A Kalashnikov rifle is any one of a series of automatic rifles based on the original design of Mikhail Kalashnikov. They are officially known in Russian as "Avtomat Kalashnikova" ("Kalashnikov's Automatic Gun"; Russian: Автома́т Кала́шникова), but are widely known as Kalashnikovs, AK47s, or in Russian slang, as a "Kalash". They were originally manufactured in the Soviet Union, primarily by Kalashnikov Concern, formerly Izhmash, but these rifles and their variants are now manufactured in many other countries.
The Kalashnikov is considered as one of the most pervasively used guns in the world, with an estimated 7.5 million to 200 million rifles in circulation around the world (accounting for roughly 20 percent of the entire global stock of firearms as of 2015) and present in almost 100 countries.
|AK||7.62×39mm M43||1949||Izhmash and others|
|AKM||7.62×39mm M43||1959||Izhmash, Tula Arms Plant and others|
|AK-200, AK-205||5.45×39mm M74||2018||Kalashnikov Concern|
|AK-101, AK-102||5.56×45mm NATO||1995||Izhmash|
|AK-201, AK-202||5.56×45mm NATO||2018||Kalashnikov Concern|
|AK-103, AK-104||7.62×39mm M43||2001||Izhmash|
|AK-203, AK-204||7.62×39mm M43||2018||Kalashnikov Concern|
|AK-12, AK-12K||5.45×39mm M74||2011||Kalashnikov Concern, formerly Izhmash|
|AK-15, AK-15K||7.62×39mm M43||2018||Kalashnikov Concern|
|Name||Country||Cartridge||Length extended/folded (mm)||Barrel length (mm)||Weight (kg) (empty)||Cyclic rate of fire (rounds per minute)||Maximum sighting range (m)||Muzzle velocity (m/s)|
|AK||Soviet Union||7.62×39mm M43||870||415||3.47||600||800||715|
|AKM||Soviet Union||7.62×39mm M43||880||415||3.1||600||1,000||715|
|RPK(s)||Soviet Union||7.62×39mm M43||1040/820||590||4.80/5.6||600||1,000||745|
|AK-74||Soviet Union||5.45×39mm M74||943||415||3.07||600||1,000||900|
|AKS-74||Soviet Union||5.45×39mm M74||933/690||415||2.97||600||1,000||900|
|AK-74M||Soviet Union||5.45×39mm M74||943/705||415||3.4||650||1,000||900|
|AKS-74U||Soviet Union||5.45×39mm M74||730/490||206,5||2.7||700||500||735|
|AK-9||Russia||9×39mm||705/465||200||3.1/3.8 (with suppressor)||600||400||290 (СП-5) / 305 (СП-6)|
- Issue of 1948/49 – The very earliest models, with the Type 1 stamped sheet metal receiver, are now very rare.
- Issue of 1951 – Type 2: Has a milled receiver. Barrel and chamber are chrome plated to resist corrosion.
- Issue of 1954/55 – Type 3: Lightened milled receiver variant. Rifle weight is 3.47 kg (7.7 lb).
- AKS – Featured a downward-folding metal stock similar to that of the German MP40, for use in the restricted space in the BMP infantry combat vehicle, as well as by paratroops.
- AKN (AKSN) – Night scope rail.
- AKM – A simplified, lighter version of the AK-47; Type 4 receiver is made from stamped and riveted sheet metal. A slanted muzzle device was added to counter climb in automatic fire. Rifle weight is 2.93 kg (6.5 lb) due to the lighter receiver. This is the most ubiquitous variant of the AK-47.
- RPK – Hand-held machine gun version with longer barrel and bipod. The variants – RPKS, RPKN (RPKSN), RPKL (RPKSL) – mirror AKM variants. The "S" variants have a side-folding wooden stock.
Low-impulse variants (5.45×39mm)
- AK-74 – Assault rifle.
- AKS-74U (Krinkov) – Compact carbine.
- AKS-74UN – Night scope rail.
