Mikhail Kalashnikov Asks Putin To Save Izhmash

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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.

An Izhmash Employee inspects a batch of Siaga rifles.

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. ]

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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.


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  • surplus-addict

    They really need to expand the civilian market and what they sell to it. They could start selling a 9mm carbine, and it would sell like hot cakes.

  • 7.62x25FTW

    Saigas in 7.62×25,9mm,and 10mm and 22lr,not hard to do.. And a new production run of SVD’s and the new sks that was posted the other day would REALLY bring in the cash. They CAN come back from this,but only if they act fast.

  • Reverend Clint

    new SKS in different calibers would sell, .223 or even up to .308

    • 7.62x25FTW

      Sks in .300 blackout with threaded barrel. Or 6.8spc

      • Anonymoose

        >6.8
        A 6.5 Grendel SKS would be easier to make. After all, the 6.5 is based on the 7.62×39.

  • Justin

    So if Izhmash goes under does that mean MOLOT will die too? I’m a big fan of VEPRs… Would hate to see them go.

  • RDW

    Guys….they have a Saiga in .22lr, they have a 9mm carbine, and they have some VERY innovative designs and ideas…the problem is execution in manufacturing, corruption, and extremely poor business practices.

  • http://suburbansdomain.blogspot.com Suburban

    Shhhh! Don’t suggest that failing companies should go bankrupt, and that government intervention is a bad idea. The mainstream media will tear you apart.

    • 032125

      Of course, that’s only half the story. The gov’t of Russia set up this failure with dumb export treaties. They shouldn’t bail out Ishmash, but they should pitch export restrictions out the window. I guess it’s okay to sell arms to rogue states, but not peasants in the US.

  • Lance

    Sad to see the old Soviet icons die. The biggest blow is that the Russian Military said no more new AK-74Ms till 2015/16. And the CIS states have enough older KA-74 to last them another decade or two. Bulgaria and Romania make there own and Poland went 5.56mm NATO. So the 5.45 market for the 74 is dried up.

    Libya and Ethiopia are the buyers of AK-103 since AKMs are flooded the world market for decades ago. (South America bought the right to make them so Russia did not make much for Chavez’s army).

    Looks bad for the Russians maybe they can spy on the US and find a way to make caseless ammo or Copy LSAT and make telescopic ammo to start a new arms race.

    Overall if they make more AKs and SKS for US gun owners they can pull threw?

    • economics of firearms

      trade barriers. we are the biggest market so we could revive any near dead company. also look up VAG-73 its a caseless pistol. i think they want to go their own way which is fine. if not you get firearms that all look near alike just like the whole apple/android smartphones.

  • AKMSF

    Izhmash! WE WANT TO BUY YOUR GUNS!! Why can’t they figure out that commercial export sales are the only thing right now that is going to save them?!

    • Lance

      I want them to make a semi-auto Bison in 9x18mm with Hex mag. MAKE one americans will buy thousands!!!!!!!!!

      • economics of firearms

        you mean 9×19 correct? as for it would be easier for us to buy the ammo.

      • Shawn

        Not in 9×18. In 9×19 definitely.

    • Lance

      They made both a 9×18 for Russian military and a 9×19 for export only. 9×18 is cheap now compared to over priced 9×19 so it be cheap to shoot.

      • Anonymoose

        I think Murrican import restrictions would make them destroy the receiver first if they made a semi-auto Bizon, but they might be able to at least sell it as a parts kit without a mag and barrel (so it wouldn’t be listed as NFA to start with) or something, and then contract another company here to make aftermarket helix and 30-round mags. Also, the full-auto Bizon has been out of production for some time now as far as I can tell.

    • W

      If they would sell Dragunovs to the United States, I personally know six people, including myself, that would shell out the coin to buy them.

      Hell, I think selling Dragunovs to the US could save the company alone :D

      • RDW

        They would LOVE to sell SVDs to the US. The problem is the VRA that is currently in place. They need to get that killed and then several of their current models with small modifications would be importable to the U.S. including SVDs.

      • W

        I think its dumb that a rifle you can buy for 1,500 dollars in more restricted Canada and New Zealand costs 5-6000 dollars in the US.

        If they sold for 1000-1200 here, Izzie would make a killing.

    • Alan Perez

      Turns out they still make the “BIZON”, they have it in 9×19 Parabellum and 9×18 Makarov. Here’s the link: http://www.izhmash.ru/eng/product/bizon.shtml

  • Mark

    If they would use the newly signed WTO membership to let them export the Vityaz and other rifles to the US we’d breath some life in to the company!

  • economics of firearms

    i would agree with the company filing for a patent on the ak-47, after all kalashnikov did design it. the soviets were not that keen on stuff like patents though. however the Izhevsk Machine Tool Factory acquired a patent in 1999, making manufacture of the newest Kalashnikov rifles, such as AK-100s by anyone other than themselves illegal. However, older variants, such as AK and AKM are public domain due to age of design.

    as for the ak-12 being the “first” new military rifle, i would count the AK-107/108 as new.

    as for the whole WTO thing its not going to be immediate, believe me the russians want to open the gates, its this end that has to undo the import ban legisation within 2-4 years.

