The AKM (Russian: Автомат Калашникова Модернизированный; Avtomat Kalashnikova Modernizirovanniy or "Kalashnikov modernized automatic rifle") is a 7.62mm assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is an upgraded version of the AK-47 rifle developed in the 1950s.
Introduced into service with the Soviet Army in 1959, the AKM is the most ubiquitous variant of the entire AK series of firearms and it has found widespread use with most member states of the former Warsaw Pact and its many African and Asian allies as well as being widely exported and produced in many other countries. The production of these Soviet rifles was carried out at both the Tula Arms Plant and Izhmash. It was officially replaced in Soviet frontline service by the AK-74 in the late 1970s, but remains in use worldwide.
The AKM is an assault rifle using the 7.62×39mm Soviet intermediate cartridge. It is gas operated with a rotating bolt. The AKM is capable of selective fire, firing either single shots or automatic at a cyclic rate of 600 rounds/min. Despite being replaced in the late 1970s by the AK-74 the AKM is still in service in some Russian Army reserve and second-line units and several east European countries.
Improvements over AK-47
Compared to the AK-47, the AKM features detail improvements and enhancements that optimized the rifle for mass production; some parts and assemblies were conceived using simplified manufacturing methods. Notably, the AK-47`s milled steel receiver was replaced by a U-shaped steel stamping. As a result of these modifications, the AKM`s weight was reduced by approx. 1 kg (2.2 lb), the accuracy during automatic fire was increased and several reliability issues were addressed. The AK-47`s chrome-lined barrel was retained, a common feature of Soviet weapons which resists wear and corrosion, particularly under harsh field conditions and near-universal Eastern Bloc use of corrosive primed ammunition.
The AKM`s receiver, compared to the AK-47, is stamped from a smooth 1.0 mm (0.04 in) sheet of steel. To the stamped sheet metal receiver housing a rear stock trunnion and forward barrel trunnion are fastened using rivets. The receiver housing also features a rigid tubular cross-section support that adds structural strength. Guide rails that assist the bolt carrier`s movement which also incorporates the ejector are installed inside the receiver through spot welding. As a weight-saving measure, the stamped receiver cover is of thinner gauge metal than that of the AK-47. In order to maintain strength and durability it employs both longitudinal and latitudinal reinforcing ribs.
The forward barrel trunnion has a non-threaded socket for the barrel and a transverse hole for a pin that secures the barrel in place. On some models the rear trunnion has two extended mounting arms on both sides that support the buttstock; other fixed models use a stepped shaped trunnion that covers the full width of the inside of the receiver.
The AKM`s barrel is installed in the forward trunnion and pinned (as opposed to the AK-47, which has a one piece receiver with integral trunnions and a barrel that is screwed-in). Additionally the barrel has horizontal guide slots that help align and secure the handguards in place. To increase the weapon`s accuracy during automatic fire, the AKM was fitted with a slant cut muzzle brake that helps redirect expanding propellant gases upward and to the right during firing, which mitigates the rise of the muzzle during an automatic burst when held by a right-handed firer. The muzzle brake is threaded on to the end of the barrel with a left-hand thread. Not all AKMs had slant muzzle brakes; some were also fitted with the older muzzle nut which came from the AK-47. Most AKMs with muzzle nuts were older production weapons. The AKM`s slant brake can also be used on the AK-47, which had a simple nut to cover the threads.
The gas block in the AKM does not have a cleaning rod capture or sling loop but is instead fitted with an integrated bayonet support collar that has a cleaning rod guide hole. The forward sling loop was relocated to the front handguard retainer cap. The handguard retainer also has notches that determine the position of the handguards on the barrel. The AKM`s laminated wood handguards have lateral grooves that help securely grip the rifle.
Gas relief ports that alleviate gas pressure in the piston cylinder (placed horizontally in a row on the gas cylinder in the AK-47) were moved forward to the gas block and placed in a radial arrangement.
The AKM`s bolt carrier is slightly lighter in weight and despite some minor differences in its shape – it can be used interchangeably with the AK-47`s bolt carrier and bolt.
The wooden stock used in the AKM is further hollowed in order to reduce weight and is longer and straighter than that of the AK-47, which assists accuracy for subsequent shots during rapid and automatic fire.
