I'm having a rather frivolous argument with a friend of mine over the production of the AK-47.

He argues that the Kalashnikov AK-47 was only produced in the late 1940s/50s, and that further modifications and edits to the design no longer make it an AK-47.

I argued that, along the same lines, according to his logic, an M16A2 is no longer an M16.

So, at the crux of the matter, do modifications and later variants of the AK-47 no longer make it an AK-47, and if so, has it passed out of production?

To the best of my research, it hasn't.

  • 3
    This is a question of semantics and nomenclature. To someone who classifies or studies weapons the M16 and the M16A2 are different weapons even though the basic design is similar. At what point does the design be different enough to be considered a different weapon. Using the M16 family as a model of discussion, is the AR-10 an M16? Basic design is the same, different materials and calibre? How about an AR design in 6.5PPC? If you say no to any of the comparisons in my examples then your friend is probably right. If you say yes then you're right.
    – Jason Tan
    Oct 1, 2016 at 11:30

1 Answer 1


Do modifications and later variants of the AK-47 no longer make it an AK-47?

Of course not. They have their own names such as AK-74, AK-103, AK-105, etc. and the latest version is AK-12. Why would people call AK-12 AK-47 which is far more outdated than AK-12?

'AK' stands for 'Automatic Kalashinikov' and 'Mikhail Kalashinikov' was the Russian general who designed the rifle.

According to the production history of the linked Wikipedia page on AK-47, AK-47 is still being produced.

  • I don't think Russia makes the AK 47 anymore. I've got an SKS assault rifle which is very "AK like." I wouldn't nor do I call it an Kalashnikov. In some ways its better actually. Oct 1, 2016 at 17:48
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    @user14394 depends on what you consider an AK47. The AKM for example is to the AK47 what the M16A2 is to the M16 and is AFAIK still in production. Ditto with other modifications, like folding stock variants.
    – jwenting
    Oct 3, 2016 at 6:20
  • @user14394 The SKS (1945) is older than the AK-47 (1949); the AK-47 replaced the SKS. They have little mechanically in common and had different designers. The SKS is a short-stroke gas-piston semi-automatic rifle with a tilting bolt. The AK-47 is a long-stroke gas-piston fully-automatic rifle with a rotating bolt.
    – Schwern
    Oct 24, 2016 at 19:25
  • Love my SKS...99 bucks with the pig sticker... Oct 28, 2016 at 19:21

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