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  • AK-47/74 rifles from around the world...

    There's been a bit of a craze lately to buy AK type rifles, and here and on other boards new-comers are asking what to look for when they go to plop down their hard-earned cash. I was perusing another board, where the question "which AK is considered to be the best?" was posted. I wrote the following answer, and figured I'd share it with you guys.

    "Which AK is best?"


    When someone says something is "the best," it can mean different things. Most think of the best as referring to quality, craftsmanship, and precision. This is also the definition I am using here. When I wrote my guide to the AR-15 (see the link in my Signature below), my pick represented the best value, that was worthy of being taken into harm's way. In the AK market, this definition doesn't do much, as even the cheapest AKs are typically of high enough quality to take into harm's way (a true testament to the design!)

    The very high-end of AKs are the ones that not only function very well, but LOOK good. Attention to detail, quality parts, good finish/markings, etc... The truth is, nearly all AKs work. It's just that some do it with a bit more style than others!

    The Dichotomy of the AK Market

    AKs, unlike ARs, are not traditionally US made. They were made all over the world, mostly by our political enemies, but also by our allies. As such, they are now the subject of several treaties, bans, and Executive Orders.

    There are two kinds of AKs you can find on the market, those built by a manufacturer, and those built by an assembler. Hmmm... Maybe they're not that different from ARs after all?

    MANUFACTURERS


    Some rifles were once brought into the US in their factory configuration. These were banned in 1989, and are referred to as "Pre-89s." Bush (H.W.) signed this '89 ban. Later, manufacturers, such as Norinco, exported US legal variants, such as the MAK-90. Clinton "fixed" this by banning all firearms from China in an Executive Order. Something about its humanitarian issues, or some non-sense... Other manufacturers were still allowed to export their wares into the US, but due to the '94 assault weapons ban, in addition to the "sporting use" interpretation by the ATF, these rifles had to be neutered of bayonet lugs, flash hiders, magazine wells that could take currently available high-capacity magazines, and pistol grips.

    Within the manufacturers category, there is a sub-category induced by law. This is the Pre-89 category. I will subdivide the Manufacturers Category into "Primary Market" and "Secondary Market." Those rifles found on the primary market are those that you can find 'new' today. Those in the secondary are either those that have been banned (Pre-89), or those that are no longer imported for some other reason.

    PRIMARY MARKET (new)

    Some manufacturers, when faced with daunting regulations, just gave up and stopped exporting AKs. Others got creative...

    Arsenal:



    Arsenal is a shop in Las Vegas, Nevada. They are a LICENSED MANUFACTURER of Bulgarian AKs. Arsenal Bulgaria ships parts to Las Vegas, where the local (US) shop uses these parts and US parts to build complete rifles. Since the US shop is a licensed manufacturer of the Bulgarian company, it is difficult to draw the line which rifles are made where, or if you would consider them a manufacturer over just an assembler. I consider anything sold under the Arsenal name to be just as good as though it came straight from the factory.

    Saigas:

    While butt-ugly in their original (importable) form, Saigas are made very well and are very high quality rifles. However, they are nearly always altered (converted) to accept standard magazines, and to look more like the original. Depending on who performs this work, the quality could either be very good, or very shoddy. In general, Saiga conversions are very good. Saigas are made in Russia.

    Unconverted Saiga rifle:



    Converted Saiga rifle, work done by AK-USA:




    Bulgarian SSR-85C2:

    Global Trades, out of Houston, was importing the Bulgarian SSR-85C2. These rifles were slightly altered to include US parts, but they are authentic Bulgarian rifles built in Bulgaria. The pistol grips, muzzle devices, and certain internal parts (trigger, piston, etc...) are US made and added here in the US to keep the rifle 922(r) compliant.



    WASR-10:

    These are also made overseas, imported into the US, then altered to be US compliant. They originally come into the US with a narrow magazine well that can only take the single-stack 10rd magazines. Century Arms International takes the rifles and opens up the magwell to take standard magazines. They add a US made pistol grip, a Tapco G2 trigger kit, a US made slant brake and piston, in order to remain 922(r) compliant.




