AK 47 can hit a target 2,000 feet away in one second. It weighs no more than 10 pounds. It is 14 inches long. It can be cleaned without hassle. It disassembles easily. It never jams. It is effective, light, portable, reliable – and no military expertise is required to use it (AK47). This gun can be fired by any man, woman, or child. And in third world revolutions across the world, it has been fired. Type “AK 47” into a library database and books on almost every revolution from the late 20th century will appear.
Buy Kalashnikov AK-47
This weapon has been in the hands of men, women, and children in Serbia, Sudan, Iraq, Nigeria, India, and Iran. It has been handcrafted in Pakistan and mass-produced in Russia. It has killed those who opposed the Sandinistas in Nicaragua and the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is the focal point of a museum in Izhevsk, Russia. It is the centerpiece of artwork in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Buying a Kalashnikov Is Easier Than Ever
They look so real, it’s almost scary. AK-47 assault rifle-maker Kalashnikov, the notorious favorite of rebels and warlords alike, is going mainstream with a boutique at the terminal connected to Moscow’s main airport, Sheremetyevo. The boutique sells high-end replicas that cost almost as much as the real thing—alongside survival gear, tote bags, and “I ♥ AK”
It may be the only place in the world that will sell you guns at the airport instead of taking them away.
Travelers killing time at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport are curious as they duck into a shop with a gun rack on the wall and a cabinet full of pistols near the cash register.
Next to that are racks of kids’ T-shirts printed with “I Love AK.”
The Kalashnikov is Russia, and Russia is the Kalashnikov.
Originally developed in secrecy for the Soviet military, an estimated 100 million AK-47s and their iris variants have been produced to date. This gun is now found throughout the world, including in the hands of many American civilians, who in 2012 bought as many AK-47s as the Russian police and military. As a physician, I have witnessed the destruction this weapon can wreak on human flesh.
That’s AK-47, the famed Russian rapid-fire assault rifle that has made its manufacturer, Kalashnikov, a worldwide name.
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“Why not? I think it’s a good thing from Russia, good souvenir,” says Artyom Baranowski, manager of the first Kalashnikov concept store in Russia.
Opened last summer, it sells Kalashnikov-branded products ranging from cellphone cases to bullet-shaped thermoses to mock rifles and pistols. They’re actual Kalashnikov weapons you can assemble and disassemble; some shoot low-power plastic pellets, others can’t shoot at all. The store’s not allowed to sell ammunition.
Russian Mikhail Kalashnikov invented the weapon that bears his name in the middle of the 20th century. Born on Nov. 10, 1919, Kalashnikov was a tank mechanic in the Soviet military during the Second World War. He was wounded during the German invasion of the USSR in 1941.
Having seen firsthand the combat advantage conferred by Germany’s superior firearms, Kalashnikov resolved to develop a better weapon. While still in the military, he produced several designs that lost out to competitors before eventually producing the first AK-47.
The name of Kalashnikov’s greatest invention stands for Automat Kalashnikov 1947, the year it was first produced.
In 1949, the AK-47 became the assault rifle of the Soviet Army. Later adopted by other nations in the Warsaw Pact, the weapon quickly spread around the world, becoming a symbol of revolution in such far-flung lands as Vietnam, Afghanistan, Colombia, and Mozambique, on whose flag it figures prominently.
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Throughout his long life, Kalashnikov continued to tweak his classic design. In 1959, production began on his AKM, which replaced the AK-47’s milled receiver with one made of stamped metal, making it both lighter and less expensive to produce. He also developed the cartridge-fed PK machine gun. Modified AK-47s are still in production in countries around the world.
The AK-47’s advantages and abundance
Why was the AK-47 such a revolutionary rifle?
It is relatively inexpensive to produce, short and light to carry, and easy to use, with little recoil. It also boasts legendary reliability under harsh conditions ranging from waterlogged jungles to Middle Eastern sandstorms, in both extreme cold and heat.
It also requires relatively little maintenance. This stems from its large gas piston and wide clearances between moving parts, which help to prevent it from jamming.
Kalashnikov liked to boast about the rifle’s superiority to the American military’s M-16 rifle. “During the Vietnam War,” he said in a 2007 interview, “American soldiers would throw away their M-16s to grab AK-47s and bullets for it from dead Vietnamese soldiers. And I hear American soldiers in Iraq use it quite often.”
The world’s most abundant firearm is also well suited to crime and terrorism. The hostage-takers who stormed the Olympic Village in Munich in 1972 were armed with Kalashnikovs, and mass shooters in the U.S. have used semi-automatic versions of the weapon in killings in Stockton, California, and Dallas.
The U.S. military has acted as a distributor of the weapon in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. With a service life of 20 to 40 years, AKs are easily relocated and repurposed.
Today, global prices often run in the hundreds of dollars, but some AK-47s can be had for as little as US$50. The huge worldwide production of the weapon, particularly in countries with low labor costs, has driven prices downward.
For his labors, the Soviet Union awarded Kalashnikov the Stalin Prize, the Red Star, and the Order of Lenin. In 2007, President Vladimir Putin singled out the Kalashnikov rifle as “a symbol of the creative genius of our people.”