Russia appears to be using its invasion of Ukraine as an opportunity to put the AK-12, the most promising model in the AK series, through real-battlefield testing.

According to news reports, the Kalashnikov Concern is tweaking its AK-12 rifle according to the experience gained in Russia’s “special military operations” in Ukraine.

CEO Vladimir Lepin states that proposals for weapon improvement had already been made in line with the trial-and-error observations, including the exclusion of the “two-round burst mode, as well as to provide for the possibility of installing controls on both sides, an adjustable cheek piece,” Lepin said during his interview with Kalashnikov magazine.

He said the upgraded AK-12 prototype had already been shown to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Modernized AK-74, AK-47M

The AK-12 is Russia’s equivalent to the US M4, or at least that’s what one review of the AK series referred to it.

There is no denying that Russia has always been notoriously secretive, especially about its weapons, while the AK line of battle rifles has been the centerpiece of Russian arms exports.  If there is a revolution, coup, or junta overthrowing a government anywhere in the world, chances are you will find the guys at the center of it holding an AK.

In the AK-12, the rotary diopter rear sight was redesigned. (Image source: Wikimedia Commons)

Hundreds of prototypes and tests later, the AK-12 was finally approved by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for mass production and entered service in the Russian armed forces sometime in 2018. It has nearly identical operating system features to its predecessor, except for a few notable internal and external changes, such as the one-piece gas block with the front sight affixed to its short-barreled. Not to mention that the gas tube is now permanently attached to the gun itself.

A photo of a 5.45mm Kalashnikov AK-12. (Image source: Kalashnikov/Modern Firearms)

The Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhevsk Machine-Building Plant) also improved the AK-12’s fire controls, adding a two-round burst—a “double tap” button—alongside the semi-auto and full auto options.