The New Kalashnikov – AK-12
The world’s most popular rifle now has a replacement. The AK-12 is the modern replacement for the Cold War era AK-47 and AKM rifles. Although similar to the venerable AK platform, the AK-12 is actually a completely new ground up design.
The engineers at Izmash kept everything that makes the AK great but went back to the drawing board to address deficiencies that traditional AK platforms have. The long stroke gas piston action stays but many control features have changed. If you’ve ever shot an AK variant, you will know that other than its magazine release, it lacks ambidextrous controls.
The AK-12 is fitted an ambidextrous selector switch that is 4-position switchable from safe to single, 3-round burst, and full auto fire. The selector switch is located towards the rear of the receiver and can be thumb actuated. This is a much improved design over the older AK’s safety. The charging handle is still reciprocating but can reportedly be installed on either side of the gun making it friendly for both right and left handed shooters.
Mounting choices for optics and accessories on the AK-12 are much improved compared to the AK-47 thanks tot the full-length accessories rail on a hinged top cover. The Picatinny spec rail allows room for optics, lights, and lasers which were difficult to fit on the AK-47/AKM. The top cover is also beefed up and is made with thicker material than the stamped cover of the previous AK. The more secure top cover latch is now located on the right side, just behind the safety selector switch. Picatinny rails are now found on the hand guard as well at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions.
Other improvements include a new more comfortable grip and a folding & telescoping length adjustable buttstock. The AK-12 will be chambered in the traditional 7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm calibers and available in NATO’s 5.56x45mm as well. It has been reported that all AK-47/AKM magazines will work with the AK-12. An exciting prospect is that there is a quad-stack 60 round capacity magazine is in the works.
The reported weight is 3.3 kilograms or 7 pounds, 4 ounces and is on par with the weight of many of its competitor’s rifles. The jury is still out on its looks. Some say it doesn’t matter, but we think it doesn’t hurt morale to have a good-looking gun. Although we’ve learned to love the brutish looks of the original AK series, the AK-12 will still take some getting used to. Regardless, we’re sure that we would have big grins if we got the chance to shoot this thing.
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