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AK-12 and AK-15
Type Assault rifle
Place of origin Russia
Service history
Used by Russia
Production history
Designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, Vladimir Zlobin
Designed 2010
Manufacturer Izhmash (now Kalashnikov Concern)
Produced 2012–present
Variants See Variants
Specifications
Weight 3.3 kg (7.28 lb)[1]
Length 945 mm (37.2 in) (725 mm stock folded)[2]
Barrel length 415 mm (16.3 in)

Cartridge * 5.45×39mm: AK-12
Action Gas-operated, long stroke gas piston, rotating bolt
Rate of fire 700 RPM [3]
Muzzle velocity * 880–900 m/s (2,887–2,953 ft/s): AK-12
  • 715 m/s: AK-15
Effective range 500-600 m
Maximum range 800 m
Feed system AK-12:
  • 30-Round Detachable Box Magazine
  • 60-Round Detachable Casket Magazine
  • 96-Round Detachable Drum Magazine
    (RPK-16's New Drum Magazine)
  • AK-74/AK-74M Family, AK-105, AK-107, RPK-74 Magazines

AK-15:

  • 30-Round Detachable Box Magazine
  • 40-Round Detachable Box Magazines
  • AK-47/AKM Family, AK103/AK-104, RPK Magazines
Sights Integrated Picatinny Rail Provided For Optics and Backup Iron Sights

The Kalashnikov AK-12 and AK-15 are derived from the AK-400 (Base Prototype).[4] They are the newest derivative of the Russian AK-Pattern series of assault rifles and was proposed for possible general issue to the Russian Army. The rifles are intended to eventually replace previous generations of Kalashnikov assault rifles in service with Russian Military and Governmental forces.[5]

The AK-12 project commenced in 2011 by IZHMASH factory (now part of the “Kalashnikov” concern) as a private venture, in an attempt to participate in the “Ratnik” trials which were held by the Russian army.[5] Throughout its development and evaluation stage it has received multiple modifications to meet the Russian Military's standard, as well as to improve upon the "range of defects" that was discovered on the earlier prototype models and to addresses the Russian Army’s concerns regarding the former AK-12’s cost.

History[edit | edit source]

On May 25, 2010, Russia’s media published a Russian Defence Ministry statement that the AK-12 rifle was to be tested in 2011. The demonstration model (AK-200), presented to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his official visit to inspect the products of the Izhmash arms manufacturing plant in Izhevsk, was apparently a basic AK-74 in standard 5.45×39mm caliber. On the demonstrator, the traditional locations of cocking handle, safety lever and fire selector remained unchanged, but the AK-12 production model featured revisions to all of these features. The Izhmash demonstrator was fitted with the large-capacity 60-round casket magazine. In January 2012, the Russian Deputy Defense Minister announced that the Russian Army would not be buying the AK-12, as they had millions of surplus AK-74 rifles, and over concerns of the financial state of Izhmash. Despite this, Russia began trials of the rifle on November 2, 2012. It was tested for its effectiveness when exposed to freezing cold, desert heat, humidity, dust, and impacts.[6] By November 23, trials were about 80 percent complete. During these initial tests, the AK-12 was found to have a "range of defects." The specific problems were not revealed, as they were considered "the developer's confidential information". Izhmash reported that the faults were fixable, and that the trials precisely highlighted weaknesses in the design for changes to be incorporated.[7] Preliminary tests of the AK-12 were completed on November 30, 2012. Izhmash worked to fix problems with the rifle that occurred during the trials. Even though the Russian Army stated they will not introduce a new rifle in the near future, state acceptance trials were to begin in June 2013,[8] and conclude by mid-2013. Series production was due to begin by the end of 2013.[9] Izhmash prepared 30 prototypes for state trials. The company has the capacity to produce 1 million rifles per year for buyers.[10]

