The highly-anticipated AK-12, manufactured by Izhmash — and one of the first guns to be made under the new Kalashnikov brand — is going through the final series of trials before it can be adopted for service by the Russian military.
“In the interests of the Defense Ministry, Izhmash is working on the modernization of the AK-74 and AK-100 assault rifles in service with the Russian army, as well as developing a [new] standard assault rifle on the AK-12 platform which will undergo state acceptance trials in June 2013,”said Vladimir Zlobin, Izhmash’s chief designer to RIA Novosti.
Assuming that the rifle passes these final military tests, it is expected that the AK-12 enter service immediately.
The rifle has been in development for about two years now, and while it still resembles the iconic AK-47 and more modern AK-100 series of firearms, it is functionally quite different.
It’s still based on a stamped steel receiver and uses the long-stroke gas piston that’s been proven reliable in just about every combat zone for half a century, but has many small updates that are not at all cosmetic.
The AK-12 has a traditional safety selector that is separate from the ejection port cover and the fire control selector. The AK-12 can be fired in semi- and fully-automatic modes in addition to three-round burst. It has a new, extended compensating flash hider, too.
The new rifle gets a new magazine standard, a quad-stack 60-round magazine although it accepts all AK magazines of the correct caliber. Russia is sticking with 5.45x39mm for the most part although the AK-12 will be made in other calibers as well, including battle rifle calibers up to 7.62 NATO.
The AK-12 also has a new locking dust cover that sports a flattop rail. Combined with a rear-mounted sight, the rifle has an extremely long sight radius.
It gets a few ergonomic changes including a railed handguard, a Western-style pistol grip and fully-adjustable folding stock as well.
But all said and done, it follows the original AK series at heart. The design is simple to mass-produce and extremely cost-effective.
No word as yet for when the Kalashnikov AK-12 will be made into an export version, but one thing’s for sure, it’s going to be very popular with shooters of all stripes.