The Avtomat Kalashnikova: a weapon that should require no introduction to anyone anywhere in the world. Ubiquitous with warlords, guerrillas, communism, and underground capitalism, its either met with praise by its users or scorn by those on the business end of it. Full of rumors, myths, and legends, it is a weapon that is seldom understood by most in the armchair and cosplay crowd, but in the business of real-world killing, the AK is unparalleled as the small arm of choice. Why? Because it works. That’s why.
There’s also no firearm more prolific in the world than the AK, and in particular, the Avtomat KalashnikovaModernizírovanny, or AKM in for short in 7.62x39mm. With its stamped steel receiver and long stroke action, the weapon is perhaps best known for its ability to withstand hard years of neglect and abuse while still functioning. In Afghanistan it was common to see Cugir AKMs with the finish completely worn off from decades of neglect still in the fight. But that’s not why it’s widespread. The Warsaw Pact nations distributed the weapons to guerrilla groups far and wide, even leasing the tooling to friendly nations all over the world in many places which still use the AK today. As of 2005 the Venezuelan government under the Chavez regime purchased the tooling for a factory in Caracas which should be at full production capacity, despite the tremendous troubles in the nation, in 2019. The Venezuelan army specifically purchased not just the tooling for the updated AKM, the AK-103, but also the means to produce its own 7.62×39 ammo in house. Given the prominence of the AK among guerrillas worldwide and the ostensible socialist learning of the Venezuelan regime which has just been elected to another term, its a safe bet to say AKMs will be in the hands of not just the VZA but several guerrilla groups in the region and likely beyond. The projected numbers alone suggest they’re building for markets other than their own, looking to produce between 25,000 to 50,000 weapons per year.
So why would a national armed service, who’s operating environment is tropical jungle and mountain, pick the AK? And why would they select the dated 7.62×39 when the 5.45 is also on the table? Because it works just dandy in that environment, that’s why. It’s been working. It works in urban environments too, especially when it comes to intermediate barrier penetration and the development of the 8m3. And no matter how many so-called experts jump on bandwagons, simple logistics and common sense dictate one sticks with what works. The bullet is great in a close in fight which is the hallmark of jungle or thick woodland fighting where 50-100m might be considered long range. The 7.62×39 really shines in its intended role; as an intermediate cartridge not good for much past 300m. And with that in mind, it does exactly what its intended to do when paired with effective ammo. Thick vegetation and light jungle hardwoods doesn’t affect the round’s abilities much and more of it can be carried at a slightly lighter payload than the older FAL combat load which was also popular in South America.
What does this mean for you, Joe Prepper?
The Kalashnikov is not only the most widely distributed weapon in the world, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. Add that to the fact that the round is very well suited to rural environments where a shot may only be 50-100m at most, an easy case can be made for the platform that’s still relatively cheap to stock up a bunch of ammo for, even if the weapon itself has went up slightly in price. There’s other reasons to like it aside from cheap ammo and solid ballistics. It’s easy to use- the learning curve on the manual of arms is actually pretty simple. Immediate and remedial action is as simple as racking the bolt. Disassembly and maintenance is very simple also, with large internal parts that pretty much anyone with a bit of mechanical intuition can figure out. And although it’s not capable of the accuracy that the AR might be, it’s still easily a minute of man carbine within its parameters if the shooter does his part.
Aside from the weapon however, the fact that Izhmash’s factory will be cranking out so many weapons and ammo is highly significant- as reported, the reason for the factory in the first place is the high cost of importation. Venezuela clearly has aims at arming someone aside from themselves, and despite their national troubles, both Russia and China hold key interests in the region for reasons not limited to just peak oil. Who they’re planning to arm is an interesting question. BRICS is a real thing, with military alliances closely following economic ones. They all have to have a purpose.