The AK-47, arguably the most iconic assault rifle, with it’s distinctive curve of the Kalashnikov magazine, made its first appearance as far back as World War II. In fact, the 47 in it’s name indicates the year of it’s invention. The A stands for the Russian avtomat or automatic, and the K represents the last name of the inventor; Lieutenant General Mikhail Kalashnikov (Kalishnikov was only 22 years old when he and his team invented the AK-47).
For decades, the AK-47 has played a role in history. Officially accepted by the Soviet Armed Forces and used by the majority of the member states of the Warsaw Pact, the AK-47 was the weapon that enabled the Soviet Union to control territories they had acquired via the victory over Nazi Germany. Invented with the honorable intention of defending his country and taking out one of the biggest threats the world has ever known, the AK-47 has since been taken by the hands of rebels and deviants for slaughter and misuse.
It was also the weapon of choice for Third World revolutions and as an icon used to strike fear into Osama Bin Laden’s targets of terror when he claimed responsibility for the 9/11 attacks on the U.S.
Despite it’s basic, almost archaic design (selective-fire, gas-operated, bolt-firing system, 7.62×39mm assault rifle), the AK-47’s popularity is due to just that; it’s simplicity. It’s the AK-47’s simplicity that can be attributed to it’s success. Having only either moving parts, it is cheap to manufacture, easy to use, can be cleaned quickly and in the harshest of climates, and is one of the most dependable assault rifles on the battlefield.
In the initial stages of production by the Soviets, they encountered difficulties manufacturing the stamped sheet metal receiver and substituted it for a heavier machined receiver. In 1959, the AKM (or modernized) AK began production. Modernized in three ways, the AKM featured the originally intended sheet metal receiver, a slanted muzzle brake on the end of the barrel to compensate for muzzle rise under recoil, and a hammer retarder to prevent the weapon from firing out of without the bolt being fully closed, during rapid or automatic fire.
Later, the AK-74 (basically an AKM) was manufactured to house a smaller round (the 5.45 x 39) and also featured a different muzzle break than the AKM.
Other variants followed. The AK-101, which is an AK-74M design built to be used with the 5.56×45 cartridge. The AK-101 has a 16 inch barrel with an AK-74 style muzzle brake attached to the barrel to control muzzle climb.
The AK-102 would be a more modernized version of the AK-101 with a shortened carbine and a folding stock, which is hollow, allowing a field kit to be stored inside. The magazines are made out of plastic, and it fires 5.56x45mm ammunition. It can also fit a GP-25 grenade launcher.
The AK-102, AK-104 and AK-105 are the designations given to the more compact carbine variants of the AK-10X rifle series, firing the 5.56 x 45 mm NATO, 7.62 x 39 mm M43 and 5.45 x 39 mm M74 rifle rounds respectively. These carbines differentiate themselves from the normal rifles of the series in that they have much shorter barrels, only 314mm in length.
The AK-103, a variant of the AK-101 firing 7.62x39mm M43 rounds, is in limited service with selected units in the Russian army – the AK74M still held as the main Russian assault rifle of the Russian Federation.
More AK-type rifles have been produced than all other assault rifles combined (the type 4A/B Stamped AKM receiver being the most-used design in the construction of the AK-series rifles). Today, there is an estimated 70 million AK-47’s in use today.
It is for this reason that we, at 401AK47, expect the AK-47’s next chapter in human history to be one not of human conflict or terrorism, but as a driving force behind mankind’s victory over the zombie war to come.