The weapon, ShAK-12, was commissioned by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and is being manufactured by a branch of the KBP Instrument Design Bureau. On this year’s “Gunsmith Day,” a Russian holiday honoring arms manufacturers, KBP won an award for the “design, manufacture, testing, and serial production of the 12,7 mm heavy assault automatic system ShAK-12.”
Whereas Kalashnikov’s AK flagships like the recent AK-12 are general purpose military assault rifles that have to balance penetration, handling, weight, accuracy and shot distance, the ShAK-12 is designed for a specific use-case where weight and shot distance are largely irrelevant. Drawing on the experience of the Beslan school siege and Moscow theater hostage crisis in the early 2000’s, the FSB saw the need for a more efficient close-quarters combat weapon in hostage situations.
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 ShAK-12 has an effective range of up to 100 meters, quite low for conventional military use but sufficient for close-quarters combat. Given ShAK-12’s intended operating scenario, a low effective range can be seen as a design feature in that it further minimizes collateral damage against civilians.