AK-47 Gun Designer Hospitalized

ABC News

MOSCOW - Famed gunmaker Mikhail Kalashnikov is reportedly in the hospital, with some reports quoting sources saying he is in intensive care.

According to Russian news agency RIA Novosti, the 93-year-old inventor of the AK-47 was admitted to the hospital last Thursday.

"He was in intensive care last Thursday," the agency quoted his assistant, Nikolai Shklyaev, as saying, adding that Kalashnikov told him he felt fine but was "exhausted."

The agency also quotes an unnamed hospital source confirming that Kalashnikov is in intensive care.

Kalashkinov's son Victor, however, denied those reports. He told RIA Novosti his father was "normal" but in the hospital for routine checks.

Kalashnikov has been frail and hard of hearing for years. He served in the Red Army during World War II and, after witnessing the German army's superior automatic rifles, devoted himself to developing one for his country. He based his rifle on existing German and American designs and succeeded in developing a weapon that was lightweight, reliable and easy to produce.

The gun went on to become the most popular rifle in the world and was a standard issue rifle for numerous armies. Later models were all based on the original design and followed its naming pattern, with the number representing the year it was developed. Its durability and usability also made it a favorite among terrorists and rebel groups around the world. Soon, versions of the gun were produced throughout Eastern Europe and China.

Rifles based on Kalashnikov's design are sold in the United States under the brand name Saiga.

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