The AKA-13 - Avtomat Koksharov-Alexandrov (meaning "Koksharov-Alexandrov Assault Rifle" or "Koksharov-Alexandrov Automatic") - is, in one form or another, the principle Service Rifle of the modern Soviet Armed Forces. Although considered a descendent of the AK-series assault rifles, its initials do not stand for the same thing (AK being Avtomat Kalashnikova, or "Kalashnikov's Assault Rifle") and its internal workings are entirely different apart from the distinctive Kalashnikov over-barrel long-stroke gas piston.
The AKA-13, when compared to its Kalashnikov series spiritual predecessors, is considerably more advanced while retaining much of the same legendary reliability. Conversely, next to its principle Western counterpart - the Commonwealth FAMAS XIV - it has a number of advantages as well as disadvantages.
The AKA-13 was designed to be the next generation of principle service arm for the Soviet military, succeeding the venerable AK series. Most of its improvements are not new technologies; they were originally developed in the last few decades of the 20th Century, but only came to full maturity once manufacturing techniques had improved sufficiently to allow large scale adoption.
Due to this situation, development of the AKA-13 was relatively rapid. However, it has only fully replaced the AK-series firearms in the last few years because of the vast quantities of AKs then in service.
Vastly more AKA-13s have been produced than the FAMAS XIV, and many thousands of them have found their way into the hands of criminals, insurgents and terrorists among the Commonwealth countries. All the same, it has by no means completely replaced the AKs; the Soviet Union's allies, South Africa and the Bolivarian Republic, still use late-generation AKs.
The basic operating mechanism is the same as a Kalashnikov: a long-stroke piston with a prominent gas trap above the barrel. However, the AKA-13 uses the propellent gasses for two purposes. A portion of it is diverted in the opposite direction to drive a counter-weight rearwards. In this way, using Newton's Third Law of Motion, much of the recoil is negated. This technology - dubbed "Balanced Automatic Recoil System" or BARS - was developed to maturity by Sergey Koksharov of Kovrovskiy Mekhanicheskiy Zavod [Kovrov Mechanical Plant / KMZ] in his AEK-971 limited-production assault rifles and later the AK-100 sub-series of general service Kalashnikovs, direct predecessor line to the AKA-13.
The rifle's most advanced feature is a unique rotating breech that is oriented vertically when uncocked and makes a full 90° revolution back around to this position with each cycle. The bolt and feed themselves, however, are derived directly from late-period Kalashnikovs and quite conventional. The operating mechanism is charged by pulling the bolt rearwards, opening up a gap for a cartridge to be fed up from the magazine into the chamber, just like an AK or most other "normal" firearms.
Unlike in preceeding Soviet service firearms, however, the actuation of the AKA-13's breech mechanism serves multiple purposes. The charging handle is not connected directly to the bolt, but to a tubular sleeve / cover that encloses it - both of which are drawn back when the rifle is cocked. The rearward movement of this bolt sleeve pulls the unique revolving breech around 45° into horizontal alignment with the barrel / chamber, whereupon it is stopped by a springed toggle. The bolt then returns forward, pushes the cartridge into the breech and fires it. The corrisponding forward movement of the sleeve, however, is slightly delayed so that it comes back into position only after the round has been fired and locks into place, simultaneously releasing the toggle holding the rotating breech and permitting it to finish its revolution back to vertical. This motion "slings" the spent casing down, neck first, out of a small opening on the underside of the rifle in front of the magazine.
- Compared to both the FAMAS XIV & all but the latest models of Kalashnikov, the AKA-13 has significantly less recoil. This makes it controllable even during automatic fire and significantly reduces the bullet spread of its 3-round bursts.
- The AKA-13 is chambered for a larger diameter 8.5x45mm cartridge, giving it more hitting power and slightly better velocity / penetrating capability than both its Commonwealth counterpart, the 7.5x44mm Court, as well as the formerly-standard 7.62x39mm round of the early generation Kalashnikovs.
- The AKA-13 is less likely to jam and is overall more reliable than the FAMAS XIV.
- It has a very high rate of fire when used on burst setting (approximately 2000 rpm theoretical); so fast that it can shoot three rounds in one cycle of the Balanced Automatics Recoil System counterweight. This means that each trigger pull with burst selected has comparable recoil to semi-automatic.
- Compared to the AKs it has replaced, the AKA-13 has better erganomics and is much, much more easily accessorized thanks to its Picatinny rails.
- The downard ejection of spent casings means that the rifle is inherently ambidextrous.
- The AKA-13, although made largely of modern materials to reduce its mass, is quite a bit heavier than the FAMAS XIV, weighing 3.5kg or 7.72 lbs without a magazine.
- The AKA-13's automatic fire is slower than that of the FAMAS XIV
- It's large-caliber, short-jacketed round is ballistically inferior to the 7.5x44mm round and tends to behave unpredictably at ranges exceeding 250-300 meters. This is not normally a problem, however, as the vast majority of combat occurs inside of that range.
- The AKA-13's internal workings, while reliable, are rather complex, and rifles that have not been very precisely machined will quickly encounter problems.
- Due to its internal complexity, it is not nearly as easy to field strip as its AK predecessors.
- Because the rifle ejects its spent cartridges downwards, care must be taken when resting it against a surface to steady one's aim so as not to block the ejection port.
