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AK-12: Is it all that?

by Marco Vorobiev   |  February 22nd, 2012 61

Marco Vorobiev was a member of the elite Soviet Spetsnaz in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He’s a U.S. citizen now and conducts training courses that draw on his special forces training. He’ll have a new installment every Wednesday.

By now everyone have heard about and seen picture of the new rifle that Russian arsenal “Izhmash” calls a fifth generation AK—the AK-12. The reaction to the release of this rifle was not unanimously positive in Russia itself and here in the USA. Some critics say: It is still an AK. Traditionalists cry: It is no longer the legendary rifle. The truth of the matter is: It is both a legendary AK, only different.

What makes this gun different from the previous AK modifications, especially the ill-fated AK-200? Though by the admission of the designers themselves it is still essentially a Kalashnikov, the gun was actually redesigned to address several “deficiencies” that some AK critics constantly voiced, especially in relation to never ending AK vs. AR argument.

Staunch AK critics usually cite three main points which they base their AK inferiority argument: the ergonomics, modularity and sight radius, according to some negatively affecting the AK’s accuracy.

Well, the ergonomics were greatly improved on the new gun by introduction of one-handed controls, ambidextrous thumb safety, mag release and bolt hold-open release, as well as an ingeniously designed swappable charging handle. These features are accompanied by a new pistol grip and telescopic folding stock with adjustable cheekpiece.

The modularity was addressed by the introduction of Picatinny rails on the top of a redesigned locking top cover and quad rail hand guards with additional mini rails on the gas block. Now you will run out of accessories before running out of rails.
The sighting radius is now not only longer than that of an M4, but also of the full-length AR.

There are other well thought-out improvements such as an elongated muzzle brake that now permits the use of Western grenade launchers.

I already was an AK-74 fan, but now the good ole reliable 74 would gain all the features that M4 has. Best of both worlds I say.

But I know no matter what the new AK has become, no matter how many well-designed features it gained there always will be those who just do not like AKs. But I am sure their numbers are shrinking.

This rifle has not been adopted by any military. Its development was initiated not by Russia’s armed forces, but purely on Izhmash’s initiative. It has undergone field testing and is being evaluated by the military brass as we speak.

Even if the Russian military does not find the AK-12 to their liking, Izhmash management has already announced that the new rifle will also be offered on the commercial market. Well, if Russian Armed Forces don’t want it, then send a few our way. We’ll find a good home for the AK-12.

Picture 1 of 4

AK-12 Assault Rifle

The New AK-12 assault rifle was introduced by Izhmash arsenal in December 2011. It starts from Kalashnikov principles, but adds some more modern touches.

  • purebrasshog

    They can dislike Isreal all they want but that sure looks like a Galil rear site to me!!!!

    • andrew

      doesn't look like a Galil rear sight at all. Looks like a standard AK rear sight leaf that is now movable forward and aft.

    • eyedeeef

      uh you do realize the Galil was just an improved AK-47 right?

    • mike

      *Israel not isreal

  • Heretic

    Is it 7.62×39? Does it use standard AK mags? Need more info.

    • markinalpine

      This is an upgrade of the AK74. 5.45X39

  • Doug

    I have both a AR and AK. Like children I cannot love one more than the other.

    • brian

      i agree!

      • mike

        I should be capitalized

    • tech2

      But if the balloon goes up, which one would you take with you?

  • Jason

    I want one!

  • jeff

    Meh…Finding a solution to a problem that doesn't exist….

  • Buck

    Do they make them in 12 guage too ?

  • t lawson

    you can polish a turd…..

    • mike

      Yyou sure can,we have been doing with the M16 since the 60's and it still sucks!

  • t lawson

    all I got to say is bring to a 3gun match…any kalashnikov platform cant make a reasonable reload due to design.I can see they improved the safety mech but still sucks.I dont care what anyone does or says,mind you I have spent over 3 years in the middle east as an advanced infantryman and am an a class 3 gun competitor,kalashnikovs aren't accurate,way way too slow to reload and have no place in the world anymore.Like it or not I have seen kalashnikovs fail and malfunction as to where m4s and like rifles worked great in the desert.chew on that one ismash

    • andrew

      so you're saying haji's crappy old AK that has been passed down for the past 30+ years with their crappy hand loaded rounds from a dirt hut malfunctioned. And your brand new m4 w/ high tech modern factory loaded ammo didn't malfunction? Weird. Not really a valid comparison there.



