By: Marc Kelley
Syndicated by: Montana News
The AK-47 is the most wide spread weapon in the world with an estimated 100 million rifles in use today. However, it is unfortunate, the AK-47 has become the quintessential image of evil. It is often seen as the weapon of choice for terrorists, criminals and oppressive military regimes. Its image is used in symbolism thru out the world to portray strength and independence. You will even find the AK-47 proudly displayed on the Flag of Mozambique, shown of course, with its bayonet fixed for close combat. Today, weapons like the AK-47 are on the top of the list of the anti-gun coalition and it is uncertain how much longer, those of us who appreciate this piece of history, will be allowed to own this firearm. The ultimate irony in this situation comes from Mikhail Kalashnikov himself. Despite the popularity and the incredible production numbers of the AK-47, Kalashnikov never realized any money from his design. As a Soviet soldier, he was paid wages; however, his design was considered to belong to the Soviet People and not Kalashnikov as an individual. When you combine the fact Kalashnikov always believed in his heart, his beloved AK-47, was a weapon to be used for defense and not for offensive or aggressive tactics, a clear picture begins to be formed of just how far the perversion of this firearm has gone.
The concept of the AK-47 began in 1941. After being wounded and while recovering in the hospital, Mikhail Kalashnikov, a self described "tinkerer", sketched a design for a new type of rifle. Not long after the end of WWII, Kalashnikovs' design was selected as the winner of a Soviet weapons design contest and production of the AK-47 became a reality. The AK-47 was cheap to produce, highly reliable in almost any environmental condition, from the desert to the jungle. It was easy to clean, easy to operate and easy to use. Kalashnikov is rumored to have said, " My rifle embraces everything the Russian People believe. If something is to be useful, it must be simple and anything that is simple, therefor is useful".
How the AK-47 Funtions
The AK-47 is simple in that it contains only eight moving parts. While the rifle is produced with both a milled receiver (machined from a solid block of steel), it is most frequently seen with a stamped receiver (the receiver is pressure stamped from sheet metal). It is the stamping of the sheet metal receivers that have the greatest impact on the overall cost of production. Additionally, the tolerances .i.e how closely the pieces of a firearm fit together, were designed to have much more leeway than is found with an AR style weapon. These greater tolerances allow the AK-47 to function under the most adverse conditions and contribute to the much lower maintenance requirement for the rifle. It is often said (not by those of us who love the AK) the worst thing you can do to an AK-47 is clean it. I have a very good friend who did three tours as a nurse at Baghdad Hospital in Iraq. He would always tease me about the required maintenance of the AK, telling me in Iraq, the locals would unlace their boots, tie knots in the laces, dip them in motor oil and pull the laces thru the bore of their rifles. In Iraq, that is cleaning your weapon.
Today, the AK-47 is produced by virtually every country capable of manufacturing weapons. In Russia the price of an AK-47 is about
$ 240.00 American dollars, in the Balkans about $ 150.00 and in the markets of Mogadishu Somalia, the AK can be purchased for about $ 30.00. In the U.S. the AK-47 can be found in several configurations and will range in price from upwards of $1,500.00 for a pre-ban foreign made rifle to as little as $ 450.00 for a rifle made from an American receiver and fitted together with military surplus parts.
AK-47 ammo or the 7.62x39 round also plays a role in the operation and efficiency of the rifle. The metric measurement 7.62mm refers the the diameter of the projectile. 7.62 correlates to 30 caliber, while the 39 mm refers to the length of the casing itself i.e. 7.62 x 51 equals a .308, 7.62 x 63 equals a 30.06. The 7.62 x 39 round is considered an intermediate cartridge in that it falls between the 5.56 x 45 NATO round utilized by the AR/M16 rifles and the 7.62x51 NATO round or .308 as we know it. While you can certainly buy brass cased ammo for your AK-47, the real question is, why would you? As a result of the greater tolerances designed into the AK-47, it will eat steel cased ammo all day long, why…because it was made to function with this ammo. Both commercial ammo as well as military surplus ammo is readily available for the AK-47.
* NOTE If you use military Surplus ammo you will need to clean your rifle. Much of the military surplus ammo is "corrosive" in that it utilizes what are called Berdan primers. Berdan primers use the chemicals potassium chlorate or sodium petrochlorate to ignite the main powder charge. When burned these chemicals decompose into a salt, which is very similar to table salt. As hydrogen and oxygen from humidity combines with the salt, it produces an acid which will rust and pit your barrel. The take home message here is that corrosive ammo does not equate to poor quality ammo, it simply means you must remove the residue from your firearm with regular cleaning.
Endless discussions concerning which cartridge is superior the 556 NATO or the 7.62 x 39 and in reality no consensus will ever be reach and agreed upon by everyone. Both cartridges have their strengths and their weaknesses and you will have to decide for yourself, which characteristics are most important to you. The fact that both 556 /223 and 7.62x39 ammo is readily available in a wide range of bullet weights and types, for many of us, cost becomes the issue. The 7.62x39 round is available at a fraction of the cost of the 223 Rem / 5.56 NATO round. For my money, I believe, once again, Kalashnikov was correct in his choice of cartridge. While 223 Rem / 5.56 Nato ammo is available at around .30 cents per round, 7.62 x 39 ammo is easily found for 24 cents per round. While this price difference may seem minimal, it is only important if you like shooting your firearms more than just looking at them.
In this issue, you will find a variety of AK-47 variants. No matter which one appeals to your taste, I assure you, once you fire and AK-47, you will truly understand, why this iconic firearm tops the list for many collectors. You too, will love shooting the AK-47 and I would love to hear about your experiences.