On 16 September 2013, the Deputy Chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission of Russia said the Russian Army would start receiving AK-12 assault rifles chambered in 5.45 mm and 7.62 mm in 2014. The new rifle would be put into service along with new handguns, machine guns, and sniper rifles. The AK-12 basic platform allows for nearly 20 different modifications to change into other configurations. State trials were to begin in fall 2013.[11] However, on 23 September 2013, the "Izvestiya" tabloid wrote that, according to an anonymous source, the AK-12 will not be adopted or even undergo state tests due to shortcomings in preliminary tests.[12][13] The AK-12 was to replace three previous AK models and standardize assault rifles in the Russian military. The government rejection of the AK-12 was because senior commanders said they had millions of stockpiled AK-74 models and didn't need a new rifle. Trials will continue for law enforcement agencies.[14]

In response to the government's passing of the AK-12, Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhmash) is planning to develop an AK-74 modernized main battle rifle for the Defense Ministry and Russian Army, although there have been no official announcements concerning AK-74 modernization. A modernized AK-74 model would also be available for export, especially to the United States, where the company has its largest civilian firearms market.[14] However, on 16 July 2014 U.S. President Barack Obama signed an Executive Order banning the importation of Russian-made firearms into the United States in response to Russian military intervention in Ukraine.[15][16]

On 23 December 2014, the Russian Army announced that the AK-12, as well as the A-545, had passed state trials and would be accepted into service with operational units for evaluation. It is expected that both weapons will begin being trialed operationally by Russian forces by March 2015.[17]

On September 6, 2016, it was reported that Kalashnikov replaces the old prototype AK-12 with a new AK-12 base from the well proven AK-400 (Base Prototype). A final production model was introduced, chambered in 5.45x39mm (AK-12) and 7.62x39mm (AK-15), as well as a new squad automatic weapon, based on the traditional Kalashnikov layout and design, it has several novel technical and ergonomic features derived from the AK-12 program,[18] the RPK-16. It was also reported that the new AK-12 is already undergoing troop trials with the Russian Army, where it competes against the Degtyarov A-545 balanced action rifle.[19] There is still no final word given by Russian MoD about the final fate of the AK-12 and AK-15 rifles regarding their results in the “Ratnik” trials, but their chances are considered to be rather good.[5]

Design[edit | edit source]

CANCELLED Prototype – (AK-200 Derivative)[edit | edit source]

The cancelled early proposed prototype of the AK-12.

The AK-12 uses the same gas-operated long-stroke piston system of previous Kalashnikov rifles, but many features are radically different from other guns in its family. The light version has the ability to change calibers by swapping barrels. The standard caliber is 5.45×39mm and can be changed to 7.62×39mm and 5.56×45mm. Other intermediate calibers are expected. The heavy version will fire the larger 7.62×51mm NATO cartridge. It is fed through standard AK-74M 30-round magazines and can accept RPK-74 45-round magazines. The 7.62 Soviet-chambered version is compatible with AKM/RPK 30-round and 40-round magazines and 75-round drums. Magazines specifically for the AK-12 under development include a 30-round magazine with bolt-catch actuator, a 60-round quad-stack magazine, and a 95-round drum.[20]

The AK-12 is very different from its predecessors ergonomically. The stock is telescoping and in-line with the barrel for better recoil control. It also features a stock latch on the stock itself, allowing for it to be folded to either side of the rifle. It has a rubber height-adjustable cheek piece and butt plate. The cocking handle is moved forward and can be attached to both sides for ambidextrous use. The receiver is hinged and more rigid with a Picatinny rail for mounting optics. There are several other accessory rails on the weapon, including on both sides and the bottom of the handguard, on top of the handguard (in-line with the receiver for a longer monolithic rail), and on top of the gas block. A lug under the gas chamber can mount a GP-34 grenade launcher, and one under the front sight holder mounts a bayonet. The rear iron sight is further back on the receiver and can be set for aiming when the stock is extended or folded. The magazine release is in the same position but can be used by the trigger finger to detach magazines. In a departure from previous AK-type rifles, the dust cover safety selector has been replaced with an ambidextrous fire selector; it has four positions for safe, semi-automatic, three-round burst fire, and fully automatic fire.Other improvements include a smaller ejection port, more ergonomic pistol grip, improved rifling, and a muzzle brake with a 22 mm threading that can fire NATO standard rifle grenades.[20][21]

The fully automatic rate of fire of this prototype is around 600-650 rounds per minute (RPM), but on a three-round burst it fires at 1,000 rounds per minute (RPM).

