The AK-47 is the most prolific rifle in the world. It is a weapon that has changed the course of human history like water has cut rivers into the earth. The AK can be seen on flags, money, T-Shirts and in the hands of just about every nationality in existence and some that do not even exist anymore. The AK stands for Avtomat Kalashnikova and the 47 was the year that the rifle was manufactured. The rifle was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov and the Soviet Armed Forces began using the AK-47 in 1949. The AK replaced the older Russian used weapons, such as the Mosin-Nagant and SKS rifles.
Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov was born in 1919 on Russian soil. Mikhail served in the Red Army starting in 1938 and eventually became a tank commander. During this time period, he proved that he had both technical and mechanical abilities by designing an inertia revolution counter that would register the number of shots fired from a tank. Kalashnikov was severely wounded in 1941 while fighting in the battle of Bryansk, against fascists in World War II. It was during this time in the hospital that he conceptualized a design for a submachine gun which would later become what we know as the AK-47 rifle. Mikhail has stated that he wanted to develop a weapon that could be used to defend his Motherland. Though World War II was over for the Russians by 1947, many other freedom fighters have used the AK to defend their “Motherlands”. Though I know of the rifle’s origins, I always picture it in the hands of the Viet Cong, the Irish Republican Army, Los Angeles gang members, Iraqi soldiers and the children of Africa. Those are some powerful images, that is for sure. Mikhail himself looks at his rifle as a tool to create peace, although I’m sure that perspective depends on which end of the gun you are looking at!
Though I love Eugene Stoner’s M16 (and all of its variations), I think that I would agree with my PMC/security contractor friends and would be carrying an AK if I was pulling security details in the Middle East. For one thing, you would be better able to blend in to your surroundings with the region’s weapon of choice (an AK and a beard). In addition, ammunition would be abundant and parts would be available if major repairs were ever needed. This brings me to the point of repairs and needed parts; the AK-47 is an extremely reliable and durable rifle. It was designed in a country of extreme weather conditions and it was designed to function in these harsh conditions. The AK-47 has been battle tested in everything from a snow storm to a sand storm. The rifle was also proven to be tough and reliable in the humid and muddy jungles of Vietnam.
The AK-47 is a select fire, gas operated weapon that can be manufactured quickly and easily. The AK-47 is chambered for the 7.62x39mm cartridge. There are many variations of the rifle, which can differ in everything from caliber to the way it is manufactured. The Soviet Union issued many production licenses to its Eastern Bloc allies, as well as China. Actually, there are not too many countries that do not manufacture some type of AK variant. When it came to buying this type of rifle for myself, I would really like a Soviet manufactured full auto version. Well, we can all dream. I woke up from my dream and realized that since I was in California, I had to change my game plan! There are many imported semi-automatic AK rifles that come from China, Hungary, Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Czechoslovakia. Many of these rifles are well built; however, I am a “Made in the U.S.A.” guy. We Americans do not manufacture too much ourselves these days, but luckily, the AK-47 is something that we do manufacture. There are even a few American companies to choose from! I was really impressed with a company that we interviewed at the S.H.O.T. Show a few years ago, I.O. Inc. I had the chance to ogle several of the company’s imported/surplus firearms. As the interview continued, out came the U.S.A. manufactured rifles based on the AK-47 platform! It was love at first sight!
I.O. Incorporated has been in business for over 14 years and they have imported a lot of fine weapons and ammunition. When the supply of surplus weapons began to dry up in 2008, the company made a smart move and began to manufacture American-made AKs in North Carolina. This is the same company/manufacturing plant that produces the little Hellcat .380 pistol. I.O. Inc. makes a very nice AK for a reasonable price. I enjoy the experience of buying firearms and that experience can certainly be wrecked by a gun shop full of arrogant know-it-alls. That is why I traveled down south to Pacifica, California to make my purchase at a gun shop called City Arms. I enjoy the dry Russian humor of one of the owners of the store, “Uncle V”. He is a no B.S. guy and having trained and fought (in the ring) with many Eastern Bloc gentlemen throughout my life, the long trip down south is well worth it. It seemed very fitting buying an AK from a gentleman from Mikhail’s home turf, the idea was quite appealing!
I am very happy with my purchase, even if the rifle has to have the dreaded “bullet button” on it (a miserable device attached to the magazine catch that forces the operator to use a “tool” to drop the magazine). One day, I will live in a free state and those nasty devices will come off of my rifles. I own the Sporter Model. It wears an RPK style butt stock, which I like, because it channels the recoil straight back into my shoulder, rather than the traditional type of AK stock that tends to make the rifle flip up a bit. I also like the forearm because it has a picatinny rail for adding a forward grip, a laser or a tactical light if I am ever so inclined. This is the quintessential black and evil rifle that is so hated by our sheepish population these days…I just love it to death! My AR is not jealous of the AK that lives next to it in the gun safe, as a matter of fact, it had a spawn called the SU-16 (Kel-Tec). They are one big happy family of firepower!
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