Rifle Paternity Test: Pinning Down The M1 Garand’s Influence On The AK

What rifle influenced Kalashnikov’s famous carbine design more, the Garand M1, or the Haenel MP 43? This question was broached by blogger Jeff of TwistRate in a video posted to the Full30 gun video hosting website recently. Readers can follow the link to watch that video before reading my discussion of this question below.


A late war StG 44, virtually identical to the earlier MP 43. This rifle is often cited as being the forerunner of the AK series of rifles, but there is a compelling case to be made that the M1 Garand was a much greater influence on Kalashnikov’s design. Image source: rockislandauction.com


Whenever the AK’s history is discussed, it seems to come up: “Isn’t the AK just a Russian Sturmgewehr?” I am going to break this question up into five separate questions, and then examine seven aspects of the AK’s design which should help answer all five. The questions are as follows:

Is the AK a clone of the MP 43?

Was the AK inspired by/a response to the MP 43?

What was the MP 43’s influence on the AK’s design?

What was the M1’s influence on the AK’s design?

What evidence is there within the AK’s design itself of a connection between captured German small arms engineers and Kalashnikov and his design team?

Having established these questions as those we aim to answer, let’s move on to examining seven areas of the AK’s design that can give us more information.


I. The Bolt

Kalashnikov was an admirer of John Garand’s work, and it is here in the bolt that this was most clearly expressed, but paradoxically it is also where hints of what may be the MP 43’s influence show through clearly. Unlike the MP 43, but like the M1, Kalashnikov’s carbine uses a two-lug rotating bolt with generous sculpting of the locking lugs to give the bolt precise characteristics during both locking and unlocking. It’s very easy to see when the two bolts are compared how Kalashnikov emulated the hard work Garand did getting the lockup just right:


Later model AK bolts. Earlier models possess internal extractors that are partially covered by the bolt body. Note how the bolt has two chamfered and shaped locking lugs, but that one has been extended over the top of the bolt to give the carrier access to the repositioned cam lug. A false third lug is positioned below to ram the cartridges into the chamber. The AK’s bolt could be seen as a direct evolution of Garand’s system, shown below. Image source: forum.saiga-12.com



The M1 Garand’s bolt, for comparison. Note the same lug arrangement, but where the AK’s camming lug has been moved on top, the Garand’s camming lug is an extension of the right locking lug. The M1 rifle uses the bottom section of its bolt to feed, without a cartridge-ramming extension. Note that unlike the AK, the M1 also uses a spring-loaded ejector. Image source: thefiringline.com


Looking at the two bolts side-by-side, it seems obvious that the AK’s bolt is a derivative of Garand’s system, with a few minor changes. This is a comfortable explanation, until we look at the MP 43’s bolt face:


The front of the MP 43’s tilting bolt. The resemblance to the AK’s bolt is striking, despite the AK using an entirely different system of locking. The generous feeding lug, extractor, and fixed ejector cut all are dead-ringers for the AK’s distinctive bolt face profile. Thanks to Alex C. for providing me with this image.


As if that wasn’t hard enough to wrap our heads around, there are further considerations. First, while both the AK and MP 43 bolts bear an uncanny resemblance to one another, that does not rule out the possibility that their appearance might be coincidence. The AK’s bolt is mechanically much more M1 than it is MP 43, and if a designer did want to keep the basic M1 locking system while moving the operating rod to the top of the action, and raising the bolt to clear a fixed ejector (which was earlier present in the Soviet SVT rifle, and is therefore an ambiguous feature of the AK), then the result would necessarily resemble the MP 43’s bolt profile. It’s also important to not forget that the whole MP 43 bolt does not much resemble that of the AK, having an almost continuous cross-section until the end, and featuring an unlocking claw at the rear for the tilting bolt. In contrast, the AK bolt quickly reduces to a small diameter, to save weight and improve mass ratio.


The tilting-bolt SVT rifle also featured a fixed ejector, like the later MP 43 and AK rifles. Like early AK prototypes, the SVT also used a short-stroke gas operating rod. Image source: armimilitari.it



II. The Action Spring

The action spring of the M1 resembles that of the AK fairly closely if one imagines that during the design process it was relocated to behind the operating-rod-cum-bolt-carrier.


The AK utilizes a small-diameter action spring nestled inside the well-curved bolt carrier. Image source: forum.officer.com



The M1’s small-diameter action spring nests neatly into its operating rod like an AK’s, even producing curves suggestive of the latter rifle’s bolt carrier. However, as we’ll see there is a potentially more likely source of inspiration for the AK’s arrangement. Image source: typo.org


The MP 43’s arrangement contrasts greatly with the other two:


The MP 43 features a large-diameter action spring wrapped over the rearmost stud of the operating rod. Note also the claw-type unlocking mechanism of the MP 43’s tilting bolt.


However, one rifle that is impossible to ignore for its resemblance to the AK is, with its second mention in this article, the SVT:


The similarity of the SVT’s action spring arrangement to the AK’s, as well as their shared national origin makes it a more likely candidate for inspiration than the M1. Image source: gunpics.net



III. Trigger Group

The AK clearly carries on the Garand’s legacy in this respect, using the venerable Browning-designed double hook trigger that first originated in the Auto-5 shotgun.


The M1 Garand carries forward the legacy started with the Auto-5 shotgun, reincorporating Browning’s excellent simple double-hook trigger design. Image source: ammogarand.com



The AK’s trigger group is very similar to that of the M1 Garand, and by extension the Garand’s predecessors in using the Browning trigger design. It differs from the former primarily in the spring arrangement, as well as the addition of the automatic fire sear. Image source: youtube.com


To get a better sense of how this trigger design and the AK’s automatic fire sear work, I recommend watching the below animation of the AK’s automatic firing cycle. It should be noted that in semi-automatic fire the trigger would be caught before the bolt reaches battery by the secondary sear:

Contrasting with this simple trigger design is the MP 43’s trigger group:


The trigger group of the MP 43. The operation of this trigger group in semi-automatic fire is analogous to the AK and Garand, but its execution is wildly more complex. Image source: forum.axishistory.com



IV. Cam Track

Being a tilting bolt design derived from the Czech ZB 26 machine gun, the MP 43 does not utilize a cam track for unlocking. Both the AK and M1 rifle do, and the similarities are a compelling argument for Garand’s influence:


The bolt carrier of a later-model AK. Visible is the bolt carrier’s cam track, which retains the generous clearance for the operating lug of the M1 Garand, underlug space to delay unlocking, and anti-preengagement shelf to prevent premature bolt rotation. Image source: avtomats-in-action.com



The M1’s operating rod, turned over to illustrate the similarities to the later Kalashnikov design, even to the extent that both tracks are machined in the same way. Highly visible is the vertical anti-preengagement shelf. Image source: ammogarand.com



V. Gas Sealing Rings


The M1 Garand’s piston head, showing its lack of gas sealing rings. Image source: flickriver.com


Like the AK, the M1 Garand utilizes a fixed gas piston connected directly to the operating components. Unlike the M1 Garand, the AK features sealing rings on its piston head, which are devices that create turbulence and mitigate gas leakage around the piston without addition tremendous complexity or requiring tightly fitting gas tubes.


