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The Most Manly Hobby Ever...AK-47 Build


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  • The Most Manly Hobby Ever...AK-47 Build

    I've been doing hobbyist level wood work all my life. I decided to mix it up and learn about metal, and what better way to do that than build/re-build a rifle? I know there's a few hustlers and roadmen in here, so I figured y'all might be interested, or may have already completed one yourself. Caution...factual information to follow...normal disclaimer. This is not legal advice. Do your own legal research.

    So the US government has made some strange laws about guns. If you "make" a firearm reciever, there's no registration requirements, and you can do pretty much what you want (exceptions include full auto, short barrels, required US parts counts and possibly others depending your location). If you "manufacture" a receiver, there's extra rules to follow. The difference is when you manufacture something, you intend to sell it. When you make it, it's for your own personal use. When you import a foreign weapon, there's even a more rules to follow, and some are outright banned. More info on US ATF gun laws

    Ultimately, if you called up your buddy Boris in Romania, and he sent you this, it would be illegal because Janet Reno said it was evil.

    But if you bought this and later turned it into a functioning rifle, that's totally legit (assuming you're of age and you haven't been convicted of a felony or domestic violence)

    (note- this pic includes full auto parts. You probably can't have that)

    To complete this, you need to make a receiver. The one I bought looks like this

    It is considered an 80% Reciever, meaning no FFL transaction is required. I used a hydraulic press and home made jig and die set to look like this

    If you buy it already bent, it is a 100% receiver and requires an FFL transaction.

    Old AK-47's are super prolific, and going out of style for many countries. One country is Romania. The Romanians built millions of these rifles for both defense and resale to civilian markets. They have since switched to the AK-74 (same rifle, different caliber), and thus their 7.62mm rifles are now surplus. There are three basic variations, the PM MD 63 (The military rifle), The "G" (semi-auto variant used by their "national guard") and WASR (made for export sales to civilian markets). There are folding stock variations of the above as well.

    The PM MD 63 was a copy of the Russian AKM (this is the rifle we refer to as the AK-47). Romania doesn't have good wood supplies, so the stocks are made from "laminated" wood (aka plywood) The "G" was the exact same rifle modified to be semi-auto with a "G" stamped on the sight block and a black stripe on the stock. The WASR was semi-auto, built from the parts rejected for not being milspec and did not have a vertical foregrip (note-over the years the parts quality changed for these rifles. Don't get butthurt if you have a WASR 10/63). More info on Romanian AKMs

    Here's the plywood shot

    I thought I bought a "G" model but wound up with a PM MD 63. When I got it, it looked like this

    It was built in 1973 and has a new US barrel (foreign barrels are illegal because apparently they are evil). The internal components were in good but worn condition with all matching serial numbers. The external components were covered in Cosmoline and looked like they had been buried under an outhouse for 10 years. If you look closely, under the foregrip is the fire-group disconnect. It has a "tail" on it meaning it was the full-auto version. The other full auto parts were removed by the importer, and this will be a semi-auto rifle only as I don't think I would like going to jail.

    I started by dumping every metal component into carb cleaning solution. I then stripped the cosmoline/shelac/Romanian dirt off the wood parts making them look like this

    I then stained and coated them to look like this

    It was still drying at this point and isn't really that glossy. Something to note here, not all AK-47s have that "red" or "orange" tint to them.

    The kit didn't come with the original cleaning kit (almost no Romanian kits do). I bought one surplus online, and it's designed to slide into the buttstock using a springloaded door.

    Coming later as I complete these tasks- Pics of the rust blueing process, bending the receiver, riveting the gun together, and first shoot.
    Last edited by JH164; 03-26-2011, 12:49 AM.

  • #2
    Because the barrel is new, it is still "in the white" meaning it has no finishing on it. I ordered a rust blueing kit and I'm going to refinish all the metal. To accomplish this, I had to remove the barrel. The barrel was shipped minus the barrel pin. All I had to do was stack some pennies on the breech face and smash away with a sledge hammer

    Here's the barrel after removing the trunnion.

    My front sight base was rust pitted. I bought a new one for $6 on gun broker. Here's the old one after removing it. Notice the cut mark on the bottom. Whoever installed this thing must've done it with 100 ton press because I could not get it off without cutting.

    I installed the new sight tower. It takes a lot force to get it on the barrel. I used a copper gas fitting to protect the sight while I hammered on it.

    I then sanded the entire gun. Some parts needed 60 grit, others got straight to 120 grit. For Slow Rust Bluing you can do up to 300 grit for a polished look, but I left it at 120 grit because I want a more matte military look.

