Today’s Pic of the Day isn’t a photo at all; it’s a drawing. The drawing was made in April of 1953 by a CIA agent who first saw the AK-47 rifle. It was reportedly done from memory.

In April of 1953, a hush-hush report landed on the desks of the CIA, marking the first whispers of a weapon that would redefine modern warfare: the AK-47. This enigmatic “submachine gun,” first spied on the fringes of Leningrad, was destined to become an icon across continents, from the hands of East German forces to the guerrilla fighters in Angola.

This groundbreaking report, unearthed by Kalashnikov Media and later highlighted by The Firearm Blog, dates back to April 29, 1953. It was penned by a CIA operative who, against all odds, got an up-close look at this then-clandestine firearm – quite a feat considering the shroud of secrecy that enveloped it. Although the agent’s identity and other specifics were scrubbed from the document when the CIA flung open its archives to the public in January 2017, the essence of his observations remained intact.

The scene, as painted by our mysterious agent, took place among the ranks of the Red Army’s Krasnoselskiy Guards, part of the legendary 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motor Rifle Division of today. Here, the AK-47 was in the grasp of seasoned soldiers, contrasting with the older PPSh submachine guns still in the hands of fresh recruits.

The description of this Soviet marvel was meticulous. The agent noted its 30-round magazine, a choice of a wooden or wire folding stock, and a distinctive handle grip. He delved into the mechanics, too, describing a gas-operated system with a metal tube that facilitated the bolt’s recoil and the ejection of spent cartridges. The design echoed the German StG-44 from WWII. The ammunition for the AK-47 was detailed as well, longer than the PPSh’s and with a more tapered tip.

Wrapped in layers of secrecy, this infantry weapon was virtually untouchable by recruits, its distribution limited to specific military districts like Leningrad and the Far East, away from prying eyes.