AK-47The Avtomat Kalashnikova obrazets 1974g and its successors have an enviable reputation for reliability, especially under adverse conditions. There are a number of reasons for this, and we’ll go into them in some depth here. First, though, let’s say what is not a cause:

  • It’s not because of blind luck.
  • It’s not because the weapon is orders of magnitude better than its worldwide competitors. Indeed, by the end of WWII a very high standard of reliability had come to be expected, and weapons that did not meet this standard were mercilessly eliminated, like the Johnson M1941 and the Tokarev SVT.
  • Mikhail KalashikovIt’s not because Kalashnikov the man had genius that was lacking in other men. His competitors in the field, from Browning, to the Mauser-werke engineers of the 1940s to Stoner, were certainly men of genius as well. (Heck, so were Tokarev and Johnson). He’d have been the first to tell you he was just a thinking engineer.
  • It’s not because of breakthroughs. Almost every feature of the AK is recycled from somewhere else. What Kalashnikov did was synthesize them in a new way.

The Kalashnikov rifle is not, in fact, a universally superior design. Compared to its worldwide competitors (the FN SAFN and FAL, the CETME and G3, the M14 and M16 series, to name the most important), it is less accurate, less flexible/adaptable, and less ergonomic than every other. It offers less practical range than any other; and at the other extreme of range, it is the worst bayonet handle. It weighs more than some, has the heaviest magazines by far, and has an inferior weight-to-firepower ratio to most. It is inaccurate from the shoulder in full-automatic fire, yet it is designed to be fired, preferentially, on full automatic.

The strengths of the AK have overcome these deficiencies to make it incredibly common worldwide. Those strengths, compared to its competitors, include a somewhat lighter weight of ammunition, a larger standard magazine, great simplicity of operation and ease of manufacture, and that vaunted reliability, perhaps its most salient characteristic.

Design features of the AK which contribute to its reliability include:

1. Simplicity

The AK is almost as simple as a hammer. It is simple to build and manufacture (we’ll go into some specifics below). It uses no space-age materials, not even any aeronautical technology, just 19th-Century steel and iron and wood. (Much later, Kalashnikovs would have composite magazines and composite furniture. The US put composite stocks on BARs by 1944, and had them ready for the M1 and M14 in the 1950s, but an AK would not have a composite stock in its home nation for another forty years). There is no advanced machinery needed to produce an AK — indeed, one can be built (and they have been built) with hand tools and no precision measuring equipment, not even a micrometer. The rifle itself has no parts that cannot be filed, ground or machined from steel, or hammered from sheet metal, or riveted or welded from parts made this way. Most auto repair shops have the tools needed to build an AK, apart from rifling the barrel; the necessary materials are in the same shop’s scrap pile.

The AK’s operating system is simple and proven, a long-stroke gas piston system and a rotating bolt. Unlike the dainty bolt of the AR system (lifted itself from the M1941 Johnson) with its 7 precision locking lugs (and one false lug on the extractor), the AK bolt has two locking lugs, oversized, overstrong, and remarkably tolerant of undersized contact patches with the locking recesses of the trunnion. (Factory AKs have wide disparities here, especially those made by some of the more slipshod non-Russian, non-Chinese factories. The guns all seem to headspace correctly, operate normally, and fire reliably).

The AK does have one part that is a highly complex weldment: the magazine. The magazine and the feed path in general is very simple, straightforward, and repeatable, which is why the mag clearly got a lot of engineering hours. Gun designer David Findlay, who’s worked at Remington, Marlin, H&R 1871, and Smith & Wesson, says**:

Feed-system design, though, is one of the most important aspects of any weapons performance. A great deal of testing must be done to ensure good performance. Small variations and subtleties in magazine dimensions can have enormous impact on gun reliability and function.

Findlay wrote these words in explaining the engineering of the feed path of the Thompson Submachine Gun, but they’re generally applicable, and go a long way to explaining why Mikhail Kalashnikov lavished so much care on the magazine design. The fact that the receiver of the AK has received many modifications, but that the only change to the magazine is in reinforcing ribs and later magazine-body materials seems to hint he got it right.

An old engineer’s quip is that the designer’s objective is to “simplicate and add lightness.” (This has been attributed, among others, to automotive engineer Colin Chapman and aerospace engineer Burt Rutan). Mikhail Kalashnikov started off by “simplicating” most of the potential for trouble out of his design. (He didn’t make “adding lightness” a priority).

