Things were just starting to improve when the firm was hit by Western sanctions.
With Russian military stores full of the famously durable Kalashnikovs, and dwindling orders from abroad, the company had turned its attention to civilian firearms markets.
In January it finally secured a foothold in the biggest of them, sealing a lucrative deal to supply up to 200,000 rifles a year in the US.
But in July, Kalashnikov was placed on a US list of eight arms manufacturers sanctioned for Russia’s role in fomenting the crisis in Ukraine. The deal was halted with under half the initial order delivered. It was added to an EU list in September.
“Of course I was upset, because I didn’t understand why we’d been sanctioned,” Kalashnikov director Alexei Krivoruchko told the BBC, arguing that the firm was no longer wholly state-owned since he and another Russian businessman had invested in a 49% stake.
Also, he points out, it primarily produces firearms for the civilian market.
“The US was a key market for us, one that we planned to develop,” Mr Krivoruchko says. “It’s a big loss, there’s no point saying otherwise.”
There are now some 200 models of Kalashnikov, still produced at the original factory in Izhevsk, two hours’ flight east of Moscow.
So let me explain it to you Mr. Krivoruchko. Your government did indeed foment big trouble in the Ukraine, but that has nothing to do with the sanctions. You see, you’re a Russian capitalist businessman, while our President, Mr. Obama, is an American communist and doesn’t want his people to have guns. Do you understand now?
Readers have known for a long time that I am no fan of the Kalashnikov design. I hate to hear and feel the clank … clank … clank … rattle … rattle … rattle … when I shoot an AK. And I don’t like to miss. But it’s much more reliable than the Eugene Stoner design, you say. Wrong. I know all about the presumed failures of the M4 at Wanat and Kamdesh, and I still claim (like I did at the time) that the failure there had to do with ensconcing too small a force without good force protection, control over the terrain, good air support, and a clear mission.
I have never had a single failure with my AR-15, and for those of you still unconvinced, Uncle sends us to Gun Nuts Media, who gives us this.
KAC SR-15 MOD2 Sand Dump Test AFTER 15,000 rounds without cleaning… from Ballistic Radio on Vimeo.
And thus we speak the name of Eugene Stoner with hushed reverence around these parts. And if you own an AR-15, it’s likely that you’re much happier with your rifle than German Soldiers are with the H&K G36. Then again, you know how I feel about H&K.