The AKM (Russian: Автома́т Кала́шникова модернизи́рованный, tr. Avtomát Kaláshnikova modernizírovanny, lit. Modernized Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle) is a 7.62mm assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is a common modernized variant of the AK-47 rifle developed in the 1940s.

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 African and Asian allies as well as being widely exported and produced in many other countries. The production of these 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.

Design details

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.The GRAU officially designated the AKM as the 6P1 assault rifle.

Improvements over AK-47

The AKMS variant field stripped (below) compared with the American M16

Compared with 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 ≈ 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 corrosively primed ammunition.

The AKM’s receiver is stamped from a smooth 1.0 mm (0.04 in) sheet of steel, compared with the AK-47 where the receiver was machined from heavier gauge steel. A rear stock trunnion and forward barrel trunnion are fastened to the U-shaped receiver 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.

Gas block

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.

Bolt carrier

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 buttstock, lower handguard and upper heatguard are manufactured from birch plywood laminates like the later model AK-47 furniture.[2] Such engineered woods are stronger and resist warping better than the conventional one-piece patterns, do not require lengthy maturing, and are cheaper. The wooden buttstock 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 wooden stock also houses the issued cleaning kit, which is a small diameter metal tube with a twist lock cap. The kit normally contains the cleaning jag to which a piece of cloth material is wrapped around and dipped into cleaning solution. It also contains a pin punch, an assembly pin to hold the trigger, disconnector and rate reducer together while putting these back into the receiver after cleaning the weapon, and a barrel brush. The kit is secured inside the butt stock via a spring-loaded trap door in the stock's pressed sheet metal butt cap.


The AKM uses a modified return spring mechanism, which replaces the single recoil spring guide rod with a dual “U”-shaped wire guide.

Trigger assembly

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 with two parallel arms in the AK-47).[3][4]


The AKM’s notched rear tangent iron sight is calibrated in 100 m (109 yd) increments from 100 to 1,000 m (109 to 1,094 yd) and compared with the AK-47 the 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 is a post adjustable for elevation in the field and has a slightly different shape and its bottom portion is more narrow compared with the AK-47. Horizontal adjustment requires a special drift tool and is done by the armory before issue or if the need arises by an armorer after issue. The sight line elements are approximately 48.5 mm (1.9 in) over the bore axis. The "point-blank range" battle zero setting "П" on the 7.62×39mm AKM rear tangent sight element corresponds to a 300 m (328 yd) zero.[5] For the AKM combined with service cartridges the 300 m battle zero setting limits the apparent "bullet rise" within approximately −5 to +31 cm (−2.0 to 12.2 in) relative to the line of sight. Soldiers are instructed to fire at any target within this range by simply placing the sights on the center of mass (the belt buckle, according to Russian and former Soviet doctrine) of the enemy target. Any errors in range estimation are tactically irrelevant, as a well-aimed shot will hit the torso of the enemy soldier.[5]


AKMS with a 30-round "bakelite" magazine. Despite their name, the magazines are actually made of fiberglass and resin along with steel reinforcements. The magazine has an "arrow in triangle" Izhmash arsenal mark on the bottom right.

The early slab-sided steel AK-47 30-round detachable box magazines had 1 mm (0.039 in) sheet-metal bodies and weigh 0.43 kg (0.95 lb) empty.[6] The later steel AKM 30-round magazines had lighter sheet-metal bodies with prominent reinforcing ribs weighing 0.33 kg (0.73 lb) empty.[6][7] To further reduce weight a light weight magazine with an aluminum body with a prominent reinforcing waffle rib pattern weighing 0.19 kg (0.42 lb) empty was developed for the AKM that proved to be too fragile and the small issued amount of these magazines were quickly withdrawn from service. As a replacement steel-reinforced 30-round plastic 7.62×39mm box magazines were introduced. These rust-colored magazines weigh 0.24 kg (0.53 lb) empty and are often mistakenly identified as being made of Bakelite (a phenolic resin), but were actually fabricated from two-parts of AG-S4 molding compound (a glass-reinforced phenol-formaldehyde binder impregnated composite), assembled using an epoxy resin adhesive.[8][9][10] Noted for their durability, these magazines did, however, compromise the rifle's camouflage and lacked the small horizontal reinforcing ribs running down both sides of the magazine body near the front that were added on all later plastic magazine generations.[10] A second generation steel-reinforced dark-brown (color shades vary from maroon to plum to near black) 30-round 7.62×39mm magazine was introduced in the early 1980s, fabricated from ABS plastic. The third generation steel-reinforced 30-round 7.62×39mm magazine is similar to the second generation, but is darker colored and has a matte nonreflective surface finish. The current issue steel-reinforced matte true black nonreflective surface finished 7.62×39mm 30-round magazines, fabricated from ABS plastic weigh 0.25 kg (0.55 lb) empty.[11] Early steel AK-47 magazines are 9.75 in (248 mm) long, and the later ribbed steel AKM and newer plastic 7.62×39mm magazines are about 1 in (25 mm) shorter.[12][13]

