Category Archives: History

Larry Vickers Interview in Russia – Is the AK Outdated?

During his visit to Russia in 2018, Larry Vickers was interviewed by
Vladimir Onokoy, a technical consultant with the Kalashnikov Concern, about Larry’s views on the traditional AK platform.

The two discussed a number of topics and I’ll just hit some personal highlights that I found interesting:

  • Larry mentioned that people get hung up on the design of the safety and the short sight radius but the positives of the design far outweigh the negatives. This is especially true because the safety works just fine once you get used to it and the addition of a good red dot is a game changer. I agree with both points.
  • Vladimir asked Larry his caliber preference. Larry said if he had to only pick one, it would be 7.62×39. That’s definitely my go-to caliber for the rifle.
  • Larry made a really interesting point – the tapers of the 7.62×39 and 5.45×39 aid in reliable feeding in the AK platform. The 5.56×45 is at a disadvantage because it does not have the same degree of taper. That caught my attention – I never really stopped and thought about the impacts of case taper on reliability given how to AK operates. Interesting point.

So, is the AK obsolete? In my opinion, it is an extensible platform but watch this interesting video and here Larry’s thoughts first hand.


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Kalashnikov Concern’s Own Video About Early AK Variants

As you well know, I am very interested in AK rifles, their history and how they are evolving.  In September 2018, Kalashnikov Concern released a very interesting video that shows you some of their early AK variants.

In the video, Vladimir Onokay, a technical consultant with the Kalashnikov Concern, will show some unique AKs manufactured in 1948 at the Izhevsk motorcycle factory as well as models produced until the 1950s.

Please note that the following video is hosted in Russia and you may need to let it buffer a bit for smooth viewing.  It’s just over 4 minutes long and any student of the AK design will find it very interesting.

 


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Tips on How to Find AK Bayonet Deals on eBay

While I am not fond of eBay’s antigun sentiments there are deals to be found there – especially when individuals are listing stuff for sale.  So, I want to give you some tips and also have the system run you some real-time results of searches so you can see what is out there.

Buyer Tips

  1. Watch out for the scammers.  Folks will list stuff and make claims. So, know what you are looking for and don’t buy blind.
  2. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is a scam.
  3. Watch the shipping price.  I’ve watched sellers enter a low price and then have a very high shipping charge to recover the difference.
  4. Businesses sometimes have good deals but many will price stuff high and just let them sit there until a buyer comes along.  All things being equal, try searching only on auctions (not Buy It Now (BIN)) and have the eBay system list them in the order of auctions ending soonest.  You might be surprised what turns up.  Under Advanced Search, you can change a number of search criteria to dig around in your favor.
  5. Watch the seller rating – I put a lot of stock in the number of transactions and the seller’s score.  If you have a seller with very few transactions and is relatively new, then there is more risk.  I will not bet a fortune on an unknown seller but I might take a small risk and see what happens.  Statistically, if they have more than 30 sales and a good score, you have a pretty good indication that the buyer is legit.
  6. Don’t freak out of the seller doesn’t reply right away.  Folks do go on vacation, get sick, etc.
  7. Save your searches so you can re-use them and get emailed results.
  8. Realize that if you are really specific you may not find stuff listed differently.  For example, I will list the country and bayonet in case they say AK, rifle, AK47, AK74, etc. and throw a really tight search off.
  9. Look at the photos carefully.  I’ve bought stuff after looking at an item on a smart phone and missed problems I would have seen on a larger monitory.
  10. Learn the prices.  If you jump right in you may pay too much.  In some cases you will see one buyer asking multiples of the going price – he/she may be counting on people jumping in and buying with little to no knowledge of prices.
  11. Be objective – if an auction starts exceeding what you want to pay then bow out.  Don’t get emotionally attached and feel that you need to win the auction.
  12. If you buy something international, you will want to understand shipping charges and any regulations you may encounter either in the seller’s country or in your own.

Searching on a eBay

This is your basic search page in eBay.

You’ll notice it is set to “Auction” only and the sort is set to “Time ending soonest”.   Lastly, the heart under “Accept Offers” means I checked the box to save the search.

