Russia’s Response to the US Army’s M4 Rifle: AK-12 Kalashnikov

AK-12 is Russia's newest assault rifle but is it a worthy successor to the AK-47?

Assault rifles are the core weapon that helps the entire combat system of an army. Their versatility and ease of use make them ideal for combat. 

Assault rifles around the world are continually being boosted to satisfy the challenges of the 21st Century battlefield – and the AK-12 is no exception.

It is one of Russia’s flagship projects to update its assault rifles and counter the power of the M4, just as the AK-47 and M16 battled for the label of the finest assault rifle in the world.


The new AK-12

545mm AK 12 6P70 assault rifle at Military technical forum ARMY 2016
5,45mm AK-12 6P70 assault rifle at Military-technical forum ARMY-2016 by Vitaly V. Kuzmin. Licensed under CC by 4.0

Kalashnikov, the biggest manufacturer of Russian infantry weapons, developed the most modern version of this assault rifle at the end of 2011… and in 2014, it entered the Russian army’s active service.

The AK-12 is a heightened version of the AK-47 and has been solely used by the Russian military since 2018. It’s superior to prior weapons such as the AK-47 as it gets a lot of improvement while keeping the same reliability.

Key features of the AK-12

545mm AK 12 6P70 assault rifle at Military 1
5,45mm AK-12 6P70 assault rifle at Military by Vitaly V. Kuzmin. Licensed under CC by 4.0

The rifle holds the classic structure of the earlier models, but its developers made the AK-12 much more ergonomic and enhanced the rate of fire – the AK-47 fires 600 rds/min, while the AK-12 has a rate of fire of 650 rounds/min.


Besides, it’s highly reliable, and it overcomes the harshest conditions such as heat, sand, humidity, or water, as well as damage from shocks or falls.

Other impressive features of the AK-12 are how comfortable it is for left-handers and can be adjusted for cartridges ranging from 5.45 x 39 mm and 7.62 x 51 NATO.


AK 12
AK-12 by Nickel nitride. Licensed under CC by 1.0

  • Cartridge: 5,45 x 39 / 5,56 x 45 OTAN / 7,62 x 39 / 9 x 39 / 7,62 x 51 OTAN
  • Length: 36.3 inches (922 millimeters)
  • Mass: 7.72 pounds (3.5 kilograms) 
  • Maximum firing range: 3,440 yards (3,150 meters)
  • Effective firing range: 481 yards (440 meters )
  • Maximum  Rate of fire: 650 rounds/min

M4 carbine 

Firing a M4
Firing an M4 by Samantha Tyler, Public Domain.

The M4 is also an extremely practical assault rifle employed by the U.S. Armed Forces. It was created by Colt in 1994 to substitute the M16. Now, it’s the U.S. Army’s primary standard weapon.


It was conceived for urban combat as it’s shorter than the M16, making it much more manageable. It has a magazine with a capacity for thirty 5.56 mm x 45 NATO cartridges, and a rail that enables the attachment of different accessories such as telescopic sights, infrared sights, or grenade launchers on the lower part.

M4 specifications:

  • Mass: 6.43 pounds (2.92 kilograms)
  • Length: 33 inches (838 millimeters)
  • Cartridge: 5.56×45 mm NATO
  • Maximum Rate of fire: 950 round/min
  • Effective firing range: 500 meters (550 yards)

How the AK-12 stacks up against the M4

M4 Range
M4 Range by Spc. Brandon Best, Public Domain.

Both rifles are more than just weapons, they have earned an influential status and have become a unique symbol in Russia and the USA… and both guns have a comparable overall performance.

The M4 is lighter than the AK-12 and smaller, developed for urban combat and confined spaces. It has an increased rate of fire, and the cost is lower, at $700 while the AK-12 cost $1100.


There’s not too much contrast in performance – even if the M4 is better in several categories, the AK family rifles are well-known for their reliability.

For urban and confined space combat, the M4 performs better than the AK-12. However, the AK-12 can work under harsh weather conditions in a jungle battle or under intense snowfall… In these circumstances, the M4 would not perform as well as the AK-12.

So, each rifle has its benefits and disadvantages. Both are constructed for different circumstances and choosing one of these assault rifles will depend on what you want out of the rifle.


The AK-12 is a worhty opponent to any rifle – including the M4

The AK family of assault rifles has enhanced quite a bit over the decades, and the latest AK-12 follows this rule. Despite having the same design as the old AK-47s, it retains its reliability and performs better than its predecessors.

More significantly, it is as good as the M4 and may even appear much more reliable in certain situations such as extreme weather. On the other hand, the M4 was built for urban combat and presented issues under extreme conditions.

Feature image credit: АК-12 by Vitaly Kuzmin. Licensed under CC by 4.0.


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