The gas sealing rings are visible on the operating rods of both the AK and StG-44 (a redesignation of the MP 43), however note the greatly reduced number on the former’s. Image source: forgottenweapons.com


So is the MP 43 the origin of the AK’s gas sealing rings? It certainly isn’t the immediate origin, as the Russian SKS rifle’s operating rod possesses gas sealing rings very similar to those on the AK, but there is a possible Russian progenitor of the design that predates even the MP 43: The seemingly ever-present SVT.


The SVT’s gas piston arrangement is inverted compared to the SKS’s, with a female oprod end and a male gas block, but apparent are gas sealing rings of a style much closer to the Simonov and Kalashnikov type than the MP 43. Image source: forums.gunboards.com



VI. Hinged Receiver

The AK rifle does not have a hinged receiver, but its prototype – the short-stroke piston operated AK-46 – did, and it is therefore worth examining its similarities and differences with the MP 43, which also has this feature. Both rifles hinge in the same place, behind the magazine, but there are other differences.


The AK-46. The receiver hinges behind the magazine, like an MP 43. In this arrangement, the lower receiver is the male end, while the upper is female. Note the short-stroke gas piston with gas sealing rings, highly reminiscent of the SKS carbine designed two years earlier. Image source: world.guns.ru



A demilled StG-44. The MP 43 rifle hinges in the same way as the AK-46. Though this arrangement was deleted in the later AK-47 rifle, it does still imply that the MP 43 was a direct influence on the design. Image source: guns-pictures.drippic.com


There is another potential origin of the design, however. After he sustained injuries as a tank commander in the Second World War, Mikhail Kalashnikov retired to his hospital bed, and began to work on a submachine gun in 1942 that would give him his first foothold in Soviet small arms design. This submachine gun, which predated any Soviet encounter with the MP 43 or its predecessor the MKb.42(H), also featured a hinged receiver, albiet one that pivoted in front of the magazine, not behind it.


The 1942 Kalashnikov submachine gun. This design was deemed too complex, but creative, and was Kalashnikov’s first major foray into firearms design. Image source: firearmsworld.net



VII. Layout

This brings us to our final consideration, that of the rifle’s layout. It’s undeniable that the basic form, appearance, and function of the AK and MP 43 rifles is much more similar to each other than either are to the M1 Garand. It is also true that the Soviet 7.62x41mm intermediate rifle cartridge – around which the AK rifle was originally designed – was a direct response to the German 7.92x33mm (the latter cartridge being mentioned by name in the original requirement that produced the Soviet round). In this way, yes, the AK as a whole was directly inspired by the MP 43, and it owes much to that rifle. However, it’s important not to leave things there. Neither the AK nor the MP 43 were created in a vacuum; a great plethora of designs existed at the same time from which designers of both drew ideas and mechanisms to create weapons suitable for the mobile battlefield. Where one could draw parallels between the AK’s top mounted gas system, staggered column detachable magazine, sights, pistol grip, and overall rude appearance with the German design, so too could they draw those between it and other Russian designs, such as the PPS-43, SVT, or AS-44 assault rifle. Russian assault rifle developments before the MP 43 are obscure at best, but the concept would have been known at the time; the German effort to create a select-fire intermediate rifle did not arrive unheralded. Was the MP 43 a spur in the Russian small arms designers’ flanks? Undoubtedly, but it’s difficult to imagine that with the many precedents that had existed for years prior, the Russian engineers would have been totally unaware that such a thing as an assault rifle could exist.

So, we can finally answer our five questions:


Is the AK a clone of the MP 43?

Certainly not.


Was the AK inspired by/a response to the MP 43?

It certainly was a response to the German rifle, but Russian engineers would have been aware of the concept previously.


What was the MP 43’s influence on the AK’s design?

Here and there, there are details that may be indicative of some design DNA transfer, but mechanically speaking the MP 43 can claim only marginal influence.


What was the M1’s influence on the AK’s design?

Kalashnikov explicitly names Garand as an influence, in his correspondence with Edward Ezell*, and the design details of his rifle bear out this claim.


What evidence is there within the AK’s design itself of a connection between captured German small arms engineers and Kalashnikov and his design team?

Without direct evidence of major design features being carried over from the MP-43 or other German designs to the AK, and without any primary sources documenting German engineers working with or under Kalashnikov in his team, this connection remains decidedly speculative.



*Page 67, Kalashnikov, The Arms and The Man

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • We will never know exactly how involved Hugo Schmeisser was in the development of the AK47, but what we do know is that:

    1.The Soviets made 50 StG44s from existing assembly
    parts, and had begun inspecting their design. 10,785 sheets of technical
    designs were confiscated by the Soviets as part of their research.
    2. In October 1945, Schmeisser was forced to work for the USSR
    and was forced to continue development of new weapons including, the AK47.
    3. Schmeisser was one of 16 Germans for whom a new department
    was created at Izmash.
    4. Schmeisser worked in Izhevsk until 1952 when he and the
    other Germans were allowed to go back home.

    But Hugo and Mikhail are dead, the records are sealed, and until my DeLorean is finished I will not conclusively know 🙁

    • Without primary sources backing up what those books say, we don’t actually know some of that, though.

      Chivers is the best source I know of for Schmeisser being in Izhevsk (if anyone has any better sources, or even a primary source for this, please let me know!), and he says this:

      “Moreover, further research suggested that the renowned German arms designer Hugo Schmeisser, who was captured by the Red Army after Nazi Germany’s defeat, worked at the same arms-manufacturing complex where the AK-47 was first mass-produced and modified—raising the possibility that the weapon’s production, if not its design, was directly influenced by an expert and innovator who was effectively held as a prisoner. Kalashnikov was also accused in a Moscow newspaper of lifting important components of a competitor’s design and applying them to his final submission, the prototype that became the basis for the AK-47. Two post-Soviet Russian-language accounts using official sources—one by a participant in the contest’s evaluation, and another by an arms museum curator—lend support to counterclaims, though they do not dismiss the central narrative outright.”

      The Gun, page 152

      Note that “the competitor’s” gun is the Bulkin AB-46, the influence of which substantially accounts for the differences between the AK-46 prototype and AK-47 No. 1.

