|Early model AEK-971 rifle in 5.45x39mm|
The AEK-971 assault rifle has a gas driven, balanced action with rotating bolt locking. Balancing mean that AEK971 gas drive has two gas chambers and two gas pistons. The first gas piston is linked via a gas rod to the bolt carrier and operates as usual. The second gas piston is linked to a balancing steel weight and moves in the opposite direction to the main gas piston. Both pistons are synchronized through a simple gear. This design is intended to eliminate three of the four elements of action impulses, which cause a rifle to move during full-auto fire. The first impulse is received when the bullet moves along the barrel - this is the basic recoil itself. The second impulse is received when the heavy bolt carrier/bolt group moves along the receiver back and forth. The third impulse is received when bolt carrier/bolt group slams against the receiver in the rear position, and the fourth when this group is stopped in the forward position after a new cartridge is chambered. The synchronous and opposite movement of the balancing weight eliminates all except the recoil impulse, so the rifle becomes far more stable during full-auto fire.
|Early model AEK-973 rifle in 7.62x39mm|
The gain in accuracy in full auto is about 15-20%, when compared to the AK-74 assault rifle in the same caliber. The AN-94 assault rifle, which was officially adopted by Russian army, has a slight edge over the AEK-971 only in short burst (2 rounds only) mode. In full-auto medium or long burst fire mode (3-5 or 7-10 rounds per burst) AEK-971 wins hands down, being also some 0.5kg lighter than the AN-94, and much simpler and cheaper to manufacture.
|Late production model AEK-971 rifle in 5.45x39mm with red-dot sight|
AEK-971 has a side-folding plastic buttstock, a plastic forearm and fire control grip, and uses standard AK/AKM or AK-74 30-round magazines (depending on the chambering). It also features a safety switch/fire mode selector of different appearance from the Kalashnikov design. The fire selector allows 3 modes of fire - single shots, 3-round bursts and full auto.
|Prototype AEK-973S rifle in 7.62x39mm with telescoped butt|
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