AKs from Finland. Part 2: Valmet RK 62, Advanced AK Designed 62 Years Ago

In Part 1 of this article, I wrote about the early development history of Finnish AKs and the m/58 prototype. In this article, I will delve into the history of the first mass-produced AK from Finland – Valmet RK 62. In recent years, I had a chance to visit Finland several times, train some reservists there, and meet a lot of amazing people in this country. Finns know and love their weapons, and RK 62, developed exactly 62 years ago remains to be the main weapon of the Finnish Defense Forces.

AK History @ TFB:

AKs from Finland. Part 2: Valmet RK 62, Advanced AK Designed 62 Years Ago

Finnish forces using RK 62 in training in 2023. Source: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Keeler, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

The RK 60

On October 13, 1958, the Infantry Light Weapons Committee requested to order the first batch of guns for large-scale trials. On November 17, there was a presentation for defense-related decision-makers, and on November 28 new rifle was presented to the commander of defense forces, who signed off on the purchase of 200 new Finnish-made AKs

After a mandatory tender, the Valmet factory received the order to produce the first batch of rifles. The contract was signed in May of 1959. The factory had 14 months to make 200 guns, 1200 magazines, 100 folding bayonets, 100 fixed-blade bayonets, and various accessories.

First rifles were designated RK 60 and did not have a trigger guard, allowing soldiers wearing winter mittens to pull the trigger. It also lacked the night sights present in all later models.

At this stage, Finnish AK already had all of its signature traits: front sight/gas block combination, rear sight on the receiver cover, ghost ring iron sights – all those design elements turned out to be quite effective.

Production of the final variant, RK 62 (RynnäkköKivääri 1962) began in 1962 at the Valmet factory. Around 350,000 RK 62s were produced over the years.

Unlike most military rifles, the barrels of RK 62 were not chrome-lined. When I asked why, my Finnish friend told me: “We really care about the environment and nature of our beautiful country, and chrome-lining requires so many toxic chemicals that our engineers decided it is not worth it”.

RK 62 we don’t have at home

Source: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Keeler, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

And while the civilian version of RK 62 called M62S was exported to the US, Finnish gun owners didn’t have a chance to own a civilian version of a rifle they often served with. Another friend of mine told me a story explaining how in the late 80s just two people managed to change the situation.

Two reservist soldiers contacted the Valmet factory in an attempt to buy a semi-auto version of RK 62. The factory responded that they needed to purchase at least 100 units.

Reservists are a close-knit community, and without the internet, within a few weeks they collected 100 requests from friends, and the Valmet factory had to fulfill their promise.

Source: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Keeler, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

But there was another obstacle. At the time, to own such a rifle in Finland, an applicant had to have a “purpose of use”. The two reservists who ordered the guns were told by police that the sporting purpose was the best way to get such a gun, but unfortunately, no sport required the use of RK 62.

But the reservists were unstoppable. Over the weekend they drafted the rules for a new sport, called “Reservist shooting” and registered it with the authorities. Now they and their friend had a perfectly lawful “purpose of use” and could finally purchase Finnish AKs.

Modernisation of RK 62

Later production RK 62 with rubber handguard

Over the years, there were small improvements made to the RK 62. The “Cheesegrater” handguard was replaced with a rubberized one. The pistol grip became more comfortable.

However, a lot of innovation came from the civilian sector and shooters who tried to improve their rifles in order to attach modern scopes, IR lasers, and other accessories.

When I had a chance to train some reservists there, I came across a modernization project that the designer called AK 2.0, which included an adapter for M4 collapsible stock, a side rail for the receiver, and a handguard with M-LOK slots.

Updates designed by VALMAN on the Valmet RK 62

In 2015, the Finnish Defense Forces initiated a program for the modernization of RK 62. In 2019, three versions of the upgrade kit were officially accepted into service.

  • M1:
    • Telescopic adjusting stock (shoulder rest)
    • Renewed fire selector
    • Optical sight mount
    • Adapter for mounting accessories
    • New tactical sling

RK62M1

  • M2:
    • Optimized version for combat in built-up areas
    • Telescopic adjusting stock (shoulder rest)
    • Renewed fire selector
    • Optical sight mount
    • Hand guard for mounting accessories
    • Flash suppressor that allows for mounting a breach muzzle brake and a silencer
    • New tactical sling
    • Accessories include, among others, a fore-end pistol grip

RK62M2

  • M3:
    • As above in version M2
    • Testing coating in green
    • Equipped with a silencer and a breach muzzle brake

RK62M3

In part 3, I will talk about the Finnish AK in the US and other countries that imported those rifles.

This post was originally published on this site