All about the AK 12

This is for all of you Kalashniblaster fans out there. We’re on the hunt for more intel on the AK 12, and we’re adding more as we come across it. Here’s what we have so far:

The AK-12: Russia’s New Service Rifle

AK-12, Russian Service Rifle
Russia’s new service rifle, the AK-12.

If you’ve ever wished you grabbed a Russian AK before the import ban, go ahead and check out this article (you Garand Thumb fans will get it). We’ve heard about the updated AKs for a while now, but uber reviewer Garand Thumb got his hands on one and put it through its paces. What follows is a typically thorough “tip to butt” review of the AK-12, with plenty of range footage, ending with some honest opinions.

Garand Thumb comparing the AK-74 and AK-12
The AK-12 (right) is essentially an updated version of the AK-74M.
AK-12 system
The AK-12 System. (Photo credit: Special Operations)
Garand Thumb holding AK-12
You can see the upgraded furniture and rail system.

Now, before you get excited, the ban hasn’t been lifted and Papa Kalash’s latest grandchild isn’t going to be flowing into the country anytime soon. For the newer stuff, a great-nephew is about the best we can do for now. GT notes that some parts kits are available, but they are scarce, and you need a lot of proprietary stuff that you may or may not be able to get.

So…What’s New?

The short version is that the AK-12 is a modernized AK-74M chambered in 5.45 x39. One new feature is the redesigned muzzle device, which GT says makes it a “smooth shooter,” but comes at the expense of heavy concussion directed at teammates or range pals, thanks to the aggressive brake.

One good thing about it is the quick attach ability for suppressors. The furniture is new, as well. The handguard is equipped with rails for lights or grips and the pistol grip has much-improved ergonomics and a better angle.

Russian solder with suppressed AK-12.
Russian Soldier Running Suppressed. (Photo credit:

Best of all, the AK-12 has a new design for the familiar AK dust cover. It’s reinforced and much more stable, allowing for the mounting of optics on the integral top rail. The rear iron sights have also been moved to the back of the dust cover, creating a much better sight radius. All in all, GT says the new dust cover is “much needed” and “probably the most forward-thinking part of the new design.”

While the AK-12 will accept AK-74 mags, it has a newly designed mag as well. This one features a clear polymer window and molded side grips similar to Magpul mags. The receiver is still recognizably an AK, but it is updated and not interchangeable with the AK-74. There is an enhanced safety lever with four positions: safe, full auto, 2-round burst, and semi-auto.

AK-12 magazine change
Same ol’ Mag Change.

GT liked the trigger, which he says is “much improved.” Another improvement is the telescoping buffered stock, which looks a lot like the M4 stock system, but it’s proprietary to the AK-12. It folds to the left. Looking for photos for this article, I ran across a different stock system than in the video. It could be, and probably is, that the Russian military uses more than one.

Russian Soldier with what may be an alternate stock design.
Russian Soldier with what may be an alternate stock design.

What’s the Verdict?

Garand Thumb liked the rifle. I mean, it’s a Russian AK, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. But he tempers that by saying “incremental modernizations are leading to a better rifle overall.” Not exactly a ringing endorsement.

He does say it’s “getting closer to how an AR feels,” thanks to the buffered stock and the muzzle device, but, as noted, the brake comes with a price. I think it’s probably what we might expect. Kalashnikov produces a high-quality rifle, and it is no doubt serving the Russian military very well, but some feel the design is dated.

Garand Thumb running that AK.

I love me some AKs, and I sure as heck would like to have one of these, but GT’s final evaluation is likely spot-on: “An incredibly robust, well-designed rifle…but behind the times compared to other modern military rifles.”

Gun Myths: AK-12 vs. M4 (Sort Of)

Bucky Lawson (June 2020)

Well, the always-interesting crowd over at Kalashnikov Group have taken on the age-old (or older) question of which one is better, Kalashnikov or Stoner? Now, most of us will probably agree that the answer is subjective. There are so many variables that it just doesn’t seem possible to name a clear winner, but “Kalashnikov Specialist” Georgiy Gubich gives it a limited, but good, try and his take on it is pretty interesting. For the test, he uses a Russian AK-12 and an unknown (at least to me) AR variant that he says is close enough to the M4 for the purposes of the test, and that does appear to be the case. Also employed is standard issue ammo for both rifles in 5.56×45 NATO and 5.45×39 Russian. Unspecified Red Dot Sights optics are used on both.

