The OTs-12 "Tiss" (also known as the "OC-12") was an experimental Soviet/Russian assault carbine born from the classic profile of the Kalashnikov assault weapons family - mainly the AKS-74U series. The system began its design phase in the early 1990s under the direction of V.N. Telesh and U.V. Lebedev and made use of the unique 9x39mm cartridge, a subsonic cartridge born in Soviet Russia during the 1980s under the direction of Nikolai Zabelin. The cartridge was based on the famous 7.62x39mm rifle-type featuring its rimless, bottleneck design though capped by a 9mm bullet - therefore providing the increased penetration, range and firepower of the 7.62mm cartridge with the low power qualities of the 9mm pistol cartridge. It was primarily intended for use by special Soviet elements and focused on suppressed firearms for a truly silent weapon. Range of the cartridge was, however, limited to less than 400 meters.
Production of the OTs-12 was handled by TsKIB SOO ("Central Design Bureau of Sporting and Hunting Weapons") beginning in 1993 though it is said that only several hundred examples were produced for operational trials and ultimately dropped from contention in relatively short order. Primary users were Soviet paramilitary "Internal Troops" who found favor with the new weapon but there proved little government need at the time. Additionally, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 led to many Russian military programs being underfunded or dropped entirely.
At its core, the OTs-12 was essentially a conventional assault system aside from its specialized cartridge. It utilized a gas system of operation with the cylinder set above the barrel in the usual Kalashnikov fashion. The barrel itself was short for a more compact footprint and the body of the rifle was truly Kalashnikov in its design styling featuring the requisite large fire selector switch, charging handle and ejection port all seated along the right side of the frame. The weapon was given a conventional pistol grip with integrated trigger unit, a forward-set magazine feed (using curved magazine boxes) and the usual magazine release/catch situated between the grip and magazine feed areas. The shoulder stock was skeletal using a conjoined, two-strut shape and hinged to fold over the side of the receiver for a more compact product during transport or use in confined spaces. The folded stock in no way limited the action of the weapon. Wood furniture was only present at the forend as a two-piece section and serves as a heat shield/forward hand grip against the hot barrel. Iron sights provided basic sighting for ranged work while optics were optional. Overall weight was listed at 2.5 kilograms with a complete running length of 730mm, the barrel measuring 207mm long.
Performance of the OTs-12 proved comparable to other modern assault systems of the period including an 800 round-per-minute rate-of-fire. The weapon was fed through a 20-round curved detachable box magazine in the usual way and a 25-round count may have been developed. Effective range was listed at approximately 200 meters while maximum range, limited largely by the cartridge in use, was under 400 meters.
The "Tiss" name is derived from "Yew Tree" common to parts of Europe, Africa and Asia.