Mikhail Kalashnikov, father of the AK-47, is dead at the age of 94.
From the New York Times obituary by C. J. Chivers:
His role in the rifle’s creation, and the attention showered on him by the Kremlin’s propaganda machine, carried him from conscription in the Red Army to senior positions in the Soviet arms-manufacturing bureaucracy and ultimately to six terms on the Supreme Soviet, the Soviet Union’s legislative body.
Tens of millions of Kalashnikov rifles have been manufactured. Their short barrels, steep front-sight posts and curved magazines made them a marker of conflict that has endured for decades. The weapons also became both Soviet and revolutionary symbols and widespread instruments of terrorism, child-soldiering and crime.
Actually, the obituary notes, an estimated 70 to 100 million Kalashnikovs have been produced.
What the Times obit does not note is that C.J. Chivers wrote the biography of the AK-47, The Gun.
Which makes his valedictory the most authoritative – and least attributed – obituary out there.
How nice he lived to such a ripe old age.
With Kalashnikovs, it’s better to give than receive.