      And this:

      “The improvements to the AK-47’s mass-production models may have been clouded further still, given what is known about the whereabouts of the German designer Hugo Schmeisser, who had been captured by the Red Army and relocated to Izhevsk after the war. Schmeisser was intimately familiar with an assault rifle’s difficult path from drafting table to assembly line and had been through many redesigns with his sturmgewehr. He would have seemed the ideal engineer to assist with overcoming the problems faced in converting the AK-47 from contest winner to factory product. Schmeisser lived in Izhevsk during pivotal years of the rifle’s refinement. Neither the Soviet Union nor Russia has been forthcoming with details of his work. His contributions, if any, remain a historical question mark.[16] A pair of rival views predominates. One says that there could be no explanation for Schmeisser’s presence in Izhevsk, of all places in the Soviet space, except to capitalize on his knowledge of assault rifles and the nuances of their mass production. It could not be a coincidence, in other words, that the preeminent German assault-rifle designer happened to be in the city where the Soviet Union sought to replicate his work. The other view holds that Schmeisser, as a foreigner, was not allowed near the early AK-47, the technical details of which in the late 1940s and early 1950s were still classified. His presence in Izhevsk, in this view, was to work on well-established weapons. Shirayev took this position. “The only thing Schmeisser did in Izhevsk was learn to drink vodka,” he said.[17]”

      The Gun, page 208

      Fortunately, Chivers does cite his sources here, they are as follows:

      “16. Personal communication to author in July 2009 from Norbert Moczarski, a German biographer of Schmeisser. Almost twenty years after the end of the Soviet Union, Schmeisser’s activities at the time of the AK-47’s development remain shrouded. There is no question of his presence in Izhevsk during the 1950s. But the Soviet archives have not been opened to allow an examination of how Schmeisser passed his time there and the reasons he had been sent to such a place. His biographers in Germany remain unsure what role, if any, he played in the development of the Kalashnikov prototypes, the fine-tuning and mass production of the AK-47 design, and the tooling of the Izhmash assembly line.

      17. The first view was put forth by Russian Life magazine. Shirayev’s quotation is from a personal communication to the author.”

      Shirayev is not a primary source, so to determine if Schmeisser was actually at Izhevsk at all, I would have to contact Norbert Moczarski. Also note that Moczarski says there is no question of Schmeisser’s presence there in the 1950s (at least three years after the AK had been designed). So Schmeisser may have been primarily involved in troubleshooting the manufacturing of the stamped models of AK, not the design of the rifle itself.

      As you say, Alex, what Schmeisser was doing during this time may never be fully defined.

      • **DeLorean work intensifies**

    • In the comments of this Forgotten Weapons article, Maxim Popenker weighs in:

      “Furthermore, AK-46 was designed in Kovrov (not far from Moscow) and Shmeisser was held in Izhevsk, more than 1000 km from there. Kalashnikov moved to Izhevsk only in 1947, with AK-47 already approved for further development”

      Since the influence of the AB-46 accounts for virtually all of the differences between the AK-46 and AK-47 No. 1, I think we can totally rule out Schmeisser’s involvement.

      • roguetechie

        Nathaniel I think some of the chronology gives pretty compelling circumstantial evidence of extensive German help with making consistent, precise, and economical firearms components using stamped sheet metal. At various points this is basically admitted in the official Russian public history of the AK narratives.

        Anything beyond that is a stretch, and will probably never be proven one way or another. Overall I’d say that Mikhail Kalashnikov like most of us who dream of having a design of ours become successful was very aware of how various aspects of the design had successfully been done before. And being an intelligent guy he chose no to reinvent the wheel when there were Goodyears and firestones as far As he could see.

        Building a working design that successfully mates pieces from many other designs is not a trivial thing!

        Honestly he’s not even in my top 5 favorite Russian gun designers, but that has more to do with my perverse love of the obscure and unconventional LOL.

        • I… Don’t know about that. I think it’s obvious that the Russians sought to tap German expertise in stamping, but if you actually look at the stampings the Russians ended up producing, they are quite different than the German type. I suspect that the Russians had to pave much of their own way where metal stampings are concerned.

          • roguetechie

            Yeah Nathaniel I could’ve worded it better honestly. However the chronology I’m referring to is the initial plan to make the first batches out of stampings that are quite a bit different than the stamped receivers we know now. But as we both know the initial limited issue guns wound up being milled because they were having completely unacceptable levels of wastage to get a single finished stamped receiver.

            What really seals I for m

          • I think they clearly tried to tap German experience, but the actual products don’t look very German influenced.

            Isn’t it possible that they attempted to apply German experience and found they had to pave their own way anyway? After all, how transformative – really – do we think 1940s German stamping knowledge would be in the 1950s in a nation that already had its own body of experience in stampings?

            I think one has to buy a pretty long line about German superiority to feel compelled by the meager evidence available connecting Russian efforts in stamping to German engineering.

          • roguetechie

            You know Nathaniel I’m one of those guys who is capable of seeing the Russians as smart, pragmatic, and motivated. However they were also facing a pretty effed up situation and had extremely well documented and very serious issues with quality control. (ever read American engineering assessments of the t-34? The average t-34 could almost run itself out of gas before the transmission blew, the engine crapped out, or some other faulty item ground it to a halt.)

            My theory for awhile now was the Russians used the German engineers like we often deploy rangers and socom personnel now as cadre to retrain key portions of allied combat personnel. Then those guys train some more locals, who train some more locals, and so on. And just like with SOCOM today in order to have the best chance of the training taking hold and entering institutional memory you must have at least SOME of the cadre stick around long enough to prevent backsliding.

            While I admit that my entire scenario is based on AT BEST circumstantial evidence and my limited readings on creating successful change in large organizations. (thanks weaponsman for constantly encouraging the pursuit of an ever expanding knowledge base!) I also feel like it does fit what we do know pretty well.

            But honestly I am much more focused on the hardware than the humans overall.

          • Hi roguetechie;

            I have read the Aberdeen tests of the T-34. What must be remembered is that the tank they tested was a very early worn out 1940 model, and that for whatever reason the testers at Aberdeen did not put oil in the oil bath filter on the tank, which greatly reduced the life of components. Of course the Russian industry has had its own issues and it’s undeniable that the original stamped AK design was plagued by a high rejection rate and other issues.

            This does not imply that the Russians somehow could not pave their own way in metal stamping technology. The final product, the AKM, uses metal stampings that I am not at all convinced Nazi Germany could have produced in quantity. Where the MP 43 uses mild steel stampings that have undergone a high number of stamping operations to give them rigidity, at the cost of higher weight, the AKM uses a high quality heat treated steel stamping that undergoes fewer operations, making it lighter, stronger, and cheaper, but requiring more technical expertise.

          • Geoff

            Hullo! I’ve been working with with AKM for quite a while. I’d just like to say that nothing has gone wrong with an AKM which couldn’t be mended with a pull of a charging handle, or at least a few blows in their proper site.

      • LilWolfy

        One thing that always sticks out to me is the AKS-47’s underfolding stock, which seems to be a direct carryover from the MP38 and MP40. Has anyone seen any documentation indicating Schmeisser’s subguns were sourced for parts for the AKS?

        • I believe it’s pretty well-documented that the MP40 stock was the inspiration.

