At the risk of starting another interminable, AK vs AR vs 7.62 NATO battle rifle flame war. . .
From Pete at WRSA comes this interview with the author of a new book on the AK-47 series rifle.
One common misperception is that the AK-47 is reliable and effective, therefore it is abundant. This is not really the case. The weapon's superabundance, its near ubiquity, is related less to its performance than to the facts of its manufacture. Once it was designated a standard Eastern Bloc arm, it was assembled and stockpiled in planned economies whether anyone paid for or wanted the rifles or not. This led to an uncountable accumulation of the weapons. And once the weapons existed, they moved. Had the weapon not been hooked up to the unending output of the planned economy, it would have been a much less significant device. If it had been invented in Liechtenstein, you might have never even heard of it.
And one of the reasons it became ubiquitous in American militia units in the 90s was that those planned economy factories continued to crank them out after the fall of Communism because it was the one thing they knew how to produce and they were CHEAP to buy by U.S. standards. Same goes for the SKS. They had been made in the millions, were just sitting there, and could be sold for quick foreign exchange. Ironically, the American militias made up of anti-collectivists were armed largely with weapons built by collectivists for the overthrow of capitalism.
Two other factors merit consideration. First, the Kalashnikov is eminently reliable and incomparably abundant, but it's not a miracle weapon. Nor is it ideal for all uses. It is, for example, stubbornly mediocre in terms of its accuracy at even medium ranges. At the longer ranges common to fighting in arid environments, it's not a good choice. So it might not be the best weapon for the West right now even if the Pentagon somehow wanted to issue them. Second, American arming decisions are tied to NATO and to alliance-wide decisions. Changing rifles is a woefully complicated process. The status quo is a powerful thing.
And although the Kalashnikov continues to be very popular in American constitutional militia units because it is less expensive than most other semi-auto rifles, it is ill-equipped to win the "300 Meter War."