Mikhail Kalashnikov, Creator Of World's Most Popular Assault Rifle, Has Died At 94

Tyler Durden's picture

It is perhaps ironic that the creator of the AK-47 assault rifle, also known as the Kalashnikov named for its creator Mikhail Kalashnikov, and of which there are between 70 and 100 million in circulation making it the world's most popular weapon, has just passed away from what is essentially old age, at 94. "It is difficult and sad to realize that Mikhail Kalashnikov is no longer with us. We have lost one of the most talented, memorable and committed patriots of Russia, who served his country throughout his life,” said the statement from the press secretary of the Udmurtia administration Viktor Chulkov.

RT reports that Kalashnikov, who had been suffering from heart-related problems in recent years, had been in intensive care in Izhevsk - where the plant that produces the eponymous rifles is located - since November 17. The official cause of death will be revealed following a mandatory autopsy.

More on Kalashnikov's passing from RT:

A public funeral will be organized by the regional administration, in consultation with surviving relatives, though no date has been named so far.


For most of his life, Kalashnikov was feted as a straightforward hero.


The self-taught peasant turned tank mechanic who never finished high school, but achieved a remarkable and lasting feat of engineering while still in his twenties.


But as the rifles, inextricably linked forever to their creator by name, were more and more commonly seen in the hands of terrorists, radicals and child soldiers, the inventor was often forced to defend himself to journalists.


He was forever asked if he regretted engineering the weapon that probably killed more than any other in the last fifty years.


"I invented it for the protection of the Motherland. I have no regrets and bear no responsibility for how politicians have used it," he told them.


On a few occasions, when in a more reflective mood, the usually forceful Kalashnikov wondered what might have been.


"I'm proud of my invention, but I'm sad that it is used by terrorists," he said once.


"I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work – for example a lawnmower."


Indeed, at his museum in Izhevsk, where he spent most of his life working at the factory that was eventually named after him, there is an ingenious mechanical lawnmower Kalashnikov invented to more easily take care of the lawn at his country house.


It’s not what he will be remembered for.


Considering his age and circumstances, it was hardly surprising that Kalashnikov felt he could best serve his country by creating weapons.

His life story, as presented in a prepared obit by the FT:

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov was born on 10 November 1919 into humble surroundings in western Siberia. After basic secondary schooling he became a technician on the Turkestan-Siberian railway. When the second world war came he was drafted as a tank mechanic to the front near Bryansk in the west of Russia. Within months he was injured and it was in hospital that he became obsessed by his dream.


“I decided to build a gun of my own which could stand up to the Germans. It was a bit of a crazy escapade, I suppose. I didn’t have any specialist education and I couldn’t even draw,” he said. His first designs attracted little attention, but on release from hospital he went back to his engine workshop in Siberia to try to make a prototype.


It was not long before he was on his way to Alma-Ata, the capital of Kazakhstan, with his first model in his hand. On arrival in the town, he was arrested for carrying unauthorised firearms, but the police soon released him when he told them of his dream project.


Kalashnikov went straight to the Communist party for advice and was sent to several provincial institutes. After a determined battle with the bureaucrats, he finally made it to Moscow. But the diminutive sergeant was scorned by the top brass, including generals such as Vasily Degtyaryov, the Soviet Union’s most prominent weapons designer between the wars.


Kalashnikov was so shy that he signed his sketches “MikhTim”, the first syllables of his first names. But he persevered, and by 1949 had been awarded the Stalin Prize and made a Hero of Socialist Labour. The same year he was transferred to Izhevsk to supervise production. So secretive were the testings of the rifle that photographs were forbidden and cartridge cases had to be picked up after firing. By the mid-50s the AK-47 literally, the Automatic Kalashnikov made in 1947, was standard issue to the Soviet armed forces.


It was only in the 1960s, when he became a member of the Supreme Soviet, the then parliament in Moscow, that Kalashnikov emerged from the obscurity of Izhevsk. Even in the early 1980s, however, he was ordered not to reply to a letter from an American academic for fear of inadvertently disclosing information.


