AK-12 Rifle: Is It All That?

AK-12 Rifle: Is It All That?

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 has heard about and seen pictures 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 the 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 handguards 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.

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