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Assault Rifle

AN - 94 "Abakan"


The AN-94 "Abakan" Assault Rifle

Caliber 5.45 mm
Cartridge type 5.45 x 39 mm
Dimensions and weight 
Total weight (with empty magazine) 3 850 g
Overall length  943 mm 
Length with folded butt-stock  728 mm
Barrels length 405 mm 
Fire characteristics
Bullets initial speed 960 m/s
Rate of fire 600, 1 800 rpm
Practical rate of fire 40 - 100 rpm
Magazine capacity 30 rounds
Sighting range 1 000 m
Range of effective fire 650 - 700 m

   The AN-94 "Abakan" Assault Rifle was first publicly presented in Nizhnij Novgorod city gun's exhibition on May 1993. The AN-94, developed by Genady Nikonov, earlier was known as the ASM. It is a new generation assault rifle which greatly surpasses traditional examples in tactical-technical characteristics. It has no analogues in a number of technical decisions. The AN-94 Assault rifle construction remained secret till retro. It's design fundamentally differs from the AK Assault Rifle design. 

   This weapon was developed in the late 80-ties and early 90-ties under the program which was public press named as the "Abakan". The program was intended to develop an assault rifle twice more combat effective than the standard AK-74 Assault Rifle. Test results showed that Nikonov designed assault rifle was the best among the firearms taking part in that competition. It was recommended to be adopted to the Armed Forces and to replace partly the Kalashnikov Assault Rifles. This rifle was officially adopted by the Russian Army in 1994. However it is still produced only in small limited editions of the Russian Defense ministry financial problems. Only elite forces of the Russian Army and Ministry of the Internal Affairs are armed with this Assault Rifle. One interesting detail is that the "Abakan" unlike virtually every other Russian infantry weapon is not for sale to foreign buyers.The AN-94 "Abakan" Assault Rifle with the folded buttstock

   The AN-94 Assault Rifle automatic works on the gas returning principle threw the gas chamber. Yhe Assault Riffle allows to execute single, two shot burst, or full-automatic fire. The safety-lock unlike the AK-74 is separated from the fire mode changer. In the "Abakan" it is built-in the trigger guard. The barrel and it's blocks are mounted on a sliding gun-carriage. 

   The main Assault Rifle's feature is that it has two rate of fire modes. The first standard is 600 rpm that is equal to the AK-74 Assault Rifle while the other is 1 800 rpm. However it has no manual mode changer. The 1 800 rpm mode automatically turns on when Assault Rifle fires 2 shot burst. It also fires 1 800 rpm first two full-auto mode shots and after returns to the previous 600 rpm mode itself. Furthermore the process is repeated every time when shooter pushes a trigger. First two shots leave barrel in 1 800 rpm while their recoil power is felt only when rifle changes mode back to the 600 rpm. This feature provides very high fire accuracy in the first shots. Furthermore burst recoil power is so small that the AN-94 shooter is able to execute fire without grinding rifle into his shoulder, just right from his hands.

   During this 2 shot burst at 1 800 rpm, shooter feels only a single recoil from the 2 shots combined only afterwards both bullets leave barrel. Furthermore these 2 shots sound like one. This feature is called asymmetric recoil.

   The Rifles internal design is quiet complicated to described shortly and most likely it will be clear only for a professional so the internal design won't be described here of this reason.

   The "Abakan's" cartridge feeding system is unusual as it has to transfer cartridges from the stationary magazine into the recoiling receiver. The AN-94 is fitted with the two-stage feedway fed from the magazine at once. It uses 30 or 45 round standard AK-74 compatible magazines. Furthermore it can be fed from the newest Russian 60 rounds box magazines.The AN-94 "Abakan" Assault Rifle

   In it's range of effective fire the AN-94 surpasses the AK assault rifle family in 20 - 30 %. Furthermore the Nikonov's Assault Rifle features better fire accuracy especially in a burst mode. The hit probability from the first two rounds is 50 - 70% greater than the AK-74. Both bullets hit target only couple cm a way from each other. In a 100 m range burst mode 2 bullets make one hole what significantly increases piercing effect. Overall the AN-94 rifle is more accurate than the M16A2 automatic rifle considering that the 5.45-mm Russian round has a lower ballistic and piercing characteristics (is less accurate) than the standard 5.56-mm NATO cartridge.

   Assault rifles AN-94 main external feature is a wide usage of plastic (fiberglass filled polyamide). The Assault Rifle is fitted with a plastic buttstock, folding into the right side. The buttstock has a quiet similar design with the latest AK-100 family buttstocks. It has a field toolkit placed inside alike. 

   The "Abakan" is fitted a with new flame-hider which serves as a recoil compensator at once. Flash-hider has two chambers, decreasing outgoing powder gas speed and pressure. The new flash-hider is self-cleaning as well. The AN-94 can be also fitted with the standard AK-74 Assault Rifle flame-hider as it is dismounting easily.

   The AN-94 is fitted with a dioptrical opened sight first used with Russian firearms. The muzzle-sight is placed behind the flame-hider. The rear diopter has 5 rotating apertures intended for 1 000 m range. The sights design has much in common with the "Heckler & Koch" dioptrical sights. However the Assault Rifle has an universal scope rail on the left side to use with collimator, optical or night vision sights as standard. The optical one is a standard IL29 4x magnification used with AK-74, RPK-74 and PKM for a several years. There is ability to use some other more powerful optical sight if required.

   The AN-94 "Abakan" fitted with the 40-mm underbarrel grenade launcher The "Abakan" can be fitted with the GP-25 or GP-30 a 40-mm underbarrel grenade launcher. One more interesting feature that the "Abakan" is viewed as the Russian version of the American Objectie Individual Combat Weapon (OICW) as it is truly different from the earlier designed Soviet/Russian weapons.

   A knife-bayonet is mounted from the right side of the barrel flat, opposite the AK family underbarrel connection. This feature allows to use knife-bayonet and grenade launcher at the same time. Furthermore knife-bayonet is more effective during close combat as well as it has better penetration between the ribs and allows to do slashing. It is similar to the earlier designs and may fit well older rifles. However it has no saw-back as the  earlier models and has two side almost symmetrical blades.

   In case of mass production of the "Abakan" it will probably replace partly the Kalashnikov Assault Rifle. The RPK-74 will probably remain in service, at least until a light machine gun version of the AN-94 is developed. Unlike the Kalashnikov weapons, the AN-94 employs modern manufacturing technologies including castings, steel stampings, laser welding, powder coatings and polymer construction. Furthermore the AK rifles are still produced by the 50-ties methods using partly manual work. However this feature could be as advantage and disadvantage both depending from the situation. In other words the "Abakan" requires the most advanced production manufacturing technologies.


   The "Abakan" is very accurate at the 2 round burst mode. Furthermore the penetration power is increased by the second shot which hits almost the same place a the first. Ability to use underbarel grenade launcher and the bayonet-knife at the same time. Low recoil power.


   Unlike the AK-74 the AN-94 "Abakan" isn't simple at all in assembling, disassembling, and maintenance. Furthermore has lower reliability in unpleasant conditions and need accurate care. It is expensive to train solider to use the "Abakan", it takes long and it's maintenance itself is expensive comparing with the AK-74. The rifle has quiet bad ergonomics while the pistol handle and inclined in a vertical plane magazine are uncomfortable to use. The buttstock folding into the right side closes the trigger and a safety-lock when it is in folded position. This negative feature allows to fire only when the buttstock is pulled off for the right handed shooters.

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