In May 1990, on his first visit to the old cold war enemy, he was introduced in Washington to Eugene Stoner, designer of the M-16, the closest thing to an American equivalent of the AK-47, which was first issued to US troops in 1961. Kalashnikov’s clothes were shabby. The few dollars in his pocket had been given by his factory and by the American institute sponsoring the trip. He later recalled: “Stoner has his own aircraft I can’t even afford my own plane ticket.”


Kalashnikov’s personal life was fraught with tragedy. He met his wife Yekaterina at an army testing range near Moscow. She was a graphic artist and helped him put his designs on paper. They married in 1943 and had four children, although he saw little of them because of his work schedule. Yekaterina died in 1977 after a long illness, and his youngest daughter Natalia moved in to keep him company, only to die in a car crash six years later.


His hearing failing him, he lived alone for his final 10 years, although Yelena, another of his daughters, would visit him on Sundays to do the cleaning. His only perks were a driver and a country dacha by the lake. On his trips abroad, usually as part of a Russian delegation to an arms fair, he would always be accompanied by Yelena, who smoothed the path with her passable English.


Kalashnikov retained the title of chief designer at the Izhevsk factory that produced the AK-47 and related models, and in his later years would go to work on designs for new hunting rifles. He was an avid shooter, and with his son Viktor and a close-knit group of friends would go hunting for elk in the snow. Relaxing after a hunt in the factory’s dacha three hours outside the town, he often took to musing about his life.


His reflections were tinged with sadness that his rifle had become the tool of terrorist groups from the former Soviet republics, to Africa to Northern Ireland. “I wanted my invention to serve peace,” he once said. “I didn’t want it to make war easier. Constructors have never been given their just deserts in this country. If the politicians had worked as hard as we did, the guns would never have got into the wrong hands.”

Some visual info on the legendary gun:


Finally, a summary on the legacy of the world's most popular gun from Weapons and Warfare:

AK-46 prototype disassembled
Post-1951 production Kalashnikov AK rifle with milled receiver and bayonet attached, right side
 Kalashnikov AKMN rifle (Modernized, with Night sight mounting bracket on the left side of receiver), with muzzle compensator installed


The Long Road to the AK-47

No firearm in history has enjoyed the fame or popularity of the assault rifle known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. Created by a Soviet weapons designer at the dawn of the Cold War, it was mass-produced and distributed worldwide in the millions, leading to its canonization in the revolutionary Third World of the 1950s and 1960s. Indeed, far beyond its utility, the AK-47 became a Cold War icon, appearing on revolutionary flags, in songs and poems, and in televised insurgencies as proof of communist fervor and supposed martial superiority. And it continues to play a major role in warfare today, most visibly in guerrilla conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.

The AK-47 has succeeded so wildly because it is almost an ideal realization of the personal firearm: where most weapons have had to contend with tradeoffs between accuracy, lethality, speed of fire, reliability, cost of production, and ease of carrying and use, the AK-47 managed to find a sweet spot maximizing these traits. In fact, the weapon is so reliable, effective, and easy to use by untrained operators that its advent made it widely possible for just about any group, even with little money, modern technology, or formal military training, to mount significant, deadly assaults against a much larger and more advanced force — a fact that has transformed the face of warfare and created a revolutionary romance that still surrounds the weapon.

Since gunpowder is not static in power in the way that human muscle is, once fiery arms were invented in the fourteenth century, they would in theory constantly improve in a way that bows, slings, and swords could not. But in reality, centuries of technological stagnation followed the invention of the first gun: for example, the eighteenth- and nineteenth-century “Brown Bess” flintlock musket remained almost unchanged during its use by the British Empire over the course of more than a century. Early muskets and their predecessors had slow rates of fire and poor accuracy and reliability, and thus did not always ensure battlefield superiority over arrows, edged weapons, and hand-launched missiles. Benjamin Franklin famously advocated the use of bows by the cash-strapped Continental Army, arguing that they were cheaper, easier to use, and could send more arrows per minute than the musket could fire balls.

