Mikhail Kalashnikov at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russian Federation, in December 2009.
|Born||Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov
Михаил Тимофеевич Калашников
10 November 1919
Kuriya, Altai Krai, Russian SFSR
|Occupation||Small arms designer, Russian lieutenant general|
|Known for||Designer of the AK-47 and AK-74|
|Children||Victor (son), Nelly, Natasha, and Elena (daughters)|
|Awards||USSR State Prize (1949)
Hero of Socialist Labour (1958)Stalin Prize (1949)
2x Lenin Prize Hero of the Russian Federation
Order of St. Andrew
Order of Merit for the Fatherland II class
and many more
Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (Russian: Михаил Тимофеевич Калашников; born 10 November 1919) is a Russian small arms designer, most famous for developing the AK-47, AKM, and AK-74 assault rifles.
Early life 
Kalashnikov was born in Kurya, Kuryinsky District, Altai Krai, Russia, to Aleksandra Frolovna Kalashnikova (née Kaverina) and Timofey Aleksandrovich Kalashnikov. His father was deported in 1930, that is, most of his family was deprived of property and deported to Siberia, to the village of Nizhnyaya Mokhovaya, Tomsk Oblast. In his youth, Mikhail suffered from various illnesses and was on the verge of death at age six. He was attracted to all kinds of machinery, but also wrote poetry, dreaming of becoming a poet. He went on to write six books and has continued to write poetry all of his life. Kalashnikov's parents were peasants, but after deportation to Siberia had to combine farming with hunting, and thus Mikhail frequently used his father's rifle in his teens. He has since continued hunting through his 90s.
After completing seventh grade, Mikhail, with his stepfather's permission, left his family and returned to Kurya, hitchhiking for nearly 1000 km. In Kuriya he found a job in mechanics at a tractor station and developed a passion for weaponry. In 1938, he was conscripted into the Red Army. Because of his small size and engineering skills he was assigned as a tank mechanic, and later became a tank commander. While training, he made his first inventions, which concerned not only tanks, but also small weapons, and was personally awarded a wrist watch by Georgy Zhukov. Kalashnikov served on the T-34s of the 24th Tank Regiment, 108th Tank Division stationed in Stryi before the regiment retreated after the Battle of Brody in June 1941. He was wounded in combat in the Battle of Bryansk in October 1941 and hospitalized until April 1942. While in the hospital, he overheard some fellow soldiers complaining about the Soviet rifles of the time.
Seeing the drawbacks of the standard infantry weapons at the time, he decided to construct a new rifle for the Soviet military. During this time Kalashnikov began designing a submachine gun. Although his first submachine gun design was not accepted into service, his talent as a designer was noticed. From 1942 onwards Kalashnikov was assigned to the Central Scientific-developmental Firing Range for Rifle Firearms of the Chief Artillery Directorate of the Red Army.
In 1944, he designed a gas-operated carbine for the new 7.62x39 mm cartridge. This weapon, influenced by the M1 Garand rifle, lost out to the new Simonov carbine which would be eventually adopted as the SKS; but it became a basis for his entry in an assault rifle competition in 1946.
His winning entry, the "Mikhtim" (so named by taking the first letters of his name and patronymic, Mikhail Timofeyevich) became the prototype for the development of a family of prototype rifles. This process culminated in 1947, when he designed the AK-47 (standing for Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947). In 1949, the AK-47 became the standard issue assault rifle of the Soviet Army and went on to become Kalashnikov's most famous invention. While developing his first assault rifles, Kalashnikov competed with two much more experienced weapon designers, Vasily Degtyaryov and Georgy Shpagin, who both accepted the superiority of the AK-47. Kalashnikov named Alexandr Zaitsev and Vladimir Deikin as his major collaborators during those years.
Later career 
Over the course of his career he evolved the basic design into a weapons family. The AKM (Russian: Автомат Калашникова Модернизированный – Kalashnikov modernized assault rifle), first appeared in 1963, was lighter and cheaper to manufacture owing to the use of a stamped steel receiver (in place of the AK47's milled steel receiver), and contained detail improvements such as a re-shaped stock and muzzle compensator. From the AKM he developed a squad automatic weapon variant, known as the RPK (Russian: Ручной пулемет Калашникова – Kalashnikov light machine gun), and also the PK (Russian: Пулемет Калашникова – Kalashnikov machine gun), which used the more powerful 7.62×54R cartridge of the Mosin-Nagant rifle. The PK series is a general-purpose machine gun. It is cartridge belt-fed, not magazine-fed, as it is intended to provide heavy sustained fire from a tripod mount, or be used as a light, bipod-mounted weapon. The common characteristics of all these weapons are simple design, ruggedness and ease of maintenance in all operating conditions.