    SECONDARY MARKET

    Other rifles can be found on the secondary market, either used or Like New In Box (LNIB.) These include the VEPR, which is no longer being imported for some reason, and originally manufactured Pre-89 rifles, such as Chinese, Egyptian, Hungarian, etc...


    Chinese Norinco AKM-47S:



    While a lot of people tout the Chinese rifle as the best, it is not. It IS the most "authentic" rifle if you are wanting a clone of the rifle we faced in the Korean and Vietnam wars. The Chinese rifle is different, and some value this difference, but compared to the VEPR, they don't even compare.

    Hungarian SA-85:



    Some say the Hungarian SA-85 is one of the best. I don't know, as I have never handled one. Pictured above is the underfolder model.


    THE ANSWER to "Which is Best?"

    So which rifle will take the crown? Which of the factory rifles has the best overall quality? Which one has the best finish, the best markings, and the highest quality parts? The VEPR. (Russian)

    Just look at this thing:



    It's beautiful...

    Here's a stock photo showing the detail up close:



    The VEPR, unlike all the other rifles in this category, are built on RPK receivers. RPK's are the squad automatic machineguns, and therefore the receivers are beefed up to take the abuse of sustained full-auto fire. You can see a bulge in the front trunion area, which is the area just aft of the handguards, under the rear sight. (It's where it says "made in Russia.")

    VEPRs were imported by Robinson Arms into the US in what had to be a compliant form. I do not know, and have never heard, what this compliant form exactly was, or what Robinson Arms did to the rifles. All I know is that the finished product was superb.

    VEPRs have not been imported for some time, and I don't exactly know why. It probably has something to do with the business relationship between the factory in Russia and Robinson, but I don't know for sure.

    I would rank original manufacture rifles in this order:

    1. Russian (VEPR, tied with a good Saiga conversion)
    2. US/Bulgarian (Arsenal)
    3. Chinese (Norinco and Polytech)
    4. Bulgarian (SSR-85C2)
    5. Egyptian (Maadi)
    6. Romanian SAR
    7. Romanian WASR-10

    Rumor has it the Hungarian SA85 is a fantastic rifle, but I've never handled one, much less shot one. If rumors are true, it would be ranked between the US and Chinese, but I really don't know firsthand.
    Last edited by jwise; 12-21-2008, 07:02 PM.
    J. Wise

    AR-15 - AK-47 - NFA Trusts - My Pick - Carry Guns - 1911s

    "Some say you can tell how the world stands by the prices of AK-47s...." Chit2001

    Any comments contained herein regarding the legality of firearms, or the application of law, are strictly applicable to Texas. If you live in CA, NY, IL, MA, D.C., etc., the above comments will probably shock you, and should be read for educational purposes only. Most likely nothing I write will apply to you.

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  • #2
    Assemblers

    If you do not want a factory built rifle (or cannot afford one!), basically what you will be buying is a kit-build from one of several big name shops, or small custom shops. These rifles will be your best bets for a high-end rifle.

    These builds are based off the following kits:

    Romanian "G" kit in 7.62X39
    Polish AKMS underfolder kit in 7.62X39
    Polish Tantal kit in 5.45X39
    Yugo M70B2 underfolder kit in 7.62X39
    Yugo M70B1 fixed stock kit in 7.62X39
    Hungarian AMD 65 kit in 7.62X39
    Hungarian AMD 63 kit in 7.62X39
    Hungarian SA-85 kit in 7.62X39
    Bulgarian AK-74 kit in 5.45X39


    The truth of the matter, is that rifles are made every day from parts kits that are every bit as good as the above rifles, and they are made from every parts kit available. These are difficult to rank, since they are custom rifles, truly. The simplicity of building AKs make "custom builds" economical compared to custom bolt guns or 1911s.

    However, there is a pecking order when it comes to the kits available on the market.

    First, the Bulgarian and Hungarian kits will come in tied with the Polish kits. The Romanian G kit will be a whole rung lower on the scale, with the Yugo M70B1 and B2 falling pretty far behind.

