Skip to comments.AK-47 inventor: I don't lose sleep
Posted on 07/06/2007 2:24:48 PM PDT by Eurotwit
MOSCOW - Sixty years after the AK-47 went into production, Mikhail Kalashnikov says he does not stay awake at night worrying about the bloodshed wrought by the world's most popular assault rifle.
"I sleep well. It's the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence," Kalashnikov said Friday at a ceremony marking the birth of the rifle, whose initials stand for "Avtomat Kalashnikov."
It was before he started designing the gun that he slept badly, worried about the superior weapons that Nazi soldiers were using with grisly effectiveness against the Red Army in World War II. He saw them at close range himself, while fighting on the front lines.
While hospitalized with wounds after a Nazi shell hit his tank in the 1941 battle of Bryansk, Kalashnikov decided to design an automatic rifle combining the best features of the American M1 and the German StG44.
"Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer," said Kalashnikov, frail but sharp at age 87. "I always wanted to construct agriculture machinery."
Since production began, more than 100 million AK-47s have been made either at the home factory in the central Russian city of Izhevsk, under license in dozens of other countries, or illegally. Sergei Chemezov, director of the Russian arms export monopoly Rosoboronexport, said nearly a million a year are produced without license.
The AK-47 has been a mainstay in wars, coups, terrorist attacks, robberies and other mayhem. Its popularity comes from being rugged and easy to maintain, though its accuracy is not high.
It proved ideal and extremely reliable for warfare in jungle or desert easily assembled and able to keep firing in sandy or wet conditions that would jam a U.S-made M-16.
"During the Vietnam war, American soldiers would throw away their M-16s to grab AK-47s and bullets for it from dead Vietnamese soldiers," he said. "I hear American soldiers in Iraq use it quite often."
The simplicity and reliability of the AK-47 made it a favorite of rebel movements worldwide it even features on the Mozambique flag. Keen to support anti-colonial movements in Asia and Africa, the Soviets proliferated the rifle, sometimes for free, to pro-Soviet regimes or insurgents.
In 2005, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who styles himself as a leader of the fighting against imperialism, ordered 100,000 for his army.
"The Kalashnikov rifle is a symbol of the creative genius of our people," President Vladimir Putin said in a statement read to Kalashnikov at the ceremony in the Central Russian Army Museum.
"It's a huge and splendid celebration," said Nikolai Shvets of Rosoboronexport. "For another 20 years, the AK-47 will remain unsurpassed by any other automatic rifle in the world."
Kalashnikov is still active and prolific he tours the world as a Rosoboronexport consultant helping strike new arms deals, and has written several books on his life, about arms and about youth education.
"After the collapse of the great and mighty Soviet Union so much crap has been imposed on us, especially on the younger generation," he said. "I wrote six books to help them find their way in life."
He said he is proud of his bronze bust installed in his native village of Kurya in the Siberian region of Altai. He said newlyweds bring flowers to the bust.
"They whisper 'Uncle Misha, wish us happiness and healthy kids,'" he said. "What other gun designer can boast of that?"
He didn’t recover quickly from his wounds. He began work on the thing late in the war, and didn’t finish the design until 1947. Of course he saw the M1 and the StG44. Of course he took into account what he could learn from observing those weapons and from accounts of their field performance.
The beauty of the AK47 design is that the damned thing works. It doesn’t have to be kept spotless. It doesn’t take a natural -born mechanic to keep it in working order in the field. And it doesn’t need to be real accurate since most infantry combat either is at point-blank range, or involves firing in the general direction of an imperfectly spotted enemy.
I saw you beat Mexico in the Gold Cup.
Good luck to Freddy Adu and the boys in the u-20 world cup in Canada!
Beat those darned Brazilians. :-)
The M-1 was designed in 1924 and was standard US Army issue by 1936. Why wouldn’t he be able to get one? We had open trade routes to Russia in 41. Kalashnikov has consistently denied that his design was based on the German StG44.
Well, he can always set up the Kalashnikov Peace Prize fund for future generations...
The Russians are the masters of the simple solution. I read that German rifles froze up during the siege of Stalingrad because their gun oil turned into glue at the low temperatures. The Russians mixed gasoline into their gun oil and the problem was solved.
Kalashnikov was against the 5.4mm round, stating that it had less stopping power as the original 7.62mm. He was over ruled by the Soviet designers who thought why should the US adopt a 5.56mm round if it is too small. It turns out in Iraq the 5.56mm is too small. The soldier may be able to carry more 5.56mm versus the larger 7.62mm round, but if it takes three direct hits to drop the target versus one hit from a 7.62mm, the advantage of carrying more smaller rounds become moot.
Converted it from the hunter version on the 4th of July... yes I did use the proper number of domestic parts, and yes it only fires one shot for one pull of the trigger...
Eugene Stoner the inventor of the M16 was also a WWII vet. He served with the Marines in the Pacific theatre. He also designed the Stoner weapon system, an earlier version of the M16. He died in 1997 and is buried at Quantico, VA.
“The weapon of choice for our enemies....of course he doesnt lose sleep.”
Right, I am sure he was working on weapon design in the early 1940’s worrying about the Americans, and I am just as sure he had a single ounce of control over what was done with this weapon once it went into production over all of the last 60 years, with all the licensee countries.
“”The Kalashnikov rifle is a symbol of the creative genius of our people,” President Vladimir Putin said in a statement read to Kalashnikov at the ceremony in the Central Russian Army Museum. “
Almost anything I have ever seen from the soviet union was shoddy, but their small arms program in the 40’s and 50’s was simply stunning in the number, simplicity, and reliability of the weapons that were offered. I own a several examples of these and the only one I am not enamoored of is the SVT-40.
What is the base model for that rifle? I have a VEPR K in 5.45x39mm I love it. There is almost no recoil what so ever. It also has never had a single feed/eject issue in the 3 years I’ve had it.
Just making a comparison about Russia & USSR in respect to weapons exports to our enemies.....why would they lose sleep?
It is an effective weapon and in demand for the terrorist or communist regimes which Russia continues to support.