Al Jazeera's Josh Rushing examines the lethal power and deadly legacy of one of the world's most popular weapons.

The AK-47 kills 250,000 people every year. It is cheap, you can find it everywhere, it has changed the face of war and it has allowed ragtag militias to challenge the armies of major powers.

It is so durable that when it gets dirty and wet it keeps on firing. It is so simple even a child can operate it, which has made the training of child soldiers more feasible. 

Al Jazeera's Josh Rushing holding an AK-47 gun
This gun can be bought and sold in bazaars the world over. It is the weapon of choice of drug dealers and criminals and is the symbol of revolutionaries. It is a gun that can be purchased in some countries for the price of a bag of corn and the fluctuations in its price can be a predictor of coming strife. 

The AK-47 is the real weapon of mass destruction.

In the 1980s the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) bought AK-47s from China - hundreds of millions of dollars worth - and shipped them to mujahidin fighting the then Soviet Union. 

This act has been called the single most important contribution to the weapon's spread.

Rows of new AK-47 guns
Josh Rushing interviews Mikhail Kalashnikov, the gun's designer, on the occasion of its 60th anniversary. Kalashnikov talks about whether he feels guilt that the rifle he hoped would defend his motherland is now used in so many conflicts around the world. We also take you inside the original AK-47 factory in Russia.

The principal associate of Viktor Bout, the worlds biggest and most notorious arms dealer often nicknamed the Merchant of Death, talks to Josh about his role in running guns to conflicts in Africa and the Middle East.

And a former child soldier from Sierra Leone discusses how the AK-47 transformed his life and became both his protector and his source of power.

Watch AK-47 here:

Part 1:

Part 2:

AK-47 airs from 13 October 2007 at the following times GMT:

Saturday - 14.30, 22.30
Sunday - 02.30, 12.30
Monday - 00.30, 07.30
Tuesday - 06.00, 13.30
Wednesday - 11.30, 19.30
Thursday - 05.30 Friday - 03.00, 16.30
Saturday - 06.30


To contact us click on 'Send your feedback' at the top of the page

Watch Al Jazeera English programmes on YouTube

Join our debates on the Your Views page