The Odd Couple: Kalashnikov And Stoner

KalashnikovAndStoner

Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the AK47, and Eugene Stoner, designer of the AR-­15, first met at Washington Dulles airport on May 15, 1990. Kalashnikov came to the United States by invitation from the Smithsonian Institution, which was administered by Edward "Ed" Ezell, author and former curator for the National Firearms Collection at the National Museum of American History. Ezell had gathered oral histories from both Kalashnikov and Stoner independently, which included a visit to Russia in July 1989.

The first interviews with both Kalashnikov and Stoner took place in Star Tannery, Virginia, May 15 through May 20, 1990. The meeting was visually and textually documented for Smithsonian archives. Kalashnikov and Stoner were juxtaposed as they greeted one another, though they had come to know each other through mutual study. Although like-­minded in their education, history of overcoming adversity against government opposition, and passion for small arms simplicity and interchangeability, the two men were opposites. Despite the fact that Stoner was rarely caught on camera smiling, this photograph captured the moment the two first held the other's rifle in each other's presence in Quantico, Virginia.

A similar moment was captured again in 1996, the year before Stoner's death. Until then, Kalashnikov continued to visit U.S. trade events and made public appearances with Stoner at the SHOT Show on several occasions, often posing for photographs with Stoner at the Knight's Armament booth. Still, they considered their relationship as little more than a professional acquaintanceship.


In a conversation, with the help of his daughter Elena as translator, Kalashnikov couldn't comprehend the word "millionaire," which was used when first describing Stoner. Kalashnikov couldn't understand why any designer like himself would accept money for creating arms so widely used by their homeland. Though Kalashnikov was one of his country's highest ranking generals, he wasn't rich. Stoner, on the other hand, earned royalties from Colt for every AR-­pattern rifle it produced.


Kalashnikov marveled at the AR-­15's impact in advancing firearm manufacturing with the use of different materials, but he remained proud of his creation and often praised the AK47 as being the best and most widely used firearm worldwide. In contrast, Stoner didn't hype his gun, though he was most satisfied with the light rifle's developments during the 1950s and '60s. In the 1990s, Stoner couldn't understand why the military and manufacturers were intent on making the AR heavier. Beyond those comments, Stoner is often remembered as humble. Kalashnikov died on Dec. 23, 2013, in Izhevsk, Russia, at age 94.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

A New Season of G&A TV

A New Season of G&A TV

In this new season of Guns & Ammo TV, we introduce two new series and bring back a viewer favorite - Camera's Don't Lie. We look at long-range tech and see how to make shots previously thought impossible. Next we visit ISS Prop House in Hollywood.

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Hornady 6MM Creedmoor

Tom Beckstrand and Neal Emery of Hornady highlight the 6MM Creedmoor ammo.

Armscor Semi-Auto Shotguns

Armscor Semi-Auto Shotguns

We look at the new shotguns from Armscor - the VR80 and the brand new bullpup VRBP100.

Trijicon

Trijicon's New Specialized Reflex Optics (SRO)

The Trijicon SRO is specifically designed for pistol use. The wide field of view and clean, crisp dot makes it easy for users to find and track the dot in both target and competitive shooting applications.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

Check out these great options for Dad on Father's Day! Accessories

2019 Guns & Ammo Father's Day Gift Guide

G&A Digital Staff - May 07, 2019

Check out these great options for Dad on Father's Day!

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and deer; here's everything you need to know to make it work for you. Rifle

.350 Legend Cartridge: Everything You Need to Know

Tom Beckstrand - April 02, 2019

The Winchester .350 Legend straight-wall cartridge is ideally suited for hunting hogs and...

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a zeroed rifle scope. Here's how to sight in your rifle scope setup in five quick-and-easy steps. How-To

How to Sight In a Rifle Scope in 5 Steps

Craig Boddington - June 04, 2018

Whether you're going hunting or to the range, hitting your target is more fun when you have a...

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights. Conventional wisdom says slower twist rates wouldn't properly-stabilize a heavy bullet. On the other hand, faster rates could over-stabilize lighter bullets. This is correct in theory, however, modern ballisticians have all but debunked the over-stabilization theory. All things being equal, it is better to have too much twist than not enough. How-To

Pairing Barrel Twist Rates with Bullets for .223 and 5.56 NATO

Keith Wood - November 17, 2018

A guide on how to pair .223 and 5.56 NATO rifle barrel twist rates with bullet weights....

See More Trending Articles

More Historical

An accomplished shotgun shooter, former G&A editor Buz Fawcett was quite the shot with other firearms as well. Historical

The Instinctive Shooter Buz Fawcett - G&A's Third Editor

G&A Editors - October 17, 2018

An accomplished shotgun shooter, former G&A editor Buz Fawcett was quite the shot with other...

From the Historical

[RETRO] .223 and 6mm-223 Load Data for Long-Range Handguns

Bob Milek - September 16, 2019

From the "Guns & Ammo" April 1982 issue: The .223 Remington, a NATO cartridge, and the 6mm-223...

It may be the ugly duckling of military firearms, but the Lee-Enfield series of bolt action rifles served the British Empire from the closing years of the 19th century, almost to the 21st. Historical

Enfield- 'Gun Stories'

G&A Online Editors - August 22, 2018

It may be the ugly duckling of military firearms, but the Lee-Enfield series of bolt action...

This Spanish-made .32 became a mainstay of French forces in World War I. Historical

The Ruby Pistol

Gary James - November 09, 2018

This Spanish-made .32 became a mainstay of French forces in World War I.

See More Historical

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Guns and Ammo subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now