Approximately 100 million AK-47 assault rifles have been produced by 2009, and about half of them are counterfeit, manufactured at a rate of about a million per year. Izhmash, the official manufacturer of AK-47 in Russia, has patented the weapon only in 1997, and in 2006 accounted for only 10% of the world's production. Kalashnikov himself claims he has always been motivated by service to his country rather than money, and has no direct profit from weapon production. He does however own 30% of a German company Marken Marketing International (MMI) run by his grandson Igor. The company revamps trademarks and produces merchandise carrying the Kalashnikov name, such as vodka, umbrellas and knives. One of the items is a knife named for the AK-74.
Kalashnikov's father, Timofey Aleksandrovich Kalashnikov (1883–1930), was a peasant. He completed two grades of parochial school and could read and write. In 1930, he was named a kulak, deprived of property and deported to Siberia, where he died shortly thereafter. In 1901 he married Aleksandra Frolovna Kaverina (1884–1957), who was illiterate through her life. They had 19 children, but only eight survived to the adult age; Kalashnikov was born 17th, and was close to death at age six. The eldest three offsprings, daughters Agasha (b. 1905) and Anna and son Victor, were already married by 1930, and remained in Kuriya when the rest of the family was deported to Siberia. After the death of Timofey Aleksandrovich in 1930, Aleksandra Frolovna remarried Efrem Kosach, a widower who had three children of his own.
Mikhail Kalashnikov married Ekaterina Viktorovna Kalashnikova (1921–1977). She was an engineer and did much technical drawing work for her husband. They had four children: daughters Nelli (b. 1942), Elena (b. 1948) and Natalya (1953–1983), and a son Victor (b. 1942). Victor also became a prominent small arms designer.
Weapon designs 
During his career, Kalashnikov designed about 150 models of small weapons. The most famous of them are
- AK-74 / AKS-74U / AK-74M
- AK-101 / AK-102
- AK-103 / AK-104
- RPK / RPK-74
- PK / PKM
- Saiga semi-automatic rifle
Incorporates information from the corresponding article in the Russian Wikipedia
On his 90th birthday on 10 November 2009, Kalashnikov was named a "Hero of the Russian Federation" and presented with a medal by President Dmitry Medvedev who lauded him for creating "the brand every Russian is proud of."
Russian Federation 
- Hero of the Russian Federation (2009)
- Order of St. Andrew (2008)
- Order For Merit to the Fatherland, Second Class (1994)
- Order of Military Merit (Russia) (2004)
- State Prize of the Russian Federation in the field of design (1997)
- Award of the President of the Russian Federation in the field of education (2003)
- All-Russian Literary Prize of Suvorov (2009)
Honourary diplomas 
- Diploma of the Government of the Russian Federation (1997, 1999)
- Jubilee Medal "50 Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945."
- Medal "Symbol of Science" (2007)
- Gold Medal of Zhukov
- Medal "For outstanding contribution to the development of the collection business in Russia"
- Gratitude of the President of the Russian Federation (1997, 1999, 2002, 2007)
- Order of Lenin (1958, 1969, 1976)
- Order of the October Revolution (1974)
- Order of the Red Star (1949)
- Order of the Patriotic War, 1st Class (1985)
- Order of the Red Banner of Labour (1957)
- Order of Friendship of Peoples (1982)
- Medal "Hammer and Sickle" (1958,1976)
- Medal "For Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945."
- Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945."
- Medal "In commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin"
- Jubilee Medal "Thirty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945."
- Jubilee Medal "Forty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945."
- Medal "For Distinction in Guarding the State Border of the USSR"
- Medal "Veteran of Labor" on behalf of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR
- Jubilee Medal "30 years of the Soviet Army and Navy"
- Jubilee Medal "40 years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
- Jubilee Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
- Jubilee Medal "60 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
- Jubilee Medal "70 years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
- Medal "In Commemoration of the 800th anniversary of Moscow"
Foreign decorations 
- Order of Honour of Belarus (1999)
- Order of Friendship (Kazakhstan), First Class (2003)
Other honours 
- the home of Mikhail Kalashnikov in the village he set Courier lifetime bronze bust. (1980)
- the name of the designer named projected prospect in Izhevsk (1994)
- "Honorary Citizen of the Altai Territory." (1997)
- Ministry of Economy of Russia award - The sign "of small arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov" (1997)
- Union of scientific and engineering organizations and the Government of Udmurtia established an award named after Mikhail Kalashnikov (1999)
- Diamond company "Alrosa" extracted 29 December 1995 gem diamonds weighing 50.74 carats given the name "designer Mikhail Kalashnikov" (14.5 x 15, 0h15, 5 mm, quality Stones Black) (1999)
- Mikhail Kalashnikov Cadet School in Votkinsk (2002)
- Award in his name at the School of Weapon Skills of Izhevsk (2002)
- Izhevsk State Cultural Institution "Museum of Mikhail Kalashnikov"
- "Honorary Engineer of Kazakhstan" (Kazakhstan; 2004)
- Gift from President Hugo Chavez, the highest award of the Republic - a copy of the famous sword of Simon Bolivar, which is a relic of Venezuela and the copy is equal to the highest award of the country. (2009)
- The name of Mikhail Kalashnikov was given to the military department of the Mining Institute in St. Petersburg. (2009)
- Izhevsk State Technical University was awarded the name of Mikhail Kalashnikov. (2012)
- German knife company Boker has dedicated a series to him.
