The Kalashnikov AK series of assault rifles has been the Soviet / Russian standard assault rifle since the early 1950's whose design is rooted in the German MP44 submachine gun of the Second World War. The rifle seems to have made a home among countless nations using it to this day and is a favorite among collectors even in the United States. It is reported that upwards of 35 million copies of the AK-47 have been produced world wide in one form or another and have been supplied to Soviet-supported states for decades.
The general appearance of the AK-47 is widely known with it's half-wood half-steel construction. The barrel runs under the gun system instead of over it and the curved magazine give away it's identity almost immediately. The fixed metal sight over the muzzle is another defining feature. The 7.62mm ammunition is a proven man-stopper and the 30 round ammunition cartridge is more than sufficient. The weapon has an effective range out to 300 meters, though the system suffers dramatically beyond it.
The AKM is the designation for the 'modernized' AK-47 and features a more robust and professional finish among other refinements, making the weapon less of an inferior product as early models appeared. The AKMS and AKS-47 are paratrooper-friendly variants which feature folding wire butts but little else is changed from the original AK design. The AK-74 is another variant that was accepted in the hopes of reigning in production time and costs. Nevertheless, the AK-47 is known the world over, being used in countless conflicts throughout Asia, Africa and the Middle East.
Iraq produced a local version under license known as the Tabuk and China produces it's own local version as well. Other countries have completely copied the basic design principles of the original AK-47 and have produced their own local variants without license under their respective names. Over fifty years later, the AK-47 continues in more modern variants in use with the Russian Army.