Home of the humble Mosin Nagant and Kalashnikov, weapons which have changed the outcome of some of the 20th Centuries most infamous wars, Russia knows what they’re doing when it comes to making weapons. However, there are some instances that require a lot more than a standard AK. In 2010, Russia designed a gun to arm the urban combat units of the FSB intelligence services. Thus, the ASh-12.7 was born.
Around the time of design, Russia was still locked in various counter-terrorism operations in its unruly republics of Chechnya and Dagestan, and the aim of designing a high caliber assault rifle was to create a weapon for the Russian authorities to use in close combat, particularly in urban areas where it was vital to combine high stopping power with limited penetration and a short-range to avoid collateral damage to civilian bystanders or hostages. Another aspect of its design was to successfully put down opponents under the influence of strong drugs or wearing bulletproof armor. To do so, the weapons designers at Izhmash began work on an assault rifle and the ASh-12.7 was born.
The ASh-12.7 assault rifle was created in a bullpup layout, with a stamped steel receiver and a polymer stock. It is believed to use a gas-operated, rotary bolt action. Firing controls include two separate levers; a fire mode selector (Semi/Auto) at the rear and an ambidextrous safety (Safe/Fire) above the pistol grip. The most common variation of the rifle features an integral carrying handle with a built-in rear sight, a folding front sight, and a length of rail on the carrying handle and below the fore-end to combine various optical sights and 40mm grenade launchers. It usually features a muzzle brake or a quickly-detachable suppressor.
When it comes to ammunition, the rifle was developed in conjunction with specialist high caliber ammo. Standard ammunition for the ASh-12.7 is the 12.7×55mm lightweight, subsonic bullet with an aluminum core, exposed at the front, and hollowed at the rear and partially enclosed into a bi-metal jacket. This ammunition was originally developed by the TsKIB SOO (Central Design Bureau of Sporting and Hunting Weapons) which was the same organization that developed the silenced VKS sniper rifle. The weapon is capable of single and fully automatic fire at a distance of up to 300 meters.
This video, produced with English descriptions and subtitles by the excellent Russian team at Lazarev Tactical, shows the ASh-12.7 in action and being tested out by the Russian army and law enforcement at a range.
The new .50-caliber cartridge is similar to the US developed big-bore cartridges designed for the AR-15 platform, such as .458 SOCOM, .499 LWR, or .50 Beowulf, although the Russian cartridge uses a longer case and generally a heavier bullet load.
To get the lowdown on more of the latest weapons on the global battlefield, take a look at our dedicated weapons section.