The problem was that the various qualities of a good handheld weapon were often mutually exclusive. Increased lethality, for instance, was usually attained by increasing the weight of the firearm and bullets, which often reduced reliability and mobility, and made weapons too expensive to outfit an entire army. So the development of personal firearms was often haphazard, especially during periods of general peace. Black-powder, muzzle-loading, smoothbore (unrifled) firearms were the norm for centuries. Only in the mid-nineteenth century did sophisticated metallurgy and techniques of mass production at last begin to usher in rear-loading models, cartridge ammunition, more powerful and smokeless gunpowder, rifled barrels, and interchangeable, machined parts. The result was a giant leap in the ability of soldiers to kill one another on a mass scale, as the ancient science of effective body armor was unable to keep pace. By the nineteenth century, the personal arms race was on.

The watershed years were those of the American Civil War, which created a race for more rapidly firing and lethal arms. The war that began with the use of muskets and Minié balls ended with the Henry repeating rifle, which allowed a skilled single shooter to load and fire up to twenty-eight times per minute. The war also saw the development of the Gatling machine gun, and, somewhat later, the Maxim, the first fully automatic weapon. The more advanced models of these machines could in theory spit out six hundred rounds per minute, allowing two-man teams to lay down a volume of fire greater than what was possible from a whole company of riflemen. The new machine guns proved revolutionary, especially in the colonial wars in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, in which small numbers of Westerners could trump numerically superior foes, sending a chilling message of technological superiority. The venerable traditions of the mounted lancer, the cavalryman, and the skilled swordsman slipped into decline with the advent of the machine gun.

But the early machine guns, though rapid-fire and quite lethal, were heavy and they often jammed, leaving their operators defenseless. And they were costly and difficult to move and maneuver. Nevertheless, during World War I, improved mobile Maxim, Vickers, and Colt-Browning machine guns reigned supreme across the trenches, overpowering the firing rates of bolt-action, clip-fed rifles. In response to the machine gun’s lethal tyranny on the battlefield, early twentieth-century tacticians began dreaming of an everyman’s mini-machine gun that would diffuse such killing power into the hands of millions of combatants.

The result was the generation of the so-called submachine gun, most prominently the German MP-18, the Italian Villar Perosa and Beretta Model 1918, and the American Thompson (or Tommy Gun). These weapons fired pistol cartridges, allowing for the employment of existing stocks; they were relatively light at around ten pounds; and they could in theory be shot at astounding rates of fire of well over 400 rounds per minute. Whereas World War I was defined by heavy machine guns battling each other in antipodal fashion across clearly defined fields of fire, battles of World War II were frequently fought in jungles, forests, and urban streets, in which the enemy was typically near and highly mobile. Submachine guns proved popular during this war — and spawned a number of cheaper imitations — thanks to their adaptability to a situation in which constant streams of bullets were directed at soldiers from every direction by constantly moving enemies, and enemies were more likely to be stopped by sudden, rapid fire than by precisely aimed shots from small, longer-barrel weapons.

Yet, for a variety of reasons, the new submachine guns could still not entirely replace clip-fed repeating rifles. While they delivered far more bullets per minute, their short barrels allowed only for poor accuracy and limited range. The less powerful pistol cartridges and greater recoil from near-continuous fire also meant that few submachine guns were deadly beyond two hundred yards — a potentially fatal limitation at the times when rifle sharpshooters had clear fields of fire at over a thousand yards. The constant rapid firing, together with the grime, heat, and filthy conditions of battle, made the submachine guns jam far too frequently. And another problem developed during the war that transcended the weapons’ advantage of rapid firing: heavily-laden soldiers simply could not carry enough additional bullets — often larger-caliber .30 and .45 ammunition — to take advantage of their guns’ voracious appetites.

On the other hand, repeating rifles, even when semi-automatic and equipped with enlarged clips and improved barrel and stock designs that allowed a good chance of hits at great distances, did not allow enough shots per minute for the increasingly close-order combat in which enemy soldiers might appear suddenly en masse, and in all conceivable landscapes. Their longer barrels and clumsy shoulder stocks certainly proved a hindrance during close-in fighting. Other tradeoffs arose as millions of combatants joined the Allies or Axis powers in a global war, allowing little time to ensure traditional marksmanship training for men from such widely disparate backgrounds. The advantages that could be gained from employing a more accurate, slower-firing, traditional semi-automatic rifle were often lost by the inexperience of the users. There had been design attempts during World War I to bridge these differences, the most successful of which was the American Browning Automatic Rifle. It was almost as accurate as a rifle, but with a weight of over fifteen pounds and a small magazine of just twenty rounds, riflemen often had to shoot from a prone position, with a barrel tripod and plenty of available magazines nearby.