2. Environmental protection

Every designer has long known that foreign matter — mud, dust, and what have you — are the bitter enemies of reliable function in the short term, and that corrosion, rust, is the long-term destroyer of gun reliability. If you examine an AK you will see that it’s hard for foreign matter to intrude into, say, a dropped rifle. The safety, modeled loosely on that of the Remington Model 8 (a Browning design), does double duty in sealing the gap between the receiver and the nonstructural receiver cover. In operation, the charging handle, which is part of the bolt carrier, reciprocates in the open slot that the safety/selector seals shut. That seal and the lack of other large entrees into the receiver keep the interior clean.

Unlike Browning or Stoner, Kalashnikov was limited by the Soviet industrial base; he couldn’t call out exotic materials or sophisticated protective treatments, so early AKs were all steel and rust blued, an attractive finish that was weak at preventing corrosion. Some critical parts, though, notably the gas port area, the gas piston, and the bore, received hard chrome plating, and the weapon is designed in such a way that rust or pitting on other parts just does not matter in terms of reliable function or accuracy. It’s not unusual to find AKs in the field with all kinds of surface rust and pitting on their exteriors, only to find that the vitals, protected by chrome plating, have held up, and the guns still shoot within the modest (and sufficient) standards of a new AK.

3. Lack of small, dainty (and fragile) parts

A field-stripped AK contains nothing you’ll need to grope for if you drop it in tall grass (or mud, or a stream) in the dark. The pieces are big and robust, deliberately so, and this philosophy extends to the internals.

heartbreak ridge AK47 2

Nothin’ dainty about it.

The story of the development of any weapon you care to name involves interesting (and sometimes distressing) breakages. The FN, for example, was prone to firing-pin failures (the answer, which took the experts of three countries to fix, was to reduce the hardness of the part, as measured on the Rockwell C scale, and to shot-peen its surfaces: problem solved). The very first AR-10 tested by the US government had a bullet emerge from the side of the barrel in testing, not exactly a confidence-builder. (They gave up on an AL alloy barrel with a steel liner, then, which neutralized the gun’s weight advantage over the extant M14). Indeed, the AR-10 had terrible problems well into its development and production, and the Portuguese were still solving problems with it during their colonial wars in the 1970s. Many of those same problems, and a set of new ones, struck during development and production of the M16. The AK presumably had problems with these, but because the information was closely held at the time, archives have not fully opened, and most of the principals passed on without leaving technical memoirs, we know about only a few of them (for example, the failure of the first model stamped receivers, which caused a change to a machined-from-billet receiver).

The internals, though, seem to have been robust from the very beginning. Kalashnikov’s point of departure was the Garand trigger group, which itself borrowed from Browning. (Stoner would choose that same point of departure). This is part of the brilliance of the design: he wasn’t inventing for the sheer joy of inventing, but to make something that worked. That means, where he didn’t have a way of doing it better than someone else, he borrowed happily.

Borrowing aside, the Kalashnikov’s departures from Garand practice (apart from those required to render the weapon selective-fire, and to improve the Garand’s sub-optimal safety) showed a lot of interest in making things sturdier. The hammer spring, for instance, is made of two wires coiled together, giving some small redundancy; it also does double-duty in the AK as the trigger return spring.

4. Minimal use of tight tolerances

There are some parts of a gun that absolutely must fight tightly to ensure accurate, safe, and yes, reliable operation. On the AK, almost all of those are permanently assembled at the factory (the barrel into the trunnion, for example). The trigger mechanism is designed with a lot of slop and play in it, which is why AKs have that typically very long, smooth trigger pull with a surprise let-off (SKSes are similar), but it isn’t that way to manage the trigger pull: it’s there so the mechanism will be positive and safe the first time and the 1,000,000th time.

The only moving parts with truly tight tolerances are the fit of the bolt lugs into the trunnion, which affects headspace. For safety and accuracy headspace has to be right on. But the non-bearing surfaces in the trunnion are opened up enough that dust and dirt has somewhere to pack into, other than interfere with the tight fight of bolt to trunnion. John Garand considered the wise use of tolerances key to the legendary reliability of the M1*. Like the AK, its only critical tolerances in the operating mechanism come from the interface of the lugs of the rotating bolt with the mating recesses of the receiver. 

