Lead: Originally designed to help the Soviet army best the Germans in World War II, the AK-47 has become the weapon of choice for insurgent forces world-wide.

Intro: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts

Content: An automatic weapon, in particular the AK-47, has a relatively simple operating mechanism. When a firing pin hits the cartridge primer, the exploding gunpowder creates a wave of gas which propels the bullet out of the barrel at enormous speed. Caught between the bullet and the cartridge, the gas builds up pressure because it has no place to go. Near the muzzle there is a small opening which bleeds off some of the gas into a tube above or below the barrel. The pressure of the gas in the tube pushes the bolt backward, ejecting the spent cartridge and opening the firing chamber to receive a fresh cartridge from the magazine which is pushed upward into the chamber by a spring. As long as the trigger is depressed, the process repeats itself over and over.