    • Lance

      The only bad thing about the AK-12 is that Russian generals now want new planes and tanks so rifles fall short of there list. Also it never was a leap over the improved AK-74M since the new Ms have rails and some have new stocks. If it was 1990 id say the AK-12 would have a future but there 20 years late.

  • W

    There’s only one solution to the problem Izzie: sell your stuff to Americans. You cannot play and win the capitalist system by excluding the United States, the king of capitalism.

    • John

      I bet they would love to but they CAN’T due to US importation bans. The only way around those bans is to have a certain number of parts made in US, but obviously a company on the verge of bankruptcy does not have the money to setup a new factory in the US.

    • Karina

      Oh but they’d be pleased to. It’s the US fault for still having silly embargoes on Russian-made products.

    • W

      you guys are absolutely correct.

      My comment makes it sound like im blaming the victim.

  • Anonymoose

    If they revived the AN-94 design in a refined version with the innovations from the AK-12 they could at least try marketing it to export customers, if not try to really impress the Russian government.

  • Máté

    How do you explain an old man that things are different now? I don’t think there’s much hope left for them. Maybe that airsoft AK-74 can help somewhat, but someone, who lived most of his life in a shitty system with a state-controlled market won’t just learn how the real market and competition work.

  • Mike Knox

    Putin should be ‘putin’ Izmash back in the game..

    • RocketScientist

      Bazinga

  • doug

    It seems like Izhmash getting bailed out is an annual tradition.

  • Riot

    Maybe Putin will save the company by getting import bans lifted – then everyone wins

    • Michel

      How about simplifying the ‘export’ process…

      There are a number of countries who’d like to buy from them, but can’t be bothered to navigate the Russian bureaucratic nightmare.

  • GreenPlease

    Here’s my suggestion for Izmash:
    1. Manufacture the receiver, BCG, trunions, and barrel in Russia. Ship them to the U.S.
    2. Have these components melonited here in the U.S.
    3. Source the stock, fire control group, gas piston, handguard, Ultimak gas tube, Bolton gas block, and magazine here in the U.S.
    4. Assemble
    5. Profit

    Sell these for $800-900 apiece. They’ll fly off the shelves like hot cakes. I’d like to see them focus on the 74s but the reality is that there’s probably a bigger market for the 47s.

    • Lapkonium

      That’s exactly why they have to die. They’re state-owned, uncompetitive and totally inconsistent.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      Thats what I would do.

    • Ryan Larson

      They cant make the receiver or the barrel in russian and import it due to import restrictions. The best they could do is what Saiga does, and make rifles that barely pass import, and are no longer really AKM’s, then try to convert them back once they are here

  • Denny

    This has little to do with politics, national sentiments or anything else. In 1991, under president “Vodkin”, his land decided to go kapitalist. Although this process was accompanied with attempts to regulate and to create some sort of mix out of previous with new, at the end it will be something like in the rest of the world.

    What it means to industies are chages… and bankrupcies. Izhmash does not need to be exempt, they will either adjust or go to history. New company will arise, or is arising already (Molot) and skilled people will move from old to new. Its never ending and natural process.

    If Izhmash want to stay and do better, they have to innovate. Yes, that’s the magic word. It is well known that Russia had traditionally excellent weapon designers; one such man was Korobov – trully outstanding talent. His rifle was better that AK but, for whatever reason, it was not put into production. Here, Izhmash has its chance.
    http://world.guns.ru/assault/rus/korobov-tkb-517-e.html

    • Esh325

      Colt barely innovates and they stay afloat some how. It’s more complicated than innovation I believe. Do I believe they deserve to be bailed out by the Putin and get a second chance? Probably not. The Soviet economy and sticking to known designs did sap the potential of many good design, but I don’t think really think one article saying the Korobov was a better rifle proves that it was.

      • JMD

        Colt stays afloat because they have a never-ending stream of contracts from governments around the world that are either arming or re-arming with M16/M4 variants. Izhevsk is running out of people to sell to, because most nations are switching away from AK platforms and toward M16/M4/M416/M417 platforms or variations thereof, but the old AKs that are already out there in third world countries still work and scarcely need to be replaced. When they do need to be replaced, the Chinese make that rifle cheaper than the Russians, so people would rather buy from them.

        Failure to innovate and seek out expanding markets, in combination with giving away millions of AK rifles for free during the Cold War, really screwed Izhmash.

        Colt doesn’t have any of those problems.

      • Denny

        I suppose the key national defence related industries should not be left out to competition and eventually perish. US gov’t would not allow this in case of Colt or FNMI; after all the machinery is gov’t owned. So similarly, in case of Russia, the chances are that they will be saved somehow. In truth, almost every nation gives their armament industry some sort of special treatment and protection (although we read recently the French story…).

        As far as Korobov’s designs (and I suppose Max P. can speak more on the subject), I read about them from several sources (and saw videos) in course of years. I gather that he embarked on split bolt design which was previously figured out by Pal Kiralyi (working once for Dominican arms industry and previously Danuvia Arms); the idea pioneered by John Paderssen. So, it has had long lineage.

