Interesting Facts About Mikhail Kalashnikov: The Inventor Of The AK-47

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov

Russian inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov created one of the most popular guns in history, the AK-47. This automatic rifle first debuted in 1947 and is still being made today. Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (10 November 1919 – 23 December 2013) was a Russian general, inventor, military engineer and small arms designer. He is most famous for developing the AK-47 assault rifle and its improvements, the AKM and AK-74, as well as the PK machine gun and RPK light machine gun.
Born on November 10, 1919, into a large peasant family in Kurya, in the Atlai region of Russia, Mikhail Kalashnikov is perhaps the most well-known weapons designer of all time. He created the AK-47 rifle, one of the most widely used firearms in history. In 1930, Kalashnikov and his family were forced to give up their possessions and move away from their village under the regime of Joseph Stalin.
Kalashnikov originally aspired to become a poet, but went in a different direction after joining the military in 1938. Serving in a Russian tank division, he worked on several inventions to improve certain tank functions. In 1941, Kalashnikov was wounded in the Battle of Bryansk against the German Nazis. As he recovered from his injuries, he began working on creating new weapons.
Kalashnikov was, according to himself, a self-taught tinkerer who combined innate mechanical skills with the study of weaponry to design arms that achieved battlefield ubiquity. Even though Kalashnikov felt sorrow at the weapons’ uncontrolled distribution, he took pride in his inventions and in their reputation for reliability, emphasizing that his rifle is “a weapon of defense” and “not a weapon for offense”.
Here are seven interesting facts you should know about Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the AK-47.
1. Kalashnikov is considered a national Russian treasure. In 2004, a museum in his honor opened in Izhevsk, the Russian town where many Kalashnikov-designed arms are produced. The inventor sought to expand his brand that same year, lending his last name to a vodka line.
2. Despite his advancing age, Kalashnikov worked as a consultant to promote arms deals. He also penned several books, including an autobiography. In 2009, Kalashnikov celebrated his 90th birthday at a special event held at the Central Russian Army Museum. According to a FOX News report, Vladimir Putin sent the inventor his regards in a written statement: “The Kalashnikov rifle is a symbol of the creative genius of our people,” Putin wrote.
3. He was a hunter. Kalashnikov took up hunting with his father to feed his family. He remained an avid hunter for the rest of his life, including a yearly moose hunting trip up into his 90s.
4. Some U.S. soldiers have expressed a preference for the AK-47 — especially in Iraq or Afghanistan, where dust and sand tend to jam their official-issue M-16s, but do not affect the AK.
5. Kalashnikov himself claimed he was always motivated by service to his country rather than money and made no direct profit from weapon production. He did, however, own 30% of a German company Marken Marketing International (MMI) run by his grandson Igor. The company revamps trademarks and produces merchandise carrying the Kalashnikov name, such as vodka, umbrellas, and knives. One of the items is a knife named for the AK-74.
6. During a visit to the United States in the early 2000s, Kalashnikov was invited to tour a Virginia holding site for the forthcoming American Wartime Museum. The former tanker Kalashnikov became visibly moved at the sight of his old tank in action, painted with his name in Cyrillic.
7. An image of the Kalashnikov appears on Mozambique’s national flag as a symbol of the country’s struggle for independence from Portugal, its former colonial master.

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