Lieutenant General Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (born November 10, 1919) is a famous Russian small arms designer, most famous for his AK-47, frequently called the Kalashnikov, or just "AK".
Kalashnikov began designing an assault rifle while in hospital after being wounded in the Battle of Bryansk. Soon afterwards, he entered a competition for a new weapon that would take the new 7.62 x 39 mm cartridge and not jam under the adverse conditions of the Soviet frontline. His winning entry, the "Mikhtim" became the prototype for the development of a family of rifles.
This process culminated in 1947, when he designed the AK-47 (acronym for Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947). In 1949, the AK-47 assault rifle became the Soviet Army's standard issue rifle; after that, the design became Kalashnikov's most famous invention.
After WWII, as General Designer of small arms for the Soviet Army, his design subordinates included the Germans Hugo Schmeisser and Werner Grüner (of MG 42 fame) and a pioneer in sheet metal embossing technology in the 1950s.
Later in his career Mikhail developed a squad automatic weapon variant of the AK-47, known as the RPK (Kalashnikov light machine gun), and also the PK (Kalashnikov machine gun), which used the full-power rifle cartridge of the Mosin-Nagant rifle. The cartridge was belt-fed, not magazine-fed. These designs were adopted for their roles, while the AK-47 remained the Red Army's primary infantry weapon.
Since 1949, Mikhail Kalashnikov has lived and worked in Izhevsk, Udmurtia.
He told Reuters Television, "I've always wanted to improve and expand on the good name of my weapon by doing good things."
The legacy of Kalashnikov's rifles as the most popular assault rifles has prompted him to state his regret they are now used by terrorists.
Mikhail Kalashnikov was twice named Hero of Socialist Labor. In 1998, he was awarded an Order of Saint Andrew the Protoclete. He holds an advanced Doctoral degree of Technical Sciences.
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