Mikhail Kalashnikov began his career as a weapon designer while in a hospital after being wounded during the Battle of Bryansk. After tinkering with a submachinegun design, he entered a competition for a new weapon. A particular requirement of the competition was the reliability of the firearm in the muddy, wet, and frozen conditions of the Soviet frontline. Kalashnikov designed a carbine, strongly influenced by the American M1 Garand, that lost out to the Simonov design that would later become the SKS battle rifle. At the same time, the Soviet Army was interested in developing a true assault rifle employing a shortened M1943 round. The first such weapon was presented by Sudayev in 1944; however in trials it was found to be too heavy. A new design competition was held two years later where Kalashnikov and his design team submitted an entry. It was a gas-operated rifle which had breech-block mechanism similar to his 1944 carbine and curved 30-round magazine.
Kalashnikov's rifles (codenamed AK-1 and -2) proved to be reliable and the gun was accepted to second round of competition along with designs by A.A Demetev and F. Bulkin. In late 1946, as the guns were being tested, one of Kalashnikov's assistants, Aleksandr Zaytsev, suggested a major redesign of AK-1, particularly to improve reliability. At first, Kalashnikov was reluctant given that their rifle had already fared better than its competitors; however eventually Zaytsev managed to persuade Kalashnikov and the new rifle was produced for second round of firing tests and field trials. There, Kalashnikov assault rifle model 1947 proved to be simple, reliable under a wide range of conditions with convenient handling characteristics. In 1949 it was therefore adopted by Soviet Army as '7.62mm Kalashnikov assault rifle (AK)'.
This is a history of the world's most successful military rifle and the arms factory that made the Kalashnikov family of weapons. It was co-written by Val Shilin, a close associate of legendary arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov at the Izhmash Arms Factory, and noted U.S. small-arms expert Charlie Cutshaw, author of The New World of Russian Small Arms and Ammo. The Izhmash Arms Factory was founded in the early 1800s and became Russia's largest, most prestigious firearms producer. Today, it is best known as the home of the Kalashnikov Design Bureau. This book chronicles the fruits of the partnership between Kalashnikov and Izhmash as well as the weapons of other Izhmash designers and those of competing designers. It includes photos and technical specifications of all AK-based weapons, including shotguns, submachine guns, pistols and civilian rifles; the first public appearance of the AKB and AKB-1 assault rifles; and the mysterious A-62.
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Charlie Cutshaw is a well-known U.S. authority on military small arms. He is an editor for Jane's and contributing author for other military and firearms publications. Val Shilin began work at the Izhmash Arms Factory in 1976 and became chief of the export division in 1989. Shilin lives in Russia, where he writes articles on military weapons for various publications in Russia, Japan, Italy and the U.S.
Chapter 1 - Historical Background of the Izh Arms Plant through World War II Chapter 2 - The Kalashnikov Phenomenon Chapter 3 - Improving the Breed: Experimental Rifles and Machine Guns Chapter 4 - Sniper Rifles Chapter 5 - Submachine Guns Chapter 6 - The Secret History of the AN-94 "Abakan" Chapter 7 - Pistols
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