One of the most well-known, highly recognized assault rifles of current day is the AK-47.  This infamous rifle was developed by the Soviet Union’s Mikhail Kalashnikov.  Its official Russian name was Avtomat Kalashnikova but it was also referred to as Kalashnikov, or AK.  Russian’s also used the slang word ‘Kalash’ when referencing this weapon.  Many consider it the number one rifle in the military.

The development of this weapon began in 1945 and by 1946 (just after the end of WWII) a prototype – AK-46 – was produced for a military trial.  The following year, a newer version with a fixed-stock was received by selected units within the Soviet Army.  The AK-47 was formally accepted into the Soviet Armed Forces in 1949.

Design History

The concept of an assault rifle was first recognized by the Germans during WWII.  Statistics showed that the majority of fire fights incurred during the war occurred within a 400 meter range.  Contemporary rifles available at that time proved to be overpowering for these small arms combat situations.  The design included the need for the power of a submachine gun combined with the range and accuracy of a rifle.  The first design vision resulted in the Sturmgewehr 44.

The Russians were consistently outgunned by the German military throughout WWII and was definitely impressed with their Sturmgewehr 44 assault rifle.  Desiring their own assault rifle, the Russian’s held a design competition and the AK-47 surfaced.

Features of the AK-47

The AK-47s design is simple making it easy to produce.  The weapon is relatively compact and is easy to clean and maintain.  The gun’s reliability, however, comes at the sacrifice of its accuracy.  The rifle is not intended for long-range engagements.  The service life of the AK-47 Assault Rifle averages 6,000 – 15,000 rounds.


  • Type:  Assault Rifle
  • Service History:  1949 to Present Day
  • Produced:  1949 to 1959
  • Total Number Produced:  75 million (estimate)
  • Weight:  10.5 lbs.
  • Barrel Length:  16.3 inches
  • Cartridge:  7.62×39 mm M43/M67
  • Rate of Fire:  600 rounds per minute
  • Effective Range:  440 yards

Over a dozen different variants of the AK-47 assault rifle have been produced since its inception; they are used by over 60 nations throughout the world.

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