I’ve been spending some quality down-time this week getting philosophical about American identity. I’ve looked at the guns that Define America, and some of the weapons that Defined America, but what about the other side? From the perspective of the men who fight for this country, there are more guns to consider. Here are 5 guns that are distinctly un-american–5 Guns That Defy America.
North Korean Type 88
The Type 88 is a rifle built to defy. Working off of the Cold War era AK platform, the 88 is a rock solid fighting rifle. North Korea is a country built upon defiance and in their struggle to differentiate their number one service rifle from the rest of the world’s AKs they simply flipped the side folder mechanism of the Ak-100 platform, making the stock fold to the right. It’s a laughable change but don’t underestimate the destructive force of the 88.
Chambered in 5.45×39, the 88 provides solid terminal ballistic performance. Given North Korea’s relationship with the ol’ Red White and Blue, and the recent rhetoric surrounding the Sony hack, it is no surprise the Type 88 and its users own the number one position on the list.
Coming in second, we have China and their QBZ 95 (also known as the Type 95). The QBZ is innovative in design but resented for its ergonomics. The Type 95 is a gun we hope American soldiers never have to face.
Chambered in 5.8x42mm, and often seen with a under-barrel grenade launcher, the rifle is extremely effective in both urban and rural environments. The bullpup design allows for good maneuverability in tight spaces, while the extended barrel allows for accuracy at longer distances.
Is it just a bullpup AK47? Mostly. As this is China, the QBZ is probably built around the Norinco Type 86. Unlike most of the other AKs on the planet, the QBZ makes use of polymer. China’s manufacturing expertise, skilled workforce, and unlimited resources mean this gun can be produced to tight specs, and in unimaginable quantities. How long has it been since someone could say the same for an American firearm?
Coming in at number 3 we have the AK-12. Available in a plethora of chambering’s and configurations, the AK-12 takes the Kalashnikov into the twenty first century. The AK-12 is a fully ambidextrous, modernized version of the gun the majority of the world has learned to fear (and respect).
With our recent sanctions against Russia, there is little to no chance we will see this gun on our shores any time soon. Is the AK-12 the face of tomorrow’s terrorist? Probably not. The AK-12, like the AR-15, requires much more manufacturing sophistication. Unlike the original AKs, many of which are still in service, the AK-12 will require more specialized armorers and replacement parts to stay in the fight.
Russian PK Machinegun
Number 4 on our list also calls Russia home. Or it did. The PKM has been creating chaos around the globe since the 1960’s. The PKM isn’t light or small. It is a giant among rifles. Designed to be a squad automatic weapon, the rifle slings 30-caliber hell downrange at an impressive and reliable rate of 750 rounds a minute.
Chambered in a round that is more than 100 years old, the PKM lends itself to the old world philosophy that bigger is better. If one 7.62x54r can’t solve your problem then, without a doubt, the rest of the 250 round belt will. And like many of the other AKs, parts are plentiful and maintenance is easy.
Khyber Pass AKM Clone
Number 5 can’t be described by a model or by a caliber. It is a Haji-Podge of used and hand crafted parts that resembles the original Kalashnikov. The Khyber Pass AK is exactly what it sounds like. Built in the Khyber mountain pass between Afghanistan and Pakistan, these guns are not known for quality or longevity but as quick and easy battle implements.
Everything about these guns screams terrorism. They’re not indigenous to the area, though. Many were left behind when the Soviets gave up on Afghanistan close to 25 years ago. Just like the old American cars in Cuba, these rifles are easy to maintain and will run forever. Some of the guns picked up during our recent kerfuffle in Afghanistan have been in active service, fighting in conflict after conflict, for more than 50 years.
Is it any wonder why everyone seems to respect Kalashnikov? The man knew what he was doing.
Editor’s note: C.J. Chivers, in his book The Gun (which is one of the best gun books ever written, and ALSO a damn fine book in its own right) singles out the Kalashnikov as the most potent weapon of mass destruction the world has ever seen. If you look at the way the gun’s influence has spread across the globe, it is easy to see why.