AK47s are banned for civilian use in the UK and are not in general use by the British military.

Strange then that 250,000 automatic weapons, including 100,000 Avtomat Kalashnikova 47s, were imported into this country last year, under licences granted by the Department of Trade and Industry. 

Where did they all go?

Amnesty International claims that the US Defence Department has used chains of arms brokers, including at least three UK firms, to channel the weapons to allies and military groups worldwide.

There are also suggestions that small batches of AKs are “skimmed-off” larger consignments, eventually finding their way into the hands of underworld armourers.

On Googling AK47 today I found two coded sites advertising Russian-made Kalashnikovs for around £2,500 a piece, and there are countless others selling “accessories”: efectively AK47 and variant components, from which, with the proper tooling and engineering skills, I have no doubt one could produce one’s own weapon.

General Mikhail Kalashnikov (retired), the inventor of what has become known as the world’s favourite killing machine, is now 86.

Here are some facts about his baby.

There are an estimated 100 million AK47s in the world today.

The rifle fires 600 rounds a minute, is accurate to 300 metres and lethal at up to 1,500 metres.

It is on general issue in 55 armies, and manufactured in 11 countries.

It’s appears on Hezbollah and Mozambique flags.

There have been 1 billion variants produced based on its design.

A Kalashnikov or variant kills 1,300 people each day.

It is the weapon of choice for criminals, terrorists and child soldiers.

Russia’s largest carmaker recently announced plans to manufacture an armoured military jeep version of the Lada – to be called the Kalashnikov.

Click here to watch a little video.