AK-12 and M4
AK-12 and a Sort OF M4 Head to Head. The Sighting Parameters of the AK are Apparently

AK-12 vs M4 — The Tests

First up is recoil.

Gubich says that “Zealots of the Stoner sect” insist that the AR has less recoil than the AK. He then goes through an explanation of recoil using a formula that addresses mass, velocity, and momentum to arrive at a number that shows the AK-12 to have less recoil.

AK-12 vs M4 - recoil formula
The Recoil Formula.

Now, I’m not much on ciphering, so I’ll let you watch that yourself. I do, however, think it’s just a little disingenuous, since those claims are usually made when comparing the AR to an AK firing the venerable 7.62×39, which does have a heavier felt recoil.

My only issue is that he doesn’t differentiate, nor does he reveal which chambering he’s using, except by briefly mentioning the bullet weight, until much later in the video. But maybe I’m being picky. He does point out that the AK-12 features a muzzle brake, while the AR only has a birdcage flash hider. For an opinion on the 7.62×39 version of the AK-12, including a recoil comparison, check this out.

At the range.

Next up are range tests aimed at the idea that the AR has better ergonomics than the AK and whether it actually matters.

AK-12 vs M4 range shooting
The Shootist.

Gubich times himself on the following tests with both rifles: One shot from low ready with the safety off; one shot from low ready with the safety on; and one shot with a mag change followed by another single shot. I would like to have seen a mag loaded with a single round, followed by a mag change and charging the bolt before the second shot, but it didn’t happen.

The averages from each rifle were remarkably similar, but I will say that it appeared to me that he was far more comfortable with the AK than the AR, which may have affected his performance a little bit. But honestly, that seems perfectly normal since he says upfront that he’s a “Kalashnikov specialist” and I don’t think it made enough difference to say it invalidated the test.

Gubich also noted, correctly, that his tests were under lab conditions and that the numbers did not reflect what a soldier would experience in the field, especially under fire.

Exposure testing, Russian style.

Gubich then goes outside, drops both rifles on the ground, kicks snow over them (because OF COURSE there’s snow in Central Russia), and leaves them on a table in the open for a half-hour.

AK-12 vs M4 snow and ice test.
The Snow and Ice Test. Because Russia.

Both rifles had mags inserted but no round was chambered. When he came back, both rifles had ice on them.

AK-12-vs M4 ice and snow on the guns.
After Being Left Out in the Cold for 30 Minutes.

I don’t want to ruin it for you, but the AK-12 shrugged it off and performed as expected. The AR…not so much. Major issues with the charging handle and mag release. I do not have the experience to judge whether it was a valid field test. I’ll let you watch it for yourself.

exposure test
Left: Rifle is Fine. Right: Not So Much.

Testing for Accuracy.

Finally, Gubich addresses the “myth” that the AR is more accurate than the AK. He fired both from a prone position, using the aforementioned ammo, at 50 meters.

Both held groups that were close enough that it didn’t matter. He claims the idea that the AR is more accurate comes from guys who shoot Gucci ARs with match ammo. You decide.

He also briefly addresses the fact that the AR has a “bolt stop” that holds the bolt open on the last round, while the AK does not. Many feel this is a disadvantage for the AK, but Gubich says it is not. He tells of two incidents in which he suffered a stoppage due to a “bolt stop,” and concludes that “The bolt stop does not increase effectiveness.” Again, you make the call.

accuracy test
The Accuracy Test was Pretty Much Even.

AK-12 vs M4 — Conclusion

I think that Georgiy Gubich has his opinion about which one is superior, but, in all fairness, he breaks it down like this: “Reduced weight (M4) versus less recoil (AK-12)”; “better ergonomics (M4) versus more reliable controls (AK-12).” I also think his final conclusion is unarguable: “I personally think the best one is the one you know how to use properly.” Sigh. Still no verdict.

