AEK 971 assault rifle
The AEK-971 assault rifle designed at Kovrov Mechanical Plant (KMP) under supervision of S. I. Koksharov is built on the "balanced action mechanism" scheme.
Most systems using a classical gas-driven action operate according to complex impulse working diagrams, and this fact is of special concern for individual firearms. When shooting, shooter is affected by successive opposing impulses coming from shot recoil, reaction of the gas chamber being filled with powder gases, impacts from moving parts on the receiver in their extreme rear and front positions. These shocks increase dispersion of burst fire. Balancing is one of the methods applied to eliminate this drawback. The solution lies in introducing two counter-moving equal masses, kinematically interconnected, each having its own gas piston and return mechanisms.
Moving components in the AEK-971 assault rifle mechanism are represented by two parts: bolt carrier and balancer. To synchronize their motions these parts are connected via toothed racks and a gearwheel whose axis is rigidly fixed on the immobile receiver. As a result, the carrier and balancer moment a compensate each other, making the shooter sense the shot impulse only, while the assault rifle is much less deflected with the recoil. Being more complex than the conventional gas-operated action, the balanced mechanism is still simpler than the delayed impulse scheme.
AEK-971 assault rifle (follow-up modification).
Besides, the AEK-971 is approximately 0.5 kg fighter than the AN 94 assault rifle of the same calibre.
The assault rifle firing mechanism is equipped with a non-automatic fire selector/safety lock which blocks in safety position both firing mechanism and slot where the reloading handle goes. Muzzle brake/flash suppressor is fixed on the barrel.
Rounds are fed from a standard 30-round box magazine.
The AEK 971 design evolved in the course of its development, but in general retained a classical outlook. The weapon features a lightweight reinforced-plastic right-folding frame type stock helping to reduce overall weight and dimensions, and its plastic pistol grip is made one with the trigger guard. The assault rifle is equipped with a plastic forearm and handguard and a standard knife bayonet fixture. Its mechanical sight is of a ramp type. There is a side rail for mounting collimator, optical or night sights.
As of today, the AEK-971 assault rifle has been combat proven in Chechnya tested by marines and interior forces, and prepared for mass production.
Only a small batch of this assault rifle has been produced so far and adopted for service with units of the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation.
An upgrade of the РђР•Рљ-971 has acquired a capability of firing 3-shot bursts. It is preferable that fire from unsteady positions should be conducted in short bursts, but shooter cannot easily control burst length at high rates of fire, hence automatic cutoff of burst length is needed.
AEK 972 assault rifle
A modification of the AEK-972 assault rifle was made for firing the 5.56x45 cartridge, while retaining the same configuration and magazine capacity. This assault rifle also has a rail on the left side of the receiver for mounting collimator, optical or night sights.
A version of the AEK-971 has been designed for 7,62 mm cartridge as well. As a result of upgrading carried out in cooperation with the TSNIITOCHMASH Research Institute experts, the assault rifle acquired capability of firing with three-shot fixed-duration bursts. The fire selector switch is on the left side above the pistol grip and can be activated with the thumb of the trigger-pulling hand. The new 7,62 mm modification was designated AEK-973. Accuracy of fire of the 5.45 mm AEK-971 and 7,62 mm AEK-973 is two times higher than that of the 5.45 mm AK 74 and 7.82 mm AKM assault rifles.
The 7 62 mm AEK-973S version features a modified firing mechanism, a fire selector on the right, and a retractable lightweight stock with reduced lateral size. With the stock refracted, the shoulder rest aligns with the pistol grip forming a streamlined structure which does not hamper shooting.
AEK 973 assault rifle