The AK-47 altered the world military stage by becoming a ubiquitous combat system available to the general masses. The weapon proved relatively inexpensive to produce and, perhaps more importantly, it was a robust field performer with a reliable action and easy-to-operate in the "greenest" of hands. As such, the AK-47 - Kalashnikov's best known and easily recognizable assault rifle - went on to be found in all parts of the world. Within time, the series was modernized with the changing era including a major facelift in the 1970s (the AK-74) and, again, in the 1990s (the composite-minded AK-100 series). The newest incarnation is the "AK-12" manufactured by the storied concern of Izhmash and currently (2012) undergoing evaluation by the Russian military to become the next standard-issue automatic weapon of its army. It is expected that the AK-12 will be produced through a "family" of automatic weapons to include the base assault rifle, a shortened carbine form, a compact submachine gun, a dedicated sniper/sharpshooter's rifle and a light machine gun consistent with prior Russian Army infantry doctrine (the AK-47/AK-74 itself was developed into varied forms to suit battlefield needs within time). The AK-12 designation marks the finalized production-ready form of the prototype AK-200 detailed elsewhere on this site.
With the export market in mind and proliferation of different cartridge types around the world, the AK-12 will be an inherently modular product that, with some modification to the base internal arrangement and barrel, the weapon will be available in a variety of calibers to further suit customer requirements. Additionally, adoption of a Picatinny rail system now allows use of various non-Russian accessories including laser aimers, tactical flashlights, grips, night vision scopes, reflex sights and the like. In this way, the AK-12 system will be highly adaptable and just as highly marketable on the world stage.
The basic assault rifle form of the Russian Army will be chambered for the 5.45x39mm Soviet cartridge. There are two proposed NATO-standard forms in play - the 5.56x45mm NATO and 7.62x51mm NATO cartridge types. Additionally, support is expected for the 6.5mm Grendel and 7.62x39mm Soviet rounds as well. The firing action will remain consistent across all forms, however, and revolve around a proven gas-operated, long stroke piston utilizing a rotating bolt function. The AK-12 receiver will support the standard curved 30-round magazine, a 60-round AK-74-style casket or a 100-round drum (in the light machine gun role). Rate-of-fire is estimated between 600 and 1,000 rounds per minute based on configuration and cartridge size. Muzzle velocity is approximately 2,950 feet per second with an effective range out to 2,000 feet (again, depending on field conditions, selected cartridge and general weapon configuration). The AK-12 receiver will sport a more reserved ambidextrous thumb-actuated firing selector found near the pistol grip (as opposed to the traditionally large firing selector featured in AK rifles prior). The magazine release/catch will be located in its usual place behind the magazine well within easy reach. The gas cylinder will be set in its usual Kalashnikov arrangement just above the barrel assembly while the barrel will be capped by a new slotted muzzle brake. Another notable change is the relocation of the rear iron sight from the middle of the receiver top to the rear of the receiver (this will be complemented by a conventional forward iron sight just aft of the muzzle brake). The AK-12 will be capable of semi-automatic fire, a three-round burst mode and full-automatic fire as well as the requisite safety. The charging handle will be set along the right side of the receiver as will the ejection port. Picatinny rails are noted over the top of the receiver and the sides and underside of the handguard which will allow for multiple accessories to be fitted. Overall construction of the weapon appears to be a mix of steel and plastics (steel for the major receiver portions, gas cylinder and barrel while plastics being used elsewhere to save on cost and weight).
The carbine version will carry the designation of AK-12U while the submachine gun will be known as the PPK-12. The sniper rifle variant will be known as the SVD-12 while the light machine gun will be assigned the designation of RPK-12. All designations are traditional in the Russian Army inventory and, should the AK-12 be accepted in number, will replace their preceding forms. All forms will also incorporated a side-folding stock and interchangeable barrel assemblies for an increased modular approach. The light machine gun will make use of a heavy duty bipod, heavier, longer barrel assembly and 100-round drum (as in the RPK-74 before it) to fulfill its dedicated battlefield role.
The inherent design of this automatic rifle family will make it accessible to all manner of soldier - special forces, commando, airborne infantry, basic infantry, support and logistics as well as the guerrilla fighter.
December 2018 - Qatari forces have reportedly been shown carrying AK-12 rifles on parade. If true, this will mark Qatar as the first foreign operator of the AK-12 assault rifle family.
Manufacturing Izhmash / Kalashnikov - Russia
- Close Quarters Battle (CQB) / Personal Security
- Frontline / Assault
- Long-Range Precision
- Fire Support / Suppression / Defense
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