        This approach, since it does not expose weapon frame to such sudden load as common locked mechanism does, enables better control and better accuracy (which is term commonly used, but I rather substitute with repeatibility). There was also another designer, Baryshev who took similar path. His designs (or their derivatives) are made by Czech Arms, but I am not aware of any sales they would have made.

    • mat

      Compared to Colt or Remington, izhmash is an inovative company ,like all russian firearms manufacturers is chained to a post by Yeltsin-Clinton agreement that prevents direct sales to the US ,free arms trade would most likely sink many US manufacturers as the market would be filled with cheaper Russian guns.

      • Denny

        I think you are right Mat. Yeltsin was more interested in vodka than in good prospect of russian trading in future. You mention low rate innovation at American companies. Maybe so, in case of Colt almost certainly, but Remington made decent effort with their own rifle plus whatever newly aquired partners brought in..

    • Lance

      The AK is far far from dead yes the M-16/M-4 is doing well too. But many nations use AKs. Russia and ALL CIS nations use AK-74s. Romania use AK-74s, Bulgaria uses AK-103 based rifles. China has some militias and reserve units with Type 56 AKs. Vietnam, North Korea all use AKM still. Cambodia, Laos, and India and Bangladesh and Pakistan all have AKMs and Types 56s. Africa and is flowing with them.

      The AK is a old system but will be in use for some time.

      • Denny

        Yes Lance, all those nations you mention have AKs in their inventory. However, they make their own, they do not need Russians for that. So what you have left, maybe just some spares.

      • Lance

        I agree I was debating a man who said AKs are dead in the 21st century. far from it I said in my own post why Russia isn’t doing to well since every one either has truck loads of them from the Soviet days or makes there own.

  • Partizan1942

    I’m sorry I did not realize that a company has to earn brownie points with patents to win the sympathy of our beloved article writer – whoever he or she may be.
    And just how many brownie points did Colt, Remington, Ruger, S&W or Springfield score with their game changing patents over the past decade?
    How many more of the “groundbreaking new” 1911s or AR-15s do we have to read about in this very blog for the author to realize that there is not much new under the sun? I am sorry to say that the flagships of innovation in the US based gun manufacturing business are companies like Kel-Tec this last decade. Yes, the same Kel-Tec that we all know have “cheap plastic crap” products but “great customer service”.
    What are we talking about? The US is arming its troops with HK-s and Berettas. Where is the innovation there?
    And I love the amount of scientifically refined economic thought that our author squeezed into his suggested business model that: if, – and only if Izhmash realizes that they are no longer the big dog in the yard will they be able to prosper. Why sir, that is more than brilliant that is downright Iacoccaian!
    When will people start to realize that because of the difference in legislation there is virtually no civilian market for guns in Europe? Not compared to the US marked anyway. That Izhmash’s profits depend on Russian government orders and on the slice of civilian market in the US. No NATO country will be allowed to buy their new stuff for their military because of American weapons lobby so they are stuck to sell cheap stuff for the 3rd world for which there is not much innovation needed. The Russian army is not able to place significant orders because of millions of surplus weaponry that they have. And without bailouts or legislation changes of the US civilian market they will not be able to make it as a factory. The livelihood of the whole town of Izhevsk depends on the factory functioning or not. So this is serious stuff.
    Sir, whoever you are you would have stayed wiser if you wouldn’t have taken your time to write your article that contains no new information just your personal bias. I get to do that as an internet troll but as an author I am surprised that you are not halt to higher standards.

    • Esh325

      I could not agree anymore. Steve needs to get his facts straight on this one and avoid bias.

      • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

        Why do you think I am bias? Do you think I am bias against Russian companies?

      • Lance

        No, the Russian made are the best Aks in quality on the market the SKS made there are top notch in quality. Id take a Russian AKM any day over a piece of crap Chinese Type 56.

      • W

        “No, the Russian made are the best Aks in quality on the market the SKS made there are top notch in quality. Id take a Russian AKM any day over a piece of crap Chinese Type 56.”

        You really dont know what youre talking about do you?

        The type 56 is well known for its heavier receiver and ability to withstand rapid fire for a longer time than Russian AKs.

        Besides, everybody knows that Valmet AKs will run circles around a Russian one. Valmet AKs were even the basis for the Galil and the R4.

        As far as the “innovation” double standard goes, Ill have to reluctantly agree with Partizan. Thats a pretty compelling argument.

      • Lance

        The receiver thickness has little to do with accuracy and reliability and only increases weight. The Soviet weapon out shoot Chinese any time. Most army’s trained men not to spray long rapid fire instead teaches shorter burst so a thicker receiver in trained hands was not needed and made the weapon heavier.

        The R4 Gaili are not exactly true AKs they use other firearms designs from others rifle like the M-1 Grand also in its design. Compare a apple to a orange when you have a R-4 vs AKM-47.

        The Valmet is a good point they make a good rifle but it never traveled or was adopted widely as the AK was unfortunately.

