Buyer’s Guide to the AK Family of Rifles

Ak-47 on cement ground

This article aims to help the first-time AK buyer get the necessary information to make an informed purchase of an AK-47 or AK-74 rifle.

It is not for the current AK owner and collector, and as such, you may feel unchallenged by this information. That is OK. We still love to have you here. Feel free to read along with us, and add any relevant knowledge you may feel appropriate in the comment section.

Here, we are only talking about purchasing the civilian-legal semi-automatic version of the Automatic Kalashnikov Model 47, or AK-47, which goes by many trade names and designations but is still a rose by any other name.

Today’s semi-automatic AK market is flooded with Kalashnikovs, ranging from marginal to excellent quality. You may find that the deciding factor is your “hip-pocket national bank” (your wallet). We can work with you, as well as the buyer with deep pockets, who is ready to purchase but just needs a push in the right direction.

Some Basics

The AK-47 and AK-74 rifles are, by far, the most produced modern small arms in the world. Some estimates are as high as 100 million copies. That means the AK accounts for one out of every five firearms in the world. In addition, they are quite the “bad boys” of the firearms world and for good reason. The AK has earned a reputation for being an extremely reliable weapon under all possible conditions. That is a good thing. Since they are such good weapons, and the full-auto version is relatively cheap on the international black market, they are the choice for many—especially gangs, drug traffickers and terrorists everywhere. In fact, the U.S. military has faced the AK-47 in just about every conflict from Vietnam to the present day—thus, the bad-boy reputation. You already should be over the “not invented here” syndrome, or you would not be thinking about buying one. Believe it or not, and much to their loss, many folks suffer from that malady.

Introduced in 1947, the AK-47 has been in use for a long time. The AK-74 came out in 1974. Pretty easy to remember, huh? Actually, that method of model numbering is common in the European world, where the rifle is simply named after its design or introduction year.

The 7.62x39mm round has good stopping power, favorably compares to the .30-30 cartridge, and is plentiful since countless shiploads of ammo have come here in the last 20 years. In fact, it is virtually a universal cartridge. The AK-74 5.45x39mm round is less well-known. It is essentially the Soviet’s answer to the 5.56 NATO round. For the past few years, inexpensive (and corrosive) surplus 5.45 ammo has been available, but it may be drying up now. New production ammunition still is available in great numbers, so ammo availability is not a factor. The AK is also available in 5.56 NATO for those who need it. however, most folks looking to buy their first AKs will stick with the original 7.62×39 caliber.

The U.S. has imported millions of AK magazines throughout the years. The basic AK-47 mag is a steel, 30-round banana mag. While prices have risen through the years, used surplus and unissued condition magazines still are available at a reasonable price. The great thing about AK mags, because the demand is so high, they now make them new in the U.S. Those are mostly the polymer variety, and most are high quality and very usable. However, the very best polymers are from places such as Bulgaria, which produces the “waffle mag” with the Circle 10 arsenal mark at the bottom. Those are highly recommended if you go polymer. Of course, all the polymer mags are impervious to rust (not including the springs) and are very robust. East German and Polish steel mags are about the best. There is a whole world of information for identifying AK mags because they all are similar (perhaps we will add that information in the future). For now, the number one recommendation is the military-surplus, 30-round steel magazine.

AK rifles are available in two major receiver groups: milled and stamped. This is when you must decide if you want to go high or low dollar. Just about any milled AK will be on the pricey side. That is just the way the market is; a milled receiver will cost you more. To explain the difference between the two, the milled receiver starts life as a solid chunk of quality steel and is then put through more than 100 machining stages until it becomes a finished monobloc receiver. That is the primary reason for the greater cost—all the machine work. The stamped receivers are, just as the term implies, stamped out of a flat sheet of steel and formed in a series of bending operations until the final box-shaped receiver is complete. There are other operations for the stamped version, such as adding the front and rear trunions, spot welding the bolt carrier rails to the inside and installing a number of heavy rivets that are the stamped receiver’s trademark. However, there is something aesthetically pleasing about the solid chunk of steel on the milled receiver, and the action is generally smoother on milled guns. Let your pocketbook be your guide. For your first AK-47, go with the more common 1mm stamped receiver. It is every bit as serviceable as the milled receiver and more than likely will cost a lot less. Look at one of the Romanian models. Be sure it accepts the standard, double-stack, high-capacity magazine, however.


Let’s face it, the days of importing a complete, functioning AK-47 into the U.S. are over. Those days ended on March 14, 1989, when President G.H.W. Bush signed an Executive Order banning the import of 43 different semi-automatic rifles, spawning the term “pre-ban,” which still is used today. If you want one of those pre-ban rifles, by all means get it. The thing to keep in mind is they cost plenty. We are talking about $1,000 to $2,000, or higher for rare variants. That is great, if you have the money. You will get a quality rifle if you buy a Norinco, Polytech, Valmet, Maadi, Hungarian, Bulgarian, Yugoslavian or any other pre-ban imported AK- 47. But you may find yourself owning a rifle so nice that you are afraid to shoot it—especially one that is still new in box (NIB). Do not be afraid to shoot it unless you just want to keep it for posterity’s sake or as an investment that is sure to appreciate. But that is not this article’s focus; we are looking at buying a shooter.

U.S. manufacturers produce their AKs from imported parts kits. Those were once complete, fully functioning, select-fire rifles demilled in the country of origin (or possibly the U.S. importer) to conform to BATFE specs. That means cutting and removing the receiver between the front and rear trunions and carefully removing all the small parts to ship it forward for import. In 2006, BATFE restricted the import of original barrels from those kits. That is just another part to replace with a U.S.-made unit, which in turn, raises the cost of the finished rifle. Those import restrictions have been overcome successfully by many U.S. AK makers. The demand is there to justify all the work of producing the receivers and barrels here. In fact, Arsenal, Inc., produces an absolutely outstanding “Bulgarian” AK made in Las Vegas.

Price is not always a true judge of quality, but most quality AKs will be at least $750. The old phrase “you get what you pay for” is true here. You cannot cut corners and have a first-class firearm. However, fear not because you can get a quality AK at a reasonable price. There are many Romanian AKs that are certainly worth owning. Fit and finish on those may not be the absolute best, but they are very functional and will serve you well. Be sure to closely check the front sight tower (FST) if you decide to go that route. We have seen many FSTs on Romanian and Yugoslav AKs that are not properly aligned (canted left or right) and must be set straight before you can have a successful shooting adventure. If you special order one sight unseen, you may have to have a gunsmith perform that service if it comes in canted.


The decision to buy an AK comes with several choices, one being furniture—the buttstock, pistol grip and hand guards. However odd it may sound, furniture is the accepted term to refer to the exterior parts of the rifle other than the barrel and receiver. There are two major groups: wood and synthetic. Both are equally good.

Wood Furniture

The Soviet AK started with wood furniture. That is the way to go if you want a traditional AK-47. There are a variety of woods from which to choose, as well as laminated woods. Laminated wood is the best choice for overall durability. You can go with original Soviet-bloc wood or a U.S.-made stock set. If you buy an AK and want to change the furniture, that is easy. You may buy a synthetic furniture AK and want to have wood, or vice-versa. Or you may have a blond Hungarian stock set and want to change to walnut. That also is simple. Sets are available pre-finished and ready to install or bare and ready for you to apply the desired finish. One popular fad is to duplicate the red-toned Russian finish with a gloss topcoat, which looks good on any AK.

Synthetic Furniture

Synthetic AK furniture appeared in the late 1960s or early 1970s. East Germany may have been the first to use a plastic furniture set, also known as pebble finish, which was medium brown. It is not the most robust choice because it looks like more of a PVC plastic as opposed to the later, tougher, glass-filled nylon; but you may like the look. Later, the Bulgarians created black synthetic furniture. Some like the all-black AK look best. As with the wood options, changing looks is easy. Synthetic furniture sets now are available in OD green, plum and black—to name a few. You may even find them in various camouflage. Stencils for doing your own multi-color camo also are available. And, you can buy your AK with a standard AK-length buttstock or the longer U.S. or NATO version, which adds about 1.25 inches to the overall length and is more comfortable for taller shooters.

Folding Stocks

AKs offer several buttstock options besides the classic fixed position. You can find an under-folder and right- and left-side folders. Those are now legal in most states since the sunset of the Clinton 1994–2004 Assault Weapons Ban. If you want to leave behind tradition, you also can buy an AK with an AR-15-style collapsible buttstock. The under-folder is perhaps the most recognizable version, but the side-folders have certainly been around for a while. Many side-folders come in a triangular shape, approximating the basic shape of the wooden buttstock. Or you still can find what is called a wire stock, a single rod extending from the rear trunion and ending at the buttplate. That is also called a crutch-folder since it resembles the end of a crutch that goes under the armpit. The beauty of the side-folders is you can retrofit them to a conventional buttstock AK with little work. Because of its unique rear trunion design, the under-folder is an under-folder for life.

