The AK-74M assault rifle with GP-34 grenade launcher and 60-round casket magazine. Credit: Srebenicakaka
The AK-74M assault rifles displayed by the Russian Airborne Forces. Credit: Vitaliy Kuzmin
The AK- 74M features a new solid side-folding polymer buttstock. Credit: Виталий Кузьмин.

AK-74M is the main service rifle in use in the Russian Army. It is an improved variant of the AK-74 assault rifle. The 5.45mm rifle is being produced by Izhmash OJSC. Azerbaijan also produces the AK-74M under license from Izhmash.

Production of the AK-74M began in 1990 and the rifle was officially adopted by the Russian Army in 1991. Azerbaijan started the licensed production of the AK-74M in July 2011. The rifle is being manufactured for the Azeri armed forces under the designation of Khazri. Azerbaijan manufactured more than 100,000 AK-74M rifles by mid-2019.

The AK-74M is also used by the armed forces of Afghanistan, Armenia, Belarus, Bulgaria, Georgia, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, North Korea, Philippines, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

In February 2012, Russia unveiled its plans to upgrade the AK-74 assault rifles as a part of a $690bn modernisation programme. The upgraded rifles are equipped with a detachable sight and light.

The country donated 5,000 AK-74M units to the Philippines in October 2017. Russia plans to replace the AK-74M rifle with the new AK-12 and AK-15 rifles.

Design of AK-74M assault rifle

AK-74M is a gas-operated, selective fire weapon. It incorporates a new solid side-folding polymer buttstock, as well as an improved bolt and carrier assembly. The rifle is equipped with an enhanced muzzle device and durable smooth dust cover.

It is also supplied with a folded buttstock. The universal optics mounting rail is provided as a piece of standard equipment for mounting optics on the AK-74M.

The high-strength plastic materials are used for the forearm, magazine, buttstock and pistol grip of the rifle. The metal parts of the AK-74M are applied with protective coatings for resistance against corrosion. The quality of the rifle is assured by all-round test programmes conducted by the manufacturer.

AK-74M has an overall length of 943mm and barrel length of 415mm. The length with a folded buttstock is 705mm. The fully loaded rifle weighs 3.9kg. The weight of the rifle with an empty magazine is 3.6kg.

AK-74M magazines and ammunition

The AK-74M uses 5.45 AK 30, 5.45 AK 45 and 5.45 AK Drum magazines. The 30-round True Black magazine is the current-production magazine for the rifle.

The magazine is made of lightweight strength polymer. It can be quickly reloaded from stripper clips. The empty weight of a 30-round magazine is 0.23kg.

The lightweight 5.45x39mm magazine significantly reduces the load for the soldiers. It allows the carriage of additional rounds for the same weight in comparison with the earlier magazines of the AK family of assault rifles.

Optical sights and accessories for AK-74M

AK-74M can be fitted with collimator and optical sights to ensure fast and precise targeting with improved combat efficiency. The standard optical sight is the 1P29 universal sight with 4-power magnification. It has a field of vision of 80.

The rifle can also be mounted with several models of passive night sights. These sights are fitted to the standard mounting rail on the left side of the receiver.

The assault rifle can be attached with an under-barrel grenade launcher or a knife-bayonet. The rifle fitted with GP-34 single-shot grenade launcher can engage targets within the range of 100m to 400m.

The GP-34 is capable of firing fragmentation grenades, fragmentation bounding grenades and smoke grenades. Other accessories provided with the rifle include a quick-loading device, spare cartridges, stripper clips, maintenance kit, cleaning rod and sling.

Performance of the Russian Army’s main service rifle

AK-74M can fire rounds in semi-automatic and fully-automatic modes. The cyclic rate of fire of the rifle is 650 rounds a minute. The muzzle brake enhances cyclic fire accuracy and cuts down muzzle raise and burst recoil.

The combat rate of fire of the rifle in single-shot fire is 40 rounds a minute. The gun can fire 100 rounds a minute in short burst fire mode. The muzzle velocity of the round fired from the rifle is 900m/s. The rear sight range of the rifle is 1,000m.