“IZHMASH” officially presented the new AK-12.
It so happened that the general public, including the foreign, first learned about the Kalashnikov rifle machine only a few years after its creation and adoption. However, this did not prevent AK from becoming, perhaps, the most massive and popular weapon in the world. But another "descendant" of the legendary machine gun has become famous not only before the start of mass production but even before the advent of the prototype. Will the new AK-12 compare with its "grandfather" in combat and quantitative indicators? It’s early to talk about it, for now. But about the wide popularity of the project and the controversy surrounding it, you can already draw conclusions - most likely, the public reaction is caused by the fact that Izhmash tried to publish information about the work to the best of its ability. Besides, public interest was spurred by last year's scandalous news about the termination of military purchases of AK-74M.
And now, literally a few days ago there was another news "from the life of AK-12". It became known that the new automatic is not the first week is at the factory tests - now in full swing are trial firing in difficult climatic conditions. It has been checking the reliability of the weapon design when working under heavy rain, in conditions of heavy dust, low and high temperatures, etc. This means that if there are no serious shortcomings that require serious improvements, by the end of this year the AK-12 will go to state certification. After that, the trial party will be sent to the special subdivisions of the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Internal Affairs, after which these departments will draw their conclusions about the mass purchases of new weapons and replacement of the old one. But such terms can be met only in the absence of problems with the design, and there is absolutely no certainty about this at the moment. The fact is that the AK-12, in contrast to the previous models of the Kalashnikovs, has in its design more than a dozen major changes and innovations. Earlier, when creating a new automatic machine, they were less costly, and even then, most of the improvements came at the technological moments of production. As a consequence, AK-12 is more susceptible to various "childhood diseases", which are common to all new types of equipment and weapons.
Nevertheless, the representatives of “Izhmash” do not talk about the problems that have been revealed on the tests and the improvements, if they were made. They, as is usual in weapons circles, dispense with general phrases like: "trials are going on, the end of them is planned then and then, and the machine itself has such and such advantages over direct competitors." As a competitor (it can be said, this is already a long tradition) is called the American automatic rifle M16 of late modifications. Comparisons with other foreign assault rifles, such as FN SCAR (HAMR), Heckler Koch G36, SIG SG550 or Beretta ARX-160 for some reason are not done. The reasons for this silence can only be guessed. The most plausible and probable explanation can be considered the prevalence of M16 rifles - by their number they exceed all of the above types. Probably, there is logic in comparing the AK-12, planned for a truly large-scale production and M16, more than eight million copies of which have already spread over military units and warehouses of many countries.
While the AK-12 has not yet completed the test, consider its differences from the previous "Kalashnikovs". A considerable part of the design changes is visible even without disassembling the machine. So, the cover of the receiver is now longer and stiffer. In addition, the front part of it is attached to the hinge, which improves the overall rigidity of the structure. Also on the cover is mounted a Picatinny rail, on which it is possible to install additional sighting equipment. The new design of the receiver cover provides greater stability of the sight, mounted on the rail, compared with the old one. Another innovation concerns the handle of the bolt. On the AK-12, it is attached to the piston rod, which allowed to remove the gap between the cover and the receiver - according to the idea of designers, the absence of a gap significantly hinders the ingress of the mud into the machine gun. Also, the bolt handle can be installed on both sides of the assault rifle, if desired by a shooter. The absence of a gap in the old "Kalashnikovs" covered by a fire-translator made it possible to change the design of the latest one. Now its lever is displayed on both sides of the receiver and is located above the pistol grip, which allows you to move it with your thumb. The change-lever still functions as a safeguard, but now has four positions instead of three: safeguard, single shot, three-shot shooting, and fire bursts. The change-lever's progress is relatively small, which may cause certain difficulties for the shooter, accustomed to the "classic" lever of the AK until he gets used to the new design. AK-12 became the first assault rifle of the family, which has a bolt delay so that now the reloading of weapons will take much less time. Also, it should be noted that a new lever-safeguard and bolt delay will allow, if necessary, to replace the magazine and other operations to continue firing with one hand. Even before the demonstration of the prototype AK-12, the designers repeatedly called it "one-armed" in their interviews and emphasized the improvement of the ergonomics of the new assault rifle.
Otherwise, the changes are either not, or they are insignificant and have a technological and "cosmetic" character. Gas engine with a long stroke of the piston and locking the barrel by turning the bolt remained the same as before. Little improvement has undergone the barrel. First, the step and the shape of its rifling were changed, and secondly, the length of the muzzle brake and the compensator were adjusted. Modernization of the compensator allows using with the AK-12 rifle grenades of NATO standards. Significantly improved the "body kit" of the machine. The collapsible stock to the left, but its design is changed-instead of a monolithic or frame construction it is made adjustable in length and has a telescopic construction. For its look, the new stock resembles the stock of the FN SCAR rifle, which has already been repeatedly tested by practice. The forend of AK-12 can be produced in two versions. One involves placing the Picatinny rail on the lower side of the forend, the other is the standard domestic mounts for the grenade launcher GP-25, GP-30 or GP-34. For the ammunition of the new machine can be used all available weapons magazines lines AK and PKK, designed for the appropriate cartridge. Also, new four-row magazines have been created and are being tested, which, with the same length and width as existing ones, can accommodate twice as many ammunition - 60 rounds. However, the fate of such magazines so far does not look very clear, because the military may have its own considerations on the weight of weapons with an affiliated magazine.
Recently it became known that the Ministry of Defense this year has no plans to purchase any products of "Izhmash". From this, we can conclude that the serial production of AK-12 will not begin in 2012. On the other hand, even by December of this year, we should expect, as a maximum, the start of production of a trial lot for trial operation in special units. But the Ministry of Defense has not published its plans for 2013 yet. Perhaps the first serial AK-12 will go to the troops in the next year. And the export prospects of the new Izhevsk machine gun look good. Weapons of the AK family have been popular with the military all over the world for several decades, and the new machine has several innovations designed to bring its appearance closer to the modern requirements for weapons of the assault rifle class.