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, AKs, or in Russian slang, as a "Kalash". They were originally manufactured in the Soviet Union, primarily by Izhmash, but these rifles and their variants are now manufactured in many other countries.
The primary types of Kalashnikov rifles include:
|AK-47||7.62×39mm||1947||Izhmash and others|
|AKM||7.62×39mm||1959||Izhmash, Tula Arms Plant and others|
|AK-12||5.45×39mm||2012||Izhmash, Kalashnikov Concern|
|AK-15||7.62×39mm||2012||Izhmash, Kalashnikov Concern|
Original AK-47 variants (7.62×39mm)
- 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)[N 1] 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 / 7.62×39mm
- AK-74M / AK-101 / AK-103 – Modernized AK-74. Scope rail and side-folding stock.
- AK-107 / AK-108 / AK-109 – Balanced recoil models.
- AK-105 / AK-102 / AK-104 – Carbine.
- RPK-74M / RPK-201 / RPKM (A.K.A. RPK-203) – Light machine guns.
5.45×39mm / 7.62×39mm
- AK-12/AK-15 – A new AK family derivative based on the AK-400 prototype. Currently undergoing trials.
- RPK-16 - Light machine gun, 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.
- Saiga-20 (S/K) – 20-gauge.
- Saiga-12S – Pistol grip and side-folding stock.
- Saiga-410 (S/K) – .410 bore.
- Saiga semi-automatic rifle
- KSK shotgun – 12-gauge combat shotgun (based on Saiga-12).
- 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.
Production outside the USSR/Russia
These rifles have been manufactured in many countries, with and without licenses.
|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
|Albania||Automatiku Shqiptar model 56 (ASH-78 Tip-1) Albanian Automatic Assault Rifle Model 56 Type-1 [Made in Poliçan Arsenal] (Straightforward copy of Type 56, which in turn is a clone of the Soviet AKM rifle)
Automatiku Shqiptar Tipi 1982 (ASH-82) Albanian Automatic Assault Rifle Type 1982 [Made in Poliçan Arsenal] (Straight forward copy of AKMS)
Automatiku Shqiptar model 56 (ASH-78 Tip-2) Albanian Light Machine Gun [Made in Poliçan Arsenal] (Straight forward copy of RPK)
Automatiku Shqiptar model 56 (ASH-78 Tip-3) Albanian Automatic Hybrid Rifle Model 56 Type-3 [Made in Poliçan Arsenal] (Hybrid rifle for multi-purpose roles mainly Marksman rifle with secondary assault rifle and grenade launcher capability)
Other unknown variants.
|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-47, and AKM|
|People's Republic of China||Type 56|
|East Germany||MPi-K/MPi-KS (AK-47/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-47, Misr assault rifle (AKM), Maadi|
|Ethiopia||AK-47, AK-103 (manufactured locally at the State-run Gafat Armament Engineering Complex as the Et-97/1)|
|Hungary||AK-55 (domestic manufacture of the 2nd Model AK-47)
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)
|India||Trichy Assault Rifle, AK-7|
|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-47/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-47/AKM clone called PK-10|
|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-47/AKS)
kbkg wz. 1960 (rifle grenade launcher), kbkg wz. 1960/72 (modernized)
kbk AKM / kbk AKMS (AKM/AKMS)
|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)
- IMI Galil (Israel) and Galil ACE (Israel and Colombia)
- INSAS (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)
In popular culture
Of all the weapons in the vast Soviet arsenal, nothing was more profitable than Avtomat Kalashnikova model of 1947.... more commonly known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. It's the world's most popular assault rifle, a weapon all fighters love. An elegantly simple, 9 pound amalgamation of forged steel and plywood. It doesn't break, jam, or overheat. It'll shoot whether it's covered in mud or filled with sand. It's so easy, even a child can use it - and they do. The Soviets put the gun on a coin. Mozambique put it on their flag. Since the end of the Cold War, the Kalashnikov has become the Russian people's greatest export. After that comes vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists. One thing is for sure, no one was lining up to buy their cars.— Yuri Orlov, Lord of War
In the book CHERUB: Mad Dogs by Robert Muchamore, the character Mr. Kazakov, a Ukrainian training instructor, mentions the Kalashnikov:
The Americans don’t like to fight dirty. Look at Vietnam, look at Iraq. I wear these boots because they’re the same kind I used in Afghanistan and they worked just fine. I know my knife because it killed in Afghanistan. I’ve worked with your SAS and I’ve seen SA80 rifles and Glock machine pistols jam. I carry a Kalashnikov because you can walk out of a swamp or a sand storm and know that a bullet comes out when you pull the trigger.— Mr. Kazakov
- AKMS is ~200 g (0.44 lb) heavier.
- "RIP Kalashnikov: 20 facts you may not have known about AK-47 and its creator". RT. December 23, 2013.
- 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.
- "AKML (AKMSL)". AK-INFO.RU. Retrieved 8 Feb 2013.
- Азербайджан приступил к серийному производству автоматов АК-74М по российской лицензии [Azerbaijan began serial production of AK-74M assault rifles under Russian license]. ЦАМТО (in Russian). Moscow: Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade. 8 July 2011. Retrieved 8 July 2011.
- Dimov, Roman. "Kalashnikov Arms Versions". The AK Site. Archived from the original on 29 Sep 2007.
- "MPi-K / MPi-AK Assault Rifle Series". Энциклопедия оружия и боеприпасов (in Russian). Retrieved 19 Feb 2013.
- Advertisement flyer for manufacturing capabilities of the GAEC – Gafat Armament Engineering Complex. at the Wayback Machine (archived July 10, 2011) Retrieved on 8 October 2010.
- "Hungary. Assault Rifles". Энциклопедия оружия и боеприпасов (in Russian). Retrieved 24 February 2013.
- "Nigeria to mass-produce Nigerian version of AK-47 rifles." Retrieved on 5 October 2008.
- "DICON – Defence Industry Corp. of Nigeria" Retrieved on 23 June 2012.
- US Department of Defense, North Korea Country Handbook 1997, Appendix A: Equipment Recognition, PPSH 1943 SUBMACHINEGUN (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. 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). Retrieved 1 Dec 2012.
- "Kalashnikov USA Website".
- Aaron Smith (30 June 2015). "The first American-made Kalashnikovs are now for sale". CNN.com.
- Max Slowik (August 10, 2015). "Kalashnikov USA prices out first wave of American AKs". Guns.com.
- "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.