A right-side view of the AK-12 5.45×39mm assault rifle
|Place of origin||Russia|
|Designer||Mikhail Kalashnikov, Vladimir Zlobin|
|Manufacturer||Izhmash (now Kalashnikov Concern)|
|Weight||3.3 kg (7.28 lb)|
945 mm (37.2 in)|
(725 mm stock folded)
|Barrel length||415 mm (16.3 in)|
|Action||Gas-operated, long stroke gas piston, rotating bolt|
|Rate of fire||700 RPM|
|Effective firing range||500–600 m (547–656 yd)|
|Maximum firing range||800 meters|
|Sights||Back-up iron sights and integrated Picatinny rail for various optics|
The AK-12 is a Russian 5.45×39mm assault rifle, designed and manufactured by Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhmash). It is the newest derivative of the Russian AK-Pattern series of assault rifles. The rifle is intended to eventually replace previous generations of Kalashnikov 5.45×39mm assault rifles in service within the Russian military and other governmental forces. Kalashnikov also offers the AK-12 in 7.62×39mm cartridge, designated as the AK-15.
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. It was further developed by Kalashnikov Concern, and 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 several revisions in order to improve upon the "range of defects" that were discovered on the earlier prototype models, which are derived from the AK-200 (Base Prototype). Though the prototype models that were based on the AK-200 were later abandoned in favor for the well proven and improved AK-400 (Base Prototype), which are now what the final production models of the AK-12 and AK-15 are based on.
On 25 May 2010, the Russian media published a Russian Ministry of Defence statement that the AK-12 rifle was to be tested in 2011. The early prototype model (AK-200), 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, it was apparently a basic AK-74 (thus chambered in 5.45×39mm cartridge). The Izhmash's 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.
In January 2012, the Russian Deputy Defense Minister announced that the Russian Army would not be buying the AK-12, as they had millions of surplus AK-74 assault rifles and over concerns of the financial state of Izhmash. Despite this, the Russian Ministry of Defence began trials of the rifle on 2 November 2012. It was tested for its effectiveness when exposed to freezing cold, desert heat, humidity, dust and impacts. By 23 November 2012, trials were about 80 percent complete. During these initial tests, the AK-12 was found to have a "range of defects". The specific problems were not revealed, as they were considered "the developer's confidential information". Izhmash reported that the faults were fixable, and that the trials precisely highlighted weaknesses in the design for changes to be incorporated. The preliminary tests of the AK-12 were completed on 30 November 2012. Izhmash then worked onto fix the problems with the rifle that occurred during the trials. Even though the Russian Army stated they will not introduce a new rifle in the near future, state acceptance trials were to begin in June 2013, and concluded on the middle of 2013. Series production was due to begin by the end of 2013. Izhmash prepared 30 prototypes for state trials. The company announced that they have the capacity to produce 1 million rifles per year for buyers.
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. 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. The AK-12 was to replace three previous of AK models and standardize 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. Though, trials will continue for law enforcement agencies.
However, on 23 December 2014, the Russian Army announced that the AK-12, as well as the A-545, had passed state trials and would be accepted into service with operational units for evaluation. It was expected that both weapons would begin being trialed operationally by Russian forces by March 2015.
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 squad automatic weapon 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. 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 A-545 and A-762 balanced action assault rifles. The AK-12 completed its operational testing and passed military field tests in June 2017. 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 as the main service rifle for the Army, Airborne, and Naval Infantry forces.
Prior to the United States sectoral sanctions against the Russian arms industry in July 2014, the United States civilian weapons market accounted for 90% of the Kalashnikov Concern civilian weapons sales. 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. 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.
Cancelled prototype model – (AK-200 derivative)
The cancelled prototype model of the AK-12 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 calibers 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 calibers 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/RPK 30-round and 40-round magazines and 75-round drum magazines. The magazines specifically for the cancelled prototype model of the AK-12 includes a 30-round magazine with bolt-catch actuator, a 60-round quad-stack magazine and a 95-round drum.
The cancelled 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 for 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.
The fully automatic rate of fire of the cancelled prototype model of the AK-12 is around 600–650 rounds per minute (RPM) but on the three-round burst feature, it fires at 1,000 rounds per minute (RPM).