        • Brian M

          No idea where the stock came from. Now, Schmeisser was is Izhevsk while Kalashnikov was in Kovrov ~600 miles away. They wanted Schmeisser because the stamping technologies of his company far exceeded those of the USSR. He most likely helped with some stamping technologies which might have gone into the redesigning process to get the AKM. The 47 was developed by a small design team kept purposefully away from the rest of the union; the USSR liked keeping their sensitive industries and folks in closed cities. The entire automatic rifle program was quite secret, and the AK was kept a complete secret up until 1957. Russia didn’t need foreign arms designers; what they needed were industrial engineers, given that the country had barely boasted anything more than rudimentary industry not even twenty -five years previously. The Soviets didn’t trust him and didn’t let him do very much. If I remember correctly, he complained about wasting away in what was essentially a moderately cushy prison cell and his talents were being wasted. It’s been a while since I’ve had a look at the source and my German is far from superb. It’s more likely that his contributions ended up being used more for consumer goods than firearms.

          • LilWolfy

            The fact that they felt the need to keep an individual soldier’s small arms program contained like that is evidence of how intellectually bankrupt the Bolsheviks were after killing so many of the industrial leaders of the 1920’s and 30’s.

            It reflects in the construction “industry” of the era as well. Xrushchev-era apartment complexes are a towering example of that to this day, if you haven’t ever seen them first-hand. What an epic catastrophe committed on the Russian people that was. The AK is a perfect example of that crime of humanity, particularly when you look at the engineering of it.

            Take a few critical design points from some other semi-successful rifles, find the manufacturing path of least resistance, and run with that for the most economical use of resources to mass-produce a rifle for the proletariat, and therein lies the foundational thinking of the AK. If you thought the SVT’s were crude, wait until you see the AK. It was more of a devolution than anything, but fit well within the revolutionary nature of the international Marxist-Leninist programs that spead like wildfire throughout the world.

            If a finely-crafted rifle had been pursued, it would have shut them down in terms of production because those types of rifles are beyond the manufacturing capacity of nations who have killed all the bourgeois brains. Pashtun tribesman that eat and burn their own feces in the Hindu-Kush are able to craft critical components of the AK, at least ones that will last a few mags, and have even assembled 7.62×39 guns from parts taken from the AKS-74’s captured during the Soviet-Afghan War of 1979-1989.

            Since the AK’s provided to the Mujaheddin by the US via the Pakistani ISI and regional warlords were all 7.62×39 variants from the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and China, and the covert logistics chain was fed mostly with 7.62×39 for assault rifles, the Afghans of course chose to use that chambering in their frankenAK’s, commonly referred to Khyber Pass AK’s.

            The political background of the Bolshevik times cannot be ignored when studying the history of the AK, especially the details of the design. They are a reflection of each other.

          • Brian Mead

            You don’t seem to really grasp how Russians do things. Curious that you should talk about Russian architecture right now, because I’m currently in a Stalin era dormitory. I’ve been living in one for the past 8 months thanks to being on study abroad in Russia. The design philosophy of that era was focused on getting as much of the performance as possible without spending a lot. ‘You want BHO? Too bad; every brigade with no BHO means rifles for extra company.’ Back on point, the dorms here are actually nicer than the ones I have seen back home in America.I get a proper bed with linnens and pillows, a little table, a desk, an armoire, curtained windows, and some small closets with hanging space, wood flooring… BUT, the room is not very big, perhaps 6’9′ or something thereabout. The furnishings are not luxurious; the matress feels like insulation foam, no building internet, rather cramped, bed held together with screws that need to be tightened, one incandescant bulb for lighting, and the sink seems to be supported purely by the plumbing. Still doesn’t change the fact that the room actually is pretty nice in spite of the coarse finish.

            The Bolsheviks did not murder all the engineers and industrial personnel, especially in the arms industry. Name a famous Soviet arms designer other than Dragunov or Makarov or Kalashnikov. Chances are that they actually served the Tsar and were in his gun programs before the revolution.

            Militaries don’t like people to know more than it feels like telling them. You think defense contractors are eager to tell everyone all about the latest thing in development?

            Evolution of the AK could scarcely be called devolution. It was hardly a lowest common denominator development process. It took many designs and prototypes and years to get the AK-47. The simplicity of the design is actually a marvel, considering how many experimental firearms of the era were overengineered to their detriment. I’d consider the AK design to be elegant because it manages to accomplish simply what many fail to do extravagantly.

          • LilWolfy

            That explains a lot. I’ve lived there too. The Xrushchev era 5-year plan apartment buildings were designed with a 5-7yr year life expectancy at best. They’re still standing to this day. Turn the tap water on and see what color it is. Yeah….

            Better than in the States? This is an example of simply refusing to accept reality. Wood-burning heated water batteries are still the norm in Russia. The Bolsheviks certainly didn’t kill the arms industry designers, but they did kill the critical people in most other industries, especially agriculture and government.

          • Have you ever lived in a housing project? Be honest.

            Granted, I’ve never lived in Soviet housing, but housing projects suck close to as bad as I can imagine.

          • LilWolfy

            I’ve seen section 8 housing and projects in the US. I visited plenty of the apartments in Moscow and Sainkt Petersburg, and without exception, the ones I saw all had the mail boxes torn out of the walls down at the floor level, leather covering the doors to help insulate the units, and even the newly-constructed ones were vandalized before even being completed.

            Water had to be brought in from a clean source. The tap water was such that it colored everything in a brown hue. The place is still in the 1920’s in many respects. Their electric rail cars are ancient, and their subway system was built by German slave labor worked to death in the 1940’s. Everything is really old, broken down, in disrepair, like a white trash nightmare in a frozen forest. You have to see it to even get a grip of how brutally primitive it is.

            This is why when people talk about the ingenuity and quality products from Russia, I think about how a trip there would open their eyes to the reality. What they are good at is finding a way to get things done, no matter the odds, and are quite gifted at cobbling a solution together that somehow works for a while, until the next solution can be found. The AK is an embodiment of that description I would say.

            In the final analysis, that aspect if its paternity cannot be ignored.

          • I don’t know. The AK wasn’t designed in a Russian housing project, for a start, and indeed it uses some fairly sophisticated technology.

          • Brian Mead

            Vy byl v Rossii? Pravda? Kogda? Ot kakoga goda do kakogo goda? Zanimalsya? Rabotnikom? Gde zhil? Vozmozhno ovetit’ by tol’ko elsi vy znal yazyk govoryaschyj tam. Rasskazhi mne. Ya sejchas v Mosckve i net nichego vy govorite pohozh na gorod, v kotorom ya teper’ uchus’. Chem ob’yasnaete’?

