1. #1
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    Are AK-47's over-rated?

    For years I've read and watched (TV) reports about the legendary AK-47. About how reliable it is and what a great firearm the AK-47 is, etc.

    I don't own a AK-47. Admittedly, several times I've had the counter-man at the gun store hand me a $279.00 WASR AK.

    Now, coming from a materials-science/metallurgy background, this is what I've noted. AK-47's look good on a wall 10' feet away. But then I hold it. The AK feels flimsy, like a cheap kids toy. The stamped parts are very crudely formed, and held together with spot welds which may have questionable penetration. Some receivers are spot-heat-treated. The stock is cheap. The whole rifle appears to be made by someone who's only tool was a hammer.

    Now, I have to make a couple exceptions. I did hold an AK47 built by a company, "Arsenal", I believe. That was a superbly built firearm. It was 2X the price of a WASR AK back in the day. I think Vector is another company that makes good AKs, but have no first-hand experience.

    Frankly, most of my experience is with the cheaper AK's, which to my knowledge, are the global status quo of AK's (I consider the Arsenal more like the modern "Wilson Combat 1911" of AKs).

    In the mid/late 1990's, many of my friends purchased the cheap AK47s. I used to go shooting with them. These rifles were horribly unreliable. Many had several stoppages per magazine. The stocks would loosen, or crack. My buddies used to go shooting with screwdrivers in their back pocket, so they could make adjustments without walking back to the toolbox.

    I've seen youtube videos of AKs doing remarkable things. Why is it that the ones I see first-hand always have stoppages?

    Is it the owners? The majority of my friends when we were young, weren't the smartest apples in the barrel.

    Or is the AK just over-rated? Has the internet, and hordes of sophmoric adolescent males parroting what they read, over-hyped the AK-47?

    Take for instance, my FAL. It's receiver is forged, milled, and fully heat-treated. It's fired flawlessly for me for years, using various surplus mags from several different countries. It's 100% reliable with ammo from the USA, Portugal, S. Africa, Britain, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, and whatever else I've managed to scrounge. It's solid, and doesn't flex & rattle.

    In addition to that, I rarely see problems with my (or others) M1As, Garands, SKSs (in OEM configuration), AR15s, HK-91s, etc.

    Seriously consider how many M1A owners you've seen using screwdrivers and mallets... versus AK47 owners.

    I think the root problem, for me, is that I've always wanted an AK. Not in the fantasy way that I want an expensive Barret .50, because the AK is easily obtainable, financially speaking. No, the problem is that I love the idea of the AK-47, and they look great from 10 feet away.

    It's just that when I actually hold one, it's a total turn-off. My eyes and hands just can't overlook certain cheap characteristics.
    When I go to the range and see some owners, monkeying with their AKs, it's also a turn-off.

    How can these rifles be as big as all the hype?

  2. #2
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    I just bought THE cheapest POS AK on the market (WASR 10/63). When I got it, it had 100% FTF's.
    After dremmling (sp) feedramps and grinding down the Tapco G2 trigger, repainting it, restaining it, knocking the front sight straight, filing down the cleaning rod so it would fit into the sleeve...it know works 100% and is a complete BLAST to shoot. It IS fun. Not accurate, not reliable but boat loads of fun. With any weaping, espicially AK's you WILL get what you pay for. Search jwises' info on them here at this forum.
    Here
    http://forums.officer.com/showthread.php?t=107080 (AK-47/74 rifles from around the world...)

    Theres about 4 moving parts, easy to work on. All-in-all, I had fun "fixing" mine.

  3. #3
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    I had a WASR-10, it would double tap once in a while, so I sent it to the guy whom I got it from to fix it... he fixed it, came back, with just FTF/FTEs... the top rail cover thingy kept coming off....

    horrible rifle. I gave it back, and he gave me my money back.

    my AR, i've never had a single problem, except once, it had a double feed problem. thats it.

  4. #4
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    Never had a prob with my WASR. Just like Mikey from the Life cereal commerical...it will eat anything.
    -"He detested failure more than anything else, even betrayal. Betrayal required intelligence and ruthlessness, failure only stupidity or lack of concentration."
    -Daniel Silva

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by 135dB View Post
    Never had a prob with my WASR. Just like Mikey from the Life cereal commerical...it will eat anything.
    I think its just luck of the draw...

    I might also add that I'll probably get another WASR.... lol
    Last edited by eyildiz; 07-30-2009 at 02:50 PM.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by eyildiz View Post
    I think its just luck of the draw...

    I might also add that I'll probably get another WASR.... lol
    I think so too.
    I've seen WASRs' at the range that were really nice looking and they ran great...go fig?

