Recently, I read a book, namely ‘The Gun’ by C J Chivers. While the book is mostly about the AK-47, it also covers some other automatic guns like the Gatling, Maxim and the M-16.
On reading this book, I realized that a ‘simple’ task of ‘making an automatic rifle’ has so many complications, including firepower, length, weight and work-ability in various conditions.
As per the book, the reason of the AK-47 being more prevalent across the world and in all conditions is its design and fact that not all components fit tightly in the assembly, leaving room for rugged use and in-the-field maintenance. (In fact, while writing this blog, I realized that this concept of maintainability on the field has a parallel in the Tiger tanks of World War II Germany. Apparently, those tanks were also far superior to many Allied tanks, but were prone to failure due to their sophistication and difficulty of maintenance in the field.)
I believe that the book should have included some schematics (in addition to photographs) of various guns that were covered in the book, in order to bring out the finer details of the weapon described. A schematic would help reader appreciate the finer points being shared by the author. On reading the book, I referred to Wikipedia for information on the AK-47, to understand the various aspects being described by the author.