            That’s funny, I’ve got at least one hundred pictures on my camera showing Moscow looking nothing like how you describe. I’ve been living on the tap water since August. It’s not always hyper clean, but it’s safe and very seldom brown. The locals are fond of using it for tea and coffee. The metro is honestly great — beautiful stations, trains every thirty seconds, wonderful affordability. You would do well to remember that DC metro got its last new trains in I think the 70’s if not the 50’s. Some of the trains here are older than others, but they’re all kept in good shape. The metro was built in four stages. The first two were finished BEFORE WW2. The third took place during WW2 with a total of 6 stations being installed, and not by Axis prisoners; the Soviets didn’t want any enemies to have an inside look at their most important city, let alone be trusted with actually building it. It was the fashion to send any kind of prisoner to camps far away from civilization, where if they ran away, the worst what would happen would be the vultures would have to wait until April for the carrion to defrost. I can find no evidence for your assertion that POW’s were used as labor, though I find a lot saying that they got sent to the Gulag system. The 4’th stage took place after the war and was primarily done in the 1950’s.

            How is Moscow like living in the 1920’s? You’re trying to make Russia sound like Zimbabwe. I will say that St. Pete isn’t quite as pretty or developed or well planned as Moscow. It was still far from primitive, though the water was something that people are advised to avoid by health officials. Of course, bottled water is mostly just tap water sold at a thousand times more than it’s really worth with maybe just a quick run through a camping store filter, or in some cases, actually adding impurities to create a flavor.

            I can’t find anything to back up what you’ve said about the Khruschev apartments, but only intending them to last 7 years at most seems rather insane. I haven’t seen anything like what you describe and I’ve been all over.

            Lilly, you’re pretty clever to rely absence of evidence of evidence of absence. Unfortunately, you don’t think about evidence agaisnt absence.

            Nathaniel F.

            From looking into this Wolfy guy from what he posts, his alleged service checks out mostly. I haven’t had time to go ferret through all the little details. However, the rest of his posting is pretty suspect. We’re waiting for him to see if he can understand the transliterated Russian I posted; translation and transliteration software will be no help here.

            What he’s describing does not look at all like Moscow as far as I can see, and right now, I’m not far out of Yugo-Zapadnaya station. If I didn’t know any better, I’d assume that I was looking at Berlin, Paris, Naples, or some other cosmopolitan western European city, but no, I hear Russian, the shop across from me has a written in Cyrillic. Prices for some sandwich on sale are given in Rubles. Now three Politsionery are asking me, “Shto delaesh’?” I have tarried here long. I have no fear, for I am doing nohing wrong, though I am careful, for one of them carries a loaded AKS-74U — even though there’s supposed to be one per patrol, it seems like most policemen either don’t carry the “suchka” by insufficient supplies or they just don’t choose to. i suspect the latter, given that I’ve seen big groups of cops walk around with not a single gun on them. In the USA, groups of cops only accompany trouble. Here, they mean that all is in order. His hand protectively pressed on the top cover.I explain to the,, “Ya derzhus’ moevo druga.” He responds, “Ladno.” They’ve spotted my accent, though I do my best to suppress it without sounding like some movie tough guy. Great, now they’re interested by the Amerikanin. One wants to know what I’m doing in his country. Luckily, the other two with him aren’t feeling ornery and I’m left alone after a brief prodding ‘Ya uchus’ ya v MGU/ Da, mne ochen’ nravitsya vasha strana. U menya studenchisij bilet — hotite posmotret’?” People don’t normally sit on the curb here and play on computers. I see him walk away, grateful they didn’t ask for ‘dokumenty’; I’m still waiting for my damn passport back; long enough for my spravka and copy to be almost out of date. To anyone in the ministry of either foreign affairs or immigration, though I heavily doubt that you’re reading this, I HAVE A FLIGHT NEXT SATURDAY AND THEY WILL NOT ACCEPT A MERE PHOTOCOPY OF A PASSPORT! I PUT IN MY PAPERS ALL MORE THAN A MONTH AGO AND I AM RAPIDLY RUNNING OUT OF TIME! MNE NADO SVOJ PASPORT SCHAS ZHE! Anyway, the Russians have heart a lot about America but they have never met Americans. Here I am, the alien in the flesh, speaking their language imperfectly, answering their questions. Sanktsii, the question always comes up. Sanctions! What good will they do? Russia and Crimea already decided to merge,. Granted, it was nice to see the ruble jump up to about 80 rubles to the dollar, but other than give Putin a bit of a headache, what good has been accomplished? Prices are up 20% even though the currency is 80% back and they show no signs of coming down if anything, they’re going up again. NATO isn’t getting it’s full Ukrainian anti-Russian buffer zone, and unless we want to start WW3, there’s really nothing we can do. Most Crimeans are either ethnic Russians or are Russophone; If they really wanted to be Ukrainian, there would have been fights. just look at Donbass. Amazing what happens when you live long enough amongst the opposing side to come to understand them, no? But enough about politics. Russia looks NOTHING like the picture Lilly paints.

          • LilWolfy

            You’re in the honeymoon stage still. Can’t see reality until it sets in after a while. You have it backwards with regard to Sainkt Petersburg and Moskva. Sainkt Petersburg blows Moskva away in terms of condition of the buildings, architecture, apartment sizes, and standard of living. That is because the remnants of the Czarist buildings weren’t fully destroyed by the Bolsheviks, although many of them were.

            During the Soviet times, 85% of the Russian Orthodox priests were murdered, and most of the Russian Orthodox churches were burned to the ground. The beautiful cathedral right next to the Kremlin was scheduled for destruction at least 3 times, at which point the head of the Russian Orthodox Church protested vehemently, resulting in his imprisonment.

            Who required you to give up your passport? I would have told them to pound sand. That’s simply retarded. Nobody ever asked for such an unreasonable request all the times I went there. I see an extortion scheme in your future, if your story is genuine and not one of the many paid internet disinformation ploys. That’s how this is coming across.

            If you believe everything you’re told there, you need to go to the Central Red Army Museum and spend some time looking around. Go to the display that shows the evil fascists invading poor Russia in the Great Patriotic War. Look at Finland, and see what the map shows. That’s for starters. It’s total BS. Most Russians have never even heard of Stalin’s invasion of Finland, the false flag artillery bombardment by Russia on her own soil, and the loss of 10 entire Soviet Divisions within 105 days in the Talvi Sota.

            White Russians and Ukrainians are ethnically descendants of Scandinavian Vikings who conquered Kiev, and became the Kievan Rus. Rucciya is the Swedish Viking Russland. Yuri Dolgaruki was a young Kievan Rus prince whose brother told him there was no room for him in Kiev, understanding his ambitions. Yuri ventured into the northern steppe and began fortifying different outposts, including one on a prominent river. He later invaded Kiev, was repelled, invaded again with victory, but died in Kiev. He is attributed as the founder of Moskva, that fortress outpost on the prominent river. You can visit his statue there if you care to in Moskva.

            Thus began the endless struggle between the Kievan Rus princes, and the Moskovites. Once the balance of power shifted from the bread basket and sea access of Ukraine, it was an existential reality that the Muskovite, and later Baltic rulers throughout Rucciya’s history ensure a politically subdued Kiev. This is why Stalin starved them to death by the millions, and moved in Russian-speakers, fulfilling a centuries-old trend in maintaining power. Without control of Kiev and Ukraina, Russia doesn’t eat, and loses control of the river network that ultimately can shut down Moskva in the interior. This is why the Battle of Stalingrad was do or die for them.

