AK Exhibits Page 19
Romanian AIMS-74 calibru 5,45mm
PA Mitraliera Md. 86 {Pusca Automata model 1986)
RATMIL State Arsenals

S.Hood, B.Barnett, Jr., Romanian MOD, C.Hazell, Tantal
TEXT: Tantal

The Romanian weapons industry has always been very active, producing Soviet based arms for domestic use while at the same time vigorously exporting to every corner of the globe. The Kalashnikov rifle is obviously one of their best sellers, as Romanian variants are seen in every major conflict from Central America to Iraq and Afghanistan. In the 1980's, when Soviet influence and aid was still a factor in determining the equipment of Romania's own army, a decision was reached to start conversion of the standard infantry round from the M43 7,62x39mm cartridge to the new Soviet M73 5,45x39mm. Of course, this meant a revision in the Kalashnikov rifle made for the round. Romtechnica's eventual "AK-74" rifle is unique, and although it embodies features characteristic of the Soviet original, has many throwbacks to the AKM pattern in an effort to save expense. The final result is a true AK-74 with a unique flavor all it's own, making it very interesting to the Kalashnikov collector.

Training exercises with Romanian mountain troops. Image provided by The Romanian Ministry of Defense. Warfare in this type of environment is crucial to Romanian readiness, since much of the country is covered in similar terrain. History has shown that the ability of the army to operate in this environment can be a major factor.

Romanian AIMS-74 rifles are outfitted with wire folding stocks similar to the East German design. Handguards consist of laminated wood lowers and bakelite uppers. In the images shown here, note the upturned bolt carrier handle, a convenient and comfortable feature when the wire butt stock is folded. The blank firing adapter is also specially designed for this rifle. Since the Romanian AK-74 uses a smaller diameter muzzle brake and accompanying threads (21mm versus Russian pattern 23mm), it requires it's own unique blank firing device. Although it is common sense to assume there was most likely a fixed stock AIM-74 created, it was most likely not adopted by the Romanian Army. As is the case with many users of the current AK-74 variants, the fixed stock rifle has fallen out of favor.

At first only rarely seen in the hands of some special forces, mountain troops, and UN peace keeping contengents, this 15 year old Romanian domestic design is now fielded in much larger numbers. As Romania takes part in military operations in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq, we are seeing it in action in what appears to be a much greater capacity. On this page, we present a collection of images from several different sources. We thank them for their contributions and know you will also appreciate their efforts.

Although the Bucharest-based arms group Romtechnica is usually credited with the design of the AIMS-74, it appears that after the major reorganization of the Romanian arms industry after the revolution, all or part of production was transferred via the Romanian military conglomerate RATMIL (Regie Autonoma pentru productia de Tehnica Militara) to the Uzinie Mecanice Cugir plant in the Transylvanian Alps.

Romanian AK-74's in training with Romanian anti-terrorist personnel. The example in the foreground is outfitted with the Romanian 40mm under-barrel grenade launcher AG-40. Image provided by The Romanian Ministry of Defense.

The Romanian rifle uses a wire type monostrut folding stock, patterned after the original design developed in East Germany for the MPiKMS-72 and later used on the MPiAKS-74N. The Romanian version is very similar but has some very interesting improvements. Most noticeably, it has an offset to the left which means it provides a better cheek weld, and offsets recoil forces which try to pull the rifle to the left when used by a right handed shooter. The folding mechanism is also activated by a push button rather than a lever. The rear portion of the stock is also modified and set at a lower angle, which provides a slightly more comfortable stance when shooting.

Many of the images seen here have been provided by our contributor in Kosovo, S. Hood. In fact, this page was motivated by (and heavily relies on) his contributions. Along with the excellent top image on this page, they detail an AIMS-74 in the hands of Romanian troops operating near Camp Bond steel in Bond steel as part of KFOR. We are very fortunate to be able to use them on the web site.

This particular rifle has the left side mounted optics rail, in addition to an unknown scope mount attachment. The Romanian standard issue AK-74 optics plate is a modified copy of the Soviet design for the second pattern AK-74, but it has been changed to fit the rivet pattern of the AKM rear trunnion. The side bracket/scope mount with top mounted dovetail (shown here) is finished in black and appears to be partially or completely made from aluminum. The mounting rail is directly over the mounting base, without offset to center. It is unfortunate that there is no optical device mounted.

The rifle is equipped with the Romanian nylon type rifle sling, with black finished metal hardware. This finish is quickly worn off in the field. There are at least two types/colors of the nylon type straps used on Romanian web gear items used with the AK-74. One is an early bright gold color while the later type is a darker green. These nylon straps can be found on carrying cases, slings, bayonet attachments, and magazine pouches.

Earlier rifles (i.e. AKM's) used bakelite materials of dark brown, dark red-brown, or even a light wheat color. Most plastic material found on the newer AK-74 are of a dark red-orange, or bright orange. The upper hand guard of the military issue AIM-74 is also made from a matching bakelite material, unlike previous rifles. This material is also used on the bayonet handles and pistol grips.

Speaking of pistol grips, the Romanian variant of the Russian AK-style pistol grip has inverted checkering, meaning it does not have tall points but rather they are indented inward. This is one feature seldom seen in other pistol grips and a good way to tell if a particular pistol grip might be Romanian.