If you look to the right of the search button, you will see “Advanced” and this is where you can do all kinds of cool stuff to your current search or a saved search including:

  • Words to exclude – this is powerful if you are getting unwanted stuff in and it happens all the time.  This can make your search far more likely to turn up what you care about.  For example, you could tell it to exclude airsoft and model.
  • You can search just in specific categories.  Be careful with this one – bayonets for example can be in a number of different categories.
  • You can search in title and description, completed listings, and sold listings.
    • By specifying a price range you can skip stuff like frogs/scabbards.  For example, you might tell it to only show you items between $14.99 and $200
  • It again let’s you select from Auctions, Buy It now and Classified Ads.
  • You can specify the condition new, used or not specified.
  • You can list specific sellers you care about.
  • Items with Free shipping or located somewhere.
  • And much more

Russian and Soviet Bayonets

Here I am searching both ways – I tend to find people do not always realize the difference between the USSR and Russia when they list an item.  It’s set to auction only and sorted by items ending first.

Bulgarian Bayonets

Same thing but in addition to saying “Bulgarian Bayonet” I will use the slang of “Bulgy Bayonet” too.  It’s also auction only and sorted by items ending first.

East German Bayonets

I didn’t see any auctions when I wrote this post so this search is for all items, not just auctions, sorted by “Price + Shipping:  Lowest First”.  This is an example where you tend to see a lot of frogs and scabbards show up first due to their relatively low pricing.

Polish Bayonets

Here’s an example where you can get weird stuff like shoe polish so I will exclude the word shoe.  It’s also auction only and sorted by items ending first.

Romanian Bayonets

We need to search both for Romanian bayonets and Romy bayonets.  Now when I created this search, no auctions turned up so I am showing any items that match the keywords and am sorting “Price + Shipping: Lowest First”.  Some of the prices I am seeing are nuts.  I would not pay over $20 for a Romy AKM bayonet – sorry.

Yugoslavian and Zastava Bayonets

On this one we need to get more creative and will search using variations of Yugo, Yugoslav, Yugoslavian, and Zastava,  I did need to exclude “WWI” and “WWII” because of all the WWI and WWII bayonets that come up.  Not a great deal came up when I was writing this so the search is for all items and is sorted “Price + Shipping: Lowest First”

Conclusion

I hope this helps you out.  There are a lot of search capabilities in eBay and you need to learn how to use them in your favor.


AK-47 Image Source:  By Allatur, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16254298


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A Fascinating Video Showcasing The Adoption of Quality at the Kalashnikov Concern in Izhevsk, Russia

I always find turnaround stories interesting.  While we often focus on the older AK rifles, there is a fascinating story about how Kalashnikov Concern modernized and developed world class capabilities.  They produced the video that spurred me to write this post to share with you.

In the 1990s, Izhmash and Izhvesk were in tough shape.  They were only using 10% of their capacity and government orders were reduced.  By 2010, they were in a deep crisis.  In 2012, the two groups were consolidated into the Kalashnikov Concern as part of RosTec — I’ll just say “Kalashnikov” going forward.

Kalashnikov leadership embarked on a large scale improvement journey leverage lean quality management concepts, CNC automation,  and significant IT investments (ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning, MES – Manufacturing Execution System and WMS – warehouse management system are mentioned or briefly shown).

Kalashnikov wisely focused on their people — and I think this last part is key.  They addressed a poor work environment with medical facilities, a cafeteria and training in modern methods.  They even have a university that produces 300 graduates each year.  Getting people to learn and change are always the hardest things to  do yet also the most critical.

As a result, they improved productivity by 2.5 times, shrunk their time to market and removed a considerable amount of waste.

This video is a few years old but is a fascinating 8 minute journey starting with their origins through their turn around story.  There are a lot of photos of CNC systems, brightly lit and clean factory areas, the warehouse, class rooms and more.   It’s very impressive.

If you are interested in more information on the Kalashnikov Concern, click here.


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The Thinking Behind the Nazi Sturmgewehr (StG) 44 vs. Soviet AK-47 Video From Forgotten Weapons

I’m more knowledgeable about the Soviet AK-47 than I am the German Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44).  The main reason I even known about the StG 44 is from reading about it in books that cited it as being an inspiration to Mikhail Kalashnikov and his design team.  But was it really – I’ve heard some heated debates about this.

I had some time and watched this brief video where Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons has a Chinese Type 56 sitting next to a StG 44 as he talks.  They were both on loan from the James D. Julia auction company.