- "I'm proud of my invention, but I'm sad that it is used by terrorists ... I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawn mower."
- "Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer ... I always wanted to construct agriculture machinery."
- "I created a weapon to defend the borders of my motherland. It's not my fault that it's being used where it shouldn't be. The politicians are more to blame for this."
- "When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed' ... So this has been my lifetime motto – I have been creating weapons to defend the borders of my fatherland, to be simple and reliable."
- Калашников Михаил Тимофеевич. Great Soviet Encyclopedia
- "Работаю по призванию". Отечественные архивы № 1 (2004), contains an autobiography and a copy of the resume submitted with Kalashnikov's application to the Soviet Communist Party
- "Калашников Михаил Тимофеевич". weaponplace.ru.
- "Биография М.Т.Калашникова". Kalashnikov.name. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- "The AK-47 Kalashnikov Museum". Kalashnikov-weapons-museum.ak47-guide.com. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- Alexandr Osipovich (10 November 2009). "Gun inventor, 'happy man' Kalashnikov turns 90". AFP via Google.com. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- "Poet at heart: Kalashnikov inventory turns 90 in a hail of praise". Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). 12 November 2009. Retrieved 16 December 2009.
- "Kalashnikov 'wanted to be poet and more'". BBC World News 74. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 11 November 2009.
- Compare Kalashnikov and Dmitry Medvedev in File:Kalashnikov Medvedev.jpg. Medvedev is ca. 1.60 m (5 ft 3 in): Nick Watt and Jenna Mucha (5 July 2008) World's Leaders Don't Stand So Tall. ABC News.
- Kate Connolly (30 July 2002) Kalashnikov: 'I wish I'd made a lawnmower'. The Guardian
- AK-47 Inventor Doesn't Lose Sleep Over Havoc Wrought With His Invention. Associated Press via Fox News, 6 July 2007
- Interview of Mikhail Kalashnikov on Guns of the World, History Channel, 15 December 2009 .
- Bolotin, D.N (1995) "Soviet Small-Arms and Ammunition", Finnish Arms Museum Foundation, pp. 69–70, 115 ISBN 9519718419.
- Kalashnikov, Mikhail, "How and Why I Produced My Submachine Gun", in Sputnik: A Digest of Soviet Press, Novosti Press Agency, Moscow, June 1983, pp. 70–75
- "AK-47 inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov in intensive care". Rt.com. 22 December 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- Georgy Alexandrov (10 November 2009) Михаил Калашников: «Всё нужное – просто». Argumenty i Facty aif.ru
- Dmitry Solovyov (26 October 2009). "Kalashnikov decries "criminal" use of rifle, REUTERS". Reuters.com. Retrieved 2009-11-20.
- "Father of the AK-47 receives Russia's top honor". En.rian.ru. 10 November 2009. Retrieved 2012-12-26.
- Care for a Kalashnikov Umbrella? The Moscow Times, 21 February 2003
- Coming soon – the Kalashnikov brolly? BBC, 17 February 2003
- Kate Connolly (17 February 2003) Kalashnikov lends his name to an umbrella. The Telegraph
- ПОЛОЖЕНИЕ О НАГРУДНОМ ЗНАКЕ "МЕДАЛЬ ИМЕНИ КОНСТРУКТОРА СТРЕЛКОВОГО ОРУЖИЯ М.Т. КАЛАШНИКОВА". The Russian Ministry of Indutsry and Trade. vedomstva-uniforma.ru (27 June 2008)
- Теперь ИжГТУ носит имя М. Т. Калашникова. istu.ru, 21 February 2012
- Dmitry Solovyov (26 October 2009) Kalashnikov, 90, decries "criminal" use of rifle. Reuters
Further reading 
- Forge, John (January/February 2007). "No Consolation For Kalashnikov". Philosophy Now (59). Retrieved 2007-01-24.
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Mikhail Kalashnikov|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Mikhail Kalashnikov|
- M.T. Kalashnikov Museum and Exhibition Small Arms Complex
- 'I sleep soundly' – Interview with and article on Mikhail Kalashnikov at the age of 83, from The Guardian newspaper.
- The Biography of the Main Gun Designer Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov
- Mikhail Kalashnikov backs weapons control
- BBC NEWS Profile: Mikhail Kalashnikov
- Free illustrated virtual guided tour of the Museum of Mikhail Kalashnikov
- The life of Mikhail Kalashnikov (Russian)
- On the AK-47's military and social effects on history
- Mikhail Kalashnikov with Elena Joly: The Gun that Changed the World
- Streets of Izhevsk. Kalashnikov avenue (Russian)