Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, the original creator of the AK-47, died on December 23 at the age of 94. Often blamed for the innumerable lives taken by the gun since it’s creation, Kalashnikov said it was designed as weapon of defense for his country, not as a weapon for offense. However, it is still easy to wonder what might be different today if the AK-47 had never been invented.
(via nytimes.com) “Lt. Gen. Mikhail T. Kalashnikov, the arms designer credited by the Soviet Union with creating the AK-47, the first in a series of rifles and machine guns that would indelibly associate his name with modern war and become the most abundant firearms ever made, died on [December 23} in Izhevsk, the capital of the Russian republic of Udmurtia, where he lived.
Tens of millions of Kalashnikov rifles have been manufactured. Their short barrels, steep front-sight posts and curved magazines made them a marker of conflict that has endured for decades. The weapons also became both Soviet and revolutionary symbols and widespread instruments of terrorism, child-soldiering and crime.
General Kalashnikov’s public life resulted from a secret competition to develop the Soviet infantry rifle for the Cold War. The result was the AK-47 — an abbreviation for “the automatic by Kalashnikov” followed by the year the competition ended.
Because Kalashnikov rifles were principally made by secretive governments and often changed hands in nontransparent transfers, it is not known how many have been manufactured. Common estimates put production at 70 million to 100 million; either number would dwarf the production of any other gun.”