"The production of the Kalashnikov Concern has traditionally maintained its leadership positions on the American market. The introduction of sanctions has substantially increased interest in the Concern's production, and we believe that such a move on the part of the RWC [Russian Weapons Company] is completely logical under the present circumstances. We can only note that such a step once again highlights the popularity of the legendary AK assault rifle," a spokesperson for the company said.
Tullytown, Pennsylvania-based RWC Group, the official importer and distributor of Kalashnikov automatic and carbine rifles, had announced on Tuesday at the SHOT Show in Las Vegas that they would open an AK factory in the US in the second quarter of this year, which would produce AK-47s and Kalashnikov-brand shotguns. The Kalashnikov USA booth at SHOT features the slogans "Russian Heritage" and "Made in USA."
RWC CEO Thomas McCrossin told CNN Money that the sanctions have meant that he is not even "permitted to pick up the phone and to talk to them."
McCrossin told CNN Money that the factory would seek to compensate for the loss of supplies from Russia. He noted that while he has "a lot of inventory on my shelf bought and paid for" at present, "when the inventory goes down to zero, there are no more."
Last year, RWC became the exclusive distributor of Kalashnikov-brand rifles in the North American market, its contract allowing the company to import up to 200,000 rifles per year to the US and Canada.
Asked to comment on the American company's plans, Tatiana Kalashnikova, daughter of Mikhail Kalashnikov, the chief designer of the AK-47, noted that more than anything, it was "astonishing."
Kalashnikov Concern, formerly known as the Izhevsk-Machine Building Plant (IzhMash), was founded in 1807 and manufactures weapons and vehicles. Today, in addition to the manufacture of assault rifles, it also produces cannons, missiles, and guided artillery shells. In the 20th century, the plant also produced motorcycles, passenger cars, and various metallurgical products.