Kalashnikov Says His Rifle Still the Best in Iraq

Mikhail Kalashnikov, designer of the popular Soviet assault rifle, has said that U.S. soldiers in Iraq are using his weapon in preference to American models, which proves his gun is still the best.

“Even after lying in a swamp you can pick up this rifle, aim it and shoot. That’s the best job description there is for a gun. Real soldiers know and understand that,” the 86-year-old gunmaker was quoted by Reuters as saying.

“Every day on television we see that the Americans in Iraq have my machine guns and assault rifles in their armored vehicles. Even there the American rifles don’t work properly,” Kalashnjkov said. He reminded that “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.”

Kalashnikov designed his first weapon in 1947 and is still chief constructor at the Izhmash arms factory in Izhevsk in the Urals in central Russia.

The factory’s director Vladimir Grodetsky told the news conference that around a billion rifles had been produced around the world using parts of Kalashnikovs or based on the same design, though only 10-12 percent of these were made in Russia.