Looking for a ‘Banned’ Russian AK-47, Saiga? Here’s How (cheaply).

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

Last week we reported on President Obama’s executive order 13662 stating the banning of Russian AK-47s, Saigas and Izhmash firearms and parts. While true on the surface, Texas Law Shield took a look. After a quick conversation, we need to make a couple of corrections and share some good news from the law guys.

An “Open” Division Saiga 12 in action

First, the executive order was signed months ago not last week. However, it takes time for the bureaucracy to figure out the details. Once the details were released (last week), the sanctions kicked in banning the Russian arms. Withal, Edwin Walker from Texas Law Shield wasn’t finished. In reading the order, specific companies and people were named, not the products. Therefore, it looks as if other companies could still manufacture and export AK-47s to the U.S.! If that were the case, how hard would it be for Kalashnikov Concern to open a new company or move manufacturing to a neighboring country and be right back in business? Like the AR platform, AKs already have multiple manufacturers so getting replacement parts may not be as big an issue as many previously believed. It’s no secret that some ARs command a premium price due to quality and many AK enthusiasts would say the same about Russian guns, but what about the same heart and soul (machines and gunsmiths) being relocated? Wouldn’t the Russian guns under a new name be just good?

I have been in the market for an AK and was set to pull the trigger on an upcoming sale when the news hit. Supply and demand ruled, and the seller had a sudden change of heart—about a 25% change of heart. My first reaction was to pony up and pay the extra; after all would prices go down any time soon or ever? Then I talked with Texas Law Shield and while the legal minds would not prognosticate about market forces and price, they did shed some light that changed my mind.

Why pay $1,000 for a Saiga that sold for $700-750 a couple of weeks ago? If not Russian, what would be the next best AK-47 that you would recommend? Building your own AR is extremely popular and there are plenty of parts and guides to ensure you do not run afoul of the 922(r) compliance laws, so what have your experiences been with building your own AK?

Share your thoughts on the best AKs and building your own 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 (33)

  1. I have built two so far. If you’re thinking of building one before you do take a class from Jim Fuller. He is the top builder in the US and is a great instructor.
    When it comes to staying 922 compliant, unless it’s a Class 3 firearm no one is ever going to know if you used all Russian parts for your gun except you and most local law enforcement agencies don’t even train officers to check, and they will be the main ones looking at your gun if it is ever needed.

    Not trying to give legal advice in any way

  2. Romanian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Egyptian AK’s are not banned. So, no big deal. I am only worried about the cheap (and good) Tula ammo.

    1. Chinese AK are banned in NJ. Now you can only get Romanian. However, they cannot have a bayonet mount.

      You can still get SKS. Sure they have the same round, however they look scary to NJ politicians who don’t understand the difference.

    2. That’s not true. There are still plenty of options out there for the AK fans in 1940’s Germany, wait, I mean NJ.

      I just purchased a Saiga IZ-132, and can convert it while still maintaining 922(r) and NJ compliance.

      You just have to know where to look. However it is true that the majority of AK’s available in NJ are going to be poorly made Romanian WASR-10’s.

  3. I will wait for American companies to fill the void with American assembled AK’s. Several companies are already producing domestic manufactured parts, such as barrels, bolts & carriers. Companies such as Rifle Dynamics will soon have an all American AK. Might cost a bit more than a Russian import, but I guarantee it will be a better firearm than the best Russian import. I will wait. I prefer to buy American made anyway. In the mean time, I will build myself another quality AR, before the liberal traitors amongst us figure out how to ban those as well.

  4. Just the fact that the words “ban” and “AK47” are in the same sentence will cause price hikes whether they are Russian or not, ammo included. The importers and retailers will use this scare to hit us at the wallet every time. I find, as stated earlier, the Yugo is a great manufacturer and there is plenty of ammo from other countries to be had, price? As I said above, they will use the situation to get that extra profit…

  5. Remember that this Executive Order only covers Russian manufactured AK’s. There are other countries that make them and I’m sure that the Kalashnikov company’s loss will be their gain.

  6. I just build my own from parts kits, the most fun headache I’ve ever had. You can go on YouTube and see builders such as Ginsboy2003, ThedarkKnightbuilds, or even me Mel64d and see what it takes to build your very own AK.

    1. I have a vz.58 by Czech Point USA. D-Technik. Awesome. Even more reason to worry about 7.63×39 shortages from ban scares.

