Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev seen in 2008 holding a Kalashnikov gun as he visits a plant manufacturing Kalashnikov assault rifles and other firearms in the central Russian city of Izhevsk, about 1000 kilometers (625 miles) east of Moscow, while serving as First Deputy Prime Minister. A U.S. company says it plans to start manufacturing Kalashnikov AK-47s in the United States after sanctions prevent the import of the gun. File photo by Mihail Kovalev/UPI | License Photo
TULLYTOWN, Pa., Jan. 21 (UPI) -- A U.S. gun company announced it will manufacture Kalashnikov AK-47s after sanctions on Russia prevented the import of the weapons.
Russian Weapons Company, which is based in Tullytown, Pa., was the sole and official importer and distributor of the iconic weapon until sanctions against Russia in 2014 halted that trade.
RWC CEO Thomas McCrossin told CNNMoney he's not even allowed to pick up the phone to call the Russian gun manufacturer.
"We were forced to stop doing business with them because of the sanctions."
The company says it has enough stock of the weapons for now, but that won't last forever.
"I have a lot of inventory on my shelf bought and paid for," McCrossin said. "We are permitted to sell these weapons because they were already in the U.S. But when the inventory goes down to zero, there are no more.
"In the second quarter of this year we are going to start manufacturing here in the U.S.," he said. "What I'm manufacturing are our own AK-47s and shotguns under the Kalashnikov brand."
It's unclear if RWC's existing contract with the Russian company allows for it to manufacture the firearm under the Kalashnikov name.
Kalashnikov has reportedly worked to assert its presence in new markets in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Africa after being shut out of the U.S. market.