Experts of the American magazine The National Interest became interested in the Russian cartridge of 12,7x55 mm caliber and found it "extremely powerful" for the battlefield. NI often refers to our arms. Last year, for example, the publication analyzed the assault rifle complex - ShAK-12, which uses this miracle cartridge. NI called the heavy machine gun "horror on the battlefield."
Americans got scared
The assessment of the American magazine in the Russian expert community caused a lively discussion, both regarding the SHAK-12 itself and the use of its cartridge. This ammunition is staffed not only for a large-caliber assault rifle, but also for assault revolvers RSh-12 and sniper rifles VSSK.
The peculiarity of the cartridge under discussion is that it easily defeats the enemy in modern body armor and even in hiding. Actually, for these purposes, ShAK-12 was developed. It is designed for FSB special forces and is used at short and ultra-short distances, "when the firing range does not really matter."
“Forget the M-16 or AK-47: this Russian assault rifle is a real killer,” NI makes a final assessment of the ShAK-12 large-caliber assault rifle. But how can we forget the legendary AK? Moreover, the machine-gun complex that frightened the Americans was produced at the Izhmash plant, which was Kalashnikov’s own factory. Let's look better at the prospects of AK from a modern perspective.
"Abakan" could not stand the competition?
Back in 1978, the USSR Ministry of Defense was thinking about replacing the AK-74 in service with automatic weapons that surpassed Kalashnikov in combat qualities. It was required to increase the effectiveness of shooting from uncomfortable positions: on the move, from the knee, without emphasis.
After further study, the specialists of the Main Rocket and Artillery Administration adopted for further development a scheme with a recoil impulse shift. That is, so that the recoil from the shot is a little late and does not interfere with aimed shooting.
On these conditions, in 1981 a special competition was announced, called "Abakan". Twelve new models of automatic weapons took part in it. The AS automatic machine (automatic machine with a shifted recoil momentum), developed by the leading design engineer of Izhmash software Gennady Nikonov, was recognized as the most promising.
Later, taking into account the comments of the competition committee, Nikonov’s automaton was finalized, received the name “AFM” (an automaton with a shifted impulse, modernized), and entered state tests.
Gennady Nikonov managed to create a weapon that produces two shots in one full cycle of automation. (Two bullets leave the barrel faster than a person has time to feel the recoil.) From this, the firing efficiency has grown so much that comparative tests of the machine guns showed: AK shooters had 160 shots for 48 bursts, Nikonov's machine gun hit 106 targets.
According to the results of the tests, the Main Rocket and Artillery Directorate recognized the Nikonov assault rifle as the only model whose "sum of characteristics is sufficient to begin the total rearmament of the army." It was already 1991. The country was falling apart. There was no money for a new weapon.
Only in 1997, AFM adopted the Russian army under the name "5,45-mm machine gun Nikonov arr. 1994 (AN-94). ” The machine was given the name "Abakan" (by the name of the competition in which he won) and began to be made in small batches.
Soon after the early death of designer Nikonov (passed away at age 52), the production of Abakan was curtailed. This was explained by the high cost of the product, its complexity in manufacturing and handling. By that time, new models (the “two hundredth series”) of Kalashnikov himself came up. So the rearmament of the army on the Abakan failed.
Powerful cartridge as the main argument
Experts highly appreciate the Nikonov assault rifle. They call it the "weapon of excellence." It is still believed that after modernization, "Abakan" may become promising for the Russian army. By modernization is meant, first of all, the transition to a more powerful cartridge.
The fact is that a soldier of a likely enemy is already well protected today. Modern body armor confidently holds a shot of ammunition 9x39 mm. Weak cartridge "Abakan" with such protection is of little use.
Russian designers realized this. They are already actively working on new models of small arms. Last year, at the Army-2019 international military-technical forum in the Patriot park near Moscow, the Podolsk enterprise TSNIITOCHMASH presented a small-sized silent SR3M submachine gun.
Its mass is 2,2 kg, the maximum length (with silencer and butt) is 970 mm. The machine is designed for a cartridge 9 × 39 mm. A shot from it can pierce a bulletproof vest of the 2nd protection class (Br2) at a distance of up to 200 meters. Equipped with an aiming system, CP3M hits targets at ranges up to 400 meters.
Another development of Moscow Region designers is the upgraded SR2MP submachine gun chambered for 9 × 21 mm. It is designed for special operations forces and can fire a 7BT3 cartridge with an armor-piercing tracer bullet.
As you can see, gunsmiths have taken the path of enhancing ammunition power. While their samples do not claim to total rearmament of the army. However, it is obvious that this time is just around the corner. Strengthening the armor protection of soldiers of the army of a potential enemy requires designers to weapons that can overcome this defense. What will it be? You can already understand the samples presented today to the general public.