The “Kalashnikov AKMSU compact assault rifle” was sort of an enigma among Kalashnikov weapons. Images of this gun were circulated in some firearms publications since the early 1990’s, which also claimed limited production during Soviet times and described it as a short-barrelled version of the well-known Kalashnikov AKMS rifle. However, both IZHMASH and TOZ factories, two of the primary Soviet-era manufacturers of Kalashnikov rifles, never confirmed production of this gun, and no Russian military museum has similar guns on display or in collection. The only one known example of the ‘AKMSU rifle’ is stored at the Royal Armories collection in Leeds, UK (former MoD Pattern room), where all its known photos were made (including the image below). Recent study of this sole prototype revealed its most possible origin, and it is not Russia or the USSR.
At first glance, this AKMSU rifle carries TOZ (Tula Arms factory) marks and a ‘1977’ manufacture date on the left side of its front trunnion. However, the stamped steel receiver is clearly of mixed Chinese Type 56-1 / Soviet pattern. It has a ‘Chinese style’ arrangement of rivets at the rear of the receiver (above the stock hinge), and at the front of the triggerguard, as opposed to Soviet-made AKMS rifles. However, the front trunnion is pinned to the receiver according to the Soviet pattern, which is not surprising assuming that the front trunnion itself is made in the USSR. The thickness of the steel receiver is also similar to that of Chinese guns, which is of a thicker gauge when compared to Soviet Kalashnikov rifles. Internal parts of the gun appear to be a mismatched hodge-podge from different manufacturers, and its specific type of ‘thumb-hole’ forend never appears on any of the Soviet – or Russian-made Kalashnikov rifles. The same applies to the characteristically (and uselessly) ribbed flash hider, which is unique to this gun.
Since we know that this gun was delivered to the UK from Afghanistan during the late 1980’s, we can safely assume that this ‘AKMSU’ rifle was assembled by some indigenous local gunsmith in Afghanistan or Pakistan, and that this gun is NOT a Russian-made gun. It must be noted that several countries make similar guns, such as the Zastava M92 from Serbia or Type 56C from China, but neither looks exactly like this one.
Based on the information provided by Kalashnikov.media