by Stewart Killen
Injured in a Soviet tank while fighting the Germans in World War II, Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov was sent to a Soviet hospital. He had seen the success the Germans had with their Blitzkrieg warfare firsthand, and Kalashnikov devoted his life to building a firearm that would defend the Motherland from the Germans. Kalashnikov ingeniously visualized a firearm that was simpler than the rest of the guns used at the time, that were trying to be complex and high-tech. The AK was the complete opposite of these guns.
The AK-47, or its real name, the Avtomat (Russian for fully automatic rifle) Kalashnikov 1947 is a selective fire, gas operated assault rifle which has a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute. It uses the 7.62x39mm soviet round that was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov at the end of World War 2 from 1945 to 1948. It was issued to selective units in the soviet armed forces in 1948 but it wasn’t officially accepted by the soviet armed forces until 1949. The AK-47 has more variants than any other gun to date – these include a fixed stock variant, a folding stock variant and a shortened down variant. The AK-47 was manufactured by Izhmash, Norinco and various other companies for a decade from 1949-1959. There were 75 million AK-47’s manufactured this does not include the variants which have had over 100 million manufactured the AK-47 has also been produced in lots of different countries under different names (such as the Chinese type-56) so it is difficult to estimate the number that has been produced. The AK-47 is still widely used after six decades because of its durability; it can still shoot even after it has been submerged under water and in sand – this is a problem with nearly every gun produced as the water or sand gets in the gas block and causes the gun to become unreliable when fired.
The designer of the AK-47, Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, was born in Kurya in the Kuryinsky District of Altai Krai in the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Russian S.F.S.R) on the 10th of November 1919, and he died in Izhevsk in the Udmurtia republic on the 23rd of December 2013. He was 94 years old on the date of his death. On the months leading up to his death he was regretting designing the AK-47 because it had killed more people in the world than any other firearm. It also pained him to see it being used by criminals, terrorists and child soldiers as he designed it “to protect the motherland” (Russia). When he was young he suffered from various illnesses and almost died at the age of six. He had four children: Victor (who went on to design a 9mm submachine gun based on his father’s design), Nelli, Elena, and Natalya, who sadly passed away in 1983 at the age of 30 years old.