Mikhail Kalashnikov, Soviet Inventor of the AK-47, Dies at 94

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Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Soviet general who designed the ubiquitous automatic weapon that now bears his name, died on Dec. 23 at the age of 94. Iterations of the gun he invented now exist in the tens of millions, making it the most popular rifle in the wars of the latter half of the 20th century.

A former Soviet tank gunner of humble Siberian origins, Kalashnikov submitted his prototype as part of a competition held to design a new Soviet infantry rifle in the waning moments of World War II. The AK-47 was born: a lightweight automated gun that was both easy to use and maintain. As C.J. Chivers — the New York Times journalist and author of a book on the history of the AK-47 — writes, Soviet infantry first wielded these rifles during the brutal crackdown on the Hungarian uprising in 1956. It was “repression’s chosen weapon, the rifle of the occupier and police state,” writes Chivers. But it was also the chief instrument of a new generation of global conflict.

Use of the weapon first spread along ideological lines, proliferating among armies and militias that had common cause with the Soviet Union. It sprung up in Vietnam in the 1960s and made its way to insurgencies in Africa and Latin America. The flag of Mozambique — an ensign adopted after the successful struggle of leftist guerrillas against Portuguese colonial rule — still features an AK-47 armed with a bayonet.

Subsequent models and versions of the gun mushroomed elsewhere. It became synonymous with the activities of militant groups. In the 1980s, mujahedin brandishing Kalashnikovs clashed with the Soviet army occupying Afghanistan and, to this day, the culture that spawns the Taliban’s foot soldiers is branded with a telling alliteration: the Koran and the Kalashnikov.

Kalashnikov, the man himself, remained through his life a figure of Soviet and later Russian nationalism. He still professed loyalty to Lenin and Stalin, despite losing family members to Siberian prisons. He also claimed the creation of his weapon was not for offensive purposes, but the “defense of the motherland” — no matter that there’s now virtually no place on earth not in range of a Kalashnikov’s muzzle.

52 comments
vet63
vet63

Not to take away from old Mikhail but it should be pointed out the to call him "the inventor" is putting it a bit strongly. He was part of a design team which also included Hugo Schmeisser, the German inventor of the Stg 44 on which the AK-47 was modeled. Schmeisser was captured by the Russians and held prisoner until 1952. Also on the AK-47 design team team was Werner Gruner, another German who was involved with the design of the MG-42 machinegun and was a pioneer on sheet metal embossing techniques. It should be remembered that in the cold war days the Russians were taking credit for everything, the first radio, the first airplane, aspirin, you name it they claimed it. Thus they certainly were not going to acknowledge German contributions to the design of their new rifle. In a 2009 interview Mikhail did admit that Schmeisser contributed to the design. 

homework4add
homework4add

AK47 is used by the force of evil, M16 is used by force of justice.

This is what American video games have taught me.

sammescalito
sammescalito

Someone should take an AK47 and overthrow the Duck Dynasty.

davi.sousa
davi.sousa

A great man !

His presence will be missed especially in a moment where the world is dominated by hypocrisy of politically correct.

R.I.P Hero !

breindrein
breindrein

The fact that his weapon is everywhere and used for defensive and offensive purposes doesnt make him evil as the designer. He just designed a very good rifle. If he didn't design the AK then it would have been replaced with other rifles, although they would not work as efficiently. Kalashnikov start designing rifles as a response to Germany invading Russia, and after getting shot in a battle with Germans. He can't help if he was an excellent designer. If an American designed the same weapon then he would be seen as an american icon.

