When we think of things associated with Egypt, the country’s assault rifles usually aren’t one of them. But the Egyptian AK 47 has made shockwaves worldwide.
The Egyptian Maadi is a unique and highly sought-after AKM variant born in the heat of the Cold War.
You see, the various sanctions slapped on Russia by the U.S. in the wake of the War in Ukraine have made getting hold of a proper Soviet-made AK a tough task in the U.S.
So for many Americans, the Egyptian AK47 is pretty much the next best thing due to it being extremely similar, although equally distinct, to the original Soviet AKM.
Ok, but enough teasing. By now, you’re probably thinking, how the hell did the Kalashnikov end up being made in Egypt? Well, let me explain. It’s a wild story!
The Origins of The Egpytian AK 47
As the battleground of both the First and Second Battles of El Alamein, Egypt saw much action in WW2. When the dust settled, post-war Egypt had a lot of cleaning up to do.
Both the Allied forces and the defeated German Afrika Korp had left a slew of weapons and ammunition littered across the country. Particularly prevalent was 8mm Mauser ammo.
To reuse this abundant supply of 8mm ammunition, the Egyptians adopted a re-engineered version of the Swedish Ag m/42 called the Hakim Rifle until the mid-1950s, just as the Cold War kicked off.
The Cold War saw the USSR take a tactical interest in Egypt and, clearly unimpressed by their service rifle, offered them a revolutionary form of military aid in the form of the AK47.
Keen to obtain a standardized and effective rifle to equip their military with, Egypt was only too keen to take the Soviets up on their offer.
But rather than supplying the North African country with Russian-made AKs, the Soviets taught Egypt how to manufacture the AKM and provided them with the materials to do so.
Thus, the Egyptian AK 47 was born in Cairo’s factory 54 and crafted by the Maadi Company for Engineering Industries. Its official name was the Automatic Rifle MISR (ARM).
In the early days, the manufacture of the Egyptian AK 47 (Maadi) was a blend of Soviet-made AKM materials and laminated wood.
For all intents and purposes, it was a near-identical match of a Soviet AKM of the period. At least, at first. But that was all about to change as Soviet-Egyptian relations broke down.
The friendship between the two was broken in the wake of Egyptian support for the Mujahideen during the Soviet-Afghan War and several other diplomatic incidents.
The Soviet weapons advisors were gone from the country, but their tools and the knowledge they’d brought with them stayed behind.
They also forgot to revoke Egypt’s permission to keep producing the Maadi. Highly-skilled Egyptian weapons engineers carried on producing and modifying the Maadi.
Today, the Egyptian AK 47s are often argued to be some of the best in the world, alongside those produced in the Arsenal plant in Kazanlak, Bulgaria. But what makes them different?
What Makes The Egyptian Maadi Unique?
Compared to other AK variants, which are notably different from the Soviet-made AKM, the Maadi’s differences are few and far between unless you know where to find them.
The receiver on an Egyptian AK 47 will feature a clear factory stamp that designates their origin as being manufactured by the Maadi company in Egypt.
Despite being practically the same as the original Soviet design in terms of dimensions, the Egyptian AK 47 grip is made of plastic.
Whilst the rear sights on a Soviet-made AKM have a maximum range of 800m, those on an Egyptian Maadi go up to 1000m.
Original Soviet AKs feature four gas relief holes on each side of the gas relief block, whereas the Egyptian AK 47 only features two.
Most bizarre of all, the select fire options on an Egyptian AK only feature “Safe” and “Semi-Automatic.”
As well as the Egyptian AKM, the North African country also created a longer-range variant known as the RLM, designed to be used as a squad automatic weapon.
Where Has The Egyptian Maadi Seen Action?
Due to its strategic location, Egypt is no stranger to conflicts in the Cold War era and beyond. In all of them, the Maadi has featured heavily.
The rifle was heavily used in combat with Israeli troops both in the Six-Day War, was fought between Israel and an Arab alliance, including Egypt and in the War of attrition.
The latter was yet another war fought between Israel against a bloc of Arab nation-states.
These days, the Maadi is still the standard service weapon of the Egyptian army and police. During a vacation in Sharm el-Sheikh, I saw many being carried around the resort by regional police.
Further afield, the Egyptian AK47 is seeing action in war-torn locations Egypt operates in, such as Yemen, Libya, and the Sinai.
The Maadi in The Iconic Hollywood Movie Red Dawn!
One of the little-known facts about the Maadi is the fact that the iconic Egyptian AK47 featured heavily in the equally iconic 1984 war flick Red Dawn.
Red Dawn portrayed a fictitious Third World War that saw the United States invaded by a military coalition of Soviet, Warsaw Pact and Latin American states.
In Soviet-occupied Colorado, a gang of teenage guerrilla fighters called The Wolverines wage an insurgency against the Communist occupiers. If you haven’t seen it yet, watch it!
Filmed at the height of the Cold War, getting hold of authentic AKs from Russia or elsewhere in the Eastern Bloc was almost impossible for the producers.
“In our time, no foreign army has ever occupied American soil. Until now. The invading armies planned for everything… except for eight kids called “The Wolverines.”– Red Dawn, 1984.
In 1984, Egyptian Maadis were readily available in the U.S. for just shy of $1,000 a piece, so the producers bagged over fifty Egyptian AKs to add an authentic look to the film.
The guns were fitted with a blank-firing adaptor and purposefully aged to give them a true warzone look.
After all, the AKs in the film being carried by the guerrilla fighters were portrayed as weapons captured from slain enemy fighters.
After the film’s successful release, the production company decided to sell off the Red Dawn Maadis to collectors. Oh, how I wish I could have got my hands on one!
There’s Even A Giant Egyptian AK47 Monument In Ismailia!
You know a country loves their domestic AK when they produce a gigantic monument to it, right? Well, wait until you see the incredible AK47 monument Egypt built in Ismailia.
The monument, designed in the shape of a Kalashnikov bayonet, sits on the banks of the Suez Canal and was erected to remember the 1973 October War between Egypt and Israel.
In particular, this AK47 monument is dedicated to the Egyptian victory at the Battle of Ismailia, which was fought between the Egyptian military and the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) at the end of the Yom Kippur War.
In Summary, Egypt Has Rediscovered Its Love For Russian Weapons
To sum up, the Egyptian AK47 is an unlikely child of the Cold War, born out of failed Soviet ambitions far from the borders of the former Eastern Bloc.
Since that fateful day that Soviet weapons engineers walked into Factory 54 with teaching ambitions, the Egyptian Maadi AKM has become a staple feature of warfare worldwide.
As a result, its performance on battlefields both in Egypt and abroad, combined with its striking resemblance to the Soviet AKM, has made it an attractive weapon for gun enthusiasts in the U.S. and beyond.
These days, the Egyptian and Russian friendship has been rekindled. So too, has the former’s love for the latter’s weapons systems. For example:
- September 2014: Egypt ignored Western sanctions on Russian stemming from the War in Donbass to secure an arms deal with Russia worth $3.5 billion.
- November 2015: A deal between the two countries allowed Russian and Egyptian fighter planes to freely use each other’s airbases and airspace.
- March 2019: Another arms deal was signed by the Egyptian Air Force to purchase 24 Su-35 fighter planes from Russia and various equipment to go with them.
- July 2020: Disregarding various warnings from the United States, Egypt accepted the first delivery of five Russian Su-35 fighter jets.
Keen to discover more about the iconic Kalashnikov? Don’t miss our field report into the heart of the AK: the enormous Kalashnikov museum in Izhevsk, Russia!