But in the post-World War II era, a true breakthrough addressed the apparently irreconcilable advantages of submachine guns and repeating, clip-fed rifles. The brilliant compromise became known as the “assault rifle,” the most prominent of which was the Russian Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47 (for automatic Kalashnikov, model 1947), which came into wide use in the early 1950s. Kalashnikov, who benefited from the designs of earlier German and Russian prototypes, seemingly at last solved the six-hundred-year-long dilemma of providing an accurate rifle that was not only capable of firing hundreds of rounds per minute, but was still deadly at ranges of 300-400 yards and beyond. And at under ten pounds, the AK-47 was easy to carry, simple to operate, and highly dependable. Moreover, by using a medium-sized bullet (the 7.62x39mm cartridge, equivalent to about .31 caliber) rather than larger .40 caliber rounds, the AK-47 achieved a deadly muzzle velocity of over 2,300 feet per second. In short, Kalashnikov seemed to have squared the circle by creating a light, cheap, rapid-firing, accurate, reliable, and lethal weapon that was neither rifle nor submachine gun. The gun proved perfect for revolutionaries in Third World countries, and the Kremlin would gleefully reward its new friends with mass deliveries of their wondrous weapon.

The sudden ubiquity of the AK-47 stunned the United States and Europe, and seemed to turn the so-called First World’s advantages in marksmanship and weapon craftsmanship on their heads. Illiterate insurgents, amply equipped with cheap AK-47s — now produced even more inexpensively by an array of Soviet satellite countries — suddenly had at their disposal more firepower than American soldiers. And what did it matter if Western riflemen were in theory better trained or shot a better calibrated and more accurate weapon, when mere teenagers in the tens of thousands could pepper Western troops with bullets?

The widespread export of the AK-47 marked yet another Sputnik-like moment in which state communism seemed to outpace Western entrepreneurialism. And just as the Soviets’ Sputnik success would set off the space race, and as there were other rivalries between the Soviet T-34 tank and its American counterparts, and between MiG-15 and F-86 jet fighters in the skies of Korea, so too was there a competition in assault rifle technology. Not until the early 1960s did the Americans accept that their old reliable M1 and its replacement M14 were woefully wrong for the new non-traditional theaters of the Cold War.

If a new American assault weapon were to follow in the Kalashnikov model, it would have to trump its Russian competitor with greater accuracy and lethality. This goal was seemingly accomplished with the M16 rifle, invented in the 1950s by the legendary arms designer Eugene Stoner. The sleek black assault rifle employed plastic and aluminum alloys to reduce the weight to two pounds less than the rival AK-47. And it used even smaller ammunition — the 5.56x45mm high-velocity bullet that was to become the standard NATO round.

The result was that, by all accounts, the M16 proved to be an exceptionally reliable and accurate assault rifle. Its smaller-caliber bullet was in some ways as lethal as the AK-47’s larger ammunition, as it had a muzzle velocity of over 3,000 feet per second, and the bullet tended to break up after penetrating flesh. The M16 also proved somewhat easier to handle and had less recoil than the AK-47. And soldiers could carry far more of the lighter-weight ammunition. The ensuing shoot-off between the two weapons in the Vietnam War was supposed to make clear the American gun’s advantages in rates of fire, accuracy, and lethality.

But just the opposite proved to be true — at least in the first four years of the M16’s wide use. Jamming was chronic, apparently due to initial design flaws in the gun, manufacturing problems with the gunpowder, and soldiers’ frequent failure to clean the weapon regularly amid the humidity and dirt of the jungle. In contrast, the AK-47 seemed nearly indestructible, in part due to its simpler construction and greater tolerances. In Vietnam, at least, the verdict favored the notion of an uncomplicated assault rifle that compensated for lost accuracy by achieving greater reliability, simplicity of use, and a larger bullet.

