19:33 GMT17 January 2021
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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.

    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.

    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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    ergonomic, firing accuracy, new assault rivals, replacement, test, AK-12, AEK-971, AK-74, Kalashnikov Concern, Russian Armed Forces, Vladimir Zlobin, Russia
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