The AKM uses a modified return spring mechanism, which replaces the single recoil spring guide rod with a dual “U”-shaped wire guide. The AKM has a modified trigger assembly, equipped with a hammer-release delaying device (installed on the same axis pin together with the trigger and disconnector) commonly called a "rate reducer". In fact its primary purpose is not to reduce the rate of automatic fire; it is a safety device to ensure the weapon will only fire on automatic when the bolt is fully locked, as the hammer is tripped by the bolt carrier`s last few millimetres of forward movement. The device also reduces "trigger slap" or "trigger bounce" and the weapon`s rate of fire, which also reduces the dispersion of bullets when firing in fully automatic mode. The hammer was also changed and equipped with a protrusion that engages the rate reducer and the trigger has only one notched hammer release arm (compared to two parallel arms in the AK-47).
The AKM`s rear sight consists of a ramp with a range scale marked from 100 to 1,000 m (graduated every 100 m), as compared to that of the original AK-47, which was graduated to 800 meters. The rear sight leaf`s position teeth that secure the sliding adjustable notch were transferred over from the right to the left edge of the ramp. The front sight post also has a slightly different shape and its bottom portion is more narrow.
The AKM comes supplied with a different accessory kit that contains a M1959 6H4 or 6H3-type bayonet and comes with synthetic or steel magazines. The 6H3-type bayonet blade forms a wire-cutting device when coupled with its scabbard. The polymer grip and upper part of the scabbard provide insulation from the metal blade and bottom part of the scabbard to safely cut electrified wire. The kit also comes with a punch used to drive out various pins and a device that aids in assembling the rate reducing mechanism. The GP-25 Grenade launcher can also be fitted onto the AKM.
The weapon uses the same ammunition as the AK-47: the 7.62×39mm M43 intermediate rifle cartridge. The AKM mechanism`s design principles and procedures for loading and firing are practically identical to those of the AK-47, the only difference being the trigger assembly (during the return stage of the bolt carrier on fully automatic mode) as a result of incorporating the rate reducer device.
- The main variant of the AKM is the AKMS (S – Skladnoy [Folding]), which was equipped with an under folding metal shoulder stock in place of the fixed wooden stock. The metal stock of the AKMS is somewhat different from the folding stock of the previous AKS-47 model as it has a modified locking mechanism, which locks both support arms of the AKMS stock instead of just one (left arm) as in the AKS-47 folding model. It is also made of rivetted steel pressings, instead of the milled versions of most AKS-47s.
- The AKMSU – Carbine variant, the shorter version of
- the AKMS assault rifle with a shorter barrel, modified lower wooden handguard, which is also slightly shorter and has a thumbhole foregrip, flash eliminator added on the barrel end and different, non adjustable iron sights.
- The AKM was produced in the following versions: AKMP, AKML and AKMLP, whereas the AKMS led to the following models – AKMSP, AKMSN and AKMSNP. It is designed especially for use by paratroopers–as the folding stock permits more space for other equipment when jumping from a plane and then landing.
- The AKMP rifle uses subdued Radium-illuminated aiming points integrated into the front and rear sight. These sights enable targets to be engaged in low-light conditions, e.g. when the battlefield is illuminated with flares, fires or muzzle flashes or when the target is visible as a shadow against an illuminated background. The sliding notch on the sight arm is then moved to the “S” setting (which corresponds to the “3” setting in the AKM). The sight itself is guided on the sliding scale and has a socket, which contains a tritium gas-filled capsule directly beneath the day-time notch. The tritium front post installs into the front sight base using a detent and spring.
- The AKML comes equipped with a side-rail used to attach a night vision device. The mount comprises a flat plate riveted to the left wall of the receiver housing and a support bracket fixed to the mounting base with screws. To shield the light-sensitive photo detector plate of the night vision sight, the weapon uses a slotted flash suppressor, which replaces the standard recoil compensator.
- The AKML can also be deployed in the prone position with a detachable barrel-mounted bipod that helps stabilize the weapon and reduces operator fatigue during prolonged periods of observation. The bipod is supplied as an accessory and is carried in a holster attached to the duty belt.
