Where’s My AK-47? It’s Hunting Time!

By Bob Campbell published on in AK, Firearms, Guest Posts, Hunting, Rifles

Whether you love or hate the AK-47, you must admit the rifle is among the most successful designs of all time. Mikhail Kalashnikov designed the rifle for reliable operation in the harshest conditions. The rifle has not failed to meet his expectations. The AK-47, adopted by the Soviet Union in 1947, has been around long enough for many to have an opinion about it.

AK-47 with camo finish lying on a against a tree, barrel pointed down and to the right.

While not usually thought of as such, the AK-47 is a friendly rifle to use and fire. Think about it—light recoil and nothing breaks!

The Great Points

The AK has many excellent points:

  • It is simple and economical to produce
  • Easily maintained
  • Reliable, above all else

The military rifle is a select-fire version capable of fully-automatic fire. Commercial rifles fire in the semi-auto mode. While the rifle is original in some ways, it uses a gas piston system similar to the American M1 Garand.

As the cartridge propellant ignites, some of the propellant gas produced bleeds off from the barrel and propels a gas piston that actuates the bolt carrier. The bolt carrier ends in an angled cam track that fits into a lug on the bolt. The bolt is forced rearward and cammed counterclockwise. This takes the locking lugs out of contact with the receiver.

During this operation, the bolt flies to the rear, the spent case ejects and the bolt moves forward, stripping a round from the magazine and feeding this cartridge into the chamber.

Camo AK-47 with original medium brown parts below it, barrel pointed to the right on a white background.

If you do not like Camo… Well, put it back to original.

There is a lot going on when the AK-47 fires, and the bolt is heavy. Some feel the design leads to poor accuracy, but accuracy is relative.

The AK-47 is not a long-range rifle by any means, and it demonstrates adequate combat accuracy to well over 100 yards. There are many types of AK-47 rifles and the type has been built the world over.

Common features include

  • Leaf-style rear sights
  • Protected front sight
  • Curved 30-round box magazine
  • Long safety lever on the right side of the receiver
  • Characteristic angled muzzle brake and flash hider
  • Length of pull with the wooden stock is 14 inches—ideal for the average shooter

I see the value in the AK-47 rifle—primarily for recreation. I have had a strong bent for many years to simply to take a firearm to the range and to discover how it performs.

  • Will it function when dirty?
  • When overheated?
  • How does it handle?
  • Is it fast into action?
  • How accurate is it with different loads?

I have enjoyed firing the AK-47 and also testing it against different rifles. When all is said and done, here is a rifle that doesn’t jam and handles well.

The Right Loads

Orange box of Hornady’s A Max ammunition with cartridges displayed on the left against a white background.

Hornady’s A Max is a modern load that maximizes the caliber.

The safety—sometimes criticized—is very similar to the safety lever found on the Remington Model 8—and the Model 8 is a classic and much-loved rifle. The AK-47 is so popular that it has seen use in the hunting field. And in the field, against deer-sized game at moderate range or hogs at close range, the cartridge is proven. It handles quickly, which is important in the brush. The cartridge is sometimes compared to the .30-30 Winchester. However, the 7.62 x 39mm is actually a more efficient cartridge.

The 7.62 x 39mm hunting loads such as the Winchester 123-grain JSP send a 123-grain bullet from the AK’s muzzle at 2300 fps or so. The 150-grain .30-30 Winchester averages about 2200 fps. However, if you handload, it is possible to equal, or exceed, the .30-30 WCF by jolting a 150-grain bullet to 2,300 fps. The Cor Bon 150-grain hunting load in 7.62 x 39mm is faster and has more energy than the average .30-30 WCF load, but achieves this from a shorter barrel. The cartridges are closer than most realize. As a 50-yard brush gun, the AK has much merit.

Accuracy

AK-47 with camo finish, barrel pointed to the right, lying on a log.

The non-reflective, matte finish and camo are great for the woods.

