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How the AN-94 works
The AN-94 (Russian: 5,45-мм автомат Никонова обр. 1994 г. / АН-94 «Абака́н», GRAU designation 6P33) is a rifle of Russian origin. The initials stand for Avtomat Nikonova model of 1994, after its chief designer Gennadiy Nikonov who previously worked on the Nikonov machine gun.
The AN-94 was designed as a potential replacement to the AK-74 series of rifles currently in service with Russian Armed Forces. Due to complex design and expense, its adoption has been very slow and it is in limited use, and it most likely will never become general issue. As of March 2013, the AK-74M is still the general issue rifle used by the Russian Armed Forces, with production of the AN-94 ceasing in 2006.
The stated great advantage of the AN-94 system is its ability to delay the recoil force until two fired rounds have left the barrel. This, it is claimed, increases hit probability under the most adverse combat conditions.The AN-94 offers a unique two-shot burst function at a stated 1800 rounds per minute rate of fire. The Nikonov mechanism fires the second shot in the burst quickly enough to allow it to escape before the recoil of the first shot is felt, thus potentially allowing the two shots to hit somewhat near each other increasing the probability that at least one will hit the target if there was a deficiency in the shooter's aim.
The most conspicuous identifying feature of the AN-94 is its magazine which is canted several degrees to the right of center (when viewed from a firing position). This design feature is necessary to accommodate the unique ammunition feed mechanism. The AN-94 is chambered in the same 5.45×39mm M74 cartridge as the AK-74, and it utilizes a rotating bolt to lock the action. Gennadiy Nikonov and his engineers used the Russian term смещенный импульс свободного затвора (smeschyonnyy impuls svobodnogo zatvora) to describe the rifle's method of operation, meaning "recoil shifted pulse."
When a round is fired, residual energy from the propellant charge in the cartridge acts upon the safely locked breech and bolt carrier. Simultaneously, a quantity of powder gases driving the bullet through the barrel is tapped and acts upon the piston in the gas tube located below and parallel to the barrel. The movement of the piston and its connecting rod acts upon the locking bolt, causing it to rotate and allow the breech to safely open. This initiates the extraction and ejection cycle for the first spent cartridge. After the first round has been fired, the bolt and carrier group move toward the rear, ejecting the first casing towards the front of the ejection window. The movement of the Carrier is directly connected to a pulley system which is connected to a small metal rod on the rear side of the magazine well. The rod pushes a second round into the firing position. Once this action has completed the bolt and carrier group will stop and move back towards the front of the gun before it has hit the rear of the receiver. When the bolt has fully locked it will fire the second round. This whole process happens very quickly and it is how the 2 round burst works. For any follow up rounds, the pulley is disengaged to prevent the gun from firing at the extremely high rate continuously. This means that after every bullet the bolt and carrier group will travel the whole distance of possible travel, resulting in a more manageable rate of 600 RPM.
The AN-94 is similar to the Heckler & Koch G11 in that the barrel, gas tube, receiver, and bolt carrier all exist as a single component group moving back and forth along an axis parallel to the bore, suspended within what the Russian manufacturers call an Effect-Envelope—the external composite fibre/polymer stock. This configuration separates the events inside the rifle from what the person operating the weapon actually experiences (i.e. low recoil).
The motion described is also employed by design to drive the unique lifter mechanism that performs the separate ammunition pre-feeding cycle that is key to the extremely rapid two round burst function that defines the AN-94 system. This offers the operator the unique tactical advantage of trigger-controlled fire selection.
The rear peep sight is a noted improvement over the standard Kalashnikov notch and post. The muzzle brake is intended to significantly reduce weapon report and muzzle flash as well as delay the recoil of the rifle to aid in its 2 shot burst capabilities. The AN-94 design is stated to be vastly more accurate than the AK-74M. And unlike the AK-74M, it can mount a GP-25 family grenade launcher and bayonet simultaneously.