The transition from steel to mainly plastic magazines yielded a significant weight reduction and allow a soldier to carry more rounds for the same weight.

Rifle Cartridge Cartridge weight Weight of empty magazine Weight of loaded magazine Max. 10.12 kg (22.3 lb) ammunition load*
AK-47 (1949) 7.62×39mm 16.3 g (252 gr) slab-sided steel
430 g (0.95 lb)
916 g (2.019 lb)[14]
11 magazines for 330 rounds
10.08 kg (22.2 lb)
AKM (1959) 7.62×39mm 16.3 g (252 gr) ribbed stamped-steel
330 g (0.73 lb)
819 g (1.806 lb)[7][15]
12 magazines for 360 rounds
9.83 kg (21.7 lb)
AK-103 (1994) 7.62×39mm 16.3 g (252 gr) steel-reinforced plastic
250 g (0.55 lb)
739 g (1.629 lb)[7][15]
13 magazines for 390 rounds
9.61 kg (21.2 lb)

Note: All, 7.62×39mm AK magazines are backwards compatible with older AK variants.
Note *: 10.12 kg (22.3 lb) is the maximum amount of ammo that the average soldier can comfortably carry. It also allows for best comparison of the three most common 7.62×39mm AK-style magazines.


6H4-type bayonet and scabbard
AKM Type I bayonet of the Nationale Volksarmee that has cut an electrical wire

The AKM comes supplied with a different accessory kit that contains a M1959 6X4 or 6X3-type bayonet and comes with synthetic or steel magazines. The 6X3-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 metal scabbard, using a rubber insulator sleeve, 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.


AKMS without magazine
AKML with NSP-3
An AKMS (top) compared with a standard Soviet AK-47 (bottom).
AKMS with sound suppressor and silent BS-1 Tishina grenade launcher attached.

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 riveted steel pressings, instead of the milled versions of most AKS-47s.

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 AKMN comes equipped with a side-rail used to attach a night vision device. The model designated AKMN-1 can thus mount the multi-model night vision scope 1PN51[16] and the AKMN2 the multi-model night vision scope 1PN58.[17]

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. Similarly to the AKMN-1, the AKMSN-1 can mount the multi-model night vision scope 1PN51[16] and the AKMSN2 the multi-model night vision scope 1PN58.[17]

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.

Semi-automatic trigger variant

WASR-10 with thumbhole stock Note lack of dimples over mag well peculiar to WASR series

The WASR-10 is a semi-automatic only variant developed from the AKM series rifle but is not another version rather a derivative or variant due to significant changes. The lack of the dimple over the magazine well is a peculiar WASR feature helpful in identification of WASR series rifles.[18] The WASR series are manufactured in Romania by the arms-maker Cugir and widely imported into the United States for the sporting gun market by importer Century International Arms who modifies them with TAPCO stocks.[19][20] Century began installing the TAPCO Intrafuse AK G2 trigger group in 2007 to eliminate bolt slap trigger finger injuries.[21]


Accuracy potential

The following table represents the Russian method for determining accuracy, which is far more complex than Western methods. In the West, one fires a group of shots into the target and then simply measure the overall diameter of the group. The Russians, on the other hand, fire a group of shots into the target. They then draw two circles on the target, one for the maximum vertical dispersion of hits and one for the maximum horizontal dispersion of hits. They then disregard the hits on the outer part of the target and only count half of the hits (50% or R50) on the inner part of the circles. This dramatically reduces the overall diameter of the groups. They then use both the vertical and horizontal measurements of the reduced groups to measure accuracy. This circular error probable method used by the Russian and other European militaries cannot be converted and is not comparable to US military methods for determining rifle accuracy.