Final Production Model – (AK-400 Derivative)[edit | edit source]

File:AK-12 - Final Production Model (Right Side View).jpg

The final production model of the AK-12.

The new AK-12 and AK-15 has retained the long-stroke piston balanced gas-operating scheme with rotating bolt of the basic model. The AK-12 and AK-15 features a Picatinny rail for optical/red dot scopes on the upper receiver, a handguard with ventilation holes, an advanced muzzle brake, an ergonomic pistol grip, and a retractable folding stock. The rifle can be fitted with a suppressor or 40mm GP-25/GP-34 single-shot underbarrel grenade launcher.

The new rifle addresses the Russian Army’s concerns regarding the AK-12’s cost and issues in fully automatic fire and is expected to be much cheaper to build than the previous model. It incorporates many of the same improvements developed for the previous AK-12 model, but improves the strength and resilience of some of the components.[19]

The new AK-12’s design shares more in common with the existing AK-74 than its predecessor, but it will not be a retrofit to existing rifles. Several improvements were made to the rifle’s receiver, such as an improved and far more rigid top cover interface and a new free-floated barrel. The new AK-12 reportedly outperforms the existing AK-74 by at least the margin requested by the Russian government. The 5.45x39mm AK-12 appears to also be accompanied by the 7.62x39mm caliber AK-15, evidently of similar design.[19]

The AK-12 and AK-15 have a cyclic rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute (RPM), which is 50 rounds faster than the older Kalashnikov Assault Rifles and the older prototypes of the AK-12. The three round burst feature from the prototype model also got reduced to a 2 round burst in the new AK-12 production model.

Variants[edit | edit source]

AK-12
AK-15

Military Variant[edit | edit source]

5.45x39mm Assault Rifle

  • AK-12: The new AK-12 assault rifle is said to be more reliable, more accurate and better suited to latest military requirements.[5] This model and alongside with the new AK-15 and RPK-16 are based from the well proven AK-400 (Base Prototype). The AK-12 is chambered for the 5.45x39mm cartridge. It has a rate of fire of 700 RPM, a barrel length of 415 mm (16.3 inch), a maximum firing range of 800 meters, and a standard magazine capacity of 30 rounds. It can also fire any rounds compatible with the AK-74/AK-74M Family of Assault Rifles and the RPK-16's new 96-round drum magazine.

7.62x39mm Assault Rifle

  • AK-15: The AK-15 assault rifle is being developed by the Kalashnikov Group under the "Ratnik" program and it will replace the AK-103 firearm. The AK-15 is chambered for the M43 7.62x39mm cartridge. It has a combat weight of 4.1 kg, a full length of 1,066 mm, a barrel length of 415 mm (16.3 inch), a firing rate of 700 RPM, a muzzle velocity of 715 m/s, a maximum firing range of 800 meters, and a standard magazine capacity of 30 rounds.[22] It can also fire any rounds compatible with the AK-47/AKM and AK-103 Family of Assault . The only difference between the AK-12 and the AK-15 is their caliber. The AK-15 seems to be a backup if ever the Russian Army switch back to the 7.62mm caliber.[23]

5.45x39mm Squad Automatic Rifle

  • RPK-16: The RPK-16 squad automatic rifle is a brand new light support weapon which is expected to take over the role of its predecessor, the RPK-74, in the Russian Armed Forces thanks to its groundbreaking features.[24] The bipod of the RPK-74 is replaced by a Picatinny rail and it can also be complemented by a suppressor. It features the traditional Kalashnikov long-stroke piston gas-operating scheme, interchangeable barrels, a Picatinny rail for optical/red dot sights on the top of the receiver, an ergonomic pistol grip, and a folding stock.[25] The RPK-16 is chambered for the 5.45x39mm cartridge. It has a combat weight of 6 kg, a full length of 1,076 mm, it's design enables it to have a 550 mm long barrel (when the RPK-16 is applied as a squad automatic weapon) and a 370 mm short barrel (when the RPK-16 is applied as an assault rifle), a firing rate of 700 RPM, an accuracy range of 800 meters, and a standard 96-round drum magazine. It can also fire any rounds compatible with an AK-74 or RPK-74.[23]

