Last month Mikhail Kalashnikov passed away at the age of 94. A man who began his life as the son of a peasant farmer, he had a knack for fixing farm equipment that eventually led to a decorated military career and recognition as one of the great arms designers. He is widely known for his invention of the AK-47, the world’s most produced firearm design. Because it has been used against US Service Members and is popular among terrorists, this firearm certainly sparks conversation as it did when I posted that I planned to shoot one on my Facebook page.
Three must read articles on Kalashnikov
- Farewell to Mikhail Kalashnikov – The Daily Caller
- Mikhail Kalashnikov: Father of 100 Million Rifles – Field & Stream
- Mikhail Kalashnikov – Wikipedia
The Avtomat Kalashnikova is a gas operated rifle chamber in 7.62x39mm. It’s simple design makes it easy to clean, maintain and mass produce. From Wikipedia:
Its ruggedness and reliability are legendary. The AK-47 was initially designed for ease of operation and repair by glove-wearing Soviet soldiers in Arctic conditions. The large gas piston, generous clearances between moving parts, and tapered cartridge case design allow the gun to endure large amounts of foreign matter and fouling without failing to cycle. This reliability comes at a slight cost of accuracy, as the looser tolerances do not allow for precision and consistency.
Thanks to my husband, I am now the proud owner of my own AK-47. Mine is a Zastava N-PAP M70 and it’s in wonderful condition. I really like the look, the mix of wood and dark metal. A relatively compact rifle, the stock length is comfortable and the pistol grip position makes the trigger easy to reach. At 8.5 lbs it feels solid and it is easy to imagine a broad-shouldered, Red Army soldier carrying it. My husband gave me a quick class on how to rock and lock the magazines in place along with the best way for me to pull back the bolt. The safety is a bit stiff on mine, but the trigger is fantastic and very smooth.
Shooting the AK for the First Time
If there was ever a gun to shoot flawlessly in the cold, the AK-47 would top the list. It just so happened to be very cold and rather windy the day I shot mine, kinda sorta like Siberia. After setting up the tripod in the snow and getting the gun, mags and ammo prepped in the garage (also extremely chilly), I had no intention of staying out too long with the windchill well below zero. I didn’t even set up a target, aiming for a “spot” on the berm to send a few quick rounds down range.
Being used to AR’s I expected a similar recoil, but it was noticeably different. The downward recoil pulse made shot to shot recovery very easy even though I wasn’t leaning into the gun as I should and it was moving me around a bit. Another thing that struck me when I was shooting was the feel of the AK’s massive bolt with charging handle moving back and slamming forward. It’s so large and exposed compared to the AR!
I really need to shoot this gun more, especially when I can feel my fingers! It seems the overwhelming consensus is that AK’s are not that accurate. I wonder how accurate mine is and plan shooting it more when its a bit warmer to find out. Stay tuned!