Travis Pike, a former Marine Corps gunner who served in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2011 with the contingent, worked as an instructor in Romania, Spain, the UAE and (of course) Afghanistan, working as a shooting and concealed carry instructor, wrote a very interesting opinion about the AK-12.
In general, when a knowledgeable person begins to consider a weapon, it is at least informative. Therefore, Pike's opinion is of some interest to those for whom the confrontation between the M16 and the AK-47 is not history, but an exercise in logic.
In the modern world, entangled by information networks, lovers of weapons of all types can admire the latest and greatest firearms from anywhere in the world. Oddly enough, the world of Russian firearms seems to be one of the most mysterious. In addition to the cultural constraints created by the language barrier, the Russians seem to be constantly adopting and creating new rifles. By the time the new rifle finally became the main weapon of the Russian armed forces, an even newer model had already appeared in production and began to seize its dominance over the old rifle. Trying to keep up with Russian rifle platforms naturally led me to the latest infantry rifle, the AK-12.
(By "old rifle" Pike means the AK-74, not the AK-47, as is usually the custom among Americans - approx.)
The AK-12 entered service in 2018 after a lengthy development, testing and production phase. This newest rifle has already been supplied by the thousands to many Russian military units.
The US and Russian military have always exchanged "blows" in terms of who could have fielded the most powerful modern infantry rifles. In 1947, the Soviet forces overtook us with the AK-47, but we quickly overtook them with various modifications of the modern M16, and they have been following us ever since.
The AK-12 represents the entry of the Russian military into the realm of modern weapons. Don't think of the AK-12 as an upgraded version of the AK-74 rifle. This is a very modern take on the classic AK series, while also taking advantage of the modularity of the M4 to modernize the old rifle design.
"Meet the new boss, the same as the old boss" - this is how the words of the American proverb can describe most of the AK options. Inside the AK-12 is the same long-stroke gas system that made the AK such a scary toy on the battlefield long ago. It is an efficient closed air-cooled system that is not modern, but it is still quite efficient.
The AK-12 also retains the classic AK shape with paddle butt, right-hand charging handle and greater safety and reliability.
At its core, this is just another AK series rifle. This is great for Russian troops because the training between the two weapon platforms will be the same. No one in the Russian infantry will know how to handle an AK-12 until they surrender their AK-74 series rifle in exchange for a new one. And there will be no innovations here.
As you would expect, the AK-12 uses the same Russian 5.45 x 39mm ammunition as its predecessor, the AK-74.
The rifles have many of the same internals, however the new AK-12 has some design changes that are worth noting.
First, the gas block is now integral with the body. This was a change we first observed on the 100 Series short-barreled AKs. The gas tube is also permanently attached to the barrel.
Kalashnikov changed its fire control by setting up a 2-round burst, giving the soldier what is essentially a "double-click" button. Russian soldiers will now have options for semi-automatic, full automatic, and two-shot bursts. The concept of a burst of two shots was tested in the prototype of the AN-94 series rifle.
The burst functions for the automatic two-shot series complicate the trigger group and often impair the trigger pull. Instead of a smooth trigger pull, you get a harder and harder pull. This makes the two-shot burst an interesting change, as accuracy appears to have been more taken into account in the AK series than in previous Kalashnikov weapons. Longer or inconsistent trigger pulls can negatively affect accuracy, especially over long distances.
As part of this effort to improve accuracy, the AK-12 is the first AK series to be equipped with a free-floating barrel. The forend does not interact with the barrel, and this traditionally improves accuracy in rifles. Nothing the user does with the rifle's forend can affect the accuracy of the shot, making the rifle much more effective in combat.
At the end of the barrel is a muzzle system that allows the user to remove or add accessories. Soldiers can add silencers or muzzle brakes, depending on their mission profile.
The Kalashnikov assault rifle equipped the AK-12 with modern polymer fittings. The addition of a telescopic stock ensures that the rifle can fit users of different sizes, just like the modern M4 stock. Soldiers also have the ability to fold the stock for storage and transport. A small compartment in a standard stock allows Russian soldiers to store a weapon cleaning kit inside.
The old AK series is known to have rather small handles, not very comfortable. Modern polymer handles are slightly larger and more user-friendly, with good grooves. Above it is a slightly redesigned thumb-notch fuse, making it easier to activate, making the AK-12 better than previous AK models.
The AK-12 is equipped with a state-of-the-art polymer forend, which includes Picatinny rails for attaching accessories such as vertical grips, optics, lasers, flashlights and more. The new forend design fits snugly around the rifle and this allows users to more reliably use infrared devices for shooting at night.
A weakened, dangling forend will result in loss of aiming point. Since the forend no longer touches the barrel, it generally does not get as hot as possible. We've all seen videos in the past in which AKs melted or set fire to the forend during long automatic firing.
The new AK-12 magazine is made of resin and textured for good grip. It's super modern and reminiscent of Magpul's AK products. The bevel cut at the bottom of the magazine is another change designed to improve long-range accuracy. This allows the AK to rest on the ground as a monopod, keeping the weapon stable when firing in a prone position.
The dust cover (receiver cover - approx.) Of the AK-12 was turned into a platform for installing the scope. The rail runs the full length of the dust cover and provides ample space for the optics. Previous incarnations of the AK made mounting optics on a rifle problematic using archaic side mounts.
The modern AK-12 dust cover eliminates the need for a side optical mount.Concern "Kalashnikov" mounts the top cover in a completely new way. It now fits snugly to the front and rear of the rifle, eliminating slack and making the mount more stable.
A very clever decision can be called the fact that the designers of the Kalashnikov concern pushed the sight as far back as possible on the receiver. The new scope is an overview sight compared to the standard AK open sights. The increased aiming radius and sighting sights increase the accuracy of fire at longer distances.
Optics. This is generally a sore point since the days of the Soviet army. The US military has long used a variety of optics on its infantry rifles, and Russian Special Operations Forces are known to also use a dizzying variety of side "red dots" and similar items on their AK rifles. The 1P87 holographic optics seem to be the most common and popular among their conventional military forces.
This reflex sight provides fast aiming at close range in combat. These are rigid optics (without the possibility of changing the focal length - approx.), And it has an interesting grid: a circle of 60 MOA, consisting of small dots. There is a dot in the middle and a hash mark under the dot.
The bottom reticle provides accurate aiming, taking into account mechanical displacement, such optics often work well at short distances, from 70 to 150 meters. Some Russian soldiers have been spotted with an AK-12 with a 1P87 telescopic sight and a ZT310 magnifier that provides three times magnification in addition to the telescopic sight.
The Russians have long been using grenade launchers, as have American troops. They use 40mm anti-personnel grenade launchers to accomplish their missions. The guys in my squad have used 40mm launchers pretty well and I believe the Russians are doing the same.
The time-tested GP-34 is installed on AK-12 rifles. These grenade launchers can fire frag and smoke grenades. In addition, there are CS gas grenades and non-lethal special forces grenades.
How does the AK-12 compare to the M4?
Is the AK-12 better than the M4? This question is difficult to answer without considering all the components and without holding two rifles in your hands at once. It would take an entire article to discuss this. I think it's clear that the M4 and M16 series rifles are paving the way for modern firearm design and emphasizing modularity as a concept. Obviously, the AK-12 drew some inspiration from its western counterpart. The AK-12 certainly helps to professionalize the Russian military, and I expect it to have a fairly successful lifespan.
And a couple of comments from readers: