After I got over my aversion for guns and started shooting and owning them, it took me several years before I would touch an AK-47 or one of its many variants. To me the AK-47 was the weapon of America’s enemies. It is a favorite of terrorists the world over. It is on the flag of Hezballah, the Iranian backed Shiite militia responsible for the deaths of 242 US marines in Beirut Lebanon in 1983. It was standard issue for the North Vietnamese Army. In my mind that weapon engraved thousands of the names on this wall in Washington DC.
Then one day I realized that my old gun-fearing emotions were at the root of this attitude. As the old saying (now cliche) goes guns don’t kill people, people kill people. The AK-47 itself didn’t cause the deaths of those men in Vietnam. The Viet Cong did.
Once I realized that the AK-47 was a tool just like any other, I familiarized myself with the platform, read up on the thousands of AK-47 vs M-16 blog posts, and eventually started shooting it. It is now one of my favorite weapons. Just a joy to carry and shoot. It will eat anything you give it, including cheap Russian steel-cased ammo, without a misfire. It is rugged, so you don’t have to worry about it when you are in the woods or mud. A good AR-15 can beat it when it comes to accuracy, distance and weight, but the AK-47 is like a carpenter’s favorite chisel or a mechanic’s go-to socket wrench: For most jobs it’s the one he reaches for first.
I’ve met others who feel the same way I did about the weapon and I respect that. There are way too many names on that wall, too many good young people killed. But the AK-47 shouldn’t be blamed for their deaths and should be seen for what it is: a simple yet effective tool and one that every American rifle owner should consider.