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The AK Thread


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The AK is kind of a big deal. If procurement of the AK-12 goes through, the AK may well become the first infantry weapon since the Brown Bess to be produced (more or less) continuously by its parent country for over a century.

The MP-44 is usually cited as the first assault rifle, which isn't true - it's not even the first rifle to bear the name, but the AK was the first truly successful one. The MP-44 certainly has a spot in history, and despite its short production run has proven to be extremely venerable, popping up in small conflicts all over the world, but the AK was the first assault rifle to arm an entire country, and the first assault rifle for which an effective logistics train existed.


Today, it's still very competitive. The AK-12, the newest Russian member of the AK family, has possibly just been adopted by the Russian Army as a standard issue rifle, and brings the AK much more in-line with Western rifle development for the first time.

So there should probably be a thread about the AK here at SH, is all I'm saying. Let's start with an interview with Rob Ski, founder of the AK Operator's Union.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm presuming that Soviet filmmakers were having the same trouble as American filmmakers finding appropriate weapons to cast with their villains.


If we use the Internet Movie Firearms Database as a source, it was only in 1977 that the AK first started getting used in major movies, 30 years after its original manufacture and five years after the end of the Vietnam war where it was first encountered in any great numbers by American soldiers.


That was in the Israeli thriller Operation Thunderbolt about the Raid of Entebbe which was directed by Menehem Golan of The Delta Force.


There were a couple of small films listed in the 1950s and 1960s but I'm not sure if that is stock footage being used or mocked-up Stg44s. 


Even the 1968 John Wayne blockbuster The Green Berets portrayed the Viet Cong as using Mausers, (hilariously) M14s and the T-62 Civilian Defense Model. This in a film that lavishly portrayed (then) futuristic military weaponry like night vision glasses and gunships.

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When I wrote "hilariously" I was kind of poking fun at our M14-was-best-in-Nam friend of a few days ago. That's all.


Of course Hollywood filmmakers of the time had to use real people and whatever props they could to get the "cast of thousands" effect for giant battle scenes. And considering that the AK-47 hadn't really entered the public's awareness, any old rifle held by the human waves of injuns Vietcong would do. 


As I mentioned above, the US military went above the call of duty to give John Wayne and Warner Bros. access to high tech equipment of the day, whether it was Huey helicopters, miniguns, Claymore mines (training), the Skyhook system (which was used in an actual military operation just six years previously) and authentic Tiger Stripe combat fatigues. While it wasn't the first Hollywood movie to use the M16, it was certainly one of the first movies to portray it being used widely in combat. Although in the end, the movie did no favors to the M16 considering the infamous Mattel Marauder scene where John Wayne smashes a toy M16 against a tree so the weapon doesn't fall into the wrong hands. This, more than anything, has probably contributed more to the denigration of the M16 being a "plastic rifle".


So with the amount of technology on hand, I'm surprised that the AK-47 wasn't used in this film, given the star power of The Duke and its pro-American slant. There is a scene at the beginning of the movie with the lineup of commie weapons from around the world being imported into Vietnam which includes a Soviet SKS (then being about 23 years past its original manufacture). Given that the movie is set in 1965, I'm not sure (off the top of my head) if having the Viet Cong armed with AKs would be anachronistic or whether they were reserved for regular NVA units. Or it could have been that the movie makers or the US military didn't want to portray the bad-guys as having a very technologically advanced weapon.


So it is interesting to me that the AK-47 only really enters the broad American consciousness in the late-1970s and 1980s in terms of a pop culture phenomenon as the ultimate bad-guy gun. Stories from Vietnam no doubt enhanced its mysticism as did its use by terrorist organizations throughout the 1970s and 1980s. And by then, ironically, the original Kalashnikov was becoming relegated as a second-line weapon in favor of the AK-74.

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Don't be absurd, I know full well that in your cinema the bad guys used bizarrely modified StG-44s!




Everybody knows that M-16 IS modified STG-44! So Soviet filmmakers made same thing that those pesky capitalists, but 1000 times cheaper and it was more reliable!

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  • 1 month later...

Trolling around the Internets and I came across this period US military training video on the AK-47 filmed (I assume) sometime during the Vietnam War. 



It was interesting to note at the 1:15 mark, the sergeant describes the AK's cartridge as an intermediate round and "not a very good combat load".


Edit: And the sequel featuring the SKS.


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