If you’ve never checked out the Kalashnikov Group YouTube Channel, you really should. Lots of cool (135) Gun Myths: Exploding Gas Tank — YouTube stuff and a pretty good sense of humor.

Some of it’s even in English!

6P70 AK12 — Russia’s New Army Rifle

Patti Miller (June 2021)

Want to know more about the AK-12 that the Russian Army has now? The gent over at Oxide did a quick review of the 6P70 model and had some good insights. According to him, this is a 545 type rifle that replaces the AK74M variations that they used to be issued. Throughout the review, it is apparent there he thinks there are problems with the new design.

While he states there are issues with the rifle, he says above all it’s still fun to shoot and functions very well. The upgrades are only minor and seem odd given the other options the rifle company was considering. His main issue revolves around the two-round burst selection being
added. It seems like it was more of a gimmick than an actually useful function for the rifle.

shooting the AK-12
Even with the perceived flaws with the AK-12, it still is a fun rifle to shoot.

In addition to the two-round burst option, they also added new accessory rails, a dust cover on the gas tube, an extended stock, windows in the magazine, and glowing followers—both of which are used to track rounds remaining.

AK-12 Fire Selector
For Oxide, the selector is not ergo friendly and way too crowded with four different options.

But he spends most of his time focusing on the two-round burst option. While shooting the AK-12, he doesn’t see much difference between it and the auto 74 rifle. The overall design of the 12 seems like a holdover from balance recoil designs but doesn’t actually have a balanced recoil. Even though there is low recoil, the heavy cycle design of the rifle makes it hard to stay on target in the two-round burst selection so you really can’t hit two rounds in the same spot.

AK-12 rounds on target
The review states that it was harder to stay on target on the two-round burst than on full auto.

He says the selector itself is also an issue, ergonomically. The crowded 4-position selector has a spring to keep the selector tight against the receiver that basically inhibits the ability to switch between options quickly. With the positions being too close together it causes him to miss the full auto or burst options often. He finds that the best way that to switch between fire selections is to actually go all the way down to single shot and then back up to the selection you want.

AK-12 cleaning accessories
It’s not often that your rifle carries its own cleaning kit, but the AK-12 has one in the stock.

In regard to the upgrades for disassembly, the dust cover is now removed by a pin and no longer by a button. The gas tube is welded in place to keep the rail steady and has a port for cleaning. The lower handguard can be removed using punches that are held in the stock, along with a cleaning rod. The rifle grip also holds an oil bottle. He maintains that one would only need to mess with the punches if the polymer rails need to be replaced.

While the AK-12 may be a transitional model to a better option for the Russian soldiers, it doesn’t seem to be the case. He concludes that the features on the AK-12 could be just to show unjustifiable waste for the army with incremental upgrades from the previously issued rifle.

Mikhail’s Dozen: the AK 12 Kalashnikov

Bucky Lawson (June 2020)

If there’s one thing Kalashnikov does well (other than making baller rifles), it’s self-promotion. They have one of the coolest channels on YouTube, a sweet website from which I am, unfortunately, not allowed to buy anything. An example of why I like the channel: Russian TV recently released an (almost) all-access program on the factory and the AK 12 rifle. The AK-12, for those who are unfamiliar, is in the fifth generation of Kalashnikov rifles.

The TV show is called “Combat Approved.” I’d never heard of them until now, but it was maybe the best behind-the-scenes Kalashnikov program I’ve seen yet.

Even better, a good part of it is in English, so I only had to read subtitles some of the time. So I subscribed to their channel.

The program is a nice balance of production, testing, and range work.

AK-12 Production and Testing

The host talks briefly about the Izhmash factory, its size, and all that. Since all Kalashnikov rifles, plus Dragunovs and others, are made there, it is definitely a big place. But he quickly focuses on the area where the AK-12 is built from the ground up. We see barrel blanks, how they are bored and stretched, receivers, and gas systems.

