Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov (Михаи́л Тимофе́евич Кала́шников, Mihail Timofeevič Kalašnikov) (born November 10, 1919; died December 23, 2013) was a famous Russian firearms engineer.
Born in a poor peasant family in the village of Kurya, Altai region, he started his engineering career working at a train depot, where Kalashnikov was able to learn much about mechanics. In 1938 he was drafted into the Red Army and served as a tank commander during the first months of the Great Patriotic War (World War II). In October 1941 Kalashnikov was badly wounded in combat and sent home from the front lines. He started to create his first gun designs in a hospital and soon joined a depot's workshop of the Moscow Aviation Institute. While working there Kalashnikov produced a number of innovations for tanks, including a mechanism that would count the number of shots fired. Within several years, he was promoted to the position of chief engineer and given far more resources. In 1947, he designed the AK (an acronym for Avtomat Kalashnikova). In 1949 the AK assault rifle became operational in the Red Army; after this the design would become Kalashnikov's most famous invention. Kalashnikov is one of the most well known weapon designers.
Kalashnikov, who started as a self-taught-inventor, ascended to the prominent position of General Designer of small arms for the Soviet Army. In his design engineering department, Hugo Schmeisser and Dr. Gruner (MG42), a pioneer in the area of the sheet metal embossing technology, worked into the 1950s. In addition, a number of German laborers were enlisted or coerced to work in the USSR under the technical designer.
Later in his career he developed a squad automatic weapon variant of the AK-47, known as the RPK (Ruchnoi pulemyot Kalashnikova - Kalashnikov's light machine gun), and also the PK (Pulemyot Kalashnikova - Kalashnikov's machine gun), which used a much larger cartridge (the same full-powered rifle cartridge as employed in the Mosin-Nagant rifle). The PK was belt-fed rather than magazine-fed. In other respects, it was nearly the same design. These designs both saw widespread adoption in their respective roles, though the AK-47 still served as the primary infantry weapon.
Since 1949 Mikhail Kalashnikov has been living and working in the town of Izhevsk, Udmurtia. In 2004, he began promoting his own brand of vodka . He told Reuters Television, "I've always wanted to improve and expand on the good name of my weapon by doing good things." The new brand is 41% alcohol and sold worldwide with his seal of approval, in a glass bottle the shape of the rifle.
Mikhail Kalashnikov was awarded twice the title of Hero of Socialist Labor. In 1998 he was awarded an Order of Saint Andrew the Protoclete (orden Svyatogo Andreya Pervozvannogo). His military rank is Lieutenant General. He is a Doctor of Technical Sciences.
Despite estimates that there are around 100 million AK-47 assault rifles in circulation, General Kalashnikov claims that he himself has made no money from the sale of these weapons and that he only receives a meager state pension. 
His son, Sergey I. Koksharov, later became a weapons designer, and lost in the recent "Abakan" design competition which saw the adoption of the AN-94 Nikonov rifle by the Russian army.
Kalashnikov was admitted to the hospital in November 2013 for internal bleeding, and died December 23, 2013 at the age of 94.
Light machine guns
General purpose machine guns
- Biography in German
- 'I sleep soundly' - Interview with and article on Mikhail Kalashnikov at the age of 83, from The Guardian newspaper.
- The Biography of the Main Gun Designer Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov
- Automat Kalaschnikow film documented the man and his machine
- Mikhail Kalashnikov backs weapons control
- BBC NEWS Profile: Mikhail Kalashnikov
- Free illustrated virtual guided tour of the Museum of Mikhail Kalashnikov
- The life of Mikhail Kalashnikov
- On the AK-47's military and social effects on history