AK-47

AK-47

Overview
The AK-47 is a selective-fire
Selective fire
A selective fire firearm has at least one semi–automatic and one automatic mode, which is activated by means of a selector which varies depending on the weapon's design. Some selective fire weapons utilize burst fire mechanisms to limit the maximum or total number of shots fired automatically in...

, gas-operated 7.62×39mm
7.62×39mm
The 7.62×39mm round is a rifle cartridge of Soviet origin that was designed during World War II. It was first used in the RPD machine gun. Due to the worldwide proliferation of the SKS and AK-47 pattern rifles, the cartridge is utilized by both militaries and civilians alike.The 7.62×39mm...

 assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

, first developed in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 by Mikhail Kalashnikov
Mikhail Kalashnikov
Lieutenant General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov is a Russian small arms designer, most famous for designing the AK-47 assault rifle, the AKM and the AK-74.-Early life:...

. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova (Автомат Калашникова). It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 slang, Kalash.

Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 (1945). After the war in 1946, the AK-46 was presented for official military trials. In 1947 the fixed-stock version was introduced into service with select units of the Soviet Army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

.
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Encyclopedia
The AK-47 is a selective-fire
Selective fire
A selective fire firearm has at least one semi–automatic and one automatic mode, which is activated by means of a selector which varies depending on the weapon's design. Some selective fire weapons utilize burst fire mechanisms to limit the maximum or total number of shots fired automatically in...

, gas-operated 7.62×39mm
7.62×39mm
The 7.62×39mm round is a rifle cartridge of Soviet origin that was designed during World War II. It was first used in the RPD machine gun. Due to the worldwide proliferation of the SKS and AK-47 pattern rifles, the cartridge is utilized by both militaries and civilians alike.The 7.62×39mm...

 assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

, first developed in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 by Mikhail Kalashnikov
Mikhail Kalashnikov
Lieutenant General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov is a Russian small arms designer, most famous for designing the AK-47 assault rifle, the AKM and the AK-74.-Early life:...

. It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova (Автомат Калашникова). It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an "AK", or in Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

 slang, Kalash.

Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 (1945). After the war in 1946, the AK-46 was presented for official military trials. In 1947 the fixed-stock version was introduced into service with select units of the Soviet Army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

. An early development of the design was the AKS (S—Skladnoy or "folding"), which was equipped with an underfolding metal shoulder stock
Stock (firearm)
A stock, also known as a buttstock or shoulder stock, is a part of a rifle or other firearm, to which the barrel and firing mechanism are attached, that is held against one's shoulder when firing the gun. Stocks are also found on crossbows though a crossbow stock is more properly referred to as a...

. In 1949, the AK-47 was officially accepted by the Soviet Armed Forces
Soviet Armed Forces
The Soviet Armed Forces, also called the Armed Forces of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Armed Forces of the Soviet Union refers to the armed forces of the Russian SFSR , and Soviet Union from their beginnings in the...

 and used by the majority of the member states of the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

.

The original AK-47 was one of the first true "assault rifles" to be manufactured, after the original Sturmgewehr 44. Even after six decades the model and its variants remain the most widely used and popular assault rifles in the world because of their durability, low production cost, and ease of use. It has been manufactured in many countries and has seen service with armed forces as well as revolutionary and terrorist organizations worldwide. The AK-47 was the basis for developing many other types of individual and crew-served firearms. More AK-type rifles have been produced than all other assault rifles combined.

Firing the 7.62x39mm cartridge, the AK-47 produces significant wounding effects when the projectile tumbles and fragments in tissue; but it produces relatively minor wounds when the projectile exits the body before beginning to yaw.

Design background


During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Germans
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 first pioneered the assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

 concept, based upon research that showed that most firefights happen at close range, within approximately 300 meters. The power and range of contemporary rifle cartridges was excessive for most small arms firefights. As a result, armies sought a cartridge and rifle combining submachine gun
Submachine gun
A submachine gun is an automatic carbine, designed to fire pistol cartridges. It combines the automatic fire of a machine gun with the cartridge of a pistol. The submachine gun was invented during World War I , but the apex of its use was during World War II when millions of the weapon type were...

 features (large-capacity magazine, selective-fire) with an intermediate-power cartridge effective to 300 meters. To reduce manufacturing costs, the 7.92x57mm Mauser
7.92x57mm Mauser
The 8×57mm IS is a rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge. The 8×57mm IS was adopted by the German Empire in 1905, and was the German service cartridge in both World Wars...

 cartridge case was shortened, the result of which was the lighter 7.92x33mm Kurz.

The resultant rifle was the Sturmgewehr 44
Sturmgewehr 44
The StG 44 was an assault rifle developed in Nazi Germany during World War II and was the first of its kind to see major deployment, considered by many historians to be the first modern assault rifle...

 (StG44). An earlier firearm, the Italian Cei-Rigotti
Cei-Rigotti
The Cei-Rigotti is an early automatic rifle created by Amerigo Cei-Rigotti, an officer in the Italian Army, in 1890, and extensively modified until its final form circa 1900....

 combined similar features but suffered poor reliability and ejection mechanism, as well as inferior magazine capacity. Towards the end of the war, the Germans fielded the StG44 against the Soviets; the experience deeply influenced Soviet military doctrine in the post-war years.

Mikhail Kalashnikov
Mikhail Kalashnikov
Lieutenant General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov is a Russian small arms designer, most famous for designing the AK-47 assault rifle, the AKM and the AK-74.-Early life:...

 began his career as a weapon designer while in a hospital after he was shot in the shoulder during the Battle of Bryansk. After tinkering with a sub-machine gun design, he entered a competition for a new weapon that would chamber the 7.62x41mm cartridge developed by Elisarov and Semin in 1943 (the 7.62x41mm cartridge predated the current 7.62x39mm M1943). A particular requirement of the competition was the reliability of the firearm in the muddy, wet, and frozen conditions of the Soviet front line. Kalashnikov designed a carbine
Carbine
A carbine , from French carabine, is a longarm similar to but shorter than a rifle or musket. Many carbines are shortened versions of full rifles, firing the same ammunition at a lower velocity due to a shorter barrel length....

, strongly influenced by the American M1 Garand
M1 Garand
The M1 Garand , was the first semi-automatic rifle to be generally issued to the infantry of any nation. Called "the greatest battle implement ever devised" by General George S...

, that lost out to the Simonov design (scaled down PTRS-41),that later became the SKS
SKS
The SKS is a Soviet semi-automatic rifle chambered for the 7.62x39mm round, designed in 1943 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov. SKS-45 is an acronym for Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova, 1945 Simonov system, 1945), or SKS 45. The Sks is a scaled down version of the PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle also...

 semi-automatic carbine. At the same time, the Soviet Army was interested in developing a true assault rifle employing a shortened M1943 round. The first such weapon was presented by Sudayev in 1944, but trials found it to be too heavy. A new design competition was held two years later where Kalashnikov and his design team submitted an entry. It was a gas-operated rifle which had a breech-block mechanism similar to his 1944 carbine, and a curved 30-round magazine.

