The AK-12 and AK-15 are Russian assault rifles chambered in 5.45×39mm and 7.62×39mm, respectively. They are designed and manufactured by Kalashnikov Concern (formerly Izhmash). It is one of the modern derivatives of the Russian AK-Pattern series of assault rifles. The AK-12 project began in 2011 by the IZHMASH factory which became part of the Kalashnikov Concern as a private venture, in an attempt to participate in the “Ratnik” trials which were held by the Russian Army. It was further developed by Kalashnikov Concern, and throughout its development and evaluation stage it has received multiple modifications to meet the Russian military’s standard and to address the Russian Army’s concerns regarding the cost and issues in fully automatic fire of the earlier prototype models.
The final production model of the AK-12 is based on the well proven AK-400 prototype. The AK-12 is chambered for the 5.45×39mm cartridge. Kalashnikov Concern also offers the rifle chambered for the 7.62×39mm cartridge, designated as the AK-15. Short-barreled versions of the AK-12 and AK-15 are also being worked on, designated as the AK-12K and AK-15K. With the final production model, it addresses the Russian Army’s concerns regarding the issues in fully automatic fire and the cost of the earlier prototype models and is also expected to be much cheaper to build. It also incorporates many of the same improvements developed for the earlier prototype models of the AK-12, but also improves the strength and resilience of some of the components of the rifle.
The final production model of the AK-12 has retained the traditional Kalashnikov gas-operated long-stroke piston system with a rotating bolt.The rifle features an integrated Picatinny rail on the top of the redesigned, detachable top cover for mounting various optics/scopes, the lower part of the handguard is also equipped with a Picatinny rail for various tactical accessories such as vertical grips, flashlights and lasers sights. The rifle has a backup iron sights, consisting of a shrouded front post that is mounted on the gas block and an adjustable rear aperture sight that is installed on the removable base using the upper Picatinny rail. The rifle features an ergonomic pistol grip, a retractable side-folding shoulder stock which is adjustable for length of pull, a handguard with ventilation holes and an advanced muzzle brake. The rifle can also be fitted with a quick detachable sound suppressor and a bayonet. To further increase the combat effectiveness of the rifle, it can be equipped with a 40 mm GP-25/GP-34 single-shot underbarrel grenade launcher.
The design of the final production model of the AK-12 shares more in common with the existing AK-74 than its earlier prototype models, but will not be a retrofit to existing assault rifles. Several improvements were made to the AK-12’s receiver, such as an improved and far more rigid top cover interface and a new free-floating barrel. The final production model of the AK-12 reportedly outperforms the existing AK-74 by at least the margin requested by the Russian government. The final production model of the AK-12 has a cyclic rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute (RPM), which is 50–100 rounds per minute faster than the older Kalashnikov assault rifles and the cancelled prototypes of the AK-12. The three-round hyper burst feature from the earlier prototype models was replaced by a two-round burst feature in the final production model as well.