The Ak-47: design and influence

but stg44 and ak47 are very different mechanically. very different.

stg44 is very “german”: perfect, refined. ak47 is as russian as it gets. remember that old joke about NASA spending a ton of money inventing a pen that would write in space? meanwhile russians just kept writing with a pencil? same thing. you may consider them crude, but they are damn reliable.

The Good vs. Evil argument has nothing to do with it. And I don`t think an object can be evil.
Good design = well done product/service that fulfills or exceeds the desired requirements (whatever these can be) in the best possible manner/combination.

And whether we like it or not many greatly designed and engineered products come from the military industry. After that the innovational solutions created there often pass on to the general consumer market / industry. Just look how much revolutional stuff was invented during WW2.

Now, to continue with the topic, lets discuss what and where has been influenced by the ak47s design. I think the robust contruction using stamped metal parts is one of the higlights of this weapon. Like the Israels UZI, these kind of guns are cheaper and faster to manufacture than those requiring a lot of molding and milling.

The FP-45 Liberator is probably the purest example of this:

I respect your opinion. However, I don’t think its necessary to redefine the word GOOD to get your point across.

Speaking of Soviet guns, I’ve always was intrigued by this experimental bullpup design that I feel was a bit ahead of its time:

I am against things that are designed to kill or cause pain. Guns, mines, bombs, tasers, the list is long.

I do understand the macho appeal of a black metal object. They look cool, they elevate the user, they are loud and masculine, they are empowering, better ones dominate lesser ones in a conflict. As a person that finds solutions to design problems, I can see the technical and design challenge if the morality of the end use is not an issue.

I made the decision a long time ago not to contribute to such objects. Others may choose to design such objects, we might have a heated discussion over a beer about that. It is an individual choice. The concept of requiring human action to pull the trigger, ( the gun vs mine debate ) I find superfluous. We are about to cross that line in a large way with autonomous weapons systems. Designers are working are objects to kill and maim other people, and they will be used.

In a design forum context, I find nothing to exhalt about basic common metal stamping, wood working and springs. The AK weapon is many things to many people, for industrial engineering it is 101.

I’m with you (personal opinion) on the moral aspects of contributing to weapon design, but this is where you lose me.

Let me put it this way - would designers of super soakers, paintball guns, FPS games, or anti-war posters find the AK unremarkable and/or useless?

By your general definition: guns = killing devices, yes I can see your point. But the world is not black and white.
Just try to put it in perspective:
Lets say your country is in a major conventional war (like ww1 or 2), under attack from enemy forces. All economical/industrial resources are used to supply troops. There is a shortage of engineers, designers etc. to develop and improve weapons etc. because so does the enemy. Every minute wasted is a minute closer to possible defeat. Would you still refuse to help? Would you let your talent go to waste and rather fight on the frontier rifle vs. rifle? Would you do nothing at all?

Now about that basic metal stamping… ak47 wasnt the first but most guns before that era were different, requiring more work to build and having lesser firepower. In that segment it was a big improvement. Like a paper clip is genius because of simplicity and doesnt need the latest cnc machining tech to make.

It is depressing to think that the only way design talents could be used in a modern conflict is too work on projectile or explosive killing improvement. I would design better helmets to help prevent traumatic brain injury.

I agree with Shaw about design & weapons. I find it disappointing to think how much R&D, capital and labor is spent on arms in our modern world. It’s just not an area that we need more of (AK47 proves that!).

Having said that, the AK is an amazing design. I love that liberator too! It reminds me of a spot light a friend designed 4-5 years ago using stamped sheet metal in place of casting. I have a lot of respect for that development team!

Yes but spending all those resources on arms is like paying insurance. Better to have one and not need it than to need one and not have it. Atomic weapons have enabled us to live in peace for a long time now but that cannot last forever. When nuclear arms are no longer a deterrent due to technological advancements, war will once again be fair game for many nations.

Looking at the major problems like over population and lack of national resources ahead of us, the future might not be pretty.

What is the difference between a general discussion and an off-topic discussion?

General Design Discussions are about design. This has moved on from discussing design to other issues, so it was felt best if moved.


Well, this is General “Design” Discussion and off-topic is reserved for stuff that people just want to yammer about.

Why discussion of the design of a weapon like the AK-47 is not in off-topic might be up to the mods, but its development does closely share a lot of the same traits of intent behind industrial design.

It is ironic that you claim not to understand the macho appeal of something like a rifle and then do a very good job of explaining the macho appeal of it. I’m not slamming you, in fact, your self-induction in that statement is commendable, and I fully agree with your moral standpoint on the issue. I get the sense that your moral standpoint is because you all to well understand the appeal of this kind of thing and understand the underlying lust that others seek in the power a weapon like this can satiate. Truth is, the morality of the end use of anything designed by man is never a non-issue. It is part of us, we are part of it. It is no doubt difficult to hold a moral high ground against violence, but I can guarantee that if some clown was trying to strangle you you’d quickly try to find a way to gouge their eyes out, something even the Dali Llama elaborates on as far as defending one’s life from being taken by evil. So, removing the good vs. evil equation from this discussion is also kind of ignorant. Something designed to take life to serve the greater good can just as easily fall into the hands of someone that would seek to take life to serve the lesser self.

