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© RIA Novosti. Igor Zarembo

Russian army drops Kalashnikov

by Evgeniya Chaykovskaya at 27/09/2011 18:37

The Russian army is opting not to buy any more Kalashnikovs, the legendary rifles that still kill a quarter of a million people every year in every corner of the globe. They did not buy the AK-74, a more recent version than the AK-47, in 2011, and do not plan to do so in 2012 and 2013.

The Defense Ministry explained that “all the warehouses are full of them,” but they have not been modernized for a long time, Izvestia reported.

The army’s representatives say they expect a new rifle from Kalashnikov manufacturer Izhmash by the end of the year. The new version is expected to have a longer range and will be more accurate.

“We already have some developments, and we hope the army will like them,” the plant’s spokesman told Izvestia. “In the meantime we will try to increase export and sport weapons production.”

The legend

The rifle developed by Mikhail Kalashnikov gained popularity all over the world because it is reliable, simple to use and clean, and is inexpensive to manufacture.

One of its versions, the AK-47 is one of the most recognized weapons in the world and is pictured on the flag of Mozambique and Zimbabwe’s coat of arms.

Kalashnikov, who was named among living geniuses by Britain’s The Telegraph, has not been told that the military do not need his famous gun anymore.

“Mikhail Timofeyevich will be 92 soon. We do not want to have it on our conscience and tell him such bad news. He might not live through it,” his friend told Izvestia.

There are enough rifles for 20 years

The Russian army has “10 times more” Kalashnikov rifles than it needs, said the Chief of General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia, Nikolai Makarov.

“So first we must use up the weapons we have in reserve, and the new ones, including the weapons that are being developed, must go to mobilization,” he told Interfax.

Military expert Viktor Korablin announced that the guns produced by the plant are very different from the ones accumulated at the army’s warehouses.

“The new AK74M have a slot for an optical and electronic-optical sight that increases the accuracy by a factor of 1.5-2. It allows the soldier to confidently hit targets at 500-600 meters. Without the optics the effectiveness goes down to 300-400 meters. It is impossible to attach a sight on the old AK,” Korablin explained.

The old guns can be adjusted, but the plant needs to do it, or to release additional equipment for the soldier to set them up themselves. Neither is in Izhmash’s plans.

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