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NATO’s Worst Nightmare: Russia’s Twin-Barrel Assault Rifle

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Better firepower, accuracy and repeatability - these are the qualities Russian armorers tried to bring together in the AO-63 twin-barrel assault rifle, this country’s best known of its kind. It was never mass-produced though.

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Developed in the 1960s and produced by the Central Research Institute for Precision Machine Building (TsNIITochMash), the AO-63 prototype was utterly unique in its approach to voluminous fire, utilizing an over-under, double-barreled configuration.

It was capable of fully automatic fire, chambered for the 5.45 x 39mm round. Using two barrels it was capable of a whopping 6,000 rpm in a two-round burst and 850 rpm in sustained fire.

Overall range was listed as 1,000, though its effectiveness was generally at 600 meters.

With its fantastic firing rate and accuracy the AO-63 was an ideal weapon for Special Operations or just about any other troops, capable of destroying virtually any enemy up to 100 meters away.

The AO-63 assault rifle was briefly part of the project Abakan trials in the mid-1980s, in search of a more accurate alternative for the standard issue AK-47.

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Its main downside stemmed from its complexity of construction and assembly, which eventually pushed the army to choose the the easier-to-build AN-93, better known as the AN-94 Abakan.

The AO-63 twin-barrel assault rifle which instilled so much fear in the hearts of NATO intelligence analysts never entered service, making way for simpler and more traditional designs.

Even though the AO-63 was never produced, the need for a weapon capable of firing twice as many rounds per minute as a conventional one is still existent and Russian armorers are hard at work to come up with a wonder weapon of the future…

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