The famed original AK maker Izhmash is on the brink of collapse. Production of sporting rifles has stopped, export contacts cannot be fulfilled and skilled workers are leaving the company. Mikhail Kalashnikov and 16 colleagues have written an open letter to President Putin pleading for his intervention to prevent the company collapsing.
It is hard to sympathise with either Izhmash or Mikhail Kalashnikov. Mikhail Kalashnikov’s last open letter addressed to Putin was in 2008. In that letter he accused foreigners of spreading rumours about the collapse of Izhmash in order to undermine the power of Russia.
For most of the past decade there has been almost no innovation from Izhmash. Instead of innovating they used the Russian courts and diplomats to suppress competitors. In 1997 they obtained a patent for the 50 year old AK-47 design. Izhmash used this ridiculous patent to sue and take ownership of their Russian rival Molot.
Izhmash’s first new military rifle in years, the AK-12, was introduced earlier this year. It seems it is a little to late.
For the company to survive they need to accept they are no longer a major player in the military and law enforcement market. Their glory days ended a long time ago. State intervention is only going to prolong the pain.
[ Many thanks to Lance for emailing us the tip. ]