The Man Who Invented The AK-47 Has Died — Here’s His Greatest Regret, and 17 Works Of Art Made From AK-47s


Mikhail Kalashnikov, the creator of the famous AK-47 assault rifle, has died at the age of 94, according to Russia Today. He had reportedly been suffering from heart problems and was in intensive care since November.

The Kalashnikov AK-47 is frequently cited as the world’s most popular assault rifle, with its only serious rival being the American M-series rifle. Still, Kalashnikov had mixed feelings about his success.

“I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawnmower,” he said on a visit to Germany in 2002.

Kalashnikov was a self-taught peasant turned tank mechanic who never finished high school, RT writes, and he only became a weapon designer after he was shot in the shoulder in World War II. The AK-47 was introduced in 1948 and became one of the first assault rifles of the 2nd generation. Its remarkable success come from a variety of factors, including durability and low production cost — they reportedly sold in war-torn countries for as little as $15. However, their popularity amongst criminals and terrorists led to some concern for the inventor.

“Whenever I look at TV and I see the weapon I invented to defend my motherland in the hands of these bin Ladens, I ask myself the same question: ‘How did it get into their hands?’ ” Kalashnikov said in 2006. “I didn’t put it in the hands of bandits and terrorists, and it’s not my fault that it has mushroomed uncontrollably across the globe. Can I be blamed that they consider it the most reliable weapon?”

“It is painful for me to see when criminal elements of all kinds fire from my weapon,” he explained again in 2009, on his 90th birthday.

In hindsight, too, many would have regretted another decision. The original design for the AK-47 was never patented, and Kalashnikov reportedly never saw any of the profits from his invention — a few years ago it was estimated that half the AK-47s in the world were actually counterfeits. Still, the inventor never seemed to mind.

“At that time, patenting inventions wasn’t an issue in our country,” he explained in 2006. “We worked for socialist society, for the good of the people, which I never regret.”

17 Works Of Art Made From AK-47s

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the AK-47 designer who died today, has expressed regret at creating something that causes so much death.

“I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work — for example a lawnmower,” he said on a visit to Germany in 2002.

In memory of the self-taught Russian inventor, we are bringing back images of AK-47s that were transformed into works of art for the AKA Peace exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in September.

“Everyone knows the AK-47 and I thought, wouldn’t it be great to take this iconic weapon and turn it into a thing of intrigue and art, rather than one of fear,” photographer Bran Symondson, who thought of the project after serving in Afghanistan, told BBC.

“The Way we are Feeling” by Harland Miller


“Nimrod” By Stuart Semple


“Spin AK47 for Peace One Day” by Damien Hirst


“Robinson” by Rebecca Warren


“Commodities” by Bran Symondson


“Don’t Touch” by Nancy Fouts


“SILENCE” by Antony Gormley


“Where Souls Dwell” by Laila Shawa


“Yes” by Sarah Lucas


“Yin” by Jake and Dinos Chapman


“Improvised weaponhead” by Antony Micalleff


“Yang” by Jake and Dinos Chapman


“AK47-2012 RIP” by Sam Taylor Wood


“Playing Soldiers” by Marc Quinn


“To be able to draw the dark, you must also be able to draw the light” by Ryan Gander


“Fuckit! Fuckit! Fuckit!” by Tim Noble and Sue Webster


“Entropic AK-47” by Gavin Turk


Meanwhile, the gunmakers are working on something new … Russia is nearing final stages for the AK-12


RIP Kalashnikov: 20 facts you may not have known about AK-47 and its creator

Fail-safe, simple to use and cheap to produce – the world’s most popular weapon, AK-47, will long remain a monument to its late ‘father,’ Mikhail Kalashnikov, who died in Russia on Monday aged 94.

1. Mikhail Kalashnikov, who was a tank commander during World War II, began his career as a weapons designer after a shoulder injury during the Battle of Bryansk. While in hospital in 1942, he overheard wounded soldiers complaining about Soviet rifles and decided to change that.

Senior Sergeant Mikhail Kalashnikov as he designed his AK-47 assault rifle.

