The world’s most favourite weapon was back in the news yesterday when a man carrying it went on a shooting spree, killing a police officer and wounded others along Paris’s Champs-Elysees. So what makes the AK-47 Kalashnikov the weapon of choice for rebels, terrorists and armed forces across the world?
Here are 9 facts
The name behind the gun ::
The first AK-47 was made in 1947 by Mikhail Kalashnikov, a Russian tank commander during World War II. He never profited from the gun. Communist states had no patents, and until its collapse in 1991, Kalashnikov was just a Soviet Union employee.
2. 100 million and counting ::
The AK-47 has made it into the Guinness Book of Records as the most widely spread weapon in the world, with 100 million rifles currently in use.
3. Deadlier than imagined ::
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.
4. Handy for combat ::
Military and special forces in 106 countries around the globe are now armed with AK-47s, it is one of the few weapons that can be totally submerged in water and then still fire straight away.
5. Even a child can manage it ::
With only eight moving parts, the AK-47 is so easy to use that even a child can be taught how to properly handle this weapon in a single hour. This simplicity also makes it the most copied gun in the world.
6. The Russian imprint ::
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. Osama loved it too ::
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.
8. What the maker said ::
But Mikhail Kalashnikov himself never experienced self-reproach about his invention. “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
9. On country flags ::
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