    Then I began the Slow Rust Bluing process. The process of bluing causes a very fine black/blue rust to form. There's hot caustic bluing (which is how commercial manufacturers use), but I didn't want to do this because of the high heats and hazardous waste. There's cold bluing, this is a selenium compound you put on the metal and it turns black. This type of bluing doesn't alter the metal, and isn't a durable solution. Finally Slow Rust Bluing is the process of allow the metal to rust a small amount, boiling it to convert the red rust into a black rust, and repeating until the finish is deep enough to prevent further wear or rusting. Step one is to put an acid on the metal to aid in rusting. Then let it sit a few hours to rust (the time it takes is dependent on your area's relative humidity. I cheated and put mine in a sweatbox). Boil it to change the coloring. Then "card" it to remove the excess (carding means using a very fine guage stainless steel brush to knock the finish down). Here's my parts in the sweatbox for round one.

    Here it is rusting

    I finally got around to pressing the receiver flat. The first jig I made came from plans I found on a web board. It was intended to be used with a hammer and patience. I went the impatient route and used a 12 ton press. The result was I overtorqued the jig causing a warp in the first receiver. This receiver would be functional, but not pretty. It just so happens I had a second receiver blank, so I redesigned my jig and pressed it out. This one was a success.

    The die and jig assembled with the receiver flat

    The assemly in the shop press

    The formed receiver
    Last edited by JH164; 03-26-2011, 12:48 AM.


    • #3
      Next step I added the lower rails. They serve several purposes, they guide the bolt, they support the receiver and they support the magazine. Installing them required I spot weld them in place (note: this isn't the same as tack welding). I modified a cheap spot welder I found on Ebay to fit this application

      I practiced on some scarp metal, modified my design on the spot welder, and wound up with this:

      I've posted this on more than one message board and have received a variety of help from different members. On Officer.com Rifleguy PM'd offered to allow me to borrow his rivet jig for installing the trigger guard (thanks bro). Keep in mind I've never met him in real life, and this is jig is worth a couple hundred dollars. I'm certainly super appreciative of the web communities I'm involved with, and glad to see people are still willing to help a stranger. Using the jig, coupled with a hydraulic shop press I riveted trigger guard onto the receiver. The blue discoloration you see on the receiver is the result of heat treating. When I received the receiver flat it was made of non-hardened mild steel. The middle portion contains the fire control group and takes a lot of abuse. It was hardened by heating with a torch until glowing red, shock cooled in water (oil works better but has a fire risk), then heated a second time until it turned blue and allowed to cool slowly on an anvil. This creates a balance of strength and maleability which is perfect for this application. It's not necessary to heat treat the entire receiver as it only increases the chance of warping and it makes the rest of the build unneccessarily difficult.

      I built a jig for to rivet the rest of the receiver using my shop press.

      Pic of receiver in rivet press (complete with a shop monkey acting like a goof in the background)

      And a pic of the complete receiver awaiting bluing

      Finally finished assembling the rifle. I used my press to push the barrel back in. To make it easier, I put the barrel assembly into the freezer beforehand. Supposedly this causes enough thermal contraction to make it easier to install. Since it only stays cold for a limited amount of time, I didn't stop to take any photos of it in the press (I've got another AK waiting to be built, I'll snap a photo of that one when installing the barrel later)

      Finished product

      Rear half

      Front half (with bayonet)

      The mags look funny because they are 10 round only.

      First Shoot
      Took it out last week and shot it. At first it wouldn't extract. I asked around on a gun forum and the consensus was the gas port needed to be larger. I ran a drill bit through the port, polished it up, and now it works great!

      Want to build your own?
      Surplus Parts kits:
      www.ak-builder.com (A very honest and helpful retailer)
      or search on www.gunbroker.com
      or search "ak parts kits" on Google www.google.com

      Miscellaneous Parts (receiver flat, rivets, 922(r) compliance parts, replacement parts)

      Bending/riveting jigs
      These webpages change all the time (mostly posted on forums)
      to find them, google search "poormans jig" for receiver flat bending
      "long rivet jig ak" for rear trunnion jig
      "bolt cutter rivet tool" for front trunnion rivet tool
      "ak trigger guard jig"
      Commercial jigs are also sold if you don't want to make your own

      Tools you need:
      Drill press (possible with drill, but very sketchy)
      Drill bit set
      Hammers (~24oz and 4lb)
      12-ton press (not necessary but highly recommended)
      Roto-zip (Dremel)
      Bench grinder or angle grinder
      File set (including jewelers files)
      Punch set
      Propane torch
      A way to finish metal (Duracoat, parkerizing kit or bluing kit)
      Spot welder with modified lower tip

      Approximate minimum cost to build $450 (does not include any tools or jigs)

      Basic instructions http://www.surplusrifle.com/shooting...uts1/index.asp
      Last edited by JH164; 04-25-2011, 03:38 PM.


