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.
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