5. Use of very loose tolerances everywhere else

Garand deliberately eschewed the use of a bolt carrier in place of an operating rod. He considered the competing bolt carrier and tipping bolt design (as used in Tokarev, Simonov and FN rifles) more troublesome both in production and in service because they had more critical tolerances. While the AK uses a bolt carrier, its fit to the bolt and receiver is if anything even less critical and looser than Garand’s op-rod.

What Rayle (and Garand) thought of as an innate flaw in bolt-carrier vs, op-rod systems, the need for precision tolerances both on the locking/headspacing feature of the bolt and its receiver, and also on the interface of the bolt with the bolt carrier, turns out to be an innate flaw in the Browning (Tokarev, Simonov, Saive, Vervier, etc). tipping bolt. The AK’s bolt can interface with its carrier just as loosely as the M1s does with its operating rod, with no harm to the functioning of the rifle.

This is not to say that nothing on the AK is manufactured with precision. (That would be the STEN). The beauty of the AK, from an engineering design viewpoint, is that nothing is manufactured with unnecessary precision.

To Sum Up

aklgcolcopyThese things, taken together, suggest that the AK is narrowcast at its original role as a submachine gun replacement for the semi-literate peasant conscript army of a nation lacking depth in precision manufacturing. It was the perfect gun for the Red Army in World War II, even if it came a little too late. It was also, therefore, the perfect gun for the continuation Soviet Army.

Unlike the service rifles of the USA or Germany, or the first-generation battle rifles of the West in the 1950s, the AK was manufactured without an excess of precision which limited its adaptability as, say, a sniper rifle. (The AK’s then-unique use of an intermediate cartridge also did this). But it suited Soviet doctrine of mass attacks and mass fires well. Unlike the NATO rifleman, the Soviet soldier, although instructed in semiautomatic fire on ranges, was also extensively drilled in live-fire obstacle courses, and was expected to run them firing on full-automatic, from the hip. He was the heir of the submachine-gun battalions of the Battle of Berlin, and planned to fight the same way, as mechanized infantry guarding the flanks and securing the obstacle-ridden forests and towns to enable the great tank attack. Hence, the first click off safety on an AK is full-auto, contrary to every successful NATO selective-fire rifle.

The same adaptations, design decisions, and production practicality that made the AK a perfect replacement for Ivan’s retired PPSh submachine guns, made the AK a perfect weapon for terrorist groups, “national liberation” movements, and under-resourced armies of newly free colonies worldwide.

Like the Mauser before it, the AK is a universal gun. And like the Mauser, the AK will be with us until something better supplants it. And “better,” in this case, will be defined by history and by nations, not necessarily by gun experts.


* John Garand’s comments come from Rayle, Roy E. Random Shots: Episodes in the Life of a Weapons Designer. 

** Findlay, David S. Firearm Anatomy: Book I: The Thompson M1A1 Submachine Gun. p. 76. San Bernardino, CA, 2013: Findlay, David S.

This entry was posted in Foreign and Enemy Weapons, GunTech, Industry, Rifles and Carbines on by Hognose.

About Hognose

Former Special Forces 11B2S, later 18B, weapons man. (Also served in intelligence and operations jobs in SF).

15 thoughts on “5 Reasons for the AK’s Legendary Reliability


47g and successors!

i hope this means you had a good holiday!

i think the bolt and bolt carrier of the AK are pretty hard to make by hand, AR bolt and bolt carrier are much simpler (if you have the coordinates for the cam slot) … i would like to see an analysis of the actual historical impact of the AK versus it’s reputation, in comparison with other weapons from history… i can’t wait to see what the recovered kalashnikov comes up with in the 21st century, genius knows no boundaries!


Only in the last couple years have I become appreciative of the AK. I own two, both Arsenals. One in 7.62mm and one in 5.56mm. Thank you for your very interesting essay on the AK. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Best to you in the coming new year.


I had never given much thought to the design of the AK magazine (although I couldn’t help but notice how heavy the dang thigns are), but now that you mention it, it is exceptionally robust and reliable. I’ve never had any feeding problems with my Yugo AK, using a wide variety of beat up surplus mags (Yugo, Romanian, Russian, Polish, you name it). While I much prefer the AR system for its ergonomics, accuracy, weight and trigger, I’ve had a couple of feeding issues over the years, usually with the cheap knock-off mags but even with good quality mags like D&H.