Kalashnikov's rifles (codenamed AK-1 and −2) proved to be reliable and the weapon was accepted to second round of competition along with designs by A.A Demetev and F. Bulkin. In late 1946, as the rifles were being tested, one of Kalashnikov's assistants, Aleksandr Zaytsev, suggested a major redesign of AK-1, particularly to improve reliability. At first, Kalashnikov was reluctant, given that their rifle had already fared better than its competitors. Eventually, however, Zaytsev managed to persuade Kalashnikov. The new rifle was produced for a second round of firing tests and field trials. There, Kalashnikov assault rifle model 1947 proved to be simple and reliable under a wide range of conditions with convenient handling characteristics. In 1949 it was therefore adopted by the Soviet Army as '7.62mm Kalashnikov assault rifle (AK)'.

Design concept


The AK-47 is best described as a hybrid of previous rifle technology innovations: the trigger, double locking lugs and unlocking raceway of the M1 Garand/M1 carbine
M1 Carbine
The M1 carbine is a lightweight, easy to use semi-automatic carbine that became a standard firearm for the U.S. military during World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, and was produced in several variants. It was widely used by U.S...

, the safety mechanism of the John Browning
John Browning
John Moses Browning , born in Ogden, Utah, was an American firearms designer who developed many varieties of military and civilian firearms, cartridges, and gun mechanisms, many of which are still in use around the world...

 designed Remington Model 8
Remington Model 8
The Remington Model 8 is a centerfire, recoil-operated, semi-automatic rifle designed by John Browning and produced by Remington Arms beginning in 1906.John Browning was granted on October 16, 1900 for the rifle, which he then sold to Remington...

 rifle, and the gas system and layout of the Sturmgewehr 44
Sturmgewehr 44
The StG 44 was an assault rifle developed in Nazi Germany during World War II and was the first of its kind to see major deployment, considered by many historians to be the first modern assault rifle...

. Kalashnikov's team had access to all of these weapons and had no need to "reinvent the wheel", though he denied that his design was based on the German Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle. Kalashnikov himself observed: "A lot of [Soviet Army soldiers] ask me how one can become a constructor, and how new weaponry is designed. These are very difficult questions. Each designer seems to have his own paths, his own successes and failures. But one thing is clear: before attempting to create something new, it is vital to have a good appreciation of everything that already exists in this field. I myself have had many experiences confirming this to be so."

Receiver development



There were many difficulties during the initial phase of production. The first production models had stamped sheet metal receivers
Receiver (firearms)
In firearms terminology, the receiver is the part of a firearm that houses the operating parts. The receiver usually contains the bolt carrier group, trigger group, and magazine port. In most handguns, the receiver, or frame, holds the magazine well or rotary magazine as well as the trigger mechanism...

. Difficulties were encountered in welding the guide and ejector rails, causing high rejection rates. Instead of halting production, a heavy machined receiver was substituted for the sheet metal receiver. This was a more costly process, but the use of machined receivers accelerated production as tooling and labor for the earlier Mosin-Nagant
Mosin-Nagant
The Mosin–Nagant is a bolt-action, internal magazine-fed, military rifle invented under the government commission by Russian and Belgian inventors, and used by the armed forces of the Russian Empire, the Soviet Union and various other nations....

 rifle's machined receiver were easily adapted. Partly because of these problems, the Soviets were not able to distribute large numbers of the new rifle to soldiers until 1956. During this time, production of the interim SKS
SKS
The SKS is a Soviet semi-automatic rifle chambered for the 7.62x39mm round, designed in 1943 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov. SKS-45 is an acronym for Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova, 1945 Simonov system, 1945), or SKS 45. The Sks is a scaled down version of the PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle also...

 rifle continued.

Once manufacturing difficulties had been overcome, a redesigned version designated the AKM
AKM
The AKM is a 7.62mm assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is an upgraded version of the AK-47 rifle and was developed in the 1950s....

 (M for "modernized" or "upgraded"—in Russian: (Автомат Калашникова Модернизированный [Avtomat Kalashnikova Modernizirovanniy]) was introduced in 1959. This new model used a stamped sheet metal receiver and featured a slanted muzzle brake
Muzzle brake
Muzzle brakes and recoil compensators are devices that are fitted to the muzzle of a firearm or cannon to redirect propellant gases with the effect of countering both recoil of the gun and unwanted rising of the barrel during rapid fire...

 on the end of the barrel
Gun barrel
A gun barrel is the tube, usually metal, through which a controlled explosion or rapid expansion of gases are released in order to propel a projectile out of the end at a high velocity....

 to compensate for muzzle
Muzzle (firearm)
The muzzle of a firearm is the end of the barrel from which the projectile will exit.Precise machining of the muzzle is crucial to accuracy, because it is the last point of contact between the barrel and the projectile...

 rise under recoil. In addition, a hammer retarder was added to prevent the weapon from firing out of battery (without the bolt being fully closed), during rapid or automatic fire. This is also sometimes referred to as a "cyclic rate reducer", or simply "rate reducer", as it also has the effect of reducing the number of rounds fired per minute during automatic fire. It was also roughly one-third lighter than the previous model. Both licensed and unlicensed production of the Kalashnikov weapons abroad were almost exclusively of the AKM variant, partially due to the much easier production of the stamped receiver. This model is the most commonly encountered, having been produced in much greater quantities. All rifles based on the Kalashnikov design are frequently referred to as AK-47s in the West, although this is only correct when applied to rifles based on the original three receiver types. In most former Eastern Bloc countries, the weapon is known simply as the "Kalashnikov" or "AK". The photo above at right illustrates the differences between the Type 2 milled receiver and the Type 4 stamped, including the use of rivets rather than welds on the stamped receiver, as well as the placement of a small dimple above the magazine well for stabilization of the magazine.

In 1978, the Soviet Union began replacing their AK-47 and AKM rifles with a newer design, the AK-74
AK-74
The AK-74 is an assault rifle developed in the early 1970s in the Soviet Union as the replacement for the earlier AKM...

. This new rifle and cartridge had only started being exported to eastern European nations when the Soviet Union collapsed, drastically slowing production of this and other weapons of the former Soviet bloc.
Receiver type Description
Type 1A/B Original stamped receiver for AK-47. -1B modified for underfolding stock. A large hole is present on each side to accommodate the hardware for the underfolding stock.
(this naming convention continues with all types)
Type 2A/B Milled from steel forging.
Type 3A/B "Final" version of the milled receiver, from steel bar stock. The most ubiquitous example of the milled-receiver AK-47.
Type 4A/B Stamped AKM receiver. Overall, the most-used design in the construction of the AK-series rifles.

Features




The main advantages of the Kalashnikov rifle are its simple design, fairly compact size and adaptation to mass production
Mass production
Mass production is the production of large amounts of standardized products, including and especially on assembly lines...

. It is inexpensive to manufacture, and easy to clean and maintain. Its ruggedness and reliability are legendary. The AK-47 was initially designed for ease of operation and repair by glove-wearing Soviet soldiers in Arctic conditions. The large gas piston, generous clearances between moving parts, and tapered cartridge case design allow the gun to endure large amounts of foreign matter and fouling without failing to cycle. This reliability comes at the cost of accuracy, as the looser tolerances do not allow for precision and consistency. Reflecting Soviet infantry doctrine of its time, the rifle is meant to be part of massed infantry fire, not long range engagements. The average service life of an AK-47 is 20 to 40 years depending on the conditions to which it has been exposed.

