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Mikhail Kalashnikov Passes Away, Leaves AK-47 Legacy

by Chris Hendrix   |  December 23rd, 2013 4

Photo: Getty Images

Mikhail Kalashnikov has passed away today in Izhevsk, Russia. While the official cause of death has yet to be released, the 94 year old firearm designer had been hospitalized for the past month with various health ailments. Considered a national hero in his home country of Russia, Kalashnikov designed the AK-47 rifle for a national competition, and notably never profited from its production.

Kalashnikov is survived by three children, and perhaps the finest legacy any inventor can dream of. His first successful firearm design was the iconic AK-47 rifle—a true gun of the people for its ease of use. By 2009, various sources estimated over 100 million copies of the design had been manufactured worldwide. The rifle remains in widespread use and dozens of variants are in manufacture today.

Kalashnikov suffered from health problems early in life, but still conscripted into the Red Army at the age of nineteen. He showed an aptitude for mechanical tasks, and was assigned work as a tank engineer. It was during his career in the Red Army that Mikhail Kalashnikov began developing firearms. Kalashnikov suffered a bullet wound to the shoulder in battle, and began designing firearms while recovering in the hospital.

By 1944, Kalashnikov had a design for a semi-automatic, gas-driven rifle, which he submitted to a national competition to design the Russian military’s next weapon. His design lost to the SKS. But by 1946, the Red Army was already looking to replace the SKS.

Another competition was opened up, and Kalashnikov submitted a new design, his “Avtomat Kalashnikov”, or “AK” for short. This design won the national competition and went into immediate manufacture, with the first models rolling out of the factory in 1947. The AK-47 was born.

While Mikhail Kalashnikov continued to design firearms up until his death, none have impacted the world like the AK-47. It is considered to be the single most prolific firearm in all of history. Instantly recognizable, the AK-47 is the gun of both freedom fighters and dictators alike, and its reliability and ease of use means nearly any person in any situation can operate it.

The AK-47 and its variants have been used by various militaries worldwide for over half a century and production continues today.

  • Christiano

    RIP Mikhali Kalashnikov..A true legend in his liftetime..
    May his soul rest in peace

  • Christiano

    Mikhail Kalashnikov 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 submachine gun design in 1942 and with a light machine gun in 1943, in 1944 he entered a competition for a new weapon that would chamber
    the 7.62×41mm cartridge developed by Yelizarov and Syomin in 1943 (the
    7.62×41mm cartridge predated the current 7.62×39mm M1943).In the 1944 competition for intermediate cartridge weapons, Kalashnikov
    submitted a semi-automatic, gas-operated carbine, strongly influenced
    by the American M1 Garand, but that lost out to a Simonov design, which was adopted as the SKS-45.

  • Christiano

    The main advantages of the Kalashnikov rifle are its simple design, fairly compact size, and adaptation to mass production. 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 a slight
    cost of accuracy, as the looser tolerances do not allow for precision
    and consistency.

  • Isaiah Wilson

    he died? wow that’s why ak prices has been rumored to drop. RIP father of freedom

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