The Kalashnikov AK-12 is derived from the AK-400 (Base Prototype). It is the newest derivative of the Russian AK-Pattern series of assault rifles and was proposed for possible general issue to the Russian Army. The rifle is intended to eventually replace previous generations of Kalashnikov assault rifles in service with the Russian military and other governmental forces. The rifle has two main variants, the AK-12 chambered in 5.45x39mm cartridge and the AK-15 chambered in 7.62x39mm cartridge.
The AK-12 project commenced in 2011 by the IZHMASH factory which has now became part of the Kalashnikov Concern as a private venture, in an attempt to participate in the “Ratnik” trials which were held by the Russian army. Throughout its development and evaluation stage it has received multiple modifications to meet the Russian military's standard, as well as to improve upon the "range of defects" that were discovered, and to address the Russian Army’s concerns regarding the cost and issues in full automatic fire in the earlier prototype models of the AK-12. The earlier prototype models of the AK-12 are derived from the AK-200 (Base Prototype) though it was abandoned in favor for the well proven and improved
AK-400 (Base Prototype).
On May 25, 2010, Russia’s general news media published a Russian Defense Ministry statement that the AK-12 rifle was to be tested in 2011. The AK-12 rifle demonstration model was presented to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during his official visit to inspect the products of the Izhmash arms manufacturing plant in Izhevsk. The AK-12 was intended to be a possible replacement for Russia's current Service Rifle, the less modernized AK-74M. However, the idea of the AK-12 becoming Russia's service rifle was out of question, and the AK-74M remains as the Russian service rifle.
After two years of development and field tests, The Russian Defense Ministry announced that they will officially adopt the AK-12, choosing over a modified and updated version of the AEK-971 (A-545). This decision coincides with the recent sanctions against Russia for the conflict on Ukraine and also to help the Kalashnikov Concern Group financially, which was among those affected by the sanctions. Also, it was planned that the weapon will be promoted internationally, as both a military weapon, and a sporting version. Though there is still no final word regarding the said international promotion of the rifle, moreover the sporting version.
On September 6, 2016, it was reported that Kalashnikov replaced the old AK-12 prototype with a new final production model of the AK-12 which is derived from the well proven AK-400 (Base Prototype). There were two base models that were introduced, the AK-12 which is chambered in 5.45x39mm and the AK-15 which is chambered in 7.62x39mm, as well as the new RPK-16 squad automatic weapon, which is based on the traditional Kalashnikov layout and design, it has several novel technical and ergonomic features derived from the AK-12 program. It was also reported that the new AK-12 is already undergoing troop trials with the Russian Army, where it competes against the
Degtyarov A-545 balanced action rifle. There is still no final word given by the Russian Ministry of Defence about the final fate of the AK-12 and AK-15 rifles regarding their results in the “Ratnik” trials, but their chances are considered to be rather good.
Cancelled Prototype – (AK-200 Derivative)EditThe rifle that was demonstrated to Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was apparently a basic AK-74M in standard 5.45x39mm caliber, with some evidence of external modifications, most of which are consistent with the modifications favored by Russia’s specialist and professional military units; Picatinny rails to attach modular accessories such as, advanced optical sight combinations, laser sights, flashlights, vertical foregrips, bipods and grenade launchers. It also has an improved adjustable telescoping buttstock, as opposed to the older folding stock.
The rear sight has been moved from the front of the receiver to the rear to increase sight radius, and the combination selector lever/dust cover on the right side of the receiver has been replaced by a thumb-activated ambidextrous selector lever above both sides of the pistol grip. Firing modes include safe, semi-automatic, 3-round burst, and full auto. To improve accuracy, the rifle has a new muzzle brake and the barrel has improved rifling.