AK-12's Development and Evaluation Models[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Новый "калашников" сделали для одноруких солдат (The new "Kalashnikov"...)". Izvestia. November 25, 2011. http://www.izvestia.ru/news/507699. Retrieved 2011-11-28. 
  2. "Modern Firearms - Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle". http://world.guns.ru/assault/rus/kalashnikov-ak-12-e.html. Retrieved April 7, 2012. 
  3. World Guns, Modern Firearms, Kalashnikov 5.45mm AK-12 and 7.62mm AK-15 assault rifle (Russia), by Maxim Popenker
  4. "LAV Goes Hands-On With Pre-Production AK-400 - The Firearm Blog" (in en-US). The Firearm Blog. 2016-05-05. http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2016/05/05/lav-goes-hands-on-with-pre-production-ak-400/. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Modern Firearms - Kalashnikov AK-12 and AK-15 assault rifle (Russia)" (in en). http://modernfirearms.net/assault/rus/kalashnikov-ak-12-e.html. 
  6. Russia Starts New Kalashnikov Trials - Rian.ru, November 2, 2012
  7. New Kalashnikov Has 'Range of Defects' - Rian.ru, November 23, 2012
  8. AK-12 will be tested by Russian army in June 2013 Archived December 26, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. - Armyrecognition.com, April 30, 2013
  9. AK-12 completes preliminary tests - Armyrecognition.com, November 30, 2012
  10. Kalashnikov Corporation continues tests of its new assault rifle AK-12. - Armyrecognition.com, 11 June 2013
  11. The new Russian-made AK-12 assault rifle will enter in service with Russian army in 2014 - Armyrecognition.com, 17 September 2013
  12. Новую модификацию АК-12 Концерна «Калашников» не допустили к госиспытаниям - Izh.kp.ru, 24 September 2013
  13. AK-12 Not Allowed In State Tests - Thefirearmblog.com, 29 September 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 Kalashnikov Plans New Rifle, More Export Models - En.Ria.ru, 23 December 2013
  15. Lee Williams. "BREAKING: Import of Kalashnikov Concern/Saiga AKs banned by executive order". http://thegunwriter.blogs.heraldtribune.com/17287/breaking-import-of-kalashnikov-concern-aks-banned-by-executive-order/. Retrieved 25 October 2014. 
  16. Breaking: Izhmash & Kalashnikov Concern Now Sanctioned by US Government - Thefirearmblog.com, 16 July 2014
  17. BREAKING: Russian Army Accepts Both AK-12 And AEK-971 - Thefirearmblog.com, 23 December 2014
  18. "Modern Firearms - Kalashnikov RPK-16 light machine gun (Russia)" (in en). http://modernfirearms.net/machine/rus/rpk16-e.html. 
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 "BREAKING: Kalashnikov Concern Discontinues AK-12, Replaces It with... The New AK-12! - The Firearm Blog" (in en-US). The Firearm Blog. 2016-09-06. http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2016/09/06/breaking-kalashnikov-concern-discontinues-ak-12-replaces-new-ak-12/. 
  20. 20.0 20.1 AK-12: An All-New (Yet Old) Kalashnikov Rifle - SAdefensejournal.com, 8 April 2013
  21. Kalashnikov AK-12 Unveiled - Thefirearmblog.com, 26 January 2012
  22. "Army 2016: Kalashnikov shows AK-15 assault rifle, MA PDW | IHS Jane's 360". http://www.janes.com/article/63625/army-2016-kalashnikov-shows-ak-15-assault-rifle-ma-pdw. 
  23. 23.0 23.1 Sputnik. "Sniper Machinegun: Kalashnikov Unveils Universal Weapon for Special Forces" (in en). https://sputniknews.com/military/201609101045170624-rpk-16-ak12-ak15-kalashnikov/. 
  24. Sputnik. "Sniper Machinegun: Kalashnikov Unveils Universal Weapon for Special Forces" (in en). https://sputniknews.com/military/201609101045170624-rpk-16-ak12-ak15-kalashnikov/. 
  25. "Army 2016: Kalashnikov unveils RPK-16 LMG | IHS Jane's 360". http://www.janes.com/article/63600/army-2016-kalashnikov-unveils-rpk-16-lmg. 
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