- RPK-74 – Light machine gun.
The 100 Series
5.45×39mm / 5.56×45mm NATO / 7.62×39mm
- AK-74M / AK-101 / AK-103 – Modernized AK-74. Scope rail and side-folding stock.
- AK-105 / AK-102 / AK-104 – Carbine.
- AK-107 / AK-108 / AK-109 – Balanced recoil models.
- RPK-74M / RPK-201 / RPKM (A.K.A. RPK-203) – Light machine guns.
- AK-9 – 9×39mm compact assault rifle, usually equipped with a suppressor.
The AK-12 series
5.45×39mm / 7.62×39mm
- AK-12 / AK-15 – A new AK family derivative based on the AK-400 prototype. Accepted as main service rifle in January 2018.
- AK-12K / AK-15K – Carbine.
- RPK-16 - Squad automatic weapon, based on the AK-12.
- PK(M) – 7.62×54mmR general-purpose machine gun.
- Saiga-12 – 12-gauge shotgun. Built on AK receiver.
- Saiga-12S – Pistol grip and side-folding stock.
- Saiga-12K – Shorter barrel.
- KSK shotgun – 12-gauge combat shotgun (based on Saiga-12).
- Saiga-20 (S/K) – 20-gauge.
- Saiga-410 (S/K) – .410 bore.
- Saiga-12S – Pistol grip and side-folding stock.
- Saiga semi-automatic rifle
- Vepr-12 Molot – 12-gauge combat shotgun. Built on RPK receiver.
- Bizon – Submachine gun with helical magazine. Borrows 60% of details from AKS-74U. 9×18mm PM, 9×19mm Luger, .380 ACP; 7.62×25mm TT (box magazine).
- Vityaz-SN – Submachine gun. 9×19mm Parabellum.
- OTs-14 Groza – Bullpup assault rifle. 9×39mm, 7.62×39mm.
- Galil ACE – Multi-purpose assault rifle, based on Galil which was based on the Finnish RK
The rifle's simple design makes it easy to produce, and the Soviet Union readily leased plans of the firearm to friendly countries, where it could be produced locally at a low cost. As a result, the Kalashnikov rifles and their variants have been manufactured in many countries, with and without licenses. Manufacturing countries in alphabetical order include:
|Albania||Automatiku Shqiptar 1978 model 56 (ASH-78 Tip-1) copy of Type 56 based on AKM rifle; Tipi 1982 model (ASH-82) copy of AKMS; model 56 Tip-2, copy of RPK; and model 56 Tip-3. Several other versions of the AKMS have been produced mainly with short barrels similar to Soviet AKS-74U for special forces, tank & armored crew and for helicopter pilots and police. There have also been modified ASh-82 (AKMS) with SOPMOD accessories, mainly for Albania's special forces RENEA & exports.|
|Armenia||K-3 (bullpup, 5.45×39mm)|
|Bangladesh||Chinese Type 56|
|Bulgaria||AKK/AKKS (Type 3 AK-47/w. side-folding buttstock); AKKMS (AKMS), AKKN-47 (fittings for NPSU night sights); AK-47M1 (Type 3 with black polymer furniture); AK-47MA1/AR-M1 (same as -M1, but in 5.56mm NATO); AKS-47M1 (AKMS in 5.56×45mm NATO); AKS-47S (AK-47M1, short version, with East German folding stock, laser aiming device); AKS-47UF (short version of -M1, Russian folding stock), AR-SF (same as −47UF, but 5.56mm NATO); AKS-93SM6 (similar to −47M1, cannot use grenade launcher); RKKS (RPK), AKT-47 (.22 rimfire training rifle)|
|Cambodia||Chinese Type 56, Soviet AK, and AKM|
|East Germany||MPi-K/MPi-KS (AK/AKS); MPi-KM (AKM, wooden and plastic stock); MPi-KMS-72 (side-folding stock); MPi-KMS-K (carbine); MPi-AK-74N (AK-74); MPi-AKS-74N (side-folding stock); MPi-AKS-74NK (carbine); KK-MPi Mod.69 (.22 LR select-fire trainer)|
|Egypt||AK, Misr assault rifle (AKM), Maadi|
