What’s the difference between AKs produced in different countries?

    In this article Kalashnikov concern takes the opportunity to answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions about the production and development of Kalashnikov rifles.

    There are quite a few details revealed that I had no idea about. For instance, where can I find more details about the Finnish AK bullpup?

    It’s understandable that Kalashnikov in the later years has taken greater control of the trademarks and patents.

    Here we go:

    In addition to the authentic AK produced by the Kalashnikov concern, there are many other versions of the legendary machine. Why did it happen?

    Any successful and demanded product necessarily generates copies. In the case of the Kalashnikov rifle, this was exacerbated by the policy of the USSR, which distributed technical documentation and assisted in setting up the production of automatic weapons in the countries of the former socialist camp. At the same time, the original design of AK and AKM was not protected by any international patents, which allowed and allows anyone to copy it and sell it under its own name. At first, the name of the firearm was also not protected in any way as a trademark, and only recently the Kalashnikov concern claimed its rights to the corresponding names, but not to the basic design of the machine, which has long been available for copying by everyone.

    How many countries are producing AK, SVD and PM now?

    Kalashnikov and their clones are manufactured today in more than 30 countries. After Russia, the largest producer is China, which supplies cheap AK clones in a variety of options around the world. A lot of AKs are produced by Bulgaria, Poland, Romania and Serbia. There are also many small producers of civilian clones of the AK in the USA.
    As for SVD and PM, the list of manufacturers of their clones is much smaller. Again, in second place after Russia is China, you can also mention Iraq.

    What is the difference between production under license from production without a license?

    The fact that a licensed production has all the documentation on the technical processes and materials, which allows ensuring the quality, reliability, and resource of products. Unlicensed manufacturers can use a wide variety of materials, both high-quality and not, some of their own variants of the production technology of parts, so that the properties of the final product can be very different from the original.

    How different are AK designs?

    By itself, the design of the firearm is simple and varies little, but, as they say, “the devil is in the details.” For example, the Chinese are releasing their Type 56 assault rifles with an AK-type impact trigger, without the AKM retarder, which has increased the accuracy of fire in bursts. There may be even smaller differences, which, nevertheless, can affect the properties of the weapon (resource, reliability, etc.).

    Are there any deep structural changes and improvements?

    Yes. The Kalashnikov concern created on the basis of the “platform AK” smooth-bore shotguns of the family “Saiga”, new army automatic AK-12 and AK-15, a manual machine gun RPK-16 with replaceable trunks. Abroad there is also the evolution of the platform. For example, in Romania and Serbia (former Yugoslavia), the Kalashnikov assault rifle was “stretched” under the rifle cartridge 7.62x54R to make a mix of the SVD and AK rifles. The basic design of the AK was subjected to significant modernization by the Israelis in their family of Galil and Galil ACE automatic machines. Finns, Chinese and Ukrainians tried, albeit without much success, to remake the AK into a Bullpup layout, and so on.

    Are royalties paid when using a license?

    It depends on the specific details of the commercial agreement with each manufacturer, and, as you understand, is a commercial secret.

    Are licenses for the production of civil weapons of the Kalashnikov concern sold?

    In principle, no one prevents the interested producers from contacting the Kalashnikov concern with the appropriate request. It is clear that in each specific case the decision will depend on the results of the negotiations of the parties.

    Link to source HERE or in Russian.

    Below: Kalashnikov AK74M

    “A folding butt stock in plastics ensures convenience on march, during transportation and landing operations. The weapon retains ability to fire with folded butt stock.

    The forearm, magazine, butt stock, and pistol grip are made of high strength plastic and feature great durability to stress. Protective coatings ensure excellent corrosion resistance of metal parts.”

    Below: Vladimir Putin visits Izhmash.

    So, get your business plan ready and fly first class to Russia and start your negotiations…

    Eric B

    Ex-Arctic Ranger. Competitive practical shooter and hunter with a European focus. Always ready to increase my collection of modern semi-automatics, optics and sound suppressors. TCCC Certified medic.


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