    The problem with the Yugos is not the fact they are made by Century, as you might expect. Century actually farmed out the builds, and the sub-contractors have done a fine job. It's the rifle themselves. They are unique, and would make a great addition to a collection, but don't have the finesse of the other kits listed. The grenade sight is a curiosity, but not advantageous to the American consumer (and adds weight!) The barrels are not chrome-lined, which is the biggest drawback. A couple good attributes include the "night sights" that come on the rifle. They flip up with a glow-in-the-dark painted three dot system. Pretty slick. They are also made on RPK receivers, which is pretty cool. They share this feature with the VEPR. Not a bad kit by any means, but not as good as the others listed.

    EDIT: I have been made aware that my placement of the Yugo behind the Romanian is not correct, even as I have defined what is "best." I concur. The Yugo DOES represent a better parts kit, in that it has some details included in the package that you just can't find anywhere else. The Yugos were built like tanks, with exceptional parts and fit. HOWEVER, I personally do not value the Yugo rifles, as they do not have the FEATURES I desire, and they DO HAVE the features I DO NOT desire. This was an unfair comparision, as it was very subjective. I stand by my assessment, with the aforementioned caveat.

    Bulgarian AK-74:



    Polish AKMS-47:



    Yugo M70B2 (top) and M70B1 (bottom):




    Calibers

    Now that you know a little about the two different types of AK pattern rifles available on the US market, you now get to decide what caliber you want your rifle chambered in.

    There are three choices:
    1- 7.62X39
    2- 5.45X39
    3- 5.56X45 (.223rem)

    To say you get a choice isn't quite right. If you are buying from a current manufacturer, you can choose. If you are buying a rifle from a previously imported manufacturer, you have limited choices. If, on the other hand, you are buying from a parts kit, you will be constrained to the caliber that the specific parts kit was designed for.

    Historically, the AK-47 was originally designed in 7.62X39. The receiver was made from a machined piece of steel, like the Thompson submachine gun, and other rifles of the era. It later underwent a modernizing campaign, where its weight was significantly reduced (and money saved!) by making the receiver out of folded stamped metal. The modernized model was dubbed the AKM-47. Later still, the Russian government wanted a lighter weight bullet that created less recoil and developed the 5.45X39. The new model that chambered this round was called the AK-74. Milled receivers were no longer being produced, so all AK-74s are made from stamped metal receivers.

    While there is other nomenclature to designate underfolders (AKS & AKMS) and other variants, the main thing to know is that the suffix -47 means it is chambered in 7.62X39, and -74 means it is chambered in 5.45X39.

    Options

    Arsenal is currently making rifles in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can buy rifles chambered in all three options. They name their rifles based on the chambering (usually), and so you can either purchase the SLR 105 (5.45), 106 (5.56), or 107 (7.62).

    VEPR is no longer being imported, but while they were, you could purchase them in 5.45, 5.56, and 7.62. All three were called the same thing: VEPR (wood stocks), VEPR II (black plastic stock w/ 20" barrel), or VEPR II K (16" barrel.)

    Saiga rifles can be had in 5.45, 5.56, 7.62, 20ga, 12ga, .308win, etc...

    The parts kits listed above have the caliber it was made in out to the side.

    Features

    There are very few features on AK rifles. I will touch on a couple that are the most important.

    Rails:

    The main feature is whether or not it comes with a side optic rail or not. The rail is designed to accept quick detachable optics, either scopes or red dots. No, not railed handguards. The optic rail on an AK is on the left side of the receiver, and looks nothing like the piccatinny rail on your AR.

    The scopes look like this, a POSP 4X24:



    and the red dots look like this, a KOBRA EKP 1S-03:




    Folding Stocks:

    AKs have traditionally come with Underfolding, or side-folding stocks. The underfolders all look pretty much alike, regardless of country of origin. Here's my Polish underfolder:



    The side-folders are different. One of the first was the Romanian wire-folder. The Polish adopted a similar folder, and used it on their AK-74 Tantals.



    Then came the triangle folders. The Russians first used these on their AKS-74 and later on the Krinkovs (AKS-74U.) Bulgaria also used the triangle folding stocks, but they are not compatible with the Russian mounts.



    The metal folding stocks were a great improvement over the wire folder, in that the user could rest his cheek on the stock, enabling him to aim better and use proper shooting positions. They later developed an even better stock, one that mimicked the fixed stock. This is called the 100-series stock, because it came on the AK-101, 102, 103, 104 and 105.

