Monday, December 23, 2013

RIP M. Kalashnikov

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, inventor of the world's most ubiquitous automatic rifle, passed away today at age 94.

As with almost every technological innovation, the rifle that bears his name is a product of evolution in weapons development. The genius of the injured tank mechanic was to put the existing pieces and concepts together in a novel way. Thus came about the Avtomat Kalashnikova 1947, or AK-47.

As RT describes it:
AK-47 is not a weapon designed for accuracy tests at the firing range. It is a weapon for firefights at close quarters, in harsh Russian conditions.

It can be assembled by a person with no military training, is fired by simply pointing at a target, and it can be easily looked after without a cleaning kit. It does not jam by itself (due to the generous allowances between moving parts, which also explain its mediocre accuracy at range) and it does not stop functioning in any weather conditions.
There are layers of irony in the fact that the Soviet Union gave birth to the most democratic weapon of the modern age. What Samuel Colt's six-shooter did for individual self-defense, Mikhail Kalashnikov's rifle did for nations.

Just a hundred years ago, the world was partitioned between the empires of Europe. As Hillaire Belloc famously wrote, "Whatever happens, we have got/The Maxim gun, and they have not." (The Modern Traveller, 1898) The AK-47 put the firepower of the Maxim machine gun within everyone's reach, enabling the small and weak to challenge the mighty and powerful.

Rest in peace, Mikhail Timofeyevich.

1 comment:

Witch-king of Angmar said...

There was a graffiti in Belgrade that said:"God created man, AK-47 made him equal". It is as ambiguous in Serbian as it is in English, if not more.