Review: Molot VEPR FM-AK47

By Eve Flanigan published on in Firearms, Reviews

From Russia, with love is no longer just a James Bond film. Although Section 922(r) of U.S. statutes has restricted importation of entire firearms from certain enemy states since 2002, the FIME Group of Las Vegas, Nevada is keeping it legal and fun by importing parts for the AKM and other VEPR rifles and shotguns from the renowned Molot factory in Kirov, Russia, and adding FIME Group-made components to produce and sell complete firearms.

right profile of an AK-47 on a red t-sirt

When one of your favorite old films is Russian-themed, you might as well have a rifle to match.

FIME stands for Firearms Importers, Manufacturers, and Exporters. Partner company K-Var has been in the AKM supplies business for a long time. I was excited to get my hands on one rendition of the VEPR platform, an AKM called the FM-AK47. Like other AKMs, it’s chambered in 7.62×39.

The FM is built with RPK machine gun-inspired components and styling. With a 1.5mm thick stamped receiver and FIME Group’s chrome-lined RPK-style barrel, it’s built to take the heat. The black, industrial-looking polymer handguards, also by FIME, are stainless-steel lined to keep things cool during sustained fire.

Like the RPK, the FM does not have a bayonet lug or externally mounted cleaning rod—though it does come with a cleaning kit and features a trapdoor in the butt plate for storage. This, and the polymer stock, saves weight on what might otherwise be a heavy gun. It weighs in at 7.8 pounds sans magazine.

view down the sights of a FM-AK47 rifle

A windage-adjustable rear sight is a nice touch.

FIME Group updated the rifle’s look with a handsome flash hider. A premium accessory is the windage-adjustable rear sight. The front sight post, safety, charging handle, and overall operation are in traditional AK styling.

A frequent complaint about AK-style rifles is a lack of quality control where riveting and the front sight post are concerned. There is no lack of plumb lines and fittings on the FM I tested. Although the owner’s manual admonishes not to fret if the front sight appears crooked, there’s nothing that I’ve found that’s off kilter. Every rivet is perfectly centered; every hole appears perfectly drilled. Hold it up to the light in any direction, and there’s no shine-through where light doesn’t belong.

The trigger is FIME Group’s double-stage trigger, with an approximate five-pound pull. The initial take-up is about a quarter-inch. Reset is clear after a short half- inch journey, but not crisp. Trigger snobs will find something to dislike here. To me, it feels like a normal, consistent milspec carbine trigger.

The five-round magazine that comes with the rifle is a bit of a disappointment capacity-wise, but it works well, and comes in quite handy for those low shots in prone. Having tried a passel of other AK magazines in the gun, I found that all fed without flaw. The only polymer one in the group was a Magpul 30-rounder, and it was the only one that proved a bit tricky to load. There’s a slightly larger flange on the fore panel that requires the operator to insert it just right for a smooth load. Firing this carbine on a timed test, I chose to leave that mag behind in favor of heavier, traditional ones.

3 touching shots from an AK-47 at 25 yards

Three rounds, one hole from 25 yards with cheap ammo. Impressive.

Most of my firing on this rifle has been with cheap, steel-cased Tulammo FMJ. I did also put 70 rounds of Fiocchi steel-cased target ammo, as well as 100 rounds of BBM, a brass-cased 123-grain FMJ made in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After approximately 550 rounds, the FM has yet to misfeed or misfire—something I was expecting, and wouldn’t have blamed on the gun, with less expensive ammo.

Being that it’s an AK, I wasn’t expecting miracles in the accuracy department. The FM pleasantly surprised me when, with iron sights, fired from prone with the forend only supported, and loaded with cheap Tulammo, it placed three rounds in one hole at 25 yards. My eyesight becomes a negative influence on accuracy tests much beyond that distance. Hitting a 36-inch square plate from 175 yards from standing is easy pickings for this rifle, though.

There’s an optic-mounting rail on the left side of the receiver, handily made to accommodate most commercial AK sight mounts. Using UTG’s quick-release rail mount and Tactical Intent’s low rail mount for the Aimpoint Micro, I put the red dot on the carbine. There must be some movement in that system, as my 25-yard group opened up to 1.25 inches at best with the BBM, and 1.5 inches with Tulammo. The Aimpoint, however, made a world of difference when shooting for speed at 100, 75, and 50 yards. When the very low rear sight was hard to align with haste, especially on a black target with a black front sight post, having a red dot on the rifle speeded the operation up to an acceptable level. Using my state’s police timed day carbine qualification as a standard, I twice scored 90 percent with the red dot; 82 with irons. One of the missed shots on each represents no inaccuracy on the FM’s part, but my own need to learn where precision holdovers are at 15 yards.

