The 5.45mm A545 / 6P67 assault rifle, as well as its 7.62mm variant, the A762 / 6P68 assault rifle, were born out of the requirements of the Russian army “Ratnik” program, which sought new and improved uniform, equipment and small arms for all branches of Russian military. “Ratnik” program commenced in 2011, and its requirements in regard to the new assault rifle were written specifically with the “balanced action” system in mind. As such, these requirements sought 20% decrease in dispersion, compared to previous generation of Kalashnikov assault rifles, such as 5.45mm AK-74M and 7.62mm AK-103. Other desired features included addition of the 2-round burst mode, integrated Picatinny rails, and availability to mount a quick-detachable tactical sound suppressor.
Two major participants in this program were the Kalashnikov concern with its AK-12 and AK-15 rifles, and the ZiD Degtyarov plant, located in the city of Kovrov, which developed two new rifles, the A545 and the A762. Those new rifles were based on the older designs from the same factory, the 5.45mm AEK-971 and 7.62mm AEK-973 respectively. After extensive trials and several upgrades both competing systems were recommended for adoption by Russian military in 2017. The Kalashnikov system was recommended for a general issue rifle, while ZiD balanced action rifles were recommended only for Special Forces. The key reason for this is that while 5.45mm A545 assault rifle with its balanced action is about 10% more effective than AK-12, it is also more complicated and noticeably more expensive.
First orders for the A545 rifle, which was also assigned the GRAU index or 6P67 (6П67), were announced only in mid-2020. The 7.62mm A762 rifle received the GRAU index 6P68. It is believed that this first order for the A545 rifle, which is destined for Spetsnaz units and some Airborne troops, is only for 500 rifles or so, while competing Kalashnikov AK-12 was already ordered by Russian government in the amount of more than 100,000 rifles.
As per ZiD representatives, the A545 / 6P67 assault rifle is also known as “KORD-5,45 assault rifle” and its bigger caliber version A762 / 6P68 is also known as “KORD-7,62 assault rifle”. This may cause some confusion, as the KORD-5,45 index is also used for a 5,45mm light machine gun. As it is, the KORD is an acronym that stands for “Design of Degtyarov’s plant” (КОРД – Конструкция Оружейников Дегтяревцев), and it is used for a variety of small arms recently designed at the ZiD factory. Also, it is yet to be seen if the A545 rifle will be really successful in actual use.
The KORD-5,45 assault rifle / A545 assault rifle is a gas operated weapon with balanced action. The A762 rifle is mechanically similar to the A545 but is adapted for the 7.62x39mm ammunition and uses magazines, compatible with 7.62mm Kalashnikov (AKM, AK-103) rifles.
Heart of the A545 rifle is its dual gas piston, balanced action. Pistons are assembled coaxially to use single T-shaped gas block. “Main” piston, which is connected to the bolt carrier, is of annular design, and its operating rod is an outer tube in the co-axially assembled system. The “counter-weight” piston is generally of T-shape, but rotated sideways; basically, tubular operating rod serves as a “leg” of the letter, while disc-shaped gas piston forms its “hat”. When assembled, balancing operating rod is inserted into “main” operating rod from the front, and two pistons form an annular gas chamber. Upon discharge, hot powder gases enter the gas block between those two pistons, and push them in opposite directions: “main” piston is pushed rearwards, while “balancing” piston is pushed forward. Synchronization of piston movements is achieved by two gears, mounted inside tubular operating rods in tandem arrangement. Gears are held in place by the forward end of the return spring guide rod, which connects to the receiver by its rear end. Both operating rods have cuts in their walls for teeth of synchronizing gears. Upon partial disassembly, both pistons with return spring, its captive guide rod and synchronizing gears are removed from the gun as a single unit or sub-assembly.
Barrel locking is achieved by a fairy conventional rotary bolt with two radial lugs. Receiver is made from stamped steel, has a solid roof and open rear end and right side. Bolt group is inserted and removed from the rear, once detachable receiver end cap is removed from receiver. End cap lock is located on the right side of the part. Trigger assembly is made from plastic as a single unit with pistol grip and trigger guard. It is permanently hinged to the receiver, just behind the magazine housing. Disassembly of the gun involves removal of the end cap and rotation of the pistol grip / trigger unit down.
Gun is hammer fired, and its trigger system offers three modes of fire – single shots, 2-round bursts and unlimited full automatic fire. Safety / fire selector levers are duplicated on either side of the trigger unit, and have four positions, marked in white and red. Gun features polymer forend and handguard. Barrel is fitted with detachable muzzle brake – compensator, which can be replaced with tactical sound suppressor. Front sight is mounted on the gas block; rear sight is mounted at the rear of the receiver, and is of aperture (diopter) type. Early prototypes featured drum-type rear sight with multiple apertures, one for each range setting. Production rifles had slider-type range adjustment mechanism for rear sight, with single aperture. Most unusually, there’s no “fixed stock” version of either A545 rifle or A762 rifle. Apparently, as a weight-saving measure, only versions with a minimalistic retractable stock were submitted for trials. This stock has several “retracted” positions; to fully collapse it for compact storage or transportation user first has to rotate butt plate for half of the turn (upside down), so it can snugly fit to the end cap without interference with pistol grip. Butt plate has a through hole for use of iron sights when stock is fully collapsed.
Gun is fitted with integrated Picatinny rail at the top of the receiver. Two additional short lengths of Picatinny rail can be attached to 6- and 9-o’clock positions of the forend.
|Full text name||A545 “6P67 KORD-5,45” assault rifle and A762 “6P68 KORD-7,62” assault rifle (Russia)|
|Caliber cartridge||5.45x39 7N6 7N10 7N22 7N24, 7.62x39mm M43 Soviet Intermediate Cartridge|
|Overall length, mm||960|
|Length, folded, mm||720|
|Barrel length, mm||415|
|Weight empty, kg||3.5|
|Magazine capacity, rounds||30|
|Cyclic rate of fire, rounds/min||900|