OK, maybe I’ve finally found one of the guys who might know who it was that put this out:

“Hence, the first click off safety on an AK is full-auto, contrary to every successful NATO selective-fire rifle.”

Someone taught someone this in the US Army, and this bit of erroneous information has spread like wildfire throughout the Army. Hell, I taught it myself whenever I was doing foreign weapons familiarization training for my unit.

Small problem, though: It’s completely wrong.

I was doing one of these classes with borrowed weapons down at the NTC for another unit, and after the class a very polite young man came up to me, wearing a US Army uniform, and with the thickest Yakov Smirnov-like accent you ever heard, he politely tells me I’m full of shit. About more than a few things, too, and one of the ones he described to me as being outright wrong was that thing about the safety. Soviet troops were trained to sweep that safety all the way down, as vigorously as possible, so that the default was always semi-auto. You were supposed to sweep down with your hand, and then go one click back up if you wanted full-auto. When you stop and think about it, it actually makes sense-That safety requires some fairly hefty gross motor skill movements, unlike the M16 and other weapons, so the designers wanted the default to be what was at the bottom of the positions. If they’d have wanted full-auto as the default, that would be the bottom position.

Oh, and that young man with the thick Russian accent? Former Red Army Motorized Rifle soldier, who’d emigrated to the US soon after the fall of the Berlin wall. Per the story I got, someone in his family had done something significant for our Embassy over there, and they’d all gotten preferential treatment and expedited green cards. And, for some ungodly reason, he chose to enlist in the US Army-I think the motivation was paying his own way through college, and he figured the US Army would be an interesting way to do it. His recruiter must have had fun, is all I can say…


I think you mean “clearances” when you say “tolerances”. A common mistake; just figured I’d point it out.


As a former mechanical engineering student (graduated yes & passed EIT too! – but chose/was destined for dis-similar professions) I am curious to hear what the significant differences between the two terms would be? If I was going to make any complaints about the weaponsman blog, it would be that I frequently (I think AT LEAST one out of three posts) find small typographical errors (I think usually an “autocorrect” style of improper word placement, for example) but instead of encouraging “more perfect” compositions, I am amazed at how much engrossing material is constantly appearing, and prefer to take the imperfect articles with insightful information which has become the first source of leisure reading I turn to whenever I have the chance (and many of the reader comments have often proven to be equally engrossing!) FWIW, I would argue that “tolerances” (from the manufacturing aspect) is completely appropriate, although “clearances” may indeed be more technically accurate on the basis of design criteria?

Bill K

Forgive me if I err, but I always thought ‘clearances’ were necessary spaces or gaps, often necessary for the smooth movements of parts, such as, “This piston has a 0.010″ clearance between its circumference and the cylinder block”, whereas ‘tolerances’ were permissible size variations in manufacturing, such as “This piston shall be machined to 2.550″ +/- 0.001″ diameter.”

Granted, if the tolerance were larger than the clearance, there would be a possibility that such a piston would not even fit inside its cylinder, but in many machines, tolerances could be considerably tighter than clearances for purposes of precise operation. When I was a kid, I used to help Dad make optical grinding and polishing machines for our own use in producing fused quartz lenses used by TV manufacturing businesses such as Zenith and Sylvania. The lens blueprints always used to come with tolerance figures of +/- 0.001″ but my understanding was that they fit inside a frame that had a clearance larger than that.

Your thoughts? I picked this up by apprenticeship, not by formal training.


Bill K – thank you for that very accurate description of tolerance vs. clearance. As I mentioned in my previous post, I agree that “clearances” is the arguably more correct term than “tolerances” but my concern was that Hognose’s posting volume might decrease due to an increase use of his time revising his posts for the most correct composition possible that would be above ANY reproach of any critics (and I thank god that grammatical & typographical critics appears absent in that particular regard) It might be noteworthy to point out that Hognose has not yet re-edited the original post, although due to the “age” of the post, it would seem a matter of “diminishing returns” to spend the time to do so.

And of course, I know nothing of “Nathaniel”… maybe he is a precision machinist with 30+ years of hands on experience, and as I reconsider, I imagine Hognose is happy to now be better informed (reminded in my case) on the specific differences between manufacturing tolerances and assembled clearances, and perhaps mildly amused and what I reconsider to be a possible “knee-jerk” over-reaction on my part?