  7. I have been building AK-47’s for a few years now and the Yugo’s are the best. Almost all except N-PAP’s have a 50% thicker receiver and use the thicker milled style barrels. They are as tough as nails. I even ran one over with a quad on accident. Go with any Yugo with the bulged trunnion (M70, M72, or O-PAP). You will not be disappointed.

  8. There are plenty of highly rated Polish (Random) AK’s and Yugo (Zavasta) NPAP-AK’s on the market…. and these AK’s are very good…. or there is always the lesser quality WASR from Romania, although I hear that they have greatly improved over the last 5 years…..

  9. Is there any update on whether AK-47 AMMO will be affected? It seems like all the inexpensive stuff is made in Russia.

    1. I’d guess it would be also banned, or would soon be.
      This is all part of the sanctions over the Ukraine business. Once that is cleared up, that ban will go away as a make nice gesture with the Russians.
      Many presidents have done such things over the years, not only this one.

    2. My bet is, Obama lifts sanctions but signs a bill or signs somthing that leaves the AK and anmo ban (if banned too) in place. It’s too good an opportunity to let go. If it is totally lifted, it won’t be the Obama administration but rather the next republican administration. And that’s if even THEY give a sh*t about it.

      A lot of ak ammo is also imported from the Ukraine but that’s likely to come to a halt by nature of the Ukrainians needing it for their current conflict.

      If ak ammo is blocked from importation, it’ll be a shooter’s disaster 90% of ak ammo is Russian. Say hello to $22 for a box of 20 of 7.62×39 that’s made anywhere. Possibly more.

    3. Obama can’t leave a ban in place with an EO. As much as he wants to, an import ban is above his power. The reason the current ban is legitimate is because it’s a directive added on to a congressional approved sanction. The “ban” is not against just Russian Ak’s, but all products produced by Russian companies. Once the sanctions are dropped by congress, the EO has absolutely no power, again because it is an addition to a congressional approved sanction. The sanctions are not approved against Ukrainian companies, and are likely not to have any placed on them as government has a long history of supporting a side by “purchasing” goods then “selling” other goods to them. This is a way to keep your hands clean being able to say you not supporting a side. An example would be in WW2 before Pearl Harbor, America was trying to stay out of the war. We bought goods from the British, and in return we sold them arms. We could then legally say we weren’t directly supplying the British with weapons. The feds have also given financial aid to a side then sold arms to them to get around the supporting a side. This is unlike what Russians are doing to support separatists, Russia literally gives them the weapons, and trains them to use them, when training is needed.

  10. Russia isn’t the only country importing AK-47s into this country. What about Romaniam, Yugoslavia, and other formerly com-bloc countries? I think Bulgaria makes the best AK-47/74s (yes, better than the Russian ones). Also, there are domestic makers of AK-47s that might help fill the void. So potential buyers needn’t panic-buy. There are other options.

    Besides, who says this ban won’t be overturned anyway!

  11. Russia is out of control. They have been for a long time now, but recently it is getting much worse. It’s time, we need to do something about it. Too bad Europe doesn’t have the stones to deal with the problem that is in their own backyard. Russia’s oil is to valuable to them. Buy American.

    I know it’s popular to jump on O’bama every chance there is, but he was right in doing what he did. He didn’t sign a bill banning any gun. He placed a restriction on people and organizations that aid the Russian government. That just so happened to include a couple Russian gun manufacturers, along with many other services and products. I’m sure he’s not crying over the fact that these gun manufacturers are affected, but I also believe that was not his agenda here. We need to man up a bit and realize that sometime we have to bite the bullet, (pun intended) and do what’s right. I repeat, take a vacation from the Russian AK, there’s many others. Better yet, as I said earlier, Buy American.

    Now you have someone else to lambaste, me.

  12. This “Ban” will not effect AK47’s as much as Saiga and Vepr shotguns. It’s not a mystery that actual Russian AK’s are a very small number of all AK’s, however, most AK based shotguns are Russian and in much higher percentages. To produce these shotguns in other countries will require expensive retooling for barrels and bolts etc. I believe if you want a Russian shotgun, buy it now, because they will be as hard to find and as expensive as Norinco AK47’s have been since Clinton banned them. A ban that still exists to this day.

    1. Why were Norincos banned? I saw one at a gun range a few months ago, and it looked pretty cool.

  13. Agreed. Although not on point of this article, there’s not much I cannot do with my bulgarian SLR-101s in 7.62×39 that I CAN do with my bush ar-15 in .223 at 100 or 200 yards. Same accuracy and same fun. If only 1, it’d be the SLR.

