Friday, July 13, 2007
The AK-47 at age 60
No major army in the world still uses the venerable AK-47 rifle. Its low muzzle velocity means that the big 7.62mm round doesn't manage enough steam to penetrate even modest modern body armor. And the size and weight of that big 7.62mm round means that a soldier can't carry as much rounds as with more modern .223 or 5.45 rounds. Yet at 60 years of age, the AK-47 is still the world's best guerilla rifle.
Part of it is because of the requirements of Soviet-era industry. Soviet industry was, let us say, crude. So when Kalishnikov designed the AK-47, he designed it with largely stamped parts with loose tolerances. The result is a rifle that is dirt-cheap to make and largely idiot-proof and capable of functioning despite neglect by ignorant peasants, tolerant of conditions that would have a modern assault rifle jammed solid. The downside to the loose tolerances is the low muzzle velocity. But then, the first target of any guerilla is not enemy soldiers, who after all represent a foreign and alien presence that will some day leave. The first target of any guerilla is the civilian infrastructure of governance propped up by those soldiers, which must be comprehensively undermined and rendered ineffectual so that when the foreign soldiers leave, the foreign-influenced government can be swept out of office rather than remaining as a tool of foreign imposition upon the body politic. The goal is to kill tax collectors and city councilmen and other such regional tools of the central government and thus render the central government isolated and helpless, not to attack the occupation troops. For every U.S. soldier killed in Iraq, a dozen Iraqi civilians employed by the central government have been killed. They just don't get counted because, well, they're just darkies after all, they're not real people, God's chosen people, the only real humans, Americans.
For that purpose the AK-47 is simply brilliant. Cheap, durable, and quite capable of ventilating someone who isn't expecting to be ventilated, guerillas world-wide love it almost as much as they love their RPG-7's (the funny looking rockets that you always see the guerillas waving around, which are almost as old and cheap as the AK-47). I think it is safe to say that wherever you have a puppet government being propped up by foreign troops, you will see AK-47's. The AK-47, sad to say, is a weapon that will likely see another 60 years of continuous use before being abandoned because the inheritors of the Earth have no hands to use it (besides, cockroaches do not fight wars).
-- Badtux the War Penguin
Posted by: BadTux / 7/13/2007 08:28:00 PM
another thing about the AK which makes it attractive is its rugged durability. you can slog through the paddies, duck through some tunnels, sleep on the ground where there is no equipment to clean or perform other maintainence and fight come sundown. and fight effectively. those loose tolerances again, they allow the machine to keep performing when others would jam. when using AK's never forget to grab all of them up when you pull your guerilla retreat action. the broken ones are easy to cannibalize and render others servicable again. save the broken parts too, because with even rudimentary skills (like those found in most farm equipment repair shops) many of those can be rendered adequate enough to manage popping off a couple of magazines (and if your fight lasts longer than that you are a stupid guerilla)
# posted by The Minstrel Boy : 14/7/07 9:24 AM
- Name: BadTux
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