      • Esh325

        Even if you didn’t mean to, it sounded a bit bias to me, no offense. You write very good articles usually. I just thought this one wasn’t as good though.

      • Esh325

        I’ve got a bit of experience with Russian and Chinese AK’s from owning numerous rifles. The Chinese rifles are very reliable, and well made as are the Russians ones. The Chinese rifles have a thicker stamped receiver like that of the RPK, so they’ll probably be better in automatic fire. The barrel is also slightly thicker than the Russian ones. The Russian AK is lighter though. Russian AKM’s have the hammer retarder to reduce shot dispersion in fully automatic and a slant break to aid in full auto fire which military patterned Type 56′s lack. I can’t really say one is significantly better than the other though. But I guess I could say the Russian one is a little bit better. Don’t have any experience with Finnish AK’s, but they are suppose to be the Roll’s Royce of AK’s.

      • W

        thicker receivers are not intended to improve accuracy and reliability, but rather increase durability and mitigate heat due to prolonged firing. That is why Type 56′s are awesome. If a Russian AK is indestructible, a Type 56 is more so. The merits of a thicker receiver are also the reason why the RPK is designed with one.

        I wasn’t comparing the Galil, I was comparing the Russian AKM to the Valmet Rk62. You’re right though, comparing a Galil to a AK is like comparing the Russian gun to a SIG 550.

        To dismiss chinese guns as “inferior” is not a very wise thing. The part that disturbs me is that many of them are objectively just as good as western ones.

      • Lance

        Not really I had both shot Soviet and Romanian pattern AKMs and Chinese Type 56s. The Type 56 isn’t a complete junk pie but its not as accurate or light as the Soviet patten AKM. Fit and finish is poor compared to Warsaw pact rifles. They use none standard parts in some areas so finding parts outside of China is real hard.

        Overall the Type 56 can hold its own but the Soviet AKM is a better weapon.

        ESh325 was dead on on his assessment.

      • W

        Yeah my original point was that Type 56′s are not “chinese junk”, nor are they inferior to the true AKM.

        It seems like a common contention throughout the gun culture that Russian AKs are “the best”, which Ill strongly disagree. Ive seen some Bulgarian AKs with far superior finishes and of course the Valmet (which ARE like a rolls royce). I would say the Vz58 is THE best out of all the Combloc assault rifles but they are not a AK copy.

      • Lance

        I wouldn’t say 100% junk but in a way hen it comes to fit finish and accuracy yes inferior to Russian/Bulgarian/Romanian/Polish/ East German AKs.

        But in human wave assaults accuracy is the least of the solders worries.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      > I’m sorry I did not realize that a company has to earn brownie points with patents to win the sympathy of our beloved article writer – whoever he or she may be.

      I am that author.

      Colt, Remington, Ruger, S&W and Springfield are producing guns which consumers want. Ruger can barley produce enough guns to keep up with production. Since the development of the Colt M4 Carbine (introduced about the same time as AK-100), the company has been constantly working with the US Army to improve the gun.

      > How many more of the “groundbreaking new” 1911s or AR-15s do we have to read about in this very blog for the author to realize that there is not much new under the sun?

      I don’t believe there is anything new under the son, but innovation does not mean a ground breaking new platform. It can mean constant improvement and delivering what the consumer want.

      > I am sorry to say that the flagships of innovation in the US based gun manufacturing business are companies like Kel-Tec this last decade. Yes, the same Kel-Tec that we all know have “cheap plastic crap” products but “great customer service”.

      If you don’t like guns made by Kel-Tec don’t by them.

      Which brings me to my point. The Russian military does not want the guns Izhmash is making, the Russian police don’t want them and Russian consumers don’t want them.

      > And I love the amount of scientifically refined economic thought that our author squeezed into his suggested business model that: if, – and only if Izhmash realizes that they are no longer the big dog in the yard will they be able to prosper. Why sir, that is more than brilliant that is downright Iacoccaian!

      This my friend is Change Management 101. You cannot change unless you realize you need to change. Izhmash don’t understand that they need to change.

      > When will people start to realize that because of the difference in legislation there is virtually no civilian market for guns in Europe?

      Untrue. There are many successful gun companies in Europe.

      Not compared to the US marked anyway.

      > That Izhmash’s profits depend on Russian government orders and on the slice of civilian market in the US.

      And yet they are not investing in producing guns that either the Russian government want or that the US consumer want.

      > No NATO country will be allowed to buy their new stuff for their military because of American weapons lobby

      Nonsense. They are not buying guns from Izhmash because they can buy much better guns elsewhere.

      > The livelihood of the whole town of Izhevsk depends on the factory functioning or not. So this is serious stuff.

      It is my job to speak the truth. If Izhmash does not change none of their employees will have jobs.

      • economics of firearms

        > I’m sorry I did not realize that a company has to earn brownie points with patents to win the sympathy of our beloved article writer – whoever he or she may be.

        >>I am that author.