Although almost every Romanian semi-automatic AK-74 rifle imported into the US has the optics mounting rail, it is appearing that many (if not a majority) of the Romanian domestic military rifles do not have them. Note the AK-74 image at bottom left. This rifle is being used by a Romanian mountain troop, and obviously has no left side optics plate. This is common among almost all of the rifles we have found images of in service with Romanian mountain troops. This should not be that surprising since optics are scarce and hardly ever observed, and in practical regards the optics mounting rail has always been mainly for use with night vision devices on this type of rifle. Most likely, US importers who have brought in the Romanian AK-74 in some numbers specifically required the optics rail on those semi-automatic rifle.

As far as AKM features, this rifle has more retrograde elements than other currently produced AK-74 types, no doubt in an effort to cut costs of converting portions of the design which would not greatly effect performance. One of primary importance to project builders is the larger trunnion barrel socket diameter (23mm versus 22mm). This means AK-74 barrels from other countries are too small to properly press into the Romanian trunnion block.

The Romanian AK-74 also uses a standard AKM rear trunnion block. This can be determined by the location of the rivets on the side of the receiver. The early Soviet AK-74 (up to 1977-78), as well as the Polish AK-74 (Wz88) also use AKM rear trunnions.

The most easily recognized AKM feature is the gas block design (45 degree versus 90 degree). Incidently, although the gas block is purely AKM, the gas vent in the barrel did change to a 90 degree design to minimize bullet shearing (a problem with early Soviet AK-74's with 45 degree gas blocks). This means the Romanian AK-74 has a double angle gas port, making it much harder to clean the gas vent!

True Russian AK-74 features include the calibre with accompanying feed grooves, "trigger bumps," long head bolt with thin stem, muzzle brake, front sight base with threaded extension and a second bayonet lug, and the ability to use any Russian AK-74 magazine.

Detail of barrel assembly with AKM style gas block, dual bayonet lugs, military style vertical fore grip lower hand guard, bakelite upper hand guard, 4-cell magazine pouch with dual pull tabs, and special bayonet.

The Romanian AK-74 uses a unique variation of the Russian muzzle brake. It has a smaller diameter and therefore, to provide the same basic expansion chamber volume, had to be made longer. This made the device longer overall, which meant the distance from the bayonet lug (on the front sight base) to the front face of the muzzle brake where the bayonet ring fits had to be adjusted if standard type Kalashnikov bayonets were to be used.

This means the Romanian AK-74 front sight base is also unique in several ways. As noted previously, it has a 21mm threaded extension for the muzzle brake, and secondly, the bayonet lug has been moved to a position below the sight tower, rather than on an extension behind it (in Soviet fashion). The bayonet is not the regular Romanian AKM pattern, but a copy of the Soviet 2nd pattern AKM/AK-74 with square handle. This was necessary, as the earlier model would not clear the bottom contours of the muzzle brake and front sight base. More information on the bayonet can be found on ourRomanian AK-74 bayonet page.

The metal finish on Romanian army AK-74 rifles is a medium or dark phosphate, without the Russian style black paint over phosphated metal. This finish is thin and known to wear easily. Selector markings are not normally painted white as in some other models.

Right hand side of receiver. This rifle was an early export variant and has what appears to be a black painted finish, rather than the Romanian military bare phosphating. We have never seen painted Romanian AK-74's in the hands of Romanian military personnel. This rifle was also fitted with a standard "export" type smooth lower handguard of Russian AKM design.

One of the unique design elements of the Romanian version of the AK-74 is the ability to fire in three round burst mode. This feature required the addition of a special burst ratchet mechanism with associated changes in the seloctor lever and trigger group. Note selector markings include the addition of a three round burst setting, indicated with a "3." This is in addition to both single shot ("1") and fully automatic fire modes (sideways "8" denoting an infinity symbol). The ratchet operated design is most likely a heavily modified copy of an earlier East German Weiger design. Poland has also fielded a similar pattern as used on the "Tantal"/"Beryl" AK based rifle series.

These Romanian troops are reloading ammunition somewhere in Afghanistan. This image provides an excellent view of specific equipment and AIMS-74 accessories. Note the specific square handled bayonet and the four cell magazine pouch used with the AIMS-74.

The rear trunnion design (and rivet pattern) remain AKM-style without alterations. The selector lever type with matching rolled lip receiver cover are copies of the middle Russian patterns. The Romanian receiver also has the so-called "trigger bumps" stamped into the bottom of the receiver, like the Soviet pattern.

The domestically produced 30-round box magazine is made from ribbed metal, and there is no record of any other type of material being used in their production. There is also a 40-round version, no doubt used with the Romanian RPK-74 variant. Note the bright reddish-orange color of the plastic used on Romanian AK-74 rifles, which seems much lighter and brighter than those normally used on the previous 7,62x39mm rifles.

Mountain troops field AIMS-74 rifles during a winter exercise. Image provided by The Romanian Ministry of Defense.

Many of us are very familiar with the unique qualities of the Romania based AK rifle. This is due to the export of these designs in semi-automatic configuration, in relatively large numbers, to the West. At the present time, AK/AK-74 rifles from RATMil factories are currently made in many calibers and configurations and are readily available on the open market. Due to the influence of NATO, the future of the 5,45mm AIM-74 is hard to guess at.

We wish to thank everyone who made this page possible. In the future, we hope to add to the materials shown here, in an effort to capture the full story on this very interesting small arm design. Please feel free to contact us and offer your comments or any images or information you may like to share.

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See our AK-74 Production Variations Study by clicking the link above.

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