Kalashnikov AK-12 and AK-15 assault rifle (Russia)

Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle, early prtotype as shown in 2013


Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle, prtotype that originally participated in “Ratnik” trials
It features ambidextrous short-throw safety/selector levers and charging handle that could be swapped to either side of the gun during disassembly (and also proved to be one ot the weak point of this design)


5.45mm Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle, current version
photo: “Kalashnikov” Concern

5.45mm Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle, current version
photo: “Kalashnikov” Concern

7.62mm Kalashnikov AK-15 assault rifle with tactical sound suppressor (silencer)


7.62mm AK-15K compact assault rifle
7.62mm AK-15K compact assault rifle








Gas operated

Length, mm

880-940 (690 with stock folded)

Barrel length, mm


Weight, kg



Rate of fire, rounds/minute


Magazine capacity, rounds



The 5.45mm Kalashnikov AK-12 assault rifle (GRAU index 6P70 / 6П70) is a new weapon which is eventually intended to replace previous generations of 5.45mm Kalashnikov assault rifles (AK74, AK74M) in service with Russian and other governmental forces. AK-12 project was commenced in 2011 by IZHMASH factory (now part of the “Kalashnikov” concern) as a private venture. In 2013 it was entered to the “Ratnik” trials which were held by Russian army. The goal of the “Ratnik” trials was to select a new combat kit for Russian Special forces, which, besides other items, shall include 7.62mm and 5.45mm assault rifles of modern design and increased effectiveness.

During these years, AK-12 rifle went through several modifications. Early guns, developed between 2011 and 2013, were designed by Vladimir Zlobin, former senior small arms designer at Tula Sporting and Hunting arms design bureau (TsKIB SOO), who was invited to work in Izhevsk in 2010. His rifle, while looking slightly more modern and ‘trendy’ than existing AK variants, ultimately failed Ratnik trials. In 2015 official report stated that manufacturer can try to solve many problems with reliability, durability and high production costs, but only at its own expense. By this time, newly established “Kalashnikov”  group, which incorporated IZHMASH as its essential part, had new leadership, and an ultimate decision was to retire the failed design and its chief designer, and get back to work and develop a weapon that would be better suited to existing manufacturing processes, and also capable to fullfill requirements of the ‘Ratnik’ program. New development team was led by current chief designer of Kalashnikov group, Sergey Urzhumtsev, who was appointed in 2014. Starting with proven solutions of the ‘hundred’ series of Kalashniikov rifles (AK74M etc) his team ultimately produced a prototype, internally designated as AK-400. This weapon prformed rather well during second round of official trials and tests, and in early 2016 it was approved for initial batch production and field trials in two versions, 5.45mm AK-12 (GRAU index 6P70 / 6П70) and 7.62mm AK-15 (GRAU index 6P71 / 6П71). Both versions were first displayed to the general public during Russian Army-2016 expo in September, 2016.  During field trials, which were held in 2016-2017 in different climate zones and with different troops (mechanized infantry, airborne, naval infantry and spetsnaz) AK-12 and AK-15 performed sufficiently well to warrant official recomendation for adoption by Russian army officials. This recommendation was formally published in January, 2018, and by late 2018 Kalashnikov group is expected to start deliveries of the mass-produced AK-12 and AK-15 rifles for Russian army.

It must be noted that primary rivals for Kalashnikov rifles during Ratnik trials were balanced action rifles, produced by Degtyarov ZID plant and known as A-545 and A-762. Those rifles, which are noticeaby more expensive and complicated, were officially recommended for adoption for Russian Special Forces only. According to published statements, 5.45mm A-545 balanced action rifles are about 10% more effective than AK-12 at ranges of up to 300 meters and when firing 2-round bursts. At longer ranges, AK-12 holds the edge over its competitior by about the same margin (10%), thanks to its better single shot accuracy.

Kalashnikov concern also offers compact versions of both rifles, known as AK-12K and AK-15K. Those weapons are well suited for CQB use by Special Forces or as Personal Defense Weapons for vehicle and heavy armament crews. Another development that stemmed from latest version of the AK-12 rifle is the RPK-16 light machine gun / squad automatic weapon.

Description below applies for current production weapons.

Kalashnikov AK-12 and AK-15 assault rifles have traditional Kalashnikov-type gas operated action with rotary bolt locking, and use magazines compatible with previous generations of 5.45mm AK74 ot 7.62mm AKM and AK103 rifles respectively. In all other respects those rifles are similar. The receiver, gas block, gas tube and barrel are redesigned to achieve better accuracy under all conditions. Gas tube is permanently attached to the receiver and has a removable plug at the front for inspection and maintenance. Forend is attached to the gas tube and the front of the receiver, forming stable and rigid platform for acessories and protecting the barrel from external stresses and bending, because barrel does not touch the forend.
Trigger and safety / fire selector unit is redesigned to provide three modes of fire, including single shots, 2-round bursts and full automatic fire, and familiar Kalashnikov-style safety/selector switch is provided by an “index finger pad” to ensure faster and more convenient operation.

AK-12 rifle is equipped with integrated Picatinny rail on the top of the redesigned, detachable top cover, which permits simple and fast installation of modern day and night sighting equipment. Top cover is attached to the receiver using captive cross-pin at the front, and has a spring-loaded element at the rear to provide stable platform with literally zero play or wobble. Forend is also equipped with Picatinny rails for various tactical accessories such as vertical grips, flashlights and lasers. Rifle is equipped with side-folding shoulder stock which is adjustable for length of pull. This shoulder stock is a very strong desig, allowing extensive use of underbarrel grenade launcher. Iron sights consist of a shrouded front post, mounted on the gas block, and an adjustable rear aperture sight, installed on the removable base using upper Picatinny rail. Barrel is provided with effective removable compensator / muzzle brake. Depending on the tactical situation, a bayonet or quick detachable sound suppressor can be mounted on the barrel. To further increase combat effectiveness of the rifle, it can be equipped with 40mm underballer grenade launcher such as GP-25 or GP-34. Cleaning kit is stored inside a container at the base of pistol grip, and a three-piece cleaning rod is stored inside the shoulder stock tube.

 Official video about AK-12 and AK-15 from Kalashnikov.media


Partial disassembly of AK-12. Source and more photos: gallery at Kalashnikov.media

removing top cover from AK-12 rifle
removing top cover from AK-12 rifle

removing forend from AK-12 rifle
removing forend from AK-12 rifle; note permanently fixed gas tube with removable maintenance plug at the front
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