You see a little of each procedure, as well as how the rifle is assembled, which I found pretty interesting.

AK-12 in manufacturing process
Russian steel.
Press fitting AK-12 barrel and receiver, before and after.
Press fitting the barrel into the receiver: during and after.
Installing furniture on AK-12
Installing the furniture.

Depending on the day, the factory supervisor said they would turn out anywhere from 500 to 1000 AK-12s in each 11-hour shift. We also learn that the AK-12 is chambered exclusively in 5.45×39, while the 7.62×39 version is designated AK-15. I hadn’t seen that before.

Quality control is obviously a big deal, and each rifle goes through several steps in the process. Each stage of production is signed off by the technician who performs that step. Each technician also stamps the rifle. Those steps are confirmed by a supervisor who also signs off on it. Then, it goes to a military liaison officer who examines each rifle and approves it or sends it back.

Supervisor’s check on fitted barrels.
Supervisor’s check on fitted barrels.
Military Liason Officer doing quality check on AK-12.
The Military Liaison Officers’ quality check and assembly.

One feature I noticed at this stage, that I hadn’t seen before, is the cleaning kit housed in the pistol grip.

Also, note that the front sight has been integrated into the gas block. The rifle can be sent back by anyone in the process. Redundancy, in this case, is a good thing. The production standards are determined by the Russian government, as is to be expected.

There are several tests performed in the factory. They didn’t specify whether each rifle is subjected to these or just random samples from each batch, but I can’t imagine testing every single rifle like this.

First, we see the dust test, where a rifle is subjected to a dust storm in an enclosed room and fired by a technician in an environmental suit. Another room simulates a cold rainstorm and ice is allowed to form on the rifle before firing.

AK-12 dust test
Dust test.
Water test on a hot AK-12 barrel.
Water test on a hot barrel.

On the Range

Most of the range work was done by the production crew at an offsite range. They used an AKM instead of an AK-12, which we are told was unavailable. The factory range supervisor assures us that the AK-12 is built to the same quality standards as the AK-12, so the tests are valid. He was actually pretty nonchalant about it, almost like he thought it was a dumb question. Maybe it was.

The range tests featured the ever-popular reliability tests with dirt, mud, water, old engine oil, physical stress tests, you name it. One I hadn’t seen before was jacking up a car and then using two AKs as jack stands.

The Jack Stand test with Two AK-74Ms.
The Jack Stand Test with Two AK-74Ms. Nothing bent or broke.

Another test involved heating the barrel with a blowtorch until it’s red hot and fire it while the metal is still glowing. The AK, of course, kept right on firing. So, most of the tests are stuff we’ve grown familiar with, but still fun to watch.

Heating AK-12 with a blowtorch before firing it red hot.
Heating the barrel for ten minutes with a blowtorch before firing it red hot

So, what’s the Big Deal?

The AK-12 seems to be a typical Kalashnikov in terms of quality, reliability, and function, with a few upgrades, like furniture, grips, and mags. The Russians have always kinda been “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” when it comes to their small arms. Some believe the AK is dated, but there is much to be said for a thoroughly proven design that is gonna go “bang” every time.

I thought the program was very interesting, especially the production stuff. There are also some cool segments in the factory museum, which traces the Izhevsk Arsenal all the way back to the Napoleonic Wars.

They actually have a musket that served against Napoleon’s invasion in 1812 and examples of other weapons throughout the history of the factory, including the actual test Kalashnikov that was accepted by the Red Army, in its original condition— the first AK-47.

Napoleonic flintlock
The Napoleonic flintlock made at the same factory.
The first officially adopted AK-47.
The first officially adopted AK-47.
Historic Izhevsk muskets.
Historic Izhevsk muskets.
Historic Izhevsk Mosin Nagants
Historic Izhevsk Mosin Nagants, among others.

It’s noted that some Kalashnikovs are currently built on the same factory floor where those Napoleonic muskets were produced. Pretty sweet. They also roll in some footage of Russian soldiers training the Syrian Army and Russian operators in Syria.

All-in-all, I enjoyed it. Maybe you will too.

