The Cable

AK-47s Will Be Manufactured in Florida Beach Town

Kalashnikov USA will relocate to Pompano Beach.


Thanks to U.S. sanctions on Russia, a small Florida city is getting a boost to its local economy. Iconic Russian arms maker Kalashnikov is setting up a factory in Pompano Beach, where it will manufacture the line of its rifles that are available in the United States.

The Kalashnikov Concern, a major Russian defense firm and the maker of the ubiquitous AK-47 assault rifle, was among the Russian firms slapped with sanctions in 2014. As a result, the company’s U.S. subsidiary severed all ties with its Russian parent company.

By the time the sanctions were unveiled, Kalashnikov USA had planned to move its operation to Florida from its manufacturing operation in Pennsylvania. That move was accelerated by the Treasury Department’s penalties against the company, said Kalashnikov USA spokeswoman Laura Burgess.

Kalashnikov USA was established to help the Russian arms maker to import its wares to the United States. But the company switched to making weapons in America to get around the 2014 sanctions.

According to Burgess, the company hopes to have production up and running by the second quarter of this year. It is not yet clear how many workers Kalashnikov plans to hire in Florida, nor how many weapons the company plans to produce, Burgess said. The Pompano Beach factory will manufacture rifles — including variants of the AK-47 — and shotguns.

The AK-47 is the world’s most popular assault rifle and has served as a mainstay of armed conflict since its invention in 1947. Its large-scale production in the Soviet Union, ease of use, reliability, and price point has made it a favored weapon of armed forces, guerrillas, and terror groups worldwide. Al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden was rarely seen without a special forces-version of the AK-47 that was swiped from a dead Russian trooper during the Afghan war, and the weapon has become an instantly recognizable symbol of armed resistance.

Now, the modern incarnation of that rifle will be churned out on a Florida assembly line.


Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @EliasGroll

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