The AK-47 further exasperated Westerners by its cheap fabrication from stamped metals and its brilliant operation with just a few working parts. By the late 1960s, soldiers were taking apart, cleaning, and reassembling the weapon in about half the time required for the M16. Something that felt and looked so “cheap,” and that was produced by the Communist Bloc notorious for its shoddily manufactured products, surely, it seemed, could not be comparable to a rifle designed by the Americans, the British, or the Germans, with their far more distinguished firearms pedigree.

Yet the Communist Bloc continued to meet world demand with millions of AK-47s. And when the Soviet Union collapsed, its former republics and clients often sought to unload their stockpiles at discounted prices. Ironically, the United States eventually became the largest purchaser of the AK-47 in its efforts to supply poorer allies — such as some areas of the former-Yugoslavia, post-Saddam Iraq, and Afghanistan — with cheap, reliable assault rifles without its own large fingerprints on the arm sales. The result today is that some 75 million AK-47s have been produced, with most still in circulation, making it the most ubiquitous weapon in the history of firearms — dwarfing the M16’s eight million.

The debate between exponents of the AK-47 and the M16 has never been resolved, in part because both guns continued to evolve with subsequent improved models and have now both been superseded by more recent designs; in part because ideology and national chauvinism were inseparable from dispassionate analysis; and in part because the relative value of accuracy versus reliability is so subjective. In any case, NATO troops in general felt that their improved models of M16s by the 1980s had proved superior, even as some of the old problems of jamming and insufficient stopping power sometimes reappeared during the harsh conditions of sand and heat during the most recent Iraq War.

The story of the AK-47, amid the ongoing saga of rifle evolution, has in recent years spawned a number of popular books. The best is C. J. Chivers’s scholarly The Gun. Chivers takes a properly skeptical view of many of the claims by Mikhail Kalashnikov surrounding the birth of AK-47, and offers a sober and fair account of the acrimonious rivalry between the M16 and AK-47. In dispassionate fashion, Chivers concludes that few inventions of the twentieth century have done so much to kill so many through “war, terror, atrocity, and crime.” But after such a clear-headed analysis of the AK-47, he surprisingly offers the emotional hope that eventually the seasons, aging, and wear and tear will finally rid the world of this nearly indestructible menace — and with it the bestowing into the hands of untrained near-children the world over the power to kill indiscriminately and en masse. To this hope, one might rejoin that the fault is not in our stars, but in our selves.

Larry Kahaner’s book AK-47: The Weapon that Changed the Face of War is a lighter but nevertheless engaging story of the contemporary AK-47 as a cultural phenomenon. He too reminds us that many of the terrorist movements and insurgencies in Asia, Latin America, and especially Africa would have been impossible without the widespread dispersion of the AK-47, the ideal weapon for impoverished, poorly trained mercenaries. He points out that the acrimonious controversy between the AK-47 and the M16 resurfaced again forty years after Vietnam during the post-Saddam Hussein insurgency, when improved versions of both assault rifles collided in the streets of urban Iraq. And the verdict was again ambiguous, as U.S. troops still largely preferred their own weapons but developed a grudging respect for the insurgents’ “bullet hoses,” which shot streams of deadly large-caliber bullets at close ranges and seemed impervious to the sand and heat of the Iraqi landscape.

Then there is the book by Mikhail Kalashnikov himself. Now a nonagenarian, Kalashnikov was presented in 2009 with the title Hero of the Russian Federation, the country’s highest honor. With the help of his daughter Elena Joly, Kalashnikov wrote an autobiography, first published in French in 2003 and available in a 2006 English translation. Kalashnikov fought during the worst months of the German invasion of Russia; in 1941, in a failed counter-offensive, he was almost killed when his Red Army tank regiment was cut off and overwhelmed.

During a long subsequent illness and recovery, Kalashnikov’s innate gun-making talents were noticed. And so, despite his lack of formal design training, he was soon promoted to work with a team of Soviet engineers, quickly emerged as a senior designer, and was mostly responsible for the AK-47. The most fascinating chapters in Kalashnikov’s story are about the nightmare of life in Stalin’s Soviet Union, in which any achievement, commercial or intellectual, earned envy that in turn might translate into accusations of being a counter-revolutionary, would-be elite, often with deadly repercussions.