    The stock is seen here on an Arsenal SLR-106FR:



    The difference between ARs and AKs, is that once an AK has a particular stock, it is not an easy thing to switch them. It requires a good bit of gunsmithing, removing the rear trunion and is not for a hobbyist or shooter to undertake. AR stocks can be switched around at will (hence the comment, "Legos for grownups.")

    So keep in mind when planning an AK purchase, that you won't be able to add a folding stock at a later date. There ARE aftermarket folding stocks, but most of these are craptastic. Just get want you want the first time.
    Last edited by jwise; 04-29-2009, 05:51 PM.
    J. Wise

    AR-15 - AK-47 - NFA Trusts - My Pick - Carry Guns - 1911s

    "Some say you can tell how the world stands by the prices of AK-47s...." Chit2001

    Any comments contained herein regarding the legality of firearms, or the application of law, are strictly applicable to Texas. If you live in CA, NY, IL, MA, D.C., etc., the above comments will probably shock you, and should be read for educational purposes only. Most likely nothing I write will apply to you.

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    • #3
      The Franken AK

      One more thing about AKs. Since so many are being assembled from parts kits. You can find some real frankenstein creations out there, where builders have pieced together parts from different kits to create all new original rifles. This is one such rifle:



      It is built off a Romanian "G" kit (therefore chambered in 7.62), but incorporates a folding triangle stock. Historically, it's all wrong. To purists, it's an illegitimate child, but to a shooter (and especially to ME!), it's a work of art!

      So- if you're looking around and JUST CAN'T FIND the ONE rifle with all the FEATURES you want in the right caliber, you can always commission the rifle to be built from more than one parts kit! It's a bit more complicated than doing the same with an AR, but it CAN be done!

      ACCESSORIZING

      You have now decided what kind of AK you want. You have decided if new or used is right for you, or if you're going to buy from an assembler. You have picked the stock configuration you desire, and the caliber you are wanting it chambered for.

      Now lets see what you can do with this new rifle:

      SWIFT Lever

      One of the drawbacks to the AK rifle system is the safety. It was not designed to be easily and efficiently used in close quarter battle, by trained riflemen. Thus, it is slow to disengage, and is awkward to use. In fact, there is no real set method for employing the stock safety of an AK that would translate to how we are trained.

      The solution? Blackjack Buffers' SWIFT lever:



      The SWIFT lever allows the user to rest his indexed trigger finger on a small shelf, attached to the safety/selector. In a flash, the user can disengage the rifle's safety and put rounds on target.

      The SWIFT lever also has a built-in bolt hold-open, so you can adhere to range rules and common safety techniques for clearing and locking the bolt to the rear. Stock AKs do not have any mechanism to hold the bolt open, so this is a pretty neat feature. The SWIFT lever is not cheap ($40), but offers a very crucial feature to any AK rifle. Installation takes about five seconds, and is extremely easy.

      OPTICS

      I talked briefly about side optic rails up above, but wanted to touch on all the various options there are for mounting an optic on an AK, and what is available.

      Mounting methods:

      You will have many optics options, but you will need to consider how you plan to mount them to your rifle. The mounting technique will affect your optics choices, and vice versa.

      1- Side Optic Rail

      While mounting a Russian optic will be easiest, as they all come with integral side optic rail mounts, this may not be an option you want. First, you may have folding stock which cannot accept this feature, or at least the stock won't fold while it is attached (underfolder or side-folder.) Or, you may just not have the optic rail installed, and don't want to hassle with having a gunsmith install one. This is a lazy approach, but it's your rifle. If you do not plan to mount a Russian optic, you can get a mount from K-Var that attaches to the side rail and puts a piccatinny rail on top. This can accept a traditional (US made) optic you would be familiar with (Aimpoint/EOTech.) The downside here, is that the rail will put the optic very high, which is good if you want to still be able to see your sights under the mount, but bad in that you will not be able to get a good cheekweld.

      Here's a picture of my VEPR II K with K-Var mount and EOTech:



      2- Dust-Cover Rail

      The dust cover of an AK is a flimsy piece of sheet metal that snaps into the receiver. It wriggles. It is NO place for an optic. However, you will find plenty of cheap ($30) dust covers out there at gunshows that someone welded a piccatinny rail onto. Avoid these.