The notched rear tangent iron sight
Iron sight
Iron sights are a system of shaped alignment markers used as a sighting device to assist in the aiming of a device such as a firearm, crossbow, or telescope, and exclude the use of optics as in telescopic sights or reflector sights...

 is adjustable, and is calibrated in hundreds of meters. The front sight is a post adjustable for elevation in the field. Windage
Windage
Windage is a force created on an object by friction when there is relative movement between air and the object.There are two causes of windage:# the object is moving and being slowed by resistance from the air...

 adjustment is done by the armory before issue. The battle setting places the round within +/-33 cm from the point of aim out to 350 m (380 yd). This "point-blank range
Point-blank range
In external ballistics, point-blank range is the distance between a firearm and a target of a given size such that the bullet in flight is expected to strike the target without adjusting the elevation of the firearm. The point-blank range will vary with the firearm and its particular ballistic...

" setting allows the shooter to fire the gun at any close target without adjusting the sights. The field adjustment procedure for AK-47, AKM and AK-74 family requires 4 rounds to be placed in a 15 cm group at a distance of 100 meters. Longer settings are intended for area suppression. These settings mirror the Mosin–Nagant and SKS
SKS
The SKS is a Soviet semi-automatic rifle chambered for the 7.62x39mm round, designed in 1943 by Sergei Gavrilovich Simonov. SKS-45 is an acronym for Samozaryadnyj Karabin sistemy Simonova, 1945 Simonov system, 1945), or SKS 45. The Sks is a scaled down version of the PTRS-41 anti-tank rifle also...

 rifles which the AK-47 replaced. This eased transition and simplified training.

The prototype of the AK-47, the AK-46, had a separate fire selector and safety. These were later combined in the production version to simplify the design. The fire selector acts as a dust cover for the charging handle raceway when placed on safe. This prevents intrusion of dust and other debris into the internal parts. The dust cover on the M16 rifle, in contrast, is not tied to the safety, and has to be manually closed. Soviet army handbooks for AKM and AK-74 do not cover target engagement using the semi-automatic setting, and advise the use of short and long bursts (but still recommend short ones).

The bore
Caliber
In guns including firearms, caliber or calibre is the approximate internal diameter of the barrel in relation to the diameter of the projectile used in it....

 and chamber
Chamber (weaponry)
In firearms, the chamber is that portion of the barrel or firing cylinder in which the cartridge is inserted prior to being fired. Rifles and pistols generally have a single chamber in their barrels, while revolvers have multiple chambers in their cylinders and no chamber in their barrel...

, as well as the gas piston and the interior of the gas cylinder
Pneumatic cylinder
Pneumatic cylinders are mechanical devices which utilize the power of compressed gas to produce a force in a reciprocating linear motion....

, are generally chromium
Chromium
Chromium is a chemical element which has the symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in Group 6. It is a steely-gray, lustrous, hard metal that takes a high polish and has a high melting point. It is also odorless, tasteless, and malleable...

-plated. This plating dramatically increases the life of these parts by resisting corrosion and wear. This is particularly important, as most military-production ammunition (and virtually all ammunition produced by the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations) during the 20th century contained potassium chlorate
Potassium chlorate
Potassium chlorate is a compound containing potassium, chlorine and oxygen atoms, with the molecular formula KClO3. In its pure form, it is a white crystalline substance. It is the most common chlorate in industrial use...

 in the primers
Percussion cap
The percussion cap, introduced around 1830, was the crucial invention that enabled muzzleloading firearms to fire reliably in any weather.Before this development, firearms used flintlock ignition systems which produced flint-on-steel sparks to ignite a pan of priming powder and thereby fire the...

. On firing, this was converted to corrosive and hygroscopic potassium chloride
Potassium chloride
The chemical compound potassium chloride is a metal halide salt composed of potassium and chlorine. In its pure state, it is odorless and has a white or colorless vitreous crystal appearance, with a crystal structure that cleaves easily in three directions. Potassium chloride crystals are...

 which mandated frequent and thorough cleaning in order to prevent damage. Chrome plating
Chrome plating
Chrome plating, often referred to simply as chrome, is a technique of electroplating a thin layer of chromium onto a metal object. The chromed layer can be decorative, provide corrosion resistance, ease cleaning procedures, or increase surface hardness.-Process:A component to be chrome plated will...

 of critical parts is now common on many modern military weapons.

The construction of the AK magazine is very robust with reinforced feed lips that contribute to the reliable functioning for which the design is noted. Most Yugoslavian and some East German AK magazines were made with cartridge followers that hold the bolt open when empty; however, most AK magazine followers allow the bolt to close when the magazine is empty.

Operating cycle



To fire, the operator inserts a loaded magazine
Magazine (firearm)
A magazine is an ammunition storage and feeding device within or attached to a repeating firearm. Magazines may be integral to the firearm or removable . The magazine functions by moving the cartridges stored in the magazine into a position where they may be loaded into the chamber by the action...

, pulls back and releases the charging handle
Cocking handle
The cocking handle is a device on a firearm which, when operated, results in the hammer or striker being cocked or moved to the ready position...

, aims, and then pulls the trigger. In this setting, the firearm fires only once (semi-automatic), requiring the trigger to be released and depressed again for the next shot. With the selector in the middle position (full-automatic), the rifle continues to fire, automatically cycling fresh rounds into the chamber, until the magazine is exhausted or pressure is released from the trigger. As each bullet travels through the barrel, a portion of the gases expanding behind it is diverted into the gas tube above the barrel, where it impacts the gas piston. The piston, in turn, is driven backward, pushing the bolt
Bolt (firearm)
A bolt is a mechanical part of a firearm that blocks the rear of the chamber while the propellant burns.In manually-operated firearms, such as bolt-action, lever-action, and pump-action rifles and shotguns, the bolt is held fixed by its locking lugs during firing, forcing all the expanding gas...

 carrier, which causes the bolt to move backwards, ejecting the spent round, and chambering a new round when the recoil spring pushes it back.

Disassembly


Dismantling the rifle involves the operator depressing the magazine catch and removing the magazine. The charging handle is pulled to the rear and the operator inspects the chamber to verify the weapon is unloaded. The operator presses forward on the retainer button at the rear of the receiver cover while simultaneously lifting up on the rear of the cover to remove it. The operator then pushes the spring assembly forward and lifts it from its raceway, withdrawing it out of the bolt carrier and to the rear. The operator must then pull the carrier assembly all the way to the rear, lift it, and then pull it away. The operator removes the bolt by pushing it to the rear of the bolt carrier; rotating the bolt so the camming lug clears the raceway on the underside of the bolt carrier and then pulls it forward and free. When cleaning, the operator will pay special attention to the barrel, bolt face, and gas piston, then oil lightly and reassemble.

Ballistics



The standard AK-47 or AKM fires the 7.62x39mm cartridge with a muzzle velocity is 715 m/s . Projectile weight is normally 8 g (123 grain). The AK-47 and AKM, with the 7.62×39mm cartridge, have a maximum effective range of around 400 metres (1,312.3 ft).

