The weapon penetrates solid walls and even the slightest hit of its ammo is lethal for any enemy. Our correspondent tries it himself and shares his feeling with us.
Back in 2001 Russian FSB forces ordered a new assault rifle that would be able to effectively penetrate solid walls as well as toughest body armour plates. The need for a new weapon was revealed after a terrorist attack on a school in Beslan with the imprisonment of more than 1,100 people as hostages (including 777 children)
In order to fulfil the needs of the Spec Ops units Russian engineers created a weapon that was chambered with the powerful assault rifle ammo in the world - the 12,7х55 mm rounds.
Homoatrox (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Engineers created a bullpub assault rifle Ash-12, which was meant to drastically surpass AK-74's capabilities in close combat.
'The main issue during its creation was to make a rifle capable of penetrating walls and eliminating terrorists no matter where a bullet hits them. Ash-12's rounds are scary even to look at. If you compare ammo from an Ash-12 and from an AK-74, the latter one would look like a pin', told Russia Beyond Ivan Alekseev, former Spec Ops officer.
He mentions that the two rifles were created for different reasons and operations. The AK-74 was meant to effectively work in the harshest weather conditions and eliminate targets 300 metres away from a shooter in open places.
'Its bullets have high flying speed and good penetration qualities. Yet they are lighter and not bulky enough to scarce through solid obstacles. Ash-12 is just more powerful on short distances. It has heavy and bulky bullets that go through walls, but at the same time lose ballistics on long distances', mentioned the expert.
According to him, the Ash-12 isn't well suited for shooting down enemies sitting 150 metres away.
As for firepower its 12,7х55 mm ammo is one of the deadliest on the market.
'The weapon has enormous stopping power and enemies go down no matter where you hit them. A really scary weapon to see in your opponents' hands' he added.
As he mentioned, the weapon was well received back in the days and is mainly used for counter-terrorist operations in the Caucasus region.
I personally encountered Ash-12 at a shooting range in the Moscow suburbs in early September.
The weapon turned out to be pretty big and enormously heavy for an assault rifle (nearly 6 kilos with an attached silencer). It felt uncomfortable to work with it in a stance so I preferred laying low and shooting down targets this way.
At the same time the ammo of the rifle leaves you no questions - it's unbelievably powerful. Each shot of heavy 12,7х55 mm rounds literally explodes bricks on a range as the weapon's recoil leaves bruises on your shoulder from hard kickbacks.
Modern versions of Ash-12 have rails on top for optics and on bottom for flashlights or grenade launchers. The weapon has a kit with two easily detachable silencers - a big one that can be compared to Ash-12's size and a small one. Surprisingly the bigger silencer balances the weapon's weight and makes it easier to aim at targets on a range.
The Ash-12 looks edgy and mechanically simpler compared to its direct American analogues based on the AR-15 platform and chambered with .450 Bushmast or .50 Beowulf ammo. Besides that Americans mostly use these platforms for hunting while the Russian one was created to be used by operatives and withstand roughest battle and weather conditions (click here to find out how Russia tests its weapons prior to adoption to the military).
After a shooting test at a range I understood a couple of things for myself. The Ash-12 is without a doubt a very situational weapon due to a number of reasons - weight, size and enormous firepower. The weapon isn't suited for skirmishes in an open space as a mobile unit with further shooting rifles will outmatch you. At the same time Ash-12 is literally able to cut a door through a wall so it would be a great addition for a unit that has to 'smoke out' enemies from a fortified position.