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GUN REVIEWS : NIKONOV AN-94 ASSAULT RIFLE
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From: MSN NicknameGunrockets  (Original Message)Sent: 13/08/2004 14:04
PRISONER OF ABAKAN: Nikonov AN-94 Assault Rifle
 

Assault rifle innovation isn't only the province of Western gun manufacturers: Behold the AN-94, which features advanced, deadly accurate 2-round burst capabilities, and accepts high-capacity magazines and under-barrel secondary weapon systems.


Nikonov AN-94 Assault Rifle
Abakan winner: The AN-94 rifle, a new spin on an old favorite, the AK-74.

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[Have opinions on this article? Go to the Discussion Forum to sound off.]

Kinetic Energy Interceptor: The Skinny

Name:
AN-94 "Abakan" Assault Rifle

Manufacturer:
Nikonov

Killer Features:
  • Very accurate 2 round burst
  • Uses existing ammunition (5.54x39mm)
  • Accepts high capacity 60 round magazines
  • Accepts under-barrel secondary weapon systems
Related Links:

Heckler & Koch XM-8 Rifle
Heckler & Koch G11 Rifle
Barrett M468 Rifle
More Weapons
Equipment Guide


Sometimes the easiest way to replace an outdated model is to have a contest -- that's what happened in 1994, when the Russian Army held trials to decide on a new rifle to replace its existing Kalishnikov AK-74 rifle. As with many things in Russia, the trials were confidential, but the story goes they were held in the city of Abakan, which may sound like the title of a Harry Potter novel, but there is nothing kid-like about the innovative assault rifle that won the contest.

Meet the Avtomat Nikonova (or AN, Russian for "Nikonov assault rifle") 94 assault rifle, built by Nikonov (also dubbed the "Abakan," thanks to its victory in the trials), the revolutionary replacement for the AK-74. How revolutionary? How about a "burst mode" just as accurate and deadly as a single-shot mode, a unique cartridge-loading system, and twice the magazine capacity of the older rifle?

Multiple Bursts

It's tough to replace a legend, and sturdy AK-type rifles have proliferated in the past 50 years -- it's estimated that over 90 million have been produced in that time. But in the early 90s it was obviously time for a change, as something more efficient than a 50-year old design was needed for the modern Russian soldier. Adding to the challenge was the fact that the Russians wanted to continue using the same ammunition in the new gun that they used in the AK-74: the 5.45x39mm cartridge, which had the benefit of reduced individual weight, increasing the number of rounds an individual rifleman could carry.

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Enter the AN-94, the product of Russia's modernization program. While chambered for the same 5.45x39mm 5N7 cartridge as the AK-74, and vaguely resembling its predecessor (both are built using high impact polycarbonate plastic along the same design lines as the AK-47), take a look inside, and you'll see the AN-94 is a completely different animal.

In order to improve the rifle's lethality, Nikonov took the same approach as did Heckler & Koch in developing the G11 rifle; shoot a multiple round burst as fast as possible before the recoiling parts have time to operate and throw off the trajectory of the fired bullets. To this end, the AN-94 has two distinct rates of fire; 1,800 rounds per minute in the 2-round burst mode, and 600 rounds per minute for fully automatic. However, where H&K eliminated the cartridge case to reduce loading time, Nikonov increased the rate of fire by speeding up the loading process.

In a conventional semi-automatic rifle, to load the next round the bolt must unlock, extract the spent cartridge case, move rearward over the next round to be fed in the magazine, and eject the case. At this point the bolt (driven by the recoil or return spring) is pushed forward, where it strips the next round from the magazine, chambers it, locks in place, and is ready to fire. In the AN-94 this process is sped up through the use of a cable and pulley operated "rammer" which pre-positions the next round in the chamber, eliminating unnecessary reward bolt travel. The rammer functions as follows: as the bolt recoils to the rear the cable (passing through the pulley, pulls the rammer forward, stripping the next round from the magazine and partially chambering it. As the bolt returns forward the rammer resets and the bolt pushes the round completely into the chamber and locks.

