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Mikhail Kalashnikov: Inventor of AK-47 Dies At 94 283

Posted by samzenpus
from the gone-away dept.
necro81 writes "Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, an arms designer for the Soviet Union, creator of the AK-47, passed away today at age 94. Kalashnikov was born a peasant and entered the Soviet Army as a conscript. However, the self-taught tinkerer had an aptitude that took him far. The AK-47, his best-known creation, was praised for its reliability and low cost; attributes that have made it the most successful firearm ever, seeing use in homeland defense, rebellion, terrorism, and untold massacres. The inventor was himself ambivalent about the uses his creation had seen, but was nevertheless proud of his contribution to his country, where he is praised as a hero."
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Mikhail Kalashnikov: Inventor of AK-47 Dies At 94

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  • by Chas (5144) on Monday December 23, 2013 @03:01PM (#45768571) Homepage Journal

    Politics aside, Kalashnikov was something of a genius. Or at least a commonsense visionary.
    He only had access to relatively crude manufacturing processes and a basic idea of what he wanted.
    And he managed to turn out a product that is, by any stretch of the imagination, RIDICULOUSLY successful.
    Things that'd be considered weaknesses or defects in other weapons systems are some of the very things that are considered strengths in the Kalashnikov rifles.

  • by FuegoFuerte (247200) on Monday December 23, 2013 @03:18PM (#45768687)

    One good example is relatively sloppy tolerances - In most rifles, these are rather frowned upon, but it's also one of the reasons the AK can go through mud, snow, sand, etc. and keep firing. The loose tolerances keep it from running through hot, cold, lack of oil and cleaning, and other abuses long after most rifles (most certainly including the AR/M-16) have jammed up.

    In a general-issue military weapon, reliability is far more important than accuracy, so this tradeoff works well for the AK. It's not something you'd want in a hunting or sniper rifle, but for the intended purpose it works great.

  • Re:PRAISE?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Monday December 23, 2013 @03:22PM (#45768719)
    So should the number of despotic regimes overthrown with it. And the number of people died in car crashes should be on Henry Ford's tombstone.

    Things can be used for good and bad. Don't just focus on what you perceive as bad.
  • Yes, praise ... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @03:24PM (#45768737)

    For inventing the most used murdering tool?!?

    It was developed during and immediately after WW2. He created a tool for his fellow soldiers to defend their country, lands and friends and families.

    How politicians and criminals MISUSE a tool is not the responsibility of a soldier/designer who does not want to go into battle again with inferior weapons.

  • Re:PRAISE?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Patch86 (1465427) on Monday December 23, 2013 @03:38PM (#45768903)

    You can kill people with a Ford, but it wasn't designed for it- intentionally running people down in a car is something the designer would be horrified at. The AK-47 was designed exclusively for killing people- it has no other serious use; the designer intended to make the best killing implement possible, with the intention of killing as many "people my nation doesn't like" as possible, as efficiently as possible. There's a big ethical difference.

    I'm only saying this in fairness to the OP- I'm not really naive enough to make an argument against weapon designers in that way. But I am serious that it is a legitimate ethical choice. I can't see myself working in weapons design, because the ethical consequences of my actions would bother me.

    In a way, it's an argument related to the old debunked Nazi death camp soldier "just following orders" defence (albeit it much less extreme). If every talented engineer refused to be involved with weapon design, weapons would be considerably less effective that they are today. Therefore, every talented engineer who gets involved in weapon design has to take personal responsibility for what they're enabling.

  • Re:PRAISE?!? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Monday December 23, 2013 @03:43PM (#45768955)

    It was designed to kill soldiers of a technologically superior and well trained army who were invading the designer's country. Personally, I think he should get at least a little slack because of that.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @04:22PM (#45769363)

    The only TRUE reason for a civilian to own those things is because you want to own them for the sake of owning them.

    I am not a fan of guns at all, but I am a believer in the constitution. I would suggest that the only constitutionally protected reason for a civilian to own a gun should be to be capable of mounting a militia that could defend against a corrupt government. That would clearly include guns like an AK.

    The right to bear arms in my opinion has nothing to do with hunting and target shooting...

  • Re:Karma Denied (Score:5, Insightful)

    by east coast (590680) on Monday December 23, 2013 @04:24PM (#45769391)
    Wow. Just wow. So the fact that he wanted to have the means to arm his own countryfolk with a cheap and reliable weapon after watching the sieges and slaughters that happened to the Soviets during WWII makes him a monster?

    I wonder what you would do if you lived through that... throw your hands up and wait to be cut down with a Nazi machine gun?

    I wonder if you blame people like Tim Berners-Lee for child pornography?
  • by icebike (68054) on Monday December 23, 2013 @04:25PM (#45769405)

    I am either religious not terribly spiritual, but one can only hope that a man whose invention was responsible for the deaths of so many millions does not go into a peaceful afterlife.

    Hold on here. He was a patriot for his country. He developed an arm that could be produced in mass quantities because that is what his government needed at that time. He didn't set out to arm terrorists, just to make an arm for the foot soldier in the USSR, to be used in horrible field conditions by mostly uneducated soldiers.

    That his country decided to cover the earth with the weapon and license it's manufacture world wide was none of his doing. You might as well blame the Wright Brothers for the fire bombing of Berlin.

    As he said himself:

    "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 lawnmower."

  • by evilRhino (638506) on Monday December 23, 2013 @05:34PM (#45769919)
    It might be distasteful to think so, but most technological developments are created by and for the war machine.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @05:40PM (#45769945)

    You were never actually in the military were you? Where did you get your information? The internet? A firing range? TV? Because it's obviously not from actual combat or military training.

    The effective combat range (against point targets = individuals) of the m16 is 550m, The AK's range is only slightly less at 400m. Those ranges aren't "how far will the round go," numbers, but "how far can the AVERAGE trained soldier hit human sized targets with this rifle." The AK's 7.62 round is more than enough to kill a human at those distances.

    In my military carreer, I had more than enough chances to test both rifles at those distances, and both worked reliably out to those ranges with ease.

    As far as your "any rifle" comment goes, what about the light .50's? They regularly reach out a mile or more in combat.

    Unplug your xbox, it hasn't taught you shit. If you want to learn about firearms, raise your right hand and let Uncle Sam teach you about them. (Don't worry, you can still be a janitor in the military. You just can't live in your mom's house unless you go Nasty Gash and join the guard.

The clearest way into the Universe is through a forest wilderness. -- John Muir