Just one year after the death of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the legendary inventor of the world's most popular rifle, the company that bears his name is reportedly looking to put down stakes in the United States in hopes of cashing in on the American appetite for the rugged semi-auto and circumvent sanctions that bar its imports.
MarketWatch.com reports that RWC Group, the licensed importer of Russian AK-47-style firearms, is looking to form a new company called Kalashnikov USA to produce and distribute the guns in America following the sanctions past last July which have stopped new Russian-made AKs from entering the country. The sanctions were passed in response to the continuing conflict and unrest in Ukraine.
RWC Group is located in Tullytown, Pennsylvania, but is apparently in negotiations with at least three U.S. states about a location for an AK production plant. The states were not named.
Jim Kelly has been named the production manager for Kalashnikov USA and was at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas to see reactions to the range of guns on display at a Kalashnikov USA booth.
"The change in U.S. foreign policy has forced us to redefine our business model, going from one of an importer to a U.S. manufacturer of the iconic products that are rooted in world history," RWC said in a statement. "We are committed to preserving the traditions of quality, reliability, simplicity of design, and ruggedness, while utilizing all of the technological advancements of the 21st century."
The new company sounds like it plans to hit the ground running. Thomas McCrossin, CEO of RWC, told CNNMoney at SHOT that the production is going to begin in the second quarter of 2015.
It remains to be seen where Kalashnikov USA sets up shop, if they do, in fact, set up shop. The sanctions prevent any contact with the Russian manufacturers, so it will be interesting to review the new rifles and see how they stack up against their Russian-built counterparts.
AK prices have soared as demand has risen and supplies have run low since the sanctions were announced. This move may help keep guns on the shelves and AK shooters happy.