2. The first Kalashnikov rifle was produced in 1947, bringing its creator the Stalin Prize and the Order of the Red Star. The AK-47 has been the standard issue assault rifle of the Soviet and then Russian army since 1949.

3. Durability, low production cost, availability and ease of use are the features, which assured AK-47 global success. Kalashnikov’s creation performs in sandy or wet conditions that jam more sophisticated weapons. The designer called it a “symbol of the creative genius” of the Russian people.

4. The AK-47 has made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the most widely spread weapon in the world, with 100 million Kalashnikov rifles currently in use.

5. Military and special forces in 106 countries around the globe from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe are now armed with AK-47s.

6. Russia not only distributes the Kalashnikov rifles all over the world, but also licensed its production in over 30 other countries, including China, Israel, India, Egypt and Nigeria.

7. It is believed that AK-47s have caused more deaths than artillery fire, airstrikes and rocket attacks combined. An estimated quarter of a million people are gunned down by bullets from Kalashnikovs every year.

8. But Mikhail Kalashnikov himself never experienced self-reproach about the blood spilled with the help of his invention as he created AK-47 for protection. “I sleep well. It’s the politicians, who are to blame for failing to come to an agreement and resorting to violence,” he said in 2007.

kalashnikov-7Former United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan displays a AK47 gun transformed to a guitar at Vienna’s U.N. headquarters September 11, 2007. (Reuters / Herwig Prammer)

9. Relative cheapness has always been one of the most important advantages of AK-47. The average global price of the assault rifle was estimated at $534 in 2005, according to Oxford University economist Phillip Killicoat. Though in African countries the price of AK-47 is on average $200 cheaper.

10. Osama bin Laden always had a Kalashnikov rifle with him during his video appearances. According to some reports, it was the US, which gave the Al Qaeda founder his first AK-47 to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan.

Reuters / Hamid Mir / Editor / Ausaf Newspaper for Daily Dawn

11. During the Vietnam War, many American soldiers gave up their M16s for the more reliable Kalashnikov rifles, which they picked up from dead enemies. Even now, the US marines carry AK-47 magazines with them because of how common the weapon is.

12. The image of AK-47 appears on the flag of Mozambique as well as coats of arms of Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso (1984-97) and East Timor. The Kalashnikov rifle is also present on the flag of Lebanese militant organization, Hezbollah.

13. The parents in some African states name their babies ‘Kalash,’ which is another nickname for the Kalashnikov assault rifle, according to a documentary by Russia’s Channel One.

14. Russia’s top basketball player, Andrey Kirilenko, born in the city of Izhevsk, which hosts the Kalashnikov rifle factory, has played under No.47 in the NBA and was nicknamed ‘AK-47.’

15. Egypt has immortalized the AK-47 by erecting a giant monument, portraying a barrel and bayonet of a Kalashnikov rifle at the Sinai Peninsula.

16. A gold coated Kalashnikov assault rifle was recovered by US troops from the weapon collection of former Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein.

17. Coins dedicated to Mikhail Kalashnikov and his creation were issued not only in Russia, but also in such a peaceful place as New Zealand, which marked the rifle’s 60th birthday with special two-dollar pieces. They came in cases shaped after the AK-47 magazine.

mozambique-flagReuters / Grant NeuenbergReuters / Grant Neuenberg

18. French newspaper, Liberation, has named AK-47 the most important invention of the XX century, with the Russian rifle leaving the atomic bomb and space flight behind.

19. Mixing vodka, absinth, lemon, cinnamon and sugar is the recipe for the Kalashnikov shot drink. There’s also a Kalashnikov vodka brand, which has been sold in bottles resembling the shape of an AK-47 since 2004.

20. Colombian artist, Cesar Lopez, has transformed a dozen of AK-47s into guitars, with then UN General Secretary, Kofi Annan, getting one of the musical instruments as a gift in 2007.

kalashnikov-5Malian army paratrooper Ousmane Sangare, aged 26, holds an AK-47 assault rifle in Gao north of Bamako (AFP Photo / Joel Saget)


About mtlin

I'm easygoing and sometimes sentimental, also can be very funny. Geek style but social. A Blogger, a Wikipedian and an Engineer.
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