As Chivers and Kahaner point out, and as is discernible in Kalashnikov’s memoir, his relationship with his own deadly invention over the last two-thirds of a century has proved erratic. Kalashnikov is proud of his promotion to the rank of lieutenant general in the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, and under Communist rule he was twice honored as a Hero of Socialist Labor. Yet even as Kalashnikov details the horrors of Stalinist Russia that resulted in his own family’s brutal exile, he concludes, “I consider Stalin as one of the great national leaders of the twentieth century, and as a great army leader.”

Kalashnikov takes great trouble to note that the AK-47 grew out of an effort to protect his homeland from a repeat of the sort of barbaric invasion that Hitler unleashed, adding that he did not profit, at least in Western style, from the sales of some 100 million weapons that bear his name (including variants on the AK-47). And yet Kalashnikov seems almost longingly to note the millions of dollars in profits that came to Eugene Stoner from his M16, even as he ostensibly prefers the public acclaim in Russia that was never accorded to Stoner in the United States. That same paradox characterizes Kalashnikov’s occasional regret that his invention became the signature weapon among terrorists and bandits — many of them now deadly enemies of Russia itself — juxtaposed with his pride in the astounding success of a supposedly defensive AK-47. Speaking at a ceremony honoring the sixtieth anniversary of the weapon, he claimed, “I sleep well. It’s the politicians who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence.”

So what in the end are we to make of the AK-47, given that people ultimately kill one another and design weapons that do it so effectively? A perfect storm of events explains the gun’s lethal role in eroding civilization over the last six decades. The impoverished post-colonial world was eager for the sort of advanced weapons that had characterized a near-century of endemic warfare in the more advanced West, and the Soviet Union was eager to fan liberationist movements against the West. It took the postwar glamour of international communism, the industrial muscle of the Soviet Union, and a Russian genius with no higher education but great practical savvy to at last provide millions with such parity, meeting the requirements of a new arms lethality at very little cost. The result was the tragedy of a global assault rifle that has been crucial to self-described liberationists in furthering so often the cause of tyranny.

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Colonel Klink's picture

RIP MK!  Maker of the most prolific instrument of death.

He should get the Nobel piece (sic) prize.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



If you own an AK, the first mod should be a Krebs Safety Lever, so you can use your trigger finger to manipulate the safety, verus Mikhail's lever, which uses the thumb.  It will save you as much as a full second before getting off the first shot.

Colonel Klink's picture

Thanks HH, looks like I'll be investing in a couple of those.  My biggest complaint about the AK is that cluster fuck of a mag release.

Uncle Remus's picture

That I think Ruger copied on their minis.

Pladizow's picture

If there is a heaven, I wonder how all the people that were killed by his creation, will greet him?

Obchelli's picture

It's amazing how some stupid assigned CEO Like Eric Schmidt for instance who didn't create anything in his life and was just lucly to be in elite pool of CEOs pockets billions of dollars and Man who realy created something of value died essntialy in poverty... Life is not just indeed

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Kalishnikov is serve state well. He is know that when die.

12ToothAssassin's picture

Your infographic loses all credibility the moment "Clip" is used referring to magazine capacity.

N2OJoe's picture

@ Colonel Klink

The mag release is pretty quick/easy once you get it down. You just smack it with the new mag which causes the old to drop out, then insert the new and rack the action.


On a side note, people always lament that "terrorists" have easy access to these weapons, yet they never mention how one mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter. If every man on earth owned one, how long do you think abusive governments would be allowed to operate as they do?

U4 eee aaa's picture

If they were martyrs then the gun was probably their ticket in.

It's an emotional toss up I suppose

NoDebt's picture

I'm sure John Browning met him at the pearly gates, shook his hand and welcomed him in.


TBT or not TBT's picture

John Moses Browning. Is Eugene Stoner up there yet?

kchrisc's picture

"Guns don't kill people, mostly people in uniform do."

Boris Alatovkrap's picture

Gun is not killing people, bullet is killing people... except when pistol whip, then maybe can blame gun. Oh, and butt or stock to back of head just above C2 is also cause paralysis and often is death.

Seer's picture

What, no military training?

Nyet (mention of) Bayonet?

