Putting all speculation to rest, Russian defense manufacturing firm, Kalashnikov Concern, has officially unveiled its new AKV-521 rifle.
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The images of the weapon were leaked and widely shared on social media in October. It had a sloppy dust cover, an AR-15-style takedown mechanism, and AK-12 rear sights. Back then, the Twitterati had been quick to label it as the starting of a new AK-500 series.
On November 23, Kalashnikov Concern released an official video showing the disassembly of the rifle, named ‘AKV-521’, which featured improvements from the previous prototype whose images were leaked in October, especially the removal of the dust cover.
The rifle also features a new fire selector, which is not much seen on traditional Russian AKs (Avtomat Kalashnikova) — but still rotates the same angles. There is another vertical fire selector on the left side, to ensure the butt can be folded and locked.
The official video was released a week later and posted on Kalashnikov Concern’s YouTube channel on November 30. The company mentioned that the rifle is meant predominantly for the civilian market. According to the video, the new AK(V)-521 rifle maintains 85% compatibility with the TR3 rifle (the civilian version of the AK-12).
The main feature of the rifle is that much like an AR-15, it is separated into a lower and upper assembly via one takedown pin (according to the video, the upper seems to be held captive at the front). This effectively clears the problem about the reliability of top-mounted optical sights on an AK, which used to lose ‘zero’ as the cover was not a stable platform to house rails.
This was solved by having side-mounting brackets on the left side of the receiver on older models, and one could mount the sights using special brackets, even Picatinny rails. However, this too solved by having sturdier and hinged dust covers on later models (AK-200 series), which featured rails directly on top of the cover.
The receiver shown in the prototype is milled, while the company has stated that it would be stamped on the production models.
Meanwhile, this is certainly not the first time such iterations are being made to AKs. Many nations in the world have adopted their rifles based on the Kalashnikov model and tinkered with them, most notable of which include the FN FNC and the Sig SG 550 (series).