Barrel Length

The majority of Kalashnikovs have 16.1-inch barrels. That is true to the original rifle and has held constant since the AK’s introduction. Of course, like many military weapons, shorter- and longer-barreled variants exist. Short-barrel AK rifles fall into the NFA area and are restricted from private ownership without a BATFE tax stamp and federal NFA paperwork. Legal ownership is not insurmountable, but most folks do not want to go through the process. One alternative is a Krinkov (AKSU), which was originally designed with a 10-inch barrel modified by permanently attaching a fake can or suppressor. That way, you can have the best of both worlds—short-barrel rifle and legal. As long as the barrel and attachment combine for an overall length of more than 16 inches, you are good. Keep in mind that you measure barrel length from the bolt face in the ready-to-fire position to the end of the barrel or permanently attached device. Most manufacturers go an extra quarter- to half-an-inch to ensure they are not short by a fraction.

Long-barreled AKs usually fall into the sniper category, such as the Russian SVD Dragunov, Romanian PSL/Romak III or light machine gun, RPK-style guns. The Chinese-made several long-barrel AKs, as did many other Soviet bloc countries. Those are great, but be warned, Soviet and Chinese SVDs are very expensive, usually a minimum of $2,500 up to $4,000, depending on condition and included accessories. Those are more for the serious collector, as opposed to the first-time buyer. The PSL/Romak IIIs are more reasonably priced and often available for less than $1,000, with optics included. Do not assume that the long barrel is a guarantee of tack-driver accuracy. Soviet bloc accuracy is hitting a human in the vital parts at extended range. Anywhere in the chest area or head counts as a good shot. While Americans like to think about a sniper rifle being able to shoot sub-minute of angle (MOA), I would expect the SVD to shoot 1 to 1.5 MOA at best, with carefully hand-loaded match ammunition. The PSL/Romak III is a 2 to 3 MOA rifle, and most standard-barrel Kalashnikovs will shoot 4 MOA. That is a 4-inch group at 100 yards for a good shooter with standard ammo. For purists, the SVD is not technically an AK-47, but it is close enough to include in this discussion.

Muzzle Attachments

Almost all AK barrel muzzles are threaded to accept a muzzle attachment. That thread pattern is 14mm by 1mm, left hand. The most common attachment is the slant brake. The idea behind the slant brake is that the escaping gases will work to push the rifle down and to the left to compensate for the tendency for the recoil to push the rifle up and to the right. Sometimes, a plain muzzle nut is installed to protect the threads. There are many other muzzle attachments for the AK. If you like the AR-15-style flash hider, you can find one threaded to work. The AK-74-style flash hider, or muzzle brake, is also popular for the AK-47. It effectively controls recoil, and its very loud noise and black blast make it effective in preventing others from standing near you as you shoot.

U.S.-Made Parts

If you buy an AK made from an imported parts kit, it must conform to the 922r guidelines (the 1990 Imported Parts Law). The BATFE developed that code to set a standard for manufacturing AK-style rifles (actually any semi-auto rifle on the ban list) from parts kits. The imported parts count cannot exceed 10.  That is not just any 10 parts on the rifle, but 10 parts from a possible list of 20 that must comply; 16 parts on that list apply to the AK. To comply, you must ensure the AK you buy has at least six U.S.-made parts substituted in the build. The most common U.S.-made parts  are the hammer, trigger, disconnector, gas piston, buttstock, pistol grip, upper and lower hand guards (both count as one part), slant brake or plain muzzle nut, magazine follower and magazine floor plate. It only takes six of those, so it is up to the manufacturer how they want to work the build. Also, if using the magazine parts as U.S.-made parts, you must always use the magazines that have those parts when firing the rifle because using an imported steel magazine creates an illegal configuration.

As previously mentioned, there are several U.S.-made magazines to put three U.S.-made parts in the build (the mag body also counts), but most manufacturers do not set up their rifles that way because it precludes the use of the original-issue AK mags, which buyers are likely to use. Reasonably, you can expect an AK from a reputable manufacturer to be in proper 922r compliance. Most U.S.-made AKs also will have a BATFE certificate stating full 922r compliance. That is your best guarantee of being legal. The above discussion is for stamped-receiver AKs; milled-receiver AKs require only five U.S.-made parts since the front and rear trunions are integral to the milled receiver and are not counted as applicable 922r parts.


AKs are available with several metal finishes. The most common is parkerized, a durable and traditional finish for a military firearm. All it needs is an occasional oiling. The Egyptian MAADI uses a paint finish that is not as durable as the parkerized job, but that is the way they did it. Some U.S. manufacturers use a combination of parkerizing to prime the bare metal, followed by a high-tech topcoat. Also, there is a traditional blued finish, as used on Chinese, Polish and original Yugoslavian AKs  imported by Mitchell Arms in the late 1980s. Those are perhaps the nicest finished AK-47s available. Of course, finish is something you can change later.

Wood finish on an AK is usually a tung-oil type but can be linseed oil or polyurethane. Original, imported wood furniture often is dipped in a lacquer or shellac that creates a hard, clear coat. Since those were military-issued furniture sets, the rifle’s look was not a consideration, and the thick lacquer will have obvious drips and runs. As a result, many American AK owners refinish the wood furniture.

Polymer furniture needs no additional finish.

1994 to 2004 Ban Models

You may find some remnants from the 1994 to 2004 Clinton Gun Ban for sale. Referred to as post-ban models, those AKs have bayonets with their lugs ground off, muzzle attachments removed or permanently attached to the barrels, are missing the folding stock or have the folding stock welded or fixed in the open position, or possibly have a thumb-hole buttstock. Those can be fine shooters at more reasonable prices since most AK seekers want all the bells and whistles of the pre-ban AK-47s. It is legal to modify those to no-ban configuration, as long as you remember to comply with the 922r regulation.

Most post-ban rifles still at the factory or distributor were sent back through a re-assembly or upgrade process to be brought up to no-ban status effective September 14, 2004. There may be one or two minor features that are not up to date on no-ban rifles, such as leaving the muzzle attachments permanently attached, because it would not be cost-effective to remove them. The same logic applies to bayonet lugs. Those are rather small issues that do not affect the AK’s operation in live fire. They simply fall under the heading of aesthetics but could be a potential way to save a few bucks.

Shooting Your New AK

This is the best part. The only drag in the last couple of years is the higher cost of all ammo. In years past, AK ammo was as low as 9 cents per shot. Oh, for the good old days to return. In any case, ammo is plentiful and still fairly inexpensive due to the sheer bulk available. Steel-cased ammo is perfectly fine in the AK because it was designed for that. Some ranges will not permit any steel-jacketed or bi-metal ammo, such as TulAmmo, so keep that in mind.

Before you leave home, carefully inspect the bore for any grease in the barrel. U.S.-made firearms rarely have it, but it may be there, just the same. Light oil is not usually a problem and will burn out after the first couple rounds. In either case, run some patches down the bore to see what is there. When they come out fairly clean, go to the range.

At the range, sight in your AK. You will need to buy a sight adjustment tool beforehand because nothing else will work there. Keng’s Firearms Specialties has some Polytech armory-grade models for about $35. That is the one to get; it is built like a tank. Older after-market adjustment tools can break the first time you try to move the front sight for elevation, so be gentle. I will not go into the actual sighting process; just remember that when correcting the windage, move the front sight away from the desired direction or toward the wayward grouping, which is the opposite for the standard Western-style firearm with an adjustable rear sight.

If your group is to the right of the bull’s-eye (or whatever you like to aim at), push the front sight to the right to get on target. The rear tangent sight has a setting called the “battle setting.” At that setting, and after properly sighting in at 100 yards or meters, by aiming at center of body mass, you will hit an enemy between the shoulders and hips at ranges from 0 to 300 yards or meters. Of course, you have the traditional ranges also listed from 100 to 700 or 800 yards or meters. For general use, sight in at 100 yards or meters.

Feeding Problems

The beauty of the AK is that it eats with ease just about any ammo. That is just the way it was designed. Of course, you may encounter problems, as with any firearm. Any new rifle may need a break-in period, so do not be alarmed if you have a few failures feeding or extracting. Be sure it is properly lubed and oiled before you shoot; that may curb any problems before they arise. Some AKs, such as the Yugoslavians, have a three-position gas setting that should be in the middle position. The other two are for very dirty rifles (more gas) and very hot loads (less gas). Be sure to check there if you have short-stroking problems. In rare cases, you may have a bad magazine follower. Bent magazine bodies are more likely, which is easy to spot once you suspect a problem. If the rifle fails to run the bolt carrier to the rear at all, then you have a block in the gas orifice between the bore and gas tube. That may shut down your shooting for the session since it will require getting a probe in there to clean out whatever is blocking the orifice. It is rare, but possible.


Cleaning involves some disassembly. Not a problem. Just pop off the dust cover and proceed to take it down. All AKs come with instructions, and plenty are available online. The best policy for cleaning is to assume that your ammo has corrosive primers, especially if it came from overseas. Note, however, that Wolf and TulAmmo are not corrosive. If you do not clean your rifle after shooting corrosive ammo, the bore as well as the bolt face and breech areas will rust. That is a really ugly mess but will not actually affect your AK’s operation unless it is an extreme case and you let it go without stopping the rust. However, why take a chance on ruining the value of you rifle? Hoppe’s No. 9 cleaner is the best to clean up after corrosive primers. Use it generously, and you will sleep well. Even if the primers are not corrosive, it is still a good policy to properly clean (from the rear of the bore) after a firing session. Lightly oil after cleaning, and reassemble your AK.


