The AK-47 is perhaps one of the most iconic firearms on the planet.  The hearty design and famed reliability offered by the platform combined with the huge numbers of AK-47s produced by the Soviet Union during the cold war have made it a staple of many nations’ militaries.  Some have even gone so far as to call the AK-47, “the world’s most popular weapon.”

Russian Lieutenant General Mikhail Kalashnikov designed the first AK-47, and ever since that day the famous rifle has been inextricably tied to the Russian state in the minds of many – with the classic weapon and its banana shaped magazine conjuring images of Soviet might and mass manufacturing… but Ulrich “Uli” Wiegand, a German man who immigrated to the United States, wants his company to change that.  If he has his way, the best AK-47s in the world won’t illicit historic images of Cold War factories in Siberia… but rather of sunny Florida, right here in the United States.

“We are taking the best features of American manufacturing and infusing them into an AK-47, with one hundred percent American-made parts,” said Wiegand, who moved Inter Ordnance Inc. to Florida from North Carolina in 2013.

Some American based weapons manufacturers aren’t as impressed with Wiegand’s plans.  Thus far, he has invested about $5 million into his new AK-47 manufacturing facility, and according to his own estimates, he’ll need to invest an additional $3-5 million before the additional plant is up and running.  With such a significant initial investment required, his competition has been left wondering if there will be any room for profit once he begins selling the rifles.

Greg Frazee, the owner of Tampa, Florida based Trident Arms has been quoted as saying, “I don’t see that as a wise investment,” in regard to Wiegand’s plans.  According to him, the AK-47 sells within a niche market – one that may not be large enough to recoup the huge expense of the new production plant.  In his mind, sticking to the more popular American rifle platforms, such as the AR-15, offers a better chance at recouping an investment, and eventually turning a profit.

Frazee would likely be right, but it stands to reason that Wiegand has a trick or two up his sleeve when it comes to selling his American variation on the Russian classic.  Wiegan has a partner for his endeavor in the form of a company called Purple Shovel, which specializes in logistics and procurement with existing contracts with SOCOM – who just so happen to be in the market for AK-47s and other “non-standard” weapon systems.  The term “non-standard” in this case meaning weapons that are not currently in widespread use by the United States military or its NATO allies.

“For this solicitation, we are exploring capabilities and capacity within [the United States’] industrial base to build the types of weapons many of our foreign partners use,” said Navy Commander Matt Allen, a SOCOM spokesman.

Among the weapons SOCOM is looking to begin sourcing from within the United States is the AK-47.