The AK-47 is a gas operated selective fire assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov for the manufacturing company Izhmash in the Soviet Union from 1944 to 1946. The Soviet Armed Forces ultimately accepted the modernized redesign in 1949 with the designation AK-47; Avtomat Kalashnikova 47 – the 1947 redesign of the Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle.
Infamously known in the Western world as the weapon of the enemy, the AK has been used by practically every opponent of the United States from the Soviet Union during the Cold War, through the Vietnam war and into the War on Terror. Its multiple variants along with cheap, free or unlicensed production made distribution andavailability easy for multiple revolutionary groups throughout Africa and the Middle East, Communist parties in Asia and South America, and drug cartels in Mexico. Its current and most notorious users are the terrorist groups Al-Qaida and the Taliban.
Designed primarily for Soviet soldiers to maneuver with large gloves in extreme cold climates, the weapon has large parts and generous spacing between moving parts making it both practical, easy to clean and resilient to multiple weather conditions. In addition, it is easy and cheap to produce making it sometimes easier to illegally manufacture than to smuggle, though both situations are almost equally responsible for the massive global inventory of an estimated 500 million firearms currently available in the world. In Northern Africa, the AK-47 can currently be bought for roughly $30 to $120 dollars, and in Kenya the price is down to 4 cows from 15 in the mid 1980’s.
The reliability and mechanical clearances come at the cost of accuracy, and its primary purpose was for close range battles of less than 300 meters. It has an adjustable rear tangent iron sight measured in hundred meters and an adjustable front sight. It weighs a heavy 9.5 pounds (4.3 kg) and ranges from 25.4 inches (645 mm) for the folding stock up to 34.4 inches (875 mm) for the fixed wooden extended stock and a barrel length of 16.3 inches (415 mm). The gas operated, rotating bolt action produces a rate of fire of 600 rounds per minute when fully automatic, and holds a 7.62x39mm M43 cartridge in a 20 to 30 curved detachable box magazine or up to 75 with a round drum magazine.
Whether it is because I am spoiled with lighter, well built and more expensive American weapons, or simply because of an inherent disrespect for its current users, the AK-47 rifle felt like a piece of junk to me. It was heavy, the wood is cheap, and the firing it is uninspiring and unimaginative. It feels welfare poor after getting its monthly check; a homeless bum with a hard-on. A piece of junk with the ability to kill. The AK-47 shoots inaccurate rounds even at 100 yards, but as a battle weapon proves destructive and reliable, and therefore deserves some respect. Additionally, its vast global use in over six decades proves its reliability and function produced with relative ease and inexpense. Overall though, it’s a bad shot and it’s ugly.