It uses a smaller 5.45×39mm cartridge, replacing the 7.62×39mm chambering of earlier weapons.
The rifle first saw service with Soviet forces engaged in the 1979 Afghanistan conflict. The head of the Afghan bureau of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence claimed that the CIA paid $5,000 for the first weapons captured by the mujahadeen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan. It uses a smaller 5.45×39mm cartridge, replacing the 7.62×39mm chambering of earlier weapons.
Presently, the rifle continues to be used by the majority of countries of the former USSR. Additionally, licensed copies were produced in Bulgaria… the former East Germany and Romania.