AK-47 Inventor Kalashnikov Dies; His Gun Is One-Fifth Of World Supply


Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian armorer credited with inventing the AK-47 “Kalashnikov” automatic rifle, died at 94, reports Slate. Kalashnikov was a self-taught inventor and soldier when in 1947 he lent his name to what is perhaps the most iconic firearm of the 20th century. It is estimated that there are 100 million Kalashnikovs—one-fifth of the world's gun supply. “There are a dozen or so words that are the same in every language of the world,” Elena Joly wrote in the preface to 2006's The Gun that Changed the World. “They include the words 'taxi,' 'radio,' 'Coca-Cola'—and 'Kalashnikov.'”

Kalashnikov spent much of his boyhood in Siberian exile before he was conscripted into the Soviet Army in 1938. Injured in the Battle of Bryansk in 1941, he said, “in spite of the pain of my injury, I was obsessed night and day by a single thought: inventing a weapon to beat the fascists.” The AK-47 was that weapon. The gun became immensely popular among guerrillas and rebels worldwide, but as C.J. Chivers wrote in his book “The Gun, the AK-47 “was repression's chosen gun, the rifle of the occupier and the police state.”

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