As you may already know since you clicked this article, the AK-12 is the latest installment, so to say, in the AK-47 family – even though it was first introduced way back, in 2012.
However, despite it being introduced in 2012, it already shows signs that it can surpass its predecessor. Why? Well, earlier this year, on the 6th of April, the Russian Ministry of Defense engaged in a three-year contract with the manufacturers of the new AK-12 – the Kalashnikov Concern.
What did the contract imply?
The Ministry of Defense basically bought 150,000 AK-12 rifles from the manufacturer. Important is the fact that this was Russia’s first big purchase of a new, updated rifle since the 1990s AK-74M.
Therefore, given that the AK-74M was replaced by the latest edition of the 47 family, we can suspect that the AK-12 is one of the veteran approved selections in terms of capable firearms. After all, you can’t have the military use a new gun if the veterans don’t inspect it thoroughly!
But we’re not here to suspect! We are here to provide you with a full review of the AK-12, from stock to muzzle.
As mentioned above, the AK-12 was created in 2012, under the name AK-12 Avtomat. The rifle’s main feature consists of something that its predecessors – AK-74M, AKM, AK-74 – lacked, namely improved modularity and ergonomics.
Most gun designers stated that the AK-12 model brought improved service life, accuracy, and reliability to the table. Due to these characteristics, the rifle now has less recoil, is shorter and lighter, features better cooling, and can also be reloaded with a single hand.
Moreover, the very characteristics mentioned above have persuaded the Russian military to use the ¬AK-12 Kalashnikov Avtomat as the main personal weapon of the Russian’s individual soldier equipment complex, Ratnik.
A Re-Designed Rifle
Even though the AK-12 was first demonstrated in 2012, the rifle we get to see today in action is not the same! Reportedly, this new AK is based on the experience and work that was accumulated over the last ten years.
The prototype for the AK-12 was actually completed in 2011, the same year when the Avtomat generation began to be tested. Overall, the AK-12 was designed to replace the AK-74M, -74, -103, the early AKM, AKMS, as well as all of the other AKs that were still in service.
The main goals of the AK-12 were, as follows:
– To increase the gun’s versatility.
– To improve the characteristics of the ergonomics.
– To preserve and potentially improve the main performance characteristics of the gun – fire accuracy, reliability, and survivability.
Despite the lack of support from the Russian government that stated that the old AKs are still successful, the AK-12 would soon be named as the main weapon for the Ratnik complex.
AK-12 Kalashnikov Review
It was about time to cut the chatter and move into some more important details. Namely, we’ll jump right into what makes the AK-12 a rifle that can withstand the popularity and force of all the previous AKs, especially the AK-47.
So, in terms of details, a proud owner of an AK-12 can enjoy:
– A 5.45x39mm caliber.
– A length of 730/940mm (29.75/37 inches) with stock folded and unfolded.
– A weight of 3.2 kg (7.1 lbs.) without cartridges.
– A barrel length of 415mm (16.3 inches).
– A bullet velocity of 900m/s (2,952 fps).
– A 650 rds/min rate of fire.
– A 1,000 m maximum aiming range.
– A 600 m maximum effective range.
– A magazine capacity of 95 rounds for a drum magazine, and 30 to 60 rounds for box-type magazines.
– Three firing modes – fixed 3-shot burst, automatic, and single shot.
These characteristics tell us one thing – the AK-12 is mostly in line with its predecessors. However, the part that sets it apart from the older models is the so-called modernization kit that enhances all of the technical characteristics mentioned above.
In short, the AK-12 is still an AK, but with improved design!
The AK-12 Details
– Stamped Receiver
The AK-12 comes equipped with the standard AK-74 stamped receiver, which encloses the bolt groups and the standard trigger. The difference from the previous models is brought by the Krebs enhanced safety lever that was added later in the development phase.
In terms of the magazine release, the AK-12 features the regular AK latch and not a release button.
When it comes to the stock, the AK-12 is equipped with an AR-style telescopic stock and not with the multi-functional stock of the original AK. However, the stock-folding mechanism is the same as the one used in the AK-74.
– Top Cover
The top cover comes with brand new things as well! It is hinged and uses new retention and mounting mechanisms.
Moreover, the rear sight block is now modified and doesn’t support rear sight anymore. Instead, the block is used to retain the upper handguard more firmly and for the top cover hinge.
On top of that, the rear sight block can be removed and then re-installed along the Picatinny rail. The latter runs across the entire length of the top cover – it also aligns with the section on top of the upper handguard.
The upper handguard features two mounting spots for the sections of the Picatinny rail – one on each side. The lower handguard has its rail at the bottom.
Gas Tube and Block
Even if the rifle’s gas tube seems to have the same length and similar design as the previous gun models – apart from the upper handguard brackets – the AK-12’s gas block is different.
It is a combination between a gas block and a front sight block. This new design places the gas block higher than the usual AK, with the gas chamber going to the front, where it is then topped with a gas regulator.
This combination block also features an accessory lug that can fit a grenade launcher.
The new AK-12 comes with a muzzle that’s tipped with a threaded block. The latter sports a bayonet lug and a detent pin. However, the gun uses two completely different muzzle devices.
One muzzle is similar to the one used on the Polish Tantal rifle, while the other one is simply a version similar to the AK-74 brake.
Reportedly, the muzzle is slimmer and much longer than the original AK-74 mainly because the gun was manufactured with the use of foreign rifle grenades in mind.
In terms of peculiarities, we also have to mention the free-floated barrel – once again. The handguards and rail we’ve mentioned above are positioned in such a way that the contact between the barrel and the handguard is eliminated – thus improving accuracy.
Moreover, the front of the flash hider now features little spikes that soldiers can use to break the glass and create a firing position.
Lastly, the AK-12 comes equipped with a reinforced locking dust cover on which sights can be directly mounted on.
The Bottom Line
It goes without saying that, even though the heart of the AK remains pretty much the same, its functionality is now enhanced with the new AK-12.
For example, this particular model is issued with a new type of magazine that has a bevel on the spot where the bottom of the magazine touches the ground, for increased stability during monopodding.
On top of that, the magazine has windows on the side so that you can see the number of rounds you have left.
Overall, the AK-12 is an improvement in (almost) every aspect, especially when compared with the AK-74M. The ergonomic changes are a suite of aftermarket upgrades that were ready to use on the AK-74M, but not the same can be said about all of the other changes that definitely give the AK a new feel.