Weapons: AK-47 Gets No Respect



January 11, 2008: While the AK-47 is famous, it is not all that popular once users have some money and a little choice. Such has been the case in Afghanistan, where drug gangs can now afford expensive American, European and Israeli weapons. A top line Western sniper rifle can cost over a thousand dollars, although an old G-3 (a Cold War era 7.62mm long rifle), or more modern weapon of the same caliber, can be had for less. Anyone carrying an AK-47 is looked down, because a beat up model can be had for less than $20. Afghanistan is full of AK-47s, thanks to the Russian army, the Egyptians, Israelis (who all sent in assault rifles during the 1980s) and the Taliban (who brought in more in the 1990s).

In many countries, like Lebanon or Colombia, late model AKs (of different calibers) cost as much as Western weapons (($500-$1,000). In Pakistan, there are so many cheap AK-47s coming across the border from Afghanistan, that the price is under $300. In parts of the world where there used to be a lot of action, but there is no longer much, and there was no large-scale turn-in of weapons, there are a lot of elderly, and cheap, AK-47s available. In Uganda, you can get an AK-47 for less than $200. In Cambodia, it's under $50.

One problem with the AK-47 is that it's a lousy hunting weapon, unless you fix the sights, or practice, and burn a lot of ammo (which costs about 20 cents a round, not cheap for a part of the world where most people live on a buck or two a day). The AK-47 is mainly good for shooting, at close range, people who are not moving much. Wild animals are more elusive, and require a more precise firearm to bring down.

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