- The AKMLP is a version of the AKML with tritium sights (as in the AKMP).
- The AKMSP rifle is based on the folding stock AKMS variant but fitted with tritium night sights, as in the AKMP.
- The AKMSN model is derived from the AKMS and features an accessory rail used to mount a night vision sensor as seen on the AKML and additionally a flash hider and bipod. The left arm of the AKMSN`s folding stock is bent outwards in order to avoid the sight mount bracket during folding and the sling loop was moved further to the rear.
- A version of the AKMSN additionally supplied with factory tritium night sights is called the AKMSNP.
- A version of the AKM with a modified lower handguard designed to accept the 40 mm wz. 1974 Pallad grenade launcher was developed in Poland and designated the karabinek-granatnik wz. 1974.
- Bulgaria: Produced locally.
- Cape Verde
- Central African Republic
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- East Germany: Produced locally. Examples include the MPi-KM (fixed stock) and MPi-KMS (side-folding stock)
- Egypt: The Misr is an Egyptian copy of the AKM, manufactured by Factory 54 of the Maadi Company for Engineering Industries in Cairo for the Egyptian Army and for export sales.
- Equatorial Guinea
- Estonia: Still in limited military/police use. Replaced by AK-74.
- Finland: Holds stocks of imported AKM clones for wartime reserve service (the Chinese Type 56 known as the RK 56 TP and the East German MPi-KM as the RK 72) along with locally designed AK derivatives (the Rk 62 and the RK 95 TP).
- Hungary: There is a Hungarian copy of the AKM called `AK-63` manufactured by FÉG. The AK-63 comes with a fixed wooden or plastic stock, but there is a version with an under-folding metal stock called AK-63D.
- Israel: Captured from Arab armies over the course of the Arab-Israeli Conflict.
- Mali – Armed and Security Forces of Mali
- North Korea: Type 68 variant. The variant does not have a rate reducer.
- Oman: Some captured from Dhofari rebels.
- Pakistan: Type 56 variant.
- Palestinian Authority: M70 variant
- People`s Republic of China: Type 56 variant.
- Poland: Produced locally.Replaced by Kbs wz. 1996 Beryl and soon by MSBS.
- Republic of Macedonia
- Romania: Produced locally.
- Russia: Still in limited military/Police use, officially replaced in most Russian military units by the AK-74. Some usage mainly urban environments due to the ability to penetrate heavy cover.
- São Tomé and Príncipe
- Saudi Arabia
- South Sudan
- Sierra Leone
- Soviet Union
- Sweden A small number of AKM`s are used by the Swedish Armed Forces for familiarization training, but they are not issued to combat units.
- Ukraine still in limited use, officially replaced in most Ukrainian military units by the AK-74 and the Vepr.
- United Arab Emirates
- Vietnam Standard infantry rifle of the Vietnamese Army.
- Yugoslavia: Several variants based on the AKM built by Zastava Arms factory, most notably the M70 and M70B.
- Vietnam War
- Laotian civil war
- Portuguese Colonial War
- Cambodian Civil War
- Yom Kippur War
- Cambodian–Vietnamese War
- Chadian–Libyan Conflict
- Sino-Vietnamese War
- Western Sahara War
- The Troubles
- Soviet war in Afghanistan
- Iran–Iraq War
- South African Border War
- Gulf War
- Croatian War of Independence
- Bosnian War
- First Chechen war
- Second Chechen War
- War in Afghanistan (2001-present)
- Cambodian–Thai border stand-off
- Iraq War
- 2008 South Ossetia war
- Somali Civil War
- Mexican Drug War
- Yugoslav Wars
- Dissident Irish Republican campaign
- Syrian civil war
- Libyan civil war
- Various other conflicts in Africa and Asia
Izhmash,Tula arsenal, others.
Gas operated, rotating bolt
3.1 kg (6.83 lb)
880 mm (34.6 in)
415 mm (16.3 in)
10, 20, 30, 40 round box magazines or RPK 40-round box magazines. Also compatible with 75-round and drum magazines from the RPK.
Box or Drum Magazine
Rear sight notch on sliding tangent, front post Sight radius: 378 mm (14.9 in)
Rate of fire:
400 m,100–1,000 m sight adjustments