Russian military troops will soon be fielding new weapons systems, the AK-12, and AK-15 rifles will replace the Cold War era AKM which is based on the venerable AK-47 design.

Russian soldiers currently carry the AK-74M assault rifle. This 5.45-millimeter rifle is descended from the 7.62-millimeter AK-47, which was introduced in 1947. The AK-74 was introduced in the 1970s and modernized to the -M standard in 1991. The Russian Army retains a stockpile of approximately two million AK-74s in different variants.

The Russian military has long wanted to field a new rifle but having more AK-74s than soldiers made this a relatively low priority. Russia also wanted a rifle with a sufficient increase in performance to warrant the cost, Meanwhile, the country’s defense budget has yo-yoed over the last decade due to the price oil and the effects of economic sanctions, causing more delays.

The AK-12 and AK-15 rifles are similar to the AK-74M on the inside and out. The main difference between the two new guns is that the AK-12 is chambered for the same ammunition as the AK-74M, 5.45 x 39-millimeter, while the AK-15 is chambered for 7.62 x 39, the same ammunition as the older AK-47. It’s not clear why Russia will buy two different caliber rifles, but bear in mind that its military is also sitting on a mountain of Cold War-era 7.62 x 39 ammunition, and AK-15s could be assigned to rear area and low-priority combat troops.

The main difference between the AK-74M and the AK-12/15 appears to be the new rifles are set up to accommodate weapon accessories that have become must-haves in modern, high-tech armies. The AK-12/15 features two Picatinny rails, an accessory mounting system invented by the U.S. Army’s Picatinny Arsenal for attaching items such as rifle scopes, red dot sights, and laser pointers. The AK-12/15 features a second rail under the barrel for attaching a vertical foregrip. The new rifles also have what appears to be an M-4 carbine-style buffer tube for attaching buttstocks and adjusting the weapon’s length of pull.

The manufacturer, Kalashnikov concern, says the rifles are 34.64 to 37 inches long, feature a 16.33-inch barrel, and weigh 7.7 pounds unloaded. Both rifles have a rate of fire of 700 rounds a minute and use 30-round magazines.

Russia’s AK-12 has Passed Field Tests and is Ready for Deployment

Read Next: Russia’s AK-12 has Passed Field Tests and is Ready for Deployment

So, it appears the Russian troops will soon have plenty of weapon accessories copying the American model. Isn’t imitation being the sincerest form of flattery?

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Photo courtesy Kalashnikov