|Ethiopia||AK, AK-103 (manufactured locally at the State-run Gafat Armament Engineering Complex as the Et-97/1)|
|Finland||RK 62, (7.62×39mm)
RK 95 TP, (7.62×39mm) improvements including a fire control selector and a muzzle device that enabled the firing of rifle grenades, the attachment of a silencer, or bayonet
|Hungary||AK-55 (domestic manufacture of the 2nd Model AK); AKM-63 (also known as AMD-63 in the US; modernized AK-55), AMD-65M (modernized AKM-63, shorter barrel and side-folding stock), AMP-69 (rifle grenade launcher); AK-63F/D (other name AMM/AMMSz), AK-63MF (modernized); NGM-81 (5.56×45mm NATO; fixed and under-folding stock)|
|India||Trichy Assault Rifle, AK-7 Indo-Russia Rifles, AK-203|
|Iran||KLS/KLF (AK-47/AKS), KLT (AKMS)|
|Iraq||Tabuk Sniper Rifle, Tabuk Assault Rifle (with fixed or underfolding stock, outright clones of Yugoslavian M70 rifles series), Tabuk Short Assault Rifle|
|Nigeria||Produced by the Defence Industries Corporation of Nigeria as OBJ-006|
|North Korea||Type 58A/B (Type 3 AK/w. stamped steel folding stock), Type 68A/B (AKM/AKMS), Type 88 (AKS-74)|
|Pakistan||Reverse engineered by hand and machine in Pakistan's highland areas (see Khyber Pass Copy) near the border of Afghanistan; more recently the Pakistan Ordnance Factories started the manufacture of an AK/AKM clone called PK-10. Pakistanis had also made a new caliber just by a little changing in original (7.62×39mm) ammo, that is known as 44 bore.|
|Poland||pmK (kbk AK) / pmKS (kbk AKS) (name has changed from pmK – "pistolet maszynowy Kałasznikowa", Kalashnikov SMG to the kbk AK – "karabinek AK", Kalashnikov Carbine in mid-1960s) (AK/AKS); kbkg wz. 1960 (rifle grenade launcher), kbkg wz. 1960/72 (modernized); kbk AKM / kbk AKMS (AKM/AKMS); kbk wz. 1988 Tantal (5.45×39mm), skbk wz. 1989 Onyks (compact carbine); kbs wz. 1996 Beryl (5.56×45mm), kbk wz. 1996 Mini-Beryl (compact carbine)|
|Romania||PM md. 63/65 (AKM/AKMS), PM md. 80, PM md. 90, collectively exported under the umbrella name AIM or AIMS; PA md. 86 (AK-74), exported as the AIMS-74; PM md. 90 short barrel, PA md. 86 short barrel, exported as the AIMR; PSL (designated marksman rifle; other names PSL-54C, Romak III, FPK and SSG-97)|
|Sudan||MAZ (based on the Type 56)|
|Ukraine||Vepr (bullpup, 5.45×39mm), Malyuk (bullpup)|
|United States||US132 rifle (7.62×39mm), US132Z assault rifle (7.62×39mm), US109L shotgun (12 Gauge) & US109T shotgun (12 Gauge). Produced by Kalashnikov USA.|
|Vietnam||AKM-1, AKM-VN (AKM) assault rifle, TUL-1 (RPK) light machine gun, Galil ACE 31/32 assault rifle|
|Venezuela||AK-103 / License granted to Venezuela|
|Yugoslavia/Serbia||M64, M70, M72, M76, M77, M80, M82, M85, M90, M91, M92, M99, M21|
The following rifles were either based on the Kalashnikov design, or have a different design but are superficially similar in appearance:
- Bernardelli VB-STD/VB-SR (Italy)
- FARA 83 (Argentina)
- IMI Galil (Israel) and IWI ACE (Israel and Colombia)
- INSAS rifle (India)
- RK 62, Valmet M76 (other names Rk 62 76, M62/76), Valmet M78 (light machine gun), RK 95 TP (Finland)
- StG 44 (Germany). Developed before the AK-47
- Type 81 assault rifle (China), BD-08 (Bangladesh)
- Vektor R4, Truvelo Raptor (South Africa)
- vz. 58 (Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic)
- AKMS is ~200 g (0.44 lb) heavier than the AKM rifle.