Variants


Kalashnikov variants include:
  • AK-47 1948–51, 7.62x39mm – The very earliest models, with the Type 1 stamped sheet metal receiver, are now very rare.
  • AK-47 1952, 7.62x39mm – Has a milled receiver and wooden buttstock
    Stock (firearm)
    A stock, also known as a buttstock or shoulder stock, is a part of a rifle or other firearm, to which the barrel and firing mechanism are attached, that is held against one's shoulder when firing the gun. Stocks are also found on crossbows though a crossbow stock is more properly referred to as a...

     and handguard. Barrel and chamber are chrome plated to resist corrosion. Rifle weight is 4.2 kg (9.3 lb).
  • AKS—Featured a downward-folding metal stock similar to that of the German MP40
    MP40
    The MP 38 and MP 40 , often called Schmeisser, were submachine guns developed in Nazi Germany and used extensively by paratroopers, tank crews, platoon and squad leaders, and other troops during World War II.-Development:The MP 40 descended from its predecessor, the MP 38, which was in turn based...

    , for use in the restricted space in the BMP
    BMP-1
    The BMP-1 is a Soviet amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicle. BMP stands for Boyevaya Mashina Pekhoty 1 , meaning "infantry fighting vehicle". The BMP-1 was the world's first mass-produced infantry fighting vehicle...

     infantry combat vehicle, as well as by paratroops.
  • RPK
    RPK
    The RPK is a 7.62x39mm light machine gun of Soviet design, developed by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the late 1950s, parallel with the AKM assault/battle rifle...

    , 7.62x39mm – Hand-held machine gun version with longer barrel and bipod
    Bipod
    A bipod is a support device that is similar to a tripod or monopod, but with two legs. It provides significant stability along two axes of motion .-Firearms:...

    .
  • AKM
    AKM
    The AKM is a 7.62mm assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is an upgraded version of the AK-47 rifle and was developed in the 1950s....

    , 7.62x39mm – A simplified, lighter version of the AK-47; Type 4 receiver is made from stamped and riveted sheet metal (see schematic above). A slanted muzzle device was added to counter climb in automatic fire. Rifle weight is 3.1 kg (6.8 lb) due to the lighter receiver. This is the most ubiquitous variant of the AK-47.
  • AKMS, 7.62x39mm – Folding-stock version of the AKM intended for airborne
    Airborne forces
    Airborne forces are military units, usually light infantry, set up to be moved by aircraft and 'dropped' into battle. Thus they can be placed behind enemy lines, and have an ability to deploy almost anywhere with little warning...

     troops. Stock may be either side- or under-folding
  • AK-74
    AK-74
    The AK-74 is an assault rifle developed in the early 1970s in the Soviet Union as the replacement for the earlier AKM...

     series, 5.45x39mm
    5.45x39mm
    The Soviet 5.45×39mm cartridge is a rimless bottlenecked rifle cartridge. It was introduced into service in 1974 for use with the new AK-74 assault rifle. It gradually supplemented then largely replaced the 7.62x39mm round in service....

  • AK-101
    AK-101
    The AK-101 is an assault rifle of the Kalashnikov series. The AK-101 is designed for the world export market, using 5.56×45mm NATO cartridges, which is the standard of all NATO armies. The AK-101 is marketed at those looking for a weapon that combines the logistical compatibility and familiarity of...

    /AK-102 series
  • AK-103
    AK-103
    The AK-103 is a modern, Russian-designed version of the famous AKM assault rifle, chambered for the 7.62×39mm M43 round. It combines the AKM design with developments from the AK-74 and AK-74M, with the use of plastics to replace metal or wooden components wherever possible to reduce overall weight...

    /AK-104
    AK-104
    The AK-104 is a shortened carbine version of the AK-103 rifle. The AK-102, AK-105, and AK-104 are very similar in design, the only difference being the caliber and corresponding magazine type...

     series
  • AK-107/AK-108
    AK-107
    The AK-107 is a Russian 5.45 mm assault rifle developed from the AK-100-series. It features a "balanced" operating system, similar to that used in the AEK-971. In this case, the designation AK does not indicate Avtomat Kalashnikova but Alexandrov/Kalashnikov...

     series
  • AK-200 series
  • Saiga semi-automatic rifle
    Saiga semi-automatic rifle
    The Saiga Semi-Automatic Rifles are a family of Russian semi-automatic rifles manufactured by Izhmash, who also manufacture the original AK-series assault rifles and SVD sniper rifles...

     – AK variant for hunting and civilian use. Built on AK receiver with hunting style stock and hand guard in 223/5.56, 7.62x39, 5.45x39, 308WIN
  • Saiga semi-automatic shotgun
    Saiga-12
    The Saiga-12 is a Kalashnikov-pattern 12 gauge combat shotgun available in a wide range of configurations. Like the Kalashnikov rifle variants, it is a rotating bolt, gas-operated gun that feeds from a box magazine...

     – AK variant for hunting and civilian use. Built on AK receiver with hunting style stock and hand guard in 12-Gauge, 20-Gauge, and .410-Bore.
  • KSK shotgun – A new version of AK variant military using shotgun


Usually the AKn was introduced in year 1900+n.

Production outside of the Soviet Union/Russia


Military variants only. Includes new designs substantially derived from the Kalashnikov.
Country Variant(s)
Albania
Albania
Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

Automatiku Shqiptar model 56 (ASH-78 Tip-1) Albanian Automatic Assault Rifle Model 56 Type-1 [Made in Poliçan Arsenal] (Straight forward copy of Type 56
Type 56 Assault Rifle
The Type 56 assault rifle is a Chinese copy of the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, which has been manufactured since 1956. It was produced by State Factory 66 from 1956-73, then by Norinco from 1973 onwards.-Service history:...

, which in turn is a clone of the Soviet AKM
AKM
The AKM is a 7.62mm assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is an upgraded version of the AK-47 rifle and was developed in the 1950s....

 rifle)
Automatiku Shqiptar Tipi 1982 (ASH-82) Albanian Automatic Assault Rifle Type 1982 [Made in Poliçan Arsenal] (Straight forward copy of AKMS)
Automatiku Shqiptar model 56 (ASH-78 Tip-2) Albanian Light Machine Gun [Made in Poliçan Arsenal] (Straight forward copy of RPK
RPK
The RPK is a 7.62x39mm light machine gun of Soviet design, developed by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the late 1950s, parallel with the AKM assault/battle rifle...

)
Automatiku Shqiptar model 56 (ASH-78 Tip-3) Albanian Automatic Hybrid Rifle Model 56 Type-3 [Made in Poliçan Arsenal] (Hybrid rifle for multi-purpose roles mainly Marksman rifle with secondary assault rifle and grenade launcher capability)
Other unknown variants.
Several other unnamed & unidentified versions of the AKMS have been produce mainly with short barrels similar to the Soviet AKs-74u
AK-74
The AK-74 is an assault rifle developed in the early 1970s in the Soviet Union as the replacement for the earlier AKM...

 mainly for special forces, Tank & Armoured crew also for Helicopter pilots and police.
There have also been modifications and fresh production of heavily modified ASh-82 (AKMS) with SOPMOD
SOPMOD
The Special Operations Peculiar MODification kit is an accessory system for the M4A1 carbine and FN SCAR Mk 16/17 used by USSOCOM...

 accessories, mainly for Albania's special forces RENEA
RENEA
The Reparti i Neutralizimit të Elementit të Armatosur , commonly known by its acronym RENEA, is the main Albanian counter-terrorist and critical incident response unit. The force was constituted the early 1990s in response to the growing crime levels in the country after the fall of communism...

