New Delhi: India and Russia will soon sign a formal agreement for the manufacture of as many as 7.5 lakh AK-203 rifles at the state-run Ordnance factory Project Korwa, in Uttar Pradesh’s Amethi district.
According to the plan, the rifles will be manufactured under the Make In India initiative. The demand for the guns will rise once the central police forces begin using them in place of the INSAS weapons.
While initially India and Russia were in talks for the manufacture of the AK-103, they eventually chose the AK-203 — a 7.62x39mm caliber rifle.
The AK-203 is a derivative of the popular AK-47, used by military and terrorist groups across the world ever since its launch in 1949.
There are roughly about 7.5 million AK series rifles in use across the world, manufactured in several countries.
ThePrint traces some of the popular variants of the Avtomat Kalashnikova or AK-47.
The basic AK-47 assault rifle was developed by the iconic Mikhail Kalashnikov — the Red Army Lieutenant General who defended Russia against a German assault during World War II in 1947.
Known to be soldier-friendly rifles and operational in all conditions, the guns still enjoy a high global demand because of their reliability and operational ease with militaries of over 100 countries that have been reportedly equipped with it.
It is often said that you can bury the AK-47 in slush for months and then start firing instantly when you take it out. All you have to do is just shrug off the dirt with your hands.
The AK-47 rifle is licence-produced in many countries, including Germany, Poland, Israel, North Korea and the US.
Not originally from the AK line, the AK-56 assault rifle is the Chinese copy of the AK-47, made in the year 1956. Both weapons are quite similar in design and dimensions, with the AK-56 being lighter.
The AK-47 weighs 4.3 kg and the AK-56 3.8 kg. Both use a 7.62 mm bullet and have a 30-round magazine.
Their gas-operated, rotating bolt firing action has a maximum effective range of about 400 metres.
While the AK-47 has a partially enclosed front sight, the AK-56 has a fully enclosed, hooded front sight. A folding spike bayonet on AK-56 also differentiates it from the AK-47, which comes with a detachable bayonet.
AK-56 rifles were also the standard issue weapon of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army until the 1980s and are used by many other countries and militant groups, including those operating in Kashmir and the Northeast.
The AK-74 is a modification of the AKM assault rifle, which was a ‘modernised’ version of the AK-47. As per various reports, the layout and design principle were same as the AKM, but the caliber and muzzle were different. It uses a smaller 5.45x39mm cartridge, replacing the 7.62x39mm chambering of the AK-47.
The rifle continues to be used by a several countries of the former Soviet Union and can be found in service around the world.
It was followed by a AK-74M variant.
The AK-100 series is a modern range of assault rifles based on the design of the AK-74M.
The full size rifles of the AK-100 family are similar to the AK-74M, but they are chambered in other calibers.
The series is available in 5.56x45mm NATO, 7.62x39mm Soviet and 5.45x45mm Soviet variants.
They are also known as the third generation of the Kalashnikov assault rifles.
The Kalashnikov AK-101, AK-102, AK-103 and AK-104 assault rifles are the modern versions of the world famous Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle developed for firing 5.56mm and 7.62mm cartridges.
The AK-100M series was renamed as the AK-200 series. With a factory-installed AK upgrade kit, reports state the difference between the 100 and 200-series rifles would be the latter’s external improvements.
It states that the 200-series have replaced the 100-series’ side folding stock with an all-black finish with a collapsible or telescopic one. The report adds that the 200-series rifles have a better ergonomic configuration, with a contoured pistol grip used on every rifle as well as a redesigned fire selector.
The 200-series of AK rifles has two length options: Full-size and compact (or carbine).
AK-12 — the replacement for the AK-74/M — and AK-15 — meant for 7.62x39mm bullets — are the newest set of rifles developed by Kalashnikov Concern.
They are externally similar to the AK-74M but are chambered to utilise different calibers.
“The AK-12 is chambered for 5.45-millimeter ammunition left over from the AK-74/AK-74M days, while the AK-15 is chambered for the older 7.62 ammunition stockpiled for the AK-47 and AKM. The AK-12 is likely meant for frontline combat troops while the AK-15 could be assigned to rear area and reservist troops,” the report states.
The new AK-308 prototype is of the latest AK-12/15 family pattern, with a number of distinct features related to the heavier and more powerful 7.62×51 mm NATO cartridge.
The front portion of the AK-308’s receiver was modified to accommodate the heavier front barrel trunnion as per Kalashnikov’s RPK, RPK-74, and RPK-16 light machine gun series.
AK-308 is being promoted as a replacement for old NATO battle rifles that use 7.62x51mm ammunition, hence its label ‘308’.