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GUNS Magazine September 2010 - Page 32

™ • HOLT BODINSON • Cia’S CeNTURiON A made in the USA AK. he latest catalog from Century International Arms (CIA) lists 27 T models of the Ak/AkM/RPk and Czech VZ designs, including under-folders, side-folders, collapsibles, bullpups, high-and- low-capacity models, wood, synthetic and metal stocks, calibers 7.62x39 and 5.45x39 and, for the first time, a 100 percent madein-the-USA Ak of CIA’s design. Called the “Centurion 39 Sporter Rifle,” it’s proving to be an exceptionally fine Ak variant. With the addition of CIA’s MTL-225 fore-end weapon light, it’s as slick a tactical package as you will find. While the story of Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov designing the basic AK-47 mechanism after recuperating from wounds suffered on the Eastern Front has been told many times, it’s becoming more intriguing with the appearance of Frank Iannamico’s new book, AK47: The Grim Reaper. In it, Iannamico speculates that just possibly the German arms designer, Hugo Schmeisser, who was the technical director of the Haenel arms factory where Germany’s ingenious assault rifle, the Sturmgewehr, was being mass produced, and just might have had a hand in the final AK-47 design. In April, 1945, US troops occupied Suhl, Germany, the location of the Haenel plant. Both US and British intelligence interviewed Schmeisser and other weapon engineers and then simply left Schmeisser, his professional colleagues and the complete Haenel Sturmgewehr factory behind to be mopped up by the Soviets. Occupying Suhl in June, 1945, the Russians seized not only Hugo Schmeisser and his fellow engineers but also all the production drawings and tooling necessary for the manufacture of the Sturmgewehr and shipped them back to the Motherland. Schmeisser and associates were immediately relocated to the arms center of Izhevsk, where, just by chance, Kalashnikov was working on the AK-47 design. Schmeisser worked for six years at Izhevsk, a top-security “closed” city, before being liberated to Communist East Germany in 1952. Secretly questioned by US intelligence, Schmeisser apparently never divulged any information about his captivedesigner years in Izhevsk before dying in 1953. Secret Weapon Another intriguing side story is that although the AK-47 was first issued to Soviet troops in 1949, Western intelligence did not learn of its existence until the Soviet crackdown on Hungary in 1956. Apparently, the mere existence of the AK-47 was so secret troops were trained to carry their AKs in canvas cases until they deployed them. The troops were also admonished to police up every single piece of fired brass lest it fall into the A 100-percent blend of Americanmade parts adds up to a good looking, accurate AK variant. 32 WWW.GUNSMAGAZINE.COM • SEPTEMBER 2010

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