The AEK-971 is a Soviet/Russian fully automatic assault rifle made by the Kovrov Machinebuilding Plant, now called the Degtyarev Design Bureau - Degtyarev plant, and designed by Sergei I. Koksharov  in the 1980s. The primary model, AEK-971, uses the 5.45 x 39 mm round fed from standard 30-round or larger magazines used by the AK-74 and similar weapons.
The AEK-971 is based on previous AK rifles in internal design and layout, but is also equipped with a recoil balancing mechanism. The rifle has a counter weight that negates the impulse of the gas piston and bolt carrier : this is the balancing mechanism and results in more controllable automatic fire. Though losing an initial contract for production against the AN-94, the Russian Army has begun field trials of this weapon. It is approximately 0.5 kg lighter than AN-94, more simple in design, and cheaper to manufacture. Furthermore, the weapon is claimed to be the most accurate, in fully automatic fire, assault rifle chambered in 5.45x39mm or even among all of the fully automatic assault rifles.
Models and Variants
There are three different models : AEK-971, AEK-972 and AEK-973. The different models are most easily recognized by the different magazine curvature. The AEK-972 is chambered in 5.56 x 45 mm and the AEK-973 in 7.62 x 39 mm. The AEK-972 uses the magazines of the 5.56 mm "100" series AK assault rifles and the AEK-973 all of the standard 7.62 mm AK magazines.
The AEK-971 and the AEK-973 have one variant each : AEK-971s and AEK-973s. These are improved variants with a new trigger mechanism with the location of the thumb safety-selector lever on the right side, receiving additionally a three-shot burst fire mode, and an extended lightweight stock. When the stock is retracted, the shoulder rest connects with the pistol grip forming a streamlined structure which allows the weapon to be used without hampering the fire.
The AEK-971 and its variants are used by the Russian forces. In 2006 the production ceased, leaving only the ones already produced to be used by certain Russian units and probably for additional testing.
- Caliber: 5.45x39mm (AEK-971), 5.56x45 (AEK-972) and 7.62x39mm (AEK-973)
- Action: Gas operated, rotating bolt, balanced
- Overall length: 965 mm
- Barrel length: 420 mm
- Weigth: 3.3 kg without magazine
- Magazine capacity: 30 rounds, all standard AK-47 or AK-74 magazines depending on caliber
- V.A.Degtyarev Plant—official page
- Project "Abakan"
- Modern Firearms
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