DOWNRANGE

Recoil - - Contents -

Ah, the AK. A tes­ta­ment to the abil­ity of a to­tal­i­tar­ian mil­i­tary in­dus­trial com­plex to cre­ate the most pro­lific ri­fle de­sign in his­tory through sheer bu­reau­cratic in­er­tia. De­spite the protes­ta­tions of its most ar­dent west­ern ad­mir­ers, Kalash­nikov’s baby is ad­e­quate at best. Its dire er­gonomics, cou­pled with a short sight ra­dius and in­dif­fer­ent rear sight, re­sult in the user be­ing hand­i­capped when com­pared to other small arms on the world mar­ket. Ad­di­tion­ally, its car­tridge is bal­lis­ti­cally in­ef­fi­cient, with a light-for-cal­iber pro­jec­tile that quickly runs out of gas, com­pound­ing aim­ing er­rors due to a rain­bow tra­jec­tory.

De­spite its draw­backs, the So­vi­ets learned early on that quan­tity has a qual­ity of its own. Mak­ing the best of what they had fol­low­ing the de­struc­tion wrought dur­ing the Se­cond World War, the AK was con­ceived, de­signed, tri­aled, and set­tled upon as the ser­vice ri­fle for what was then the big­gest stand­ing army in the world. From that point on, the in­dus­trial might of a com­mand econ­omy was thrown be­hind it. Were it not for the col­lapse of the Evil Em­pire in 1991, it’s likely that abom­i­na­tions such as the Hun­gar­ian AMD-65 would still be in pro­duc­tion, prov­ing that yes, it’s pos­si­ble to make a medi­ocre de­sign worse, so long as you as­sign enough gov­ern­ment em­ploy­ees to the task.

There’s only so much you can do to re­hash the sub­ject of a 70-year-old ri­fle, no mat­ter how widely is­sued it might be. In­stead, this is­sue fo­cuses on some mod­ern­ized, re­fined AK vari­ants; we ex­am­ine the is­sues in­volved with sup­press­ing a plat­form that doesn’t lend it­self to si­lencer use, and take trips to both the streets of Kabul and mother Rus­sia to see the AK in its nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment. Look for more AK­cen­tric con­tent on RECOILtv later this sum­mer, as we have an exclusive in­vi­ta­tion to visit one of the most re­spected pro­duc­ers in ex­is­tence, lo­cated in a war-torn Soviet satel­lite state. Stay tuned ...

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