Type Assault rifle
Place of origin Soviet Union
In service 1959–present
Used by See Users
Wars Vietnam War, Soviet war in Afghanistan, Iran–Iraq War, Chechen War, Iraq War, War in Afghanistan (2001-present)
Designer Mikhail Kalashnikov
Variants AKMS, AKMP, AKML, AKMLP, AKMSP, AKMSN, AKMSNP
Weight 3.1 kg (6.83 lb) (AKM)
3.80 kg (8.4 lb) (AKML)
3.3 kg (7.3 lb) (AKMS)
3.77 kg (8.3 lb) (AKMSN)
Length 880 mm (34.6 in) (AKM, AKML)
902 mm (35.5 in) stock extended / 655 mm (25.8 in) stock folded (AKMS)
Barrel length 415 mm (16.3 in)
Action Gas operated, rotating bolt
Rate of fire 600 rounds/min
Muzzle velocity 715 m/s (2,346 ft/s)
Effective range 100–1,000 m sight adjustments
Feed system 30-round box magazine
Sights Rear sight notch on sliding tangent, front post
378 mm (14.9 in) sight radius
The AKM (Russian: Автомат Калашникова Модернизированный; Avtomat Kalashnikova Modernizirovanniy or "automatic rifle Kalashnikov modernized") is a 7.62mm assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is an upgraded version of the AK-47 rifle and was developed in the 1950s. Introduced into service with the Red 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. The production of Soviet rifles was carried out at both the Tula Arsenal and Izhevsk Mechanical Works. It was officially replaced in Soviet service by the AK-74 in the late 70s, but remains in use worldwide.
The AKM is an assault rifle using the 7.62x39mm Soviet intermediate cartridge. It is gas operated with a rotating bolt. The AKM is selective fire, firing either single shots or automatic at a cyclic rate of 600 rounds/min.
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, 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 corrosion that would otherwise result from the corrosive-primed ammunition and sporadic cleaning practices.
The AKM’s receiver, compared to the AK-47, has a stamped sheet metal housing to which 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.
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.
As a weight-saving measure, the stamped dust 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 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. The AKM's slant brake can also be used on the AK-47, which had a simple nut to cover the threads.
A Moroccan soldier trains with a PM md. 63 alongside U.S. Marines.
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 more straight 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 weapon uses the same ammunition as the AK-47: the 7.62x39mm 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 AKM comes supplied with a different accessory kit that contains a M1959 6H4 or 6H3-type bayonet (that forms a wire-cutting device when coupled with its scabbard) and comes with synthetic or alloy magazines. The kit also comes with a punch used to drive out various pins and a device that aids in assembling the rate retarding mechanism.
An AKMS (top) compared to a standard Soviet AK-47 (bottom).
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 AKM was produced in the following versions: AKMP, AKML and AKMLP, whereas the AKMS led to the following models – AKMSN, AKMSP and AKMSNP.
The AKMP rifle uses subdued tritium-illuminated aiming points integrated into the front and rear sight. These sights enable targets to be engaged in low-level light conditions, i.e. 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.