        >>Colt, Remington, Ruger, S&W and Springfield are producing guns which consumers want. Ruger can barley produce enough guns to keep up with production. Since the development of the Colt M4 Carbine (introduced about the same time as AK-100), the company has been constantly working with the US Army to improve the gun.

        as much as we dont hear it there have been constant improvements on AKs in the recent years that is what the mainstay of mechanical engineers and materials engineers are for in the gun buisness. for example that famously ricketty dust cover on the AK model no longer is such on modern AK-74Ms, and the 100 series including its intresting 107/8s. this is evidenced by the slowly trickling photos of piccanty equipped Aks in the VDV, Marines, FSB, MVD, and the occasional ground forces unit

        > I am sorry to say that the flagships of innovation in the US based gun manufacturing business are companies like Kel-Tec this last decade. Yes, the same Kel-Tec that we all know have “cheap plastic crap” products but “great customer service”.

        >>If you don’t like guns made by Kel-Tec don’t by them.

        >>Which brings me to my point. The Russian military does not want the guns Izhmash is making, the Russian police don’t want them and Russian consumers don’t want them.

        this is a basic principal of supply and demand. back in the soviet union there was the whole belief of a world wide communist revolution. as such they ordered for the creation of vast quantities of small arms. so much that if we were to empty out their warehouses of ak-47s and old 74s that you could make lady liberty

        > And I love the amount of scientifically refined economic thought that our author squeezed into his suggested business model that: if, – and only if Izhmash realizes that they are no longer the big dog in the yard will they be able to prosper. Why sir, that is more than brilliant that is downright Iacoccaian!

        >>This my friend is Change Management 101. You cannot change unless you realize you need to change. Izhmash don’t understand that they need to change.

        they understand they need to change; however seeing as there are many AK clones on the market and the barriers to entry on the united states are too high they are taking the “why bother” approach and consolidating untill the barriers are let down.

        > When will people start to realize that because of the difference in legislation there is virtually no civilian market for guns in Europe?

        >>Untrue. There are many successful gun companies in Europe.

        >>Not compared to the US marked anyway.

        while the civilian market in europe is not as lucrative as that of the united states. the fact is that while many European gun companies are alive and kicking, it is because they have both military contracts, and commercial sales. the united states makes up a large chunk of commercial sales. in fact last time i checked we were with 89 firearms per 100 people. the closest to us in civilian ownership is yemen which i can suspect is black market weapons.

        > That Izhmash’s profits depend on Russian government orders and on the slice of civilian market in the US.

        >>And yet they are not investing in producing guns that either the Russian government want or that the US consumer want.

        why invest in a product that you have no guarantee it will even get to that market? when they get more assurance that they will have entry into a market then they will actually respond to the consumer. we have 4 years to remove trade barriers with Russia on firearms, as per the WTO joining agreement. they do the same back. however, there will be red tape on both sides always.

        > No NATO country will be allowed to buy their new stuff for their military because of American weapons lobby

        >>Nonsense. They are not buying guns from Izhmash because they can buy much better guns elsewhere.

        NATO countries are required to purchase NATO caliber weapons, many times it is from domestic or other friendly countries, it does not make sense for a NATO country to purchase from the CIS however this does happen and we do own a small amount of AKs mainly for training and familiarity purposes. the main reason why we dont see say ukraine buy izhmash is because it would be political suicide to ignore their own arms company. im not arguing the merits of the tavor rifle, it replaced the vepr which was functionally a bullpup version of the ak-47m.

        > The livelihood of the whole town of Izhevsk depends on the factory functioning or not. So this is serious stuff.

        >>It is my job to speak the truth. If Izhmash does not change none of their employees will have jobs.

        essentially to sum it up, yes bailing out Izhevsk is good, however it will need to come with restructuring to orient it to more of a modern market. now is the time where the can test the water by throwing out ideas like a civilian ak-12 and SVD along with also the posibility of other models like the 107/8.

        however, should they release large amount of firearms that would really not have much of a chance due to trade barriers? no. until the barriers are removed natural trade will not exist.

  • Lapkonium

    Finally… If that mad brute dies Russian firearm industry may finally be reborn. Those assholes have forced out so many cool designs! Shame on them.

    • Esh325

      Maybe it would be best if they died out.

    • JMD

      Patent suits are the last refuge of manufacturers who have truly run out of ideas, and realize they can no longer compete in the free market.

  • Esh325

    I’m really sorry to hear that. I wonder do they actually mean it this time that Izmash will cease to exist, or is it another bluff again? I wonder what this mean for the future of the AK-12? I wonder what will happen to MOLOT since they are owned by Izmash? If they do fall, I hope another Russian firm picks up the development of the AK-12 and continues making sporting rifles.

    If they got state funding to bail them out, I bet they’ll be in the exact same situation in a few years.

  • mat

    Russian firearms manufacturers can’t export to US due to Clinton-Yeltsin agreement that is basicaly a protective measure to protect US firearms manufacturers from fair competition.

    • doug

      All import laws are protectionist B.S. I say we get rid of all of them. Unfortunately, the NRA is the biggest gun lobbier in the United States, so import laws aren’t changing for the better anytime soon.

  • AR

    “Izhmash used this ridiculous patent to sue and take ownership of their Russian rival Molot.”
    Too much politics involved. I wonder if Molot ran a profitable business before the take-over.