Further changes to the rifle were carried out, including a more refined muzzle brake and elimination of the mounting rail on the gas block.The proposed calibers for the early prototype model of the AK-12 included the 5.45x39mm, 5.56x45mm NATO, 7.62x39mm, 7.62x51mm NATO, and 12 gauge (only for the proposed shotgun prototype, the AK-12/76), though development on the prototype was later abandoned and replaced by the well proven AK-400 prototype, which later become the final production model of the AK-12 and AK-15.
Final Production Model – (AK-400 Derivative)EditThe final production model of the AK-12 has two main variants the AK-12 which is chambered in 5.45x39mm and the AK-15 which is chambered in 7.62x39mm, evidently of similar design. It addresses the Russian Army’s concerns regarding the AK-12’s cost and issues in fully automatic fire and is expected to be much cheaper to build than the previous model and it incorporates many of the same improvements developed for the previous AK-12 model, but improves the strength and resilience of some of the components.
The AK-12 and AK-15 have retained the traditional Kalashnikov gas-operated long-stroke piston system with a rotating bolt. Both rifle features an integrated Picatinny Rail on the top of the redesigned, detachable top cover for optical/red dot scopes, the bottom of the handguard is also equipped with a Picatinny rail for various tactical accessories such as vertical grips, flashlights and laser sights. The rifles also have a set of backup iron sights consisting of a shrouded front post, mounted on the gas block, and an adjustable rear aperture sight, installed on the removable base using upper Picatinny Rail. The rifles also features an ergonomic pistol grip, a retractable side-folding shoulder stock which is adjustable for length of pull, a handguard with ventilation holes, and an advanced muzzle brake. They can also be fitted with a quick detachable sound suppressor, and a bayonet. To further increase the combat effectiveness of the rifles, they can be equipped with a 40mm GP-25/GP-34 single-shot underbarrel grenade launcher.
The design of the final production model of the AK-12 shares more in common with the existing AK-74 than its early prototype models, but it will not be a retrofit to existing rifles. Several improvements were made to the rifle’s receiver, such as an improved and far more rigid top cover interface and a new free-floating barrel. The new AK-12 reportedly outperforms the existing AK-74 by at least the margin requested by the Russian government.
AK-103 assault rifle. The AK-15 is chambered for the 7.62×39mm cartridge. It has a combat weight of 4.16 kg (9.17 lb), a full length of 1,066 mm (42.0 in), a barrel length of 415 mm (16.3 in), a firing rate of 700 rounds per minute (RPM), a muzzle velocity of 715 m/s, a maximum firing range of 800 m (870 yd) meters, and a standard magazine capacity of 30 rounds. It can also fire any rounds compatible with the AK-47, AKM, AK-104 carbine and AK-103. The only difference between the AK-12 and the AK-15 is their caliber.
The RPK-16 squad automatic weapon is a new light support weapon which is expected to take over the role of its predecessor, the RPK-74, in the Russian Armed Forces. The fixed bipod of the RPK-74 is replaced by a Picatinny rail mounted detachable bipod and it can also be complemented by a suppressor. It features the traditional Kalashnikov long-stroke piston gas-operating scheme, interchangeable barrels, a Picatinny rail for optical/red dot sights on the top of the receiver, an ergonomic pistol grip, and a folding stock. The RPK-16 is chambered for the 5.45×39mm cartridge. It has a combat weight of 6 kg (13.23 lb), a full length of 1,076 mm (42.4 in), it's design enables it to have a 550 mm (21.7 in) long barrel (when it is configured/applied as a squad automatic weapon) or a 370 mm (14.6 in) short barrel (when it is configured/applied as an assault rifle), a firing rate of 700 rounds per minute (RPM), an accuracy range of 800 m (870 yd), and a standard 96-round drum magazine. It can also fire any rounds compatible with the AK-74 or RPK-74.
- The AK-12 was the very last weapon that Mikhail Kalashnikov designed.
- Putin praises new Kalashnikov assault rifle—Voice of Russia
- Putin shown up-to-date Kalashnikov assault rifles—RIA Novosti
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