From Russia, with love is no longer just a James Bond film. Although Section 922(r) of U.S. statutes has restricted importation of entire firearms from certain enemy states since 2002, the FIME Group of Las Vegas, Nevada is keeping it legal and fun by importing parts for the AKM and other VEPR rifles and shotguns from the renowned Molot factory in Kirov, Russia, and adding FIME Group-made components to produce and sell complete firearms.
FIME stands for Firearms Importers, Manufacturers, and Exporters. Partner company K-Var has been in the AKM supplies business for a long time. I was excited to get my hands on one rendition of the VEPR platform, an AKM called the FM-AK47. Like other AKMs, it’s chambered in 7.62×39.
The FM is built with RPK machine gun-inspired components and styling. With a 1.5mm thick stamped receiver and FIME Group’s chrome-lined RPK-style barrel, it’s built to take the heat. The black, industrial-looking polymer handguards, also by FIME, are stainless-steel lined to keep things cool during sustained fire.
Like the RPK, the FM does not have a bayonet lug or externally mounted cleaning rod—though it does come with a cleaning kit and features a trapdoor in the butt plate for storage. This, and the polymer stock, saves weight on what might otherwise be a heavy gun. It weighs in at 7.8 pounds sans magazine.
FIME Group updated the rifle’s look with a handsome flash hider. A premium accessory is the windage-adjustable rear sight. The front sight post, safety, charging handle, and overall operation are in traditional AK styling.
A frequent complaint about AK-style rifles is a lack of quality control where riveting and the front sight post are concerned. There is no lack of plumb lines and fittings on the FM I tested. Although the owner’s manual admonishes not to fret if the front sight appears crooked, there’s nothing that I’ve found that’s off kilter. Every rivet is perfectly centered; every hole appears perfectly drilled. Hold it up to the light in any direction, and there’s no shine-through where light doesn’t belong.
The trigger is FIME Group’s double-stage trigger, with an approximate five-pound pull. The initial take-up is about a quarter-inch. Reset is clear after a short half- inch journey, but not crisp. Trigger snobs will find something to dislike here. To me, it feels like a normal, consistent milspec carbine trigger.
The five-round magazine that comes with the rifle is a bit of a disappointment capacity-wise, but it works well, and comes in quite handy for those low shots in prone. Having tried a passel of other AK magazines in the gun, I found that all fed without flaw. The only polymer one in the group was a Magpul 30-rounder, and it was the only one that proved a bit tricky to load. There’s a slightly larger flange on the fore panel that requires the operator to insert it just right for a smooth load. Firing this carbine on a timed test, I chose to leave that mag behind in favor of heavier, traditional ones.
Most of my firing on this rifle has been with cheap, steel-cased Tulammo FMJ. I did also put 70 rounds of Fiocchi steel-cased target ammo, as well as 100 rounds of BBM, a brass-cased 123-grain FMJ made in Bosnia-Herzegovina. After approximately 550 rounds, the FM has yet to misfeed or misfire—something I was expecting, and wouldn’t have blamed on the gun, with less expensive ammo.
Being that it’s an AK, I wasn’t expecting miracles in the accuracy department. The FM pleasantly surprised me when, with iron sights, fired from prone with the forend only supported, and loaded with cheap Tulammo, it placed three rounds in one hole at 25 yards. My eyesight becomes a negative influence on accuracy tests much beyond that distance. Hitting a 36-inch square plate from 175 yards from standing is easy pickings for this rifle, though.
There’s an optic-mounting rail on the left side of the receiver, handily made to accommodate most commercial AK sight mounts. Using UTG’s quick-release rail mount and Tactical Intent’s low rail mount for the Aimpoint Micro, I put the red dot on the carbine. There must be some movement in that system, as my 25-yard group opened up to 1.25 inches at best with the BBM, and 1.5 inches with Tulammo. The Aimpoint, however, made a world of difference when shooting for speed at 100, 75, and 50 yards. When the very low rear sight was hard to align with haste, especially on a black target with a black front sight post, having a red dot on the rifle speeded the operation up to an acceptable level. Using my state’s police timed day carbine qualification as a standard, I twice scored 90 percent with the red dot; 82 with irons. One of the missed shots on each represents no inaccuracy on the FM’s part, but my own need to learn where precision holdovers are at 15 yards.
There were two problems with this rifle. Both can be overcome. The first issue was adjusting windage via the front sight post—an unnecessary move since the rear sight can move sideways, but I nevertheless took it on. It was tight and non-responsive to the casing-and-mallet method, aided by WD-40. I moved on to an inexpensive commercial sight tool, which it promptly deformed. The same happened to a second sight tool. It did finally respond to a Magna-matic sight tool. The obvious upside to this is, now that zero is set where I want it, it’ll stay.
It was disappointing when the rear sling attachment, a 180-degree swiveling wire loop on the stock, became deformed after just about 30 minutes of normal range use. For traditionalists who’d want to keep using the loop, this might be an important factor. I’ll likely retrofit the rifle with a commercially available single-point adapter. Whether this issue matters depends on the user.
The Molot VEPR FM-AK47 retails for $999. That’s on par with premium factory AKs, like Arsenal, and about 25 percent more than sometimes problem-riddled entry level models. Worth it? I think so. This thing is, except for the rear sling attachment, built like a tank, accurate, and should last through lifetimes with decent care.
I believe it’s a good thing to be competent on the platform carried by most enemy combatants. If nothing else, shooting an AK, especially this one, is fun. If it’s used regularly, the lower cost of ammunition can soon justify the FM-AK47’s cost in comparison to lower-priced AKMs. For those committed to buying American, FIME Group’s contributions cover that base for the majority of parts.