Not much is needed for the AK-47 except a sling. However, if you want to add a scope, then you ensure the rifle comes with a scope mount. You can add those later, but the problem is finding someone to mount them accurately. It is much easier to get one from the start, which is something to consider, especially if your eyes are starting to lose some sharpness.

A bit of information on the mount: The traditional AK-47 scope mount is on the left side, which is different from most modern rifles. It is a matter of necessity since there is not a solid mounting point for the scope on the top rear. Dust-cover mounts are available but will not hold a steady zero. That method is OK for iron sights, as on the Galil but impractical for a scope. The side-mount provides a nice feature because it is easily removed and replaced without losing zero.

Other scope-mounting options are available now that the accessory market has expanded. Picatinny rail hand guards are available to replace the front hand guards. On the Picatinny rails, you easily can mount an optic. The potential problem is that the heat generated from firing is quickly transferred to the scope. The Picatinny rails usually are aluminum, which can get hot on the hands even without attached scopes. Of course, mounting a scope that far forward usually requires a long eye-relief scout or pistol scope or a zero-magnification, red-dot sight. If that method appeals to you, then you are covered.

There are many AK scopes to from which to choose. Since the traditional scope mount is on the left, you should get a scope with integral mount, such as a Russian PSO-1 or similar, or buy a left-side mount and add a scope. The PSO-1-style scopes are good and made to the military spec and configuration of the original Soviet model. In fact, you still can get one made in the Belarus military factory. Keep in mind, as with the accuracy of the AK, Russian scopes are not quite as good as we are used to here in the West. However, they get the job done. Sighting in a Russian scope is different in that the windage and elevation knobs operate differently for the sighting-in process. Also, the reticle does not stay centered as on a Western scope. There are instructions online ( for sighting a Russian-style scope. If you go with the side scope mount alone, you can add just about any scope you like, including one you may have sitting around unused. To AK purists, mounting anything other than an AK-style scope on an AK-47 is not kosher; it just does not look quite right. But, each to his own.

The accessory market for AKs continues to expand rapidly. Remember that the more equipment you apply, the less handy and rugged your AK may become. It was designed as a rough and tough, reliable, basic weapon, and many believe it should be kept that way—the simpler the better.

If you are looking for more advice about purchasing your first AK, feel free to call our tech support folks at 800-421-8047.

Do you have an AK or favor one variant over another? Share your recommendations with 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 (129)

  1. It was in 1977 i was offloading crates of real AK rifles for a third world nation. Most were unmarked or barely marked and others were used to whatever degree. Word had it these were worth or price calculated to be $210 USD as the trade value. In about 1992 there were a lot of neutered ones being sold stateside for about the same price. SKS was offered alongside these. Most people were scornful of these guns.

  2. It was in 1977 i was offloading crates of real AK rifles for a third world nation. Most were unmarked or barely marked and others were used to whatever degree. Word had it these were worth or price calculated to be $210 USD as the trade value. In about 1992 there were a lot of neutered ones being sold stateside for about the same price.

  3. Hi, I think you have an error in this article. You say:

    “Introduced in 1947, the AK-47 has been in use for a long time. The AK-74 came out in 1974. Pretty easy to remember, huh? Actually, that method of model numbering is common in the European world, where the rifle is simply named after its design or introduction year.”

    I think you mean it came out in 1947. Just a slip of the finger.

    Thank you.

  4. Pingback: Ode to the AK
  5. I have saiga ak, saiga 12, yugo, polytech legend, mak 90, sks-m, amd-65, sar-3, & wasr. The wasr isnt bad at all. As a matter of fact, its my go to ak. Its light, cheap, and will eat anything. People that bad mouth em have probably never handled one. Also century is a very important company in the firearm world because they import guns that we americans would likely never be able to get otherwise.

  6. I am a Viet Vet, and I did my two tours, and it didn’t take me long to exchange my M-14(issue in Artillery in 65) for a colt, then quickly I went to SKS as I valued the advantages that you civilians don’t always think about. So I pickup a rifle that would take chargers instead of massive weighted magazines. For fire fights in general of patrol, you cant beat a SKS., tough, forgiving, easily loading magazines from stripper clips with out taking out the Mag out of the receiver and it reloads in a heartbeat, allowing you to carry more ammo, not magazines without the extra weight. I will add that there was rarely a shortage of ammo as it was on every bad guy everywhere an him no longer needing it, and like I said you can carry nearly 25% more ammo as you have lost the extra magazine weight. no its not a long range shooter, but at 150-200 yds. its the perfect bug out rifle, and is impervious to fouling with minimum maintenance., Think about it, unless your a sniper full time, well you wouldn’t use an AK for that anyway. Good luck, Nice Board. I like it.

  7. I bought a CAI Yugo N-PAP and added an RS Regulate AK-307 side mount with AK300 top rail then added a Hi-Lux Leatherwood CMR762-AK scope for my first AK. Shoots solid and accurately. No other upgrades are planned for now. But if I did anything it would be to carve out some cheek room in the stock because it is relatively fat wood stock. I am not an AR15 owner at this time.

  8. AK’s are nothing short of inaccurate rattle traps. They might look neat, have tons of available add on’s but as the saying goes- You can put lipstick on a pig but it’s still a pig

    1. AK’s are SO inaccurate That I went to an outdoor range and hit the same 8″ steel disc in the SAME SPOT 55 out of 60 shots with a yugo while the obese AR operators were spending all day trying to adjust their cheap optics.

      If you want to you can use anything poorly and say its inaccurate, no military rifles have been inaccurate out of the box for a LONG time.

    2. Sorry pal, have had a “real ak” made by kalashnikov aka saiga – and at best they are 3 moa shooters with a 16.25″ barrel. The norinco mak90 was solid too, but with wolf ammo it was still 3- 3.5″ in. Groups. Mil spec is about 4 moa anyway, so don’t whine about your “bad guy gun” being less accurate or try to claim it can dot targets better than even a mid tier AR carbine- plain FACT it cannot.

      And before you deride your fellow range enthusiasts as ” fat” or their equipment as subpar, make sure you really know what you are talking about- had a “fat granpa” with his grandson sighting in what I consider a ” low budget” Del Ton echo 316. I own a Colt 6940, a LMT carbine as well as BCM mid length AR so I am kind of a brand snob.

      Well on that day I was punching holes in paper with my nephew- a combat vet having served in the Marines and with action in Fallujah. We were pissing around with my BCM middy as well as my Arsenal AK slr-101.

      With a “cheap” vortex rds and federal xm193 ammo, the BCM AR easily held 1.5 groups at 100 yds. With a similar rds on my 7.62 x 39 shooting AK, the ” best” we got from bench resting was 2.75 using wolf 123gr ammo.

      When sad “fat granpa” came over with his grandson to see my ” louder” AK being shot by my nephew, we got to see he too was using a red dot sight( bushnell trs-25) and his groups were 2″ to 2.25″ consistently with said ” lower budget AR”.

      While my well built and expensive AK works just fine, it and its forebearers were never , repeat NEVER meant as tack drivers, and I laugh at angry american AK shooters who constantly feel they have to defend the weapon or blow long DEAD STEREOTYPES that it will never fail( pure fiction) ot that it is ” superior” to the AR( my nephew can attest to the crap he and his fellow marines were taking OFF the dead bodies of insurgents in Iraq after fights as well as just how inaccurate the AK platform is !)

      ..and for what its worth, I found out that ” fat granpa” served with the 173rd in vietnam- he probably seen more crap than I as a retired police officer or my recent combat experienced nephew have combined- so I ask you NOT to bad mouth the shooter you next position- he or ” she” may be a tad bit better than you think.

      Plain fact- the AK, no matter how well dressed up or built it is, will never beat an AR-15 variant in accuracy…

  9. So I’m still unclear on wich one to buy. I enjoyed the blog & appreciate the good info. But still stuck at square one. I’m a first time buyer, and only fired .22’s with my old man when I was young & of course .12 gauge shottys, but the ak is an entirely new world to me. I don’t mind price, as I’d like to get something nice, however don’t wanna break the bank. I figured my range is 500-750 for my first ak. I’d like a milled but if stamped falls in that category so be it. I’ve searched hours online & read blog after blog & so many reviews I can’t tell who’s in it for the promotion & who’s bias with a opinion. And pulling teeth is easier than finding a straight answer or top 3 type list of AK’s to buy. Please help someone. I’m just worried my first real purchase of a real deal firearm would turn out to be a purchase I regret & end my enthusiast days before they got a chance to get going. I do live in Vegas btw, would a stop at that shop that makes receivers be a good option/decision? The gun shop by my house can’t seem to keep them on the shelf when they do rarely get them in so I’ve tried that resource. Anything I’m missing here? A point in the right direction be grateful, but a straight outright “go get this ____” be even better. Thanks. Can’t wait to finally be united with my first AK & have my cherry popped. If that day ever comes.

