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Project Abakan was a trial by the Russians that could rival the US Defense Force's Advanced Combat Rifle Program.

Project's Goal Edit

The goal was to find a weapon that could effectively replace the AK-74, which replaced the AK-47. The problem with the AK-74 was its low accuracy with short bursts of fire. As such, the project's main goal was to produce a weapon that had good accuracy, even with short bursts of fire.

Competitors (includes weapons developed during the time) Edit

There were 5 different bureaus in the competition, PO Izhmash, TsKIB SOO, SKB KMZ, TsNIITochMash and IzhNITI.

TsKIB SOO
SKB KMZ
PO Izhmash
TsNIITochMash
IzhNITI
  • APT, designed by Igor A. Postnikov

How it all went Edit

First roundEdit

In August 1984, 8 designs were ready for testing by 8 designers. These were:

  • Korobov TKB-0111
  • Afanasyev TKB-0136-3M
  • Stechkin TKB-0146
  • Koksharov AEK-971
  • Pikinsky AEK-978
  • Kalashnikov AL-9
  • Nikonov AS
  • Postnikov APT

After which, the Russian Ministry of Defence and GRAU reviewed all designs and to see if they met the required specifications. 2 designs were eliminated from the start:

  • Postnikov's APT - unreliable
  • Korobov's TKB-0111 - least promising

The remaining 6 designs went through 18 months of further development and improvements to accuracy.

Second stageEdit

Following the 18 month development period, in May to June 1986, changes were made to the prototype lineup. The prototype lineup as of May to June 1986 is as follows:

  • Afanasyev TKB-0136-3M
  • Stechkin TKB-0146
  • Koksharov AEK-971
  • Pikinsky AEK-978
  • Kalashnikov AKB
  • Nikonov AS
  • Simonov-Tkachev AO-63

As shown in the table, the AL-9 was pulled out for unknown reasons and replaced by the AKB, while a new prototype, the AO-63, was brought in. More tests were performed, such as firing a high volume of rounds in various conditions. However, no weapon fully met the requirements. In spite of this, the AS and AO-63 met the requirement of accurate groupings. As such, designers were given 3 months to update their designs, before the same tests were repeated in October 1986. Two designs were modified fundamentally for the tests:

  • Nikonov AS (became the ASM with certain refinements)
  • Kalashnikov AKB (became the AKB-1 with BARS system added)

Further developments of the prototypes were limited to muzzle devices. Halfway through these tests, three designs were eliminated:

  • Afanasyev TKB-0136-3M
  • Koksharov AEK-971
  • Kalashnikov AKB-1

All were eliminated for the same reason; it was not practical or viable to continue work on these three weapons. In spite of this, the AEK-971 was fielded with Russian forces later on and is currently in use with the Russian army.

Final stageEdit

In the final stage, the lineup for prototypes was as follows:

  • Nikonov ASM
  • Stechkin TKB-0146

As shown in the table, the Pikinsky design (the AEK-978) and the Simonov-Tkachev design (the AO-63) did not make it into the final round for unknown reasons. Both the TKB-0146 and AS showed excellent accuracy, with testers noting the great comfort they had when shooting them, and could fire a two-round burst so quickly that it sounded like a single shot. The trajectory of the bullets could also be seen.

Overall resultsEdit

As with any competition, there can only be one winner. Eventually, one of two designs was eliminated:

  • Stechkin TKB-0146

While more accurate than the other design, it was less reliable as it accumulated more fouling problems. As such, the winner of the competition was chosen, the Nikonov ASM, which was then fielded and designated the AN-94.

Gallery of contenders Edit

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