AKM short burst dispersion with 57-N-231 steel core service ammunition[22]
Range Vertical accuracy of fire (R50) Horizontal accuracy of fire (R50) Remaining bullet energy Remaining bullet velocity
0 m (0 yd) 0 cm (0.0 in) 0 cm (0.0 in) 2,036 J (1,502 ft⋅lbf) 718 m/s (2,356 ft/s)
100 m (109 yd) 8 cm (3.1 in) 11 cm (4.3 in) 1,540 J (1,140 ft⋅lbf) 624 m/s (2,047 ft/s)
200 m (219 yd) 15 cm (5.9 in) 22 cm (8.7 in) 1,147 J (846 ft⋅lbf) 539 m/s (1,768 ft/s)
300 m (328 yd) 23 cm (9.1 in) 33 cm (13.0 in) 843 J (622 ft⋅lbf) 462 m/s (1,516 ft/s)
400 m (437 yd) 31 cm (12.2 in) 44 cm (17.3 in) 618 J (456 ft⋅lbf) 395 m/s (1,296 ft/s)
500 m (547 yd) 39 cm (15.4 in) 56 cm (22.0 in) 461 J (340 ft⋅lbf) 342 m/s (1,122 ft/s)
600 m (656 yd) 47 cm (18.5 in) 67 cm (26.4 in) 363 J (268 ft⋅lbf) 303 m/s (994 ft/s)
700 m (766 yd) 55 cm (21.7 in) 78 cm (30.7 in) 314 J (232 ft⋅lbf) 282 m/s (925 ft/s)
800 m (875 yd) 64 cm (25.2 in) 90 cm (35.4 in) 284 J (209 ft⋅lbf) 268 m/s (879 ft/s)
  • R50 means the closest 50 percent of the shot group will all be within a circle of the mentioned diameter.

In general, this is an improvement with respect to firing accuracy to the AK-47. The vertical and horizontal mean (R50) deviations with service ammunition at 800 m (875 yd) for AK platforms are.

SKS, AK-47, AKM, and AK-74 dispersion at 800 m (875 yd)
Rifle Firing mode Vertical accuracy of fire (R50) Horizontal accuracy of fire (R50)
SKS (1945) semi-automatic 38 cm (15.0 in) 29 cm (11.4 in)
AK-47 (1949) semi-automatic 49 cm (19.3 in) 34 cm (13.4 in)
AK-47 (1949) short burst 76 cm (29.9 in) 89 cm (35.0 in)
AKM (1959) short burst 64 cm (25.2 in) 90 cm (35.4 in)
AK-74 (1974) short burst 48 cm (18.9 in) 64 cm (25.2 in)


Egyptian soldiers in training with Egyptian-made Misr rifles
A Romanian sub-officer with a PM md. 65
U.S. Marine firing an East German MpiKMS-72 assault rifle

Former users

See also


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  2. ^ "Type 2 & Type 3 AK-47". Retrieved 18 October 2016. 
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  4. ^ Edward Ezell (1 March 1986). The AK47 story: evolution of the Kalashnikov weapons. Stackpole Books. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-8117-0916-3. 
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  6. ^ a b Dockery, Kevin (2007). Future Weapons. p. 102. ISBN 0425217507.
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  14. ^ Dockery, Kevin (2007). Future Weapons. p. 102. ISBN 0-425-21750-7. 
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  18. ^ Big Mike's Hobby Channel (25 September 2015). "AK Comparison - SAR 1 vs WASR 10". Retrieved 18 October 2016 – via YouTube. 
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  31. ^ "Exhibits Page 16". Avtomats-in-action.com. Archived from the original on 25 December 2009. Retrieved 2009-11-20. 
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  36. ^ World Armies (2011-12-06). "Guatemalan Special Forces". flicker.com. Retrieved 2017-04-06. 
  37. ^ Osie Greenway. "Kurdish Peshmerga forces of 10th Brigade 3rd Battalion prepare to defend a newly adopted base they arrived at a week ago days after the Islamic State militants offensive swept through Iraq". Osie Greenway. Retrieved 2017-07-04. 
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External links