Construction has begun on Chavez’s AK-103 factory

Forbes reports

Ambassador Vladmir Zaemskiy told a news conference that Russian engineers and Venezuelan construction firms were building the rifle and cartridge plants which, when operational, would employ more than 1,500 workers.

He gave no completion date for the plants under construction in the central state of Aragua.

Details about Moscow’s military shipments and projects have been scarce since socialist President Hugo Chavez’s government began signing military agreements with Russia back in 2001.

I do wonder why the construction of a massive industrial complex, employing 1,500 people, can be justified to supply a country with a population just 25% greater than that of the NYC metro area. So the question on my mind is who do they plan on exporting to? … and how long before these rifles turn up on the Mexican/US border?

Many thanks to Todd for sending me the link.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Betting on form, I wouldn’t worry about Venezuela under Chavez turning into an industrial powerhouse.

  • Matt Groom

    There’s no way Chavez could possibly use this much production capacity for a design that is essentially obsolete unless he intended to do one thing: Export. It’s a giant make-work project that’s not intended to make money. He’s gonna pick up where the Soviets left off and give these things away to anyone who claims to be a Socialist. He’ll continue to do this as long as he has oil to export and the people to exploit. We’ll be seeing these things stateside before you know it.

  • Mu

    You know they will have to first appear on US gun show tables before they can appear at the border.

  • Vitor

    Since the metallurgy industry of Venezuela is close to nil, it means that every AK built will rely on importations, specially from Brazil.

  • SpudGun

    ‘Hysterically inaccurate Anti-Chavez kneejerk reaction with lots of exclaimation marks!!!!*

    *Reminder from Steve that it’s ‘Firearms not politics’*

    *Drug gang, Taliban, Communists to invade USA with Venezuelan AK-103 after Obama and Chavez secret socialist summit!*

    *SpudGun not really bothered, as just about every other South American country has it’s own arms factories and no one has cared about that for a gazillion years.*

  • Carl

    Steve, are you suggesting that Mexico’s problems with violence is because there are too many firearms?

    Chavez probably just needs to “provide jobs” because he has scared away a lot of private enterprise. Whether the jobs actually produce a net gain is not so important to him in the short term. And arms production (to defend against The Great Satan) is probably popular with his supporters.

    I’m sure he loves the fact that the WoD is failing so spectacularly in Mexico and on the US border, and he is not likely to go out of his way in stopping weapons finding their way there, but the prevalence of firearms has only a marginal effect on the level of violence. People bent on doing bad things will obtain weapons no matter what, as Mexico’s very restrictive gun laws would suggest.

    • Carl, no, I was suggesting that he will arm the guerrillas he supports, and that the arms will eventually make their way to the US border.

      Who knows what that mad man plans, but I he is spending a lot of treasure on something he could easily import or manufacture in a factory with a lot less than 1500 people!

  • elpolicia

    My friend thats is a BIG LIE here in Maracay state of ARAGUA there is only the plant of CAVIM (venezuelan military indutries) working at the half of the capacity with only 100 tecnicians, no other plant is in construction maybe in planing but nothing in the graund. Remenber this goverments talks a lot and really do NOTHING

    Greatings from Venezuela

    • elpolicia, well that makes a lot more sense – I guess they mean that one day in the very distant future – typical government hype.

      With modern manufacturing technology, 100 technicians should be more than enough to manufacture AKs and ammunition.

      Great to see is Venezuelan on the blog!

  • Martin

    This way, Chavez can supply the FARC (or any other communist organization) with as many weapons as they need.

  • Pete

    I’d give it 6 months after production starts before they turn up in San Diego.

    If I was Chavez I’d be dumping money and guns into the hands of the Mexican drug lords. Just like Hezbollah and Iran.

  • Matt Groom

    Look for references to “Venezuelan AKs” in season 3 of “Sons of Anarchy”.

    *SpudGun not really bothered, as just about every other South American country has it’s own arms factories and no one has cared about that for a gazillion years.*
    Once again, Spudgun has clearly demonstrated ‘Moral Equivalency’ so popular with that side of the aisle. “If America has Nukes, why shouldn’t Iran?”

