The Russians decided in 2010 that they needed to update their battle rifle. For many decades they have used the AK-47. The rifle is about as historical a firearm as has ever existed in the history of guns. It has seen combat in more conflicts that can be counted. This rifle is cheap to make and very easy to use—requiring very little in the way of maintenance. But the Russians decided it was time for a change so they commissioned the Izhmash manufacturing company to begin development of a new rifle.
They are calling it a 5th generation machine gun which would imply that it has certain characteristics which make it different from its predecessors the AK-47, AK-74, and the AK-1XX series. Some of the new characteristics are a charging handle that is ambidextrous as well as the fire selector, a Picatinny Rail system so that the Russians can mount all of their cool accessories. The stock telescopes and the rear sight has been moved forward for better target acquisition. The fire control selector will change to be thumb activated and have four positions: safe, single shot, three round burst and full auto. Many of the qualities that made the AK rifles so reliable have been retained in the new design. The rifle will come in a variety of calibers including 5.45x39mm, 5.56x45mm NATO, 12ga, 7.62x39mm and a 6.5mm new variant that is still being developed. At this point it is unclear if all of these calibers will be available in the U.S. version. It is also said that all of the AK mags will fit the AK-12. Overall the AK-12 looks like a solid rifle and a worthy successor to the AK-47– when the time comes. But only time and battlefield testing will tell if this rifle will be as prolific as the AK series.
After all the time and money that was spent on this project the Russian Minister of Defense has said that they will not be adopting a new battle rifle anytime in the foreseeable future. He cited the cost of the new rifle and the fact that they have a surplus, some estimate as many as 17 million, AK-47s. For the time being, the new rifle will reportedly be sold to other countries instead of being used by the Russians. This seems to be a good business decision for the manufacturer as it will create a great revenue stream. I’m hoping to see a civilian version of the AK-12 here in the United States sooner rather than late, but I’m not going to hold my breath. This new rifle looks like a lot of fun and with the wide range of calibers should make for some cool shooting platforms. As more details come to light I will be sure to let you know. I’m sure the left will be thrilled with this news!