The Wolverines’ Egyptian MAADI AKM, err ARM, Saga

When the iconic 1984 how-to-be-an-American-partisan training film Red Dawn was filmed in the early 1980s, Kalashnikov pattern rifles were hard to get in the U.S.A.

You know Red Dawn, right?

While there were some Type 56s captured Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, and inevitably some came back to the U.S. in duffle bags and transit chests– one even popped up at Wounded Knee in 1973, about the only legal AKs floating around in the U.S. were a handful of Finnish-made Valmet models, which are kinda close but just not the same thing.

A U.S. Navy sailor in Vietnam with a captured Type 56 AK carbine, a Chinese Type 53 Mosin with a grenade launcher attachment, and an RPG-2. 

Then, Steyr (of Austria), working from their Secaucus, New Jersey American import arm, in 1982 brought in the ARM made by Maadi of Egypt, a true (albeit semi-automatic) variant of the classic AK-47 automatic infantry rifle.

They certainly looked the part.

These included the standard post front and tangent rear sights, an Egyptian “Pharaoh’s Crown” crest on the right side of the rear sight base, and a Maadi logo on the reverse, a threaded muzzle with a flash director, and a 2-position safety/dust cover. These were furnished with a plastic pistol grip and laminate forearm and stock. Included with the rifle were three steel 30-round mags and a 1982-dated Steyr instruction sheet.

With these, along with a few Valmets for flavor, John Milius had his rifles and Red Dawn marched into the history books.

Explained by the Internet Media Firearms Database:

The AKM is the standard weapon used by the Soviet paratroopers and the Wolverines throughout the movie. According to Long Mountain Outfitters, the AKM rifles used in the movie were actually Egyptian Maadi MISR (imported into the US as the ARM) semi-auto rifles, some of the first semi-automatic Kalashnikov-type rifles ever imported into the United States (besides the Clayco AKM copies).

Fifty-three (53) such rifles were used in the movie, 32 of which were converted to full-auto by Class 3 manufacturer Pearl Manufacturing specially for the film. These guns were later used in numerous other movies. These weapons are not to be confused with the post-1989 imported firearms called “MISR” which were modified to comply with the federal import ban.

As detailed by Sons of Liberty Gun Works, here are the serial numbers of the rifles used on set, all among the first 2,000 Steyr brought in (SN# S0001999 and under) including “Robert’s Gun” and a Krinkov conversion:

Happy hunting, and stay warm.


  • just sayin' Ma...

    “Hollywoodization”, means being Historically Inaccurate in telling a periodic piece of history that never actually existed, or even having coming close to being anything actually resembling factual…

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