Kalashnikov goal was to design a cheaply manufactured, automatic weapon that fired the new Soviet 7.62x39mm intermediate power round. This round was intended to be a compromise between the pistols rounds fired from submachine gun, which were controllable but lacked power, and the rifle cartridges fired from heavier machine guns, which were either too heavy to fire while on the move or, if lightened, uncontrollable during automatic fire. The conventional wisdom is that the Nazi's originated the concept of an assault rifle with their MP44 machine-pistol design, (which fired the 7.92x33 '8mm Kurz' round) and the Soviets copied them, but this is disputed by Ezell -- both sides may have developed such weapons concurrently. Furthermore, Kalashnikov was hardly the only _Soviet_ designer working toward this end at this time. Other designers looking at the 7.62x39 cartridge included Simonov (designer of the SKS) and Tokarev (designer of the weapons that bear his name). Kalashnikov's weapon was designed from the outset to be: * light * select-fire * simple to operate, clean, and repair * reliable * made from as much stamped metal and as little milled metal as possible to reduce the cost to manufacture The original model was built in 1947.
(Info from kalashnikov.guns.ru)
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