Key point: This pistol was certainly innovative. However, it was never completed and only a few copies remain.
In the late 1940s, Mikhail Kalashnikov — the Russian gun-designer behind the then-new AK-47 assault rifle — produced an automatic handgun called the APK.
Busy completing the AK-47, Kalashnikov reportedly lacked the time to truly refine the APK. In the end, the Red Army preferred Igor Stechkin’s own APS auto-pistol. The APK faded from memory.
Kalashnikov Concern recently released a video depicting a rare surviving copy of the APK.
In the aftermath of World War II, the Red Army launched a program for two new pistols. A compact officers’ sidearm and a larger automatic pistol for personal defense. The larger pistol would arm artillery and mortar, tank and aircraft crews.
Both of the new pistols would fire the new nine-by-18-millimeter pistol cartridge. A design by Nikolay Makarov won the competition for the new compact pistol. Both Kalashnikov and Stechkin submitted auto-pistols.
Like the APS, the Kalashnikov pistol boasts a wooden holster stock. Initial prototypes fed from an 18-round magazine. In 1951, Kalashnikov added a new rear sight and increased the magazine capacity to 20 rounds.
Unloaded, the APK weighs 2.75 pounds — 3.7 pounds with its wooden holster. That makes it only slightly heavier than the APS is. Kalashnikov’s pistol features a fixed barrel and a blow-back action. It has a single-action trigger and a three-position selector for safe, semi-auto and full-auto functions.
The APK boasted an extremely high rate of fire and, unlike the APS, didn’t need a rate-of-fire reducer. Kalashnikov produced only a few prototypes before the Red Army adopted the APS in 1951. The APS and the APB — a suppressed variant — saw action during the Soviet war in Afghanistan.
This article by Matthew Moss originally appeared at War is Boring in 2017. This first appeared earlier and is being reposted due to reader interest.