The AK-12: PR and Propaganda Stunt.

Ladies and gentleman. The AK-12 was an unnecessary rifle. Ukraine has shown this in spades as the Russian forces pushed forward with slick rifles taking advantage of literally zero advantages the AK-12 allegedly gave them.

Our own YouTube detectives and deep divers have extensively tested the few domestic builds we have available and the results were decidedly… meh.

The AK-12 is mid, no cap, in the modern parlance of the kids these days. The Russians rebuilt a weapon they already had and they half-assed it.


Well let’s take a proper gander at propaganda.

Propaganda is a weapon – The weapon is propaganda

Being competent is only half the battle, deterrence and influence you can project comes from convincing others you are competent and the Russian military seems to have spent all their time on the convincing half.

From their super suit body armor that they probably built exactly one of and nobody actually wants to ear, then their extremely limited number of advanced fighters and tanks, to the actually fielded AK-12 with no modern optics on most of them. The idea was propaganda. Propaganda is marketing and that is something I do too.

The difference is simple, propaganda is marketing an idea. Usually from a state or large entity to other states, entities, and the individuals who make them up, including their own members. We do it in the US too, but we usually remember the top secret ingredient.

[TOP SECRET INGREDIENT: Be able to back your bullshit.]

Think about it like this. The US did a substantial, multi-tier, force wide upgrade to its small arms. Everything has optics, everyone has NVGs, and everyone is rocking an M4A1 or HK M27. We just announced or new even more betterer rifle and light machinegun too with the NGSW program.

Now what would a Russian regular be thinking about his reliable yet worn AK-74 under such circumstances? Hell, with about 30 seconds on YouTube he knows that the American AKs are even better than his is, and those are hobby weapons. Even the most rear echelon fobbit in the US Military has a modern rifle and modern optic suite. They look like they all mean business.

Big Russian think goes and gives them a modern AK to overmatch those M4A1’s. Want rails. Got rails. Want optics. Can have optics! …theoretically speaking of course.

I remember a time in ’08 when we had M16A4’s with nothing on them, so that isn’t unheard of here. But I believe by ’09 and definitely by ’10 we had ACOGs, PEQs, the whole kit. Even grip pods, which lost coolness fast but were cool in the moment.

The AK-12 I think was targeted propaganda mostly at their own troops, convincing them that the Russian state cared about a modern military machine and making sure the troops had the best equipment. It also captivated the world’s small arms circles, we always want to know more about the things we have limited access too. While modernizing the AK-74 would have been the best move, it would have looked like copying the Americans. The ‘new’ rifle was the pitch. Russian small arms weren’t copying or keeping up, they were innovating! The rifle is NEW, no matter how much it isn’t.

But Russia forgot the secret ingredient. They didn’t back their bullshit. It wouldn’t have mattered one bit if the AK-12 hadn’t actually been much better than an railed out AK-74, it just needed to run well and be a tightly put together rifle. It wouldn’t have mattered if the optics being fielded were all just a decent commercial grade red dot, but they needed those optics on all the rifles.

Instead we caught guys with dusted off WWII Mosins, like there would be some American Scout Sniper team that needed to dust off an old scoped M1903A4 because every MK22, M24 variant, M40 variant, MK13, and M110A1, and M110 were all gone. Embarrassing.

Keith is the Editor-in-Chief of GAT Marketing Agency, Inc. A USMC Infantry Veteran and Small Arms and Artillery Technician, Keith covers the evolving training and technology from across the shooting industry. A Certified Instructor since 2009, he has taught concealed weapons courses in the West Michigan area in the years since and continues to pursue training and teaching opportunities as they arise.