      On the other hand. Krebs is a custom shop that takes VEPRs and Saigas and does amazing things with them. One of their signature features is that they install a rear peep sight and rail to the top dust cover, and strengthen it's mount to be able to hold a zero. Very impressive, but very expensive...



      If you find one, get excited. They no longer can make these, as they can't get the VEPRs anymore. Now they are still making rifles from Saigas, but this is what I found on their website as their current offering:



      This looks a lot heavier than the previous one, but it's possibly more sturdy and thus accurate. Notice it attaches to the rear stock and rear sight, and only hovers slightly above the dust cover.

      The great thing about this rifle system, is that it gives you a peep sight in addition to the optic rail. Pretty slick...

      3- Ultimak Rail (forearm)

      This is the option I went with when I first started looking into alternative optic mounting methods. The Ultimak rail installs as a replacement gas tube, and brackets to the barrel with U-clamps. It goes for about $100, so it's not cheap by any means, but much less than a custom rifle. I understand UTG also makes a rail, and it's only $75.

      Here's my Bulgarian SSR-85C2 with an Ultimak forearm optic rail:



      While this gets the optic down a bit compared to the K-Var mount, it is a forward mounting, and some don't care for that. For those who mount their optics in gooseneck mounts on their ARs (or on the handguards), this would be a logical choice for you. I didn't like the weight of the optic out so far on my rifle, so I pulled off the EOTech with plans to put a Z-point out there. Before buying the Z-point (Zeiss Optics red dot), Aimpoint came out with the Micro T1. I haven't found the extra $600 laying around anywhere to buy one yet, but I think I might have changed my plans...

      4- Rear Sight Mount

      Enter LaRue... Oh I love it when they get involved. LaRue has recently come out with what they call the AK Iron Dot. LaRue has been making Iron Dots for ARs, specifically for mounting on top of magnified optics to give users the ability to use a small red dot optic in conjunction with their main scope. The neat thing about this development, is that LaRue took their tested "Iron Dot" and attached it to a short length of steel that attaches into the leaf sight attachment of the rear sight. The designers incorporated a leaf sight into the mount, so that the user can see his iron sights through the glass of the optic. This is necessary for critical gear that goes in harm's way.




      Now that you have seen the options for mounting an optic, you should be able to more accurately determine the type of optic you will want.

      Most are familiar with the standard offerings (Aimpoint, EOTech, ACOG, etc...), but I want to showcase a few that most are not familiar with.

      The PK-AS red/black dot optic, which gives you a constant-on black dot reticle, that illuminates when you turn it on.



      [Here's where I was going to show off several kinds of Russian optics, but the picture limit-per-post is preventing me from doing so. Sorry.]

      Besides this one, there are several types of POSP scopes as shown above, and of course the Kobra red dot sight as well.


      Lights

      Now that you have a reliable rifle, and a quality optic of your choice mounted, you need to decide on a weaponlight. While there are Russian weaponlights designed around the AK, you can mount any of your favorite lights to the AK platform very easily. There are barrel mounted clamps, as well as rail sections you can install on various forearm stocks.

      Accessory Rails

      Or, you can go all the way and install complete rail systems on your AK forend, so you can mount lights, lasers, and vertical foregrips.

      UTG Railed Forend:



      Ultimak upper and lower rails:




      More below...
      Last edited by jwise; 12-09-2008, 01:14 AM.
      J. Wise

      AR-15 - AK-47 - NFA Trusts - My Pick - Carry Guns - 1911s

      "Some say you can tell how the world stands by the prices of AK-47s...." Chit2001

      Any comments contained herein regarding the legality of firearms, or the application of law, are strictly applicable to Texas. If you live in CA, NY, IL, MA, D.C., etc., the above comments will probably shock you, and should be read for educational purposes only. Most likely nothing I write will apply to you.

