The Russian military hasn’t had a significant assault rifle upgrade since the AK-74, but that is about to change with the adoption of the AK-12, which is entering service in 2014:
Various modifications of a new Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle as well as a host of other small arms will be put in service with the Russian armed forces in 2014, a senior government official said.
“In 2014, the Russian army will start receiving new assault rifles, handguns, machine guns and sniper rifles, including 5.45-mm and 7.62-mm variants of the Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle,” Deputy Chairman of the Military-Industrial Commission, Oleg Bochkarev, said in an interview with Echo Moskvy radio on Monday.
Development of the AK-12 began in mid-2011. The new weapon retains the overall layout and features of the AK-74, in service with the Russian army since the 1970s, but features several modifications and ergonomic changes.
The new assault rifle has being developed as a basic platform for nearly 20 different modifications of the weapon.
The rifle features three firing modes: single shot, three-shot burst and automatic fire. The muzzle of the AK-12 has been designed to shoot foreign-standard barrel-mounted grenades.
The word on the AK-12 is that it is a “old-new” design, taken the proven principles behind the older AK-patterns and incorporating features common to more modern western assault rifles.
It will be interesting to see if the Russian military AK-12 standardizes the use of the quad-stack 60-round “coffin” magazine, or if they’ll keep using the tens of millions of standard 30-round magazines as their first-line magazines.
Interestingly enough, The Firearms Blog is reporting that Izhmash may be exporting a semi-automatic civilian version of the AK-12 to the United States this year, so there is a chance you might get your hands on the civilian version of the latest Russian AK before the Russian military does.