    To the point, however, I truly hope this country survives this rabid anti-American ideologue. Our great nation is mostly asleep as this fugazy president transforms it in plain sight into his vision, which is the opposite of what it’s intended to be, a free republic. His anti American, anti freedom is on a level this country’s never seen. So much so, it’s not even noticed by the masses. It’s so brazen, it’s not believed. They think he’s cool. Really. Yes, the voting population is so frikken enammered with his coolness, they’re not seeing his hands around their own necks. And, he’s also a raging undeniable anti-white racist. If you’re white and love & believe in something, he’s sure to be against it.

    I’m not looking foreword to seeing him on tv and in the news daily for the next 30 years. Talk shows, celebrity events, speeches and the like.

    After his presidency ends, I promise you, he’s gonna be so visible, active & voiced with an even bigger cult following. People will be attacked for bashing him. Asked how you could ever not like him, Like you’re crazy.

    He’s deep into his goal of ruining a great republic, something he’s always viewed as a horrible mistake that needs fixing. I could babble on for hours how I loathe this sad example of an American.

    God save the republic and may God bless America.

  14. So often we dont remember past history, the saying “History repeats itself” is relevant for today . The first thing that Communist dictators do when they come into power is to take the peoples guns away, so you can not oppose a tryranical goverment. The following is a quote from past history. “Germans who wish to use firearms should join the SS or SA, ordinary citizens don’t need guns, as their having guns doesn’t serve the State” Heinrich Himmler: Reichsfuher – SS”

  15. Regardless of what brand can be used, and accuracy etc.. People are overlooking the fact the Obama admin is doing their best to dismantle the 2nd amendment. To me this is the most important thing to recognize. The EO that was passed is a “Beta Test” in seeing what the reaction of the public will be. More bans are coming, so you should buy what you can, when you can, as many as you can.

  16. Although the AK is a nice, simple to operate and practical weapon the fact is it isn’t very accurate even at intermediate ranges. A good US made alternative for more accuracy is the Sig Sauer 556R. This isn’t an AK, but it uses AK ammunition, magazines and the 7.62×39 cartridge can really shine and show its value, capabilities and accuracy and intermediate ranges with this weapon.

    That said, we need more entrepreneurial gunsmiths to start a US made quality brand ordnance using AK derivative designs. Hopefully, we’ll see them in the Southern part of the US!

    1. Arsenal has been importing and making whole Sam rifles for a long time, when it comes to accuracy I would put up a US made Sam against the SIG any day. Yeah the older Sam rifles ,like the SAM5s in 5.56, command a lot more then most. But there is accurate AK rifles out there, you just have to pay for them. The Newer SAM5 rifles come in at 1300$ and those are said to be almost as nice as the older SLR and US made SAM rifles, but made in Bulgaria and cost a little less for a nice one. Not all ak rifles are wasr, paps, m+m, or whatever else the low grade guns are called, or parts kits guns with the usually not to great green mountain barrel.

  17. Why dont we just trash the whole worthless NFA and be done with it? The whole thing is totally archaic and needs to be gutted to the extent that doing away with it would simply be easier. At the same time we could address some amendments that would prevent ridiculous future executive orders such as this.

  18. Its simply another case of the Obama DUH factor! He has heard of the AK., Sooooooo he figures this is a good opportunity to ban them because they are ‘assault rifles.’ This ban only applies to the Russian versions made after the EO went into effect. Did you know that 95% of all AKs are made outside of Russia? Good try Barry but virtually no effect on the AK market. Go out and buy all the AKs you want!

    1. That was all more of obozo’s bullshyt anyway…he was just trying to irritate putin!!

    2. Not to upend your tinfoil hattery, but this was fairly obviously not about restricting gun imports. It’s really clearly about reducing any type of Russian exports we can think of. This is a (very small) part of the Crimea backlash sanctions; any way they can think to take a few bucks out of Putin’s hands without hurting the US they’ll probably try.

      BTW, I have a Romanian AK-47 that I’m quite pleased with. I suppose I agree that the Russian ones are somewhat higher quality, but I really doubt that it was enough to justify the price premium even before this ban. I think folks are in large part just paying for the idea of it being Russian.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Your discussions, feedback and comments are welcome here as long as they are relevant and insightful. Please be respectful of others. We reserve the right to edit as appropriate, delete profane, harassing, abusive and spam comments or posts, and block repeat offenders. All comments are held for moderation and will appear after approval.

Discover more from The Shooter's Log

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading