|Caliber||7.62 mm||7.62 mm|
|Cartridge||7.62 x 39 mm||7.62 x 39 mm|
|Dimensions and weight|
|Total weight (with empty magazine)||4 300 g||3 900 g|
|Overall length||870 mm||868 mm|
|Overall length with folded butt-stock||-||~ 700 mm|
|Barrels length||415 mm||415 mm|
|Bullets initial speed||715 m/s||715 m/s|
|Rate of fire||600 rpm||600 rpm|
|Practical rate of fire||40 - 100 rpm||40 - 100 rpm|
|Magazine capacity||30 cartridges||30 cartridges|
|Sighting range||800 m||800 m|
|Range of effective fire||400 m||400 m|
AK-47 assault rifle was
developed in 1946 by Michail Kalashnikov - engineer of the Soviet Union. Kalashnikov's
assault rifle is one of the best example of the basic individual infantry
weapon for last 55 years and it is unsurpassed till nowadays. AK-47, with all
it's modifications is used by more than 50 countries all over the
world. It's construction became a base for a great number of copies,
versions, and modifications, chambered for various calibers. However all
of them work on the same principle, developed by Michail Kalashnikov.
Kalashnikov's assault rifle was chambered for the totally new M1943 7.62 x 39 mm intermediate cartridge. During the Second World War, Soviet Armed Forces faced requirement for an intermediate cartridge, that would be more powerful, than standard 7.62 x 25 mm pistol cartridge, used with all submachine guns. Furthermore submachine gun's range of effective fire was less than 200 m, while M1943 intermediate cartridge had range of effective fire in more than 400 m.
In 1949 assault rifle was adopted by Soviet Army and indexed as AK-47 (1947 year model Kalashnikov's assault rifle). It's construction was so successful that shortly new weapon displaced every other firearms in Soviet Army except machine-guns, pistols and sniper rifles.
AK-47 Kalashnikov's rifle came in two main variants: AK-47 with a fixed wooden stock and AKS-47 with folding metal stock, intended for airborne and armored troops. Both assault rifles had identicalinternal and external design, except the buttstock, and the lack of a toolkit with AKS-47.
First version of AK assault rifle was constantly modernized. It's first modification (known as type 1) had steel pistol handle, covered with wooden cheeks, and welded with barrels box. Later modification (type 2) had all-wooden pistol handle screwed to the barrels box. Furthermore it had more reliable magazines connection with the barrels box (in case of deepening barrel's box from the both sides), as well as improved buttstock connection. Unfortunately rifle's weight increased from 4 085 to 4 112 g, and length - from 862 to 877 mm. The last modification (type 3) had streamlined butt stock's connection, which allowed to lower rifle's length and weight.
Rifle automatic works on gas returning principle threw the channel in the barrel's wall. Barrel's channel is locked by a turning lock. AK-47 executes single or automatic fire. Reloading handle is placed from the right side and is built in one part with the locks frame. safety-lock plays a role of a fire mode changer at once. It has three positions: safety-lock, automatic fire and single fire. When safety-lock is turned on - it blocks lock's frame, but allows to check if the cartridge is in the barrel, by pulling reloading handle to it's backward position. Furthermore weapon is not reloading then.
AK-47 can be partially dismounted in a minute. Kalashnikv's construction weapons are easy in use and maintenance, in case of measured and accurate design. Soldiers like this easy construction of it's reliability. Kalashnikov's sytem rifles do not misfire in any situations even fully immersed in mud, or underwater. Chromed barrel make it available to use even in extreme low temperatures. Assault rifle is convenient to use in the city as the 7.62-mm bullets doesn't use to ricochet hitting walls distinct to the 5.45-mm bullets.
Rifle can be used with a multipurpose knife-bayonet (completed with it), or 40-mm underbarrel grenade launcher. The muzzle of either weapon fits into the swiveling firing points of the standard Soviet armored personnel carriers or infantry fighting vehicles. Thus, the infantryman can fire the weapon while the vehicle is moving.
AK-47 has an opened sector sight with a range of fire up to 800 m, with calibration every 100 m. However rifle's range of effective fire is 400 m. Most likely it is that developers deliberately marked so great range of fire for an assault rifle, to give heart to soldiers. With a special hardpoint there could be mounted a night sight.
Assault rifle has a fixed butt-stock, made from stacked laminated wood. Unlikely to AK-47 the AKS-47 had metal frame folding butt stock. The AKS-47 was intended for airborne and armored troops. The only main difference was, that AKS had no field toolkit, placed in the wooden butt stock with AK. Both assault rifles had laminated sticked wood pistol handle cheeks, gas chamber straps.
Popularity of the AK-47 assault rifle determined a great number of it's modernizations and variants. However a great number of AK-47 modernizations differed only in insufficient details from the basic model. First Russian modernization took place in 1959. It's main object was to lower rifles weight and to increase it's fire accuracy. Modernized assault rifles are called AKM. In the middle of 70-ties AKM was rebuilt to 5.45 x 39-mm caliber, and got indexation as AK-74. Nowadays the most modern are Russian AK-100 series with a wide range of characteristics.
Furthermore the same developer - Michail Kalashnikov developed machine gun RPK (later modification RPK-74), machine gun PK (later modification PKM), with very similar automatic work principles. These weapons have the same reliability with AK assault rifles. None of the developers after Michail Kalashnikov succeed to develop something better than AK in it's reliability till recently. Furthermore the well known assault rifle developer still lives in Russian city Izhevsk and works in it's weapons plant.
AK-47 assault rifles are or were produced in Albania, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Germany, China, Czech Republic, Poland, Yugoslavia, Finland, Iraq, Egypt, North Korea, Indonesia, Israel and even the USA. In some countries it was produced under license. Threw the last half century there were produced approximately 70 million of AK family assault rifles in all modifications.