirements, Kalashnikov Concern also offers the rifle in 7.62×39mm cartridge, designated as the AK-15. Short-barrelled versions of the AK-12 and AK-15 are also being worked on, designated as the AK-12K and AK-15K.[32]

With the final production model, it addresses the Russian Army's concerns regarding the issues in fully automatic fire and the cost of the earlier prototype models and is also expected to be much cheaper to build. It also incorporates many of the same improvements developed for the earlier prototype models of the AK-12 but also improves the strength and resilience of some of the components of the rifle.[18]

The design of the final production model of the AK-12 shares more in common with the existing AK-74M than its earlier prototype models, but will not be a retrofit to existing assault rifles. Several improvements were made to the AK-12's receiver, such as an improved and far more rigid top cover interface and a new free-floating barrel.[33] The final production model of the AK-12 reportedly outperforms the existing AK-74 by at least the margin requested by the Russian government.[18]

The final production model of the AK-12 has a cyclic rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute.[34] The three-round burst feature from the earlier prototype models was replaced by a two-round burst feature in the final production model.[35]

Muzzle device

The distinctive quick detachable muzzle brake features a large expansion chamber, two symmetrical vertical cuts at the forward end of the brake and three non-symmetrical positioned vent holes to counteract muzzle rise and climb as well as lateral shift to the right and features a crown-shaped glass breaker at the end. A flat plate near the end of the brake produces a forward thrust when emerging exhaust gases strike its surface, greatly reducing recoil.[36]

Pistol grip and fire selector

The rifle features an ergonomic pistol grip with an internal maintenance kit storage room, a retractable side-folding telescoping 4 position shoulder stock which is adjustable for length of pull and height adjustable buttpad and has storage room for a 3-piece cleaning rod and a free floating handguard with ventilation holes. The dust cover firing modes (semi-automatic, 2-round burst and fully automatic) and safety selector lever is similar to previous AK-type rifles, but has extensions added for making it possible to manipulate the lever with the right-hand index finger or left-hand thumb. This style of selector lever was and is sold as an aftermarket part outside Russia and is known in the United States as the Krebs-style safety.

Sights

The AK-12 uses a range and windage adjustable aperture-type rear tangent iron sight calibrated in 100 m (109 yd) increments from 100 to 800 m (109 to 875 yd). The front sight is a shrouded post adjustable for elevation in the field.[33] The Warsaw Pact side dovetail rail for mounting optical sights on legacy AKs and other small arms was replaced by a Picatinny rail for mounting sights.

Magazines

The new box magazines are backwards compatible with 5.45×39mm magazines and feature a slant angle on the bottom rear portion to provide a more rigid and stable contact with the ground when the gun is rested on the magazine. It also features witness windows at the 10-, 15-, 20-, 25- and 30-rounds positions to indicate the current loaded number of rounds. The witness windows numbering indicate the position of the follower inside the magazine. The follower has glow in the dark paint applied to both sides that can be viewed through the witness windows during low light conditions. When the new box magazine is fully loaded, a pin protrudes on the baseplate providing a possibility of a visual and tactile identification of a fully loaded magazine in the pouch. The AK-12 is also compatible with preceding 5.45×39mm box magazines from the AK-74, RPK-74, and the 95-round drum magazine from the RPK-16.

Accessories

The rifle can also be fitted with a quick detachable sound suppressor and a bayonet. To further increase the combat effectiveness of the rifle, it can be equipped with a 40 mm GP-25/GP-34 single-shot underbarrel grenade launcher.[8]

An updated AK-12 that features a redesigned stock, pistol grip, trigger guard, and new rear sight at the ARMY-2020 exhibition.
An updated AK-12 featuring an additional cheek riser at the ARMY-2021 exhibition.

2020-2021 ergonomic upgrades

An updated AK-12 and AK-15 (GRAU index 6P70M and 6P71M) were revealed during the ARMY-2020 exhibition. The updates are no major redesign, but centred around ergonomic improvements such as a lightweight polymer L-shaped side-folding telescoping 6 position shoulder stock which is adjustable for length of pull, ergonomic polymer pistol grip and trigger guard unit, and updated rotary dioptre rear sight.[37][38][8]

During the ARMY-2021 exhibition, an optional cheek riser (a to ergonomic preferences and sight axis height adjustable comb piece) was shown on the shoulder stock.