            If you went to school in the US, you will not have learned much about geography, and subsequently history, unless you were in some exceptional AP or prep school courses. If you are travelling as much as you say, you will see the rabbit-path perspective of some geography, but a classical education would really be beneficial to have before trying to understand the Russian perspective. Russians traditionally have had to know geography better than most other nations, because they share more borders with other nations that anyone else, and have had territorial disputes with them all after expanding so much throughout their history, reaching even into Alaska.

            This large expanse of territorial conquest resulted in a weak interior that could not finance the military and security apparatus necessary, causing a cyclical expansion and contraction that continues to this day. That is the context in which their military-industrial capacity must be understood from, and now you see why the Avtomat Kalashnikov makes sense for them. It’s a bare bones path to a minimum capability, understanding that diplomacy, aggressive intelligence, strategic military assets, artillery, armor, APC’s, anti-armor, mortars, designated marksmen rifles, and machineguns play much more critical roles than the lone rifleman with an assault rifle.

            Where the AK has been more instrumental is supplying revolutionary forces in Eurasia and abroad, and the simplicity of its design, crude craftsmanship, and ease of manufacture are what support 3rd-world insurgencies quite well.

            Nyes matri nya minya kagdai ya durak, yenkee sabachka! Ydyes mai Kalashnikov. Davai!

          • I’m not convinced the Germans were ahead on stampings, actually. They did use them a lot more, but they were perfecting techniques for use with poor quality steel, not like what the later AK rifles used.

        • Geodkyt

          Well, it’s not like the Soviets didn’t have plenty of experience with MP38 and MP40 SMGs from the very first days of the war.

          And, what other folding stock designs did they have to choose from that weren’t *worse*?

          Compared to its contemporaries, the MP38 stock is pretty good.

  • 11zardoz

    Grasping at Straws: The Post

    • Kevin Harron

      Evidence. Post some.

  • Don Ward

    Clearly it behooves the folks who believe that the AK-47 is directly derived from the Stg-44 to provide proof of their fanciful claim. Because all evidence points to the contrary. And no, bad documentaries that appear on the same stations as Ancient Aliens do not count.

    • WHY!?

      • Don Ward

        Just like making fun of 1911 fanbois, that picture never gets old.

    • Geodkyt

      Yeah, the AK47 is a conceptual and overall layout derivation of the MP43/44/STG44, but not a *design* derived from it at all.

      More like the way the original Bradley IFV is a conceptual derivation of the BMP (“OMG! The Reds have an APC with a light cannon and ATGM in a turret, an their dismounts have firing ports! Quick, to the drawing boards!”)

  • lumberjack


  • Anton Gray Basson

    Makes sense to me.

  • Darkpr0

    I feel like the video (and the article) both raised good points as to the AK-47’s lineage in the M1 Garand, but if you look at the early semi/automatic rifles and submachine guns, the rotating bolt was kind of unique to America. It was obviously successful with the Garand and Rem 8 designs both going down in history as the winners, but if you look at the pile of pre-AK-47 semiautomatic designs there’s not a ton of rotating bolts. Let’s see:

    AVS-36 – Sliding Block
    SVT-38 and 40 – Tilting Bolt
    SKS-45 – Tilting Bolt
    PTRS-41 – Tilting Bolt
    DP-28 – Flapper Locked


    StG-44 – Tilting Bolt
    StG-45 – Roller Delayed Blowback
    G41/43 – Flapper-locked? I don’t even know what to call it
    Prototypes like the Gerat 03 and 06 – Roller Locked


    MAS-49- Tilting Bolt (yeah, I know it’s not pre-47)


    AG-42 – Tilting Bolt

    If the Russians wanted to foray into actions that didn’t involve bolts tilting, then the one that they really had proper access to would definitely have been the Garand. It’s no surprise that, when going with a rotating bolt system they would jack as much technology from the Garand as it took to make the system work in a rifle. And the evidence is plainly visible.

    All of that said, there’s some stuff that is said in the video that I don’t like, and some stuff that’s implied. The stuff I don’t like that’s said is about how the Garand is a much more reliable action than the tilting bolt. I think that Forgotten Weapons and TFB have done sufficient work on the Garand/M14 receiver with various mediums for gun workings to show that the Garand action (although not necessarily rotating bolt inherently) is vulnerable to foreign object entry. I also don’t believe that tilting bolt is inherently less reliable, and while I don’t have any scientific papers to back it up I have shot the ever loving crud out of my SKS and SVT-40 with no malfunctions that weren’t between my ears, and I have heard reasonable ratings from those men I know who have fired a FAL (those that had to carry them for a while had less glowing reviews ;).

    The stuff I don’t like that’s implied is the downplaying of the effects of the other designs on the AK. Although I agree that the bolt head carrier do have features that definitely show lineage from the Garand, there’s also a ton of work that goes into those changes that gets swept under the rug. Taking an oprod and relocating it to the top of the barrel, altering the gas system, and consolidating those functions into a bolt carrier is not something you just do on a whim. The AK definitely took its ergonomics cues from the StG, and that’s something the main American rifle wouldn’t reflect for decades to come. You can even go so far as to argue that the AK-47 was fundamentally molded by the German StG series by the focus on less power, more controllability and portability which, while not a machining mark or a feature you can trace down on a part, is nonetheless a key factor in determining the final form of the firearm.

    Kudos for the article. I think it’s a great comparison between the other firearms of the era and the AK, and shows the points much better than the linked vid.

    Edit: Added the DP-28 because it’s cool.

    • iksnilol

      I remember reading that the French considered a rotating bolt completely unacceptable for a millitary semi-auto weapon. This was before WW2 IIRC.

      • I was going to mention this. The French “condemned without recourse” the rotating bolt on military firearms, and haven’t used it since.

        • iksnilol

          Ah, how the turned have tables considering that there are so many weapons with rotating bolts in use.

        • marathag

          Did they hate the RSC Mle 1917 that much?

          • Yup. It, and some rotary-bolt prototypes they were working on that were giving them fits.

      • abecido

        French rotating bolt attempts used multiple lugs in line, which wound up looking more like an interrupted screw than the lugs on a Garand or AK. With that sort of design inviting dirt and fouling to find a home and stifle the works, it’s small wonder the French gave up on the rotating bolt.

      • snmp

        French RSC model 1917 & Model 1918 (Roting Bolt) => M1 Garand

        • It’s unclear how influential the RSC was to Garand’s work once he abandoned primer operation, but the similarities are still pretty apparent.

    • Excellent comment. There’s three things I’d assert about the AK:

      1. It’s clearly a Kalashnikov design. Look at Kalashnikov’s previous work, take note of his aesthetic choices and design practices, and then compare that to the AK-47 No. 1.