D.Rossi
D.Rossi

Mikhail Kalashnikov was a great inventor with a great design. Without him, how would middle-eastern people overthrow their power hungry dictators? M91/30's? Rocks and sticks? He made a simple enough design that the people under a dictatorship or similar kind of unwanted/harmful governing can afford to use them against their overlords and win their own freedom. And how could I have ever been introduced to my favorite rifle of all time, the 7.62x54r Vepr 02 (which sits right next to my 1937 Izzy m91/30), had such a man as Kalashnikov not invented it? He is an enginuitive genius who solved a major problem for the developing world. Affordable defence.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

In the world is made of the order of 1 million copies of the Kalashnikov. Sell counterfeit AK, according to the representatives of Rosoboronexport, not less than 35 foreign companies. Produce counterfeits in many countries from Eastern Europe to China. Russia's losses are of the order of $2 billion a year. "The requirements Russian side claims to a number of countries, positive results are not given", stated in Rosobonexport. Washington stimulates the demand for copies of the Kalashnikov assault rifles, which are produced outside Russia. Counterfeit Kalashnikov assault rifles fought the army Afghanistan and Iraq, which are in dependence on the United States.

M. T. Kalashnikov: "the Problem of illegal production and distribution of weapons should be solved at the level of the UN"

DeweySayenoff
DeweySayenoff

On the bright side, he'll have a procession of millions to escort him to hell.

GeoffreyDennis
GeoffreyDennis

Saddest thing to my mind is how "Kalashnikov" is the only Russian product with global brand-name recognition. Imagine if Britain were only known for its production of Enfields, or Japan for Nambu, the US for Remington? The largest country in the world has no equivilant to General Electric, no Ford, no Boeing, no Coca Cola, no Google, no Disney, no Starbucks.  Oh, they've given us a few world-famous celebrities - Stalin, and at least one notable chain - Gulags. And a gun. 

PacificSage
PacificSage

There's a blackout on China landing a probe on the moon, but THIS is a friggin' headline??

kevinodaugherty
kevinodaugherty

A fine rifle. One of the most iconic weapons ever created. You will never see the day when it ceases to be used, until something way better comes along. Futuristic plasma rifles perhaps.... until then this about as good as it gets. Sure the AR may be more accurate, but the beefy 7.62x39 round doesn't leave much to be desired as far as cartridge is concerned.


MatthewBurrier
MatthewBurrier

When you absolutely, positively, have to kill every mother***** in the room; accept no substitutes.

JamesSkidsen
JamesSkidsen

a fecal stain on humanity is finally gone.... good riddance to bad trash....

BoJiden
BoJiden

@sammescalitoWhat a perfect illustration of the need to keep our guns in defense of our freedoms. These goons would happily use them to impose their twisted political notions upon those who disagree with them. Congratulations. You're in the same class as Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. 

It's just as we figured: You don't hate guns or violence, you just hate that average folks have the means to keep you at bay.

twofacedcallout
twofacedcallout

@breindreinSorry but your strawman Russian non-argument doesn't work. He was Russian, he alone invented that weapon, you alone hold him up as an icon.  Shove that icon back up your Russian anus, maybe a bomb should explode in another Moscow subway and then you wouldn't be worshipping inventors of mass murder weapons, no you would be sobbing like a Russian baby and hypocrite then.

twofacedcallout
twofacedcallout

@D.RossiYes, "affordable defense" that was critical in keeping power hungry dictators in power in the first place. Duh.  Your type of genius is still nothing but evil genius. 

UruzmagAzamatov
UruzmagAzamatov

@GeoffreyDennis So you've never heard of Sukhoi? MiG? Mil? Gazprom? Lukoil? Lada? You don't remember that Russia was the first to launch a satellite into orbit and the first to put a man in space? You forgot that Russia fought the majority of World War II?  You must've been reading American history books...the ones that say how America came and saved the day for everybody...

kevinodaugherty
kevinodaugherty

It's predecessors the SKS and the 1895 Mosin Nagant are still used widely as well.

kevinodaugherty
kevinodaugherty

@drpersuasionI used to despise firearms too. I wasn't a hunter (would like to learn) and thought firearms for combat were cowardly compared to the old days of melee. But the reality is that they exist, and will continue to exist. I think we just need to be sure that there are more good guys with guns than bad guys. Or people will just go back to bludgeoning and slicing each other.