Ian gave a very interesting perspective that the AK-47 was essentially designed as a more powerful replacement for the Soviet’s PPS-43 that fired the 7.62×25 Tokarev pistol round.

In constrast, the Germans were wanting a controllable automatic fire weapon that would increase the firepower of soldiers especially during tactical withdrawals.  They had the German 7.92×57 bolt action K98 and the famous MG42 belt fed machine gun also in 7.92×57 but they needed something different hence the StG 44.

Now, I have no doubt Kalashnikov and his design team got ideas from the StG 44.  Any good engineer would take an existing design and learn from it.  The Soviets needed to build up a hero so there is a lot of myth mixed in with history so I am not sure where to draw the line myself.

The video shows you the two rifles and actually shows live firing of the two so you can see how the StG 44 was actually more controllable.  I thought this was really cool because the slow motion really shows the difference.

Here’s the video:

Click here for Ian’s Forgotten Weapons website.


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Great Video of Ian McCollum and Larry Vickers Discussing the History of AK-47 Rifles

Two guys I really respect, Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons and Larry Vickers discuss the history of the AK-47 and also show Larry’s new book on AK rifles.  They cover a ton of information through questions submitted by Ian’s followers.  For people into the history of the Kalashnikov rifle, this is well worth your time.

Here is the link to Larry’s book that he is selling direction and not through Amazon.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Awesome Shirts and Hoodies for AK Fans

Folks, I’ve been involved with AKs since about 2006 – not a long time but long enough to watch the AK, or Avtomát Kaláshnikova, rise from a firearms embraced kind of at the fringe by preppers and guys who realized that it was extremely reliable and fun to shoot.

Today, the AK and its many, many variants (AK-47s, AK-74s,  Veprs, Saigas, PSLs, M70ss, PAPs, SLRs, Galils, AMD-65s, etc.) are really in the mainstream.  There are tons of rifles, ammo and accessories available.

What I also think is interesting and very cool is the rise of AK clothing (T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies mainly) where you can show off your favorite firearm — or at least one of your favorites 🙂  These used to be limited-run hard to find stuff years ago.  Now, thanks to eBay, there are tons and tons of options in terms of designs, sizes and colors plus you can see how well the vendor is doing in terms of sales volume and ratings.

There are T-Shirts

I had to order one with the 7.62×39 spam can!  Note, some of the images don’t show but when you click on the link you can see the item and some of them are hilarious!

Sweatshirts and Hoodies

Needless to say, I’ve bought a few and hope you find some cool garb to express yourself as well!

P.S.  If you want to limit your risk a bit, buy from vendors with more sales (I like over 30) and positive reviews.  Anyone can get one or two great reviews from friends and family so be cautious.


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


M1A1 75mm Pack Howitzer on an M8 Carriage in the Battle Creek Memorial Cemetary

One of the things I wanted to do for a long time is start taking photos of war memorials and the hardware that is often there. In the Battle Creek, MI, Memorial cemetery is this M1A1 75mm pack howitzer with an M8 carriage.

My dad always told me was a pack howitzer and I never really ask him what that meant other than him telling me it was mobile. In Reading, it is interesting because it was to be carried by 7 mules if necessary as well as dropped out of airplanes via 9 parachute loads or whatever the case may be. In short, it would break down into component parts and could be packed somewhere. At 1,436 pounds, it weighed a fair amount when assembled.

As you can see in the next photo of the howitzer’s breach area, it is an M1A1 made by General Electric in 1943. 2,592 pack howitzers were made that year. I find it interesting that they designated that it could be used with the M2 and M3 vehicle mounts as well as in the pack configuration.

The M1A1 had a modified breach block and breach ring.

M8 Carriage

The M8 carriage configuration gave it pneumatic rubber tires as opposed to the original wood spoke with metal rim wheels.

There are welds all over the unit to demil it

The above photo is of the Hannifin Manufacturing plaque on the carriage. You can see the welds they did – they went to great lengths to make it inert.

Here are some photos of the muzzle end – the rifling is still there.

Here are a few more photos:

I was pleased to see it was still in fairly good shape. The howitzer is up on metal blocks so the tires aren’t bearing the load. The flag, Old Glory monument and the howitzer make for a nice combination to reflect.

 


If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.