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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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  • In celebration (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval@NOSPam.gmail.com> on Monday December 23, 2013 @02:58PM (#45768553) Journal

    BUILD YOUR OWN!

    This is a steampunk variant.
    http://www.michaelzwilliamson.com/politics-The%20Steampunk%20AK47.html [michaelzwilliamson.com]

  • by Savage-Rabbit (308260) on Monday December 23, 2013 @03:24PM (#45768735)

    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.

    My favourite AK-47 related escapade ever, forge an AK-47 receiver out of an old shovel:
    http://www.northeastshooters.com/vbulletin/threads/179192-DIY-Shovel-AK-photo-tsunami-warning [northeastshooters.com]!

    Challenge: Do the same with a Colt M4 (and yes, it has to fire)

  • by Spy Handler (822350) on Monday December 23, 2013 @03:24PM (#45768741) Homepage Journal

    Loose tolerances of internal parts, usually only specified if manufacturing is really crappy. However Kalashnikov did this on purpose -- even though Russia had decent manufacturing capabilities -- knowing that this will lead to much greater reliability in the presence of dirt. American guns such as AR-15s are built to much more precise tolerances, and while they are more accurate than the AK, they are much less tolerant of sand/dirt/grime/powder residue. The AK's reliability is legendary.

  • Kalashnikov's Legacy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @03:28PM (#45768797)

    "Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer ... I always wanted to construct agriculture machinery."
    --Mikhail Kalashnikov

    If not for the Nazis, he might have invented an inexpensive, reliable machine that helps feed people around the world. Russia in particular seems to frequently have issues with wheat due to drought and/or wildfires, and this has an impact on global food prices. But coming from a rural area he might never have been exposed to the resources needed to achieve his inventions. He might not have been in a position where anyone with those resources would take him seriously. Sometimes bad things happen and deflect our lives in directions other than those we intended, but sometimes that results in putting us right where we need to be. His conscription exposed him to complex machines he might never have worked with otherwise. His war wounds landed him in the hospital where he overheard others talking about what was wrong with the existing Russian rifles. His hospital stay gave him time away from his job as a tank commander to work on his designs. His first attempts at small arms design were rejected, but they got him noticed, and got him transferred out of the tank division to work on rifle design.

    I saw a bumper sticker on the freeway the other day that read: "Remember who you wanted to be." Kalashnikov was haunted by the fact that his design had become a symbol of war and terrorism, but the real tragedy of Kalashnikov's life is that AFAIK he never used his success in his unintended profession to go back and do what he really wanted.

  • It works (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 23, 2013 @05:25PM (#45769875)

    I don't know where I heard it but I think there is a saying in regards to the AK. "Its like a hammer, you pick it up, it works"

  • Re:PRAISE?!? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Urkki (668283) on Monday December 23, 2013 @06:56PM (#45770453)

    The AK-47's only purpose is to assist in killing people

    Primary purpose is killing, that's what an assault rifle is designed for, but it is not the only purpose.

    One purpose is: to be able to kill people, often in the hope that it will not be necessary, indeed with the hope that having a credible ability will avoid needing to actually do it.

    Yet another purpose is to just have fun with target practice, without killing anyone.

    And technically speaking, suppressive fire is not really intended for killing the enemy, it is intended for making it harder for the enemy to shoot and kill you.

  • Re:You'd do the same (Score:4, Interesting)

    by shutdown -p now (807394) on Monday December 23, 2013 @09:24PM (#45771445) Journal

    Fighting a very costly defensive war on your own soil for over 3 years kinda does that to people. I don't think Western politicians ever truly understood just how strongly was that "never again" mentality ingrained into the minds of both the party elite and the people at large. Not so much Stalin and his court, but the generation of politicians that came to power after him, who were mostly veterans of that war and saw the devastation first hand.

    It's actually very visible if you look at Soviet internal propaganda. Virtually everything that is related to war is presented in a context of a defensive war against a conventional invasion, with numerous WW2 allusions, and the overall message of "we must defend our soil against occupation". In contrast, Western propaganda tended to be more obsessed with the possibility of nuclear annihilation.

  • by happyhamster (134378) on Monday December 23, 2013 @10:28PM (#45771927)

    You are a typical brainwashed Western idiot. There was much more to life in the Soviet Union than dictatorship. As a matter of fact, you had more freedom there as you did not need the money to get decent education, unlike the U.S. Poor but talented kids from the countryside would routinely come to big cities and enroll in major universities to have great careers.

    Before someone jumps up with "counterexample," I am sure you could dig up a few such cases in the U.S. These cases are few and far between, and require a great amount of planning ahead or dumb luck. In the Soviet Union, it happened much more often; they actually had large quotes for children of workers as opposed to privileged classes.

    Source: Grew up there.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen

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