The AK has pierced through popular culture, too. In 2004, Playboy magazine dubbed it one of the "50 Products That Changed the World," ranking it behind the Apple Macintosh desktop, the birth-control pill and the Sony Betamax video machine. Rappers Ice Cube and Eminem mention AKs in their lyrics. And in the movie "Jackie Brown," actor Samuel L. Jackson captures the weapon's global cachet: "AK-47. The very best there is. When you absolutely, positively got to kill every [expletive] in the room."I talked to Kalashnikov last time he was in the country...it was fascinating (and for the record, he told me he wished he'd have invented a tractor).
My favorite AK story is when I was in Grenada for the American invasion. Me and a bunch of other journalists were invited to this dirt floor warehouse where there was literally a MOUNTAIN of AKs, maybe more than 2 stories high, alongside a second smaller mountain of loaded mostly Bakelite mags. The military guys were explaining that these AKs were likely going to be cycled into terrorism and small wars around the hemisphere when one of the "big name" print journalist picks up one of the underfolders, shakes it and announces, "These aren't working guns...these are junk!"
So one of the Ranger guys I knew to nod to looks at me and says, "You want to do the honors?" So I climbed up on AK Mountain, drag a ratty-ass one out at random, climb back down and rock in a full Bakelite magazine and proceed to light it up into the ground. Kinda fun. BTW, someone recently told me something like that could never happen...no problemo! Of course it couldn't happen! Neither could the blank passports and the Czech Skorpion, but, hey, that's another story!
I didn't really start appreciating AKs until recently, and now I realize how sadly ignorant I was. Look for the Russian weapons episode of SHOOTING GALLERY next season (hopefully), and if I continue to thrive and prosper I'm going to be visiting Marc Krebs, the best AK mechanic in the country, and Paul Gomez, who may have forgotten more about AKs than most people will ever know.
For myself, I'm tending toward one of the Yugo underfolders, or the Hungarian AMD or maybe that slick SLR-106FR 5.56 NATO Bulgarian that Arsenal is selling and that Peter Kokalis fell in love with in the current issue of SHOTGUN NEWS. Of course, if my ship comes in, I'll go with one of the Krebs AK-74s like AK-103As.
The AK may be one of the most reliable machine ever made — certainly the most reliable semiauto weapon!