    1. I have a the Romanian WASR-10 from Century Arms. 922 compliant, side scope mount already installed, comes ready to shoot with minimal prep (light cleaning) tools, cleaning rod and solvent/lube container included and comes with one steel and one poly 30 round mag. I bought two from CTD for $515.00 each and $50.00 to my dealer, guns arrived in six days. I picked them up on Friday and burned up a thousand rounds of Brown Bear ammo on Saturday without a hint of failure. I am not in the habit of recommending anything to anyone but if I have a favorable experience with something I do not have a problem with sharing it Check it out read the reviews (mostly favorable) and ignore those individuals who want to belittle a weapon for no reason. The AK based platform is reliable and very accurate if you take the time to get to know your weapon. It may take hundreds of rounds to become proficient with a big caliber rifle but the rewards are awesome. Anyone who thinks an AK is an “inaccurate rattletrap” has never seen one at work in the hands of an NVA Sniper or for that matter in mine..

    2. Try a little history reading, for once- no AK is going to make consistent 12″ gong shots , even with a scope past 200yds. And your so called NVA snipers used bolt action moisin nagants they got from the chinese- a WW1 to Korean war hold over that shoots 7.62 x 54 150 + gr anmo( a rd comparable to the US 7.62 x 51 used in US M24 sniper rifles and M-14 battle rifles!)

      The 7.62 x 39 russian ammo is a mid range cartridge- its ballistic performance DROPs rapidly after 350m- take it and shoot it against a friend with a scoped AR and you’ll see the DIFFERENCE.

      NOW against a krebs custom or Arsenal built AK in 5.45 x 39, then you might be able to talk about accuracy as you can get 2 -3 moa out of those in comparison to AR style rifles.

      As for bragging about a Century Arms Wasr? I’ll leave it to say you are a tad bit naive about guns if you think the hammer monkeys at century arms make “good products”. Bought a wasr post ban over a dozen yrs ago- they were being sold with out their pistol grips for CA restriction compliance( stupid I know!) and got it for $350.00 + DROS.

      In comparison to the Norinco MAk 90 and the Saiga AK I had , that WASR was a crude , cheap POS!! It shot well enough- 3.5 to 4″ groups AFTER I hammered the canted front sight into correct position!

      Piss poor finish, unlined barrel( rust didnt takeclong to get to that gun) , crude unfinished internals( polished the trigger group out for a smother trigger break- before it sounded like pulling metal over asphalt when you pulled the trigger)

      Maybe , just maybe the maynards and bubbas of Century Arms have gotten better, but as their history has shown, they take demilled foreign parts and slap them together with low quality US made repro parts, then “foist the cost savings” to the gullible consumer looking for a bargain.

      For the same 500 bucks you spent you could have added another 60 and got your self the complete lower and a near mil spec upper of an M-4 clone from Palmetto State Arms or saved a little longer , took 300.00 and bought a “reconfigured” Saiga AK from CTD- complete with chrome lined barrel

      Never confuse ” good enough” performance, and ” budget price” with quality, especially with fire arms- you’ll be on the losing end every time….

  10. I have a Saiga Leigon AK I bought 3 years ago from a company out of Colorado. I added a few goodies to it,but the base price for it was a measly $320.00!!! I am so happy with my gun….It shoots great only had 1 jam and I dig how well it shoots!!!! AR’s are fine,but I’ll take an AK any day………………… MOLON LABE !!

  11. I have a Romanian WASR 10 with a dust cover mounted scope that I zeroed at 200 yards. That zero has held through 5 trips to the range, and cleaning. It will never be a sniper gun, but I’m getting 3 inch shot groups at 200 yards…good enough to make the chipmunks ssurrender.

  12. DAN, I agree.

    My previous and lengthy multiple posts explain it in moredetail but you summarized it correctly.



  13. Im curious as to why everyone still calls them AK47’s, when from every documentation states that the AK47 has not been made in decades. The stamped receiver and other modifications made for mass production that we see in the rifles sold today, were all part of a rifle designated the AKM. The AK47 was officially dropped decades ago, but I guess do to marketing and media hype, the name continues on, wrongfully used from what I understand.

  14. @ James E. Barnes, have you owned a Saiga? If not, you should buy one. As far as having to use the “old steel magazines”, aren`t they cheaper to buy anyhow? At any rate, sounds like your having some fun, enjoy!

  15. I recently bought an AMD-65 (Hungarian AK)

    Nice little rifle, at a good price. Comes with a side-folding stock, and foregrip, and a good muzzle brake.
    There is an upgrade for the the stock available, that makes the rifle a little more acurate, and I have put an ATG quad-rail foreend on, and a different foregrip.
    The rail made it possible to put a good reflex site on it.

    This is a good little entry level AK, at a great price. The thing I don’t like about it,is that some poly AK mags don’t work in it. Have never had that problem with any other AK, and i’ve owned several.
    If you stick to the old-style steel mags, it runs great. I ran about 120 rounds thru it right out of the box, without any problem.

  16. Jck,

    That a good link. attentive reading will show it illustrates the point i was making as well.

    I think at this point we can all agree that the rifles currently available are “AKs” ratrher thsn AK-47’s.



  17. @ Jack W. WOW! I have a Saiga chambered in .223 and have always considered it to be (basically) an Ak47. I know, I know people say blah, blah, blah, about a “real” Ak or not. Considering the Saiga design, the manufacturing plant (Russian) and it`s die hard, no problem perfomance, after the conversion I did myself….moved trigger group foward with a Tapco G2, changed the gas tube, and added all primo wooden furniture to it, I basically consider it to be an Ak. Wether it`s an AKM or not is reguardless to me. I must say that your description of facts about this great weapon cleared up more confusion about this rifle than ANYTHING I have read so far. Fantastic job, well written, and all the info on the variations really clears things up concerning ALL the different models. I, as I think most Ak lovers believe that when we speak of an Ak47 we`re mostly speaking of it`s internal designs and action. As you pointed out there are MANY variations, however; all of them are built around Kalashnikovs design. Yea, it may be made somewhere besides Russia, or it may have folding stocks, or it may be stamped, or milled, it may have wood furniture, it may be chambered in 3 or 4 different sizes, etc. etc. etc. But, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and acts like a duck, it probably is SOME type of a duck. Thanks for your article Jack!

  18. Hicusdicus,
    You have no idea of the pain you just caused those of us who had an orgasm at the mention that you sold them. (LOL) Man, what a deal. I hope you got a good price. I’m on the lookout for another AK, this one for my wife. Anyone else out there got one, let me know.

  19. I inherited two new AK whatevers complete with embalmed magazines and 5000 rds of ammo in wood cases. I got them from my father in law who had them for umteen years. I dumped them as quick as I could find some sucker who had an orgasm over them. As I don’t plan for combat I have a pair of Keltec plr16’s. They seem to work fine are accurate and have a look that gives the anti gun people a case of diarrhea. I also have a plr22 which is fun an inexpensive to shoot. If I need a stock on my weapon I use my su16C. All these aforementioned weapons are made by Americans in America.

  20. This information was taken from the following website:

    Kalashnikov AK-47 Assault Rifle (1949)
    Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 1/27/2012
    Since 1949, the timeless Kalashnikov AK-47 Assault Rifle has found many homes – and users.

    Soviet Mikhail Kalashnikov was conscripted into the Red Army in 1938 and served as a tank driver when he was injured during the Battle of Bryansk in 1941. During his time at the hospital, he began work on a firearm design specifically to fulfill the requirements to a gun competition being held for the new 7.62x41mm cartridge. Despite losing the competition, Kalashnikov – now part of a team – sought to fulfill a new Soviet Red Army need for an assault weapon chambered to fire the new 7.62x39mm M1943 cartridge. While the war ended in 1945, developments of new automatic weapons continued. The Kalashnikov design (the prototype known as the “AK-46”) was successfully tested in 1946 and a revised, more reliable form appeared in 1947 for additional testing. The Red Army liked the robust qualities of the new weapon and formally accepted the type as the “AK-47” in 1949 (AK = “Avtomat Kalashnikova”).

    Outwardly, it is easy to appreciate the AK-47 as a highly modified StG44 but it invariably takes on its own form thanks to the recognizable Kalashnikov styling. The AK-47 is, in fact, a very clean design and superbly functional for its unceremonious battlefield role. The original form sported much wooden furniture that made the series instantly recognizable to any observer. The weapon was fitted with a solid wooden buttstock as well as a wood-covered pistol grip and forend. The receiver was very much slab-sided and relatively featureless save for the large charging handle and ejection port along the right side of the body. The rear sight was actually set well-forward along the upper portion of the receiver, near the forend area at the gas cylinder. The forward sight was installed just aft of the muzzle. The pistol grip was unobstructed and integrated into the slim, curved trigger unit, the trigger itself sitting within a thin guard with a magazine catch noticeable just ahead. One of the most telling features of the AK-47 series was its metallic curved detachable box magazine which held 30 rounds of ammunition. Another telling feature was the over-barrel positioning of the gas cylinder which – combined with the wooden furniture and curved magazine – gave the AK-47 its highly identifiable appearance to even the most casual of observers. The forward end of the gas cylinder was clamped to the mid portion of the barrel. The AK-47 used a gas-operated, rotating polished steel bolt system in which the gas piston was permanently affixed to the bolt carrier itself. Chromium was used to line the barrel, firing chamber and gas cylinder and this served to combat general operational abuse. The AK-47 was further designed as a select-fire weapon meaning that, by default, it fired in semi-automatic fashion (one cartridge fired for every trigger pull). A full-automatic mode (continuous firing of available cartridges per a single trigger pull) was available through management of the included selector switch. All told, the weapon was a highly utilitarian though robust assault system that seemed to hold a certain mysterious beauty about her (just ask any AK-47 owner/user).