  AN-94 rifle cartirdge feeding schematic
The AN-94's unique rapid reloading system (image from original patent for the rifle): After the first shot is fired, the barrel/receiver is recoiled partially, the first cartridge case is ejected, and the second round is stripped from the magazine.
1. Cartridge in the magazine
2. Cartridge feedway
3. Bolt
4. Barrel assembly, attached to the recoiling receiver
5. Pulley
6. Steel cable links the cartridge rammer to the bolt carrier
7. Cartridge in the feedway, ready to be chambered


Another feature that improves the accuracy of the AN-94 is the blow back shifted pulse recoil system. In a conventional rifle, recoil is absorbed by mechanical means (by springs or weighted buffers) and by the shooter. Shooter absorbed recoil is what causes subsequent shots in fully automatic or conventional burst modes to be less than accurate.

In the AN-94 recoil, in burst mode, is handled in essentially a dual recoiling system. When the first round is fired the entire barrel/bolt assembly begins sliding to the rear, compressing a main recoil spring. In addition the bolt itself is compressing an individual secondary spring, which drives the bolt back forward, whereupon the hammer automatically fires the second round of the burst (all while the barrel is still recoiling reward on the main spring.) Once the second round is fired the bolt locks to the rear until the barrel has recoiled completely and gone back into battery. As soon as the barrel is back in battery the bolt is released and another round is chambered. This arrangement allows for two shots to be fired before any recoiling forces are transferred to the shooter. When fired in the full auto mode the AN-94 first fires a 2 round burst and then goes into fully automatic fire (in which the bolt is held to the rear until the barrel completes its recoiling cycle).

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Beyond the 2-round burst capability, the AN-94 is a relatively conventional (by Russian standards) battle rifle. The 94 is capable of mounting a bayonet (though in this case it is mounted to the right of the muzzle rather than below, so as to allow for the use of an under barrel grenade launcher, and horizontally, to enable the user to male side to side slashing attacks while holding the rifle.) and it comes standard with a universal scope mounting rail on the left hand side of the receiver. The AN-94 accepts standard AK-74 30 and 45 round magazines, as well as the new 60 round four-stack magazines. The sights feature a conventional shrouded front sight, which is adjustable for zeroing, and a 5-position rotating aperture rear sight (similar to the German G3) for range.

Put it all together and it adds up to a rifle with 200 meters more range than the AK-74, better accuracy for rapid "burst" firing, and an innovative recoil and reload system, all at a fraction more weight than the standard AK-74. Unfortunately, despite its obvious strengths, the AN-94 will probably not be mass-produced for the Russian army in the foreseeable future. The common reason given for this development is economy -- modern Russia simply doesn't have the rubles for the rifles, especially those that are morecostlyto produce than the standard AK rifle lineup (it is estimated that an AN-94 costs 4-5 times more). However, the AN-94 has gained a reputation as the "professionals' choice," and is still used by Russia's Special Forces and law enforcement agencies. It may be relatively rare (and thus more valuable), but the AN-94 has lived up to the title of Abakan winner.

[Some of the specifications for this article were taken from the Modern Firearms Website.]

[Have opinions on this article? Go to the Discussion Forum to sound off.]

 AN-94 Specifications

Caliber:

5.45x39 mm

Builder:

Nikonov

Weight:

3.85 kgs (without magazine)

Overall Length:

943 mm (728 mm with butt folded)

Barrel Length:

405 mm

Sights:

Round-post-type front sight inside protective frame, adjustable for both elevation and windage zero

Rear sight is a rotary diopter with a peephole in every of the five points located at different levels for various elevations

Two holes in the edge of one of the points are intended to hold two luminous capsules enabling the operator to conduct fire in twilight

Function:

Gas-operated without regulator, locked breech with a rotary bolt, fires from the closed-bolt position

Feed:

Black, fiberglass-reinforced polyamide, accepts accepts standard AK-74 30 and 45 round magazines, as well as 60 round four-stack magazines


Firing Cycle:

1800 and 600 rounds per minute variable


Maximum Effective Range:

700 m

Accessories:

Bayonet, sling, cleaning kit including cleaning rod; optical sight, night vision devices, and underbarrel grenade launcher optional

 AK-74 Specifications

Caliber:

5.45x39 mm

Builder:

Nikonov

Weight:

3.3 kgs (with empty magazine, without bayonet), 3.6 kg (with loaded magazine)

Overall Length:

943 mm (690 mm with butt folded)

Barrel Length:

415 mm

Function:

Gas operated, rotating bolt with 2 lugs

Feed:

Accepts accepts standard 30 and 45 round magazines


Firing Cycle:

600-650 rounds per minute


Maximum Effective Range:

500 m



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