|Russian soldier with AK-12|
This is somewhat "old" news now, but the Russians in a surprising move have adopted two new service rifles--the AK-12 (an update to the Kalashnikov rifle) and the AEK-971. The AK-12, as noted, is an updated version of the AK--"[t]he rifle has a different fire control group, new trunnions, separate thumb-actuated safety and selector levers and even a new bolt carrier group design"--such that there is no overall compatibility of parts between the older AKs and the AK-12.
The AEK-971 is a completely different beast:
The AEK-971 has two op rods joined by a cam inside the recoil assembly. When it fires the op rods travel in opposite directions, with one cycling the action and the other pushing a counterweight exerting a negative impulse that balances the rifle.
In effect, the AEK-971 recoils in both directions offering soft, level automatic fire. This makes the rifle very controllable in burst- and fully-automatic fire. While it maintains the Kalashnikov aesthetic, it has little in common with the tried and true Kalashnikov design.According to the Guns article linked to above, it is believed that the Russian government decided on both rifles in order to compensate for reductions in foreign sales due to the economic sanctions imposed by the Obama Administration. But the article also mentions that, because of its cost, the AEK-971 will probably be issued to special units, while the AK-12 will probably become general issue. To me,