Russian rifles, the AK-15 and AK-12

Inside look at the AK200, AK12 and AK15 at the Kalashnikov Factory

Patti Miller (July 2021)

With the overall prevalence of the AK rifle in the world, wouldn’t it be interesting to see how they are made? Well, here’s something that’ll help quench your curiosity. Anna Knishenko, the host of The Kalashnikova Show, takes us on a tour for an inside view of the Kalashnikov Concern main factory in Izhevsk, Russia.

Nicknamed the Armory of Russia, this town and factory produce nearly 10 percent of all small arms in the world and nearly all the small arms in Russia. In these two videos, Anna takes a look at the factory along with the AK-200 series rifle, the AK15, and the AK- 12 with its armory piercing rounds.

Inside the Kalashnikov Factory

The Kalashnikov Concern was originally an armory built by the decree of Alexander I in the early 1800s. For the last two centuries, high-tech weapons for the Russian military have been produced there. In the early 1900s, the armory was renamed for the renowned designer Mikhail Kalashnikov.

Inside the factory, there is a collection of all significant weapons made there, including a pre-production AK-47. According to Anna, the AK-47 rifle was shown superior to the US Colt M16 in Vietnam and Afghanistan wars with American soldiers ditching their Colts to go with the Kalashnikov rifles instead.

Anna Knishenko holding a production AK-12 inside the Kalashnikov factory
Host Anna Knishenko holds a production AK-12 inside the Kalashnikov Concern factory.

According to Knishenko, the Kalashnikov rifle is the most widely used weapon, with more than 100 million rifles of various calibers in the world. All the rifles are made in the Izhevsk Kalashnikov Concern factory.

The New Chukovin Sniper Rifle

The first rifle Anna looked at was the new Chukovin sniper rifle. This rifle is one of the newest generation sniper rifles and was based on the famous Dragunov rifle. It was designed to use 7.62 Russian calibers, .308 Win, or .338 LaPua with 10, 15, or 20 round magazines. Thanks to the Picatinny rails, it is compatible with any accessory made in the world and has an effective range of roughly 1,200 meters with the standard ammo.

Kalashnikov Chukovin sniper rilfe
The Chukovin sniper rifle is the latest generation from the Kalashnikov family of rifles.


Next Anna took a look at the AK200 series rifles. It also has the Picatinny rail added for accessory compatibility. It has been lauded for its high level of efficiency and accuracy, similar to all Kalashnikov rifles. Chambered in 5.45mm, it has a telescoping stock that can also be folded to the side along with transparent windows in the 30 round magazines to help to see how much ammo is left.

Kalashnikov AK-200
Part of the 5th generation of the AK rifle family, it was designed to meet the specifications of the Russian Ministry of Defense.

AK-12 and AK-15 Rifles

Next, she looked at the AK12 and AK15 rifles. Both are the 5th generation in the AK rifle series and were designed to meet the specifications of the Russian Ministry of Defense. The main requirements were to adapt the firearm to be used with different types of combat gear and compatibility with other combat equipment.

The AK-12 is based on the AK-74 rifle and is chambered in 5.45mm. It was designed for the military and used in Ground and Airborne troops as well as the Marines. The AK15 is chambered 7.62mm making it an ideal rifle for the Russian Special Forces. It too has a Picatinny rail to allow accessories to be added, such as sights, lights, night vision scopes, or under-barrel grenade launchers.

Kalashnikov AK-12
Based on the AK-74 rifle, it’s a natural fit for the Russian ground and airborne troops and the Marines.

The videos have test shooting throughout and end up with them testing a brand new AK-12. They tested the accuracy as well as the thought that it would shoot armory piercing rounds. They shot at a 5mm thick armored panel from 50 meters and all shots went clean through thus proving it right under those conditions.

This has been a collaborative effort by two or more members of The Mag Life contributor team: to wit, a JWOT (Joint Writing Operations Team). We'll advise which specific contributors in the text of the article. Subscribe to GunMag TV and follow GMW on Instagram, @gunmagwarehouse. Connect on Facebook, /gunmagwarehouse/.

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