James Reece’s Kalashnikov in The Devil’s Hand

Every weapon tells a story

There is a very special Kalashnikov that comes into play in my next novel, THE DEVIL’S HAND. I have time on AK-type weapons but am not nearly as familiar with them as I am with M4 / AR platforms. Even though it is only two paragraphs and I could have just had the protagonist “pull out an AK” – that’s not me. A warrior’s relationship with the tools of the trade tell a story.  Because that story is so essential to the development of the chapter and the character, I had to make sure I got it right.

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For this particular chapter of THE DEVIL’S HAND, it was crucial that I write it in a way that would honor the rifle and do right by those who have an intimate knowledge of the weapon.

For this particular chapter of THE DEVIL’S HAND, it was crucial that I write it in a way that would honor the rifle and do right by those who have an intimate knowledge of the weapon.

My first stop, as with all the weapons-centric portions of my novels, was my Vickers Guide collection, specifically Vickers Guide Kalashnikov Volume 1 and Vickers Guide Kalashnikov Volume 2 by Larry Vickers of Vickers Tactical, Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons, Rob Stott of The AK-47 Catalog, with incredible photographs by James Rupley.

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Larry Vickers, Vickers Tactical

Thank you to Larry Vickers for being so generous with knowledge and time, specifically on AK suppressors. Thank you to Rupley Photography who takes the amazing photos for the Vickers Guide series for getting into the weeds and pointing me to the perfect specific Kalashnikov for the chapter.

Thank you to Clint Smith at Thunder Ranch for taking an early look at the AK section.  At 11:30pm on March 28, 1969, Clint was shot in combat by an NVA soldier using an AK.  He refused morphine and stayed in the fight until CASEVAC at 7:00am the following morning. We discuss the experience in detail in my podcast launching in the first quarter of 2021.

Clint Smith, Thunder Ranch

Jim Fuller, Fuller Phoenix

My friend Jason Swarr at Skillset Magazine is an AK aficionado, so I shot him the paragraphs for a sanity check.

Jason was kind enough to send them to the Godfather of the AK in the U.S., Jim Fuller of Fuller Phoenix who squared me away.

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At this point, I also had my two Kalashnikov Vickers Guides, my go-to book on the history of modern firearms, The Gun by CJ Chivers, multiple YouTube videos and my personal Thunder Ranch edition Rifle Dynamics along with experience training with AKs in the SEAL Teams coupled with being on the receiving end of AK fire downrange.

Left to Right: Jason Swarr, Jack Carr, Ben Tirpak

I felt like I still needed to get my hands on a fully automatic AK to run through exactly what my character, James Reece, was going to do in the novel. Enter my friend James Rose at Park City Gun Club – he sent the paragraphs to Gary at Mod Outfitters for feedback. Gary built the AK in the photos, an AK that you can shoot on the range at the Park City Gun Club if you are in town.

Thank you to everyone who helped make the AK in THE DEVIL’S HAND come alive.

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The Gun by C J Chivers

The Gun by C.J. Chivers is one of my most referenced and gifted books.  I read it on the way to Iraq in 2011.  I noticed an EOD Tech eyeing it the entire flight.  He was going to Iraq for a few days before heading to Afghanistan. I gave it to him when we landed and immediately ordered a replacement copy.  C.J. Chivers is one of the most talented writers working today.  He is a former Marine Corps Infantry Captain and a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist.  He was the New York Times Moscow bureau chief and in my opinion one of the finest journalists of this generation.  More than the history of the AK-47, The Gun is the history of modern weaponry and therefore of modern warfare.  If you are a student of the gun or of history, this book should move to the top of your stack.

The Devil’s Hand

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