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Coming Soon: Single-Handed Kalashnikov

The maker of the famous Kalashnikov automatic rifle, which the military stopped stockpiling this year, offered a new model of the gun for one-handed use, Izvestia reported Friday.

Locking and loading the fifth-generation Kalashnikov would be possible even if the soldier is injured or only has one hand free, the rifle's head designer Vladimir Zlobin told the daily.

The new AK-12 would weigh and look the same as its predecessor, but would have a bigger magazine, said Zlobin, who works at the Izhmash manufacturing plant.

He also promised better accuracy without losing reliability, but conceded that the actual performance of the new model would only become clear when the prototypes go into testing, which is to happen in December.

The military made no official comment. But a senior officer at the General Staff, speaking to Izvestia on condition of anonymity, voiced skepticism about the model, saying it is based on the old Kalashnikov and is likely to retain its accuracy problems.

The Defense Ministry suspended the purchase of Kalashnikovs in September, saying it has more rifles of the type than it needs and that a new updated model is required.

The Russian army has 17 million Kalashnikovs, whose current fourth-generation version was designed in 1974, First Deputy Defense Minister Alexander Sukhorukov told Rossiiskaya Gazeta in October.

An Izhmash spokesman told The Moscow Times in September that the manufacturer was working on "a principally new platform of small arms," but did not elaborate.

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