The AK-47 is a selective-fire, gas-operated 7.62x39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov in the late 1940s. It is officially known in the Soviet documentation as Avtomat Kalashnikova (Russian: Автомат Калашникова). It is also known as Kalashnikov, AK, or in Russian slang, Kalash.
The original AK-47 appears very briefly in Rambo III, seen carried by the Mujahideen and carried by civilians in Peshawar, Pakistan.
The ones in the early parts of the film are authentic Soviet AK-47s (the real deal). These were all captured enemy arms, taken during the many wars between Israel and their neighbor nations. Israeli movie armorers have access to tons of authentic captured Soviet weaponry over the years, and any film shot in Israel would have real Soviet guns.
History and DesignEdit
The AK-47 is best described as a hybrid of previous rifle technology innovations. "Kalashnikov decided to design an automatic rifle combining the best features of the American M1 and the German StG44." Design work on the AK-47 began in the last year of World War II, 1945. Self-taught gunsmith, a Soviet tank sergeant named Mikhail Kalashnikov began his career as a weapon designer while hospitalized after he was wounded in the shoulder during the Battle of Bryansk. In 1944, Kalashnikov entered a design competition, where he unveiled his new gas-operated, long stroke piston carbine chambered in the intermediate 7.62x39mm cartridge, which was strongly influenced by the American M1 Garand. Some ideas were taken from the first assault rifle ever made, the German StG-44, but the StG-44 has more in common with the American M16 than the AK. Kalashnikov designed the rifle to be durable due to its tough construction and loose tolerances. The rifle was also built from interchangeable stamped parts and was simple, quick and cheap to mass produce. After the war in 1946, the AK-47 was presented for official military trials, and it was approved and patented in 1947. In 1948, the fixed-stock version was introduced into active service with selected units of the Soviet Army. An early development of the design was the AKS (S—Skladnoy or "folding"), which was equipped with an underfolding metal shoulder stock. In 1949, the AK-47 was officially accepted by the Soviet Armed Forces and used by the majority of the member states of the Warsaw Pact. The AK-47 is the earliest rifle of Kalashiknov design, and for many years, was the official weapon of the Soviet army, although it was later replaced within ten years by the updated, lighter AKM.
Many get these two designs confused, however, they are essentially the same gun; albeit minor construction differences and some modifications to improve efficiency and reliability. Originally, the AK was designed with a stamped receiver, but the process had not been mastered yet, so they resorted to a milled receiver. However, throughout the 1950s, the Soviets mastered stamped metals and designed a simpler and thinner AK receiver and it was adopted fully in 1959. The rest of the firearm was also re-designed, so it was not just made with lighter metals, but also lighter woods. The pistol grip was also replaced with synthetic bakelite. The original milled AK is heavier than the AKM, and is seen as similar to a working prototype, as almost every Kalashnikov made for military use has been manufactured with a simpler, thinner, lighter and cheaper stamped receiver. Nonetheless, the milled AKs, particularly the milled Type 56, still see use all over the world. Although the AK-47 was quickly replaced by the AKM in the East Bloc, the Chinese made countless millions upon millions of milled receiver AK-47 clones, the Type 56 (which are almost virtually identical to the original AK-47), before they would also begin work on stamped receivers. The Chinese built roughly 15 million Type 56 rifles, possibly more; as official records and serial numbers were never recorded, so it is unknown just how many Type 56s sported milled receivers.
Because of this, over 100 million Kalashnikovs have been produced worldwide, and one in every five firearms in the world is an AK. The Kalashnikov was so cheap, it was disposable, and because of this, AKs were literally given to other communist countries during the cold war, which is why the AKs have such wide availabilty. No country was this more true for than China, which produced over 15 million of its own AKs, the Type 56, with Soviet-supplied machinery and designs. The AK was also easy to train poorly-educated peasants with, as its design was so simple. Due to this, even children can operate the rifle. Even after six decades, the model and its variants remain the most popular and widely used assault rifles in the world because of their substantial, unmatched, even legendary reliability even under harsh conditions, low production costs compared to contemporary Western weapons, availability in virtually every geographic region and ease of use. The AK-47 has been manufactured in many countries and has seen service with armed forces as well as irregular forces worldwide, and was the basis for developing many other types of individual and crew-served firearms. More AK-type rifles have been produced than all other assault rifles combined. The AK-47 is the most widely used and dangerous piece of technology from the twentieth century, more so than the atomic bomb. Millions of AKs have seen combat, and some stocks are said to have tally marks. The AK is so popular around the world that it has become an icon of the 20th century. Mozambique even went as far as to put it on their flag, as it was so instrumental in winning their revolution. The Soviets also put the rifle on their coins.
Differences from AKMEdit
- Obviously, the AK has a milled receiver and the AKM has a stamped receiver. The milled receiver of the AK makes the rifle heavier, thicker and more costly and time-consuming to produce.
- The AK handguards are slab-sided, meaning that they lack the more ergonomic yet more expensive and complex palm swell handguards, popularly associated with Soviet AKMs.
- A major identifying characteristic of the AK is the gas relief ports are located on the sides of the gas tube, unlike the AKM, which had the gas relief ports relocated forward to the gas block.
- The pistol grip is made of wood, unlike the AKM's pistol grip, which is made of synthetic Bakelite plastic and colored to match the color of wood.
- The barrel on the AK is heavier than that of the AKM. It does not have an AKM-style slant muzzle brake.
- The fixed stock of an AK has a more curved and less in-line stock like the AK-47, opposed to the AKM which has a straighter stock.
- The trigger guard on an AKM is square-shaped, while the trigger guard on an AK is curved.
- The AK has a blued finish, unlike the AKM, which has a black oxide finish or a parkerized finish.
- Sights on the AK will only adjust to 800 metres, whereas AKM sights adjust to 1000 metres.
- The AK has the double hook disconnector, rather than the single hook disconnector of the AKM.
- The AK lacks the hammer release delay device of the AKM. The lack of hammer retarder is perhaps due to a preference of a slightly higher rate of fire, and simplicity.