AKS-74U Assault Rifle
The AKS-74U assault Rifle (also known as the AKSU or AKMS-U) is an AKS-74 cut down to submachinegun size. (In fact, the Russians do refer to it as a submachinegun, though it is essentially a short assault rifle.) It is also known as the Krinkov, particularly in the West; where this nickname came from is somewhat of a mystery, and just about every firearms expert will tell you something different about the origin of the “Krinkov” nickname. Among Russian troops, the most common nicknames for the AKS-74U are the
Okurok (cigarette stub) and Ksysusha (a female nickname). When first seen, Western analysts also referred to the AKS-74U assault rifle as the AKR-80 or simply the AKR.
|First generation AKS-74U Assault Rifle|
The operating system does have some changes to allow the weapon to function reliably with the reduced barrel length, while also reducing the recoil a bit. In addition, the AKS-74U assault rifle has a muzzle device designed specifically for it; this device consists of a gas expansion chamber which helps cycle the AKS-74U reliably, reduces the felt recoil, and reduces muzzle flash. The muzzle device also has a large conical flash hider, further reducing muzzle flash. The AKS-74U was first seen in use by Russian troops during the invasion of Afghanistan, where it was a common weapon among vehicle crews; a short time later, East German and Romanian border guards were also seen with the weapon. Since then, it has been copied and modified by perhaps a dozen countries; it may even be more common worldwide than the AKS-74 from which it was derived. (Virtually every photo or video of Osama Bin Laden ever seen shows him with an AKS-74U over his shoulder or at his side.)
Note that despite the greatly-reduced length, the AKS-74U assault rifle can still be fitted with the GP-25 or BG-1 grenade launcher. There is a very rare accessory for the AKS-74U assault Rifle; it is a special shoulder holster, designed for use by helicopter and armored vehicle crews; unfortunately, this holster has proven to be rather clumsy and awkward. A special 20-round magazine is used when the AKS-74U assault Rifle is worn in the shoulder holster; these magazines are also very rare, and not in general issue. The AKS-74U itself ended production in 1997, replaced in production by the AK-105.
|New Generation AKS-74U Assault Rifle|
In the recent fighting in Chechnya, a new version of the AKS-74U has been seen. This version fires 7.62mm Kalashnikov ammunition, and has a slightly longer barrel (8.5 inches vs. the 8.1 inches of the 5.45mm version). When this version was actually introduced is unknown, but it is known that Russian troops have long been clamoring for a return to the 7.62mm Kalashnikov round and its generally greater range and hitting power. This version of the AKS-74U was also replaced in production in 1997, by the AK-104 in this case.
|Osama Bin Laden Show with his AKS74U|
After Afghanistan, many Russian troops quietly went back to the AKM; this was not because of the design of the AK-74 (which they liked, despite its shortcomings), but because of dissatisfaction with the 5.45mm Kalashnikov round developed for use in the AK-74. Most of the complaints centered on a lack of range and damaging power, compared to the AKM and AK-47. A number of AK-74 clones have been built in China, Eastern Europe, and later, the West, or imported from there. Most use the same barrel length. Some have new fore-ends with MIL-STD-1913 rails, and rails above the receiver. Arsenal of Bulgaria, in their
US facility, produces a civilianized version with a 16-inch barrel to conform with US firearms regulations. Except for certain details such as the flash suppressor and the butt, it is otherwise like a standard AK-74.