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The AK-47, officially known as the Avtomat Kalashnikova (Russian: Автома́т Кала́шникова, lit. 'Kalashnikov's automatic rifle'; also known as the Kalashnikov or just AK), is a gas-operated assault rifle that is chambered for the 7.62×39mm cartridge. Developed in the Soviet Union by Russian small-arms designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, it is the originating firearm of the Kalashnikov (or "AK") family of rifles. After more than seven decades, the AK-47 model and its variants remain the most popular and widely used rifles in the world.

The number 47 refers to the year the rifle was finished. Design work on the AK-47 began in 1945. It was presented for official military trials the following year in 1947, and, in 1948, the fixed-stock version was introduced into active service for selected units of the Soviet Army. In early 1949, the AK was officially accepted by the Soviet Armed Forces9 and used by the majority of the member states of the Warsaw Pact.
History:

During World War II, the Sturmgewehr 44 rifle used by German forces made a deep impression on their Soviet counterparts.1011 The select-fire rifle was chambered for a new intermediate cartridge, the 7.92×33mm Kurz, and combined the firepower of a submachine gun with the range and accuracy of a rifle.1213 On 15 July 1943, an earlier model of the Sturmgewehr was demonstrated before the People's Commissariat of Arms of the USSR.14 The Soviets were impressed with the weapon and immediately set about developing an intermediate caliber fully automatic rifle of their own,1011 to replace the PPSh-41 submachine guns and outdated Mosin–Nagant bolt-action rifles that armed most of the Soviet Army.15

The Soviets soon developed the 7.62×39mm M43 cartridge,14 the semi-automatic SKS carbine and the RPD light machine gun.16 Shortly after World War II, the Soviets developed the AK-47 rifle, which would quickly replace the SKS in Soviet service.1718 Introduced in 1959, the AKM is a lighter stamped steel version and the most ubiquitous variant of the entire AK series of firearms. In the 1960s, the Soviets introduced the RPK light machine gun, an AK type weapon with a stronger receiver, a longer heavy barrel, and a bipod, that would eventually replace the RPD light machine gun.16

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by Adam Goh July 01, 2021
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