No doorways, no windows, no walls
No shelter here on the ground
No standing and no safe place to fall
Just the promise of this distant sound
Bells are ringing all over the world

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Ak Ak at 60

To balance the previous post, here I mark that this month the AK-47, a weapon system that is both a piece of crap and one of the best at the same time, is sixty years old. The AK-47 in all its splendid wonder and variety is most certainly one of the most popular weapon systems used around the world. Based on German machine-gun designs captured in WWII (yes, I know he disputes it), Kalashnikov took the concept farther. He designed a very inexpensive, rugged, weapon system. It is substandard to modern weapon design in almost every category. It has a tendency to jam (I've not fired one myself, this is what I've been told), but it will clear quickly and cleanly. It's damn near impossible to beat it to death. It's rate of fire is slow. It cleans easily. Putting rounds are target can be problematic and the weapon has a notorious muzzle drift. It can survive desert, tundra, and jungle conditions. And yet it is used and manufactured around the world by many legitimate armies and as a weapon of choice by insurgents. Given the choice I wouldn't want to wield one. Lacking anything else I wouldn't be fearful of wielding it and would have confidence in it's abilities. But I wouldn't pay my money for one.


Todd Wheeler said...

Long ago, I was visiting a friend and he said let's go to the range, it will be fun.

First and only time I fired any sort of gun. The range had all kinds choices: automatics, .44 Magnum, shotguns (with skeet), and an AK-47.

The kick on the AK-47, I recall, wasn't that big a deal. However, I had no idea where the bullets went; certainly no where close to the target.

Steve Buchheit said...

From what I hear the recoil kick at the stock isn't bad (low fatigue rate), however the muzzle gasses will push the barrel off target pretty quick.

The AK is a classic combat rifle at the time when designers realized that most combat was under a few hundred meters. So the acuracy didn't need to be great at long distances, the ammo got lighter as well with lower grain counts and caliber. And it only took since the Civil War for designers to realize this.

Nowadays with the rise of better training and personal armor, combat rifles are going back to having greater stopping/knockdown power.

So the AK traded off a lot. US arms tended to keep the longer range accuracy and larger caliber ammo. From what I understand our soldiers are aksing for more of that, including knock down punch. Their also asking for shotguns, which have greater knockdown, but shorter range.

But the AK just works. Better than ours (not as accurate but requires less maintenance, etc).

Anonymous said...

I've only fired an AK once, but it seemed accurate enough.

A lot of different companies / countries made AKs, so the quality varies wildly. Again based on the limited experience, it's not significantly more likely to jam then any other automatic weapon.

Steve Buchheit said...

Hey Chris. Like I said, I haven't fire one myself, so I'm going by what I've seen and been told. I know they've adjusted the receiver plate a lot, that it's been a contention since begining production (the Egyptian version, AKS I think, uses such a different design the clips aren't interchangeable). So they might have fixed that problem since the 80s.

Then again, I also know a guy who claims an old (this is 80s, air cooled IIRC) 50cal could continuous fire for 5-minutes. I said it might, but you'd need to change the barrel once you could remove the slag from the front of the gun.