Designing or developing countermeasures to combat implements developed to kill also can’t be viewed within a vacuum. Take those ass-faces in California a few years back that robbed a bank wearing sophisticated body armor. I have no doubt the teams of people that worked to develop that protection had nothing but good intentions of defending good people in mind, but these ass-hats got their hands on it and wreaked holy hell on a sunny afternoon. Some poor SWAT sniper had to head-shot one of those guys and now he has to live with that for the rest of his life. In my humble opinion, if you have to design something to counteract something so insidious it points to the greater failure of design in general to propel humanity into a respectable harmony. Going drunkenly further I would venture to say that it is a shame that designers have not made a strong enough collaborate foray into the realm of politics from which the decisions to develop these kinds of devices arise, we would all be better for it.

Read the history behind this weapon, learn the context behind its development, you’ll find much of it was paved with good intentions, but all of it is simply a matter of societal perspective, in this case Communism.

I think you may have misread my words. I do understand the appeal, and then explained my perception of the attraction.

Agreed, which is why I carefully chose the blast helmet as my contribution to a theoretical war effort. I have no desire to make 20 year olds feel even more indestructible through body armor. Just as in your example, armoring feeds aggression and self confidence. The same effect is noted in ski/snowboard/bike protective gear. Some studies show that the net positive is zero, more protection is canceled by increased speed and risk taking.

If it is the “North Hollywood Shootout” in 1997, you are referring to, one guy was finally shot in the unarmored foot and left to bleed to death on the scene, the other guy shot himself in the head when he had almost run out of ammunition. 650 rounds were fired at the robbers, the robbers fired 0ver 1000 round back at the police. (wikipedia / history channel )

Agreed. However I think that devices like cell phones and ipods and ipads, etc, developed by designers to entertain and capture the attention of the population, have the beneficial side effect of reducing conflict. Design of good things fills the void and raises the overall level of satisfaction, as well as the narcotizing effect.

You are correct sir, the dude did get shot in the foot, a head-shot opposed to a bleed-out would probably have been preferable eh? I think I was thinking of another conflict… I read an interesting article about protective gear recently, in regards to wearing helmets while sledding with young children. The author was adamantly opposed to making his newborn wear a helmet to ride a tricycle let alone ride a sled when he came of age. His reasoning is that this would not help his child learn to assess risk and enable him to discern between legitimately dangerous activity and activity that required astute observation to maintain one’s safety. I can’t say that I disagree, however this discussion about warfare and weaponry isn’t really about avoiding injury through activity, it’s about political ideals spurring the necessity of weapons designed to kill and their countermeasures.

I get where you’re going with communication devices closing the ideological gap through communication, and they have done great good to do so, but I am personally wary of “narcotizing affects”, we cannot deny what we are and relying on devices, drugs, or otherwise is a dangerous path. In doing so we refuse to confront the very things that cause such horrors as war, murder, and those things that make us drawn towards conflict.

Back to original post: AK47 was the subject of one of Jeremy Clarkson’s (UK Top Gear) essays in his “I Know You Got Soul” book.

Since we have been moved to “off topic”, will feel the freedom to discuss where the thread direction goes.

There is also a re-examination in American football, the NFL, of the role of helmets and hard padding. Football players use their head and hard exterior padding as offensive enhancements, leading to higher G contacts. Brain injury is getting serious, and long term damage is resulting to players, especially those that start young. Some people are looking at rugby as a model, no helmet, no pads, the body does what it takes to protect itself naturally. Of course the NFL will never adopt the concept, and of course rugby players still get hurt, but it opens the door to a better way of looking at protection.

Perhaps there is an extension of this basic personal sphere impenetrability perception into other areas. Both offensive and defensive. Things that make you feel safer cause you to act more aggressively and take more risks. Corollary, things which make you appear more aggressive or safer, initiate a higher response against you.

  1. At the start of the Iraq war the British soldiers in Tikrit were unarmored, the idea being to communicate a less threatening presence and elicit less of a response. It worked for a while, obviously as the whole thing spiraled out of control this was dropped.

Police on bikes are a more social method for dealing with the public than police sitting in a squad car. ( head height interaction?)

Police and National Guard troops in the 1960’s wearing gas masks (the origin of the word “pigs”) were fought against much harder by student protestors.(de-personalization)

Oakley sunglasses on soldiers.

And the best for last, when you absolutely, positively have to kill every m***********r in the city, accept no substitute.

Another Air Force space program, nicknamed Rods From God, aims to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium from the edge of space to destroy targets on the ground, striking at speeds of about 7,200 miles an hour with the force of a small nuclear weapon.

The Air Force believes “we must establish and maintain space superiority,” Gen. Lance Lord, who leads the Air Force Space Command, told Congress recently. “Simply put, it’s the American way of fighting.” Air Force doctrine defines space superiority as “freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack” in space.

I definitely think there is something to that idea, even in footwear, the big push for minimal sole cushion came from the insight that with increased cushioning came more aggressive heel strike and potentially more damage to the runner vs. a barefoot gait.

I have friends with SUVs that whip em around like sportscars under the assumption that they can take more chances since they are better protected, and I have other friends who drive Prius’s and will intentionally cut off SUVS :laughing: