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The Low-Tech Gun That Changed Everything

The Low-Tech Gun That Changed Everything
Photograph by Peter Marlow/Magnum

1947 The Soviet Army introduces a gas-operated assault rifle, named for inventor Mikhail Timofeyovich Kalashnikov.

For reasons that escape me, somewhere in my closet is a T-shirt with a silhouette of an AK-47 on its front, personally inscribed to me by the AK’s inventor, Mikhail Timofeyovich Kalashnikov. Now I remember: A friend encountered him at a gun show (where else?) and had him autograph the shirt for me. He said that Mr. Kalashnikov “couldn’t have been nicer. A very warm guy.”