AK 47 Alfa assault rifle: the ‘Israeli’ elite Kalashnikov
The article was published in Popmech. The point of view expressed in this article is authorial and do not necessarily reflect BM`s editorial stance.
MOSCOW, (BM) – The Kalashnikov assault rifle has long become a household name. Israeli designers do not hide their admiration for Kalashnikov, calling Mikhail Timofeevich a genius who created the Mona Lisa in the world of weapons. Moshe Oz, the CAA owner, recalls his experience of serving in the Israeli special forces: “There was no weapon more beloved by the soldiers than the AK. It is still in service in some Israeli units, and they are not going to abandon it, arguing that any other machine gun can fail, and the AK does not provide such a “function.”
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The Israeli gunsmiths decided to take the Kalashnikov’s basic scheme, based on removing powder gases from the bore to a piston in a gas outlet pipe. Then they combined it with the principle of “suspended” parts, in which structural elements are spaced so far from each other inside the body that between them, you can shove a stone. In this case, the mechanism will continue to work as if nothing had happened.
This approach provided AK Alfa with one of the essential qualities of military weapons – reliability. The chief designer of AK Alfa, Mikhail Ben Oren, speaks of the AK system as follows: “Kalashnikov is an excellent thing and does not need to be touched. He has everything in the right place. And the flue system is functioning flawlessly, and the reload handle is in the right place, with perfectly aligned distances.”
Having laid the foundation, the craftsmen from CAA gave free rein to their imaginations, trying to embody all the shooters’ wishes in one sample of weapons. A lot of work has been done to improve the ergonomics of the gun and improve its ballistic qualities. If you look at the Alpha barrel when firing, it doesn’t matter whether the shooter fires with single shots or bursts; you can see that he is practically motionless. This is also evidenced by the compact “heaps” of hits that remain on the target as a modest circle.
These indicators were achieved using two technical solutions. First, the Alpha barrel received a new highly efficient reactive muzzle brake-compensator (DTC). This device largely extinguishes the recoil and toss of the weapon due to a powerful jet of exhaust powder gases that erupt through the slots in the brake and act in the opposite direction to the recoil impulse when fired. But today, you will not surprise anyone with a good DTK. Therefore another innovation in AK Alfa is an almost suspended barrel, freed from contacts with the forend.
Thanks to this technical solution, the weapon’s body experience fewer vibrations from the barrel when fired. The barrel itself has a lower swing amplitude, which affects the stability of shooting and the accuracy of hits. Previously, gun designers used this principle only in sniper rifles. The AK Alfa’s barrel is only “almost suspended”, because the fully suspended barrel cannot interact with the gas engine. It is the second fulcrum and, of course, does not contribute to the repeatability of the shot. But no one sets the task of a machine gun to be a sniper rifle.
The king’s new dress
Having figured out with accuracy, Israeli engineers began one of the most ambitious layers of work – creating a new building. Naturally, plastic, since today many types of polymer compounds are not inferior to metals in strength. And at CAA, they can do whatever they want with these materials – the company initially specialized in the production of plastic body kits for almost all shooting systems. Plastic has many advantages. Weapons made with polymer parts will be lighter. Insensitivity to corrosion is also a clear plus. Also, plastic is practically not subject to temperature overload. Wherever the shooter works, at the North Pole or in Africa, his weapon will not burn his hands or freeze a piece of skin to himself. And there is no need to tell anyone about overheating in Israel – here, after two or three hours in the open sun, touching any metal object threatens with very unpleasant consequences.
The next item is the Picatinny rail for attaching scopes and other accessories. With them, the Israelis decided not to waste time on trifles – the strips are located on the fore-end on all four sides so that the soldier can install tactical grips, bipods, flashlights, and any necessary equipment on them. And on top, along the entire length of the gas outlet tube and receiver, there is one sizeable long rail with 40 grooves. This amount is quite enough to install a collimator, a magnifying attachment, a laser designator, and spare front sight and rear sight. So the Israelis tried to retouch the “birth trauma” of the Kalashnikov assault rifle – the sidebar for the eye (it always stands slightly crooked relative to the barrel).
Improved ergonomics followed the plastic body. The first thing the creators of AK Alfa thought about was the stock, which largely determines how convenient the shooter will handle his weapon. It is necessary to consider a lot of data – the length of the arms, neck, shoulder width, which are different for everyone. Modern weapons are rarely produced with a standard fixed stock. The trend is “transformers” so that the shooter can adjust anything. Pressing the button on the back of the butt releases the lock and allows you to extend the butt to the desired length, and the “cheek” located on top can rise to one of three positions. The butt was made folding so that the machine gun was more convenient to transport and move with it in confined spaces.
The production of various weapon accessories, including regulated ones – CAA bread, so everything related to the convenience of handling the carbine is thought out to the smallest detail. Almost everything is changed and adjusted. You can install the butt plate of the desired shape, the pads on the fire control handle of different thicknesses for shooters with varying lengths of a finger. The rifle’s reloading handle is available in several versions. However, this is not even the most important news for the future owner of AK Alfa. All replacement accessories will be supplied with the Alpha and will be available out of the box. Modularity, in which any element can be replaced or adjusted individually, is the main highlight of AK Alfa, sums up Mikhail Ben Oren.
By the way, since we have already remembered the reloading handle, it is replaceable. And the shooter is free to change its position on the right or left side at will. Where he wanted, he put it there. The handle is changing without any complicated tools within a few seconds.
Another innovation in the AK Alfa is the extractor key. The principle remains the same as AK: a lever mounts under the receiving shaft; when pressed, the magazine is released from the lock and removed. The Israelis made this button very large and “extended” almost to the trigger guard’s middle. The shooter can now press it with the index finger of the hand that is holding the weapon. All this means that he does not need to reach out with his second hand to the extractor or knock him down with a magazine, as our commandos do.
The store was also “pumped up”. The ammunition storage has received deep grooves to improve the grip. Also, on both sides, transparent windows appeared, through which it is convenient to control the number of remaining cartridges. True, it is impossible to call this “item” an innovation specifically for AK Alfa – the shooter can use the new magazine with an AK assault rifle of 7.62 calibers. There is also a version chambered for the NATO 5.56 cartridge, which additionally implements such an exciting option for automatic rifles as a slide delay. If the shooter has used up all the ammunition, the weapon’s bolt will go into the rear position, signaling that it is time to change the magazine.
The owner of CAA, a veteran of the Israeli special forces Moshe Oz, talks about the future of “Alpha” as follows: “I remember that during the service I saw the Austrian Glock for the first time. No one then knew what to do with this “plastic” pistol. Everyone thought that he would take root only among civilians and athletes. And now, Glock is in service with most military and police units around the world. I hope it will be the same with AK Alfa. Someone may decide that this is a sporting weapon since it is made of plastic, but I am sure that it will ideally fit into law enforcement agencies’ arsenal. For this, he has everything he needs.” Today, CAA’s Kiryat Gat manufacturing facility is operating at total capacity, delivering thousands of brand new vending machines.
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