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While Barack Obama is busy gutting the military of the United States and reducing it to dangerously low levels of readiness, the Russians are pushing forward with plans to adopt one of two next-generation assault rifles to replace the various 7.62×39 AKMs and 5.45×29 AK-74s currently in use.

AEK-971
The A-545 is a variant of the AEK-971, which features a counter-balancing system to reduce muzzle-rise during burst fire.

The Defense Ministry’s choice will be between the futuristic AK-12 and the A-545.

The ministry is to make a choice between two assault rifles: the AK-12 produced by Kalashnikov Concern and the AEK-971 produced by the Degtyarev plant in the town of Kovrov, Central Russia.

“In the short run, field exploitation of both assault rifles will be launched, the decision will be made in fall. We take it seriously and hope to win,” Krivoruchko said.

Earlier, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov said that the rifle would be chosen during field tests which were to take place in all four military districts of the country in 2016.

Ratnik, referred to as a system designed for a “soldier of the future,” includes 59 pieces of equipment, comprising firearms, body armor, optical, communication and navigation devices, as well as life support and power supply systems.

These rifles are very different systems.

The AK-12 has multi-caliber conversion capability and the ability to use both system-specific 60-round 5.45 magazines and prior generation AKM, AK-74, and RPK-74 magazines (depending on caliber). The A-545 has similar capabilities.

Both rifles have the capability to fire in semi-automatic mode, three-round bursts with a high rate of fire, or in a slower fully-automatic mode.

The 5.45×39 is a very well-designed cartridge, and it appears that the Russians are seeking to make rifles nearly as accurate as the M4, with slightly greater range, and more on-board firepower.

It’s going to be very interesting to see which rifle comes out on top, and if this next-generation system is going to encourage the United States and NATO allies to push forward with their own next-generation rifle programs, which stalled roughly a decade ago.