- The AKA-13 is appreciably longer than the FAMAS XIV and most Kalashnikov models, making it more unwieldly in confined environments.
- Like many Kalashnikovs and Kalashnikov derivatives, the AKA-13 has a tendancy to get rather hot. It has vents built into it to help cope with this problem, but the ejected hot gasses & air can scald the hand of the user.
Type: Battle Rifle / Assault Rifle
Place of Origin: Soviet Union (USSR)
In Service: 2014-Present
Wars & Conflicts:
- Two Week War (Soviet-Japanese War of 1991)
- Chechen Insurrection (2010-Present)
- Pacification of Mashhad (2013)
- Palestinian Conflict (2001-Present)
- Various other conflicts throughout Asia, the Middle East, South America & Africa
Designer: Arkady Kravchenko
- with various components derived from designs by Sergey Koksharov & Youriy K. Alexandrov, hence the rifle's name
- Kovrovskiy Mekhanicheskiy Zavod [Kovrov Mechanical Plant / KMZ]
- Izhevskiy Mashinostroitel'nyy Zavod '[Izhevsk Machinebuilding Plant / IZHMASH]
Produced: Late 2013 or 2014 - Present
Number Built: 5 million and counting
Weight: 3.5kg / 7.72 lbs empty [without magazine]
Length: 950mm (37.5 inches) with stock extended
- Note that the stock is adjustable, 950mm is the average
Barrel Length: 405mm (minus flash suppressor)
Action: Gas-Operated, rotating breech
Rate of Fire: 700-800 rpm Automatic; 2000 rpm in burst
Effective Range: ~400m
Feed System: 30 round curved box magazine or 75 round drum magazine
- RPKA-13 machine gun models have a detatchable casket magazine to hold 25-round linked belts, which are connected together to form one giant belt spooled up inside the magazine and fed up around to the top of the weapon. This casket magazine can be removed and replaced with other types of magazines, usually 75-round drum magazines.
- SVKA-13 marksman rifles use a 20-round box magazine (this is the magazine fitted to the bare AKA-13 test model in the picture above)
- Iron Sights with 700mm adjustable radius
- PK-AS/ASV non-magnifying reflex sight
- PK-A reflex sight with 3.4x magnification
AKAS-13 - Variant developed concurrently with the baseline AKA for airborne assault troops. Essentially identical to the basic model but featuring a folding stock.
AKAS-13U - Short-range carbine derivative of the AKAS-13 model with reduced barrel length and built-in noise suppression, chambered for the shorter 7.62x39mm M43 round of the original Kalashnikovs. This permits the weapon to have a shorter bolt and, in turn, an increeased rate of fire. Essentially a submachine gun. Usage mostly restricted to Special Forces, Airborne Troops, Rear-echelon Personnel and Armored Vehicle Crews.
AKA-131 / AKA-132 / AKA-133 - Export versions chambered for 7.5x44mm Court, 7.62x39mm M43 [the original Kalashnikov round] & 5.45x39mm M74 [the round of the AK-74 & most other late-generation Kalashnikovs], respectively. "AKAS" folding stock and "AKAS-13XU" Carbine versions of each of these models also exist. The -132 and -133 models, chambered for older Russian ammunitions (7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm, respectively) are used in limited numbers by the other two Communist powers, South Africa and the Bolivarian Republic - mostly by special forces and elite troops.
AKAS-13B & AKAS-13UB - Specialized night-fighting / infiltration & covert ops versions of the AKAS-13 and AKAS-13U carbine, respectively. Equipped with integral flash / sound suppression and chambered for specialized sub-sonic versions of their respective cartridges. Very little is known about these particular models.
RPKA-13 - Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW) / light machine gun derivative of the AKA-13 chambering a newly-developed 9x40mm cartridge with a more powerful, expirimental propellent and superior ballistics compared to the standard 8.5x45mm round. Modifications include various adjustments / changes to the operating mechanism to increase rate and sustainability of automatic fire, a heavier barrel with quick-change capability, better heat ventilation and an integral 2.0-6.0x magnification scope with infrared [night vision] capability. The breechblock is also modified to accept a top-down belt feed as well as bottom-up magazine feed, which required alterations to the gas cylinder. Note that this weapon has not yet been fully issued to front-line troops and is slowly replacing older LMG models.
RPKAS-13U - More compact / lightweight version of the standard RPKA-13 chambering conventional 7.62x39mm ammunition for use by various special purpose troops, particularly the Airborne and Airborne Assault forces.
SVKA-13 - Derivative of the RPKA-13 as a tactical Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) / sniper rifle, lacking the vertical feed modification to the breechblock. Also fires the new 9x40mm high-powered round. Features improved integral flash suppression and limited built-in noise suppression. Also has an integral infrared-capable scope with up to 6x magnification, but is only capable of semi-automatic and burst modes of fire.
- The AKA-13's recoil compensator system actually exists and is actually used in most recent Kalashnikov-derived assault rifles.
- The unique "revolving breech" mechanism is taken from the expirimental Heckler & Koch G11 caseless assault rifle.
- The weapon in the picture is actually the new Russian AK-12. The AKA-13 is essentially the Vancil 1418 universe version of that weapon; it is a considerable technological innovation compared to the AK-12, however, due to the fact that the Soviet Union has never collapsed in this world and thus can afford a more expensive design.