Just like the AR-15/M16, Kalashnikov’s famed AK-47 experienced initial reliability problems. One difference was the Soviets weren’t forced into fielding these initial design problems during Viet Nam. Consider if these initial, flawed copies of Kalashnikov’s design had been forced into combat instead of being rejected at the factory.

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Early production AK-47s were broken down into two distinct batch types – the version from 1948 and the version succeeding these from 1952. However, the early forms – with their stamped sheet metal receivers – proved inherently flawed, mainly due to the sheet-metal stamping technology found in throughout Russia at the time leading many production AK-47s to be rejected right at the factory. This inevitably forced the use of a machined receiver (from solid steel) instead and delayed large-scale entry of the assault rifle until the mid-1950s. The machined process covered AK-47 production from 1951 to 1959 and led to an increase in overall weight of the weapon. However, this method of manufacture itself was proving to be too expensive in the realm of Soviet mass production efforts and, thusly, forced a revision of the AK-47 family. The resulting effort went on to become the AKM (M= “Modernized”) which reverted construction of the assault rifle back to its stamped steel roots – the process refined after much study of German wartime methods – producing a decidedly cheaper and lighter rifle. A new muzzle installment (with a noted slant) was introduced to combat muzzle climb. Several other subtle modifications were also introduced and the AKM was further branched to become the AKMS which introduced a folding metal buttstock – a compact feature respected by paratroopers and vehicle crews alike. One identifying feature of the AKM series versus the AK-47 was its shortened “dimple” imprint above the magazine feed – the AK-47 sported a longer dimple there. Overall AK-47 production spanned from 1949 to 1975 with involved facilities (among others) being the famed Izhevsk and Tula state arsenals.

There were many difficulties during the initial phase of AK-47 production. The first production models had stamped sheet metal receivers. Difficulties were encountered in welding the guide and ejector rails, causing high rejection rates. Instead of halting production, a heavy machined receiver was substituted for the sheet metal receiver. This was a more costly process, but the use of machined receivers accelerated production as tooling and labor for the earlier Mosin–Nagant rifle’s machined receiver were easily adapted. Partly because of these problems, the Soviets were not able to distribute large numbers of the new rifle to soldiers until 1956. During this time, production of the interim SKS rifle continued.
Source: Poyer, Joe (1 January 2006). The AK-47 and AK-74 Kalashnikov Rifles and Their Variations: A Shooter’s and Collector’s Guide. North Cape Publications. ISBN 978-1-882391-41-7.

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