    Early production AK-47s were broken down into two distinct batch types – the version from 1948 and the version succeeding these from 1952. However, the early forms – with their stamped sheet metal receivers – proved inherently flawed, mainly due to the sheet-metal stamping technology found in throughout Russia at the time leading many production AK-47s to be rejected right at the factory. This inevitably forced the use of a machined receiver (from solid steel) instead and delayed large-scale entry of the assault rifle until the mid-1950s. The machined process covered AK-47 production from 1951 to 1959 and led to an increase in overall weight of the weapon. However, this method of manufacture itself was proving to be too expensive in the realm of Soviet mass production efforts and, thusly, forced a revision of the AK-47 family. The resulting effort went on to become the AKM (M= “Modernized”) which reverted construction of the assault rifle back to its stamped steel roots – the process refined after much study of German wartime methods – producing a decidedly cheaper and lighter rifle. A new muzzle installment (with a noted slant) was introduced to combat muzzle climb. Several other subtle modifications were also introduced and the AKM was further branched to become the AKMS which introduced a folding metal buttstock – a compact feature respected by paratroopers and vehicle crews alike. One identifying feature of the AKM series versus the AK-47 was its shortened “dimple” imprint above the magazine feed – the AK-47 sported a longer dimple there. Overall AK-47 production spanned from 1949 to 1975 with involved facilities (among others) being the famed Izhevsk and Tula state arsenals.

    The RPK was a modified light machine gun development that was completed with a longer barrel assembly and bipod fixture and could serve at the squad-level role for suppression effect and heavy automatic fire. The AKS was given a downward folding metal stock for compactness (similar to the AKMS) and also intended for vehicle crews and paratroopers. A major redesign of the series occurred in 1974 with the introduction of the AK-74, this version being chambered to fire the 5.45x39mm cartridge – the Kalashnikov pattern remained the same however. More modernized AK-47s (within the last few decades) have included the AK-101/102, AK-103/104, AK-105 and AK-107/108 – all taking advantage of weight-saving, cost-effective plastics and polymers in their construction. The AK-101 became an export-friendly version chambered for the widely-accepted 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge while the AK-102 represented its shortened “carbine” form. The AKM was modernized in the AK-103 while the AK-104 was its carbine form. The AK-105 was the carbine version of the AK-74M model (a modernized AK-74 appearing in 1991). The AK-107 introduced a new gas system which changed the “AK” meaning from “Avtomat Kalashnikova” to “Alexandrov/Kalashnikov” after the system’s developer – Youriy Alexandrov. The AK-108 was simply the AK-107 chambered for the popular 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. Other Kalashnikov-pattern weapons include semi-automatic rifle and shotgun designs.

    To date, the new “AK-200” is the latest AK-47 derivative and the series’s official successor. It was debuted in 2010 and entered production with Izhmash in 2011, manufacture ongoing as of this writing (2012). This particular entry is, again, gas-operated with a rotating bolt firing action but can be chambered to fire the 5.45x39mm, 5.56x45mm NATO and 7.62x39mm cartridges from detachable box magazines, a “casket” type magazine or an RPK-74-style drum magazine. Additionally, support for Picatinny rail accessories has been added and construction streamlined for the most discerning of shoppers.

    The AK-47 itself has been license-produced (or outright illegally copied) in a plethora of forms within a plethora of countries worldwide. The weapon type went on to prove quite popular in many places of the world, particularly former Soviet satellite states and allied nations where the 7.62x39mm cartridge also reigned supreme. China produced a copy of the system as the Type 56 beginning in 1956. Hungary modified their AK-47s to become the AKM-63, AMD-65 and AK-63 assault rifle forms. The Israeli Galil sported the Kalashnikov styling and came in 5.56mm and 7.62mm flavors while being based on the Finnish RK 62, itself based on the AK-47. In 1982, South Africa introduced the Kalashnikov-like R4 assault rifle in 5.56mm chambering, a licensed-copy of the Israeli Galil series. Yugoslavia developed their Zastava M76, M77 and M82 rifle lines (among several other notable forms) from the Kalashnikov pattern. The Type 86S of Chinese origin is based on the AKM though reworked into a “bullpup” configuration in which the magazine feed is located aft of the pistol and trigger unit.

    It is believed that between 50 and 75 million AK-47s have been produced since the weapon’s inception. Additionally, a further 100 million units owing influence to the AK-47 have been produced from derivative developments making the AK family series one of the most successful firearms of all time. If the AK-47 displayed any limitations in its design, it was in its accuracy beyond 1,000 feet as well as lacking any indicator of an empty magazine (the bolt did not hold open after the last cartridge was fired). Regardless, the broad reach, ease-of-use and low-maintenance requirements of the AK-47 have proven hugely popular with both established armies and ad-hoc organizations looking to propel their movements and instill fear into the general populace.

    Country of Origin: Soviet Union
    Manufacturer: Izhmash – Soviet Union
    Initial Year of Service: 1949

    Overall Length: 869mm (34.21in)
    Barrel Length: 415.00mm (16.34in)
    Weight (Empty): 9.48lbs (4.30kg)

    Cartridge: 7.62x39mm
    Action: Gas-Operated; Rotating Bolt
    Feed: 30-round detachable box magazine
    Muzzle Velocity: 2,330ft/sec (710m/sec)
    Rate-of-Fire: 775 rounds per minute
    Range: 984ft (300m; 328yds)
    Sights: Adjustable Iron

    AK-47 – Base Model Series Designation
    AK-47 (1948) – Stamped sheet metal receiver
    AK-47 (1952) – Milled metal receiver; chrome-lined barrel and firing chamber; wooden stock and forend.
    AKS – AK-47 with folding steel butt
    RPK – Light Machine Gun Form; bipod; long barrel
    AKM – AK-47 “Modified”; steel stampings; more economical production practices; solid wooden stock.
    AKMS – AKM production model with folding butt.
    AK-74 – AKM chambered for 5.45mm cartridge.
    AK-101 – Export Model appearing in 1994; chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge.
    AK-102 – Carbine variant of AK-101
    AK-103 – Modernized AKM; appearing in 1994.
    AK-104 – Carbine variant of AK-103
    AK-107 – Assault Rifle chambered for 5.45x39mm cartridge.
    AK-108 – Assault Rifle chambered for 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge.
    AK-200 – Most modern incarnation of AK-47; appearing 2011.
    KSK – Combat Shotgun
    “Tabuk” – Iraqi AK-47 Variant
    Type 56 – Chinese AK-47 Variant
    KLS – Iranian AK-47 Variant
    IMI Galil – Israeli AK-47 Variant
    RK-62 – Finnish AK-47 Variant
    M60 – Macedonian AK-47 Variant
    OBJ-006 – Nigerian AK-47 Variant
    AKK – Bulgarian AK-47 Variant

    Operators: Afghanistan; Albania; Algeria; Angola; Bangladesh; Benin; Botswana; Bulgaria; Cambodia; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; Chechnya; China; Comoros; Congo-Brazzaville; Cuba; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Egypt; Namibia; Equatorial Guinea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Georgia; Greece; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Guyana; Hungary; India; Indonesia; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Laos; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Madagascar; Mali; Morocco; Mongolia; Mozambique; North Korea; Peru; Philippines; Qatar; Romania; Sao Tome and Principe; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Somalia; Soviet Union; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Syria; Tanzania; Togo; Turkey; Vietnam; Yemen; Zambia; Zimbabwe

  21. Jack,

    In soviet and WarPac nomenclature (I read an East German book on this in the 80’s published by Militarverlag,East Berlin) the “AK-47” specifically refers to the milled receiver series of the rifle that was superseded in the USSR starting in 1959 (and a little later elsewhere).

    Any soviet post 1959 AK (later in some other prudction sucha s CHina and NoKorea) that has astamped reciver, a pinned barrel, the dimple above the magazine well, and the slanted muzzle brake (some few were made w/o MB) are AKM’s.

    I believe almost all 7.62mm guns AK sold on CTD fall into that category, UNLESS they are equivalent derivatives of the century series.

    The availablity of century seroies production in 7.62 mm complicates things a bit.

    The centuries series takes the improvments the AK-74 made on the design a litle furtehr (better MB etc) while being very similair and is availble in both 5.45 and 7.62 (for export).

    If someone wants to call the century series the “4th generation” of AK , OR consider them part of the “AK-74 generation/series” either would be a valid view I could accept.

    This complicates IDing rifles with modern MB and other “AK-74” like features in 7.62…. and “AKM” would be acceptable or better yet “AK-74 in 7.62” or “century series equivalent AK in 7.62” would be acceptable and accurate nomenclature for those most modern civilian AK’s sold by CTD and otrher vendors.

    “AK-47” as nomenclature for all 7.62 AK’s is certainly incorrect though.