    The current Izhmash management must really be inept when they already have a virtual monopoly on supplying OEM AK pattern rifles in the U.S. market. Since their biggest competitor, Norinco, is banned from selling its AKs here.

  • JMD

    I think that if they want to survive, they ought to move the factory to the US and manufacture complete “non-sporting” rifles domestically so they don’t have to be imported in a neutered configuration. I’d love a new, properly-configured AK-107, and would be quite willing to pay around $800 for one. New, American-made SVD rifles produced on the original Russian equipment would sell like hotcakes here. Because of a variety of legislation, we can’t get new examples of either of those in the US at any price currently.

  • Partizan1942

    Hi Steve, it is nice for me to put a name to the article. I figured i would answer you here rather than reply at the original thread.

    First of all I know that Izhmash is in trouble financially. Pretty much everyone knows that. This is no news. So why the article? How is this newsworthy all of a sudden?
    I never said that Izhmash does not need to change its BUSINESS policy. But you make it sound so much like Izhmash cannot do that because of the lack of knowhow or innovation which in reality is not the case. You kinda’ forgot to mention in your article and also in your reply that because of the agreement that was signed in the ‘90s Izhmash (or other Russian manufacturers) cannot supply military grade stuff to the US. That also because of legislation they cannot get a lot of stuff that they could and happily would build shipped to the US civilian market. Just think of Saigas which are by the way selling like hotcakes. But although the US preaches free market the gun business is an exception to this. This is why Red Jackets, Magpuls and different other companies make a lot of money (that otherwise Izhmash could make) pimping ot Saigas once they are already in the US. Sure, Izhmash could open a company in the US to circumvent legislation but that requires capital and political backing from the US and Russian side as well but unfortunately Izhmash neither has the capital nore the political backing of any side for this move. And even if this would be possible what would the more than half a million people living in Izhevsk do? What would half of them live from? This is more than a crisis of a company this is a socioeconomic crisis of a town or region. How American and capitalist of you to think only in company terms. Yepp screw all those people right? When GM was in the same situation and got bailed out do you think that was necessary?

    And sorry but what do you know about what Russian police or military want? Are you a member of the Stavka? Did Putin tell you something? Or are you a golf buddy of Anatoliy Serdyukov? Because all that you and I can know if Putin or Serdyukov did not tell you anything is that they – the military – cannot(!) afford the stuff on their current budget but that by far does not mean that they would not love to have newer and better guns from Izhmash. Plus most of the army reform is connected to other than firearms.
    And Russian consumers? Russian civilian consumers are non-existent. Do you know how many people are allowed to carry “sporting rifles” or semi automatic shotguns in Russia? You have to get permits. You do not just walk into a gunstore and buy stuff like in the US and very very few people get permits granted. The civilian market is non-existent compared to the US market. Same in all of Europe except for perhaps Finland, Slovakia and Switzerland the combined population of these three countries is less than that of the state of New York. What are you talking about? What mysterious European civilian gun market?
    Do you think people in Izhevsk do not realize they have to go in a different direction? What do you think they can do at a point when they have difficulty paying their workers? They need f-ing capital to design, test, new products and reorganize production lines, buy new machinery and keep the skilled workers. Its not like they are incapable of realizing this but if a company lacks the coin to do this than it is not possible. So why do you think Kalashnikov wrote the letter? Think man for Christ’s sake!
    Getting back to your very well pointed out fact that there are Well functioning European companies that make weapons. Yes. This is true. And all of them are in countries that are NATO countries. FN, HK, Sig, and such all live (or at least make most of their coin) from supplying military weapons to NATO armies (with the obvious exception of perhaps Glock) and make most of the income from the money China lends to the US and the US spends on military expenses. Look at your country’s deficit. A big big chunk of that is what these companies are well off from.
    And by the way if you seriously think that the fact that Izhmash cannot sell their new stuff to NATO countries is a quality issue rather than a political one than you my dear man are living in some screwed up alternate reality.
    The only thing I can agree with you on is that Izhmash needs to change. I hope they will be enabled to do this.

    • http://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/ Steve (The Firearm Blog)

      To answer your question it is newsworthly because Mikhail Kalashnikov wrote a second open letter to Putin. It is also newsworthly that they have stopped producing sporting guns and cannot fullfill export orders.

      Yes, the law you speak of is anti-competitive, but in this case it is irrelevant. The BATFE prevent all overseas gun companies from importing “tactical” guns into the USA. Beretta, SIG, Steyr, Taurus etc. are all affected by this.

      These companies, including Bulgerian AK maker Arsenal, get around this by sending parts to the USA and then assembling them in a US-based factory. If Izhmash did this they would be making a lot of money.

      Instaed of attacking me, why not direct your anger at the poor management team that lead Izhmash into the ground.

      I support all guns companies worldwide. Don’t think that by critizing a Russian company I am critizing Russia.

      Please use the reply functionality.

