In the early-to-mid 1960s, Soviet engineer Sergei Simonov undertook several designs based on the world famous Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle. Between the span of 1962 and 1965, work was done on the AO-31 assault rifle which produced several major developmental forms - the base AO-31 chambered for the Soviet 7.62x39mm cartridge, the AO-31-5 chambered for the 5.45x39mm cartridge, the AO-31-6 also chambered fro the 7.62x39mm cartridge and the AO-31-7 trialing a caseless cartridge design. The weapon was gas-operated as in the AK-47 and fed from a 30-round detachable box magazine. This work then led to a slight evolution in the design, which became the compact AG-043 assault rifle. Design work on the type began in 1975.
The AG-043 looked as though a heavily compacted form of the AK-47 - its design perhaps more akin to a submachine gun with assault rifle qualities. It featured a rectangular receiver to house the internal working components, wooden furniture at the pistol grip, magazine and hand guard and a very short barrel with overhead gas cylinder. Overall length was 680mm with a barrel length of 215mm. A full length folding wire stock was added for support. The weapon was chambered for the 5.45x39mm cartridge fed from a curved 30-round detachable box magazine fitted ahead of the trigger group as normal. Muzzle velocity was 700 meters per second with iron sights above the muzzle and over the receiver. Overall weight was 2.1 kilograms unloaded.
The AG-043 was never formally accepted into frontline service. Had it been, it could have stocked the inventories of the Soviet Army, police force and special forces due to its nice compact form. The 5.45mm cartridge was a proven round and the 30-round ammunition count was excellent for in-the-field operations. Additionally, being based on the dependable AK-47 action, the AG-043 stemmed from a solid pedigree. However, none of these factors proved enough for the AG-043 to find commercial success for Simonov and his new assault rifle.
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