American civilians are buying as many AK47s from Russia’s top armory as the Russian military and police.
The surge in sales of Russian assault rifles and shotguns are fuelled by firearms enthusiasts who are paranoid about the weapons being banned in the United States.
The semiautomatic weapons, fitted with high-capacity magazines, are manufactured at Izhevsk Machinebuilding Plant, Russia’s primary small arms factory.
They are built alongside the fully-automatic military versions that are used by armies, militias and terrorists around the world.
In the United States, they have become immensely popular. Among hunters, recreational shooters and survivalists, they are known for being extremely reliable and relatively inexpensive – and they fire powerful ammunition that is cheap and plentiful.
The New York Times reports that the Izhevsk factory is relying on sales of their military-style weapons to American consumers to help support the modernization and re-arming of the Russian military.
Currently, 70 percent of the factory’s production goes to civilian weapons sales – up from 50 percent two years ago.
About 40 percent of all civilian weapons go to the United States.
This mean, the Times reports, that Izhevesk sells as many guns to American shooters and it does to Russian police officers and soldiers.
As debate about gun control heats up in light of three high-profile mass shootings in the last month, imported AK47-style rifles are a favorite target of gun opponents.
Thomas Caffall, the gunman who killed a police constable and a bystander and wounded three others in College Station, Texas, on Monday posted Facebook photos of a similar style semiautomatic rifle before the shooting.