At the beginning of the 1970's the Swedish army studied a number of different rifles to replace the K-pist m/45 and Ak 4 (HK G3) for infantry rifle units and in the winter of 1975-1976, the following rifles were trialed and evaluated:
- Steyr AUG
- SIG 540
- FN CAL (predecessor to FNC)
- FFV 890C (a Swedish Galil)
The FN FNC, FFV 890C and SIG 540 were selected for further testing in 1979-1982. The FN FNC won the trials but required modification to better adapt the weapon to the Swedish cold climate. Some modifications include:
- Different handguard
- Larger trigger guard for use with winter gloves
- 2-position gas setting
The Ak 5 was introduced in 1986 as the new standard issue rifle for the Swedish Army (the Home Guard retained and still uses the Ak 4). It served in several conflicts, including the UN and later NATO-led missions on the Balkans in the early 1990's. The weapon was generally liked by it's users but was criticized for it's heavy weight (a remnant of the FN FNC design which was built to fire rifle grenades). The Ak 5 was also fitted with the M203 grenade launcher in service.
The Ak 5B was identical to the Ak 5 in all aspects other than sights, as opposed to the Ak 5 which used exclusively iron sights, the Ak 5B used a 4x SUSAT optic and also featured an elevated cheek rest on the stock. As the rifle was intended to be used exclusively as a designated marksman rifle with the SUSAT optic, the iron sights were removed entirely. To enable the Ak 5B to operate in low-light conditions, a image intensifier was also included as part of the Ak 5B system.
As modern innovations in optics and the introduction of MIL-STD-1913 (picatinny) rails started to be used in a larger number of foreign military powers, the Swedish army decided to modernize the Ak 5 platform to what would end up becoming the Ak 5C. The F in Ak 5CF stands for "Försök" (eq. "Trial"). The Ak 5CF kept the handguard from the regular Ak 5 but added a fixed forward vertical grip. The Ak 5CF also entirely got rid of the iron sights, instead incorporating the Aimpoint CS 1x red dot sight. The Ak 5CF also used a modified flash hider to reduce it's visual signature in low-light conditions.
The Ak 5C is the current Swedish Armed Forces standard issue rifle and uses a new handguard which incorporates 3 picatinny rails at the 3, 6 and 9 o'clock positions, with the 6 o'clock picatinny rail being the only full length rail on the handguard. As part of the Ak 5C upgrade, the Aimpoint CS 1x red dot sight was made standard, but unlike the Ak 5CF, the final version of the Ak 5C features BUIS (back-up iron sights) mounted on the weapon itself. The barrel was shortened to 350mm (from 450mm) and the weapon now featured a both folding and adjustable length stock. With the Ak 5C, the gas setting was fixed in the second position but the weapon was factory modified to produce the same rate of fire (650RPM) as gas setting 1 on the old Ak 5.
To my understanding, the Ak 5C was also in certain cases issued with an Aimpoint 3X magnifier to certain units which made it a pseudo-marksman rifle.
At an unknown time the Armed Forces decided to develop a shortened version of the Ak 5 which was designated Ak 5D. The Ak 5D to my knowledge never entered into wide-spread use within the Swedish Armed Forces but was modified and used for a brief period by the Swedish police regional SWAT teams.
As the Ak 5 and Ak 5B were being phased out and reconfigured to Ak 5C standard, the Ak 5D concept was revisited, this time with all the same modifications as the Ak 5C but further shortened barrel and consequentially handguard. This version of the Ak 5D is normally referred to as the Ak 5D Mk2, though not officially designated as such. The Ak 5D Mk2 is issued to a variety of personnel, most commonly vehicle crews but also Jägare (Jaeger/Ranger units).
The Ak 5 family is probably one of the weapon families with the most diversity in it's family members. As presented in this post, the Ak 5 family has served as an assault rifle, carbine, marksman rifle, and even personal defense weapon.Thank you for reading!