Country of origin
7.62 x 39 mm
Cyclic rate of fire
Practical rate of fire
40 - 100 rpm
Range of effective fire
300 - 400 m
assault rifle was designed in 1946-1947 by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The
acronym stands for "Kalashnikov's Assault Rifle, Model 1947".
Prototype of this Soviet assault rifle, the
was basically a reverse-engineered and simplified version of the
StG 44. It had a number of
modifications over the StG 44 in order to simplify production and to
adapt to available manufacturing methods. Soviets were basically
unable to produce the StG 44 in its original form in large numbers
as the German weapon required advanced manufacturing methods and
precision. The AK-46 was also influenced by the American
semi-automatic rifle. The AK-46 never reached production but paved
the way for the legendary AK-47.
was a significantly improved and rechambered version of the AK-46.
The resulting weapon had many differences comparing with the German
StG 44. Was the AK-47 a Soviet copy of the German StG 44 assault
rifle? Certainly not. Even though the StG 44 influenced the AK-47,
and both weapons had broadly similar external appearance, but
mechanically the StG 44 can claim only marginal influence.
the improved AK-47 was adopted Soviet Army simply as Avtomat Kalashnikova
(Kalashnikov's Assault Rifle), or
AK. So official designation of this weapon was AK, rather than AK-47
as it is commonly known today. Number "47" in the designation indicates
that it is "Model 1947". The AK-47 designation was began
to be used when improved versions of this weapon, such as the
were introduced. So mass production of the AK-47 began in 1949. This design was so
successful, that shortly it displaced every other firearm in the
Soviet Army, except pistols, machine guns and sniper rifles. It was
a standard-issue infantry weapon until 1959, when improved
assault rifle was introduced. Modern
versions of the AK-47 are still standard-issue infantry rifles with the
most beliefs the original AK-47 assault rifle is no longer used. In
most cases weapons that we see today are actually not the AK-47 but
its newer and significantly improved versions. The names 'AK-47' and
'Kalashnikov' are often incorrectly applied to any
Kalashnikov-derived rifle regardless of type or country of origin.
Furthermore the original AK-47 with a stamped receiver was actually
a failure in mass production. Still though the AK-47 made its name
for its reliability, ruggedness, simplicity of operation and
maintenance. After its introduction this assault rifle was
constantly improved in order to simplify production and improve its
capabilities. It took 10 years to develop and perfect a sheet metal
fabrication for this weapon. Improved and late production AK-47
rifles have some minor differences. Production of the original AK-47
stopped in the Soviet Union in the late 1950s and this weapon is no
longer used. Export operators also retired the original AK-47 in
favor of its improved versions.
Currently newer versions
of this assault rifle are used by more than 100 countries. It is estimated that over 90
millions of AK series rifles were produced during the last 60 years. It was
license produced in a number of countries around the world. It is one of the
best examples of a basic individual infantry weapon. Derivatives of
the AK-47 are still manufactured in a number of countries. This
extremely successful design became a base for a number of copies and
clones. It was
also used as a platform for numerous civilian rifles and shotguns.
made its name for reliability. It is very reliable in all
environments due to its design simplicity. It does
not jam or misfire in worst conditions possible. Also it has
reliable extraction even with dirty chamber and cases. This assault
rifle needs regular cleaning, but it is not that critical. It will
still fire with fouled mechanics, dirty chamber and cases.
Furthermore it will keep on firing, no matter how fouled, clogged or
dirty it gets. Even in case of stoppage it can be easily fixed by
bracing the buttstock against the ground and charging the weapon
with the foot.
AK-47 is extremely durable. This weapon withstands harsh battlefield
conditions and all abuse that soldier can throw at it. This assault
rifle passed rigorous tests before its adoption by the Soviet Army.
was a child of a Soviet total war concept. It is extremely simple to
operate and to maintain. It can be field stripped in one minute
without using any tools. This assault rifle has few moving parts.
There are no small and fiddly parts that are easy to loose while
cleaning the weapon. Internal mechanisms are essentially big chunks
rifle is perfectly suitable for poorly trained or untrained
recruits. Even children could easily operate it.
engineering standpoint the AK-47 is a simple and low-tech weapon. It
was cheap to produce in large numbers. Production of this assault
rifle could be easily established using readily available machining
technology. This weapon is of conventional design and is made of
common materials, such as steel and wood. The parts are manufactured
to less precision. Its simplicity was key to its success.
However the AK-47
also had some drawbacks. It has a poor
ergonomics and is badly balanced. Also it has got violent action.
This leads to poor firing accuracy. In terms of accuracy this weapon
looses to most Western assault or
Design of the AK-47 was
based on the German
StG 44 assault rifle.
However it also had some features of the American
semi-automatic rifle, such as rotating bolt design and trigger
group. Also it had features of the Soviet SVT semi-automatic rifle,
notably action spring's arrangement. It is a gas-operated, selective-fire weapon, chambered for the
Soviet 7.62x39 mm intermediate ammunition.
There is a combined
safety and fire mode selector switch. In "safe" postition it locks the bolt group and the trigger
mechanism. It also serves as a dust cover. The middle
position is for full-auto and the bottom position is for semi-auto.
The AK-47 was produced
with a wooden stock. There is a special compartment inside the
buttstock, that stores a cleaning kit for the weapon. There was a more compact
AKS-47) version with an underfolding metal stock. It was used by the Soviet airborne troops. Both weapons have similar design,
except the buttstock.
A standard magazine holds
30 rounds. The AK-47 is compatible with
40 rounds box magazines or 75 rounds drum magazines from
rifle has a sighting range settings from 100 to 800 meters. However
it is way too optimistic, since the effective range of fire is
limited to 300-400 meters.
A bayonet can be
attached. It was typically issued togeather with the assault rifle.
the years the Soviets kept on improving this basic design and
production methods of this weapon. Some countries were licensed to
make their own AKs and were supplied with tooling and training.
Other countries simply reverse-engineered this weapon.
never bothered to patent design of the AK-47 or its improved
variants. Some countries simply reverse-engineered this weapon. The
only actual patent was issued in 1997 in Russia. Before that there
were no serious attempts to prevent unlicensed production of this
weapon. The AK-47 has spread all over the world and even made a
AKS-47) is a version with an underfolding metal stock. This
assault rifle is similar to the basic AK-47, except the buttstock.
It was adopted in 1950 and was
used by the Soviet airborne troops and some other units that
required a more compact weapon.
an improved production version. In the mid 1950s Soviet Army issued
new requirement for a lighter and more accurate assault rifle. These
requirements were also complemented by a squad automatic weapon.
Kalashnikov submitted his new version of the AK-47 with a number of
improvements, including a stamped receiver. The new weapon was
lighter and more accurate. Eventually this improved assault rifle
was adopted to service in 1959 as the AKM along with the
machine gun. The AKM was a standard-issue infantry weapon until 1974.
copies of the Soviet AK-47 are Bulgarian AK-47, Chinese
Type 56, East
German MPiK, Hungarian AK-47, North Korean Type 58, Polish AK and Yugoslavian