I bring to your attention an article from the "New York Times".
IZhEVSK — the name of the city, where the factory producing Kalashnikov rifle, "armory Russia" (Armory of Russia). For many years he was armed, and also a significant number of other countries, as long as lathes and presses the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant rumbled around the clock to stamp the AK-47 and similar weapons to the rebels and armies around the world.
But these days, much of the weapons from Izhevsk leadership somewhere else: in the United States.
Despite the turbulent history of weapons — or perhaps because of it — American hunters and weapons enthusiasts are buying up tens of thousands of Kalashnikov rifles and shotguns. The demand is so great that in the past two years, the plant has shifted its focus from military to civilian production. Sales in the United States, civilian versions, sold under the brand name Saiga, rose last year by 50%, according to officials at the factory, known as Izhmash.
Overall, the U.S. is the world's largest market for civilian weapons. This is partly due to the relatively lenient laws on the possession of weapons, the debate will resume after the madness of last month, when a masked gunman killed 12 and wounded 58 people in a cinema Aurora, Colorado. Let no Kalashnikovs and were not involved, but police say the weapon Igena James Holmes, the man who is charged, was a popular semi-automatic pistol made by the Austrian company Glock.
Russian weapon is a tiny fraction of the $ 4.3 billion U.S. arms market in the past year, but Saiga sales grew much faster than the overall rate of 14 percent in 2011.
"I bought a Saiga because it was made in Russia, and his older brothers — AK" said in a telephone interview with Josh Laura, a garage door installer and former Marine from Maryville, Tennessee. "In the world there is no reliable rifle than this."
Selling rifles to Americans and other civilians is fundamental to efforts in the rescue of Izhmash, which has created a Kalashnikov in 1947, and is now fighting tooth and nail.
Demand for new military weapons Kalashnikov family has evaporated. Simple, durable and relatively cheap to produce, for decades, has been made in the amount of 100 million, or about one for every 70 people on earth. Reservists are overcrowded, AK flooded the market, and cheap Chinese fakes take the remaining customers.
For lovers of American weapons, an authentic Russian Kalashnikov production is attractive not only because of its historical significance as a weapon of choice in many global conflicts, but also because of its reliability.
"The quality and versatility far surpassed anything else on the market," said Terry Sandlin, an electrician in Scottsburg, Indiana, which has three Saiga — two shotguns and a rifle.
Although the civilian versions can not fire bursts, which is a function of the military, which is known as the fully automatic mode — otherwise they have many of the features of army weapons. Izhmash works with an importer who modifies weapons to add pistol handle or store a larger capacity in the states where these features are legalized.
Maxim V. Kuzyuk, board member of Izhmash in the past — the executive director, said that he had studied the world market of small arms, before focusing on the United States.
"As a rule, the American family will have five or six units of short-and long-barreled weapons," said in an interview, Mr. Kuzyuk, former director of the Boston Consulting Group in Moscow. "Some collectors have more than 20 weapons."
In the United States, Izhmash is not under the pressure of Chinese competition. The federal government banned the import of most Chinese handguns and rifles since 1994.
Sale of "Saiga" in the United States — an integral part of the evolving business model, step by step creation of civilian weapons that will take workers and equipment between government orders for automatic assault rifles. About 70 percent of the plant's products now account for civilian rifles, compared with 50 percent two years ago. About 40 percent of civilian weapons are exported to the United States.
"Russian Technologies", the state holding company, which is part of the Izhmash, carries out this policy in a number of industries, from aviation to manufacture trucks. The aim is to increase the effectiveness, as Russia begins a program of modernization worth 613 billion petrodollars.
Mr. Kuzyuk says that it is with this mandate, he came on as the head of Izhmash in 2010 after working in another enterprise "Russian Technologies", AvtoVAZ car manufacturer Lada. (In May, he moved into another company in the group, which makes part of the helicopter (helicopter parts).)
As he says, for Izhmash, like other Russian military plants, "the main problem is that the production volumes were significantly lower than those for which the plant was originally intended" — in fact, for the land war between superpowers.
Although the rifle with his prototype AK daily use in global conflicts [that article], very few of them are bought from Izhmash because of the availability of licensed and smuggled copies. Russian army is planning many new orders, while the AK-12, a new model that will be introduced this year, will not be enough available.
Sales of civilian rifles in the United States are helping to pay for the refurbishment of the plant AK-12, and in the end, making it cheaper for the Kremlin.
Martin Owen, gunsmith, owner SnakeHoundMachine, a company that specializes in Kalashnikov rifles in Manchester, NH, said that Russian military orders also help keep prices low for AK, which he and others are buying in the United States. "This means that our guns are cheaper," he said. "No one takes it as a lack of patriotism."
Arms sales in the U.S. rose sharply in 2009, with the election of President Obama and the start of the economic downturn. Sales of semi-automatic rifles, in particular, stimulated concern of buyers that Obama will seek tougher regulation of the turnover of rifles, and in particular — resembling military weapons, said Lawrence Keane, senior vice president of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
Izhmash benefits from American gun laws, which is softer than the domestic market. In Russia, consumers can buy a long-barreled firearm only with the permission of the police, which requires a spotless criminal record certificate with courses on safe gun handling and medical certificate of sanity. In the United States, laws vary from state to state, but buyers often need only a clean criminal record, the FBI checked.
However, gun control in Russia is less severe than in some other countries of the former Soviet Union. Estonia, for example, prohibits the carrying of weapons while intoxicated. "Yes, if they did it here, no one would have hunted," says Igor Anisimov, director of Izhmash on foreign sales.
Translation — mine. Excuse me, a little sloppy.