Nuclear weapons are seen by many as the deadliest weapon ever made, producing around 200,000 casualties during the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (1). However, this is not the deadliest military invention made. At least not if the total number of casualties is used as a guide. Mikhail Kalashnikov is the deadliest inventor to ever exist. AK-47s and their variants have been used to kill millions of people and around 250,000 people die from wounds inflicted by these weapons every year (2). It is estimated that around 100 million have been produced and it continues to be produced in over 20 countries, China is the country that produces the most. It is predominantly used in more than 50 militaries in the world (3). That being said, the inventor passed away without ever seeing any type of monetary compensation. This is to be expected as it was a Soviet that designed the weapon. It is known that depending on the country of origin, this rifle could be purchased for as little as $10. But, how much does it cost to acquire an AK-47 now that Russia no longer produces them and manufacturing has shifted to other countries?
The question becomes irrelevant as it is not countries and formal militaries that represent the issue. Those are the main buyers of these newly produced weapons. It is the sale of the AK-47 in zones of conflict through the black market. The chart below (4) depicts how accessibility to these rifles is still possible, and depending on where you attempt to get it, the price fluctuates. However, an AK-47 can be bought for as little as $600 on the black market.
However, it is fascinating that Mikhail Kalashnikov expressed that he never had an interest in receiving compensation for his invention and that this was something done purely out of duty to his country. He also expressed before his death is that he regretted creating the rifle as so many people died at the hands of people carrying it (6). Without foreseeing the magnitude of the impact the Ak-47 would have in international conflicts, Mikhail Kalashnikov created perhaps a best seller when it comes to the arms trade.