Final production model – (AK-400 derivative)
The final production model of the AK-12 is based on the well proven AK-400 prototype. The AK-12 is primarily chambered in 5.45×39mm cartridge, Kalashnikov Concern also offers the rifle in 7.62×39mm cartridge, designated as the AK-15 and evidently of similar design. A short-barreled versions of the AK-12 and AK-15 are also being worked on, designated as the AK-12K and AK-15K.
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.
The final production model of the AK-12 has retained the traditional Kalashnikov gas-operated long-stroke piston system with a rotating bolt.The rifle features an integrated Picatinny rail on the top of the redesigned, detachable top cover for mounting various optics/scopes, the lower part of the handguard is also equipped with a Picatinny rail for various tactical accessories such as vertical grips, flashlights and lasers sights. The rifle has a backup iron sights, consisting of a shrouded front post that is mounted on the gas block and an adjustable rear aperture sight that is installed on the removable base using the upper Picatinny rail. The rifle features an ergonomic pistol grip, a retractable side-folding shoulder stock which is adjustable for length of pull, a handguard with ventilation holes and an advanced muzzle brake. 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.
The design of the final production model of the AK-12 shares more in common with the existing AK-74 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. The final production model of the AK-12 reportedly outperforms the existing AK-74 by at least the margin requested by the Russian government.
The final production model of the AK-12 has a cyclic rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute (RPM), which is 50–100 rounds per minute faster than the older Kalashnikov assault rifles and the cancelled prototypes of the AK-12. The three-round hyper burst feature from the earlier prototype models was replaced by a two-round burst feature in the final production model as well.
The final production model of the AK-12 5.45×39mm assault rifle is said to be more reliable, more accurate and better suited to the latest Russian military requirements. It is based on the well proven AK-400 (Base Prototype) and it is still chambered in the AK-74 5.45×39mm cartridge. It has a cyclic rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute (RPM), 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 is also compatible using magazines from the AK-74, RPK-74, and the 96-round drum magazine from the RPK-16.
The final production model of the AK-15 7.62×39mm assault rifle has been developed by the Kalashnikov Group under the "Ratnik" program and it is planned to replace the AK-103 assault rifle. It is based on the well proven AK-400 (Base Prototype) and it is chambered in 7.62×39mm cartridge. It has a combat weight of 4.16 kg (9.17 lb), a full length of 1,066 mm (42.0 in), a barrel length of 415 mm (16.3 in), a cyclic rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute (RPM), a muzzle velocity of 715 m/s, a maximum firing range of 800 m (870 yd) meters and a standard magazine capacity of 30 rounds. It is also compatible using magazines from the AKM, AK-103, and RPK. The only difference between the AK-12 and the AK-15 is their caliber.
The RPK-16 5.45×39mm squad automatic weapon is a further modernization of the RPK-74. It is expected to take over the role of the RPK-74 in the Russian Armed Forces. It is based on the traditional Kalashnikov layout and design, and also has several novel technical and ergonomic features derived from the AK-12 program.
The RPK-16 is chambered in 5.45×39mm cartridge and uses a Picatinny rail mounted detachable bipod instead of the fixed bipod of the RPK-74. It features the traditional Kalashnikov gas-operated long-stroke piston system, a detachable suppressor, a Picatinny rail on the top of its receiver for mounting various optics/scopes and on the bottom of the handguard for bipod mounting, an ergonomic pistol grip and 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). Its design enables it to have an interchangeable barrels, that can easily be removed. 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 (RPM), an accuracy range of 800 m (870 yd) and uses a standard 96-round drum magazine. It is also compatible using magazines from the AK-74 and RPK-74.
- Russia: The AK-12 (official GRAU designation 6P70), based on the AK-400 prototype, alongside AK-15 (6P71), were accepted into service in January of 2018. The first delivery to the Russian Armed Forces is set to occur before the end of 2018. The Kalashnikov Concern and Russia’s Defense Ministry have signed a contract on the delivery of the newest RPK-16 machine guns.
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- Kalashnikov Concern discontinues the old AK-12 (Prototype Variants) and replaced them with new a AK-12 (Final Production Variants)