Izhevsk, Russia — The nickname of this town, home of the factory that makes Kalashnikov rifles, is the “Armory of Russia.” Over the years, it has armed a good number of other countries, too, as the lathes and presses of the Izhevsk Machine Works clanged around the clock to forge AK-47s and similar guns for insurgents and armies around the world.
American hunters and gun enthusiasts are snapping up tens of thousands of Kalashnikov rifles and shotguns. Demand is so brisk that the factory has shifted its focus from military to civilian manufacture over the last two years. United States sales of the civilian versions, sold under the brand name Saiga, rose by 50 percent last year, according to officials at the factory, known as Izhmash.
Overall, the United States is the world’s biggest market for civilian guns.