SITREP: December 2005
By Dan Shea

Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination - John Dewey “The Quest for Certainty” Ch. 11

We at SAR applaud the renegade thinker, the person who perhaps doesn’t play well with others and is designing in their garage machine shop, or the small business that has a better idea - or thinks they do. Of course, the marketplace decides that. Timing to market can be off, the right idea at the wrong time, or a product that just doesn’t get its message out to the marketplace. With that spirit in mind, I would like to remind our readers that we are always looking for new products and ideas to bring to the rest of the readers; so please contact us with your new products for review. Not to ignore the larger companies and R&D shops, but it is frequently out in the private sector that innovation is seen and sometimes the controls in place in larger companies don’t allow for experimentation that is on the edge. While a large company may have a hefty cash supply for R&D, frequently it is very focused. It is in that unfocused area that we sometimes find a stroke of genius as well. All design is hard work, sweat, with a small part of inspiration, and sometimes an off the wall idea is what puts it all together.

Gene Stoner started on the path to the M16 series of rifles in his home workshop in 1952, making receivers for his hunting rifles out of the new wonder metal, aluminum (aluminium for our British readers). Not a bad place to start taking a power of example from for budding inventors.

I am presently on the long haul to the October Knob Creek Machine Gun Show & Shoot in Shepherdsville, Kentucky. Last week was the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) show in Washington, DC. At AUSA, there were an amazing amount of items being presented for our military to use. SAR will of course be filing a feature for our readers in upcoming issues, but suffice it to say that a lot of time and money has been spent by the contractors to answer the questions being asked by our brave service members in combat at the moment. I mention Knob Creek, because frequently I get to see items there that have been started by small companies that will answer many of the same or other questions that are being asked by the military. There is a major crossover in the Class 3 community - the enthusiasts of military small arms - and the current users. This crossover is generally ignored by Big Media, and it is our job at SAR to bring you insights in regard to the small shop innovators as well as the larger corporate offerings.

Speaking of great inventions that spring from humble beginnings, I would like to make a slight correction:

In the last issue of SAR, I mentioned that General M.T. Kalashnikov, the former Soviet Sergeant who invented the AK-47 among many other things, was the recipient of two “Hero of the People” awards from the Soviet government. Those are the common terms used by many regarding the two stars the General wears. Before anyone thinks we are leaving out the real names of his honoraria and awards, which previously have been covered in SAR, I would like to present a short list of these. General Kalashnikov was honored with many government awards for his service to the country, including: orders of the “Red Star” (1949) and “Red Banner of Labor” (1957), three orders of Lenin (1958, 1969, 1976), the orders of the “October Revolution” (1974), “People’s Friendship” (1982), “Patriotic War” First class (1985), “For Distinguished Services for the Motherland” Second class (1994), the order of “Saint Apostle Andrey Pervozvanniy” (1998) and the “Pashany” (Honour), Republic of Belarus (1999). He was honored with two “Hammer and Sickle” gold medals (1958, 1976). General Kalashnikov was twice honored as “Hero of Socialist Labor” (1958 and 1976) for modernization of the AKM assault rifle and development of the RPK light machine gun. - Dan

This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V9N3 (December 2005)
and was posted online on March 29, 2013


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