  • Carl

    Arming guerillas – yes, quite plausible. I don’t see how that affects the United States though. Is there a problem with guerilla warfare on the Mexico-U.S. border?

    If anything, an influx of venezuelan weapons to the US/Mexico region will reduce the need for criminals to steal weapons from legitimate owners in the US. The drug dealers will have plenty of weapons either way.

    I agree on the bad economics of this enterprise.

    The 103 is a large caliber AK by the way. Is this a good choice?

    • Carl, there has been a lot of drug fueled violence on the Mexican side of the border – the Mexicans blame it on US guns …. but thats very much off topic.

      Regarding AK-103. I personally favor the 7.62x39mm. I would feel more comfortable behind it than the 5.45mm. Personal preference. I think Matt Groom here likes the 5.45.

      I have heard many reports of AK-103 sales in recent months, so I think they are selling well.

  • Vak

    Lol spudgun.

    You’re right, the only thing that should concern us is the quality of these AKs, not to who they will be sold and who made them.

  • Ty

    Typical communist economic policy, unnecessary duplication of effort. Chavez would come out ahead if he traded oil to the Brazilians for firearms. That’s why I’m not concerned about Chavez and Venezuela. Communist countries have proven to be inept at invading their neighbors. Same thing with Iran.

    Building a factory with tax dollars doesn’t “create jobs” unless you believe that you can cut six inches off the bottom of a blanket and sow it to the top and call it six inches longer. What isn’t being seen is a problem with opportunity cost. The money invested in this factory is not being invested in a market driven industry where people have real jobs making things that people want to buy. There is a real glut on the market for AK type rifles. Do they think that they’ll be able to beat $25 Chinese AK clones? That’s what the US paid to outfit the Afghanistan Army.

  • jdun1911

    I sure hope the Russians were smart enough to get the money up front because Chavez is broke.

    Like many have said I doubt the factory would produce barely working AK. The entire Venezuela’s society is so screw up right now because of Chavez. The people that have the knowledge and skills are marginalized and replaced by pro welfare Chavez people. That’s not how you built weapons or a working economy. Ask the Soviet.

  • BryanJames

    I’m more worried about Chavez providing these AKs to ACORN if they ever decide to switch from election fraud to socialist full scale violent revolition.

  • SpudGun

    And once again Matt Groom assumes I belong to a certain side of an aisle. I make judgements based on fact and reason, not paranoia or propaganda.

    The facts reported are that Chavez wants to build a factory making AK 103s. I know America isn’t as powerful as it once was, but it’s Venezuela and they’re making an assault rifle – hardly nukes in the hands of Islamic terrorists now is it?

    If they’re better made and cheaper then Chinese AKs, it’s going to be a real ‘Moral Equivalency’ over which cut price, Socialist supporting, semi-auto rifle to buy. πŸ™‚

  • Lance

    The plant may also make AK-74s since some units n the venezailan military use them. No doubt the AK-103 and the AK-74 will arm FARC Colombia Cartels and Mexican Trafficers.

    And Obama will try to blame us for it.

  • Matt Groom

    BryanJames: Comedy Genius.

    Spudgun, they will probably be better than the Chicoms, which are hit or miss, literally, but they almost certainly won’t be cheaper.

  • Jim

    My prediction: He’ll use them to better threaten Columbia and sell them to militant groups for some pocket change.

  • El Duderino

    Not worried. Elin Nordegren with a golf club is more dangerous than a Venezuelan AK-103 πŸ™‚

    Until he (Chavez) starts to make licensed copies of Russian supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air systems, T-72 tanks, etc, who cares.

  • Lance

    T-80s are more threating, the T-72 is a piece of junk.

  • Clodboy

    To be fair, the Russians occasionally did churn out a decent product whenever they felt it to be important enough to not just hand the job to the next best sycophant (especially if their superiors could later reap the
    laurels for themselves)

    Not sure whether that goes for his AK plant, though. Chavez probably owes most of his success to the United States’ less-than-stellar track record in South America and his ability to exploit that for political gain rather than any sound social or military strategy.