The Kalashnikov weapon design has become increasingly more popular in the American firearms industry. There are specific competitive shooting matches that require the use of its weapon variants like the Red Oktober match held just outside of St. George, Utah. It is a match designed for the use of ComBloc style weapons, but the Kalashnikov design is extremely heavy within the participants' arsenals.
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- НСД. 7,62-мм автомат АК 1967, pp. 161–162.
- Monetchikov 2005, p. 76.
- НСД. 7,62-мм автомат АКМ (АКМС) 1983, pp. 149–150.
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- Albanian Small Arms by Aftermath Gun Club.
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- "750,000 new AKs for India: Modi unveils Kalashnikov plant producing latest Russian rifles". RT. 3 March 2019. Retrieved 4 March 2019.
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- US Department of Defense, North Korea Country Handbook 1997, Appendix A: Equipment Recognition, PPSH 1943 SUBMACHINEGUN [sic] (TYPE-50 CHINA/MODEL-49 DPRK), p. A-79.
- US Department of Defense, North Korea Country Handbook 1997, Appendix A: Equipment Recognition, TYPE-68 (AKM) ASSAULT RIFLE, p. A-77.
- Russia confronts Pakistan, China over copied weapons. Archived 2011-07-17 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved on 16 October 2010.
- "Poland. Assault Rifles". Энциклопедия оружия и боеприпасов (in Russian). Retrieved 19 Feb 2013.
- "MAZ". Military Industry Corporation. Archived from the original on 27 December 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2009.
- Raigorodetsky, Aleksandr (6 Oct 2011). Автомат "Малюк" ("Малыш") (Украина) ["Malyuk" Assault Rifle (Ukraine)]. Оружейная экзотика (in Russian). Archived from the original on 2015-09-03. Retrieved 1 Dec 2012.
- "Kalashnikov USA Website".
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- "Primeros 3,000: Cavim inicia entrega de fusiles de asalto Kalashnikov AK-103 a la Fuerza Armada de Venezuela". infodefensa.com. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2015. (on spanish)
- Martin Sieff (15 August 2007). "Defense Focus: Venezuela's Kalashnikovs". UPI.com. Archived from the original on 2008-06-04. Retrieved 19 October 2008.
- Red Oktober
- David Reeder (6 October 2018), Breach Bang Clear, https://www.breachbangclear.com/red-oktober-rifle-dynamics-ak-shooting-competition/
- Michael Hodges (2007). AK47: The Story of a Gun. MacAdam/Cage Pub. ISBN 978-1-59692-286-0.
- Joe Poyer (2006). The AK-47 and AK-74 Kalashnikov Rifles and Their Variations: A Shooter's and Collector's Guide. North Cape Publications. ISBN 978-1-882391-41-7.
- Gordon L. Rottman (2011). The AK-47: Kalashnikov-series assault rifles. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84908-835-0.
- Martin J Brayley (2013). Kalashnikov AK47 Series: The 7.62 x 39mm Assault Rifle in Detail. Crowood. ISBN 978-1-84797-526-3.
- Marco Vorobiev (2016). Gun Digest Shooter's Guide to AKs. F+W Media. ISBN 978-1-4402-4647-0.
- Duncan Long (1 September 1988). AK47: The Complete Kalashnikov Family Of Assault Rifles. Paladin Press. ISBN 978-0-87364-477-8.
Media related to AK family at Wikimedia Commons