  • Robert

    The main complaint I have all ways had is still there . ALL AK's are ugly plain and simple .
    I know that is not important to 99.9% of people but I did not like them in the 60's and they are still ugly .
    Granted they worked where the 16's did not and I still have a hard time depending on the m-16/ar15 ot this day .

    I would not carry the m-16 that they gave me but carried a cut down m-14 or the 870 rem.

    • Anthony

      The look of the gun doesn't matter boy, it's how the gun functions that matters the most.

  • tom

    anyone who calls an AK inferior has never been on the receiving end of one

  • Handsome Johnny

    AR shooter's unite ! Another AK for you to hate on . As if a plain jane Romanian '74 aint enuf to make your blood boil . All I hear at the range is " Yeah … but …" DEAL with it , M4 fans … carry your A1 upside down like The Duke and cry in your beer . If the Kalasnikov system of operation is not superior WHY are they making AR's that are piston driven ala the AK ? Agree with the above article or continue to bury your head in the sand and ignore common knowledge / basic facts . I own and shoot a slightly modified ( RPK style ) NHM -91 that does everything this new rifle does but retains the original 7.62 X39 caliber … which will shoot through cinder block . It sits proudly in my safe next to an HK 91A4 , which can do the same , if not better . I no longer have any love for the 5.56 round or ANY weapons system that fires it .

  • Bill West

    5.56……….Rule # 1 – Bring enough Gun! The AK platform may be reliable all day long, but I'd rather do a little PM on an AR in 7.62 thank you and reap the benefits of some accuracy.

  • Sapphire1300

    Looks like some piece of crap Will and his boys at RedJacket built. Hanging more junk off of a rifle does not make it better.

    • mike

      Sounds like you are talking about AR 15 's

  • Angrymike

    Yaall can fight which is better all day long, all I can say is "where can I get one?

    • mike


  • JCB

    Galil anyone?

  • gunstuff

    Agreed, the first thing I thought of when I saw the picture was Galil, not AK. I just don't see what the big deal is, but I'd still like to check one out first hand.

  • John

    Any firearm is only as good as the one holding it.

  • Clay

    I hope the Russians keep trying to make this thing live up to a an M-4. They haven't caught up to any of or weapons systems yet.

    • Mike

      our not or….

    • bouzane

      The M4 is inaccurate, underpowered garbage. I could understand choosing the M16 over an AK but an M4? You have to be joking.

  • A-train

    I think the 300 blackout cartridge brings the AR platform on par with the 7.62×39 cartridge now in firepower, but alot of people still trust the AKM platform for it's reliability. Yes, there are 300 blackout uppers available with pistons now that are supposed to address that deficiency of the AR also. Hopefully, accuracy issues are addressed with the AK-12 as well as weight. That for me is the biggest drawback of AKM platforms versus AR's. Still, it's funny how both weapon systems have gravitated toward the other in the last 10-15 years. Everyone has to find a flaw in tje other design.

  • Cactus Jack

    Most of the people who love the AR never had to fight with the 16 in Nam. Charlie's gun was never cleaned and never broke. When you only have a leaf to hide behind, lead flying by you like buzzing hornets and your 16 jams, you wish to hell you had an AK.

    • UpLateAgain

      Your weapon should suit your environment. Charlie's did. It was a more reliable weapon used at ranges where accuracy wasn't as important as the ability to spit out bullets. AK-47s were a preferable weapon in Viet Nam. Not so much in Afghanistan where there are a lot more open spaces.

  • Vann Morrison

    I used to carry on about the AR vs. AK and M-14 vs. FAL, H&K, BM-59, AR-10 vs. vs. vs. ………..
    A good friend of mine who was a Korean war and Viet Nam Veteran and a retired police officer made a comment to me on the subject and I'll share it with you. He said; "It doesn't make any difference what kind of battle rifle or assault rifle you have. It doesn't matter how it functions or how accurate it is or how much it costs or weighs. What matters is the 15 year old kid with the antique bolt action rifle that "you don't see" that shoots you between the eyes. Then your high dollar, highly accurate very expensive selective fire assault rifle/battle rifle is totally worthless."