    In other to avoid the complecates names listed above it’s probably easiest for some to just call them “AKs”.

  22. Fred,
    Just wondering if you consider the Mac-90 as an AK-47. And I don’t believe that CTD is making a definitive statement exclusive to “AK-47” but rather weapons built on the basic AK-47 design. To be so specific one would have to exclude the Norinco Sporter, which as made in China, the WASR group which includes what many consider to be inferior design features, and basically anything not made in the AK factory in Russia, which arguably did not produce the best AKs among all of the various factories around the world.
    The truth be told though, any AK produced from 1949 through 1975 and manufactured by either the Izhevsk or the Tula state arsenals are considered by the Soviets to be AK-47s even with their variations. The M designation refers to the AKs produced after the stamped receivers were found to be weak and fraught with mechanical failures and so the “modernized” milled receiver was introduced. Then with improved metals, the stamped receiver was reinstated allowing for the lighter weapon with the reliability of the milled receiver.
    In my mind, what designates an AK is the basic design produced by Kalashnikov, which gave us an inexpensive, reliable battle rifle.
    No matter what you call it, it’s still a fun weapon to own.

  23. Both pics posted in which the pattern could be id’ed where of AKM’s not AK-47s.

    IN summary: The M70 series is an AKM , the WASR, the Maadhi, the Type 56, Polyetch, all Norincos ever exported to the US where AKM’s NOT AK-47’s, no matter what maagzine writers wrote in thier own confusion.

    Actual AK-47’s (regardless of full or semi dress) are very rare animals.
    When someone tells you something is an AK-47 they are nearly always wrong and are simply confusing an AKM with an AK-47 since the media does as well.

  24. Both pics posted in which the pattern could be id’ed where of AKM’s not AK-47s.

    IN summary: The M70 series is an AKM , the WASR, the Maadhi, the Type 56, Polyetch, all Norincos ever exported to the US where AKM’s NOT AK-47’s, no matter what maagzine writers wrote in thier own confusion.

    Actual AK-47’s (regardless of full or semi dress) are very rare animals.
    When someone tells you something is an AK-47 they are nearly always wroig and are simply confusing an AKM with an AK-47 since the media does as well.

  25. I tend to agree with most of CTD bloggeers stuff but in this case one has to pipe up.

    No one has made an AK -47 in decades not even NoKorea. What he is describing incorrectly and an AK-47 is an AKM.
    This ha snothing to do with the full-auto vs semi auto issues.
    Even the picture in the illustration shows an AKM as cna be easily seen by the dimple over the magazine well.
    I say again no one has made AK-47’s not even china in many decades.
    It’s all been AKM’s (and later of course AK-74’s).
    is it still posible to buy an AK-47? yes , but its rare, expensive and more for collectors who take joy in owning a -47.

    Excepting civilian derivates and their various nomentclatures the original 3 major patterns of AK are AK-47, AKM, AK-74 (not couyning the centuries series for now, which can be argueed, regardless of caliber to be AK-74 patterns)

    As a result this article only serves to add to the confusion surroundig the AK family and uninformed media people comically yelling on the camera ” he has an AK-47!”

  26. I think that a valid option is to Build-Your-Own. I built my AK from an AK Builder Parts Kit. I took a Hungarian AMD65 and modified it with a Triangle Folding Stock, a custom-made Integrated Front Sight Base / Gas Block, my own design Muzzle Brake, a Magpul 870 Shotgun Foreend as Handguard and a MD Arms Molot type pistol Grip.

    Pics can be seen here – ZOMBAT Carbine:

  27. Dont buy a I.O. ak47! my trigger group fell out shooting the first box of ammo.
    I’m so disappointed it has to go in for repair,not back for warranty.If they
    can’t put it together right the first time they probably won’t the 2nd time.

  28. I am a Vietnam vet and saw the ak-47 in action the Arvin’s carried them I have had mine for about 15 years and never cheaned it,just a little break free every now and then..two or three cases of ammo and never a misfire EVER. Pleiku ,camp Holloway 1968-70

  29. David in Comment 20: Most of the AKs you’ll find have stamped receivers.

    I don’t know off the top of my head of any AKs in the US market that have milled receivers, except those from Bulgaria, though I’m sure there are others.

    The majority of the inexpensive AKs available will be Romanian, and will be made from fairly cheap, light-weight stamped steel, and are pretty much at the bargain-basement entry level of quality, and won’t win any beauty contests. Don’t let that discourage you: the Romanian rifles will still generally be decent rifles: tough, reliable, and deliver plenty of bang for the buck. The basic pre-ban Romanian rifles will be pretty close to what you expect a typical AK to look and feel like, and will generally have all the bells-and-whistles you could want: the side-mounted scope rails, the bayonet lugs and bayonets, 7.62x39mm, the threaded muzzles, the pistol grips and quite recognizable AK outline – these will generally make a fine first AK, and, the occasional quality-assurance problem aside (canted sights, for example), chances are good that an AK buyer will be quite happy with a WASR-10 and similar Romanian AKs.

    The Russian Saiga and VEPR rifles and shotguns, the Yugoslavian rifles, and the Romanian PSL will typically be several steps up in quality, with thicker, higher-quality stamped sheet metal receivers. You’ll typically pay a couple hundred dollars more for these AKs than you would the basic rifles, but these are generally quite nice-looking guns. The standard Saigas are very nice rifles but are, out-of-the-box available in a sporting configuration without pistol grips which won’t look at first glance like a traditional AK, which can be a selling point in California and similar locations, but for the rest of us the conversion, if desired, isn’t a Herculean task (several American companies specialize in nice Saiga conversions), and the Saigas come a fantastic range of calibers (ranging from standard AK-47 and AK-74 cartridges, to the same cartridges used by western rifles, to .410, 20-gauge, and 12-gauge shotgun rounds). The PSL is a slightly higher-quality Romanian AK over-built to handle the common, inexpensive, full-sized Russian 7.62x54R cartridge, and will typically be available with a scope rail and a somewhat crude AK-style “sniper” scope to go with it; it bears a superficial resemblance to the infamous Dragunov sniper rifle; the PSL makes a fine addition to anyone’s collection. Most of the Yugo rifles are beefed-up basic AKs, similar in many ways to the basic Romanian AKs, but of a higher quality; most of these were designed to be used with muzzle-mounted spigot-style grenade launchers, and are overbuilt to handle that added stress; there’s also a nice, large-sized Yugoslavian “sniper” AK variant similar to a higher-quality PSL which uses the common, relatively inexpensive full-sized 8mm Mauser-style cartridge, which should also make a nice addition to an AK collection. I’m not as familiar with the VEPRs, but they seem to be similar in quality and price to the Saigas, with a similar variety of calibers available.

    I’m also not very familiar with the Chinese, Egyptian, or German AKs – these all seem to have their fans, though, and I’m sure you’ll be happy with any of these. I’m pretty sure most, if not all, of these will have stamped receivers, and would surely be fairly comparable in quality and price to the Yugo and Russian rifles.

    It seems that all-American AKs have their fans as well, and these are apparently of fairly high quality, with a price to match. I know almost nothing specific about American AKs, though; I’m sure many of these American guns use stamped sheet metal, but I wouldn’t be surprised if one or more of the American manufacturers made milled AKs instead. Your best bet there would be to do your own homework here, though.

    Czech and Israeli rifles are available that at least pretty closely resemble the AK; I don’t know much about these, either, but these seem to be a quality comparable to the Russian and Yugo rifles. I believe them to have stamped receivers, but I don’t know compatible these guns will be with standard AK accessories (the Czech rifles in particular seem to be their own animals.)

    Thanks to the gun laws, almost all the cheaper imported rifles will be built with a combination of surplus, used, left-over, and American-built parts, all of varying quality, and will be assembled in various factories ranging from competent workers who care about what they are doing, down to unskilled labor that critics often compare to drunk monkeys or trained vegetables. The Romanian guns in particular have a reputation for having hit-or-miss quality. It’s normal for even the best of the low-end rifles to look rough out of the box, but you will want to do your shopping in person, and avoid problems like loose-fitting magazines (which will rattle right off the rifle in extreme cases), those canted/crooked front sights, Post-Ban shenanigans like welded muzzle devices and ground-off bayonet lugs, and that sort of thing. That said, I wouldn’t worry too much about the dangers of buying a lemon: I think it must surely be rare for anyone to buy a cheap AK that has anything worse than minor cosmetic problems, and I’m sure if you ask before you buy from most reputable dealers, you’ll find they will probably be willing to exchange the gun if you do get a total lemon.