As for accuracy, the average .30-30 lever-action rifle groups three shots into two inches at 100 yards, with the occasional Marlin rifle demonstrating 1.5 MOA. The AK-47 misses absolute accuracy. It is probably best considered a 4.5 MOA rifle.

The Winchester JSP is a good hunting load and often groups three shots into 3.5 inches at 100 yards forming a good tight AK.

It takes attention to detail, a proper rest and avoiding pressure on the forearm to accomplish even 4 MOA with the AK-47. However, that’s OK because it it is best to use it a little closer.

Why Purchase the AK-47

Most of you will probably purchase an AK-47 rifle for critical use or for recreation. That’s fine. Enjoying owning the rifle simply because we can is good enough reason. However, if you are going on a hog hunt, the weather is bad and you do not wish to rust the Winchester… the AK may have merit. And that tough old hog may demand an extra round or two. The AK can deliver.

The more I use the AK-47 rifle, the more I appreciate it. The AK-47’s looks may put you off, but don’t let it keep you from enjoying the rifle. After all, when I was a youngster more than one of the ex-GI’s in the family hunted with the humble .30 M1 carbine.

Maybe it wasn’t accurate enough and, on paper, it didn’t look like it had enough energy and it did bring home the meat. In the woods hunting, it did fine to about 50 yards as long as it was loaded with the Winchester 110-grain JHP.

Camo AK-47 pointed to the left on a white background.

This is the author’s camo AK—pretty cool!

I am just pointing out that the AK is far from the first military rifle with a 30-round magazine to take deer!

The AK rifle is not as inexpensive as it once was and remains a bargain when the performance is considered. Ammunition is still affordable. Steel cased FMJ loads are excellent recreational loads while the modern JSP loads give the rifle a new lease on life as a sporting gun.

And why not? Only the best rifles are capable of such as crossover. The .351 Winchester was used by lawmen, our allies, prison guards and in the field. The hoary old Remington Model 8 did not see military use as far as I know and it was designed to accept a stripper clipp and was a very popular lawman’s gun and sporting rifle. I can attest to the fact that the Remington was little—if any—more accurate than the AK-47 and, in .30, Remington no more powerful.

If the AK-47 is your rifle and you have the chance to go hunting, choose a good load, practice first and keep the range short.

The rifle will surprise you.

Specifications and Features

  • Caliber: 7.62×39 mm
  • Action Type: gas-operated, semi-automatic center-fire rifle
  • Receiver: 4140 steel
  • Barrel Length: 16 1⁄2″
  • Rifling: four-groove, 1:10″ RH twist
  • Magazine: 30-round box magazine
  • Sights: front post adjustable for elevation, rear adjustable for windage and elevation
  • Trigger: two-stage, 6-lb., 12-oz. pull
  • Stock: polymer: length of pull, 14″; drop at heel, 2″; drop at comb, 11 1⁄16″
  • Overall Length: 37 1⁄4″
  • Weight: 8 lbs.

How do you use the AK-47? What’s your favorite thing about it? Share in the comment section.

Bob Campbell is a former peace officer and published author with over 40 years combined shooting and police and security experience. Bob holds a degree in Criminal Justice. Bob is the author of the books, The Handgun in Personal Defense, Holsters for Combat and Concealed Carry, The 1911 Automatic Pistol, The Gun Digest Book of Personal Protection and Home Defense, The Shooter’s Guide to the 1911, The Hunter and the Hunted, and The Complete Illustrated Manual of Handgun Skills. His latest book is Dealing with the Great Ammo Shortage. He is also a regular contributor to Gun Tests, American Gunsmith, Small Arms Review, Gun Digest, Concealed Carry Magazine, Knife World, Women and Guns, Handloader and other publications. Bob is well-known for his firearm testing.