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      • #4
        i guess i cant really ever bring myself to own one of these, jsut like i wont own a Mauser 8mm...something about so many men from our country killed by em leaves me with a bad taste..im weird like that.


        however, they are the timex of battle rifles, almost indestructible and foolproof, like a Glock.
        In the end we're all just chalk lines on the concrete drawn only to be washed away, for the time that I've been given, I am what I am. I'd rather you hate me for everything I am, Than have you love me for being something that Im not

        Comment


        • #5
          I can't stand the way the M4 stock looks on that VEPR! Hey Jwise, you forgot to mention Vector and Ohio Rapid Fire as quality AK manufacturers and Nodak Spud as probably the best AK receiver manufacturer out there. I just picked up a Yugo RPK M72 and I'm on the waiting list at Ohio Rapid Fire for a Bulgarian AK-74 sidefolder which I should get in Jan or Feb! Can' Wait!!

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm hoping to get a WASR soon. I know its the bottom of the barrel, but I don't intend on an accurate gun, I just want an AK to have an AK.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by tazaroo View Post
              I can't stand the way the M4 stock looks on that VEPR! Hey Jwise, you forgot to mention Vector and Ohio Rapid Fire as quality AK manufacturers and Nodak Spud as probably the best AK receiver manufacturer out there. I just picked up a Yugo RPK M72 and I'm on the waiting list at Ohio Rapid Fire for a Bulgarian AK-74 sidefolder which I should get in Jan or Feb! Can' Wait!!
              I tend to agree with you regarding the "M4 stock on the VEPR" thing, but the standard stock was way too long for my taste, and I needed to shorten it up. I didn't want to put a wood stock on it, and went the way I did. Oh well, it works, and that's what counts, huh?

              I didn't list any of the assemblers. Ohio Rapid Fire doesn't manufacture AKs, they just assemble them from parts kits.

              Well, darn. I just listed one. I'd better list them all (or at least all that I can think of!)

              ASSEMBLERS

              Ohio Rapid Fire
              Lancaster
              Vector
              Global Trades
              Red Jacket Firearms
              Elk River
              Century (CAI)
              Henderson Defense
              Firing Line
              Interarms
              etc...

              Critical Accessories:

              Other than your rifle, all you REALLY need is a sling, and magazines.

              Sling

              There are plenty of vendors out there who sell slings especially made for the AK (I went with Spec-Ops, as I already use their M4 sling), or you can stick with the original canvas sling that most of them come with. They click into a sling attachment point on the left side of the rifle on the handguard retaining plate, and attach to the rear sling swivel prevalent on most AKs.

              Here's the Spec-Ops AK sling, modified to work with an underfolder:



              Three-point slings work very well with AKs, since there is nothing on the left-hand side of the receiver to be covered up by the sling.

              Sling Attachment Point:

              Here's an up-close picture of the standard sling attachment on an AKM. It's on the left side of the handguard retaining plate, which is perfect for right-handed shooters:



              The older (original) AK-47 had a different sling attachment point, on the gas block.



              The Chinese used AK-47 parts instead of the newer AKM parts in their type 56 rifle, and the Bulgarian SSR-85C2 also uses the older style gas blocks.



              Magazines:

              As for magazines, steel 30rd magazines will last a lifetime. Hungary made 20rd mags for their AMD-65, which are also available on the market. You can get the Bulgarian waffle mags if you want, or spend some coin and get Bakelite mags if that's the look you like. As for reliability, the steel mags and the waffles are the best.


              Steel 30rd mag, Steel 20rd mag, Buglarian waffle mag, Norinco Bakelite, Tula Bakelite. (From L-R)


              Side Optic Rail:

              Here's an up-close picture of a side optic rail. This one is on my VEPR.

              Last edited by jwise; 01-10-2009, 12:33 AM.
              J. Wise

              AR-15 - AK-47 - NFA Trusts - My Pick - Carry Guns - 1911s

              "Some say you can tell how the world stands by the prices of AK-47s...." Chit2001

              Any comments contained herein regarding the legality of firearms, or the application of law, are strictly applicable to Texas. If you live in CA, NY, IL, MA, D.C., etc., the above comments will probably shock you, and should be read for educational purposes only. Most likely nothing I write will apply to you.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by phoenixdown View Post
                I'm hoping to get a WASR soon. I know its the bottom of the barrel, but I don't intend on an accurate gun, I just want an AK to have an AK.
                Just because it's at the bottom of the list doesn't mean its all that inaccurate. It COULD be inaccurate, but on the other hand, it might not. That's kinda the problem with those guns, shoddy QC.