Imya
Imya

@JamesSkidsenTrash. I mean, real, stinky trach is YOU. Believe it or not.

aztecian
aztecian

@JamesSkidsenexactly...and we now 100 million of this piece of garbage...sad, but glad he the devil maker is gone. 

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

@JamesSkidsen  

1971 - 1973 - the bombing of Laos. In this country were dropped more bombs than in Nazi Germany.
Today, few Americans may remember the reason for the U.S. aggression against Laos.

LAOS. Monument to fighters with the American occupiers. http://imgur.com/B4rE9

 

UruzmagAzamatov
UruzmagAzamatov

@JamesSkidsen What, so if its an American gun designer that died, he was a war hero, but if its a Russian WWII veteran and a gun designer that died, he's "bad trash"...I see. Perhaps you should take a little more time to construct a coherent statement. Don't embarrass yourself with your mediocre English. 

Imya
Imya

@twofacedcallout@breindreinOnly such dumbass (murica, I guess) can call a gun "mass murder weaponry" LOL. You american cowards, used mass murder weaponry on civilians: nuclear bomb in Japan, napalm in Vietnam and were cynical and bold enough to JUSTIFY your crimes against humanity and MAKE the word close eyes on it. You are a NAZY country, aggressive and DUMB. You are a danger to the world. 

Kalashnikov is an icon, and you insect can do NOTHING about it. Take it.

breindrein
breindrein

@twofacedcalloutI'm South African, not Russian. Congratulations, it was pretty close though. White woman and children were killed here in SA by AK47s in the resistance struggle during apartheid and many people are still killed here with the rifle through crime. If he didn't create the rifle as a response to german invasion, then he could have invented something else and perhaps a cheap American or European rifle would be used be terrorists all over the world. Doesn't matter what his invention is used for, he was an good inventor, it just happened that the product is a weapon that can be used for offensive or defensive purposes. The nuke was created by clever scientists and inventors in a very short time, and it can cause the end of all life on the planet.

D.Rossi
D.Rossi

The only thing keeping them in power, for example, was their abundance of natural resources, and contracts with money hungry communists. Without affordable defense, the power hungry evils would still have ways of crushing those under them. Affordability simply gives the innocent a fighting chance. Duh.

twofacedcallout
twofacedcallout

@UruzmagAzamatov@GeoffreyDennisNo, but I haven't been reading your POS Komsomol history books and Patriotic Front playbooks either.  All Russia has ever done is invent new and better ways to murder, and animals like you and your babooshka mommies are so proud of it too!. Pathetic Slav POS. 

robertkj177
robertkj177

@UruzmagAzamatov@GeoffreyDennis :  Sukhoi and MiG: for the most part, just jets used by Russia and a handful of it's allies, but not a true international jet. Gazprom and Lukoil: Never heard of either. Lada: What is that? A 3rd-rate car? None in the West, as far as I know. Sure, Russia was first in space, but then they STOPPED cold in the 1960's and the USA passed them and achieved TEN times as much. Why didn't Russia ever go to the moon, even once?  Well?  As for WW2, the reason Russia fought so much is because they were INVADED by Germany. So? Almost any country with any kind of army fought back against German invasion. The USA would have defeated Germany even faster, had Germany been stupid enough to try to invade the US mainland.

bayushizero
bayushizero

@kevinodaugherty The 1930 Mosin is far more common than the "1895" (you meant 1891) original.

This as an owner of a war-veteran Soviet (Tula 1937) M91/30.

Now you want to talk about "beefy" round? The Mosin uses a beast of a 7.62x54mm cartridge. Quite possibly one of the reasons why this weapon has endured so long. Is likely also why it was chosen by Simo Häyhä to take down 505 Russian soldiers in the Russian-Finnish "Winter War" of the 30s.

Imya
Imya

@aztecian@JamesSkidsenIs it all because your 'murican weaponry designers are NOTHING compaired to Russians? Shame, yes?

RobertsonGlassford
RobertsonGlassford

@Sibir_Russia  It's remarkable how people won't consider absolute arguments these days; it always has to be relative (i.e. "so what if a Russian did something; the Americans did something worse"). 

