Top Gun: Russia Looking for Replacement for Tried and True AK-74

© Sputnik / Aleksandr Kondratuk / Go to the photo bankRussian Federal Security Service holds training in Chelyabinsk Region
Russian Federal Security Service holds training in Chelyabinsk Region - Sputnik International
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One of the two new assault rifles currently undergoing field tests in Russia will replace the workhorse Kalashnikov AK-74. Zvezda TV looked at the strong and weak points of the AEK-971 and AK-12 prototypes.

The AEK-971 is based on previous AK rifles in internal design and layout, but features a balanced automatics recoil system (BARS) that enhances the traditional Kalashnikov gas piston operating system by reducing the negative effects of recoil.

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BARS works by shifting mass toward the muzzle of the rifle as the bolt and bolt carrier recoil rearward by way of a counter-weight that negates the impulse of the gas piston and bolt carrier, resulting in more controllable and twice as accurate automatic fire.

The AEK-971 is more ergonomic, streamlined and better looking compared to its predecessor. The folding stock has been replaced with a telescopic one and the pistol grip has a more convenient angle.

The foregrip, pistol grip and handguard are made from impact-resistant plastic.

Each AEK rifle is fitted with a Warsaw Pact side-rail bracket for mounting optics

All that said, the AEK-971 still looks like a radically modified Kalashnikov.

As for the second contender to replace the AK-74, the AK-12 being developed by the Kalashnikov Concern, its resemblance with its legendary predecessor comes as no surprise at all.

The AK-12’s designer, Vladimir Zlobin, wanted to create a weapon that could be easily handled by right- and left-handed people alike. 

Moreover, it makes it possible to change the clip and reload using just one hand only.

The AK-12 also features a stock latch on the stock itself, allowing for it to be folded to either side of the rifle. It has a rubber height-adjustable cheek piece and butt plate.

The barrel is well balanced ensuring better firing accuracy. A breech frame with a Picatinny rail allows the user to assemble and disassemble the weapon without adjusting the sight.

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A more conveniently placed fire selector allows fully automatic fire and two-round burst fire.

The AK-12’s main forte is its full compatibility with previous generations of Kalashnikov rifles resulting in easier and cheaper production.

The AEK-971 has its strong points too. Until 2006 is was combat proven in Chechnya tested by Marine and Interior forces.

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