New Assault Rifle Intended for Hostage Incidents

New Assault Rifle Intended for Hostage Incidents

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Drawing on the experience of violent incidents such as the Beslan school siege in which over 1,100 people were held hostage, and the Moscow theater hostage crisis, both during the early 2000’s, Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) saw the need for a more efficient close-quarters combat weapon in hostage situations.

In response, the Russian Special Forces are now getting a new heavy assault rifle, whose armor-piercing rounds have the extreme stopping power to penetrate bulletproof vests and cover. The weapon, ShAK-12, is limited to close-quarters use by the FSB and is expected to see action in future Russian counter-terrorist operations.

The assault rifle manufactured by a branch of the KBP Instrument Design Bureau is designed for a specific use-case where weight and shot distance are largely irrelevant. Adrenaline and certain substances can suppress the immediate impact of gunshot wounds, potentially giving the target a short-term window of action before going down. In urban conflict scenarios, these minutes or even seconds can make a difference of several dead hostages.

The ShAK-12’s 12,7х55 mm rounds are meant to solve this problem by instantly neutralizing targets upon contact, thereby avoiding prolonged gunfights. These 33-gram rounds can reportedly neutralize targets even with grazing shots and through walls.

The rifle which was unveiled in 2017 has an effective range of up to 100 meters, quite low for conventional military use but sufficient for close-quarters combat. Given its intended operating scenario, a low effective range further minimizes collateral damage against civilians.

The weapon’s three bullet types further highlight the manufacturer’s focus on tactical versatility: armor-piercing rounds with extreme stopping power to penetrate bullet proof vests and cover; subsonic velocity rounds for effective silencer fire; and light aluminium rounds that maximize stopping power while negating ricochet effects.

To accommodate three 12,7х55 variants of different kinetic energy and pressure levels, the manufacturer opted for a short-barrel bullpup design. While a relatively rare form factor for assault rifles, it may offer better handling in close-quarters environments, according to

In order to compensate for the prodigious rounds weight, parts of the gun, like the magazine, were designed with plastic and hybrid aluminium. The rifle still weighs 5.2 kg (for comparison, the AK-12 is 3.3 kg), which makes it too heavy to issue for prolonged deployments in mobile operational theaters.