Kalashnikov sales to America boom

Izhevsk, the town in Russia where the Kalashnikov rifle is made, is booming. The town is exporting Kalashnikovs by the boatload to the USA, where gun collectors are snapping them up. It's likely the case that more Americans will by killed by other Americans wielding Kalashnikov than were ever killed by Russians with the Soviet-era gun. Andrew E. Kramer has more in the NYT:

“I bought a Saiga because it was made in Russia, right beside its big brothers, the AKs,” Josh Laura, a garage door installer and former Marine in Maryville, Tenn., said in a telephone interview. “No rifle in the world has been as reliable as this one.”

Selling rifles to Americans and other civilians is fundamental to the efforts to save Izhmash, which has made Kalashnikovs since soon after their invention in 1947 but is now struggling.

Demand for new military guns in the Kalashnikov family has evaporated. Simple, durable and relatively cheap to manufacture, about 100 million have been produced over the decades, or about one for every 70 people on earth. Inventories are overflowing, used AK weapons have flooded the market, and cheap Chinese knockoffs are stealing many of the customers that remain.

Importing Russia’s Top Gun (via Beyond the Beyond)

(Image: AK 47 Kalashnikov Vector Image, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from vectorportal's photostream)


    1. Beware straw men.

      What? WHERE? I’m going to hide in a bunker with my Kalishnikov until they’re gone….

        1. I’ll go with the lighted match, but only if I get a good one liner like ‘Consider this a sound rebuttal, mutha fucka!’  and then throw the lit match to the ground just in front of the straw man, who glances down and discovers to his horror that he is standing in a pool of gasoline, and screams ‘Nooooooooooo!’

      1. I grew up with vending machines that sold a mix of small gumballs & small charms & toys in the mix. I was never stupid enough to eat the toys. Parents are so proud of their kids nowadays, but treat them like helpless idiots.

        In contrats, adults who are helpless idiots feel the need to arm themselves like crazy for the stupidest reasons. I mean, Obama gets elected & suddenly people stock up on post-Apocalypse supplies?

          1.  Like Congress is likely to repeal the 2nd Amendment anytime soon. I honestly believe that the amendment is misconstrued in it’s meaning. Everyone points to the part, “the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” but forget about the “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State…”

            It is true that in 1791 it was necessary to call upon farmers and urbanites (the well regulated miltia) to defend the US from invading forces, but in 2012 a standing army exists therefore the “militia” is not needed. Again, it boils down to the “well regulated militia” not the “right to bear arms”.

            Honestly, getting guns, especially automatic assault rifles, off of US streets should be a priority. 

        1.  re: “morcheeba
          I agree with a lot of
          the NRA, but not their politics.”

          The reason Obama is the “enemy” is because even though he has been hands off thus far, he would most likely sign any gun law that came to his desk. It is a bit narrow minded to vote only on one issue, but it’s a lobby group for one issue.

    1. Aren’t Kinder Surprises banned in the U.S. as well? Weird, allowed automatic weapons but not chocolate eggs with plastic toys in the centre. 

      1. Yeah. It’s tragic. Scores of European children are killed and maimed each year playing with improperly stored kinder eggs. Such a waste of life.

  1. Cory, more Americans have already been killed by other Americans with Kalashnikov (at least AK-type) weapons than have been killed by Russians with Kalashnikovs.   Organizatsiya/Mafiya turf wars don’t count.  

  2. I think it’s pretty funny (certainly ironic) that a lot of the same people who decry socialism at every available chance are buying (and praising) a gun originally made by the Soviets.

        1.  Not every gun owner is a neo-nazi. A TINY number are. Rather insulting to paint everyone with a broad brush.

  3. That’s weird, I’ve built several legal Kalashnikov variants from parts kits and none of them have killed anybody. Perhaps they’re defective? Or maybe when I built them I left out the hyperbole that turns them into scary, scary killing machines. They do seem awfully prone to destroying helpless pieces of paper and cans of store-brand soda. 

    1. U mad?

      In all seriousness, you did build them yourself and would be aware of the dangers involved with firearms and, potentially, are a responsible adult. It kinda has to be said, they are Killing Machines, it’s the main purpose of rifles to kill and they are machines. 

      I think the articles more about people buying legit AKs from Russia then Chinese fakes and business is good. I’m troubled by Saigas being called “little brothers”, given them being clip-fed semi-auto Shotguns and  being about the same size.

      1. I recognize them as machines that have the potential to kill but as the guy who built them I’m going to seize this opportunity to be obstinate and say that MY AK’s weren’t built to kill anything. 

        Annnnd point of order: 

        Saiga makes rifles as well as shotguns. They use the roughly the same receiver as stamped metal AK’s (albiet slightly higher quality) but in their factory configuration they have a more traditional style of rifle stock in lieu of the AK style pistol grip, and proprietary magazines in order to facilitate compliance with localities that have capacity restrictions. Actually, they’re built to be “featureless” in the spirit of the original Assault Weapons Ban.