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Comments (44)

  • Richard from AZ

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    Bill, the DPMS LR-308 AR-10 is 7.62×51. LR stands for Long Range. It has a 24″ stainless bull barrel. This morning on their website I discovered they have a new model, the LR-308B, which has an 18″ bull chrome-moly barrel. They say “it’s 2 pounds lighter and a nice blend of hunting and benchrest”….sweet!!
    But I know this is an AK47 forum so I’ll get back on topic. Basically I’m a detail-oriented person who gets addicted to hobbies. When I was addicted to golf I had to try every golf club on Ebay :)….but I can’t do that with guns. I have a budget too. I got tired of seeing all the cheap steel cased ammo for AK47′s when I was buying brass for my AR’s, so now I’m fascinated by the whole AK47 concept, and I’m really looking forward to studying everything that’s out there, and I may swap my AR-15 for another AK47, since I have to watch my budget.
    BTW I really appreciate DB Cooper’s analysis this morning. Thanks DB!

    Reply

  • Bill from Boomhower, Texas

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    “Detail-oriented”, huh? Well, my wife and I are only kids, and she has a much more harsh discription of my interests. I used to re-load for my bolt guns and revolvers, so seeing the steel ammo was new and different for me as well, but I was never an auto-loader fan, so chasing any fired brass would be a hassle anyway, and the steel isn’t re-loadable. The thing about that steel stuff and cheap 7.62 x 39 is that the AK family in general, will digest it just fine, where guys with Ruger Mini 30s and such, have feeding problems, from what I’ve read. The AKs are just built to a looser tolerance, which may inhibit accurracy, but gives back tons in reliability with off brand ammo, and a little mud and dirt thrown in, at least from what I’ve read. (Someone correct me here, if I’m wrong) I won’t be using mine for any long shots, and I don’t have the pleasure of getting to hunt anymore, but if pressed to hunt, mine would work fine for deer sized table fare, on down. My eyes certainly aren’t what they were when I could tolerate sitting still in a tree on a sub-freezing morning, as daylight approached, but mine will be primarily deployed for 5 acre defense, or SHTF. The TABUK sure looks like fun for 50 acre defense though.

    Reply

  • Jim Ford

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    Richard, If you are going to the gun show in Phoenix, stop by J & G’s table and take a look at the CAI VZ 2008 rifles they may still have on sale(under $500). Outwardly the VZ looks like an AK variant and shoots 7.62×39 and may even have the same iron sights, but that’s all they have in common. The Czech designed VZ is striker fired rather than hammer fired and DOES NOT USE AK MAGAZINES. The receiver is machined steel not stamped but it weighs about a pound less than a similar configured AK. Surplus magazines are made of aluminum which also lightens the loaded weight. The safety selector is much like an AR’s but on the right side—much easier to use than the AK’s tough to move leaver. I have side folder stock on mine with a rubber slip on butt plate. I also tossed the slant cut muzzle break and found a RIGHT HANDED THREAD RPG type muzzle break/flash suppressor for it. It makes for a fine little truck cab carbine for food or varmints (two & four legged). If you guys are going to hunt anything inside of 200 yards with 7.62×39—try some Tulammo 154 grain soft points. I buy the in San Antonio for $5.99 box of 20. I get pretty dang close to the same point of aim with 122, 123, 125, or 154 grain Russian ammo.

    Reply

  • Richard from AZ

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    Hi Jim,

    I’ll look for the CAI VZ 2008 at the J&G table. It sounds like you’re excited about it, and I’ll ask them some questions as well. Basically I’m going to be patient and enjoy the search for another AK47, and try to learn as much as I can.
    On my first trip to the shooting range with the Zastava M92, I tried Herters (made in Russia) 122gr HP and FMJ, and I bought a couple boxes of 154gr SP to see if it fed OK. I was too busy learning how to control the M92 and shoot fast to do any comparisons with the 154gr for accuracy and trajectory. What I’d REALLY like to do is go to the desert soon and set up some kind of penetration test with the 3 bullet styles, then compare those to my 44 magnum, just for curiosity and since the M92 is technically a “pistol”, LOL.
    Thanks for all the info. I’ll let you know here if I find the CAI VZ 2008.

    Reply

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