But, given it's weight and sturdiness the AK certainly can operate as a bat.

giggler321's picture

If there is a heaven, I wonder how all the people that were killed by his creation, will greet him?

Interestingly, more like how'd they greet each other?  Well no heaven then.  Oh HH those are now 3d printed!

HelluvaEngineer's picture

Hit the tab with the top of your next mag.  They are steel, after all.  Practice and you can reload as fast as an AR.

Citxmech's picture

That techniquie doesn't sound like it would be too good for the long-term health your mag's feed lips. . . 

HelluvaEngineer's picture

If you have an ar-15, true.  If you have an AK-47 you can roll your truck tire over the feed lips.

DosZap's picture

If you have an ar-15, true.  If you have an AK-47 you can roll your truck tire over the feed lips.


True, but  ever heard of PM Mags?.

Citxmech's picture

If AK mags never had problems - you wouldn't have folks obsessing of the which ones are the "good" ones.  

FWIW - I wouldn't use my steel M14 mags to hammer on shit either. . .

Just sayin. 

Greenskeeper_Carl's picture

im sure those steel AK mags are fine, but have you ever done that with a PMAG? you can drive over them with your truck, throw them off a building, even shoot them. the feed lips hold up just fine. also, most AK mags dont have anti-tilt followers. granted, neither do the mags for mini-14s, but you can abuse those steel mags pretty much forever and they will still function

Hugh Jardon's picture

The Ruger mini14 and mini30 are Garand copy's

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Don't ever buy one until you have inspected the gas ports to make sure you are not getting "vodka special" from the factory.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Different models have different numbers of ports and patterns.  Know what the model you want is supposed to look like.  For example, Saiga 12 is supposed to have three ports in a triangle, but it is the location of the triangle, relative to the gas block, that is important.

DoChenRollingBearing's picture

Mine is the Russian-American "Saiga" (from Arsenal in Nevada).  2000 rounds through it, all kinds of ammo (inc. Russian), NEVER a problem.

I am a novice in guns.  But VERY happy with my AK.

Uncle Remus's picture

Pssst - it was a play on words.

hedgeless_horseman's picture



Sorry.  I get it now.  Funny.

Uncle Remus's picture

It's good info though about the gas ports. I personally don't own an AK and have no to plans to - just personal preference. Know plenty of people that do and often shoot with them at the range.

Agent P's picture

Same here. I've shot my buddies' 47s and 74s. I don't care for how the rifle feels, but I would never bash the platform, it's a damn good rifle.

10mm's picture

Some came with 2 holes, some with 3. 4 is the goal. Took off block, had press do another hole. Sometime's a performance spring (lighter) will assist in light game loads and cheaper. Go to You Tube. "EDDIE GUNKS" Saiga 12 Guage. Shows step by step on port holes. Takes maybe an hour overall. Also slightly bore out remaing holes. The light recoil spring is the kicker.

Colonel Klink's picture

Yep, heard it's more a problem with Saiga 12s versus the AK.  I was simply referring to the safety levers.  My rifles I lost in a tragic live fire boating accident cycled flawlessly.  I'm sure they still will even after being at the bottom for years, once I retrieve them.

Freddie's picture

I may need one of these to lay down supression fire in case of FSA zombies.

Youtube has a younger husband and wife from Kentucky (?) who have AK versus AR shoot offs.  In one video, the young guy just bought a new AK and was hitting smallish metal targets at 100, 150 and 300 yards!   I was suprised how accurate he was at 300 yards.  I think it was a AK 47 and not a 74.   Anyone try the two variants?

Another video, his wife is hitting small metal target at 150 yards with a 12 gauge shotgun using slugs!

Seer's picture

AK-47 vs. AR-15 (I shot M16s back in the day- had to qualify at 500 yds [open sights; my eyes were really good back then, always qualified expert]):


The guy's kind of fun.  First stumbled on to him watching this one:


He's got this video of an AK-74, and though I have no knowledge of its use, I'm thinking that it is/was an AK-47 replacement(?):


Everything is a tool.  No matter how good a tool is it can be considered useless if not applied in the right way or if applied for the wrong job at hand.

Oh, target shooting is fun and all, but getting back to the "security" aspect of it all- first things first, get a good dog!  A dog's sense of smell and its hearing is going to buy you that time to grab the real "tool," highly desireable if you like get sound sleep.

