The Soviet Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifle became one of the most famous automatic weapons of all time after it was introduced in the late 1940s. Its proliferation made it a market success and those nations falling under the Soviet sphere of influence also adopted the type to replace outmoded bolt-action service rifles, semi-automatic rifles, and World War 2-era submachine guns then in service. In 1959, the AK-47 was modernized to become the "AKM" and this mark also went on to see widespread service all over the globe.
At the behest of the Soviets (who looked to lessen their production commitments outside of the Soviet Union), communist Romania joined other Warsaw Pact nations in developing a localised version of the AKM - this weapon became the "Pistol Mitraliera Model 1963" ("PM md. 63"). Design work was handled by Romtechnica in the 1960s with manufacture through RATMIL ("Regia Autonoma pentru productja de Technica MILitara").
Externally, the rifle looked very much the part of a Kalashnikov assault weapon. Indeed the rifle appeared as nothing more than a clone of the Soviet model complete with wood furniture, curved 30-round magazine, and rectangular receiver with its large fire selector lever. The gas cylinder resided above the barrel assembly as in the AKM and a wood buttstock was used. It retained the Soviet 7.62x39mm chambering and gas-operated operation. One identifying feature of the PM md. 63 became the integrated, forward-slanted foregrip molded as part of the forward furniture making up the lower section of the handguard.
In 1965, a slightly altered version appeared which replaced the wooden shoulder stock with an under-folding skeletal metal design for improved transportability. The under-folding nature of the stock also forced the vertical foregrip to be reshaped so as to point rearwards to clear the collapsing assembly. Civilian market forms then followed and the "AIM" (wood stocked) and "AIMS" (metal stocked) were export models of the Romanian gun.
Production of the PM md. 63 began in 1963 and it continued in manufacture in varied forms until 1994. The series provided Romanian troops with a solid, if unspectacular, automatic weapon in the same way as the celebrated Kalashnikovs did for the Soviet Army. The PM md family offered roughly the same strong inherent qualities as the original - they were efficient weapons that proved easy to operate (and train others on) and could be mass produced within Romania by the thousands.
As with the AKM, this assault rifle was also reborn as a short-barreled carbine weapon utilizing a 20-round magazine. The barrel and gas cylinder were both appropriately shortened for the product which made for a more compact profile and this was further helped by the introduction of a side-folding metal stock. The weapon was designated as "Pistol Mitraliera Model 1980 (PM md. 80) or "AIMR". In 1990, the "Pistol Mitraliera Model 1990" (PM md. 90) appeared as a modernized product and its short-barreled carbine form became the "Pistol Mitraliera Model 90 cu Teava Scurta".
The PM md guns went on to see service beyond Romania's borders for they were taken on in number by the forces of Afghanistan, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, India, Lebanon, Libya Syria, and Saudi Arabia among others. By now, the Romanian Army adopted the smaller Soviet 5.45x39mm cartridge and made the "Pusca Automata Model 1986" (PA md. 86) of 1986 its standard assault rifle.