      • Partizan1942

        Steve, I am not attacking you, I am criticizing what you wrote. I have no doubt that you are a nice guy. I just want you to write better articles.
        By the way you say “The BATFE prevent all overseas gun companies from importing “tactical” guns into the USA. Beretta, SIG, Steyr, Taurus etc. are all affected by this.”
        Yes, this is true for the civilian market but not for the military contracts which – again – Izhmash will never get in NATO countries.
        By the way this law is not just anti competitive but outright protectionist. Yes Arsenal does this. And kudos for that and yes that is what Izhmash should do to. And yes if I was in the management of Izhmash I would try to make that happen. But for this to be able to happen the company needs their debt paid, and would need to get a huge loan – hence the letter you speak of.
        Honestly, if I had the money to buy, bail out and invest in Izhmash now, I would do it and branch it out like we talked about. It could save the mother company and it could stir up some still water in the US.
        I do not have a problem if you criticize Izhmash or Russia. I am not a Russian (even if I were I could accept critique where it is due) and I do not own Izhmash shares. My only concern is that I like fact based journalism and not brief, oversimplified bias. Do not misunderstand me! This blog is a gem! It is a pleasant oasis for people that are interested in guns and I got very fond of it since I discovered it this spring. I just want serious journalism that these serious topics deserve. I guess I must have read dozens or who knows perhaps hundreds of your articles on this site and I rarely had any objections to any of them and even if so I did not even think it was worth mentioning and overall I am very impressed with the site. I just felt that this particular article was sloppy and bias.
        Sorry for not using the reply function properly.

  • Lemming

    Steve, you keep mentioning how the Russian military doesn’t want Izhmash’s weapons.

    The Russian military has specifically stated that they want to take their existing stock of AKs and equip them with rails and new sights. That’s it.

    So it’s not that they don’t want Izhmash’s weapons, it’s that they don’t want ANYBODY’s weapons. They’re perfectly happy with the performance of their existing AK-74M rifles.

    Basically, Izhmash is going bankrupt because the Russian military is too satisfied with their product.

    There is still hope though. Russian special forces have shown a keen interest in the Izhmash designed AK-12. This makes sense when you consider that it was their input that Izhmash used to design the rifle in the first place.

    Also, Izhmash has said that the Russian military would be testing the AK-12 near the end of 2012, although I personally doubt it will be adopted, for reasons I’ve already stated.

    • Lance

      Even if Spetz Naz buys some AK-12s they wont replace the AK-74M as standard rifle so sales would be painfully small. I hope Ukraine or Belarus may order more AK-74s but they have BIG Soviet stocks left. Doesn’t look good.

    • Lemming

      Unfortunately, I have to agree with you Lance.

      Until something truly revolutionary comes out, the Russian military is perfectly happy with it’s current rifles, and this is some really bad news for Russian firearms manufacturers.

      • Lance

        I think the Russian will spy on LSAT caseless technology and in the 2020-30 if it matures can make a revolutionary weapon like the US if it can survive the meantime.

    • economics of firearms

      this gets into the whole topic of planned obsolescence. how do we make sure if we make a product that is too reliable that people will want a new one every so often. the answer: make a better version of it or take a gander and make a whole new product.

      • Lemming

        @economics of firearms

        The AK-12 is Izhmash’s attempt at improving the AK rifle. We’ll see if it is successful.

      • W

        youre opening up a can of worms, but you are 100% correct.

        In fact, that is one of the hilariously ironic perspectives of American capitalism: inefficiencies such as planned obsolescence are essential for maintaining constant growth and employment of specialized labor. If products lasted forever, then the manufacturers would have a serious problem.

      • Partizan1942

        Even if you cannot plan when these things “expire”, you can always control the timing of when to use them. Nothing like a good old fashion war to wear down the existing stock of equipment. For example it is my longstanding opinion that the linebacker operations in nam were more of an economic than a military necessity.

      • jdun1911

        The AK isn’t as reliable as most people think. Do a search on Firearmblog.

        • EATitCNN

          Yeah ok. I can stuff my AK with MUD AND DIRT AND SAND and it will CLEAN ITSELF OUT.
          This thing is almost UNSTOPPABLE. Trust me.
          Of course, this is from someone with 1911 in his name and you probably think those are “the best”
          well I’ve seen FOUR of those fail in training this summer. After maybe a thousand rounds. I’d say you’re probably confused….

    • jdun1911

      If the Russian military is satisfied with Izhmash then why did the Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces said that the AK belongs in the garbage can. Why is the Russian moving toward a Western style small arms?

      http://english.pravda.ru/russia/politics/28-09-2011/119176-kalashnikov-0/

      Don’t get me wrong the Kalashnikov is a good weapon. It is one of three military action that is constantly being improve. Unfortunately it isn’t Izhmash that is improving the AK, it is Westerners.

      The thing I dislike the most is clueless people that think Russian’s arm are the best. They aren’t and its been proven time and time again on the field of battles. They always get dominated by their Western counterpart. Always.