 & exports.
Bangladesh
Bangladesh
Bangladesh , officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh is a sovereign state located in South Asia. It is bordered by India on all sides except for a small border with Burma to the far southeast and by the Bay of Bengal to the south...

Chinese Type 56
Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

AKK (Type 3 AK-47), AKKS (Type 3 with side-folding buttstock)
AKKMS (AKMS) AKKN-47 (fittings for NPSU night sights)
AK-47M1 (Type 3 with black polymer furniture)
AK-47MA1/AR-M1 (same as -M1, but in 5.56 mm NATO)
AKS-47M1 (AKMS in 5.56x45mm NATO
5.56x45mm NATO
5.56×45mm NATO is a rifle cartridge developed in the United States and originally chambered in the M16 rifle. Under STANAG 4172, it is a standard cartridge for NATO forces as well as many non-NATO countries. It is derived from, but not identical to, the .223 Remington cartridge...

), AKS-47MA1 (same as AKS-47M1, but semi-automatic only)
AKS-47S (AK-47M1, short version, with East German folding stock, laser aiming device)
AKS-47UF (short version of -M1, Russian folding stock), AR-SF (same as −47UF, but 5.56 mm NATO)
AKS-93SM6 (similar to −47M1, cannot use grenade launcher)
RKKS
RPK
The RPK is a 7.62x39mm light machine gun of Soviet design, developed by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the late 1950s, parallel with the AKM assault/battle rifle...

, AKT-47 (.22 rimfire training rifle)
Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

Chinese Type 56, Soviet AK-47, and AKM
AKM
The AKM is a 7.62mm assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is an upgraded version of the AK-47 rifle and was developed in the 1950s....

People's Republic of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

Type 56
Type 56 Assault Rifle
The Type 56 assault rifle is a Chinese copy of the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, which has been manufactured since 1956. It was produced by State Factory 66 from 1956-73, then by Norinco from 1973 onwards.-Service history:...

German Democratic Republic MPi-K (AK-47), MPi-KS (AKS), MPi-KM (AKM), MPi-KMS-72 (AKMS), KK-MPi Mod.69 (.22-Lr select-fire trainer);
Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

AK-47, Misr assault rifle (AKM), Maadi.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

AK-47, AK-103
AK-103
The AK-103 is a modern, Russian-designed version of the famous AKM assault rifle, chambered for the 7.62×39mm M43 round. It combines the AKM design with developments from the AK-74 and AK-74M, with the use of plastics to replace metal or wooden components wherever possible to reduce overall weight...

 (manufactured locally at the State-run Gafat Armament Engineering Complex as the Et-97/1)
Hungary
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

AK-63
AK-63
The AK-63 is a Hungarian variant of the AKM assault rifle manufactured by the Fegyver- és Gépgyár state arms plant in Hungary...

D/E (AMM/AMMSz), AKM-63, AMD-65, AMD-65M, AMP, NGM 5.56
Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

Tabuk Sniper Rifle
Tabuk Sniper Rifle
The Tabuk Sniper Rifle is an Iraqi modification of a Russian designated marksman's rifle, made from as a modified version of the AK-47 assault rifle...

, Tabuk Assault Rifle (with fixed or underfolding stock, outright clones of Yugoslavian M70 rifles series), Tabuk Short Assault Rifle
India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

Assault Rifle 7.62 mm, manufactured by Ordnance Factories Organisation
Ordnance Factories Organisation
The Indian Ordnance Factories Board is an industrial setup functioning under the Ministry of Defence, Government of India. It is engaged in production of arms, ammunition, and equipment for civilian as well as military applications...

 
Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

KLS (AK-47), KLF (AKS), KLT (AKMS)
Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

IMI Galil
IMI Galil
The Galil is a family of Israeli small arms designed by Yisrael Galil and Yaacov Lior in the late 1960s and produced by Israel Military Industries Ltd of Ramat HaSharon...

Finland
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

RK 62
Rk 62
The Rk 62 is an assault rifle manufactured by Valmet and Sako. It is the standard issue infantry weapon of the Finnish Defence Forces....

, RK 95 TP
Rk 95 TP
The Rk 95 Tp is a 7.62 mm Finnish assault rifle adopted by the Finnish Defence Forces in the 1990s in relatively small numbers.-History:...

Macedonia
Republic of Macedonia
Macedonia , officially the Republic of Macedonia , is a country located in the central Balkan peninsula in Southeast Europe. It is one of the successor states of the former Yugoslavia, from which it declared independence in 1991...

M60
Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

OBJ-006
North Korea
North Korea
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea , , is a country in East Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and South Korea...

Type 58A (Type 3 AK-47), Type 58B (stamped steel folding stock), Type 68A (AKM-47) Type 68B (AKMS), Type 88 (AKS-74)
Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

Reverse engineered
Reverse engineering
Reverse engineering is the process of discovering the technological principles of a device, object, or system through analysis of its structure, function, and operation...

 by hand and machine in Pakistan's highland
Khyber Pass Copy
A Khyber Pass Copy is a firearm manufactured by cottage gunsmiths in the Khyber Pass region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The reason they are called that is because the Adam Khel Afridi, who live around the Khyber pass, were historically the most active arms manufacturers on the Frontier.The...

 areas near the border of Afghanistan; more recently the Pakistan Ordnance Factories
Pakistan Ordnance Factories
Pakistan Ordnance Factories was founded in 1951 with the primary objective of producing arms and ammunition for the armed forces of Pakistan...

 started the manufacture of an AK47/AKM
AKM
The AKM is a 7.62mm assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is an upgraded version of the AK-47 rifle and was developed in the 1950s....

 clone called PK-10
Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

pmK/kbk AK (name has changed from pmK – "pistolet maszynowy Kałasznikowa", Kalashnikov SMG to the kbk AK – "karabinek AK", Kalashnikov Carbine in mid 1960s) (AK-47), kbkg wz. 1960, kbk AKM (AKM), kbk AKMS (AKMS), kbk wz. 1988 Tantal based on the 7.62 mm kbk AKMS wz. 81, kbs wz. 1996 Beryl
Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

PM md. 63 (AKM), PM md. 65 (AKMS), PM md. 90 (AKMS), collectively exported under the umbrella name AIM or AIMS
PA md. 86 (AK-74), exported as the AIMS-74
PM md. 90 short barrel (AK-104), PA md. 86 short barrel (AK-105) exported as the AIMR
Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

M92
Zastava M92
The Zastava M92 is a 7.62mm carbine developed and manufactured by Zastava Arms. The M92 was developed from the Zastava M85 carbine, a nearly identical weapon only chambered in the 5.56mm caliber.-Overview:...

