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Beyond Kalashnikov



[LONDON] Russian amateur designer Mikhail Kalashnikov, inventor of the famous AK-47 assault rifle, passed away last year, leaving questions about the impact of his lethal creation on human history and development, particularly in those parts of the world affected by conflict. 
 
The Small Arms Survey, an independent research centre in Switzerland, estimates that, since the 1940s, between 75 to 100 million AK-47s and close derivatives have been produced — a number that does not include other weapons in the AK family series — making it one of the most prevalent firearms ever created.
 
In this audio slideshow, Stephen Chan, professor of politics and international studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, explores the history of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, and reflects on the role that simple design and amateur inventors can play in shaping world history.