Hello defence lovers! We all know that AK 203 is the upgraded form of the legendary Kalashnikov rifle AK 47. An AK 47 barely costs $200 dollars whereas a single Ak 203 is expected to cost somewhere between $900 to $1000 dollars when produced in India. So why is an AK 203 is nearly 5 times more expensive than a basic AK 47 rifle? In this article, we are going to explain all these differences in details
Generations of Kalashnikov Rifle
AK 47 is the first generation of Kalashnikov rifles. It was designed by legendary Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1947. The term AK stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova which means Kalashnikov’s automatic rifle in Russian.
Second Generation AKM
Also Read, Service Rifles of Indian Army: 1947-Present
The second generation of Kalashnikov rifles is the AKM which was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov in 1959. AKM had several improvements over the AK 47 which made its production easier and cheaper. The AK-47’s milled steel receiver was replaced by a U-shaped steel stamped receiver which was quite easier to produce and was lighter. A slant cut compensator was also added as the Ak 47 did not have any muzzle device.
Third generation AK 74
The Third generation of Kalashnikov rifles is the AK 74. It was designed in 1974 by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The most significant difference was the change of calibre. Now instead of a 7.62 x 39 mm cartridge, it fired a 5.45×39mm cartridge similar to a 5.56 NATO. An improved version was also developed in 1991 which was called the AK 74m.
Fourth-generation AK 103
The fourth generation of Kalashnikov rifles is the AK 100 series which had major improvements over the previous AK 74. In this series, a low recoil variant was also developed which was called AK 107.
Sixth Generation AK 12
The fifth generation of Kalashnikov rifles is the AK 200 series which is the upgraded form of the AK 100 series. We will cover the details of this series, specifically AK 203 in detail in the rest of the article.
The sixth generation of the rifles is the AK 12 family. The AK 12 is the most advanced Kalashnikov rifle ever produced. Compared to AK 200 series, these rifles are costlier.
Now let us understand the differences between AK 203 and AK 47 in detail. We will compare the Indian production variant of AK 203 for our comparison, not the original AK 203 manufactured by the Kalashnikov concern.
Muzzle Break of AK 203
The integrated compensator and flash hider
AK 203 comes with an integrated compensator and flash hider. A compensator is a type of muzzle device which reduces the recoil of the gun by dissipating the gasses in all directions instead of exiting the barrel in the direction of the bullet fired. Thus according to the conservation of momentum principle, the recoil reduces. A flash hider reduces the muzzle flash and thus helps to conceal the gunner’s location. The first generation AK lacked and sort of muzzle device. This muzzle device on AK 203 reduces the recoil of the gun up to that of a standard 5.56 rifle retaining the power and penetration of 7.62x39mm.
Ergonomic Pistol Grip, Hand Guard And Stock
The pistol grip of AK 203 has been redesigned and now it is more ergonomic than ever. It is made out of polymer and is hollow from the inside. It can be used to store extra batteries for the optic. The handguard and the stock are now made up of glass-filled polymer. Unlike the wooden handguard and stock on AK 47 and AKM, the polymer handguard and stock do not crack. These do not catch fire. These are lighter and more durable. The handguard also comes heatshield which protects the shooter’s hand from the heat of the barrel.
Another major change is that the barrel in AK 203 is a free-floating type. It is not attached to the handguard unlike AK 47. Thus the recoil is not transmitted into the handguard. It helps in improving the accuracy of the rifle.
The original AK 203 comes with a foldable telescopic stock like that of AK 12. But the Indian variant comes with a fixed but foldable stock like that of AK 103. This is done for cost reduction as Indian Infantry troops are more used to fixed stock.
Barrel of AK 203
There is a major change in the barrel. The barrel is now made with the cold hammer forging method which is widely used for making modern firearms. The AK 47’s barrel was made using the butt rifling process which is a primitive way of making barrels of the firearms. Cold hammer forging gives superior dimensional accuracy compared to butt rifling. It also results in a better grain structure and a smooth surface finish. All the genuine AKs built in the Kalashnikov factories come with a chrome-lined barrel which makes the barrel corrosion resistant.
The new generation of AK comes with polymer magazines. These polymer magazines are lighter and more reliable compared to the previous metal magazines. Although the AK 203 is compatible with all types of AK magazines.
The AK 203 comes with Picatinny rail. This is perhaps the most useful feature. Now any type of optics or any attachment can be mounted on the rifle. Earlier the AK-47 and other rifles suffered from the absence of Picatinny rail. Makeshifts arrangements had to be made in order to mount optics which often resulted in poor accuracy due to zero errors.
So these were all the changes that make the AK 203 different from the basic AK 47. All these developments are the result of more than 70 years of evolution. However, the basic design is the same as it used to be in the AK 47. The design of the Kalashnikov is truly timeless. The Kalashnikovs will continue to serve in the armed forces for generations to come.