The first American-made Kalashnikov AK-47s have hit the shelves after U.S. sanctions on Russia made the assault rifle scarce in the United States. Photo by Ismagilov/Shutterstock
TULLYTOWN, Pa., June 30 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania-based gun company announced Tuesday it has started selling the first American-made Kalashnikov AK-47s after U.S. sanctions on Russia prevented the import of the weapons.
Kalashnikov USA -- formerly Russian Weapons Company -- was the sole and official importer and distributor of the iconic weapon until sanctions against Russia in 2014 halted that trade.
The Tullytown, Pa., company announced in January it would start manufacturing AK-47s and six months later, the assault rifles are now in several sporting goods stores.
"We have made good on the promise delivered at SHOT Show, to provide our customers with a quality product at a competitive price by the second quarter of this year," Thomas McCrossin, CEO of Kalashnikov USA said.
The new firearms are based on the iconic Russian AK-47, AK-74 and AK with a focus on the latest technology, including nitrocarburized case hardening on barrels and chambers to extend life and prevent corrosion. The barrels have also been threaded so they can accept muzzle breaks and suppressor systems.
"Our customers will be pleased with the quality of our American production and our new designs," said Bill Silver, vice president of sales for Kalashnikov USA. "American innovation has provided a better weapon at a better price."
Though the AK-47's Russian manufacturer said it didn't object to Kalashnikov USA's move, the daughter of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the designer of the assault rifle, criticized the plans when they were announced.
"On the one hand, this is to some degree an acknowledgment: Why would anybody take something nobody needs? This looks like a confirmation that the AK-47 is still needed by someone," Yelena Kalashnikov told The Moscow Times. "But on the other hand, it's clear that our weapons should remain ours."