The cost of an AK-47 and ergonomic and quality design are significant advantages of the world’s most popular assault rifle. The first model of the AK-47 assault rifle was introduced into service with the Soviet army in 1948. Designed to be cheap, reliable, and straightforward to operate and produce, the AK-47 and its derivatives remain the world’s most widely used assault rifles seven decades later.
In his book AK-47: The Story of The People’s Gun, Michael Hodges estimates that as many as 200 million Kalashnikov rifles are in circulation worldwide, one for every 35 people. On top of its low price, the weapon has proven hugely popular with soldiers, criminals, and militants due to its durability and reliability.
The cost of an AK-47 mainly depends on the variant
Some 200 different types of Kalashnikovs are now produced in at least 30 countries, and vast quantities of the weapons have turned up in trouble spots worldwide for decades, especially in Africa. Hundreds of thousands of them disappeared after the breakup of Yugoslavia, frequently ending up in the hands of terrorists and criminals. Most of the Kalashnikovs used in the Paris attacks at Charlie Hebdo and the Bataclan theater were purchased in Belgium and traced back to the Balkans (particularly Serbia).
Considering that the black market is awash with AK-47s, how much would it cost to procure one illegally? A new report from Global Financial Integrity has shed some light on the shady world of arms smuggling and the cost of an AK-47 in several different countries. In Afghanistan, an AK-47 could cost as little as $600, while on Mexico’s northern border with the U.S., the price would increase to $1,200.
In Belgium, where the Paris perpetrators obtained their Balkan Kalashnikovs, it has a price tag of about $1,135. An authentic model would cost $1,200 in Pakistan, but a locally produced model can be obtained for as little as $148. It is also possible to get an AK-47 through the darknet, where costs typically range from $2,800 to $3,600.
Second, do you want a genuine AK-47 or AKM, a military-issue weapon with selective fire full automatic capability? Or would a semiautomatic-only civilian market version suffice for you? An authentic Russian AK in a third-world hellhole might be $75.00. It’s probably seen better days worn out and smells of blood and old goat shit, but it works.
It is estimated that the price in the European black market ranges from $1,000 up to $2,000. The AK-47 was pretty common on the Balkan during the Yugoslavia war. Also, a lot of AK-47 were looted in Albania. It has become a weapon of choice for various criminal organizations in Europe.
Of course, those reports with the estimated cost of an AK-47 on the black market are no definitive answer to the question but as is the case with many gun questions. The price solely depends on the individual gun under consideration.
The further it travels, the more it costs
According to the report, the price of an AK-47 increases the further it travels, with a smuggled rifle crossing the U.S.-Canada border expected to go up in price by as much as 560 percent. Illegal trafficking in small arms and light weapons is estimated to be worth $1.7 billion to $3.5 billion every year, equivalent to about 10 to 20 percent of the legal arms trade. With over a million Kalashnikovs still produced each year, one of the world’s foremost killing machines is still set to be at the center of the global arms trade for decades to come.
Article author: Niall McCarthy (Forbes)