    As for the original article: it seems like a very good primer to me… sure, it doesn’t cover everything about semi-auto AK’s, but I would bet entire books can be written on the subject! So, good job to CTD Blogger 🙂

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  31. I have owned several variants including the WASR-10 Pistol and the WASR-10 Bullpup. The Bullpup was surprisingly accurate but cooked your hand with the heat right there at the trigger! Not a smooth trigger, ha ha, but I was trained to pick up anything and roll. I finally settled on an RPK and a Polish AKMS underfolder. The RPK only needed a good bonding coat of Militec 1 when hot to be flawless. It now has done over 8,000 rds and with no failures save the unreliable drum and trying synthetic aftermarket magazines. Any surplus steel mags rock. I refinished the wood myself a dark walnut and left the top wooden fore end piece off for the smoke and for cooling. Saved me money for pining for my old M60! I took off the clangy bipod and put on a Grip Pod with clamp on Picatinny rails. I opened up the rear notch slightly, and can eat up tennis balls on the deck at 350 yds. A side mounted LED light illuminates the sights and target. I use oil based flat black paint for eliminating any glare on top of and inside the rear sight notch, and use model paint in safety orange for the front sight. The LED flashlight is Sportsmansguide Guide Gear 700 Lumen light, and it is set just on the left side and back about 6 inches from the muzzle. To be exactly specific, the RPK is an AES-10. As for the Polish AKMS underfolder, I went straight out and set the rear sight for just under 100yds and it is dead on from 50-100yds. I love it. I paid $550 for it, and had the RPK reduced from $800 to $500 as no one would go for the heavier weapon. By far my gain!

  32. Very important note. Make sure you get an ak with g2 fire control, most American ak’s have “trigger slap”, a painful result of us modification. You can have the g2 installed by a gunsmith or buy the ak with it installed. I got my ak74 at Atlantic firearms, huge selection. The ak is always a treat to shoot. Just google “ak trigger slap” for more info.

  33. I am not certain why everyone wants to modify or change the AK pattern rifle..they are designed for a specific purpose and they work quite well at that. All the would be Rambos adding lots of after mkt crap…well, arm chair commandos always think adding more toys will make them an ‘operator”;…wrong..The Ak was never designed to be a weapon with superior accuracy…Russian manuals allow for 4in or more at 100 meters as acceptable…the Ak was never desiged to have a hold open bolt…but those in the know…buy Yugo and some Hungarian mags…that are designed to hold the bolt open…and work quite well. Many pros also use 20 rd mags depending on the situation to allow you to get down and maneuver quickly in tight spaces. The mags change sequence is very differnt from an AR..and training inproper technique is essential to be good at it. People who say the AK will not jam etc have never used one in combat…they will and can jam…are they tough and robust..absolutely…but they are not fail proof. To everyone looking for a deal…why?..when was the last time you gave anyone a deal?…..

  34. I bought an Century arms AK47 Wasr 10 for $485 delivered. Nothing wrong with it and shit straight out of the box. I also bought a Century Arms Centurion 39 100% USa made with milled receiver. best AK I have fired. That sent me back $820 but well worth the money.

  35. Great article. I just wanted to say that the first Ak type weapon I bought was a stamped Saiga chambered in .223. I just love this rifle. It was also my first modification I had done replacing and moving the trigger group foward using a Tapco G2 set. I replaced the gas tube and forearm (upper and lower) added the pistol grip, and changed the buttstock. I also changed the magazines to made in U.S.A. mags. It is totally 922r compliant and the conversion cost about $200.00. The Saiga cost $500.00 out the door with all the fees and taxes, which in Calif. is not bad. All in all, a real nice absolutely TRUE Kalashnikov AK-47 with the exception of the caliber being a .223 instead of the 7.62. I bought a Chinese sks afterwords for $200.00 to the fill the 7.62 catagory! My point…you can do a lot worse than Saiga, a great rifle!

  36. I own 2 AK’s very happy with both although I do have to say the one I’m not as happy with is the 10rd single stack only model I have I have to carry twice as many mags to get the same ammo count as my 30rd double stack model I own, and try finding the 10rd single stack AK mags you might as well be looking for a needle in a hay stack you’d have better luck. In the 15 years I’ve owned it I’ve only found 6 10rd single stackers. So make sure you’ll be happy with every aspect of the weapon I might be willing to sell my little AK to someone in California just so they can have a piece of heaven.

  37. unless u move the gas block, float the barrell, integrally suppress and put some less ugly furniture on it,no i’m not planning on buying any kalishnikov type weapons…nuff said

  38. Bought a Vector AK 47 underfolder some time ago. Special Forces Four tour Vietnam vet
    had a Valmet. When Vector started upgrading Uzi’s with superior parts he became a fan. I found a Vector AK that had parts “reworked” by Vector. I understand this involves heat treating giving essential parts greater durability. Anyone have info on the accuracy of this info… thanks. Number one essential necessity with any weapon…. shot placement !

  39. I’ve read all of the articles you’ve posted and appreciate the time taken. However, one thing I noticed was the specific absence to any mention of the Norinco AK-47. Next to the Yugo AK, I think the Norinco is one of the most desired AKs out there. And arguably one of the best stamped receiver AKs on the market. Also, after talking with the guys at AK-47 world, they and many others do not share your enthusiasm regarding miller receivers for the AK. There are so many more stamped that milled and the milled receivers have their own special set of problems, not the least of which is the non-interchangeability of parts with stamped receiver AKs. Because the receiver is milled from a single billet, and the inherent weakness if it is milled below certain thickness, the machinists make it thicker to avoid the possibility of metal fatigue after strenuous use, whereas with the stamped receiver it can be hardeded after manufacture if needed.

  40. The MAC was a product of Polytech in China. It is a semi-auto version of the type 58 which is a clone of the AKM. It is a high quality rifle and highly sought after.

  41. I live in the Peoples Republik of Kalifornia, so my choices are somewhat limited. I chose the saiga AK47’s, one in 762X39 and another in .223. The .223 will NOT (according to the manufacturer) handle the 5.56 round due to chamber pressure. I have fired nearly 1000 round through each of them and they have worked flawlessly. Cleaning is not a complicated process and the weapons come apart and go together easily.
    In looking at the fired cartridges, the mouth of the cartridge has a slight flat spot and about half way down the body, there is a little ding. I haven’t reloaded any of the brass but I dont think these marks will affect the reloading process.
    The bi-metal ammo for these is pretty cheap and if you look around, you can usually find a range where you can use them. The range where I shoot only prohibits ammor piercing and tracer ammunition, so it’s a pretty cheap day at the range.
    If you are looking for a tack driver, buy a bench rest rifle in one of the proven calibers, but iff you want reliable, cheap shooting fun, an AK is the way to go.

  42. Might I suggest looking into Saigas and Veprs for NEW rifles(and yes AK shotguns). They are built on heavier(RPK, light machine gun) recievers and have chrome barrels. They can be had for $400-800 unconverted(sporterized for importation) and you get the fun and pride of converting it back to origional or custome AK styleing yourself.

  43. There are many instances where we come across various kinds of individuals. There are so many different kinds of people that numerous of them could be bad and there could be some people who have a criminal past. This means that they could have their criminal nature lurking somewhere in their hearts and this could cause them to indulge in some other criminal activity soon. So, you have to make sure that you do a Background Check to stop getting too close to such people.

  44. I appreciated the post ban 1994-2004 commentary. I had been wondering about my EAA (European American Amory) AK rifle which I purchased in Nov 2003 as to whether it was a pre-ban. I had assumed that since I bought it during the AWB and it had the hi-cap 30 rd mag. But it is evidently the post ban type described since it has no bayonet lug and the muzzle break has been permanently attached to the barrel which answers my question. Thanks.

  45. IMHO to comment # 55 timbersmith is crap compared to ironwood designs… hands down the highest quality remakes for any ak variant you can buy. just got a set for a nhm 90 (193.00 dollars though)… check them out….just my 2 cents

  46. hey great piece for the ak newbies, covers all the basics and then some… if you are in the market for any firearm, do as much research as possible before you spend your hard earned money…I once sold a wasr 10 for 900.00 stock to someone who has never touched an ak before….dont be that guy unless you buy one from me…lol


  47. I missed your article on SKS measuring system. Is it still available? I’m trying to find out what size machine screw is used in the bayonet mount. It doesn’t appear to be metric. I took the old screw out so I could replace the bayonet with a bipod . Since the screw was centerpunched in, the screw threads were damaged taking the screw out. I would to know where I could buy a new screw, tap , and die for this. Thank you for any help. Jim.

  48. One other observation I have about pre-ban Chinese AKMs is it may be cool to own a Polytech. I had one that was pre-Polytech and it was a beautiful rifle. It was basically a mil-spec type 58 which I found out to my chagrin one day at the range. While the rifle had a semi auto sear, this range trip convinced me that the bolt carrier was automatic. AS long as I used steel cased rounds, the rifle did fine. But on this particular outing, I had not been able to buy Russian ammo so I bought Remington. Remington is higher quality and brass cased. I loaded up my magazines and proceeded to crank off round one, round two, round three and then brrrratt. The rifle gave me a four-round burst. And it continued that way for the rest of the range session. We packed up and left in a hurry and I promptly sold the rifle because Washington is not a class III state and it would have been an unregistered machine gun. It only had this problem with brass ammunition so I sold it with that caveat. But those old semiautomatics should be checked out by a qualified gun smith because some have soft sears that can malfunction.

  49. The one thing I have to say about this topic is stay away from the Yugoslavian M-70 series if you want to modify it much. I have one I’ve hardly shot. It has an Aimpoint M3 Comp mounted on a Scout Scope Mount. It’s a solid rifle and shoots well but the stupid Yugo measurement system makes it impossible to install some of the most helpful aftermarket parts manufactured by Krebs Custom. Some parts, such as some rails and hand grips fit but one has to pay attention to whether they are made for the M-70. If not, nothing will fit. I like the heavy duty frame and trunnion on the Yugo and standard magazines fit. It’s a durable, reliable and surprisingly accurate carbine but one has to accept it as manufactured. I’m even thinking about selling mine because I really like the Krebs aftermarket parts; especially the bolt hold-open device.

