Nations: USSR, Russia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Bulgaria, China, East Germany, Poland, Romania, Syria, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam +
Branch: Armed Forces, Law Enforcement, Paramilitary Forces
Time Period: 1949- present (2020)
Conflicts: almost every major conflict between 1959-today
Other Names: AK47, AK, AKM
Facts: One of the most prolific firearms in the world, the AK-47 and AKM pattern of rifle has been in almost every major conflict since its introduction to the world in 1959. Designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov to be a cheap and quick to build, robust rifle, the original design was finalized in 1947 but adopted by the Russian military in 1949 as the AK-47. The early AK-47 internals were housed in a stamped steel receiver with the idea of fast mass production. Reliability issues occurred with the early designed rifles slowing their production until 1951 when several design changes occurred such as the adoption of a machined receiver which slowed production. In 1959 a modernized and reliable variant of the AK rifle was introduced and adopted as the AKM. The AKM remained the primary rifle used by the Soviet Union and is the rifle almost all AK variants are based off of. Several copies and variants of the AK-47 / AKM exist such as the AKMS which uses a stamped metal under-folding stock. The AKM continued to serve Soviet and Soviet allied forces until the adoption of the AK-74 in 1974. Though phased out of standard Russian inventory, the AK is still widely seen today in the hands of paramilitary forces, terror organizations, pirates and in some cases, specific Russian government entities.