Russian Designer of AK-47 Assault Rifle Dies at 94
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The inventor of the world’s most famous firearm – the AK-47 assault rifle — has died of undisclosed causes in his hometown of Izhevsk, near the Ural Mountains, a spokesman for the Udmurtia republic says. He was 94.
The “self-taught tinkerer” created the Avtomat Kalashnikov in 1947, nine years after joining the Red Army. He was driven to conceptualize the weapon while recovering from wounds suffered when a shell hit his tank. He was determined to create something equal to or better than the Nazis‘ superior cache.
“Blame the Nazi Germans for making me become a gun designer,” Kalashnikov once said. “I always wanted to construct agricultural machinery.”
Though not known for its accuracy, the AK-47 is rugged and simple and performs in inclement conditions that jam more sophisticated machinery, the AP reports.
“During the Vietnam war, American soldiers would throw away their M-16s to grab AK-47s and bullets for it from dead Vietnamese soldiers,” Kalashnikov said in July 2007 at a ceremony marking the rifle’s 60th anniversary.
With more than 100 million AK-47s in circulation around the world, the gun has earned the distinction of being the firearm most “favored by guerrillas, terrorists and the soldiers of many armies.” It remains a staple of Russia’s armed forces and police and is at the heart of the gun control debate in the United States.
Though his name is synonymous with his invention, Kalashnikov never made a cent off the rifle, which was never patented.
The weapon, he said, was designed to protect his motherland, not to be used by terrorists or thugs, according to The New York Times.
“This is a weapon of defense. It is not a weapon for offense.”
The Kalashnikov Museum opened in 2004 in Izhevsk, Russia.
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