This week saw the huge annual parade on May 8, across more than 30 Russian cities, to celebrate the end of World War II in Europe. Termed Victory Day in the Great Patriotic War rather than VE-Day in WWII, the Russians/Soviets have long gone majestic on the great celebration. After all, the country lost over 20 million during the conflict.
On display was lots of old gear.
As well as lots of new gear.
The break down in my column at Guns.com.
Designed to be the Russian military’s new light machine gun, the 5.45x39mm RPK (Ruchnoy Pulemyot Kalashnikova)-16 sprouted from the Rostec state-owned Kalashnikov Group last year and is expected to be placed in service with the Rosgvardiya (think National Guard), internal affairs troops and Army to replace older RPKs.
It draws from the AK-12 program and comes in a few different barrel lengths while including a folding stock that, when swung shut, drops the overall length to just 25-inches. Weight without the detachable bipod and mag is 8.8-pounds.
Over the past 60-odd-years, if you needed a reliable rifle for open warfare, the AK has often been the go-to choice. Well things have changed since 1946, there’s no doubt about that, and in recognition of—errr, progress?—the Russians rebooted the line and came up with the AK12.
With its stamped sheet metal receiver, thirty round detachable magazine, brutal good looks, and undeniable effectiveness in combat situations, the AK is arguably the king of the assault rifles. More than a 100 million of these guns have been made around the world, leaving satisfied customers on almost every continent (we haven’t seen penguins with AKs yet, that’s why we say almost).
The thing is, even purists acknowledge the design of “the gun” is pretty darn old school. Easy to learn but tough to master, a full auto AK is unapologetically gritty with more thought put into the efficient functioning of the gun in a rain puddle than on its ease of use by the shooter. Let’s put it this way for you gearheads—while a car made in 1946 is a classic, would you want it as the car you drive everyday?
The same concept caught up to the AK47 not too long after its introduction really. It was improved as the lighter and simplified AKM in
1959. Then by 1978, the AK74 came out chambered in the smaller 5.45x39mm M74 round, replacing the old school 7.62x39mm.
Nevertheless, if you take an AK47, AKM, and AK74 and break them down, they all still use the same gas-operated action for firing and reloading built around a rotating bolt. They all have a similar layout; similar sights, the same field strip procedure, and require the same manipulation. Even the wooden stocks are nearly identical. Sure, the AKM uses a slanted muzzle break, and the AK74 is a completely different caliber with orange looking plastic magazines, but this is just nit picking.
Then in the 1990s, the Cold War ended and the AK 74 itself needed some modernization. Besides the retro look, it was the last new production combat rifle in the world that used wooden furniture. This led to the plastic stocked AK74M in 1991, which in turn was reworked and cloned as a host of export rifles. These ’100-series’ guns (the AK101, 102, et al) were produced in NATO’s 5.56mm, classic 7.62×39, as well as 5.45mm not to defend the Motherland but to sell abroad for hard cash. In their embrace of capitalism, Russians had discovered their venerable AKs would sell very, very well overseas.
This lesson led to the gun we today call the AK12…
Read the rest in my column at Guns.com
For nearly the past 70-years, the Avtomat guns of Mikhail Kalashnikov have been the standard rifle of the other half of the world. With a new improvement on this classic design, the Russians have a new AK on the market.
Back in the late 1940s, Soviet weapons engineer Mikhail Kalashnikov (with a good bit of assistance from guest worker Hugo Schmeisser), came up with a neat rifle. His gun, one of the first successful assault rifles, was made from a simple sheet of stamped steel, coupled to a trunnion and a collection of parts. Made with loose tolerances, it was almost dummy-proof and very accepting of dirt, grime, mud, and sand. This gun, the AK-47 (for “Kalashnikov automatic rifle model 1947”) was made in greater numbers than just about any firearm in modern history, with some 75-million of these 7.62x39mm rifles coming off the lines in a dozen countries over the past several decades.
By the 1970s, this design was dated and seen as a throwback to WWII, (based on the German StG44). It was improved with plastic bodied magazine and chambered in a smaller intermediate cartridge, the 5.45-39mm. The gun itself however still used a bunch of good old-fashioned wood in the stocks. Since then, more than 5-million of these AK-74s have been used first by the Soviet then the Russian/Ukrainian militaries.
The thing is, it’s not 1974 anymore, and another update is in order.
Read the rest in my column at Firearms Talk.com