Saturday, December 28, 2013


Thoughts on the Passing of Mikhail Kalishnikov

There are a lot of people in history who have invented one gun that became popular and, sometimes, even a classic--Mr. Thompson's sub-machine gun; Mr. Garand's semi-auto battle rifle; Mr. Stoner's underpowered assault rifle are all examples. Keep in mind that America's gun genius, John Moses Browning, invented 35 or so separate gun designs, some of which are near Platonic ideals. So the 'one-off' guys don't impress me a whole lot. But you have to give a tip of the hat to the late Soviet gun designer Mikhail Kalishnikov for the sheer number of his single "invention" in circulation around the world--there are nearly 100 Million AKs out there, way more than any other gun.

The reason I put the challenge quotes around his invention of the AK 47 is that I have always maintained that he merely modified/simplified the German (Hugo Schmeisser & team) design of the STG 44. Mr. Kalishnikov always denied it, but let's look at the facts. First the cons. There are interior differences in how the bolt works and locks in the AK and STG (rotating bolt versus tilting bolt). The charger handle is on opposite sides in the two assault rifles. The AK has wooden furniture in front of the receiver; the STG has a metal hand protector. That's pretty much it for the cons.

Now the pros.

Check out the photos:

They both use an intermediate round. They both have a gas tube with a long-stroke piston to help reload the weapon. They both use curved, 30 round detachable box magazines. Both have pistol grips and fire selector switch for safe, semi-auto and full-auto fire. Both have high front sights to clear the gas tube and then select distance rear sights. They are 2.5 lbs different in empty weight and 2 inches different in length and the barrel lengths are.2 inches different.

So perhaps they are not peas in a pod but I for one cannot look at an AK and not think STG.


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