I don't see anyone on this message board defending the horrifying bombing of SE Asia; in fact, in the late 60s and early 70s, Americans took advantage of their right to protest, and those turbulent protests helped to convince their country to pull the army out of Asia.

I’m sorry if I don’t feel like celebrating the life of an unrepentant arms creator/dealer whose invention is causing misery around the world to this day.But it also may be true that in some cases, it did provide a means for the defenseless to protect themselves.

twofacedcallout
twofacedcallout

@UruzmagAzamatov  No, that's how you think go and look in a mirror you Russian POS.  Or better yet, stick the Kalashnikov up that dirty Russian anus that serves for a mouth in Russia and then pull the trigger. 

Serawit
Serawit

@UruzmagAzamatov @JamesSkidsen  Many would say  the same about Samuel Colt or Eliphalet Remington.  So don't get your panties bunched up over a non-existent distinction, in this case at least. Oh, and I thought JamesSkidesen's English is just fine.  Who died and made you the grammar police on the internet?

BoJiden
BoJiden

Wow, that was a snappy comeback. Hey, the jerk store called; they're running out of you...


"How feeble is the mindset to accept defenselessness."

twofacedcallout
twofacedcallout

@D.RossiI see.  So why not use that affordable defense on yourself since you love it so much? Duh.  You sound just as evil. 

twofacedcallout
twofacedcallout

@sammescalitoAnother Russian animal exposes his ignorance of actual history and confuses it with Russian lies and propaganda.  Now go and stick your Kalashnikov barrel in your mouth and do the world a favor by blowing off your Russian animal head.

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

@robertkj177@UruzmagAzamatov@GeoffreyDennis

Interesting story with an exchange of Soviet and American lunar soil.

July 1969, Astronauts of Apollo 11» allegedly brought 20 kg of lunar soil.

September 1970, Our station «Luna-16» on Earth delivers the lunar soil, and now Soviet scientists have something to offer in exchange. This puts NASA in a difficult position. But NASA expects that in early 1971, it will automatically deliver it to the Land of their lunar soil, and of course, in January 1971 agreement on the exchange of already concluded. But the exchange did not occur for another 10 months. Apparently, the US, something went wrong with the automatic delivery. And Americans are beginning to pull the rubber...

In July 1971 as a goodwill unilaterally the USSR handed to USA 3 grams of lunar soil from the «Luna-16», but from the United States receives nothing, although agreement on the exchange was signed six months ago and in the storeroom NASA allegedly is already 96 kg of lunar soil (from «Apollo-11», «Apollo-12» and «Apollo-14»). Thus, own samples of the lunar soil, in the United States not wasuntil 1972. NASA was able to send a sample of the lunar soil only in April 1972.


Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

@robertkj177@UruzmagAzamatov@GeoffreyDennis

On the moon, we were the first. Your samples of lunar soil matched our - this proves that the Americans were on the moon, but we have been there before. we are the first to be able to launch an artificial satellite of the earth,  we was done first pictures of the far side of the moon, the first went into open space and many more in the world were we the first.  

Sibir_Russia
Sibir_Russia

@robertkj177@UruzmagAzamatov@GeoffreyDennis  

"Sukhoi and MiG: for the most part, just jets used by Russia and a handful of it's allies" 

Your opinion is outdated. Russia takes the first place on number of sold fighters for the year. We are also leading in the sales of main battle tanks and air defense systems.

UruzmagAzamatov
UruzmagAzamatov

@twofacedcallout Anal references, how comical...but it suits you well because you must love it in the ass and practice every day. 

UruzmagAzamatov
UruzmagAzamatov

@Serawit He was a war veteran that wanted to empower his comrades after he saw them getting wiped away with German firepower. He differs from Colt and Remington because he was not a profiteer, he was a defender of his country. He is a hero to the Russian people and calling him a "fecal stain" is really distasteful and ignorant. If you disagree, I oblige you to explain.