, M21
Zastava M21
The Zastava M21 is a 5.56mm assault rifle developed and manufactured by the Zastava Arms company.-Overview:The M21 is based on the AK-47 Kalashnikov principle, chambered in the 5.56×45mm cartridge...

, M70
Zastava M70
The Zastava M70 is a 7.62mm assault rifle developed in Yugoslavia by Zastava Arms. The M70 was designed on the basis of the AKM and became the standard issue assault rifle in the Yugoslav People's Army in 1970. The M70 is air-cooled, magazine-fed, selective fire rifle...

South Africa
South Africa
The Republic of South Africa is a country in southern Africa. Located at the southern tip of Africa, it is divided into nine provinces, with of coastline on the Atlantic and Indian oceans...

R4 assault rifle
R4 assault rifle
The R4 is a 5.56mm assault rifle that was introduced into service with the South African Defence Force in 1982, replacing the earlier 7.62mm FN FAL rifle, that was manufactured in South Africa under a license agreement from Fabrique Nationale as the R1...

Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

MAZ, based on the Type 56
Type 56 Assault Rifle
The Type 56 assault rifle is a Chinese copy of the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, which has been manufactured since 1956. It was produced by State Factory 66 from 1956-73, then by Norinco from 1973 onwards.-Service history:...

Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

Chinese Type 56, Soviet AK-47, and AKM
AKM
The AKM is a 7.62mm assault rifle designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It is an upgraded version of the AK-47 rifle and was developed in the 1950s....

Venezuela
Venezuela
Venezuela , officially called the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela , is a tropical country on the northern coast of South America. It borders Colombia to the west, Guyana to the east, and Brazil to the south...

License granted, factory under construction
Yugoslavia M60, M64 (AK-47 with longer barrel), M64A (grenade launcher), M64B (M64 w/ folding stock), M66, M70
Zastava M70
The Zastava M70 is a 7.62mm assault rifle developed in Yugoslavia by Zastava Arms. The M70 was designed on the basis of the AKM and became the standard issue assault rifle in the Yugoslav People's Army in 1970. The M70 is air-cooled, magazine-fed, selective fire rifle...

, M70A, M70B1, M70AB2, M76, M77
Zastava M77
The Zastava M77 is a 7.62mm light machine gun developed and manufactured by Zastava Arms. The M77 is designed on the basis of the AK-47 rifles from the USSR.-Overview:The Zastava M77 rifle chambers and fires the 7.62x51mm NATO round...

,


Certainly more have been produced elsewhere; but the above list represents known producers and is limited to only military variants. An updated AKM design
AK-103
The AK-103 is a modern, Russian-designed version of the famous AKM assault rifle, chambered for the 7.62×39mm M43 round. It combines the AKM design with developments from the AK-74 and AK-74M, with the use of plastics to replace metal or wooden components wherever possible to reduce overall weight...

 is still produced in Russia.

Derivatives


The basic design of the AK-47 has been used as the basis for other successful rifle designs such as the Finnish
Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 Rk 62/76
Rk 62
The Rk 62 is an assault rifle manufactured by Valmet and Sako. It is the standard issue infantry weapon of the Finnish Defence Forces....

 and Rk 95 Tp
Rk 95 TP
The Rk 95 Tp is a 7.62 mm Finnish assault rifle adopted by the Finnish Defence Forces in the 1990s in relatively small numbers.-History:...

, the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i Galil
IMI Galil
The Galil is a family of Israeli small arms designed by Yisrael Galil and Yaacov Lior in the late 1960s and produced by Israel Military Industries Ltd of Ramat HaSharon...

, the Indian INSAS and the Yugoslav Zastava M76 and M77/82 rifles. Several bullpup
Bullpup
Bullpups are firearm configurations in which the action is located behind the trigger group and alongside the shooter's face, so there is no wasted space for the buttstock as in conventional designs. This permits a shorter firearm length for the same barrel length for improved maneuverability, and...

 designs have surfaced such as the Chinese Norinco Type 86S
Norinco Type 86S
The Norinco Type 86S is an AKM-type bullpup rifle and that was produced by Norinco. It operates the same way as other AKM-type rifles with a few exceptions. Many major parts are interchangeable with other standard Kalashnikov rifles.-Design:...

, although none have been produced in quantity. Bullpup conversions are also available commercially.

Licensing


OJSC IzhMash has repeatedly claimed that the majority of manufacturers produce AK-47s without a proper license
License
The verb license or grant licence means to give permission. The noun license or licence refers to that permission as well as to the document recording that permission.A license may be granted by a party to another party as an element of an agreement...

 from IZH
Izh
Izh may refer to one of the following.*Izh River , Udmurt Republic, Russia*Izh motorcycles from IzhMoto*izh, ISO 639-3 code for the Ingrian language...

. The Izhevsk
Izhevsk
Izhevsk is the capital city of the Udmurt Republic, Russia, situated on the Izh River in the Western Urals. Population: From 1984 to 1987 Izhevsk carried the name Ustinov |Minister of Defense of the USSR]], Marshal of the Soviet Union, Dmitry Ustinov). The city is an important industrial center,...

 Machine Tool Factory acquired a patent in 1999, making manufacture of the newest Kalashnikov rifles, such as AK-100s by anyone other than themselves illegal. However, older variants, such as AK and AKM are public domain due to age of design.

Illicit trade



Throughout the world, the AK and its variants are among the most commonly smuggled small arms sold to governments, rebels, criminals, and civilians alike, with little international oversight. In some countries, prices for AKs are very low; in Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

, Rwanda
Rwanda
Rwanda or , officially the Republic of Rwanda , is a country in central and eastern Africa with a population of approximately 11.4 million . Rwanda is located a few degrees south of the Equator, and is bordered by Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo...

, Mozambique
Mozambique
Mozambique, officially the Republic of Mozambique , is a country in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi and Zambia to the northwest, Zimbabwe to the west and Swaziland and South Africa to the southwest...

, Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

 and Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...

, prices are between $30 and $125 per weapon, and prices have fallen in the last few decades due to mass counterfeiting. Moisés Naím
Moisés Naím
-External links:****...

 observed that in a small town in Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

 in 1986, an AK-47 cost fifteen cows but that in 2005, the price was down to four cows indicating that supply was "immense". The weapon has appeared in a number of conflicts including clashes in the Balkans
Balkans
The Balkans is a geopolitical and cultural region of southeastern Europe...

, Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, and Somalia.

After the Soviet retreat from Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

, the Soviet Army left quantities of weapons including AKs which were subsequently used in the civil war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance
United Islamic Front for the Salvation of Afghanistan
The United Islamic Front , known in the West and Pakistan as the Northern Alliance, was a military-political umbrella organization created by the Islamic State of Afghanistan in 1996 under the leadership of Defense Minister Ahmad Shah Massoud...

 and were also exported to Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

. The gun is now also made in Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

's semi-autonomous areas (see more at Khyber Pass Copy
Khyber Pass Copy
A Khyber Pass Copy is a firearm manufactured by cottage gunsmiths in the Khyber Pass region between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The reason they are called that is because the Adam Khel Afridi, who live around the Khyber pass, were historically the most active arms manufacturers on the Frontier.The...