      • Partizan1942

        Wow! You have enlightened me! I never realized the reason for it being called asymmetric warfare is because of the clear superiority of the AR-15/M-16 platform over the AK-47/AK-74 platform. I always foolishly thought it has to do with one force having a network of international allies, global economic dominance, satellites, largest air force power and undisputed air superiority, the largest navy, quick reaction forces, state of the art communication, planning and real time battle surveillance, hundreds of thousands of troops at the disposal of the occupying force, literacy of the troops, training of the troops, drones, vehicles, logistic and intelligence background. And the other force having AK-s goats rocks and caves. Thank you man for showing me the truth!

      • Lemming

        Jdun, the M4 and M16 always “dominate” over the AK because it is always being handled by insurgents whose only firearms training involves pointing their weapon in the general direction of the enemy, and then holding down the trigger until their weapon stops firing. It is very rare to even see an insurgent even properly shoulder their weapon!

        You could arm them with M4s and I’m sure their performance wouldn’t even slightly improve. The Georgians were equipped with M4s back in 2008 and they didn’t exactly “dominate” over the AK equipped Russians, now did they?

      • Lance

        Georgia hasn’t replaced all of its AK-74s it has a joint weapons policy where some troops have M-4s and other retain the AK-74. Georgia is a hard place to see what it will do. In between NATO commitment and use or M-4s but close to Russia be better to use the same weapon and ammo as your enemy.

        AK have there place in western nations where men are educated and have gun experience before a AR based M-16 or M-4 is better in poor or commie nation where most personnel never saw a gun before or was poor ignorant and mechanically inclined a AK is better. In the hands of idiots like the Taliban Muhjidean Khmer Rouge NVA and C-PLA the AK worked due to its ruggedness a AR would have worked in such primitive keeping. Look sat Russian war captures from Somali pirates and the crappy condition of there weapons.

  • Swarm

    I don’t feel sorry for Izhmash but I do feel for its employees. The essence of capitalism is a constant struggle for survival thru gradual innovation and adapting to an ever changing environment aka (market place), fail to adapt and you wont be around for too long (Charles Darwin proved that one a long time ago!).

    Every gun maker in Europe reached the conclusion that after the cold war was over and European defense budgets started on their downward spiral, that if they wanted to stay in the gun business they had to move large chunks of their operations to the U.S. in order to sell to the world’s largest firearms market(U.S. civilians). Sig, Walther, Hk, Steyr, CZ, Glock, Beretta, FN all have subsidiaries set-up in the U.S. and are thriving as a result of it.

    For example I attended a U.S. Army convention a couple of years ago and chatted up a senior Hk rep with a thick Southern German accent who casually mentioned that every 6 out 10 guns made by Hk are destined for its subsidiary HK USA and that was even before Hk started manufacturing guns in the U.S. as they do now.

  • Ivan

    Mr Kalashnikov is a little behind the times. I guess he discovered that his family did not tell him about Izhmash going into bankruptcy. Izhmash and Molot have created some very promising models this year that very well could overtake the very popular Saiga rifles in sales. I hope all works out for the better and Izhmash will recover and even become stronger.

    Here is a link to some new products on display: http://vitalykuzmin.net/?q=node/473

  • Shturman

    Gents, I’ve read your discussion above and understood that there is a misunderstanding which needs to be clarified (I meant Western people, not my Russian and Ukrainian brothers might be sitting here).
    Wherever such a factory like Izhmash (or anyone else in Russia) goes to bankruptcy this means that somebody needs it to make its own for few money. This is happening during all the last 20 years, when majority of state owned factories become private. The procedure is well known for anyone of you. And there is nothing new (oil companies like Yukos, Lukoil, Sibneft, Tatneft, or anyone else were bought by criminal structures, supported by Yeltsin’s ‘family’, of course, appeared as well)
    Just take a look: from one side Russian military said that they don’t need new AK’s, due to heavy amount of these guns in stocks, which is may be, true. These guns can be modified as you like by aftermarket teams, but the main thing is that Izhmash stability in a great trouble. Moreover, this is given in the post, so, there are no reasons to repeat.
    From the other side when company produces something which has a great demand, always wanted to be owned by someone who has a desire to get it. The reasons are – huge profits. How many state owned gun-makers do you have in the USA? That’s a reason.
    Gun business is very cost effective, especially, when you making may be not the best guns in the world, but very cheap, strong enough (during testing AK must work after falling from 10metres (30 feet) height to the concrete floor, so, try to do so with any of M-4 gun and properly use it after), proven in the world. All Finnish, Bulgarian, Hungarian or Chinese copies are just copies.
    In my opinion, the nearest scenario is: as per this factory is willing to be owned by someone, it can be bought by this ‘someone’ or taken for free “to save the workplaces” and such a shit well known by every ex-commie country member (including myself). Afterwards, surely Russian army will get an “immediate strong desire to replace “old AK’s” with newer models (refurbished old ones).
    May be, this is not the worst scenario, and many people including Mikhail Kalashnikov and all respectable people, who are still icons for us, children of the USSR, will have an opportunity to work in the new modern factory.
    But now factory needs to be renewed, it needs huge investment, and the state doesn’t want to spend money without revolutionary going ahead.
    And, of course, semi-communist anti-gun laws must be changed, otherwise all interesting models will remain just for Spetsnaz or police, but not for majority.