Freddie's picture

Thnaks. I watched the third one with the older guy with glasses hitting the metal plate at 260 yards with the AK-74! Wow.  I will watch 1 and 2.

Here is Brandon and his wife Kristi. Their videos appear to be pretty popular.


Romanian WASR 10 Ak 47 at 300 yards out of the box. Using cheap Wolf. Wow!

Trying to figure out if he is in Kentucky.  Looks like KY.



aerojet's picture

They don't hold a candle to an AR at longer ranges.  The later 5.45s are more accurate.  The short sight radius is a real issue, but with an optic they are acceptable.  But even a junky AR is more accurate.

10mm's picture

The Vodka special would apply more to the Saiga 12 shotgun.

Overfed's picture

And the lack of a bolt-hold open on the last round feature.

Citxmech's picture

To me - that is a critical feature.  No excuse not to have one on a battle-rifle.  

chunga's picture

The Saigas have a BHO.

Some magazines do have that feature and others don't.

Overfed's picture

I don't like the feature that just uses the follower in the magazine as a bolt hold-open. It further slows reloading.

aerojet's picture

It was made to be operated by the non-trigger hand.  You were supposed to retain the empty magazines, not let them drop.  And seriously, if you're part of a Soviet infantry platoon, are fast reloads really that important?  You have someone else firing all the time, plus you have other men with PKMs and RPGs.  

fallout11's picture

Exactly opposite, in fact.
Soviet/Russian manual of arms training has one supporting the weapon with the left hand on the foregrip and the buttstock on the shoulder. Right hand releases the pistol grip, grasps the magazine and magazine release simultaneously (same grip positioning), release in the web of the hand, squeeze and rock forward, and drop on the ground as the hand drops to the magazine pouch. Then, using the same (most dexterous) hand (Russians are mostly right handed), grab a filled magazine (stored bottom end up on the right hand side), turn the hand over as it moves, insert front end first and rock and lock into place. Right hand continues rearward motion, racks the bolt carrier and returns to the grip/trigger, sight picture never moves off target, and possible to do so while prone or in a foxhole/scrape. The left hand never moves, eyes never come off the target. It is smooth and fast once you get used to it.  Takes 2 seconds for even the most lowly conscript.There are youtube videos of Russian instructors showing how it is done and they are blindlingly fast both with the reload and safety manipulation. This is, incidentally, exactly the same as the US M14 as shown in the USGI field manual.

Original stamped steel magazines were cheap to manufacture in vast quantities and made well enough that can have a truck driven over them and still work flawlessly, which is why there are still so many of them on the market ~35 years after they were replaced with metal reinforced bakelite magazines. No worries about bent feed lips from dropping or damage, and unlike stamped aluminum STANAG magazines with weak springs that were originally intended for 'one-use-only' (throwaway) and could be used again and again for decades.
Dispensation of spent magazines was a non-priority (unlike in Western forces where quartermaster accountability and bean counting reign supreme, and where the "dump pouch" has been semi-standard equipment for 10+ years), when seconds count in a life or death firefight ****ing around with a $2 empty magazine is beyond stupid, even for the penny-pinching Soviets. To paraphrase a Russian Serzhant: 'If you win the fight, pick them up afterwards. If you lose the fight, you don't care where they end up.'  As a result you still do not see Russian troops with dump pouches.

fallout11's picture

The M-14/M1A both used a near-identical magazine release system years later. Nothing wrong with the design, just not what you are accustomed to.

Headbanger's picture

This sad news for me.  But I'm glad he lived a very long and productive life.

The AK-47 is a marvelous design for its time but a pain to clean!

I own one but prefer shooting my VZ-58 as it is so much easier to clean.

Like my SKS and Mosin 91/30 too.

And for you haters of this man for designing the AK-47,  you might as well hate the Wright brothers and Mr Boeing and Mr Nobel and Ogg, the inventor of the rock some 10 million yeas ago!

Dr. Engali's picture

It's rumored that UGh really invented the rock and Ogg got rich after he stole the patent. Ogg was burned  later when invested his ill-gotten oyster shells in a start up company that claimed they could make fire.