      2. It clearly draws from more than one design. One of the major contributors was the Garand, but it’s far from the only one.

      3. The SVT was a major influence on it that is often ignored.

    • snmp

      French RSC model 1917 & Model 1918 => M1 Garand
      French Rossignol 1901 (DI) => French MAS38/39 (prototype) => MAS40 => MAS44 =>MAS-49=>MAS 49/56

      • The MAS 38 is a Frankenstein’s monster of a bunch of different designs.

  • Marc

    Actually I give more credit to the AK to Browning the model 8(designed in 1900) used the hook trigger/hammer design, the ejector as a plunger in the bolt face, the safety is the same design and the model was a rotating bolt design as well, further the M16 needs to give credit to the model 8 as well not only because of the ejector and rotating bolt but also the cam pin idea. On top of that like the browning A5 the model 8 used a rat tail extension like the FAL, Remington 1100/1187 and Benelli used.
    John Browning for the win AGAIN, also don’t forget the BAR (designed in 1917) was a gas piston operated rifle.

    • Marc

      I meant to open with the AK and AR owe a lot to the Model 8

      • All philosophy is a footnote to Plato, and all firearm designs are a footnote to Browning.

  • Vitsaus

    Pretty excellent article, I love when stuff like this gets posted. Quite honestly, the time lines never really lined up for the MP43/STG44 to be the main parent of the AK in anything but concept or application. The design had to be from older weapons.

    • Hopefully this will mollify some of my readers who didn’t like my last AR-15 article. 😉

  • john

    How can you not love in depth stories on the AK? Not only is a great battle weapon, but it has mystery and intrigue in its origins.

  • UKShuggy

    After the end of the Cold War, Kalashnikov visited the UK and came to see the Infantry & Small Arms School Corps Weapons Collection in Warminster. During his tour, he picked up their Stg(44) and said “Of course, you realise that this is where it all began?”. I had this from someone who was there.

    The AK is not a copy of the MP 43 by any means, but it is clear that Kalashnikov was inspired by it and probably had samples in hand during his design process.

    • He undoubtedly had samples of it to work with, but I think it’s telling that his final product doesn’t particularly reflect the German effort.

      • mosinman

        considering it’s superiority i think he made the right choice

    • Esh325

      I don’t doubt it, but maybe he was talking about how the STG44 conceptually started the assault rifle designs.

      • Even that seems iffy to me, considering what the Russians were working on before the appearance of the MKb.

        Unfortunately, we don’t have Kalashnikov here to clarify what he meant, exactly.

        • Geodkyt

          Don’t forget the close military development cooperation between Germany and the USSR prior to Hitler’s attack. And the Germans had been working on the mid power assault rifle for years before the way.

          Likewise, I am always puzzled when I read someone claim that the M43 7.62x39mm round couldn’t possibly be developed from examining the 7.92x33mm Kurz, because the Russians wouldn’t have been able to capture enough soon enough, given the combat debut of the assault rifles.

          I have no problem believing that the Soviets had access to the 7.92 Kurz round (or it’s older cousins) well before the war. After all, the 7.92x33mm was finalized in 1940, and rifle designers were told to design around that cartridge. In 1940, not only was there close cooperation between Soviet and German military designers (the cannon for the IL-2 were tested on Me-110 aircraft purchased from Germany, and so forth), but Nazi Germany was the Soviets biggest reading partner.

          • German-Russian “military cooperation” has been overstated. They did share some data, but I can only think of one design (and a stillborn one at that!) that is an actual example of cross-pollination.

  • guest


    Though you do make valid points, I can name many more differences than you can name similarities:
    1) Garand uses the “retard-o-matic” system of oprod/piston arrangement where essentially a very slimmed down open bolt (almost like on a regular bolt action repeater) is operated FROM THE SIDE by the cam cavity in the oprod, in much the same fashion (from the side straight up and back), which folds from the side to underneath the barrel and essentially that part beneath the barre stores all kinetic energy from the gas impulse. Nearly all Soviet experimental rifle designs and absolutely all production designs (except MGs) used a gas tube/piston/gas block located over the barrel, and what Garand used was more like a deeply modified gas system on a bolt action than a true semiauto rifle from the ground up.
    2) Though a less obvious point, Garand can only operate if all the furniture is kept in place. An AK can go “barebone” if need be, because again different design from ground up. While on the AK the furniture is an accessory on the Garand it is an essential structural component.
    3) Garand and all derivatives use archaic “lock the bolt EVERYWHERE” method on both the receiver at the barrel and further back in the receiver, making this bolt type unusable in modern receivers that do not rely on the receiver as something to lock the bolt against. No need to compare that to Mosin or the M98 but hey that’s a bolt action line of thought if there ever was such a thing.
    4) Has a true bolt carrier. You split hairs on locking methods between Kalashnikov, Simonov, Tokarev etc… but they all have one thing in common: unlike Garand they all use actual bolt carriers, arranged in the same exact fashion (around the bolt, COG shifted to behind the bolt).
    5) While comparing bolts you totally ignore the ejector. In fact AK-47 has in this regard more in common with Mini-14 than Garand, and the Mini is a much later design.
    6) Garand uses a low pressure gas system much like JMB’s very first attempt at making the first semiauto carbine, without a clue how to use a “ringless” gas ring piston. If you look at SKS piston it is much more like the AK piston.
    7) Trigger group is not similar to Garand, like at all. Unless “similar” means it has a trigger, a hammer, a sear and a spring.

    Last but not least the historical AK development with the AK-46 being a whole different beast compared to AK-47… in almost every respect… plus the completely ignored AB-46 rifle that in essence was put in a blender with AK-46 and out came the AK-47 just goes to show that you base your conclusions on lack of understanding of this rifle’s development.

    But by all means, in the next article you can compare the early black powder cannons to the 120mm smoothbore Rheinmetall gun too, seing how both do much the same thing and both use a hollow smoothbore metal tube to fire their projectiles from. It’s called clutching at straws.

    • “Kalashnikov explicitly names Garand as an influence, in his correspondence with Edward Ezell*, and the design details of his rifle bear out this claim.”

      1), 4) “The action spring of the M1 resembles that of the AK fairly closely if one imagines that during the design process it was relocated to behind the operating-rod-cum-bolt-carrier.”

      5) “Note that unlike the AK, the M1 also uses a spring-loaded ejector.”

      6) “So is the MP 43 the origin of the AK’s gas sealing rings? It certainly isn’t the immediate origin, as the Russian SKS rifle’s operating rod possesses gas sealing rings very similar to those on the AK ”

      7) “The AK clearly carries on the Garand’s legacy in this respect, using the venerable Browning-designed double hook trigger that first originated in the Auto-5 shotgun.”

      “The AK’s trigger group is very similar to that of the M1 Garand, and by extension the Garand’s predecessors in using the Browning trigger design. It differs from the former primarily in the spring arrangement, as well as the addition of the automatic fire sear.”

