From Fox News Russia's Defense Minister, Anatoly Serdyukov, set off a firestorm of debate in Russia after saying that his military's pride and joy, the Kalashnikov [AK-47 series] and Dragunov SVDs sniper rifles, are "morally outdated" and that he's considering a plan to buy foreign-made small arms.
Pravda has an article in response quoting many Russian military leaders defending the old work horse.
To be accurate, the prototype AK-47 Kalashnikov Assault Rifle was accepted for general issue in 1948 and became the AK Kalashnikov Assault Rifle, but the designation has stuck through many upgrades, changes and modifications. The current version in the Russian armed forces is the AK-74 rifle and AK-105 carbine. Of interest is the AK-74 abandoned the signature 7.62x39mm rounds for a 5.45x39mm which is in the same class as the NATO 5.56x45mm round used by US M-16. There are export versions AK-101 through 104 in 5.56x45 NATO and the venerable 7.63x39. A new AK 200 series is being tested in 2011.
With the American M-16 series, they have been the inspiration for a multitude of assault rifle designs that make up the current inventory of standard infantry rifles around the world. Despite all the noise of their respective champions these are two very equivalent weapons. That they have been the main stay of the there respective countries armies for over forty years is evidence, that though they have their own quirks; they are both first class weapons.
What do I think will happen. The same thing that keep happening to attempts to replace the M-16.
“That is cool little gun, why it is just as good as an M-16 (Kalashnikov) with a different set of quirks, six of one half a dozen of the other. But why should we pay three or four times as much for something that is just as good as an M-16 (Kalashnikov)."
The Russian World Guns: Encyclopedia of Firearms and
Ammunition of the XX and XXI Centuries article on Assault Rifles sums up the situation nicely:
But the largest stride forward was made by the USSR, when, in 1943, the Soviet Army adopted a new cartridge - the 7.62x39mm medium-power load. In 1945 , the Soviet Army adopted the semi-auto SKS rifle in this chambering, and, in 1947 - the AK (known for the West as AK-47). The AK was Worlds' first sucessful assault rifle, and one of the most widely used. The Last major step on this road was made by US again - in the late 1950's, the US Army adopted a new (for the US) concept of military selective-fire rifle using a small-caliber cartridge. The first of such weapons adopted was the Armalite AR15/Colt M16, designed by Eugene Stoner. This adoption lately set the new world trend for small-caliber (5.45-5.56mm / .22in.) high-velocity cartridges.
All further research and development, such as caseless ammunition, multiple-bullet or sabot cartridges, etc., still haven't produced any practical results.
6 months ago