While I am typing and thinking about it, I would take this moment to complain that the current method of posting and commenting is discouraging to ongoing dialogue, because there is no “easy” method of indication that additional comments have been made… I revisited this post to see if any further information had appeared regarding the Norway/USSR AK-47 connection, and noticed my clearance/tolerance complaint hand generated further commentary. It was a slight chore to manually search back to return to post that is less than a month old but * felt * like ancient history… I wonder if anyone besides Hognose will ever read this comment? (but I am still happy to surf on in, read as much as I can, comment if I have the time, and not complain too loudly because it’s still my most favorite internet site none-the-less!)

Hognose Post author

Well, I did read it. It seems that I used the wrong word because I was thinking about the Tolerance Study that was, when US Arsenals developed weapons, part of the systematic transition from design/prototyping to serial manufacture.

Prototype guns are made with different tools and processes than are used for mass production — this was probably even more true in the 1930-70 heyday of mass gun manufacture than it is today. The tolerances that mass production machinery can hold (and definitely could hold in those days) can’t equal the tolerances of one-off parts made by single experts on toolroom machinery. Also, restrictive tolerances lead to narrow inspection windows and very large scrap & rework percentages. So the production engineers (as I understand it) review the design and see where they can relax tolerances without affecting performance.(That’s not the only thing they review). The Tolerance Study is a paper analysis of what happens when tolerances stack up — in other words, it’s a paper proof that any combination of the edge conditions of acceptable tolerance lead to parts that can be assembled and will work together — with acceptable clearances.

The AK manufacturing technical data package (drawings, jigs, specialty gages, measuring tools, etc) is geared to production without high-precision capabilities either in manufacture or measurement. This is why people who produce AKs using cottage industry procedures (like the shanty gunsmiths of Darra Adam Khel or the Philippines) generally do better than half-assed companies (like Vulcan/Hesse) do when they try to produce ARs. The AR was designed with aerospace production technology in mind, the AK was designed with tractor production technology in mind.

The parts that look hard to shape were originally made by broaching or special tools on horizontal milling machines, so all the genius was in the tool itself and the worker was just a loading and unloading robot, mostly.

I can’t remember if this was the thread where someone commented on the loose GI requirements for accuracy on the M16A2. (They’re even looser than that, because an M16 is not deadlined until it can’t shoot 7 MOA from a rest). An average, new M16 with the correct ammunition is a couple-MOA gun over iron sights. In our experience the guns were much better than minimum spec. We made 600m shots on humans with the M4A1, and these were not select guns, just a very well sighted-in 4x scope. (Now, we weren’t making one-shot cold-bore headshots at 600m or anything like that. That’s fiction; I’m talking about practical accuracy. We were getting minute-of-hadji in several shots). The AR platform is capable of much greater accuracy than that, when “improved” at the price of some sacrifice of its other martial virtues. But it’s no accident that the M1A’s era has come and gone in High Power and Service Rifle competition.

Thanks to all that have schooled me on this kind of thing. I greatly enjoy the comments (especially critical comments!) and I share your frustration with lack of flagging of new comments. Any reader who knows how to do this in WordPress (maybe there’s a magic plugin?) let me know. If we come up with something, I might even return to allowing comments on old posts, because some posts have a very long tail of readers (some posts from two years ago are still often read). I’m pretty sure any kind of new-since-last-visit would have to place a cookie on your PC, though.


In around 2002 I attended a lecture by a staff member of the Norwegian Armed Forces Museum about the guns produced by the Kongsberg Weapons Factory in Norway. These included the Krag-Jørgensen rifle used by the United States Army in the late 19th century. The most fascinating part of the lecture was about a Kongsberg assault rifle design that never went into production after WW2 – by then Norway was in NATO and agreed to use US equipment. However the Norwegian design was patented all over Europe, including some of the East European countries. The lecturer said that if you overlay drawings of the mechanisms in the Norwegian design and the AK-47, they match exactly.

Fascinating! But I’ve never heard any more on this topic. I suspect that the Norwegians, who fancy themselves as peace brokers to the world, would rather not have it widely known that they are ultimately responsible for a device that has caused so much mayhem.


That is quite a revelational claim you are making, and at the same time, it would be very interesting to research the development stages to compare which design truly came before the other???

