The Izhmash AN-94 is the latest in the long line of Russian assault rifles and is intended to replace the long-lasting Kalashnikov series of rifle (including the fabled AK-47). Outwardly, the system maintains some similarities to the Kalashnikov designs (including the curved magazine) but is billed as a more accurate version of the Kalashnikov AK-74M assault rifle thanks to its "delayed" recoil 2-shot burst operation that fires a second round before the first round's action is fully completed. The AK-74M is itself an improved AK-74 with a synthetic folding stock, reinforced muzzle device and dust cover and side rail optics mounting. While both the AK-74M and the AN-94 utilize the 5.45x39mm M74 cartridge, the latter can also fit a bayonet and GP-30 grenade launcher at the same time and be fitted with a 60-round detachable box magazine - things the Kalashnikov design cannot do. The AN-94 gained acceptance after weapons trials held in the 1980's, to which the design performed very well.
The gas-operated AN-94 features a folding stock which brings the length of the weapon down by some 8 full inches. The feed system can accommodate 5.45x39mm cartridges in 30-, 45- or 60-round detachable box magazines. An effective range of 400 meters is reported with a maximum range of 700 meters. The rate of fire - depending on the selected mode - is between 600 and 1,800 rounds per minute. Sights are fixed iron sights (the rear maintains a "peep" aperture-type sight) though it is only logical that the weapon will eventually accept various scopes as needed.
Despite its upside, the AN-94 is a complicated and expensive weapon to produce - the complexity also requiring a great deal more in terms of in-the-field maintenance as well. The AN-94 entered service in limited numbers in 1997, though the Kalashnikov AK-47 series - to which the AN-94 was suppose to succeed - is still fielded in great numbers leaving some to wonder of the future of the AN-94 as the standard Russian assault rifle.
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