Mikhail Kalashnikov, AK-47 Inventor, Dies at 94

December 23, 2013 Updated: July 18, 2015

Mikhail Kalashnikov, the Russian inventor who created the AK-47 assault rifle, has died.

He was 94. Russian state TV on Monday said that he died, according to the BBC.

“Today news sad news has arrived that Mikhail Kalashnikov has died after a lengthy illness,”  Udmurtia administration Viktor Chulkov said in a statement obtained by RT. Kalashnikov was getting treatment for a heart condition at a plant where the rifles were being produced, RT said. He had been there since November.

He is most famous for designing the AK-47, AK-74, and the AKM assault rifles. The AK-47 is said to be responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths per year.

The AK-47–one of the most famous rifles in the world–is also one of the most popular. More than 100 million of the assault rifles were manufactured in 2009. The weapon was invented in 1947.

“I’m proud of my invention, but I’m sad that it is used by terrorists,” he said years ago. “I would prefer to have invented a machine that people could use and that would help farmers with their work – for example a lawnmower.”

According to a Washington Post opinion article in 2006, “The AK-47 has become the world’s most prolific and effective combat weapon, a device so cheap and simple that it can be bought in many countries for less than the cost of a live chicken. Depicted on the flag and currency of several countries, waved by guerrillas and rebels everywhere, the AK is responsible for about a quarter-million deaths every year.”

“It is the firearm of choice for at least 50 legitimate standing armies and countless fighting forces from Africa and the Middle East to Central America and Los Angeles. It has become a cultural icon, its signature form — that banana-shaped magazine — defining in our consciousness the contours of a deadly weapon.”