The internet is filled with endless, unresolved, binary debates such as: blonde vs. brunette, Pele vs. Maradona, Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Lion vs. Tiger, Mercedes-Benz vs. BMW, etc. Fans hotly argue against each other, sometimes fanatically, with each side glorifying its “idol” and listing its undisputable merits, while disproving the opposite side’s arguments and mocking its self-evident “stupidity.” Sometimes during my long journeys of internet-surfing, I become locked up in these debates; not necessarily because I’m interested in the topic itself, but just for the fun of watching people tearing each other apart over it. Recently I became interested in the ultimate quarrel over the best assault rifle in the world: Is it the Russian/Soviet AK-47 (the Kalashnikov) or its American rival, the M-16?
I’m not by any means a gun enthusiast and I don’t claim any special expertise in this area. I did actually once shoot with the AK-47 during my military training in school (in Syria high school students used to receive lousy military training, but it was cancelled later. Now, tragically, many young Syrians do it for real!). I would like, however, to show that the contrast between the AK-47 and the M-16 is not merely a matter of technical features and performance, but of philosophy, i.e. philosophy of design.