Sabado, Setyembre 3, 2011

AK-47: The People's Choice

Question: What do the BHB* (a.k.a. NPA), the late Osama Bin Laden, and me have in common?
Answer: Well, aside from being freaks (BHB = war freak, Bin Laden = bomb freak, Zernain Villain = toy freak), all of us love the AK-47...or a certain version of it.

Built in the former USSR** after WW2 (second World War), the original fixed-wooden stock AK-47 (Avtomat Kalashnikova) or "Kalash" in Russian slang, entered active service in select units of the Soviet army in 1947, hence the name. Two years later, the "AK" was officially accepted by the Soviet Armed Forces and was used by many Warsaw Pact countries.

The AK was one of the first true "assault rifles" ever made, based on the German StG44 (Sturmgewehr 1944). During WW2, the Nazis pioneered the assault rifle concept after research showing that most firefights happen at close range--around 300 meters, thus the term CQB (close-quarters battle/combat). Since the firepower and effective range of rifles at that time were excessive for CQBs, Hitler's SS stormtroopers sought a firearm combining SMG (submachine gun) features like a high-capacity magazine and selective fire (semi or full automatic) with an intermediate-range cartridge.

Thus, the StG44 was born. Towards the end of WW2, the Germans fielded their StG44s against the Russians and the commies stole the idea. Initially designed for ease of operation and repair by glove-wearing Soviet soldiers in the Arctic zones (hence the Cold War--joke!), the AK's large gas piston, generous clearances between moving parts, and tapered cartridge-case design allow it to endure large amounts of foreign matter and fouling without failing to cycle.

However, its reliability comes at the cost of accuracy, as the AK's looser tolerances don't allow for precision targeting and consistency. The rifle is meant to be part of massed infantry fire and not for long-range engagements. This can be experienced if you're into playing "Guerilla Warfare" in the first-person shooter CS (CounterStrike) computer game, where the AK (CV-47) is the default firearm of "terro"(rist) forces.

With its low production cost and an average service life of 20 to 40 years--depending on the extreme weather conditions (hot, muddy, wet or frozen) to which it has been exposed--the AK remains as the most widely used assault rifle of eastern European nations, Third World armies, revolutionary peoples in Asia, and terrorist organizations worldwide.

Case in point, the gun at the center of the BHB's "tatsulok" (triangle) logo on top of the native "sibat" (spear) is an AK-47. Though our "kasamas" (comrades) would much rather use M-16 armalite rifles, courtesy of their good government friends in the playing field and their money-making commanders/ generals from the other side of the fence.

Regarding Bin Laden's famed weapon of choice, it's a "shortened" (Ukorochennyj) barrel design (which can't be fitted with a bayonet) with a bakelite mag and a "folding" (Skladnoy) metal shoulder stock--thus the name AKS-74U. Whereas the original AK-47 has a 7.62mm cartridge, the variant AK-74 only has a caliber of 5.45mm. No matter, they both produce significant wounding effects when the projectile tumbles and fragments in your tissues...but produce relatively minor wounds if the bullet exits your body. It is unofficially known as the "Ksyukha" in the former Soviet bloc and as the "Krinkov" in the U.S.--apparently coined by the "mujaheedins" during the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the '80s.

As for my airsoft weapon of choice, it's a modified Marui AK-47 Beta-Spetsnaz (KGB Special Forces). Unlike Osama's AK which allows it to be carried under car seats or even to be concealed under one's clothes, the B-Spetsnaz's fixed/full stock (containing the BIG but long-lasting battery) and detachable long silencer (Tishina?) can somewhat get in the way. Anyhow, with its compact size, very little gear whine, BBs (ball bearings originally, now plastic pellets) firing in a smooth steady stream, and short/long hi-cap mags, it’s easy to go prone with the Spetz--not to mention run through the thickest of brush without getting tangled on anything, thanks to the gun strap/sling.

There's just one letdown. With the massive amount of metal Marui used in the Spetz's construction, there's more metal in it than there is in my uncle's '70 Boss Mustang or Black Sabbath! Whatever, all this metal makes for one extremely solid and HEAVY gun--no creaking, no plastic-on-plastic contact, all parts fitting snugly, just like the real thing. What else can I say, it's a Marui AK: shoots great, black & gray finish, rust err lasts forever!

Note: The RED barrel safety cap has nothing to do with one being a commie ok?

More firearms reviews soon!

Stay stoned, err, tuned!

*Bagong Hukbong Bayan/New People's Army, also No Permanent Address (in the Philippines)
**Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, "socialist" not being the operative word

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