). It is widely used by tribes in Africa like the Hamer, amongst others.

The World Bank estimates that out of the 500 million total firearms available worldwide, 100 million are of the Kalashnikov family, and 75 million of which are AK-47s. Mikhail Kalashnikov addressed the United Nations in 2006 at a conference aimed at solving the problem of illicit weapons, saying that he appreciated the AK-47's role in state-sponsored defense but that counterfeit weapons carrying his name in the hands of "terrorists and thugs" caused him regret.

Cultural influence


The Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China, as well as Western countries (especially the United States) supplied arms and technical knowledge to numerous countries and rebel forces in a global struggle between the Warsaw Pact
Warsaw Pact
The Warsaw Treaty Organization of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance , or more commonly referred to as the Warsaw Pact, was a mutual defense treaty subscribed to by eight communist states in Eastern Europe...

 nations and their allies against NATO and their allies called the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

. While the NATO countries used rifles such as the relatively expensive M14
M14 rifle
The M14 rifle, formally the United States Rifle, 7.62 mm, M14, is an American selective fire automatic rifle firing 7.62x51mm NATO  ammunition. It was the standard issue U.S. rifle from 1959 to 1970. The M14 was used for U.S...

, FN FAL
FN FAL
The Fusil Automatique Léger or FAL is a self-loading, selective fire battle rifle produced by the Belgian armaments manufacturer Fabrique Nationale de Herstal . During the Cold War it was adopted by many North Atlantic Treaty Organization countries, with the notable exception of the United States...

, and H&K G3
Heckler & Koch G3
The G3 is a 7.62mm battle rifle developed in the 1950s by the German armament manufacturer Heckler & Koch GmbH in collaboration with the Spanish state-owned design and development agency CETME ....

 battle rifles and M16
M16 rifle
The M16 is the United States military designation for the AR-15 rifle adapted for both semi-automatic and full-automatic fire. Colt purchased the rights to the AR-15 from ArmaLite, and currently uses that designation only for semi-automatic versions of the rifle. The M16 fires the 5.56×45mm NATO...

 assault rifle during this time, the low production and materials costs of the AK-47 meant that the Soviet Union could produce and supply its allies at a very low cost. Because of its low cost, it was also duplicated or used as the basis for many other rifles, such as the Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

i Galil
IMI Galil
The Galil is a family of Israeli small arms designed by Yisrael Galil and Yaacov Lior in the late 1960s and produced by Israel Military Industries Ltd of Ramat HaSharon...

, Chinese Type 56
Type 56 Assault Rifle
The Type 56 assault rifle is a Chinese copy of the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, which has been manufactured since 1956. It was produced by State Factory 66 from 1956-73, then by Norinco from 1973 onwards.-Service history:...

, and Swiss
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 SIG SG 550
SIG SG 550
The SG 550 is an assault rifle manufactured by Swiss Arms AG of Neuhausen, Switzerland...

. As a result, the Cold War saw the mass export of AK-47s by the Soviet Union and the PRC to their allies, such as the Nicaragua
Nicaragua
Nicaragua is the largest country in the Central American American isthmus, bordered by Honduras to the north and Costa Rica to the south. The country is situated between 11 and 14 degrees north of the Equator in the Northern Hemisphere, which places it entirely within the tropics. The Pacific Ocean...

n Sandinistas, Viet Cong as well as Middle Eastern, Asian, and African revolutionaries. The United States also purchased the Type 56 from the PRC to give to the mujahideen
Mujahideen
Mujahideen are Muslims who struggle in the path of God. The word is from the same Arabic triliteral as jihad .Mujahideen is also transliterated from Arabic as mujahedin, mujahedeen, mudžahedin, mudžahidin, mujahidīn, mujaheddīn and more.-Origin of the concept:The beginnings of Jihad are traced...

 guerrillas during the Soviet war in Afghanistan
Soviet war in Afghanistan
The Soviet war in Afghanistan was a nine-year conflict involving the Soviet Union, supporting the Marxist-Leninist government of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan against the Afghan Mujahideen and foreign "Arab–Afghan" volunteers...

.

The proliferation of this weapon is reflected by more than just numbers. The AK-47 is included in the flag of Mozambique
Flag of Mozambique
The flag of Mozambique was adopted on May 1, 1983. It includes the image of an AK-47 with a bayonet attached to the barrel and is the only national flag in the world to feature such a modern rifle....

 and its coat of arms
Coat of arms of Mozambique
The national emblem of Mozambique, which was adopted in 1990 in the Constitution of Mozambique article 194. The Article clearly states the design and meaning of the device. It shows a gear wheel, bordered by corn stalks and sugarcane. In the middle there is a red sun over a map of Mozambique in...

, an acknowledgment that the country's leaders gained power in large part through the effective use of their AK-47s. It is also found in the coat of arms of Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is a landlocked country located in the southern part of the African continent, between the Zambezi and Limpopo rivers. It is bordered by South Africa to the south, Botswana to the southwest, Zambia and a tip of Namibia to the northwest and Mozambique to the east. Zimbabwe has three...

 and East Timor
East Timor
The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, commonly known as East Timor , is a state in Southeast Asia. It comprises the eastern half of the island of Timor, the nearby islands of Atauro and Jaco, and Oecusse, an exclave on the northwestern side of the island, within Indonesian West Timor...

, the revolution era coat of arms of Burkina Faso
Coat of arms of Burkina Faso
The coat of arms of Burkina Faso contains a shield based on the national flag. Above the shield the name of the country is shown, while below it is the national motto, Unité, Progrès, Justice . The supporters are two white stallions...

, the flag of Hezbollah
Flag of Hezbollah
The flag of Hezbollah, while sometimes found in different colours, is usually composed of the green logo of the Shi'a political/military organization Hezbollah, upon a yellow background with text above and below the logo in red ....

, and the logo of the Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

ian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution , often called Revolutionary Guards, is a branch of Iran's military, founded after the Iranian revolution...

.
In parts of the Western world, the AK-47 is associated with their enemies; both Cold War era and present-day. During the 1980s, the Soviet Union became the principal arms dealer to countries embargoed by Western nations, including Middle Eastern nations such as Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, Libya
Libya
Libya is an African country in the Maghreb region of North Africa bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the north, Egypt to the east, Sudan to the southeast, Chad and Niger to the south, and Algeria and Tunisia to the west....

 and Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

, who welcomed Soviet Union backing against Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. After the fall of the Soviet Union, AK-47s were sold both openly and on the black market to any group with cash, including drug cartels and dictatorial states, and more recently they have been seen in the hands of violent Islamic terrorist groups such as the Taliban and Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda
Al-Qaeda is a global broad-based militant Islamist terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden sometime between August 1988 and late 1989. It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army and a radical Sunni Muslim movement calling for global Jihad...

 in Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 and Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, and FARC, Ejército de Liberación Nacional guerrillas in Colombia. Western movies often portray criminals, gang members and terrorists using AK-47s. For these reasons, in the U.S. and Western Europe the AK-47 is stereotypically regarded as the weapon of choice of insurgents, gangsters and terrorists. Conversely, throughout the developing world, the AK-47 can be positively attributed with revolutionaries or "freedom fighters" against foreign occupation, imperialism
Imperialism
Imperialism, as defined by Dictionary of Human Geography, is "the creation and/or maintenance of an unequal economic, cultural, and territorial relationships, usually between states and often in the form of an empire, based on domination and subordination." The imperialism of the last 500 years,...

