The Kalashnikov AK-47 is a gas-operated assault rifle with a rotating bolt, manufactured by IZHMASH (Izhevsk Machinebuilding Plant) in 7.62x39 mm. It weighs about 9 pounds with an empty magazine. The AK employs a 30- and 40-round box magazine or a 75-round drum magazine. It is capable of cycling 600 rounds per minute at a muzzle velocity in excess of 2,300 feet per second.

Hands down, the AK-47 is one of the most prolific rifles of our time (@ 90 million units and counting), which has been manufactured in dozens of countries, especially those with Soviet influence. It has seen service in wars and border skirmishes spanning the globe. And it has been said that if the U.S. had fielded the AK-47 in Vietnam, the outcome of that war might have been different. American Special Forces used the AK-47 in Vietnam and loved it. Recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. troops have borrowed and loved the AK-74. And our enemies think it's tops.

Kalashnikov's rifle is impervious to inclement conditions and rough handling. Drop it in the mud, drag it through sand and the AK keeps on trucking - and killing anyone it's pointed at.

Recently, the revived Soviet Union - oil-rich Russia - feared by millions through the Cold War, is back in all its menacing, saber-rattling vengeance, threatening conflicts, if not world domination.

And the same small arm that shed so much blood - designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, loved by six decades of Russian combatants, allies and terrorists - the AK, is back better and stealthier.

Meet the AK-9, Russia's latest and greatest, perhaps deadliest assault rifle. And that's saying a mouthful. The AK-9 was sorta unveiled in 2007, well almost. It still remains an enigma. A variant of the AKS-74, it's chambered for subsonic 9x39mm, it is virtually silent and it defeats body armor.

It's black, light - at 8 1/2 pounds - and packs a whisper-quiet silencer. Wow!

The Russians claim the new and improved AK-9 was designed for their law enforcement and anti-terror units. Can you say Russian SWAT? That may be true. I can see Comrade Boris sneaking up on a Russian school held hostage, crawling to within shooting range of Chechnyan insurgents.

I can also see a more sinister mission for the AK-9 - as the assault weapon of Russia's future.

And what future might that be? Only Putin and the boys at the Kremlin know.

What better way to take out your enemy, than in the hands of Spetsnaz - Soviet Special Forces?

Sends shivers down this old grunt's spine. But to really make your day, Russia has contracted with Chavez of Venezuela to produce two factories - one for the AK-103 assault rifle and another to produce the tons of ammo necessary to keep all those AKs humming. In sleepy South America?

Why? Have the howler monkeys gone mad? Hmm.