AK-47 Assault Rifle
The AK-47 Kalashnikov's assault rifle, is a gas-operated assault rifle. Adopted and standardized in 1947, it was designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov and produced by Russian manufacturer Izhevsk Mechanical Works. The AK-47 is compact, firing a 7.62 × 39 mm cartridge, and is capable of selective fire. It was one of the first true assault rifles and remains the most widely used and known. More AK-47 rifles have been produced than any other assault rifle; production continues to this day.
The AK-47 operating mechanism is basically very similar to that of the US M1 and M14 rifles and M1/M2 carbines. In fact, as is often the case in a successful weapon design, there is little new about the individual elements of Kalashnikov’s design; the inventor’s accomplishment was in the recombination of known elements into a compact, reliable and durable package.
The AK-47 is simple, inexpensive to manufacture and easy to clean and maintain. Its ruggedness and reliability are legendary. The large gas piston, generous clearances between moving parts, and tapered cartridge case design allow the gun to endure large amounts of foreign matter and fouling without failing to cycle. This reliability comes at the cost of accuracy, as the looser tolerances do not allow the precision and consistency that are required of more accurate firearms. Reflecting Soviet infantry doctrine of its time, the rifle is meant to be part of massed infantry fire, not long range engagements.
The AK-47 notched rear tangent iron sight is adjustable, each setting denoting hundreds of meters. The front sight is a post adjustable for elevation in the field. Windage adjustment is done by the armory prior to issue. The battle setting places the round within a few centimeters above or below the point of aim out to approximately 250 meters (275 yd). This "point-blank range" setting allows the shooter to fire the gun at any close target without adjusting the sights. Longer settings are intended for area suppression.
In the United States Private ownership of fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifles is tightly regulated by the National Firearms Act (NFA) of 1934. The Gun Control Act of 1968 ceased importing of foreign-manufactured fully-automatic firearms for civilian sales and possession, effectively halting further importation of civilian accessible AK-47 rifles. In 1986, an amendment to the Firearm Owners Protection Act stopped all future domestic manufacture of fully-automatic weapons for civilian use.
Several states have laws on their books outlawing private possession of fully-automatic firearms even with NFA approval. Certain semi-automatic AK-47 models were banned by the now-expired Assault Weapons Ban of 1994–2004.