Kalashnikov simplifies AK-12 assault rifle
September 22, 2022 - Russia has modified the Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle to make it easier for infantry to use and give more control over firing modes. The AK-12 will now have a simple two-way selector.
Russia decided to replace its old AK-74 after criticism that it was less accurate, and difficult to mount multiple optics on, when compared to its U.S. counterpart, the M4 carbine.
Vladimir Zlobin’s appointment in 2010 as chief weapons designer at Izhmash, the Russian weapons manufacturer, led to an innovative AK prototype. It could switch from a 5.45mm to a 7.62mm calibre round with a simple barrel swap. Zlobin replaced the AK fire selector with a western-style ambidextrous selector, which offered a safe, semi-automatic with an unusual three-round burst mode, full automatic at 700 rounds per minute, and a hyper-burst mode at 900 rounds per minute.
It was also the first AK to feature an American Picatinny accessory rail to mount optics and other widgets. However, in military trials, reliability flaws appeared, and production costs soared to several times more than the AK-74. The situation at Izhmash was dire.
In 2013-14, Izhmash merged with Izhmekh, its sister company, creating Kalashnikov Concern, owned by state-controlled Rostec.
In 2016, Russia decided to redesign the AK-12, and Sergey Urzhumcev replaced Zlobin. However, the new version was a modest improvement on the AK-74: increased range to 440 metres, reduced recoil, two-round burst mode, and Urzhumcev removed the ambidextrous selector.
It also had red-dot holographic and thermal night vision sights mounted on the Picatinny rail.
By mid-2017, the AK-12 passed its field trials, and by the following January, the military adopted the AK-12 and 7.62mm version -- the AK-15.
Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine has identified more problems.
“In the shortest possible time, we selected technical solutions, made a prototype and demonstrated it to representatives of the Russian Ministry of Defence,” Kalashnikov Concern’s President Alan Lushnikov told RIA state news agency.
Meanwhile, Kalashnikov AK-12s have become highly sought-after battlefield prizes among Ukrainian fighters, not just for their capabilities but also for what possessing one symbolises.