The standard weapon of the Russian Ground Forces is the AK-74M. Developed in the 1970s as a replacement for the iconic AK-47, the main difference between the two weapons was the use of smaller, lighter 5.45-millimeter ammunition. The weapon, equipped with a thirty-round magazine, saw extensive use in the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and was issued to frontline Soviet Units, particularly airborne, naval infantry and Germany-based conventional army units. The rifle has a side folding stock, 16.3-inch barrel and an overall length of thirty-seven inches. In 2015, the Russian Army adopted a number of Western-style upgrades to the AK-74M, including a skeletonized stock with adjustable cheek weld, a rail accessory mounting system similar to that on the M4 developed by Piccatinny Arsenal, foregrip and improved muzzle brake.
Kyle Mizokami is a defense and national security writer based in San Francisco who has appeared in the Diplomat, Foreign Policy, War is Boring and the Daily Beast. In 2009 he cofounded the defense and security blog Japan Security Watch. You can follow him on Twitter: @KyleMizokami.
This first appeared in January.