Through an internal initiative, the South Caucasus nation of Armenia has developed its own bullpup-configured assault rifle in the "K-3". The weapon debuted in 1996 and is largely influenced by the proven Kalashnikov action of Soviet origin. As such, the K-3 is internally arranged to fire the Soviet 5.45x39mm rifle cartridge, the same as featured in the Kalashnikov AK-74 assault rifle family. The new rifle is issued to elements of the Armenian special forces and some Army units while its development was headed by the "Military Industrial Department" of the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Manufacture of the K-3 is handled in Armenia allowing the nation's military industrial complex to grow in its independence - once heavily reliant on imported Soviet small arms.
As a bullpup-configured rifle system, the K-3 features its internal action and magazine feed concentrated within an oversized stock which alters the weapon's center of gravity, presenting much of the bulk of the weapon to be tucked into the operator's shoulder. This forces the trigger group and pistol grip forwards to the middle of the design and allows for a shorter forend/forward grip area and a limited section of exposed barrel to be shown. Benefits to such a configuration include a more compact overall design (ease of transportability) and use of a full-length barrel.
The K-3 exhibits a weight of 3.4 kilograms, an overall length of 700mm and a barrel measuring 415mm long. As with the Cold War-era AK-74, the K-3 operates from a gas action utilizing a rotating bolt function. It is a selective fire weapon that allows for single-shot (semi-automatic), burst and full-automatic fire modes by way of a selection switch. A 4x PSO-1 series telescopic sight is typically used though iron sights are retained as backup - the sighting device is fitted over the receiver in the usual way. Effective range is out to 400 meters with a maximum engagement range of 1,000 meters. A slotted flash suppressor is affixed to the barrel muzzle. Construction of the weapon involves both steel and plastic to promote both robustness in-the-field and also minimize overall weight.
The weapon feeds from a 30- or 45-round AK-74-style curved detachable box magazine with a listed rate of fire nearing 600 rounds per minute in full-automatic mode. In comparison, single-shot offers a semi-automatic fire rate of approximately 40 rounds per minute. The ejection port is only found along the right side of the receiver, restricting operation to right-handed shooters (some automatic weapons allow for an ambidextrous function). The barrel of the K-3 is also designed to fire the standard Armenia military rifle grenade, broadening the tactical value of the K-3 weapon system.
In comparison, the original AK-74 of 1974 features a weight of 3.3 kilograms, an overall length of 943mm and a barrel length of 414mm. Rate-of-fire is listed at 650 rounds per minute. Effective range is 625 meters.