        Available in wood or plastic: http://www.coolclimbing.com/images/guns/military/Saiga-308.jpg 

        The more you know. Dun dun dun dunnnn…

        1. I know Saigas as Shotguns, probably Saiga-12. To me Saiga is short hand for the 12. 

          Additionally if aren’t built to kill anything, can they only fire blanks? In the same sense, my car isn’t built to kill, but it can.

          1. Ah, I understand. A lot of people do that, but in the context of the “baby brother” characterization I think the recently developed rifles are what they were talking about. 

            I can build them to only fire blanks, but blanks can still kill. So if I build a blank-only gun (and I have, for film stuff) can we characterize it as a device built primarily for killing too? Just because something has the potential to be misused doesn’t mean that it automatically will be. 

          2. It’s primary use would not be killing, it’s primary use would be a stage prop. 

            In the earlier statement I made, a car’s primary use is a transportation device, I can kill with it but it is not its main use.

          3. That’s very arbitrary. I built my guns to shoot paper targets and soda cans with my friends but you characterize them as devices intended for killing. My blank-firing guns have the potential to kill but you unquestioningly accept them as “props”. 

            I understand what you meant about the car. The difference is that I understand that your car having the potential to kill doesn’t mean that it will be used that way, but apparently that concept is difficult to apply to firearms.

          4. “That’s very arbitrary” not really, in the sense that a starter’s gun is a sporting tool, not a weapon. 
            It’s not difficult to apply to firearms, It’s more to do with primary use.

            Note, I have no problem with your use of firearms, as long as you are responsible with them, it is just that many haven’t been with their firearms. 

          1. Considering that I abhor hunting I suppose that’s a reasonably accurate if mildly biased way to describe them. Although in real life context they’ve proven significantly less dangerous than ATV’s and other “adult toys” (ha). In my social circle guns engender very responsible behavior. 

      1. I said they weren’t built with the purpose of killing anybody. Lots of people like to say “guns are only made for killing” and I’m having fun pointing out that mine weren’t. 

        1. Well, no, that’s not true. A gun could be used as blunt instrument to bludgeon someone to death. 

    2. Those guns the Sikh temple killer had weren’t killing anyone either

      Since I can’t reply…
      Funny how you immediately take the comparison personally and can’t compare risk to ownership.

      1. Ownership doesn’t automatically equal to intent, but it’s fun how you immediately drew that paralel between my not committing crimes and a homicidal racist. 

    3. Ah, that old chestnut? Guns don’t kill people?
      Well, guns make people much more effective killers. Guns were designed to do just that. Just because you use it on soda cans doesn’t turn it into a can opener. It’s a killing machine by design.

      1. You’ll note that I didn’t say that. Somebody else made a statement that sounded similar to that, but what I said is that I built my rifles for a reason that does not in any way involve killing. 

    4. I know, right? It’s like the sledge hammer I made to crack peanuts. People just don’t get that because I made it with a different intention to it’s obvious design purpose it therefore no longer has any utility toward that purpose and now only serves as a peanut cracker.

      Edit: @tayboy To be honest shooting cans with a Kalishnikov sounds like awesome fun.

      The issue I see is that if every third house has a sledge hammer to crack peanuts, when someone wants to use one to hammer wooden stakes 6 feet into the ground, they don’t need to look very far.

      1. So wait, am I retroactively responsible for the original intent of the designers, or am I being faulted for finding a use for their invention that is directly contrary to that intent? 

    5. It isn’t the fact that an assault rifle can simply kill, it is the concentration of the power to kill that is the problem. An assault rifle with multiple magazines can kill a lot more people than a six shooter. Both of them are far more lethal than a knife. Each of these examples can kill someone if they are in the wrong hands and each of these could also be shined up with Brasso and hung on the wall.

      There is a logical reason that gun shops don’t sell grenade launchers, tanks, or fully automatic machine guns. At some point our society has said that the concentration of killing power is a problem and that certain weapons need to be prohibited for public safety. The question then is if we are conservative enough on the setpoint where the killing power is too high. I don’t think we should ban knives, but I do think we should ban assault rifles.

      To me, the big question is the setpoint.

      1. “There is a logical reason that gun shops don’t sell grenade launchers, tanks, or fully automatic machine guns.”

        Federal laws?

        I believe you CAN buy these things, in the right state and with the correct licence. They are asking a premium,  give or take, rightfully so.

  4. It’s kind of funny that a gun designed to be stamped out by the million and effectively immune to low mechanical tolerances from poor quality manufacturing now has fans paying a premium for the genuine article.

    1. Maybe guns are like pets in that they resemble their owners.  Poor quality, low tolerance, cheap…

  5. Bleh – I have never like the AK, though it is a pretty well engineered rifle (I also don’t like Glocks). I would much rather have an AR-15 with all the “tactical” gear you can shove onto those Piccatinny rails.

    ETA — I thought that imported rifles like the AK had to have a certain percentage of US parts. Is that still the case, or are their exceptions. This is why we can’t get nice Chinese copies of the Norinco M-14, but out Canadian friends can.

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