  50. No offense to Jadnil, but they are not even close to the best quality furniture. IF you want wood and IF you like the Laminated set, Timbersmith is the best. IMHO of course

  51. Jadnil Enterprises produces by FAR the highest quality AK-47 stock sets for several different versions of the AK 47. They are a small business and do almost eveyrhting by hand andthe quality of thier work far surpasses buying some cheap set from “Crapco” or one o fthos eguys. I collect different versions of the AK-47 and I always get my furniture from these guys and have been happy every time.

  52. Has anyone noticed how much the cost of accessories vary on the AK? I have quite a few and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference in what makes some of them cost so much more than the “so called” cheapos or knock offs. What’s your view on it?

  53. The AK-47 is by far my absolute favorite! I currently have the WASR Romanian AK with a very well milled magwell so my mags fit nice and snug (unlike most). I’d really like to get another, any suggestions on where to look for a deal?

  54. Has anyone noticed how much the cost of accessories vary on the AK-47? I own quite a few and it’s difficult to tell the difference in what makes some of the accessories worth so much more than the “so called” cheapos or knock offs. What’s your view on it?

  55. Has anyone noticed how astronomically the prices of accessories vary on the AK? I own quite a few and it’s hard to tell the difference in what makes some of the upgrades cost so much more than the “so called” cheapos or knock offs. What’s your view on it?

  56. Has anyone noticed how greatly the prices of accessories vary on the AK 47? I have several and it’s hard to tell the difference in what makes some of the accessories cost so much more than the “so called” cheapos or knock offs. What’s your view on it?

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

  58. The AK-47 is by far my bar none favorite! I currently have the WASR 10 with a very well milled magwell so the mags fit nice and snug (unlike some). I’d really like to get another, any ideas where to find a deal?

  59. Has anyone noticed how greatly the prices of accessories vary on the AK47? I own several and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference in what makes some of the accessories cost so much more than the “so called” cheapos or knock offs. What’s your view on it?

  60. The AK-47 is by far my most favorite! I currently have the WASR 10/63 with a perfectly milled mag well so the mags fit nice and tight (unlike most). I’d really like to get another, any suggestions on where to find a deal?

  61. Have you noticed how astronomically the prices of accessories vary on the AK-47? I have several and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference in what makes some of the upgrades cost so much more than the “so called” cheapos or knock offs. What’s your view on it?

  62. Has anyone noticed how much the cost of upgrades vary on the AK47? I own quite a few and it’s hard 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?

  63. Has anyone noticed how greatly the prices of accessories vary on the AK 47? I own quite a few and it’s hard to tell the difference in what makes some of the accessories cost so much more than the “so called” cheapos or knock offs. What’s your view on it?

  64. The AK-47 is by far my absolute favorite! I currently have the WASR 10/63 with a good milled mag well so my magazines fit nice and tight (unlike most). I’d really like to get another, any suggestions as to where to look for a deal?

  65. The AK-47 is by far my bar none favorite! I currently have the WASR 10/63 with a good milled magazine well so the mags fit nice and snug (unlike others). I’d like to get another, any suggestions as to where to find a deal?

  66. Have you noticed how much the prices of upgrades vary on the AK-47? I own many and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference in what makes some of the upgrades worth so much more than the “so called” cheapos or knock offs. What’s your view on it?

  67. Have you noticed how much the prices of accessories vary on the AK? I have quite a few and it’s difficult to tell the difference in what makes some of the accessories cost so much more than the “so called” cheapos or knock offs. What’s your view on it?

  68. The AK-47 is by far my absolute favorite! I currently have the WASR Romanian AK with a very well milled magwell so the mags fit nice and tight (unlike some). I’d really like to get another, any suggestions on where to find a deal?

  69. The AK-47 is by far my bar none favorite! I currently have the WASR Romanian AK with a accuratly milled magwell so my mags fit nice and snug (unlike most). I’d like to get another, any suggestions as to where to find a deal?

  70. Good article! Ive had my romanian wasr10 for a few years now and i love it! Yeah its no sniper rifle but thats not what its intention was. Mine actually had metal chips in the chamber when i bought it new(high cap mod?). Cleaned it out, sighted it in, and i get good groups rapid fire at 50 and 100 yards. Center mass all day! Its got a great trigger too, guess i lucked out! Lol. I strongly recommend Break Free clp to clean and protect these cause i know mine LIKED to rust, but not any more. Break free clp is the best cleaner/protectant ive ever seen/used! (Didnt mean to drop a plug, but seriously, its awesome for every firearm!!) HAPPY SHOOTING!!

  71. As someone who knows very little about the AK,I found this article very lacking in information.

    Who makes the AK in the milled receivers ? Who makes the AK in the 1.6 stamped steel receivers?
    What is the name of the company that makes
    Bulgarian AK that is located in the US?

  72. Just found this post and noticed there was talk of an SKS one to follow. I have been unable to locate a similar writeup about the SKS and was wondering if it was ever done. If so is it possible to post the link?

  73. @Dustin: Patrick is right, most states don’t have any rules for private transfers but I know here in Maryland (harsh on gun laws) the ak is considered a “Controlled firearm” meaning they have to be registered with the state police and transferred through a FFL. And if you call the police here in Maryland you’ll get various B.S. responses and usually a “What do you need that for?” kind of response… Sorry for the rant on Maryland gun policy 🙂

  74. If your buying your AK from a friend and the gun is used it should be considered a private sale and no transfer paperwork is needed,But all states have there different laws.Call your local police dept or ATF office and they will help you.

  75. So I am buying an ak this weekend not from a dealer but from somewhat of a friend and Ive been wondering is there any special paperwork or license or anything ill need to do to make it legal?

  76. Hi I want to buy an Ak-47 I’m 20 years old and I’m scared of how many different models of ak’s there are which ones the best I just love the durability of the rifle itself its been out since 1947 I want this rifle please I would. Love some advice thanks

  77. i have found this to be very informitve read as i am a VERY long time fan and inthoueist of the AK-47 i always had conserns about buying one but this has cleared them up thank u

  78. Got me a arsenal SA-93 (bulgarian import) chrome lined hammer forged barrel, milled receiver. Couple problems with this model are the fact that there is limited aftermarket parts for the bulgarian milled receiver. Also, they were forced to replace the original stock with a thumbhole stock that is awkward and uncomfortable. Barrle was never threaded either. The receiver is hard to fit a buttstock on because, instead of the traditional 2 tangs, it has a single tang attachment point. This can be fixed by buying one of the kits from k-var or the like. It adds the lower tang onto the receiver so that normal furniture kits can be applied (this requires a gunsmith, or very thorough research). You can also buy one of the stock sets from timbersmith (not sure if thats the name of the company) that has a stock set specifically designed for these different “special case” models. All that being said, it has never jammed (1500 rounds through it so far), its extremely accurate despite the lack of a muzzle brake or compensator, and c’mon its an AK-47! lol best rifle I’ve ever owned.

  79. Used an AK47 for 8 years in Veitnam.Found it to be a very dependable weapon compared to the AR 16.We were in the bush for sustained periods of time,consequently the use of the AK47 supply of ammo was the deciding factor and of course its limited jamming feature compared with the AR16.Was assigned to 5th Special Forces based at Pleaku South Veitnam.

  80. I’am a new to the ak-world and i’am going to buy a ak-74 I found ammo for about 8 1/2 ct a round . I found this piece to be very informative and I will buy a ak-47 In the future

  81. You really cannot go wrong with one of the nicer/newer Romanian WASR-10’s for a “go and shoot it” rifle. Great products for the $$, just like ‘Cheaper Than Dirt’.

  82. I own a Romanian WASR-10 AK, very pleased with its’ performance. I have mine set up with a Leapers sniper scope (for the occasional deer or terrorist). And that’s the whole trick – I don’t own an “assault rifle”, I own a “homeland defense rifle”.
    My AK, along with my newly purchased Howa 30.06 (an actual deer rifle), will protect my home and homeland from invaders.

  83. Overall, a well written piece. Just one correction I can see. Russian and Chinese SVD rifles do not fall into the Kalshnikov family. They do not even have the same method of operation as the AK. Dragunov rifles work under the short stroke gas system meaning there is a small piston and an operating rod with spring that pushes the bolt carrier out of battery. Kalashnikov rifles utilize a long stroke gas system whereby the gas is directed upwards though the gas block onto the face of the gas piston which is attached (screwed into) the bolt carrier group, and is thus pushed backwards out of battery to cycle the weapon.

    There are only two communist bloc designated marksman weapons that utilize the AK long stroke gas system. They are the Romanian Puska Semiautomata Luneta (Scoped Semiautomatic Rifle) or PSL chambered in standard 7.62x54r (there were a few imported a couple of years ago in .308, but they are increasingly harder to find and the mags are nonexistent) and the Yugoslavian M-76 in 8mm.

    Just thought I’d let you know.

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