Ever since New York Times reporter C.J. Chivers published his book on the history and global impact of the Kalashnikov assault rifle, he's been following up on the world-famous AK-47's role in history. Today, Chivers has reported out a little-known use for the most common weapon in modern production: it is very good at opening beer bottles.
Chivers' source is professional photographer Ryan Conaty, who emails to describe a recent reporting trip to Nicaragua. While following a World Bank official's trip into rural Nicaragua, during which time they were escorted by the local military, Conaty and colleagues took a break to drink a few beers, as one often does while killing time in very hot climates. He recounts:
In preparation for the long ride over dirt roads we packed a cooler of beer but we’d forgotten a bottle opener. As we tried to figure out a solution one of the solders (who’d clearly encountered the problem before) realized our situation, picked up his rifle and called us over. I’ve attached the picture I took of our savior with his AK in action.
In the photo, which you can see here, a soldier cheerfully uses his rifle sight to open the beer. But it turns out that this is not just a Nicaraguan phenomenon. Another of the many dozens of national armies who carry the Kalashnikov had done the same thing -- Finland's. Chivers relates one of what seems to be a bottomless well of AK-47-related anecdotes he keeps locked in his brain:
This reminds me of a similar story, in which the Finnish Army recalled from service and replaced the magazines issued for their Kalashnikov knock-offs because Finnish troops were using them to pry the tops from bottles of beer, too. Such service was damaging the magazines, prompting a new design to be worked in which the magazines could not be applied, to borrow a non-proliferation term, to this dual use.
Chivers concludes with a note advising readers -- in case they happen to own an AK-47 -- note to use it as a bottle opener, and if they do, to at least remove the magazine first.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.