Russian Forces in Ukraine Are Now Using Kalashnikov AMB-17 Assault Rifles

AMB-17 Assault Rifle Russia
April 13, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: MilitaryRussiaRiflesGunsDragunovAMB-17Assault RifleUkraine

Russian Forces in Ukraine Are Now Using Kalashnikov AMB-17 Assault Rifles

Russian forces in Ukraine are now testing the Kalashnikov AMB-17, a modern, integrally suppressed assault rifle designed for special operations.

Summary: Russian forces in Ukraine are now testing the Kalashnikov AMB-17, a modern, integrally suppressed assault rifle designed for special operations. Developed by the Kalashnikov Concern and revealed in 2017, the AMB-17 uses the subsonic 9x39mm SP5 and armor-piercing SP6 cartridges, offering significant stealth and stopping power for close-quarters combat. This compact rifle, a contemporary adaptation of Yevgeny Dragunov's MA Compact Rifle design, supports various sighting devices via a Picatinny rail. Initially intended for the Russian Interior Ministry and Army special units, its mass production is anticipated later this year following combat tests by the “Эспаньола” group in Ukraine.

Russian Troops Test Advanced Kalashnikov AMB-17 in Ukraine

Russian forces fighting in Ukraine have increasingly had to rely on antiquated equipment dating back to the Cold War, but this month at least a few troops were armed with the Kalashnikov AMB-17 assault rifle. Members of the “Эспаньола” (Hispaniola) group received the weapons for testing, MILMAG first reported, citing a post from the Telegram social messaging app.

The Avtomat Malogabaritnyj Besshumny (“Suppressed Small-sized Automatic Rifle”) is an integrally suppressed assault rifle that uses a heavy subsonic 9x39mm SP5 cartridge and armor-piercing SP6 cartridge. The AMB-17 was developed and manufactured in the late 2010s by the state-owned Kalashnikov Concern, based on the Yevgeny Dragunov MA Compact Rifle and unveiled at the Russian Army Expo 2017 alongside the AM-17—a model without an internal suppressor and chambered for the 5.45x39mm cartridge.

It was designed as a close-quarters weapon, primarily for special units of the Russian Interior Ministry and the Russian Army to replace the AS Val and VSS Vintorez firearms. It is a compact assault rifle with an overall length of just 850mm (34.34 inches), while it weighs 2.9 kg (6.4 pounds). It employs a short-stroke gas piston and is locked by a rotating bolt with three lugs. Above the receiver, there is a Picatinny rail for mounting various sighting devices.

Special Cartridge

The AMB-17 feeds from 30-round magazines and is noteworthy for being chambered for the 9x39mm SP5 cartridge, which was developed in the late Soviet era, primarily for use in silenced firearms operated by special forces and for covert operations.

The cartridge was designed to be subsonic to ensure that it does not produce a sonic boom when fired. That greatly reduces the noise level when combined with a suppressor.

At the same time, the 9x39mm round uses a heavier bullet that provides significant stopping power despite its subsonic speed, making it highly effective for short- to medium-range engagements. The cartridge typically features a full metal jacket or armor-piercing bullet, which can further enhance its ability to penetrate body armor and cover including Class 2 vests. The AMB-17 has a rate of fire of 700 rounds per minute and an initial bullet velocity of 290-305 m/s.

A Modernized Dragnuov Design

The AM-17 and AMB-17 are also unique in that the compact assault rifles are based on the Yevgeny Dragunov MA Compact Rifle.

Dragnuov, noted for his now infamous SVD “Dragunov Sniper Rifle,” designed the MA Compact rifle in the 1970s, but it lost out to a shortened Kalashnikov assault rifle in a Soviet Army competition. However, the project was revisited in the early 2010s, resulting in its introduction during the Army-2017 forum. It continued to be refined and is now being tested in combat environments in Ukraine.

Mass production of the AMB-17 is expected to begin later this year.

Author Experience and Expertise: Peter Suciu

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu. You can email the author: [email protected].

Image Credit: Creative Commons/Vitaly V. Kuzmin.