By Dan Shea

Above: Generations at the 85th Gala Birthday Celebration Dinner in Izhevsk. Left to right: General Kalashnikov’s daughter Elena, General Kalashnikov, Granddaughter Jevgenija, Granddaughter Alexandra (Sasha) and Great-Granddaughter Ilona.

23 December, 2013. It is with great sadness that we bid farewell to General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov, age 94, who passed in the afternoon in a hospital in Izhevsk, in the Udmurt Republic. The Father of the AK47 affected just about every person on the planet; who hasn’t heard of his weapon systems or had their lives affected in some manner?

The Great Designers of the 20th Century - Browning, Stoner, Nambu, Hotchkiss, Lewis and Maxim include the Sergeant from Kurya as one of their own.

Kalashnikov was born on 10 November, 1919, in Kurya, the Kuryinsky District, Altai Krai, Russia, just after the Red Revolution of 1917. He fought in The Great Patriotic War against the Nazi Germans, and was wounded. In his 20s, while recuperating, he designed what became the AK47 Assault Rifle.

While Small Arms Review counted the General as one of our heroes, and we’ve devoted much of our editorial space to his designs and the offshoots thereof, it seems like everyone remembers him simply on his weapon designs. The personal anecdotes will flourish in the press as writers vie to tell their stories. We would like to take a moment to remember Mikhail Kalashnikov as the family man he was in the photo above during his 85th birthday party. In his expressions to us, he was the father/grandfather first, then a Patriot of Mother Russia, and then the inventor of weapons.

He was surrounded by his family and friends for the balance of his life. The Western Press frequently quotes the General as saying he regretted his weapon inventions, but that would be patently false, simply a ruse by apologists to paint over his legacy. As a patriot of Russia, and a staunch Communist of the old school, Kalashnikov believed firmly in his contributions as protecting his beloved Russia and the Russian people as well. He was always close friends with the designers at Zastava in Serbia, and communicated with weapons designers and friends around the world, including Eugene Stoner. The only regret that this writer is familiar with Kalashnikov expressing, was related to certain terrorists using his weapons, never a regret regarding professional soldiers.


This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V18N2 (April 2014)
and was posted online on January 7, 2014


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