2023 upgrades

Updated AK-12 shown during ARMY-2023 exhibition

During 2023, Kalashnikov unveiled a new version of the rifle. The first information was unveiled in January 2023. It was designated AK-12M1.[39][40][41]

Improvements included, among smaller things:

Based on “experience of the gun’s use in the special operation” in Ukraine, the 2-round burst firing mode has been omitted in 2023, as it did not significantly contribute to the weapon’s efficiency.[42][43]

The new version entered serial production in December 2023.[44] According to the Concern, supplies are ongoing as of April 2024.[45]

Variants

AK-12

The AK-12 is chambered in 5.45×39mm and served as template for several variants. It features a barrel length of 415 mm (16.3 in), a maximum firing range of 800 m (870 yd), and a standard magazine capacity of 30 rounds. It features a Picatinny rail on the top of the receiver for mounting various optical sights and on the top, bottom and sides of the handguard to mount various accessories.

AK-12K

During the ARMY-2017 exhibition, Kalashnikov Concern displayed prototypes of the AK-12K, which is a short-barrelled variant of the AK-12.[46]

AK-12SP

During the ARMY-2021 exhibition, Kalashnikov Concern displayed a standard length barrelled AK-12SP and short-barrelled AK-12SPK variants developed for Russian special forces use. The AK-12SP features lower and upper aluminium upper handguard/gas tube covers with M-LOK slots for direct accessory attachment onto the "negative space" (hollow slot) mounting points. The short-barrelled AK-12SPK features an AK-12 pattern lower handguard with an aluminium upper handguard/gas tube cover that has M-LOK slots.[47] The AK-12SP and AK-12SPK have excluded the 2-round burst mode.

AK-15

AK-15 equipped with a Russian 1P87 holographic sight

The AK-15 (GRAU index 6P71) is a variant of the AK-12 chambered in 7.62×39mm. Both the AK-12 and AK-15 have been developed by the Kalashnikov Group under the "Ratnik" program and have been accepted into Russian military service. The AK-15 weighs 3.5 kg (7.72 lb) when empty, a full-length of 940 mm (37 in), a barrel length of 415 mm (16.3 in), barrel twist rate of 265 mm (10.4 in), and a standard magazine capacity of 30 rounds.[4]

AK-15K

During the ARMY-2017 exhibition, Kalashnikov Concern displayed prototypes of the AK-15K, which is a short-barrelled variant of the AK-15.[46]

AK-19

Main article: AK-19

AK-19 at the ARMY-2022 exhibition

Revealed during the International Military-Technical Forum ARMY-2020 exhibition, the AK-19 is a variant of the AK-12 chambered in 5.56×45mm NATO upon the request of potential international clients.[citation needed] It was later unveiled to the public during the IDEX 2021.[48] Like the updated AK-12, that was also revealed during the ARMY-2020 exhibition, the AK-19 features a redesigned polymer L-shaped stock, a redesigned pistol grip and trigger guard, and a new rotary dioptre rear sight. The AK-19 also features a birdcage-type flash suppressor that features slots for a quick detachable sound suppressor. The rifle weighs 3.5 kg (7.72 lb) when empty, has a barrel length of 415 mm (16.3 in), a full length of 935 mm (36.8 in), and uses a proprietary 30-round magazine.[5]

