The New Russian 6.02x41mm

While Russian soldiers remain embroiled in a brutal war of aggression with Ukraine, the Russian Arms Industry is busy producing new rounds and a new AK. It’s odd because it seems even Russian soldiers don’t have enough AKs to fight and have even relied on the Mosin Nagant once more. Anywho, the Russians have developed a 6.02×41 and a new AK and sniper rifle to go alongside it. 

What’s the Point of the 6.02x41mm? first reported on the advent of the new AK and cartridge. It bears mentioning that has a very heavy pro-Russian bias but does offer the most information on the new cartridge and most things to do with the Russian arms industry. According to their report: 

On December 12, 2023, the Federal Service for Intellectual Property of the Russian Federation registered patent RU 2809501 C1, which describes the “Small Weapon Cartridge with Increased Penetration,” developed at the Tula Cartridge Plant in collaboration with the Kalashnikov concern.

The increased penetration part and the fact the website discusses the new round having the same energy at 900 meters as the 5.45 at 500 meters makes it clear they are attempting to compete with the Next Generation Squad Weapon program that SIG Sauer recently won with their rifle, machine gun, and 6.8mm Fury cartridge. 

The NGSW is designed to embrace technology, like the new XM157 Vortex smart scope, to make the average soldier more lethal at extended ranges. Additionally, the weapon platform and the high-pressure cartridge will supposedly have the ability to penetrate modern body armor. It seems like the Russians want to mimic that capability but on the AK level. 

They tested three cartridges before landing on the 6.02x41mm round. Supposedly, it offers the best compromise of ammunition weight and size, with range, penetration, and controllability in an assault rifle platform. 

The New Rifles 

Russia has clung to the AK longer than America has clung to the AR. It’s unlikely they’ll be apt to swap from the reliable action anytime soon. The AK series is basically a Russian brand, and the rifle certainly works. Russia is one of the biggest arms exporters in the world, and the AK is their flagship. How much damage would they do to their brand by swapping rifles?  

Kalashnikov Concern has seemingly converted the AK-12 into the AK-22. This includes all the AK-12 upgrades. It’s got folding and collapsing stock, rails for optics, a handguard with rails, and a few modern muzzle device options. The iron sights are moved rearward for a longer sight radius to top it all off. The AK-22 takes all that and chambers the 6.02x41mm round. 

Alongside the AK-22, the Russians have shrunk the ‘Microwave’ rifle from its 7.62x54R design to a smaller, more compact 6.02x41mm option. The Microwave is a sniper rifle in the same vein as the Dragunov series. It’s semi-auto, mag-fed, and certainly looks cool and modern. 

Does It Matter 

The key to the success of the NGSW weaponry and the 6.8mm cartridge is its range. To get the most out of the rifle, it uses a high-tech, high-end optic that implements a ballistic computer a soldier can use to call their shots with ease. A good shooter can only do so much when they can’t see the target. 

With that said, I, like many, have been following the Ukraine war. How many optics have you seen in use by the Russians? A few for sure, but not many. It seems like the most common are red dots. This also brings us to the question, how many AK-12s have we seen?

Not a ton, at least compared to the other AK variants. It certainly doesn’t seem like the Russians could get the AK-22 in production in enough numbers to matter. If they did, they don’t have the optics to make the new round worth it. It’s likely a patent to gauge potential foreign exports. Plenty of countries use the AK, but Russian military equipment hasn’t proven to be superbly useful. Maybe the 6.02x41mm will work out, but I doubt it. 

Travis Pike
Travis Pike is a former Marine Machine gunner who served with 2nd Bn 2nd Marines for 5 years. He deployed in 2009 to Afghanistan and again in 2011 with the 22nd MEU(SOC) during a record setting 11 months at sea. He’s trained with the Romanian Army, the Spanish Marines, the Emirate Marines and the Afghan National Army. He serves as an NRA certified pistol instructor and teaches concealed carry classes.