                But, they usually work...


                Aftermarket Sights

                I forgot to mention, I know a lot of you guys are used to the peep sights on your ARs, and don't care much for the open "leaf" sights on an AK. Well, here's an option for you. It's a ghost ring sight, made by Mojo, and installs in place of the rear sight. I forget how much it was, but it was reasonable. I like it, as it works more like a peep, which is what I am also most comfortable with. It's not as fast as a true peep sight, which sits closer to your eye, but it is better than an open sight in my opinion.



                It has a screw adjustment for height, which you can see here:



                Here's what it looks like from the shooter's perspective:



                Speaking of sights, let's take a look at those front sight bases and gas blocks!

                Ban Compliance:

                The front ends of the AK rifles are what took a beating during the assault weapons ban (1994-2004.) Threaded muzzles, flash hiders, and bayonet lugs were banned, so these had to go. Here's what a neutered front end looks like:



                No threads, so no muzzle attachment. Compensators were allowed, so some rifles came with those, but they had to be pressed on, or welded tight.

                After 10 long years of missing bayonet lugs, flash hiders, and turned down threads, the ban finally ended. Near the end, people were honestly asking where the bayonet lug was SUPPOSED to be on a "no-ban" AK. After suffering through this time, and accumulating one completely castrated AK and one semi-castrated AK, I finally was able to purchase an unadulterated version of the AK, and see just how everything was meant to fit together.

                And HERE is what I found out the front end of an AK is SUPPOSED to look like:



                Now THAT'S what I'M talking about!!!
                Last edited by jwise; 01-10-2009, 12:58 AM.
                J. Wise

                AR-15 - AK-47 - NFA Trusts - My Pick - Carry Guns - 1911s

                "Some say you can tell how the world stands by the prices of AK-47s...." Chit2001

                Any comments contained herein regarding the legality of firearms, or the application of law, are strictly applicable to Texas. If you live in CA, NY, IL, MA, D.C., etc., the above comments will probably shock you, and should be read for educational purposes only. Most likely nothing I write will apply to you.

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                • #9
                  Jwise, you sir are a genius.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Hoosier_Boy View Post
                    Jwise, you sir are a genius.
                    Rather, I know how to use the search function, cut/copy/paste and how to synthesize information that I read. Genius? No. Hoplophile? Yes.

                    BAYONET LUGS:

                    One reason why people were unsure of what the AK was SUPPOSED to look like, was because the early AK-47's used different bayonet mounts than the newer AKM-47's, and the AK-74's used a third type of mount.

                    AK-47 bayonet mount:

                    The AK-47 bayonet was a spike bayonet, which was affixed to the "wings" on the cleaning rod part of the front sight base.



                    You can see that the SSR-85C2's bayonet lug (wings) were ground off to make the rifle "compliant" during the ban, and to be importable.



                    AKM-47 bayonet mount:

                    The AKM bayonet was the "knife" bayonet, and was affixed to a bayonet lug under the gas block, and secured to the muzzle attachment (muzzle nut or slant brake.)

                    Here's a good picture to show the bayonet lug, and the 14mm reverse-threaded slant brake that serves as the front mounting point.



                    And a picture of the bayonet attached:



                    AK-74 bayonet mount:

                    The AK-74 utilized a new muzzle attachment, called (incidentally) the "AK-74 muzzle brake." Quite an original name, I know...

                    AK-74 brake:



                    The bayonet for the AK-74 attaches to the front tip of the brake, and the front sight block has another bayonet lug under it, in addition to the bayonet lug under the gas block. I don't have a picture of the bayonet attached, as I don't have any AK-74's, but you can probably use your imagination to see how it would work.

                    Personally, I find a bayonet to be the third most important accessory, just behind the sling and mags...

