KBP/TsKIB-SOO TKb-O146 prototype Abakan assault rifle
-BACKGROUND- The TKb-O146 assault rifle ("Tulskoye Konstruktorskoye Buro Obrazet n°146, or "Tula Design Bureau Prototype Rifle n°146", the "O" in O146 is not a "Zero" but an "O" letter) was developed by engineer Igor Stetchkin of the TsKIB-SOO ("Central Research and Design Bureau of Sporting and Hunting Guns"), a subsidiary of the State Unitary Enterprise "KBP" Instrument Design Bureau, located in TULA, Russia, what then was the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The development of this rifle started in August 1981, when the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Red Army communicated to the firearms engineers of all Soviet State-owned research & development organizations the technical specifics that they wanted to be found in a future service rifle, thus starting the creation process of a new assault weapon that was, then, purported to replace the existing AK-47 and AK-74 rifles in Soviet service in the turn of one decade. The competition for this future assault rifle was given the code-name "Abakan". 12 designs with different working systems and complexity in manufacture were developed, and eventually only 9 were chosen to show up to the final trial tests; the winner resulted to be the prototype of the engineer Gennady Nikonov, that was hence designated as the "Abakan" AN-94 assault rifle. -THE WEAPON- The TKb-O146 assault rifle is engineered in Bull-Pup configuration. The main disadvantage of such a weapon set-up -the fact that the spent cases ejection port is placed too close to the shooter's face and aiming eye- is solved in this rifle by placing the ejection port for spent cases and excessive gases in the right-forward side of the weapon, much like the Belgian firm of FN has done years later with their P-90 submachinegun and F-2000 assault rifle; this allows ready usability of the rifle by left-handed personnel, and rapid shoulder change when firing from behind a hideout. The rifle is gas-operated, and the bolt has a certain gap inside the frame to help better cycling; in fact that would make the gun cycle even if filled with dirt. Barrel and bolt, when closed, result united in a single block, this to allow the fire of high-velocity 2-rounds burst. The weapon fires single shots, free bursts of automatic fire, and 2-rounds burst; when the fire selector is on the 2-rounds burst position, the weapon cycles at about 2000 Rounds per Minute, this makes the user actually feel the recoil only after the second bullet has actually left the barrel, and the recoil itself has thus no effect whatsoever on the accuracy. The magazine well is located behind the trigger and grip, just like in all Bull-pup design rifles; the entire frame is made in polymer and fiberglass; the butt is hollow to contain the basic maintenance kits (cleaning and lubrication tools), while the ramrod is fastened above the frame and the receiver group. The TKb-O146 assault rifle feeds by standard AK-74 mags of any Warsaw Pact country manufacture. The cocking lever is located on the right side of the weapon, forward, and the weapon fires from the closed bolt position to avoid infiltrations of dirt inside. The safety/fire selector of the weapon is located on the left side, above the grip, and has three positions: P-A-2 (P is for "Safe", A is for "Full-autofire", 2 is for "2-rounds bursts"). With the selector on "A", half-pulling the trigger will make the TKb-O146 discharge only single shots, while full pull will make the gun fire in full-automatic bursts. The sight is adjustable for range, and has four positions: 100 Mts - 300 Mts - 500 Mts - Infinite (for shots up to 800 Mts in distance), and is reversible. A bayonet lug/guide is located under the barrel. The reason of the dismissal of the TKb-O146 are probably to be found in its weight. The engineers in fact took all expedients to make the gun as light as possible (i.e. using polymer frame which was an absolute novelty by the time), but the forward-ejection system took space and weight, and as a result, they failed in making the gun lightweight. It weighted about 4 Kilograms unloaded, and this would have made it very uncomfortable for the average foot rifleman to carry in long distances. Although this was definitely the "Abakan" contender with highest accuracy and effective range, it remains a quite appealing "What-If" oddity. -TECHNICAL SPECS- CALIBER: .5'45x39mm-Soviet CAPACITY: Standard AK-74 magazines of any capacity will fit AVERAGE WEIGHT (Unloaded): 4,080 Kilograms TOTAL LENGHT: 800 Millimetres (about 80 Centimetres) BARREL LENGHT: 415 Millimetres (about 42 Centimetres) RIFLING: 6 grooves, RH RATE OF FIRE: From about 700 Rounds Per Minute (Fully-Automatic fire) to 2000 Rounds Per Minute (2-rounds bursts fire) EFFECTIVE RANGE: 800 Metres -MANUFACTURER CONTACT INFO- TsKIB-SOO, Central Research and Design Bureau of Sporting and Hunting Guns A subsidiary of the State Unitary Enterprise "KBP" Instrument Design Bureau Address: 17 Krasnoarmeiski Prospect, Tula 300041, Russia Phone:(0872) 27-3358, 31-2724 Fax: (0872) 31-5959 URL: http://home.tula.net/tularms/indexen.htm E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org -STATUS- Prototype dropped, never reached mass production. Project abandoned as far as 1994.
Photos and information from: Pierangelo Tendas