Earlier this week Pennsylvania-based RWC Group, the official US importer of Russian-made Kalashnikovs, drove fans of the firearm into a fervor when it announced that it will begin manufacturing rifles in America under the Kalashnikov name. However, not everyone seems to be pleased with the idea of American-made AK rifles.
Opposition came from the daughter of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the famed inventor of the firearms that bear his name. According to The Moscow Times, Yelena Kalashnikov criticized RWC’s decision to produce the firearms in the US, saying that she was “bewildered” by the announcement.
“On the one hand, this is to some degree an acknowledgment: Why would anybody take something nobody needs? This looks like a confirmation that the AK-47 is still needed by someone,” she was quoted by the Interfax News Agency. “But on the other hand, it’s clear that our weapons should remain ours.”
The daughter of the late designer also added that by manufacturing the firearms in the US, RWC could be violating the rights of Russian manufacturers. However, Kalashnikov Concern, the corporation that owns the primary Russian factory where AKs are produced, stated that it did not object to the manufacture of American-made gun. Representatives also stated that Kalashnikov Concern was not involved in RWC’s American venture.
“We aren’t working with them,” one spokesperson said.
RWC’s announcement came at this year’s Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in Las Vegas. According to Jim Kelly, production manager with RWC’s Kalashnikov USA, the company is already in talks with three states for a possible factory location.
“We have been non-stop here since we opened Tuesday morning,” Kelly told Military.com at SHOT Show. “The people seem to be pleased that it is going to be a U.S.-made product.”
This is especially true since import of Russian-made AK rifles was halted in 2014 as part of President Barack Obama’s wide-ranging sanctions against Russian companies due to the conflict in Ukraine. Demand for AK rifles rose after the sanctions took effect, and even prompted a statement from Kalashnikov Concern.
“For Kalashnikov, which is a subsidiary of the Rostecnologies state corporation, the US is an important market for selling arms,” a company spokesman previously told ITAR-TASS News Agency. “It should be noted that the Kalashnikov products are very popular in the US, and the amount of prepaid orders for arms there is three times as big as the annual supplies volume.”
Another company spokesperson reported that sales to US consumers make up 90 percent of the company’s civilian firearms sales.
Kalashnikov rifles are among the most popular and widely distributed firearms in the world. The original AK was designed in the 1940s and is in use by militaries and recreational shooters alike. Kalashnikov died in 2013 at the age of 94, and received a state funeral near Moscow with full honors.
Image by Matt Korovesis