Woman in a crouched position shooting an AK-47

Firing the Molot VEPR FM-AK47 is a lot of fun.

There were two problems with this rifle. Both can be overcome. The first issue was adjusting windage via the front sight post—an unnecessary move since the rear sight can move sideways, but I nevertheless took it on. It was tight and non-responsive to the casing-and-mallet method, aided by WD-40. I moved on to an inexpensive commercial sight tool, which it promptly deformed. The same happened to a second sight tool. It did finally respond to a Magna-matic sight tool. The obvious upside to this is, now that zero is set where I want it, it’ll stay.

It was disappointing when the rear sling attachment, a 180-degree swiveling wire loop on the stock, became deformed after just about 30 minutes of normal range use. For traditionalists who’d want to keep using the loop, this might be an important factor. I’ll likely retrofit the rifle with a commercially available single-point adapter. Whether this issue matters depends on the user.

The Molot VEPR FM-AK47 retails for $999. That’s on par with premium factory AKs, like Arsenal, and about 25 percent more than sometimes problem-riddled entry level models. Worth it? I think so. This thing is, except for the rear sling attachment, built like a tank, accurate, and should last through lifetimes with decent care.

I believe it’s a good thing to be competent on the platform carried by most enemy combatants. If nothing else, shooting an AK, especially this one, is fun. If it’s used regularly, the lower cost of ammunition can soon justify the FM-AK47’s cost in comparison to lower-priced AKMs. For those committed to buying American, FIME Group’s contributions cover that base for the majority of parts.

Have you had an opportunity to shoot the Molot VEPR FM-AK47? What is your favorite model of AK? Share your answers in the comment section.

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Comments (7)

  • JR

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    I researched available AK’s for about a year before I brought another one. Corresponded with custom shops, read reviews, checked out manufacturers web sites and any other info out there I could get my hands on.
    Overwhelmingly the answer that came back was Arsenal. I’ve not been disappointed. I can rock a 18″x18″ steel plate at 400 yards with a 3x red dot. Maybe not a great feat in the eyes of some, but it works for me.
    This is not to disparage VEPR. I’ve owned two in the past. One built by Roberson Arms that was even more remarkable than my present Arsenal and one that just a plain Jane from the factory but required altered mags that were hard to find but was a fine rifle regardless.
    In the end, however, if one has to compare, price wise, a VEPR to an Arsenal why would you buy a VEPR?
    When you are laying out over a grand for a rifle terms like “as good as”and “compares to” don’t really make a lot of sence.

    Reply

  • cath8r

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    You can’t really compare the price of this with the price of an entry level AR or AK, because this isn’t an entry level AKM. My only 2 complaints with it are the stock and the handguards (mostly the stock). I would have paid a little more to have a better stock. The one that comes with it is not a deal breaker, but it’s seriously cheapo. If you ever remove it you will see what I mean. The handguards are not horrible, but they aren’t great, either. Like I said, neither are deal breakers. Check out Rob Ski’s reviews of this rifle on YouTube and you’ll see why the extra money you spend on the VEPR is money well spent. Also consider the AK74 variant…I have both and wouldn’t part with them.

    Reply

  • Steve in Detroit

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    Is it a over sized AK or a under sized RPK? The just discontinued 107 in 5.45 was better. I believe FIME did this to drive price up, again. In a world od $400 ARs that work and $750 AKs that do not this is crazy. US manufacturers do not understand that a AK needs forged trunnions and bolt carrier to work. Yet they keep trotting out cast trunnion models in the $700 range. No wonder there are more Parts Kit AKs in US that work rather than US made or Imported.

    Reply

    • Casey

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      First off, I agree with your point Steve. Although, I hope you meant an AK needs a minimum of a forged trunnion and bolt?!? I prefer a solid billet trunnion and bolt which you can get on a couple American made AK’s and a few rare imported ones.

      Reply

  • Pgdgus

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    If it has rpk style adjustable rear sight like the picture shows then why mess with front sight.

    Reply

  • Casey

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    Nice review! I am definitely a fan of the Russian Vepr and although I am certainly a made-in-America kind of guy, there are certain things the Russians just make better! I hope FIME has changed that.
    If possible could you do a review on the Palmetto State Armory PSAk-47 “MOEkov” rifle???

    Reply

  • docduracoat

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    It is a sure sign of the coming apocalypse when a AK costs more than an AR!
    Arsenal, and now Molot make high end AK’s that are very nice rifles
    I don’t know why you had a problem with your red dot on the side rail, mine is rock solid on my Arsenal AK
    An entry level AK is now $600 and an entry AR is $500
    A Colt or FN is $900 and a Molot is over $1,000
    I actually AK’s better (have both) but it is hard to justify that price

    Reply

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