Kit Up! readers may already be up to speed on this, but I think it's pretty damn significant to see that Russian arms designers are finally embracing proven design features found on modern, western weapons. Last month, Russia's favorite gun maker, Izhmash, unveiled the latest version of the Kalashnikov family -- the AK12.
It's certainly not the first time the Russians have updated the AK design. Kalashnikov's AK100 series of the mid 1990s featured a polymer folding stock and was offered in 5.56mm NATO.
The new AK12, however, goes a bit further with the addition of a rail system for mounting optics and an ambidextrous selector lever that replaces the over-sized lever of the original design. The pistol grip seems more ergonomic and the new folding stock design appears to have some type of cheek rest.
Izhmash plans to offer the AK12 in four calibers -- 5.45x39mm, 5.56x45mm, 7.62x39mm and 7.62x51mm. Beyond that, I don't know anything else about the new weapon, except what has been written on various gun blogs.
There are several videos circulating on the web, but all of them are in Russian. I did a screening of the video below for a neighbor of mine, who speaks fluent Russian. It doesn't offer many specific details, he said, but Izhmash officials did mention that the new design stirred up quite a bit of fuss among old timers who worry that the AK12 won't have the simplicity and reliability that made the weapon famous.
The video does offer a few close-ups of the weapon and a short firing demo.