    As for AK’s appearing on the US’ doorstep – Chavez does maintain ties with the FARC, which, in turn, are linked to Mexican drug cartels, but even he probably wouldn’t be so brazen as to supply them with new guns that can be traced to him that easily (of course all the older rifles replaced by the new AK’s may end up… misplaced… somewhere)

  • SpudGun

    Well, if people are paying good money for other South American made guns like Taurus and Springfield, then why not for a Chavez-nikov Uno Cero Tres?

    I agree with Matt that they would be more expensive, as you can’t beat the cost of Chinese labor.

    As for supplying drug / terrorist factions with weapons, they’d have to be free or at rock bottom prices, I would imagine that arms dealers in that part of the world already have the market sewn up and wouldn’t appreciate the competition.

  • jdun1911

    Taurus doesn’t make good guns. Springfield is alright. I still can’t get over their integrated safety lock on their 1911.

    Here the thing in Chavez’s Venezuela. You need skill laborers to make good firearms. In Chavez’s Venezuela there is no more left. They are all gone replaced by welfare pro Chavez supporters.

    That’s is why they need the Russian to built them a factory. No one in Chavez’s Venezuela know or willing to do it. That’s what happen when you marginalized the people that provided jobs and skilled laborers. Equality through poverty.

    Keep in mind it isn’t hard to built a gun and ammo factory. Nations have been doing it for centuries. Thefirearmblog posted a mom and pop ammo factory few weeks ago. Firearms manufacturer are setting shop every year in America.

    Again if I were the Russians, I would ask for the money up front. I would not accept paper money. Gold and natural resource is what I would take for my service. Chavez’s Venezuela can’t be trusted to fulfill a contact.

    • They are importing Russian tech and probably technical advice and training as well. I don’t think there will be any problems with quality. I mean we are talking about AKs! Not match-capable SR-25’s!!!

    • Sounds like America as far as skilled labor goes.

  • Martin

    Here’s a think. 1500 workers is way to many for a rifle factory, even without modern equipment. So, what are the other 1300 workers going to be making in the rooms behind the AK plant? Hmmm?

    I’m going to bet the quality of a Chavez Special (AK-103) will be right up there with a Norinco. Cheap, crude, but basically functional.

    Which brings me back to the beginning. Once he’s got the AK-103 manufacturing process running smoothly, what firearms are all those workers going to start copying next? Will funky ARs start showing up in odd places with weird serial numbers? HK knockoffs, counterfeit SCARs, and other bootleg firearms?

    Oddly, I’m a little torn about whether to condemn such situation, or cheer because more guns are being made. I think I just hurted my brain!

  • Stella

    Making an AK, though simple, requires large scale stamps and presses; more modern designs are CNC dependent. I doubt a flow of cruddy AR-15 and SCAR clones are imminent from Venezuela. Anyways getting a Russian/American AK-103 is not exactly a wallet breaker as it is.

  • Whatever

    Honestly I think people outside of Venezuela put more thought into what Chavez does than Chavez himself does. He’s not a bad leader because he’s a socialist, he’s a bad leader because he ignores basic economics (among other things).

  • Max

    Matt Groom’s comments are correct but so are the others that point out that the proliferation of AKs has made the entire thing almost moot.

  • Since these are repacing old belgian FAL’s, I wonder if we’ll see the surplus rifles on the US market eventually. I wouldnt mind an FAL if it was dirt cheap.

  • Mad

    @ Martin: LMAO other countries already make bootleg AR’s check out some Turkish weapons lately? One of their shotgun designs appears to be of Eugene Stoner origins.

    @ Sean OH: Belgian FAL’s would be nice especially at 3rd world bargaining discount.

  • pollofrito

    These rifles are obsolete, in every sense of the word. They are intended for three purposes, and only three:
    1. To create hysteria and disapproval of the business and literate class in Venezuela, thus drawing more support to Chavez from the lower classes, who are charmed to see the above crumble to their nerves.
    2. To provoke the Colombians and make them believe a war is at hand.
    3. To supply weapons to the ” Bolivarian Horde Circles” and to the FARC and pseudo-military (reservists).

    Russians are thrilled they are selling this garbage again, because nobody wants it on their own land.