I was startled to find out this morning that Mikhail Kalashnikov, one of the world’s premier small arms designers, has passed away at the age of 94. I was startled because I hadn’t imagined that he was still alive this late in world history! Also surprising to me, since I had never bothered to look him up before, was that besides a small arms designer he was also a tank commander in the Soviet Army in World War II, and had eventually reached the rank of Lieutenant General.
Along with John Moses Browning and Eugene Stoner, Kalashnikov’s name is legendary in the field of firearms design. His most famous arm, the AK-47 and its variations, continues to be produced and used worldwide by both military forces and civilians. And as ubiquitous as it is, there is naturally some degree of infamy associated with it, as so many terrorist acts have been committed using this very successful firearm. Hoplophobes worldwide have given the weapon great cachet as a tool of destruction, but as Kalashnikov himself has said, it is a weapon just as useful in defense as it has been in offense.
A relevant quote: “I created a weapon to defend the borders of my motherland. It’s not my fault that it’s being used where it shouldn’t be. The politicians are more to blame for this.”
A useful biography of Kalashnikov can be found on Wikipedia, and rather than attempt a precis of it, here is a link: Mikhail Kalashnikov.