What Does AK Stand For?

Whether you despise them or love them, we can all agree that gun names are sometimes a little weird.

Not even weird in that: ‘it’s weird we name after people weird’ as we have plenty of weapons named after people, such as the Winchester rifle named after the Winchester Repeating Arms Company which was named after Oliver Winchester.

What does AK stand for?

However, sometimes they are just given names from nowhere. A good example of this would be the famous ‘Brown Bess’, the standard infantry musket that was used by the British Armed Forces from the 1720s until the 1830s.

No one knows how it got the name the ‘Brown Bess’, but that’s what it was known as.

So, when we look at the most famous gun in the world today, the AK-47, what could the AK in the name possibly mean? Is it rooted in an actual name? Or is it just an odd name that was given to it?

In this article, we seek to answer this question, so you don’t have to.

What Is An AK-47?

The AK-47 is a semi-automatic rifle that was developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov.

The idea came to Kalashnikov while he was in the hospital, recovering from a shoulder injury he received during the Battle of Bryansk in 1941.

At that time, the Soviet military equipment was not as advanced or as readily available for frontline soldiers and those that the German military used.

While in the hospital, he had heard fellow soldiers talk about how they were not as well-equipped as the Germans and the weapons they had were inferior.

As such, Kalashnikov decided to design an automatic weapon for his fellow soldiers, one that had good firepower, was durable, had range, and was reliable. This weapon was completed in 1947 and called the AK47.

What Does AK Stand For?

To start with, we will look at some gun naming conventions, because despite popular belief, there are some. So, when guns have numbers at the end of their names, they can stand for one of two things.

The first is that they signify the year the gun was made, which is the case with the AK. It was made or finished in 1947, so it is the AK-47.

The second is that it can mean the model or design number. This is a number that signifies how many designs the company or person made of this gun before they landed on this one. For example, an AR-15 is the 15th model of the AR structure type.

So, now that is cleared up, we can move on to what the letters in AK mean. Basically, the AK in AK-47 is a shortened form of the Russian words Автомат Калашникова – Avtomat Kalashnikov – which in English translates to: ‘Kalashnikov’s automatic’.

What does AK stand for?

This simple naming convention for one of the world’s most well-known and infamous guns may disappoint some people.

There were many rumors and theories about the name for a long time – including one that said that AK stood for ‘All-Russia’, which is not even close to what it actually means.

But looking at Mikhail Kalashnikov himself and the circumstances that the gun came about, it is not hard to see why it was named as such.

The man was a soldier who wanted other fellow soldiers to have a weapon that they could use to defend themselves, that was reliable, and that was cheap.

Given this information, it is not hard to see why this gun is given a name that is simple and fairly humble: Avtomat Kalashnikov number 47, or Kalashnikov’s automatic number 47.

Why Is The AK-47 Popular?

The AK-47 is one of the most popular and one of the most distributed guns in the world today. There are many reasons for this.

The first is that the gun is incredibly reliable and durable. It was designed to not only last in terrible conditions, but to keep firing.

Many people have picked up an AK they found in the wilderness, abandoned for possibly years, and it still fires.

The second reason is that it is cheap. The parts for an AK are mostly cheap metals and wood. This makes it light and, when part of it breaks, easy to repair or replace the part that is lost.

This cheap cost leads us on to the third reason: replication. Due to the parts being cheap and the gun simple, it is very easy to replicate the gun and make it with limited equipment.

Almost all of the AK-47s you see in the world today are replicas and not from the original plant that makes them.

Instead, they are from places like China, Romania, Vietnam, Hungary, and anywhere that purchased a license to make them.

Finally, the ammunition that the AK uses is by far the most common ammunition in the world today. It is so common that in many places in the world it is the only ammunition available in that region.

Even in countries with lots of guns, gun hobbyists, or that are heavily developed, the 7.62x39mm rounds used by AKs are still some of the most common.

All these factors mean that the AK has risen to the rank of the most popular gun in the world, and it also means that it is probably going to stay that way for many years to come.


The AK in the name of the gun, the AK-47, stands for something a lot simpler than people give it credit for.

It does not stand for Alaska, All-Russia, or whatever other weird variation people have come up with to fill the gap in their knowledge.

It very simply means: Avtomat Kalashnikov number 47, or Kalashnikov’s automatic number 47, and refers to its creator: Mikhail Kalashnikov.

The gun has become infamous in the last 60 years or so, and many people have let that cloud their view of the gun and its name.

However, when Kalashnikov created his gun, it was done with his fellow soldiers – trapped in a brutal conflict as they all were – in mind. Therefore, it has a simple name, much like it was designed to be simple and easy to use.

Matthew Osborn

Matt is an entrepreneur who has created and successfully exited multiple companies and brands. Now, he dedicates his time to Legionary, where he produces content on guns, family, and freedom.

Recent Posts