Category: Shotguns and Smoothbores
Ak-47 is a gas-operated, selective-fire assault rifle that was first developed in Russia by Mikhail Kalashnikov. The name AK-47 itself designates Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle—1947 model, even though the rifle’s official name is Avtomat Kalashnikov.
The riffle’s design work began in 1945—the final year of World War II. In fact it was after the war, in 1946, that the rifle was first presented for military trials. The fixed-stock version of the rifle was then introduced two years later by selected Soviet Army units into the active service. It was until 1949 that the Soviet Army Forces officially accepted the rifle. It didn’t take long after that before a great majority of states affiliated with the Warsaw Pact started using it.
Six decades since the rifle was developed, it still stands as the world’s most popular assault rifle for a number of reasons; one, the rifle can actually be relied upon even under harsh environmental conditions; two, the production cost of the rifle--when compared to the rest of the contemporary western weapons--is extremely low; and lastly, it is considered one of the easiest assault rifles to use.
Presently, many countries are actually manufacturing the rifle, the bulk of which is used by both the armed and irregular forces worldwide. It has also been the basis under which many of the other crew-served and individual firearms are developed. But at the moment, the total number of AK-types rifles produced outweighs the number of all the other assault rifles manufactured, when combined.
AK-47 design can best be described as the fusion of different rifle technology. In quick highlights, there is the trigger mechanism, unlocking raceway, and the double locking lugs from M1 Garand, all combined with the safety mechanism from Remington Model 8 and gas system from the Sturmgewehr rifle.
Although Kalashnikov was quick to point out that his design drew nothing from the German’s Sturmgewehr 44 rifle, many people believe the rifle was the benchmark of Kalashnikov’s gas system. After all, Kalashnikov’s team had access to all types of rifles during the invention of the rifle. Other sources also claim Kalashnikov might have copied his design from Simonov’s AVS and Bulkin’s TKB-415.
The AK-47 was actually designed to be simple and very reliable. It was supposed to be that assault rifle that could easily be manufactured using mass production methods.
As such, the gun has a large gas piston, a tapered cartridge case, as well as a generous clearance between moving parts to help it endure huge chunks of foreign matter. Unfortunately, the rifle’s reliability somehow affects the accuracy, since looser tolerances come at the expense of consistency and precision.
The gun’s accuracy is considered “good enough” for hitting an adult torso out to approximately 300 meters. In fact, at 300 meters (984 feet), a number of expert shooters (firing the AK-47 at a bench and prone in rest positions) found it impossible to hit the target in ten consecutive rounds, all in a row. So with this observation it was apparent that ever since Kalashnikov took it upon himself to invent the rifle, significant improvement on the rifle’s accuracy is yet to be done.