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AK-47 inventor Mikhail Kalashnikov is dead at 94

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Mikhail Kalashnikov
Mikhail Kalashnikov

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the inventor of the iconic AK-47, has died at the age of 94. The announcement was made today on Russian state television, reports the BBC. According to RT, Kalashnikov had long suffered from heart-related problems, and was staying in intensive care at a facility in Izhevsk, Udmurtia, not far from the Izhmash plant where his rifles are designed to this day.

One of the most recognized guns in history

Kalashnikov, born on November 10th, 1919, will be best remembered for his contribution to assault rifle manufacture, with his Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947 becoming one of the most widely recognized — and used — rifles in history. While serving as a tank commander in World War II, RT reports, he discovered an aptitude for designing small arms after recuperating from an injury. By 1949, the Soviet Armed Forces had adopted the AK-47 based on its ease of use, reasonable accuracy, and durability.

Since then, the AK's presence in both war and popular culture has been nearly unavoidable — especially since manufacturing the gun is simple enough to have spread worldwide. The rifle now adorns the flags of both Mozambique and Hezbollah. Meanwhile, movies like Lord of War and Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown lavish praise on the weapon. Kalashnikov, for his part, was in the end proud of his invention, though he lamented its deadly potential. "I'm proud of my invention," he said, "but I'm sad that it is used by terrorists."