Well, folks, I have finally decided to vent. The reason for this post is that every time someone sings praise to MTKs genius (and not a thread nor book nor article in a gun rag seem to go by without it) it rubs me the wrong way as in my opinion he is little more than a self-centered fraud suffering from the narcissistic personality disorder. Now, MTK is undoubtedly a very talented man. While he is certainly endowed with mechanical aptitude and intuition his main talent is to take the credit for other peoples work. How could a young, inexperienced and marginally educated country fellow who up to the point had produced exactly zero of substance all of a sudden create one of the most awesome firearm classics of the 20th century and fine tune it into functional and technological perfection that stood the test of time? As far as Im concerned the answer is simple: he couldnt and he didnt. Id like to venture into the part of AK history that even on a rare occasion when its brought up is almost never portrayed correctly: trials that led to the rifles eventual adoption. The conventional storyline is that Soviet Army impressed with StG-44 decided it wanted to have something similar. It held the trials in which a dozen or so of highly experienced and talented designers had competed and got their asses handed to them by hereto unknown tank driver and his ingenious amalgamation of known and proven principles gracefully wrapped into a bullet- (and grunt-) proof, cost-effective package. Sometimes the story goes as far as to credit MTK with actually inventing something. Even MTK himself hints at being the daddy of a rotary bolt. Now, brilliant inventor Kalashnikov can be easily dispelled with a simple: what is it exactly that he invented? My objective here is to address brilliant designer Kalashnikov. Here we go. The specs for the new rifle were laid out by a customer, an agency at the time called GAU (Glavnoe Artilleriiskoe Upravlenie- Chief Artillery Directorate) the procurement arm of the Ministry of Defense. Those specs, TTT3131 (Tactical Technical Requirements #3131) were based mainly on a rifle called AS-44 by A.I. Sudaev. In addition to being one of the brightest small arms designers, as evidenced by his PPS-43, arguably the best subgun of WW2, Sudaev, academy graduate, also spoke fluent German which undoubtedly was of great benefit to him as he ventured into the area of assault rifles. AS-44 and derivatives, while unserviceable, went through army trials and defined quite clearly what should be expected from any future development. They were also the testing media for the round itself. Sudaevs successor to AS-44, called OAS, was absolutely slated to become the next issue rifle for the Red Army, unfortunately Major died in his early thirties in 46. Trials in question were conducted at Tshurovo proving grounds and were divided into 2 phases. Phase one was to weed out the designs that were so flawed any subsequent development was useless. The winners of the Phase Uno were given short time to iron out the shortcomings revealed during initial testing. While going from Phase 1 to Phase 2 competitors were prohibited from major redesigns. Only minor updates were allowed. Phase Two was intended to see if the winners of Phase 1 had improved sufficiently to meet GAU specs and would be worthy to be recommended for army trials or should be send back for further polishing or outright disqualified. Competitors were not allowed to see each others designs. Proving grounds staff was to impartially conduct the tests and submit results to the test team boss, who in turn was to make a report to and answer the questions from the so called Scientific Technical Council of 20 some small arms experts. The Council, convened on Jan10, 1948, would then render its verdict. The man most directly responsible for the myth known as MTKs genius is Major (at the time) Vasilii F. Lyutyi. He was the Boss, the man in charge of the test team who directed actual trials and submitted his findings and recommendations to the Council. Talented and experienced gun designer himself Lyutyi, of course, was barred from participating in the competition of which he was a chief judge. When he didnt run tests at Tshurovo range he worked in one of the GAUs research centers known as NII-3 (Nauchno Issledovatelskii Institut- Institute of Scientific Research). Wanna guess who was working for him at the time? Right. Mr. Kalashnikov. Himself. Just plucked out of Kazakhstan where he was building prototypes so primitive nobody even bothered to test fire them (Lyutyis words). Phase 1. Being the creative genius of all times MTK of course tries to pattern his creation after the only gun that A) he has access to B) is proven to work i.e. StG-44, while replacing tilting bolt with an in vogue rotary lock-up. Hugo Schmeisser he is not though and the resulting gun turned out exactly what a copy of StG-44 by an optimistic amateur with 7th grade education should be: POS also known as AK-46. I suspect the reason it worked at all was that Kalashnikov was assisted by a highly qualified designer Zaitsev. Typical Soviet MO is not unlike that of Wallace and Grommit. Zaitsev was MTKs Grommit. MTK fondly recollects how evaluators were particularly impressed with the originality of his rotary bolt. Fact of the matter is rotary bolt was used by several competitors and if memory serves me well was actually a mandated feature (along with a stamped receiver, availability of both folding and fixed stock versions and some other such niceties) for Phase 2. Anyway, test-engineer Pchelintsev was in charge of testing of the design submitted by MTK during the first phase. In short order he disqualified it. And here things start getting interesting. MTK appeals to his boss Lyutyi who simply takes Pchelintsevs report and revises the conclusion. Out of fundamental failure with a stroke of a pen AK46 transforms into a promising product that just needs some itsy-bitsy TLC. Of course, all jokes aside, Lyutyi understands that AK-46 lives on borrowed time, no amount of improvement can save this POS. MTK, the oblivious Wallace he is, still thinks his design had advanced on its merits and tries to improve on it. Lyutyi and Zaitsev quickly bring him back to Earth and Lyutyi personally takes charge of the design. As he has to stay behind the curtains he assigns his old friend and colleague, another experienced engineer, Major (at the time) Deikin to assist Kalashnikov directly. Who is Deikin? Why, he is just one of three representatives of the customer who are supervising actual trials and is also a member of the Council. In his memoirs Col. Lyutyi plainly and unequivocally states that three of them (Lyutyj, Deikin and Kalashnikov) collaborated on the design that became to be known as AK-47. He forgot Zaitsev, but whos counting. Incidentally, according to Lyutyis widow Kalashnikov tried to bribe her so that she would not release her late husbands memoirs. So what magic enabled Lyutyi-Deikin-Kalashnikov-Zaitsev to squeeze an entirely new (and this time working!) design into the time frame allocated for minor modifications? OK, from this point on Im speculating but the truth is in the pudding. Lyutyi and Deikin, both being judges (Lyutyi being the judge), had access to all the competing prototypes and all the technical documentation. What they did was quite simple, they zeroed in on the most likely winner and stole his design. At the time the design slated to take the cake was AB-46 by Bulkin from Tula. Bulkin, btw, was the first to use the rotary bolt in this type of weapon in '44. ^^^ Bulkins concept as worked over by Lyutyi and Co. More commonly known as AK47 All of the 3 designs that entered Phase2 failed to meet GAU specs. AB-46 and AK-47 being conceptual twins had the same satisfactory reliability and the same unsatisfactory accuracy. Seldom mentioned is the fact that AK-47s receiver had cracked during the testing. Still, Lyutyi managed to successfully navigate the Scientific Technical Council clear of facts and to convince it to adopt the resolution that recognizes only AK-47 as worthy of further refinement and army trials and at the same time bars Bulkins and Dementievs designs from further development. Ive read parts of the transcript of the Councils deliberations and its Q&A session with Lyutyi. The audacity of the whole situation is approaching comic levels at times: Lyutyi, the chief examiner, who helped MKT to steal Bulkins design argues inferiority of Bulkins design to the Council. Of course as Kalashnikov went on to become a household name he never bothered as much as to mention both his puppeteers who put him on the map and those he robbed. Lyutyi briefly enters the picture as he had designed the rate reducer thingie into the trigger group of AKM. The name of Bulkin is all but erased from, well, everywhere.