The AK-200 series was developed as an interim solution between the classic AK-100 series and the new AK-12 and AK-15. The AK-203 is essentially an updated AK-103, itself a 7.62x39mm rifle incorporating several AK-74 features such as its iconic — and very effective — muzzle device and 90-degree gas block. The AK-203 features a traditional AK-style rear sight configuration with an AKS-74U “Krink” style pivoting top cover. This design was specifically incorporated for customers wanting to retain a conventional AK iron-sight picture. At the rear of the top cover is an SVD-inspired pivoting lever. Rotating it counterclockwise allows the top cover to pivot up for access to the receiver internals. Upon reassembly, it also performs a camming function to lock the top cover into a repeatable and secure position, retaining zero for optics.
Examining the latest AK offerings and their various prototypes from Kalashnikov Concern, it’s clear that they’ve experimented and spent considerable time and resources developing a pivoting top cover system that achieves the highest degree of optic zero repeatability possible. A side-folding multi-position collapsible buttstock is employed — no surprise as this has become the norm on new assault rifles worldwide. It also has an enhanced safety/selector lever, a much needed and welcomed upgrade for serious AK end-users. Picatinnytype rail surfaces are in all the usual positions, but one concept that has largely failed to gain traction outside of the U.S. is an extended handguard interface. As such, the AK-203’s handguard is traditional length. The pistol grip is a new design, providing better ergonomics and storage inside. The birdcage-style muzzle device shown here is new, yet very similar to a device that Arsenal of Bulgaria and others have been offering for several years. That said, a number of different muzzle devices are currently seen on Kalashnikov Concern products. All these upgrades may not be revolutionary, but they nevertheless enhance the usefulness of the AKM platform for the average end user with no obvious downsides.