An airsoft Rk95?
Yup, according to the SHOT Show and IWA announcement page on the Guay-Guay website it looks like we are at last going to see their promised replica of the SAKO RK95 assault rifle. And I for one am very excited about this.
Although only produced in relatively small numbers, and only used by the Finnish Defence Forces, the Rk95 is the ultimate evolution of the Valmet Rk62 assualt rifle. The RK62 was itself an improved, license-built variant of the AK (or as its more commonly known in the West, the AK-47), and a shipment of Rk62 receivers also formed the original basis of the Israeli Galil series.
*note* I’m using the Finnish military “Rk” (Rynnäkkökivääri / assault rifle) rather than the commercial “M” designation.
The Rk62 rifle went through a number of evolutionary improvements and changes during its service career, but in the late 1980’s the Finnish government issued a requirement to replace the Rk62. In response, the SAKO company delivered a prototype in 1990. The M90 prototype was a substantial reworking and modernising of the Rk62 – yet retained its familiar layout and form factor.
Interestingly, the one thing that SAKO didn’t change was the calibre. You might have thought that by 1995 they would have seen the writing on the wall and changed over to the 5.56 x 45mm NATO calibre; however, always true to their independent spirit they chose to stick with the M43 7.62 x 39mm Russian calibre – as they appreciate its greater ability to punch through cover. Which is an important consideration when your defense strategy calls for prolonged guerilla warfare conducted in thickly forested terrain.
The other thing that didn’t get changed – interestingly – was the AK-style safety/selector lever. The original M90 prototype had a new style of safety/selector lever mounted on the left side of the rifle, but this was changed back to the traditional AK style on the production-ready rifle.
The final result after a few years of testing and further tweaking was introduced into Finnish military service as the Rk95 Tp (Tp = Taittoperä / folding stock). The Rk95 may justifiably be called “The Ultimate AK” – and also possibly the most expensive. The most immediately noticable differences between the Rk95 and the Rk62 are the SIG-inspired tubular folding stock, the FN-inspired muzzle break / flash hider, the improved charging handle angle, and the improved rear sight – you might also even notice the slightly changed profile of the milled lower receiver around the mag well.
Production of the Rk95 ceased in 1997/1998 when the initial order to equip Finland’s frontline units was fulfilled. Controversially, the Defence Minister of the time then purchased a consignment of Chinese AKs to equip the reserve forces – presumably based on the single factor of them being cheaper to buy and import them than to build more Rk95s at home. (This extreme case of penny-pinching was probably driven by the budget-blowing purchase of F/A-18 Hornet jet fighters from the US.)
Despite this rather inglorious final (?) chapter to the story of the real-steel Rk95, we now have the ironic situation of a Taiwanese company bringing out an airsoft version of the Rk95. Well, whatever the strange machinations of the global economics, it is exciting to know that more of us will be able to get our hands on one of these – and I am certainly looking forward to that!
For a more detailed history of the real-steel Rk95, check out this article: http://guns.connect.fi/gow/M95.html