The AK-47 is not just simply another gun, it is much, much more. It is an ongoing legacy of one mans innovation to the small arms market and a national symbol. In a time of changing warfare, a weapon was needed to work efficiently at and within a range of 300 meters. This weapon needed the accuracy and control of the longer barreled rifles but also the power and automatic fire of a sub machine gun. This lead to a hybrid being created, in the form of the assault rifle (Poyer, Joe 2004). In the years around 1944 a handful of assault rifles were created, such as the Sturmgewehr 44 or StG44 (German), The M1 Grand (American) and The SKS (Russian). But the most memorable and arguably the best is the AK-47 or Kalashnikov. The AK-47 was different from the rest because of its raw simplicity. (The History of the Assault Rifle, 2006). Its designer Mikhail Kalashnikov said he created his gun the same what he lived life buy saying; “Anything that is complex is not useful and anything that is useful is simple”. (The Gurdian 2002) It is for this reason that at AK-47 is so successful. The AK-47 wasn’t on the most accurate or light weapon of its class nor was it the most sophisticated. But it was powerful and simple. So simple that with only ten minutes instruction most people could use one. It doesn’t jam, it can be used after being submerged in water, works after being covered in sand and temperature has little affect on it weather this is hot or cold.
Mikhail Kalashnikov made this innovation possible. He is a Russian born brother of nineteen siblings, born in Kurya, Altai Krai, Russia. He was conscripted into the Russian army in 1938 became a tank driver and mechanic (Kalashnikov, Fox News 2006). He rose swiftly through the ranks and by 1944 was a senior sergeant tank commander. But in 1944 he was injured and while in hospital he was discussing with his comrades the current soviet standard issued rifle. He discovered the obvious floors and problems with the weapon. Which led him to set out to designee and build the solution. After a number of failed attempts including the AK-46, the AK-47 we know today was born. And by 1956 Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47 became the stander issue weapon to the Russian army. Kalashnikov then when on to redesigned and upgrade his weapon but never changed the basics, which were and still are, simplicity.
The original AK-47 stands for Avtomat Kalashnikov model 1947. This was his first success. But the weapon then has two stories. The first is the Russian one. The gun was then developed by Kalashnikov and his team to form a huge portfolio with a total of 14 different official models with hundreds of variations within these. These are the official Russian Kalashnikovs. The modern versions are still being produced today. The second story is the copies. There are many different copies of the original AK-47 and there are so many of them that it is impossible to know how many there are and how many are in circulation. But it is estimated that there are around 70 million original AK-47s in circulation and 30 million of the different variations. This is a total of 100 million AK-47 type rifles in circulation with is more than all other assault rifles combined (Poyer, Joe, 2004).
Avtomat Kalashnikovs first success and true innovation was the original AK-47. Which was designed from 1944 and was in full circulation by 1947. It was this design that the success of the product and the one that has been copied and developed
The AK-47 has had many competitors in its long life and still does. These competitors have been seen through out the ages. Below is a time line starting from 1944 to present day of the AK-47 competitors and dominance.
| End Year
| Name of War
| AK-47 Presant
| AK cometition
| Greek Civil War
| Arab–Israeli War
| Korean War
| Mau Mau Uprising
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