It seems like the current AK-12 we are seeing does not have a interchangable barrels. Perhaps they are still working on it? Personally, I don't like it. It adds more complexity and expensive imo.
I rather suspect the multi calibre capability will be for special forces and civilian models only.
For a special forces soldier that needs long and short barrel weapons, in standard and perhaps foreign calibres and also in quiet calibres then having a multi calibre rifle makes sense.
Having short medium and long barrels in a few different calibres means that soldier just needs one rifle for a range of uses. That works out cheaper overall than having 6 different weapons in different calibres and barrel lengths and it also means the soldier only needs to practise and learn to use one rifle setup.
For the average soldier a fixed single calibre weapon is fine... simple, and cheaper than a multi calibre weapon.
For a hunter having the choice of ammo types is useful and while more expensive than a normal rifle it works out cheaper if you buy different calibre kits and can therefore take advantage of when certain types of ammo are cheap.
ie an AK12 in 5.56 and 7.62 x 39mm and 5.45 x 39mm makes the weapon more flexible than if it could only fire one type of ammo.
If you made it right the first time, then I don't see the use of interchangable barrels.
On a single mission a special forces soldier might need to operate in open terrain... where a longer barrel improves accuracy and power, but when they get to a target area that might be inside a large building anyone who has handled an M16 knows the problems of handling a long barrel inside a building, so swapping out the long barrel for a short barrel means the same weapon suddenly becomes compact and easy to handle and at the distance involved inside a building long barrel accuracy is no longer needed and short range firepower become important.
It is not something every soldier will need... most of the time a mid length barrel makes more sense and the extra weight of the spare barrel can be replaced with extra ammo, but sometimes it would be useful.
From a special forces guys perspective even if he doesn't change barrels or calibres during a mission just having one rifle with a choice of calibre and barrel length means he just needs one rifle instead of 4 or 5.
Assuming just two calibres... 5.45 x 39mm and 9 x 39mm the AK12 can replace the AKS-74U, AK-105, AK-74M, RPK-74, plus the AS and VSS. That is 6 weapons.
And it does it in a package that is ergonomic with easy to reach and operate controls and easily attached grips and sights.
Obviously for each calibre and barrel length the sights need to be calibrated and zeroed, but pistol grips and lights and other bits and bobs are not cheap... just buying them for one rifle instead of 6 is much cheaper too.
I think it's also very important that they upgrade their ammo. Recently the Russians talked about introducing more accurate sniper ammo.
They have talked about cleaner burning more consistent powder, but generally the 5,45 is pretty lethal already.
I think they should upgrade their current 5.45x39 loading to increase accuracy,range, and lethality.
It is already quite lethal... in fact the new NATO 5.56mm round with the steel tip and lead rear is a direct attempt to copy the performance of the 5.45mm round which tends to tumble on impact and is effective.
Improving accuracy would be good, but I don't think it needs more range.
It has a specific role to play... there is no need to make it into a sniper round, they are likely to introduce a new round for longer range work, and the 338LM for sniping out to 1,500m.
They should amend the part of the Haugues convention that doesn't allow the use of expanding projectiles. It's an outdated law. In war, its perfectly legal to shoot somebody with a non expanding .50 BMG which will do more damage than any expanding smaller caliber bullet. Just to demonstrate how ridiculous the law is.
I don't think anyone wants to change the Hague convention... though there is little point anyway as the current US Sniper round has an open tip anyway, so it seems once you get lawyers involved you can ignore international law anyway.
Yep there were some major problems with jamming, loose fitting magazines and so forth. SA80A2 apparently fixed those things.
I think a lot of their problems were the crappy M16 magazines, but they seem to have sorted out the problems now.
I remember reading they used to set the rifles to full auto because they didn't jam as much.