Derivatives

AK-200 rifle family

Main article: AK-100 (rifle family) § AK-100M/200 Series

AK-200 partly based on the AK-12 at the ARMY-2022 exhibition

The development of the AK-200 rifle family was stopped around 2011 but resumed around 2016. The AK-200 series are somewhat heavier and less advanced compared to the AK-12 series, but also cheaper. As of 2018, 200-series Kalashnikov assault rifles, which include a complete family, are offered for export sales and for domestic law enforcement users. The AK-200 series of rifles are based on the AK-100 rifle series and the AK-12. They can be chambered in 5.45×39mm, 5.56×45mm NATO and 7.62×39mm, and use a barrel and gas system assembly and iron sights line similar to that of the AK-74M/AK-100 rifle family. AK-12 alike improvements added include Picatinny rails, a new pistol grip, a new adjustable buttstock and a new flash hider.[49] They feed from 30-round magazines, and can be compatible with drum magazines from the RPK and RPK-74.[50]

The models are designated, as follows:

Chambering Assault rifle Carbine
5.45×39mm AK-200 AK-205
5.56×45mm NATO AK-201 AK-202
7.62×39mm AK-203 AK-204

AK-200 series assault rifles are supplied to government customers in Russia and are also ready to be exported. Russia and India on March 3, 2019, inaugurated a plant that will produce AK-203 assault rifles.[51]

AK-308

AK-308 equipped with a suppressor at the ARMY-2022 exhibition

The AK-308 is a battle rifle that was first introduced in 2018 upon request of potential international clients outside Russia. It is based on the AK-15's design and is chambered in 7.62×51mm NATO (.308 Winchester). The basic Kalashnikov assault rifle design which is intended for intermediate calibres has been stretched and strengthened to handle the extra bolt thrust produced by a full-power ammunition. The rifle has a cyclic rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute, features a 415 mm (16.3 in) long barrel, weighs 4.3 kg (9.48 lb) when empty, and uses a proprietary 20-round magazine. The full length of the rifle is 945 mm (37.2 in) and has an accuracy range of 800 m (875 yd). In addition, the AK-308 features a dioptre sight line and has the ability to attach accessories used by the AK-12.[6][52]

RPK-16

The RPK-16 is based on the RPK-400 prototype
RPK-16 equipped with a 95-round drum magazine and a sound suppressor

The RPK-16 light machine gun (the number 16 indicates the year 2016, when the development first started) is Kalashnikov's response to the "Tokar-2" program, where it competed against Degtyaryov's submission. In 2018, the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation have signed a contract concerning the procurement of the RPK-16, and is expected to take over the role of the RPK-74 in the Russian Armed Forces.[53]

Similar to the AK-12 production model, which was based on the AK-400 prototype, the RPK-16 is based on the RPK-400 prototype. The RPK-16 is chambered in 5.45×39mm, which features the traditional Kalashnikov gas-operated long-stroke piston system, and shares several novel technical and ergonomic features derived from the AK-12 program. Picatinny rails on the top of the receiver and bottom of the handguard are used for mounting various optical sights and detachable bipods. Because of this, the fixed bipod of the RPK-74 is not needed. Other features of the RPK-16 include an ergonomic pistol grip, a folding buttstock, and two main barrel lengths: a 550 mm (21.7 in) long barrel (when it is applied or configured for the light machine gun role) and a 370 mm (14.6 in) short barrel (when it is applied or configured for the assault rifle role).[54] Its design enables it to have interchangeable barrels that can easily be removed, and the ability to quickly attach a detachable suppressor. It has a combat weight of 6 kg (13.23 lb), a full-length of 1,076 mm (42.4 in), a cyclic rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute, and an accuracy range of 800 m (870 yd). It primarily uses a newly developed 95-round drum magazine and is backward compatible with box magazines from the AK-74 and RPK-74.[55][56]

After receiving feedback on the performance of the weapon, the Kalashnikov Concern began development on the RPL-20 (20 indicating 2020) belt-fed light machine gun. It is also chambered in 5.45×39mm and has a very similar rate of fire and weight, but provides open-bolt operation and quick-change barrels to enhance sustained fire. Kalashnikov Concern has so far created at least one functional prototype.[57][58] If adopted, the gun will become the first light machine gun to be used by Russian forces since the RPD that isn't magazine-fed or of the standard Kalashnikov pattern.

Gallery

Users

Russian Airborne Troops with AK-12s with 1P87 holographic sights at the 2019 Moscow Victory Day Parade

Future users

See also

References

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