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An AEK-971, shown with an unfolded buttstock.
Type Assault rifle
Place of origin Soviet Union
Service history
Used by See Users
Wars Second Chechen war
Production history
Designer S.I. Koksharov
Designed 1980s
Manufacturer Kovrovskiy Mekhanicheskiy Zavod (original)
Degtyarev plant (current)
Variants AEK-971
Weight 3.3 kg (7.3 lb) unloaded (AEK-971)
3.3 kg (7.3 lb) unloaded (AEK-972)
3.25 kg (7.2 lb) unloaded (AEK-973)
Length 960 mm (38 in) with stock unfolded
720 mm (28 in) with stock folded
Barrel length 420 mm (17 in)

Cartridge 5.45×39mm (AEK-971, AEK-971S)
5.56×45mm NATO (AEK-972)
7.62×39mm (AEK-973, AEK-973S)
Action Gas-operated, rotating bolt, balanced recoil system (BARS)
Rate of fire 900 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 880 m/s (2,887 ft/s) (AEK-971, AEK-971S)
850 m/s (2,789 ft/s) (AEK-972)
700 m/s (2,297 ft/s) (AEK-973, AEK-973S)
Effective firing range 500 m (550 yd)
Maximum firing range 100–1,000 m (109–1,094 yd) sight adjustments
Feed system 30-round detachable box magazine
Sights Iron sights
(hooded front post and the V-notch open rear)

The AEK-971 is a Soviet / Russian selective fire assault rifle that was developed at the Kovrov Mechanical Plant (KMZ) by chief designer S.I. Koksharov in the 1980s. The primary model, the AEK-971, uses the 5.45×39mm round fed from standard 30-round or larger box magazines used by the AK-74, AK-74M, and similar weapons.

The AEK-971 assault rifle has been combat proven in Chechnya tested by marines and interior forces, and prepared for mass production. Only a small batch of this assault rifle has been produced so far and adopted for service with units of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.[1]

In late 2014, a version of the rifle passed state trials and will be tested operationally with Russian forces in early 2015.[2]

Design details[edit]

An early model of the AEK-971.

The AEK-971 is based on previous AK rifles in internal design and layout, but features a Balanced Automatics Recoil System (BARS) that enhances the traditional Kalashnikov long stroke gas piston operating system by reducing the negative effects of recoil. Balanced recoil systems were previously applied in the AO-38 and AL-7 experimental assault rifles. BARS works by shifting mass toward the muzzle of the rifle as the bolt and bolt carrier recoil rearward by way of a counter-weight that negates the impulse of the gas piston and bolt carrier, resulting in more controllable automatic fire. For the AEK-971 automatic firing accuracy is improved by 15-20% in comparison with the AK-74.[3][4]

The original automatic fire rate of the early model was 1,500 rounds/min. It was decreased to 900 rounds/min as today's version.

The AEK-971 uses an adjustable notched rear tangent iron sight calibrated in 100 m (109 yd) increments from 100 to 1,000 m (109 to 1,094 yd). The front sight is a hooded front post. Each AEK rifle is fitted with a Warsaw Pact side-rail bracket for mounting optics.[5]

Though losing an initial contract for production against the AN-94, the Russian Army has begun field trials of this weapon. It is approximately 0.5 kg (1.1 lb) lighter than the AN-94, simpler in design and cheaper to manufacture.

Models and Variants[edit]

A-545 or 6P67 assault rifle being trailed by Russian forces in 2014/2015.

There are three different models: the AEK-971, AEK-972 and AEK-973. The different variants are most easily recognized by their respective magazine curvatures. The AEK-972 is chambered in 5.56×45mm NATO and the AEK-973 in 7.62×39mm. The AEK-972 uses the magazines of the 5.56mm "100" series AK assault rifles and the AEK-973 all of the standard 7.62mm AK magazines.

The AEK-971 and the AEK-973 have one variant each: AEK-971S and AEK-973S. These are improved variants with a new trigger mechanism with the location of the thumb safety-selector lever on the right side, receiving additionally a three-shot burst fire mode, and an extended padded retractable lightweight stock. When the stock is retracted, the shoulder rest connects with the pistol grip forming a streamlined structure which allows the weapon to be used without hampering fire capabilities. Burst fire accuracy of the 5.45×39mm AEK-971S and 7.62×39mm AEK-973S is two times higher than that of the 5.45×39mm AK-74 and 7.62×39mm AKM assault rifles.[6]

On 23 December 2014, the Russian Army announced that an improved version of the AEK-971 designated the A-545 or 6P67, as well as the AK-12, had passed state trials and would be accepted into service with operational units for evaluation. It is expected that both weapons will begin being trialed operationally with the Russian Armed Forces by March 2015.[2] The A-545 features iron sights that consist of a rotary rear drum aperture and a hooded front post creating a significantly longer sight line and ambidextrous fire mode selection controls. On the A-545 the Warsaw Pact side-rail bracket is omitted and replaced by a Rail Integration System for mounting auxiliary equipment like aiming optics.


  •  Russia: AEK-971 rifles were produced in small batches and delivered to units of the MVD Internal Troops and other law enforcement agencies of Russia until 2006.[7]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]