April 04, 2012
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.
Everybody is by now blogging away about Russia's new fifth-generation assault rifle, the AK-12. I myself am guilty of it. A couple of weeks ago, I offered my opinion of the new gun. Now that I had some time to think about it and analyze it, I wanted to see what the Russians actually produced.
As I mentioned before, the new AK-12 is nothing more than refined and truly modernized AK-74: an already sound and proven platform with upgrades that make sense today. However, I am sure that the producer of the AK-12 rifle, the Russian arsenal Izhmash, did not come up with the upgrades on its own. More likely they had to play catch up or were risking being left in a dust. So, where did they get the idea? From the same place all the operators do. Here in the USA.
With than in mind, I embarked on yet another quest: trying to replicate AK-12 or rather its features a using basic AK-74, the accessories that are widely available and as few tools as possible.
My subject for this experiment came from I.O., Inc., which just recently introduced new AK-74s built with a U.S.-made receiver and non-chromed barrel and genuine Bulgarian parts. The gun arrived in its box accompanied by owner's manual and cleaning kit. It was dressed in Russian plum furniture, with the exception of a burnt orange Bulgarian pistol grip.
It really did not matter as most of it will have to come off for my experiment. As usual I took it apart. Everything was in its place. After reassembly I cycled the gun a few times and dry-fired it. The rifle functioned as it should. The TAPCO trigger was light and crisp. The I.O., Inc. AK-74 was good to go.
A quick trip to the range revealed that the new rifle shot well without any stoppages and I was able to produce 2.5 to 3-inch groups consistently.
So, I was set and well on my way to seek the truth.
Russia's new assault rifle the AK-12 is based on the AK-74 with addition of several modern features that AKs were being traditionally accused of lacking.
Right-folding telescopic stock
The new AK-12 sports a redesigned right-folding telescopic stock with a built-in cheekpiece. Vorobiev thinks he can come close in replicating this feature.
The new AK is equipped with plenty of 1913 rail and now offers the desired flexibility. Vorobiev sees no problem with coming up with something similar.
The new slim muzzle brake has double baffles and an elongated chamber, further reducing the recoil impulse of already soft-kicking AK-74 cartridge.
The ambidextrous controls of the AK-12 will the most difficult feature to replicate, but Vorobiev thinks he can improve the original controls.
AK-12 bolt carrier
The AK-12 bolt carrier features a removable charging handle for right/left hand operation. This particular feature will probably prove too tough to copy.
Vorobiev hopes to use this plain-Jane AK-74 from SGN advertiser I.O., Inc. of Monroe, N.C. as the basis for his basement-built homage to the AK-12 rifle.
Be sure to check out Part II and Part III of this series!