      All of these are quotes from the article itself.

      • guest

        1) No, not closely at all. Other soviet designs during the war and post war used the same kind of layout. Only logical if using a true carrier-bolt group. Your analogy with the Garand makes no sense.

        6) No, not the origin, but just to point out the huge difference in gas systems where Garand uses something similar to Bang/G41 where as AK uses not just a different gas piston but a different location for the latter as well as using high pressure. Hence garand completely unrelated.

        7) So if the group looks like something even older than Garand, and uses a safety that is almost 100% identical to the Auto-5, how does that make it “influenced by garand”? This makes as much sense as saying that a new Highpower-based pistol is based on the Glock. Failure to define a line of evolution (which may be “tree-shaped” as opposed to a straight line).

        And you did not address the fact that the Garand bolt is basically an more “automaticized” if the is such a word of a repeater bolt with both forward and rear locking, missing only a directly connected handle on the left to be a full repeater bolt. In this sense, as I wrote, Mosin-Nagant and M98 have both “influenced” the AK, in fact M98 more so because of the two lugs and a standalone ejector.

        And you did not address my other points and the link to AB-46. You see you base your opinion on a book written by a westerner who sucks up to the idea of Garand being the granddady of anything from AK to the Phalanx CIWS, while I speak russian fluenlty and have read much more including the very important state trials papers. So while a lot of firearms designs have “influenced” AK, being somekind of Garand derivative – it is not. Both technically and historically.

        • Hi guest,

          I only responded to what I felt was worth my time to do so. Judging by your aggressive tone, it sounds like you’ve either misread or failed to read much of my post. You are posturing as if I’ve called the AK a straight clone of the Garand, which I never did.

          I do acknowledge the AB-46 as a major influence on the AK in the comments. The nature of blog posts like these is that I cannot cover literally every connection, and in fact for this one I had to leave out some significant ones (AB-46 chief among them). The post was specifically addressing how strong or weak the connections are between the MP 43 and Garand, respectively, and the AK, not connections between the AB-46 and AK, which it why it was not mentioned in the main text. You continue to harp on the AK’s gas system not being a clone of the Garand’s – could you point to where in the article I say anything like that? I noted that both used fixed pistons, that is all.

          I didn’t address that the Garand is an “automatized” bolt action because I didn’t think it was relevant or important. One could consider it so, if they wanted, but that’s not relevant to a discussion of what similarities the Garand’s locking system has with the AK’s.

          Other randomly assorted remarks:

          Only early Garand’s used gas-traps, and not of the Bang system, either. The Garands that Kalashnikov would have had access to would be gas port designs. Again, where do I ever say the AK’s gas system is copied from the Garand?

          The trigger group is much more similar to the Garand’s than it is to the MP 43’s. I made this clear in the text body.

          Ezell had direct contact with Kalashnikov, so you are essentially accusing him of putting words in Kalashnikov’s mouth. If you have state trials papers, please post them. I can have my own people translate them.

          • guest

            Google and google stranslate are your friends, it’s all available on Russian websites along with tons of comments from historians.
            I however am not Google, and since you are an author of articles on this site you should do your homework better, and not ask for advice post-facto.

            I’m not going to beat this dead horse of a discussion any longer, but what you are essentially doing is trying to see if or not Mona Lisa is smiling, without seing the real painting.
            As for my tone – well gee whiz, comes with the territory when I start reading stupidity like how a a bolt which is essentially locking much like a bolt-action rifle’s bolt does (two lugs, front and back locking against receiver) is “not relevant” since you picked out the specific part (two front lugs, ingoring the rear, ignoring ejection method etc) and dwelled on that and that alone. At this point the discussion becomes pointless, if you only cherry-pick what you like and ignore the rest.

            I’m done with this.

          • You have made yourself frustrated. I understand if you want to take a break.

  • Esh325

    Good write up. Maybe an article about what inspired Eugene Stoner’s M16 would be an interesting one since it’s a topic I’ve never really seen anything written about.

    • An article closely related to that topic is not that far off.

    • roguetechie


      There is pretty conclusive evidence that the AR10/15 are direct descendants of the Johnson rifle and machine gun family. Not only is this made very obvious when you see the earliest prototypes of what became the AR 10, but there’s also the fact that Melvin Johnson was brought in to consult at armalite throughput the very early days of the development.

      Also it shares an astonishing number of parts, and even more so if you count the parts plainly derived from the Johnson guns, as well as general configuration (look at the Israeli dror, m1941/m1944 series LMG’s, and for bonus points look at the t40/t48/t50 belt fed guns and tell me the guys at HK via Cetme didn’t channel Melvin Johnson when the HK 21 was designed), and finally the general design ethic that dictated some of the design choices!

      Also as bonus information and further proof of the direct relationship between the Johnson and armalites, late model magazine and belt fed Johnson LMG’s actually had direct gas impingement assistance via the barrel support bearing.

      So next time you mix and match parts from 15 manufacturers to build a beater AR15 Thank Melvin Johnson!

      Then curse him for the buffer tube and bolt of too many lugs!

      Then curse the deleted modular magazine wells and quick change barrels.

      • Isaac FluffyWolf Rader

        There’s a Johnson Rifle in a museum not too far from me. It’s very distinctive, that’s for sure.

  • Bob_Dole_is_my_waifu

    Since the AK-47 is a M1 Garand ripoff and the M1 Garand is a Mondragon rifle ripoff the AK-47 is therefore a Mondragon rifle ripoff.

    Checkmate Atheists.

    • Pazuzu’s_Proletariat_Pal

      Mondragon was a ripoff too. Benjamin Robins is the guy you should thank for those groves inside the gun barrel.

      Checkmate Pastafarians

  • Isaac FluffyWolf Rader

    Thanks again for clearing it up. I’m tired of seeing people saying the Kalashnikov ripped off the Sturmgewehr or stuff like that.

  • Zebra Dun

    I believe the enormous firepower of the PPSH with the added power of a mid range round was the main driving force behind the development of the AK-47.
    What Gospodin Kalishnikov used as his guide is up to weapons experts and engineers.

  • Zugunder

    Very interesting article, thanks for your work!

  • LilWolfy

    One of the better analyses of the origins of the AK I have seen. The cam track similarities between the Garand and AK are striking. I do have to give credit to the Russians for paying attention to the direction individual soldier small arms were naturally headed, while the Army Ordnance Board seemed to be asleep at the wheel, even after being able to see the development of the Sturmgewehr and the AK in the 1940’s.

    I would like to see a similar analysis of the SVD, and its origins. The doctrine and employment of the SVD seemed to work out well for them and surrogates over the years, including through the present.

  • Many of the claims that blogger makes are totally unverified, and some are verifiably untrue.

  • Robert Kalani Foxworthy

    The ak has more in common with the Browning designed Remington model 8 self loading rifle.

  • Zal Qarnain