      • #4
        Reserved for first comment of awe and jealousy
        "I would suggest that when a person has a thought of doing anything serious against the law, that before they did, that they should go to a quiet place and think about it seriously."

        William George Bonin - Executed in Calfornia Feb 23rd 1996


        • #5
          I researched doing this, but the verdict I reached was that the jig to bend it is so expensive that it's not worth buying unless you're planning to build a WHOOOOOLE bunch of them. Not to mention needing a machine press to get the angles straight. Many a would-be builder has effed up his receiver flat thinking he could do it with a vice, a hammer, and a set of vice-grips. For one or two rifles, it's cost-prohibitive.

          Now, if you found a cheap place/way to bend it while keeping it in-spec, I'm all ears and would love to join.
          Lt. Col. Grace - "Lt. Murphey, why are you all dressed up to mack on the ladies?"
          Me - "Sir, you just answered your own question."


          • #6
            Murf- You're absolutely right about it costing more. You can find a Century Arms WASR 10 around $400 (plus tax and transfer fees). When you include specialty tools this will cost closer to $500 (or more). However, this is more about the process and experience then it is about the final product.

            As for a cheap way to bend it, the metal I used to make the bending jig cost about $10


            • #7
              Could you possibly hook me up with how you made your jig? The only stuff I could find online was "I'll sell you my jig for $1,000" and other such nonsense.
              I'd definitely build my own jig if I could find someone who would tell me how/measurements...
              Lt. Col. Grace - "Lt. Murphey, why are you all dressed up to mack on the ladies?"
              Me - "Sir, you just answered your own question."


              • #8
                No, most many hobby would be what Charlie Sheen is doing. Building an AK is 2nd most manly hobby.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Murf425 View Post
                  Could you possibly hook me up with how you made your jig?

                  It's scary simple. I don't think it would work well bending the top rail, so you would need a flat with the top rails already bent. Otherwise do a search for the 555 jig. It'll do the top rails but requires significantly more fabrication to build.

                  Trigger Guard Rivet Jig http://www.ar15.com/content/page.html?id=125

                  Front Trunnion Rivet tool http://www.gunjunkie.net/index.php/T...vet-Tools.html
                  Last edited by JH164; 04-03-2011, 12:56 AM.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by JH164 View Post

                    It's scary simple. I don't think it would work well bending the top rail, so you would need a flat with the top rails already bent. Otherwise do a search for the 555 jig. It'll do the top rails but requires significantly more fabrication to build.

                    Trigger Guard Rivet Jig http://www.ar15.com/content/page.html?id=125

                    Front Trunnion Rivet tool http://www.gunjunkie.net/index.php/T...vet-Tools.html

                    As for the center support and long rear rivets, those I'll either do with a friend's press and some homemade bucking plates, or I'll heat the crush side of the rivet and hammer them with the same homemade bucking plates
                    If you need to borrow some tools for riveting, let me know as I have some. I own a set of the AIG AK building tools( trigger guard rivet jig and rod) and got a rivet jig for the rear rivets somewhere around here if I can find it.


                    • #11
                      These guys migth be a little more "manly".

                      "Corruptisima republica plurimae leges."

                      "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws."
                      - Cornelius Tacitus


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by SCV-Sop View Post
                        These guys migth be a little more "manly".

                        More like pure border line stupid


                        • #13
                          ^^^^my thoughts exactly
                          "I don't go on "I'maworthlesscumdumpster.com" and post negative **** about cum dumpsters."
                          The Tick

                          "Are you referring to the secret headquarters of a fictional crime fighter or penal complex slang for a-$$hole, anus or rectum?"

                          "and we all know you are a poser and a p*ssy.... "
                          Bearcat357 to Dinner Portion/buck8/long relief


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by M1garand View Post
                            More like pure border line stupid
                            Hey now... I've paid good money to do that exact thing on multiple occasions...
                            I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's.
                            - Mark Twain


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ArmyDiver View Post
                              Hey now... I've paid good money to do that exact thing on multiple occasions...
                              I've seen sharks while I was diving, but I didn't do it intentionally.

                              This one shark circled around me few times and gave me the look of "I don't eat junk food" and swam away from me.


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