    • Muhjesbude

      Yeah, but they still didn’t ‘Fix’ what I and other combat experienced shooters always thought was the biggest drawback on the AK during low drag high speed combat firefight action?!
      I was an 18B in the Pleiku area 68-71 and tried out and carried a variety of weapons also because just about everything in small arms that ever shot bullets in a war came across our base camp at one time or another since it was also an OJT camp for mercs and ARVN special forces, until I finally settled on the Shorty CAR for serious up close and unfriendly work. And although I agree with the old Vet about ‘ambush’ being the best ‘weapons platform’. The old bolt action he was talking about was mostly the Mosin Nagent 91/30.
      But if you ever did a lot of ‘firefighting’ with an AK, as in month after month after month with almost weekly heavy usage you’d soon discover that the so called legendary reliability was no better than other automatic weapons under similar conditions and just an old war myth. Most military weapon will work well enough but some are just ‘better’ than others.
      But the main problem with AKs, and it happened to more than a handful of guys I knew was in intense exchanges where you went through a few magazines rapidly.
      The one I recall most vividly is the nice young man in his nighty-night pajamees blasting at me in a steady running exchange of about 50 meters breaking through in triple canopy. We both were chucking and jiving behind the bamboo brush and emptied our mags on full auto at each other about the same time.
      I dropped the empty slapped in another one and closed the bolt instantly without even taking cheek off the stock or my sights down off the spot where he ducked down. I was carrying the standard M-16 rifle. As I flanked a little closer to about 40 meters, I caught a glimpse of him crouching down trying to unjam a magazine that went in bad angle and got stuck hard, obviously due to his adrenalin also jamming his fine motor skills.
      I’ll never forget the pissed off look he had on his face when he notice me looking at him. I ordered him to surrender but he kept trying to dislodge the mag. I didn’t know what he was thinking but I know the last thing that went through his mind was a 5.56 full metal jacket bullet. An easy shot with a well sighted in 16 at 40 meters. But if I was carrying an AK and most others, I would have went with a center mass shot.
      Rapid and smooth magazine follow ups are mandatory for a good CQB assault weapon. Not much beats the AR-15 platform for that. As far as I’m concerned this is still the same old AK. Too slow and risky on super psycho fast and heavy firefights especially where uninterupted suppressing firepower is a distinct advantage.

      • Abraham Collins

        What you call an “AK” was most likely a crappy Maadi, a knock-off. True AKs are made in Russia ONLY.

  • grimmer

    Just do what I do assholes get one of every gun for you collectionand shut up , take the one you feel most comfortable with and make It your go to rifle , if you know what your doing you can make anydam rifle reliable lol. AK's and AR's are both sweet keep the AR a little Cleaner and aim a little better with the AK

  • UpLateAgain

    It doesn't sound like they addressed what for me were the worst features of the AK…. the magazine system (slow to reload and if you haven't perfectly fitted your magazines, will take your concentration off your target), and the barrel needs to be heavier. Slow motion films show the flexure in military AK barrels as rounds pass though them……. which IMHO is the chief reason for accuracy loss over a couple of hundred meters. The 74 is considerably better than the 47 (because of the smaller bullet mass), but a bull barrel would make a HUGE difference.

  • Louis

    STUPID FOOLS!!…less moving parts…easy maintenance…1000% reliable than any AR or M-4 could ever be!!…SO, where can i get one!…

    • Joseph Kool


  • John

    The AK is a sad escuse for a mainline service rilfe for the Russia army. AR-15 is for the pro military forces and even with it's many many short commings.

    • mike

      WOW!! another learn how to spell!!

  • Gunonthewater

    It seems, as if I have looked down those sights before, more or less. I belive it will get the jod done.

  • bob johnson

    man lots of dumba$$ ak haters on this post, the ak is a much better rifle then the ar, i have seen countlass ars jam at the range i cant belive the greatest country in the world uses this piece of crap, as for some ak haters who say aks are inacurrate have more then likely never shot one 1.5 to 2 m.o.a is combat acurrate, the di systym has never been used on any other battle rifle because it is self failing. the egronomics are fine on an ak you just have to learn them. last the aks inventor was in the greatest war in history while the ar inventor was just a guard on an air force base. ak is always better

