Mikhail Kalashnikov is the Father of the Soviet Assault
Rifle - the AK-47. And in the 60 years since Comrade Kalashnikov
designed the first AK rifle, the art of warfare has witnessed radical
But the AK design is still around - going strong.
The AK series of Russian guns, chambered variously in
hard-hitting 7.62x39mm; the subsonic 9x39mm; and the speedy
5.45x39mm, has revolutionized modern warfare - most always to the
consternation of military planners in the West. It 's a tough,
durable, nearly always reliable autoloader.
The AK is cheap to make, exactly why it was so warmly
received by Mother Russia and the Kremlin. It can take the harshest
conditions, often in the hands of uneducated kids, and keep ticking.
It's easy to take down, and it's easy to clean. Even fouled, AK
rifles perform as advertised. So why haven't we adopted the
Kalashnikov? What, and cede superior weapons design to the Russians?
First, there was
Mikhail's AK-47 (for the year, 1947) in 7.62x39mm, the Automatic
This anything-but-fancy gun (by today's rifle standards) with its
wooden stock, stamped/milled receiver and canvas sling caught on like
the brush fire wars that raged globally.
Armed with a single AK, a crude bayonet and a bandoleer
full of 30-round mags, a 40-round or 75-round drum magazine, a
teenager in sandals that had never seen the inside of a classroom
could wage war on his imperialistic aggressors - till the cows
came home - and more often than not, win.
That's Mikhail's version of the story, and he's
sticking to it.
Then there was the
the Automatic Kalashnikov Modernized - the AKM, also chambered in
7.62x39mm. The AKM often came with a GP-25, 40mm grenade launcher and
a M1959 bayonet. Give a Latin American kid, enamored with Che
Guevara, or an Afghan or Chechen warrior, with a score to settle, the
AKM and he was a force to be reckoned with.
In the 1970s, the
Soviets gave the world their 5.45x39mm AK-74 and the War in
Afghanistan. And at the Dawn of the 21st
Century, Russia unveiled its latest AK-9 Assault Rifle, chambered in
9x39mm, and agreed to sell Chavez of Venezuela the AK-103 Assault
Rifle chambered in 7.62x39.
With the dawning of the exported AK-103, insurgents of
the world were handed a lighter AK, complete with cutting-edge
plastics (replacing heavier metal and wood furniture), and the full
range of railed accessories - sights & lights, a GP-30
grenade launcher and new generation Russian night vision. The 103
weighs 7 1/2 pounds and measures 37 inches (extended), 27 1/2
inches folded. This gas-operated, rotating bolt gun takes 30-round
mags and lays down 600 to 650 rounds per minute at 2,500 feet per
second. It has an effective range of 1600 feet (500 meters). And in
the jungles, that's all it takes.