86-year-old Mikhail Kalashnikov has read some of the reports coming out of Iraq, and he’s delighted. Reuters reports that the old rascal was goating over the superiority of his own assault rifle at a recent news conference in Moscow:
“Even after lying in a swamp you can pick up this rifle [the AK47], aim it and shoot. That’s the best job description there is for a gun. Real soldiers know that and understand it,” the 86-year-old gunmaker told a weekend news conference in Moscow.
“In Vietnam, American soldiers threw away their M-16 rifles and used [Kalashnikov] AK-47s from dead Vietnamese soldiers, with bullets they captured. That was because the climate is different to America, where M-16s may work properly,” he said.
The old fellow is getting perhaps a little too carried away, but there is clearly some basis for a claim to superiority for his rifle in field conditons. A letter from a Marine serving in Iraq, published here last November 10th, observed:
The M-16 rifle : Thumbs down. Chronic jamming problems with the talcum powder like sand over there. The sand is everywhere. Jordan says you feel filthy 2 minutes after coming out of the shower. The M-4 carbine version is more popular because it’s lighter and shorter, but it has jamming problems also. They like the ability to mount the various optical gunsights and weapons lights on the Picatinny rails, but the weapon itself is not great in a desert environment. They all hate the 5.56mm (.223) round. Poor penetration on the cinderblock structure common over there and even torso hits cant be reliably counted on to put the enemy down. Fun fact: Random autopsies on dead insurgents shows a high level of opiate use.
AK47’s. The entire country is an arsenal. Works better in the desert than the M16 and the .308 Russian round kills reliably… Luckily, the enemy mostly shoots like shit. Undisciplined “spray and pray” type fire. However, they are seeing more and more precision weapons, especially sniper rifles. (Iran, again) Fun fact: Captured enemy have apparently marveled at the marksmanship of our guys and how hard they fight. They are apparently told in Jihad school that the Americans rely solely on technology, and can be easily beaten in close quarters combat for their lack of toughness. Let’s just say they know better now.