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What could be more iconic than the Kalashnikov?
Rough-hewn from wood and iron, its simple construction belies an enduring example of
industrial design.
It's the weapon of choice for a revolution, and the backbone of any insurgency.
So, what makes the AK so special?
Why is a near seventy year old rifle still so popular?
And is there really no substitute?
The legendary rifle's story starts in Soviet Russia, in the embers of World War 2.
This was an era of rapid technological progress amidst valiant acts - and the Soviet Union
loved a hero.
Mikhail Kalashnikov was a tanker in the Red Army, wounded in action in 1941.
During his recuperation he learned of his comrade's woes with their issued rifles - and
resolved to tackle them with a soldier-focussed approach to small arms design: with innate
usability borne from simplicity and reliable function.
His early designs caught the eye of officials, and Kalashnikov found himself part of a small
arms development group for the Red Army.
The Soviets were not shy to take influence from what other forces were fielding - and
between captured Nazi weapons, Allied supplies - and a long line of Russian prototypes - the
AK-47 began to take shape.
The German Sturmgewehr 44 was a major influence: with similar form factor, it proved the viability
of a mid-power cartridge - and provided the gas system for Kalashnikov's design.
The earlier RPD would also lend its intermediate cartridge to the AK-47: the 7.62x39mm round,
also known as the M43.
Its slightly tapered casing is responsible for giving the AK-47 its distinctive curved
magazine.
In demonstrations, the 1947 prototype outperformed any rival, and was readily adopted by the
Russians - although initial manufacturing issues did slow down deployment.
These issues were remedied by 1959, when a modernised version was introduced: known as
the AKM.
It replaced the milled receiver with a stamped metal one - both lighter and easier to produce,
and was also equipped with a muzzle brake to improve the accuracy of automatic fire.
There were a large number of variants of this basic design: from the AKS, with a folding
stock; to a large number of foreign-produced AK pattern rifles, such as the Chinese Type
56; Hungarian AMD-65 or the Finnish Rk 62.
The smaller calibre AK-74 emerged in 1974 - firing the lighter but higher velocity 5.45x39mm
round: with greater wounding potential versus the older round, the AK74 would supplement
and eventually replace the AKM in service.
Pair these variants with such a broad service history, and you have a recipe for a very
popular weapon indeed.
There have been more Kalashnikov-pattern rifles made than all other assault rifles combined
- in fact, of all the small arms that exist: 1 in 5 is an AK.
It's utterly ubiquitous: found in every corner of the globe - and such is its influence,
it even adorns the flag of Mozambique.
No surprise, then, that the AK-47 is as popular in video games as it is in real life: with
perhaps as many digital renditions as those stamped from steel.
It's so well known that most instances - regardless of variant - are labelled as the 'AK-47',
without fear of license rights: only the most cautious opting to use ersatz appellations,
such as Goldeneye's 'KF-7 Soviet' or the 'CV-47' in earlier Counter-Strike games.
These virtual depictions reflect the rifle's design in a variety of ways: but there's no
mistaking the familiar characteristics of the AK.
Often, a weapon's identity is forged by the powers that wield it: and with its prominent
use by the Second World during the Cold War, the AK has come to symbolise the defiance
and might of those who would oppose the west.
It's the foil to the American M16, and the weapon of choice for any opposing force: and
for that reason it's often the default option for the 'bad guys' in games that mirror any
recent conflict.
In some cases, like in Counter-Strike, the AK is only available to the terrorist forces:
and here it has prime placement, being the top-tier automatic weapon on offer, alongside
the Counter-Terrorist's M4.
Perhaps it's by its association with untrained militia fighters, or just affinity by design:
but long bursts of automatic fire - spray and pray - seems a natural fit for the AK.
It has perfectly good accuracy, and is more than capable of hitting targets within its
effective range: but somehow the AK doesn't feel like a marksman's rifle.
Luckily, the weapon is quite suited to sustained fire: and this is normally reflected within
its depiction.
The AK's rate of fire is fairly moderate, and while recoil is present it's still possible
to wrest the weapon onto a close-range target.
It's not particularly elegant, nor great for ammo conservation - but you've got 30 chances
to hit something, even if it's not what you were aiming at.
Of course, it's not just enough to be capable of automatic fire - a weapon must also be
able to dole out magazine after magazine without stoppage or fuss.
Luckily, the AK's reliability is legendary: with loose tolerances, and as simple a mechanism
as possible - there's not too much that can go wrong, and even less that can't be put
right.
This is one trait that doesn't transfer well to video games: malfunctions are seldom shown,
as firearm maintenance isn't a particularly exciting endeavour - and experiencing a feed
failure mid-firefight would only prove frustrating.
Some games do reflect these factors, however - perhaps most notably Far Cry 2, with scavenged
weapons proving much less reliable than those bought brand new.
Weapon condition is also a factor in some RPGs, such as in Fallout 3: but a poorly-kept
weapon suffers only in the damage stakes, rather than with any interruption.
It's this reliability and simplicity that gives the weapon much of its charm - other
weapons might be more high-tech, but that does you no good if it chokes in dusty environments.
It seems almost sacrilegious to tamper with the purity of the AK - strapping anything
superfluous to the weapon is an insult to the design principles of Kalashnikov.
Some games do let you customise your AK-47 with a variety of attachments: optics, suppressors
and garish paint jobs.
Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare had the right idea, as equipping a red-dot sight would harm
the AK-47's long range damage: meaning the most sensible choice was just a plain rifle
with iron sights.
Remember: just because you can... doesn't mean you should.
Of course, if you're some tin-pot dictator of some far-flung land you can generally do
whatever you like - and this extends to having your favourite rifle gold-plated.
Although such weapons are ornamental, and clearly not designed for the rigours of battle,
some games do feature golden guns.
Some represent the pinnacle of accomplishment with the weapon, a reward for the completion
of challenges: while others just represent an absence of good taste.
So, the AK-47. The very best there is.
From drug lords to peasant rebellions, the AK is everyone's favourite weapon: a great
equaliser, irrespective of wealth or status.
It's not the most accurate weapon, nor the most elegant - but it simply doesn't have
to be. It's good enough.
It excels where fighters need it most: it's reliable. Stoppages are rare, and any faults
that do occur can probably be fixed with a hammer.
It's simple to use. There's no need to pore over a manual, the AK is point and shoot.
It's so simple a child could use it - and in some parts of the world, they often do.
It's cheap. Easy to manufacture and even easier to acquire - if you're looking to arm an insurrection
on a budget, no other rifle will come close.
It is an old weapon, but it's not yet outdated: at the end of World War 2, it was cutting
edge - and led the way for the rise of the assault rifle during the 20th Century.
Today, although not quite as high-tech as some infantry weapons, the AK-47 still performs
its duty: and with 100 million rifles in existence, its popularity is unlikely to evaporate any
time soon.
With its widespread use and low cost, the weapon can be counted alongside the most basic
of tools:
The hammer;
The sickle;
The AK-47.
Thank you very much for watching - and until next time, farewell.
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Ahoy 標誌性武器系列 - AK-47 (AK-47.)

1503 分類 收藏
Daniel Lin 發佈於 2016 年 10 月 30 日
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