                    Just something else to think about...
                    Last edited by jwise; 01-10-2009, 12:59 AM.
                    J. Wise

                    AR-15 - AK-47 - NFA Trusts - My Pick - Carry Guns - 1911s

                    "Some say you can tell how the world stands by the prices of AK-47s...." Chit2001

                    Any comments contained herein regarding the legality of firearms, or the application of law, are strictly applicable to Texas. If you live in CA, NY, IL, MA, D.C., etc., the above comments will probably shock you, and should be read for educational purposes only. Most likely nothing I write will apply to you.

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                    • #11
                      OUTSTANDING post, Jwise. Wish you would've had it up this time last year when I was in the process of going "AK."

                      I bought a Yugo AK with new US-made receiver and barrel.... for $400. I love it.

                      Some say you can tell how the world stands by the prices of AK-47s.... I find that easy to believe.
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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Chit2001 View Post
                        OUTSTANDING post, Jwise. Wish you would've had it up this time last year when I was in the process of going "AK."

                        I bought a Yugo AK with new US-made receiver and barrel.... for $400. I love it.

                        Some say you can tell how the world stands by the prices of AK-47s.... I find that easy to believe.
                        You stated, "Some say..." Do you know who I might attribute that quote, or were you coining that phrase yourself? I need to know to whom to attribute my new sigline!
                        J. Wise

                        AR-15 - AK-47 - NFA Trusts - My Pick - Carry Guns - 1911s

                        "Some say you can tell how the world stands by the prices of AK-47s...." Chit2001

                        Any comments contained herein regarding the legality of firearms, or the application of law, are strictly applicable to Texas. If you live in CA, NY, IL, MA, D.C., etc., the above comments will probably shock you, and should be read for educational purposes only. Most likely nothing I write will apply to you.

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                        • #13
                          Not sure who I heard say that or if I heard it from a movie? Very true though, isn't it?

                          Oh, and BTW..... I bought a folding stock, and new handguard/rails for that Yugo..... guess what? NOTHING fits for a Yugo. It's made ever so-slightly different than all other AKs and I just couldn't get anything to work. Too bad.... I wanted to tac it out a bit and make it a bit more practical.... maybe my next one.
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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by jwise View Post
                            Just because it's at the bottom of the list doesn't mean its all that inaccurate. It COULD be inaccurate, but on the other hand, it might not. That's kinda the problem with those guns, shoddy QC.

                            But, they usually work...
                            I'm aiming for one that works. I didn't know there was such thing as an AK that didn't work! I thought you could even take the firing pin out of them and they would still fire! I have been decieved.

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                            • #15
                              I would rank original manufacture rifles in this order:

                              1. Russian (VEPR, tied with a good Saiga conversion)
                              2. US/Bulgarian (Arsenal)
                              3. Chinese (Norinco and Polytech)
                              4. Bulgarian (SSR-85C2)
                              5. Egyptian (Maadi)
                              6. Romanian SAR
                              7. Romanian WASR-10
                              I'd put the ROMAKS ahead of the SAR. ROMAKS were the first sporteriezed Romanian AKs and worked great even with the PSL stock on them. They came as ROMAK I (7.62x39) and ROMAK II(5.45x39). The ROMAK III are the PSLs you see on the market today. Strangely back in 98 when Clinton banned imported rifles capable of accepting high cap mags, the study ( you can get from the ATF or read on their site) listed a ROMAK IV but the ATF had no picture yet banned it. I had that study sent to me right before I deplored to Europe for Operation Noble Anvil. Insulting read to say the least.

                              Hungarian SA-85 is on par with the Arsenal SLR-95 and was one of the rifles to be banned in 98. Those rifles are great and have a different black phospate finish like the early 30 rd Hungarain mags that came into the country and not the later blued Hungarian magazines. Now the original pre-89ones are really nice and if I recall right the only AK where the underfolder outnumber the fixed stock version.

                              I don't know if I would put Russian ahead of Chinese or Bulgarian or early Mitchell Yugos. The early pre ban (pre-89) AKs still to me are the better ones outside of custom AKs mainly due to most importers using less than skilled personnel (century arms comes to mind).

                              Those pre-89 Yugos are incredible including the .308s and definitely make a top 3. Sad to say the only ones I see for sale are the parted gun from beat up demilled civil war rifles.

                              Hard to believe but its been nearly 20 years since we have had nonban AKs imported. Depressing for us AK enthusiasts as I don't see anything getting better.

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