Firearms

AK-47 Receiver Identification: Milled vs. Stamped

Here at Cheaper Than Dirt!, we get many questions about milled vs. stamped receivers. Today, we will discuss the differences between the two and explain how to identify different AKs.

Stamped and llilled AK-47 receiver
When looking at the rear of the receiver, it is obvious why a stock for a stamped receiver will not fit a milled one. (Image courtesy TAPCO)
AK-type rifles have two main types of receivers: milled and stamped. These days, the country of origin is usually the determining factor in which type you may possess. Distinguishing the two can be a task for someone who does not know the specific differences. The following tips should help you learn those differences so you can identify your type of receiver.

Milled Receivers

The first AK-47s had milled receivers. Manufacturers machined each from a solid block of steel, which made them very sturdy but also very heavy. One of the easiest ways to visually differentiate a milled receiver is the large, rectangular-shaped cutout, which is nearly 5 inches long, above and in front of the magazine well. It was designed to reduce the overall weight of the rifle.

The trigger guard is stamped and riveted on to the bottom of the receiver in a similar way as a stamped receiver. The pistol grip nut is riveted in place on the receiver just behind the trigger guard. The magazine well and magazine front latch slot are machined into the receiver. You should also notice that some of the sharp edges above the trigger and magazine were milled off (chamfered).

Stamped Receivers

Stamped receivers are more common and easier to build or make yourself. While makers machine milled receivers out of solid blocks of steel, they “stamp” stamped receivers from a flat piece of thin metal bent into a box shape and riveted with a center spacer with both front and rear trunnions. Visually, you can easily differentiate stamped receivers from milled ones by noticing the small, shallow indentation—about 1-inch long—on each side of the receiver, directly above the magazine well. The indentation is called the “magazine guide,” which should not be confused with the large, weight-reducing cutout found on a milled receiver. You also can differentiate the two by the many external rivet heads on the sides of a stamped receiver.

WASR The trigger guard is stamped, just like milled, and riveted on to the bottom of the receiver. The grip screw nut, however, is a separate piece that fits down from inside the receiver through a square hole behind the trigger guard. Pistol grips usually are interchangeable between receiver types.

Most think milled receivers are stronger than their stamped counterparts. Some authorities also believe they are more inherently accurate, but there are some who dismiss that difference as negligible or deny it altogether. Despite the differing opinions, according to Soviet manuals, stamped receivers generally have a longer life expectancy in terms of rounds fired.

There are many countries making both types of receivers, so please do not assume that your receiver is milled or stamped based on its country of origin.

Which receiver do you prefer? Have you experienced an accuracy difference between a stamped or milled receiver? Tell us in the comment section.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (19)

  1. It is not true that the first AKs had milled receivers. The AK-47 type 1 had a stamped receiver and was produced for around 3 years beginning in 1948. Unfortunately, Russian stamping technology and quality control at that time was not sufficient to ensure reliable function. The type 2 AK, actually designated by the Soviets as the AK-49, had a milled receiver as did the type 3 AK. Finally, by 1959 the Soviets got the stamping process worked out and began producing the “modern” version of the AK, the AKM, with a stamped receiver.

  2. Pingback: Top 10 AK Posts
  3. My Arsenal Bulgarian milled AK47 is one accurate gun. I know for a fact that it is much accurate than my Bulgarian stamped AK74. There is a difference between a milled and stamped receiver. For me, the milled receiver is the way to go!

    1. Too many variables to compare accuracy between milled and stamped, unless you put your milled barrel on your stamped receiver!. I’d think that manufacturing tolerances can make or break your accuracy numbers, even among the same rifle examples.. The slow-mo videos of the barrel whipping when fired would lead me to believe that these will never be 1 or 2 MOA weapons.Your mileage may vary

  4. P. S. Also, while I’m sure the rear sights may serve me well on this gun, I saw something somewhere about an aperture peep site for these, I thought. Can’t remember where now, but I probably bookmarked it on my phone. I can’t see how the existing sight would be remov ed, I thought the peep sight was on a dove tail, but can’t remember. Mine doesn’t appear to be made like that, and there is a small metal lever on the right side of the reciever, at the front of the rear sight, where it pivots. I can’t see what it does. Anybody familiar with this?

  5. I’m new to AKs, and just bought a Century Arms yesterday from the Boomhower Gun Show. The salesman pointed to the stock rivets pinning the wood stock through the stamped reciever, saying that I couldn’t change to anything else. While I don’t mind the traditional familiar look of the wood on this gun, I’d really like to at least have the same design in black synthetic, and believe I might prefer a collapsable 6 position on it. Surely, there is some way, maybe by grinding off the rivets and bolting on a 6 position stock later. I haven’t even fired it yet, but would appreciate anyone’s input who may have done something similar. Please feel free to drop me an E-mail if you’ve been through any mods like this. Seems like a Dremel and some E-poxy could help. Thanks guys. Bill from Boomhower, Texas.
    Boomhowertx@hotmail.com

  6. I agree with tom. I bought a tapco collapsible stock for a milled receiver that they said need no gunsmithing. That was a lie,if you buy a stock for a milled receiver you will have to purchase a lower tang from kvar. You cannot just add the stock and use one tang because you will break the upper tang. Well this is the problem I had with my Arsenal Slr95. Point is don’t sell something you say needs no modification when in reality there is a lot of work involved in getting a collapsible stock on a milled receiver.

  7. Several months ago, I ordered a shoulder stock kit to replace a thumb hole stock on a Mak-90 I had bought back in the 90’s. The CTD add said it was for a “milled” receiver, which is what my AK is. However, after I received the kit, it would not fit. I had specifically stated that I needed a stock for a Norinco “milled” receiver AK. I returned it for a refund, but it cost me a bunch in shipping. I was, and still am, quite disappointed in the misleading ad.

  8. Has anyone noticed how astronomically the prices of accessories vary on the AK47? I have several and it’s difficult to tell the difference in what makes some of them worth so much more than the “so called” cheapos or knock offs. What’s your view on it?

  9. The AK-47 is by far my most favorite! I currently have the WASR 10/63 with a very well milled magazine well so my mags fit nice and snug (unlike some). I’d prefer to get another, any ideas where to find a deal?

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