Hognose Post author

I think I would have liked to sit in on that lecture, although I’d have struggled if it were in Norwegian (I can read it OK). I came up completely blank on the weapon you’re referring to. My go-to site on Norwegian arms only goes up to 1945:

http://norskevaapen.no/ (in English, mercifully)

And Ian hasn’t got any such thing at Forgotten Weapons:


I seem to recall a Danish or Swedish experimental assault rifle that was fundamentally an AK in 5.56 (very reminiscent of the 5.56 Valmet, actually). Ah, here it is on Max’s site:


The version of this Madsen took to shows in the 1970s and 80s was more updated, and 5.56. That’s definitely the gun I was thinking of. It went head-to-head with the very similar Valmet M62 in Finland and lost. Supposedly they had some small sales in the Persian Gulf.

Norway is a very small country with a scattered population, so it’s remarkable that they have produced the guns they have. What’s the population even now, four millions? After WWII the Germans left some 2 million small arms behind and they equipped the Heimevernet for decades, even as the full-time professional cadre/conscript troops Army got newer weapons made at Kongsberg.

Early in the Afghanistan war, NORSOF was using M4s (or C8s) and now the whole army has reequipped, mostly with HK416s. Not sure if they are made locally or not.


The story I heard was that the Madsen company had done extensive work on an assault rifle during the war, and immediately after, and that design was what the AK and the later Madsen LAR were both based on.

I’ve never seen a damn thing to corroborate that, in print or on the internet. Most of the places I’ve found that story were bulletin boards, or places like this, in the comments.

It’s like the “rumor” that the AK is actually based on German designs, which sort of looks “right”, especially when you consider where (Izhevsk) the Soviets put Schmeisser and the rest of the Gustloffswerke team, and when they were there.

Personally, I don’t see a damn thing in the AK basic design that says “German-derived”. If anything, it’s typically Soviet: Inelegant, rough-hewn, and very durable. Where I think the German contribution came in was with the production engineering. In other words, the Soviets didn’t use the Germans to design the weapon, they used the Germans to design the machinery to make the weapons. And, notably, there’s an interesting congruency: The shift from the first-pattern stamped AK receiver to a fully-machined one happened right about the time the Germans were shipped back home.

From the evidence, and the fact that the Soviets were not stupid people, I have to conclude that the most likely use of the Gustloffswerke team was in the production engineering, and that when they left, the Soviets were unable to replicate their success at stamping the AK out. More than likely, there was a bit of German recalcitrance involved, and maybe even some sabotage.

The first-variant stamped receivers were not, as rumored, less durable or more defective. The issue was that the rate of rejection during manufacture went way up after the Germans left, making manufacture of the weapon very cost-prohibitive. Prohibitive enough that it was easier to machine the damn receivers out of bar stock…

Hognose Post author

Where I think the German contribution came in was with the production engineering. In other words, the Soviets didn’t use the Germans to design the weapon, they used the Germans to design the machinery to make the weapons. And, notably, there’s an interesting congruency: The shift from the first-pattern stamped AK receiver to a fully-machined one happened right about the time the Germans were shipped back home.

My team captured several of those first-pattern AKs in 2002/3. They were all dated 1949 or 50. And still working given a half century of Russian -> Afghan Army -> Warlord/muj/taliban maintenance, or lack of any.

The Germans (like the USA) had a modern auto industry and was better able to adapt stampings to gun manufacture than Britain or France, which were more cottage-industry oriented then, or the USSR, which had large industrial plants that were foreign-designed and still understaffed with good native engineers.

Japan was very much a cottage industry war production system. Despite that, they used some very innovative sheet metal practices on their aircraft. A lot of the brackets that would be a machined steel weldment or a machined aluminum forging in the USA were built up from layers of sheet or plate aluminum in Japan. Very cool technology. But they never applied it to small arms. For one thing, all their bauxite was imported so they weren’t going to waste it on things that needn’t fly.

Hognose Post author

I just realized that my second graf above suggests that Russian maint and Afghan are somehow equivalent. In my experience, Russian small arms maintenance at all levels is extremely professional and the guns that Russian armorers have put in their soldiers’ hands, whether under the Tsars, the Commisars, or whatever you’d call their current oligharchical form of government, have been well-serviced and ready, and their soldiers have always been well-trained and disciplined about first-echelon maintenance.

They sometimes had a challenge producing enough small arms for Russia’s massive armies (especially in WWI), but that’s a different issue.

Just as we do, sometimes, the Russian advisors who assist and assisted various third world armies often despair over their trainees’ resistance to preventative maintenance concepts and practices.