Two of the largest Russian arms firms have merged under the iconic brand Kalashnikov. The move is expected to not only improve the new company’s ability to deliver guns tailored for the 21st century market, but also expand into other manufacturing circles, bringing the name Kalashnikov to a wide spread of consumer products.
Izhmash and Izhevsk, two of the most famous small arms manufacturers in Russia have both had financial troubles in the recent past, and while Izhevsk pulled through them back in 2009, Izhmash was declared bankrupt and is currently being run by the state.
Russian Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin has officially re-dubbed the two companies. “The Kalashnikov Corporation has been just officially registered. Happy birthday! And good luck on your big job!” Rogozin tweeted.
“Based on the decision by Rostech [the state-run holding corporation that has been restructuring Izhmash following their bankruptcy], Izhmash has been renamed the Kalashnikov Concern. A relevant entry was made in the single state registry of corporate entities,” announced the brand-new Kalashnikov company.
“I’m happy to support the decision to establish a concern ‘Kalashnikov’” said Mikhail Kalashnikov, who recently donated the rights to his name to the state. “It’s an honor for me! After all, my name does not belong to me anymore, it has already become the property of the whole country, all Russians.”
“We need to set up a new-old brand, named ‘Kalashnikov’, based on the two old factories.” Rogozin said last year, when the merger was first proposed. Rogozin is partially responsible for the health of Russia’s small arms industry. “Izhmekh (Izhevsk) and Izhmash, with all my respect, are not a brand. Kalashnikov—that’s a brand.”
Izhmash manufactures dozens of weapon systems from the quintessential AK-100 series of assault rifles and Saiga long guns — modern versions of the AK-47 designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov, after whom the new company is named — to autocannons and guided missile systems.
Izhevsk makes Baikal shotguns and Makarov and Grach pistols, and was the largest manufacturer of Mosin-Nagant rifes, which is without a doubt the longest-serving, most widely-used bolt-action combat rifle of all time.
Merging the two companies will allow production to continue while the Izhmash plant is refitted and modernized. The armory is specialized in churning out huge numbers of rifles, and needs to re-tool to cost-effectively produce for current market realities.
The first project on the horizon for the new Kalashnikov company is a big one, the AK-12. The AK-12 is the next generation of AK rifle, and if all goes well, it will enter state acceptance trials for use by the Russian military, although in limited service as the Russian military is already well-equipped with AK-74 rifles.
Despite the fact that the AK-12 isn’t soon going to take over as the primary service rifle for the Russian military, the company expects to sell about 1 million of them per year once it goes into full production. It’s highly-anticipated on both the military and commercial markets.
Still, not everyone’s happy about the merger. While the Izhevsk Mechanical Plant may be well-established at 60 years old, Izhmash is a historical institution, founded in 1809 at the behest of Tsar Alexander I.
“We knew it was going to happen, but that does not mean it hurts any less,” laments Steve Johnson at the Firearm Blog. Still, renaming it after their most famous gun designer is a good move. The Kalashnikov name must be one of the most well known names throughout the world.”
Nevertheless, we can’t wait to shoot some Kalashnikov-brand Kalashnikovs, even if it’s just in the name.