, or colonialism
Colonialism
Colonialism is the establishment, maintenance, acquisition and expansion of colonies in one territory by people from another territory. It is a process whereby the metropole claims sovereignty over the colony and the social structure, government, and economics of the colony are changed by...

.

In Mexico
Mexico
The United Mexican States , commonly known as Mexico , is a federal constitutional republic in North America. It is bordered on the north by the United States; on the south and west by the Pacific Ocean; on the southeast by Guatemala, Belize, and the Caribbean Sea; and on the east by the Gulf of...

, the AK-47 is known as "Cuerno de Chivo" (literally "Ram's Horn") and is one of the weapons of choice of Mexican drug cartels. It is sometimes mentioned in Mexican folk music lyrics.

In 2006, Colombia
Colombia
Colombia, officially the Republic of Colombia , is a unitary constitutional republic comprising thirty-two departments. The country is located in northwestern South America, bordered to the east by Venezuela and Brazil; to the south by Ecuador and Peru; to the north by the Caribbean Sea; to the...

n musician and peace activist César López
Cesar Lopez
César López is a Colombian musician. For the past several years, López has been part of a group, the Battalion of Immediate Artistic Reaction, which consists of various other musicians and activists seeking alternatives to the ever-present violence that plagues Colombia and its capital of Bogotá...

 devised the escopetarra
Escopetarra
An escopetarra is a guitar made from a modified gun, used as a peace symbol. The name is derived from the Spanish words escopeta and guitarra...

, an AK converted into a guitar. One sold for US$17,000 in a fundraiser held to benefit the victims of anti-personnel mines, while another was exhibited at the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

' Conference on Disarmament
Conference on Disarmament
Conference on Disarmament is a forum established by the international community to negotiate multilateral arms control and disarmament agreements...

.

Kalashnikov Museum


The Kalashnikov Museum (also called the AK-47 museum) opened on November 4, 2004, in Izhevsk
Izhevsk
Izhevsk is the capital city of the Udmurt Republic, Russia, situated on the Izh River in the Western Urals. Population: From 1984 to 1987 Izhevsk carried the name Ustinov |Minister of Defense of the USSR]], Marshal of the Soviet Union, Dmitry Ustinov). The city is an important industrial center,...

, a city in the Ural Mountains
Ural Mountains
The Ural Mountains , or simply the Urals, are a mountain range that runs approximately from north to south through western Russia, from the coast of the Arctic Ocean to the Ural River and northwestern Kazakhstan. Their eastern side is usually considered the natural boundary between Europe and Asia...

 of Russia. The museum chronicles the biography of General Kalashnikov
Mikhail Kalashnikov
Lieutenant General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov is a Russian small arms designer, most famous for designing the AK-47 assault rifle, the AKM and the AK-74.-Early life:...

, as well as documents the invention of the AK-47. The museum complex of small arms of M. T. Kalashnikov, a series of halls and multimedia exhibitions is devoted to the evolution of the AK-47 assault rifle and attracts 10,000 monthly visitors. The museum serves as Russia's monument to this world-renowned infantry weapon.

Nadezhda Vechtomova, the museum director stated in an interview that the purpose of the museum is to honor the ingenuity of the inventor and the hard work of the employees and to "separate the weapon as a weapon of murder from the people who are producing it and to tell its history in our country."

Users


Bulgarian modification manufactured by Arsenal J.S.Co as the AR-M1 in 7.62x39mm, 5.45x39mm, & 5.56x45mm: AK-47 variant.: Used by the Georgian Armed Forces for over 15 years. Replaced by the M4 carbine
M4 carbine
The M4 carbine is a family of firearms tracing its lineage back to earlier carbine versions of the M16, all based on the original AR-15 designed by Eugene Stoner and made by ArmaLite. It is a shorter and lighter variant of the M16A2 assault rifle, with 80% parts commonality.It is a gas-operated,...

 in 2008.: EKAM
Special Anti-Terrorist Unit
The Special Suppressive Anti-Terrorist Unit is the Greek counter-terrorism unit of the Hellenic Police. It is the most distinguished part of the Hellenic Police...

 counter-terrorist unit of the Hellenic Police.: In use by Force One
Force One
The Force One is an elite commando force, which is a specialised counter terrorism unit to guard the Mumbai metropolitan area, one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, formed by Government of Maharashtra on the lines of National Security Guards...

. Captured from Arab armies over the course of the Arab-Israeli Conflict./  Anti-Gaddafi forces
Anti-Gaddafi forces
The anti-Gaddafi forces were Libyan groups that opposed and militarily defeated the government of Muammar Gaddafi, killing him in the process. These opposition forces included organised and armed militia groups, participants in the 2011 Libyan civil war, Libyan diplomats who switched their...

: Type 56 variant.: Type 56 and Type 58 variants were used.: Type 56 variant is used by the Special Service Group of the Pakistan Army
Pakistan Army
The Pakistan Army is the branch of the Pakistani Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. The Pakistan Army came into existence after the Partition of India and the resulting independence of Pakistan in 1947. It is currently headed by General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani. The Pakistan...

.: Type 56 variant was used.: Used by the Santiago City PNP.: Adopted by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in 1951.: Type 56 variant.: Type 56 variant
Type 56 Assault Rifle
The Type 56 assault rifle is a Chinese copy of the Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle, which has been manufactured since 1956. It was produced by State Factory 66 from 1956-73, then by Norinco from 1973 onwards.-Service history:...

 was used extensively by the Viet Cong.

See also


External links



Audio

  • AK-47: The Weapon Changed the Face of War – audio report by NPR
    NPR
    NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting...

  • The AK-47: The Gun That Changed The Battlefield – audio report by NPR
    NPR
    NPR, formerly National Public Radio, is a privately and publicly funded non-profit membership media organization that serves as a national syndicator to a network of 900 public radio stations in the United States. NPR was created in 1970, following congressional passage of the Public Broadcasting...


Video

  • History of the AK-47
  • TOP 10 Combat Rifles: AK-47 by the Discovery Channel
    Discovery Channel
    Discovery Channel is an American satellite and cable specialty channel , founded by John Hendricks and distributed by Discovery Communications. It is a publicly traded company run by CEO David Zaslav...

  • AK-47 Documentary: Part 1 & Part 2 by Al Jazeera English
  • AK-47 Full Auto, U.S. Army in Iraq from the Internet Archive
    Internet Archive
    The Internet Archive is a non-profit digital library with the stated mission of "universal access to all knowledge". It offers permanent storage and access to collections of digitized materials, including websites, music, moving images, and nearly 3 million public domain books. The Internet Archive...

  • Tales of the Gun: AK-47 Part 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 by The History Channel
    The History Channel
    History, formerly known as The History Channel, is an American-based international satellite and cable TV channel that broadcasts a variety of reality shows and documentary programs including those of fictional and non-fictional historical content, together with speculation about the future.-...