Monday, February 25, 2013

Mid-Twentieth Century Technology

Sometimes we may think that it is only in very recent times that technological change has been important.  This is quite untrue!  Why, some of my favorite technologies come from the late 1940s and the 1950s.  One reason I like much of the technology from that era is that it easy to understand...

Oh, the below are EMP-proof!  People who "preprare" know what I am talking about here...


The below was my Christmas present from my wife.  Not even hand-brakes, to stop you have to pedal backwards!  I try to take my bike to work once a week or more.  I have a rack on the back (that's my laptop strapped in) and a basket in front (to pick up stuff from the grocery store when my wife tells me to...).

The flash on my camera lit up the reflectors.  Unimpressed?  Hey, it's EMP-proof local transportation!  No gasoline or electricity needed!

Yes..., I have a good lock for it.


The AK-47 was designed in the Soviet Union by a group of gun designers.  I believe it is the first automatic battle rifle (vs. the submachine guns the Germans had in WWII, same with Sgt. Saunders (played by the late Vic Morrow in the 1960s TV show Combat).  The AK caused our troops no end of problems to our soldiers in Vietnam, the NVA and the Viet Cong had a version of this rifle, while our guys were stuck with the fairly BAD M-16.

Here is my version, most of it was made in Russia (recently), but to get the gun into the USA and sold, there is some law that says that only 10 parts can be made overseas, the rest in the USA (perhaps to avoid hugh tariffs, I do not know).  This is the "Saiga" version of the AK, made in Izhevsk (the home of the AK) and the pieces made by Arsenal of Nevada.  I bought this about two years ago for $900 and something.  Not long ago I was at the range shooting it, and when I went to pay for range time and ammo, the clerk looked up the *new* retail price: $2900.  Whoa, I tripled my investment!  Better than I have done with all my other recent investments...  Note the genuine Russian sling (olive colored hanging down), kind of hard to get they tell me.  Also I have a 30-round magazine hooked up.

Mine is a "semi-automatic", perfectly legal.  Semi-automatic means you pull the trigger, out comes a bullet, but just one.  You have to pull the trigger again for another shot.  Military rifles are fully automatic, pull & hold the trigger and you can finish the whole 30 rounds in seconds...

There are two bearings (1950s designs) at the extreme left just so that you know it was ME who took the photo.

By the way, I am going to sell all my guns at the next Gun Show here.  Just for the record, and to make it official what my intentions are...

As a public service to my readers I include some accessories below (for scale, the outer diameter of the larger bearing is 70 mm or about 2.8 inches):

The same two bearings are at the upper left (the larger piece is the front wheel double-row wheel bearing for Hyundai Accent, the smaller piece is a rear wheel bearing for Peru's Daewoo Tico <-- kind of flimsy looking the Tico piece is, no?).  Also shown are four magazines loaded up, the magazines are mil-spec Bulgarian for those interested (also hard to find now).  Also illustrated above are two brands of AK ammo (7.62 * 39 mm):

  • the gray cartridges are Russian "Tul-Ammo" brand (made in the city of Tula), see the box, I bought this at Wal-Mart some months ago.  Not only are the cartridges made of steel, so are the bullets!  There is (was, as AK ammo is hard to find as we nowadays...) a nationwide shortage of ammo for guns like this...
  • the brass cartridges are made-in-USA "Federal" brand ammo.  The bullets are made of lead.  
Russian ammo is/was very cheap, a box at retail was under $8 (box of 20), the USA ammo ran almost $20 for a box of 20.

One thing I did not know is that indoor ranges will not let you shoot steel bullets.  So, it's outdoors I have to go.  But, it really does not matter, the effective range for pikers like me is only about 100 meters (110 yards).

There is a great book which describes the AK-47 at length (as well as other infantry automatic weapons):

Chivers, C. J.
The Gun

Chivers was a captain in the infantry IIRC.  He was working for the New York Times last I heard.  Here's is his very interesting (for those interested in this kind of stuff, if you get queasy easily, you might NOT want to check it out...) website:


If you have any questions, please do NOT contact me, as I will be getting rid of my gun at the next gun show...


  1. The AK was designed by one man.
    He's still alive, and did an NRA interview a couple years ago.

    Not sure I'd sell it. But I'd not have bought it in the first place, so there it is. I like other guns more is all.

  2. Chivers´ book above details out how Sgt. Mikhail Kalashnikov quarterbacked the team who designed it. It was more bureaucratic than I had thought before reading the book.

    I would buy the book. I would NOT sell my AK! It was designed for teenage morons from Siberia and Africa. If that is what it takes for me to figure how to field-strip it, clean it, and put it all back together, well THAT is good enough for me.


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