    • Jerryonly

      I’ve also seen countless ARs Namath he range an they are out of spec budget garbage shooting underpowered ammo. Get a quality ar you won’t have problems. I’m no ak hater either I’ve owned and own a few with my favorite bing an SGL2 and love it. I would still pick my 14.5 CHF BCM build over it in a heartbeat. There are a lot of people posting here that are pretty clueles

  • Mike

    Ak will always be better if it wasnt then why are new ARs all piston driven. A child can use and clean an Ak in an hour while an AR you need about a week to learn to use and clean. Not saying AR are junk but I would rather have an AK when the SHTF. We all love american guns but we should have switched to an american version of an AK years ago, like we did with the 1903 which was an american version of the mauser. Im sure we could have made a better AK like the czechs did with the the VZ-58 and the Israeli with the Galil. Ours could have been better!

    • comradex

      don't know if the SCAR 17 and SCAR 16 are American but ive heard that they are based on the ak design

      • Abraham Collins

        They’re Belgian and very different from an AK.

  • Nerak

    I agree with Mike. Although the M16, and variants have served admirably for almost 50 years now. A modernized American AK variant would better serve the needs of the US military. Though the top brass never seem to consider it. Maybe it's that they still see Russia as the enemy. Maybe it's out of some misplaced sense of patriotism. Might I remind you all most of the US military's small arms aren't even American designs. The M249, and M240, MK.16/17 are Belgian, the M9 is Italian, the MP5, MP7, and HK416 are German. Why can't our service rifle be Russian? The only reason I can think of against adopting anything other than a new version of the M16 would be retraining. A child in Africa who's never seen a school can learn to use an AK. Why couldn't an American soldier? Many soldiers have experience with the AK either through battlefield experience, or cross training. The AK-74 is already pretty accurate if you have a decent sighting system, and it's very stable in rapid fire. The AK-12 can only be better. My only concern with the AK-12 is whether it will be as reliable as the older design. From what I can tell they haven't changed too much with the action. They added a bolt catch as standard, and made the charging handle ambidextrous. The Russians really put their weapons designs through hell before they're ever considered for service. I'm sure if this prototype design doesn't make the cut Izhmash will be able to make adjustments to make sure this rifle is every bit as reliable as the rifle Mikhail Kalashnikov developed for his comrades in arms.

    • eboy

      how much the rifle ak12?

      • eboy

        how much the rifle ak12?

  • haroin

    how much worth AK74m rifle?

  • Audentes

    Forget the AK & AR Designs if you want the US Military to change. GO BACK to the M1 design that the M14 uses as well as RUGER's Mini-14. No jam, high accuracy and self cleaning bolt. I have a MIni-14 and an M1A. Neither jams. I have gone up against very pricey AR's for endurance (How many rounds fired without a jam). Original design on the AR, not piston. Guess what? The AR's couldn't reach 250 rounds without needing to be cleaned. I blew past 500 rounds in my mini-14 without a jam or mis-feed. Same with the M1A. New piston AR's eliminate powder fouling, but it doesn't stop dust fouling (My son had to clean his M4 a minimum of 4 times per day while in Iraq & in Afghanistan to keep it functioning).

    • Jerryonly

      I’ve gone over 2000 rds over two days without cleaning my BCM just look up the filth 14. Also I have seen several mini 14 fail nor would I trust anything made by ruger as a fighting carbine.

  • Cyberman

    For a semi, the AR-15 is so much awesomer. It breaks way less than its automatic counterparts, and the customization is endless; it’s like Lego set that shoots bullets. For an automatic (like if you get a slide stock) go AK. The reliability is just unmatched, and the AK-12 looks very promising in terms of accuracy.

  • woodrow

    Personally, what has me most excited about the ak12 is the use of the 6.5 grendel in an ak format. One of my biggest issues with the 5.56 is its knockdown power or lack there of. My biggest beef with the 7.62×39 is it’s bullet drop at longer ranges. The grendel would address both of these issues making a harder hitting and more accurate round with the legendary ak reliability. Just imagine a highly accurate 600-800 yard ak… As for the ak vs ar argument its apples and oranges. I have encountered very accurate aks and very reliable ars. My main issue, aagain, is the outdated rounds they both use and the short comings of both.

    • Abraham Collins

      The “Poison bullet” 5.45×39 already addresses these. It shoots flat and has a proven record for lethality and incapacitation effect.

  • Joseph Kool

    Junk just like everything else the Russians make

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