    I'd NEVER buy another sight unseen though.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaisyCutter View Post
    For years I've read and watched (TV) reports about the legendary AK-47. About how reliable it is and what a great firearm the AK-47 is, etc.
    I own/ have owned over a dozen including 4 SBR AKs from about said number of countries of origin. If the AK was assembled corretly, it is an amazingly reliable rifle far surpassing any Western rifle. They are truly tough as nails but what you are coming acorss is something that new AK buyers need to recognize and understand what they are getting.

    Now, coming from a materials-science/metallurgy background, this is what I've noted. AK-47's look good on a wall 10' feet away. But then I hold it. The AK feels flimsy, like a cheap kids toy. The stamped parts are very crudely formed, and held together with spot welds which may have questionable penetration. Some receivers are spot-heat-treated. The stock is cheap. The whole rifle appears to be made by someone who's only tool was a hammer.
    Spot welds should not be on an AK. When you see spot wells particulatly around the trunion, its probably made by Hesse Arms which is a company with probably the worst reputation in the firearms business. See the name Hesse, take off running as fast as you can away from it.

    Nor should you see screws. You'll see some screw builds done typically by home gunsmithers on early parts kits particularly AMD-65s.

    Now, I have to make a couple exceptions. I did hold an AK47 built by a company, "Arsenal", I believe. That was a superbly built firearm. It was 2X the price of a WASR AK back in the day. I think Vector is another company that makes good AKs, but have no first-hand experience.
    The problem you are seeing is one company(Arsenal of Bulgaria) that makes AKs for real and one that is trying to capitalize on the AKs popularity by pushing out kit builds, ie guns built from 30 -40 year old kits. Think building a new car out of junk yard parts decades ago.

    Frankly, most of my experience is with the cheaper AK's, which to my knowledge, are the global status quo of AK's (I consider the Arsenal more like the modern "Wilson Combat 1911" of AKs).
    Arsenal WAS cheap in the 90s. My SLR-95 came home with an after tax price of $410. Expect over a $1 grand now for that rifle. That rifle is far tougher than any western rifle I've shot. I miss those $400 Arsenals!

    As for your other concerns and they are something to keep in mind when looking to buy an AK , the problem with alot of AKs today is you have to watch what you are buying. Anything by Hesse or its descendant named companies is bad news along with Century Arms. Yes Century Arms will do right int he end but would anyone want to buy a new rifle then have to ship it back to get it working? In the 90s, you did start seeing even cheaper AKs and those tended to be cobbled together by those two said companies. Also the BWest rifles had weak ( improper heat treated) receivers.

    Next thing to look for and remember is today most AKs are still being built from part kits brought into the country before the ATF banned the barrels. Yugo kits came into this coutnry torn down from ACTUAL Yugo civil war rifles. Russian kits come in from captured Palestinian AKs. My russian( one of them) was a 1955 rifle!

    Now even then its possable to buy an AK that if assemble properly( not canted sights) and has a good barrel, it'll run like it legendary reputation. It may not be pretty, actually it probably won't be pretty but it will run like a champ.

    You bring up the FAL. It too was not immune to the parts kit and assembled by less than competent crowd.

    Right now the best new AKs are the Saigas and get them returned to their original Russian configuration or buy an older foreign built AK but the cost really gets out of hand. I do not recommend buying an US built ( from parts kit not a custom job) AK rifle without first handling it and if possable shooting it. If you are to buy a US built AK, get a custom one or get a Krinkov SBR from a reputable AK biulded or seek one of those rifles. Its the only way you can get a "real" AK built and assembled in the correct manner.

    I highly recommend buying a Saiga and having it returned to its original configuration or better yet to AK100 like AK103 or AK105 series by a reputable AK gunsmith.

  8. #8
    Mmmm... Water!

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    I have a WASR. The front sight is canted, and the whole rifle seems a bit bowed, but I only bought it to have an AK. Works great, shoots great, and is actually pretty accurate.

  9. #9
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    A Soviet/Eastern Block AKM is hard to beat for reliability. The ones made for the civilian US market arent.

  10. #10
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    This turned out OK

  11. #11
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    Rustoleum (sp) flat black primer.
    Good old flat black BBQ paint.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigtexan44 View Post
    Interesting. I might have to get me some and make mine look decent lol. I also want to do the wood in a dark cherry color.
    I tried staining mine a black cherry. The wood laminate doesn't take the stain well..so you might have to paint it instead.

  13. #13
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    So maybe, universally, the reputation is over-rated...
    But in proper configuration, the reputation is deserved.

    BTW, here is a nice dark red: http://www.falfiles.com/forums/showt...hreadid=267716

  14. #14
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    I think you are overly influenced by the guns built to last 40 years or more, and your metals background. The AK was built for Kulacks (uneducated farmers), and cranked out in the millions. In my neck of the woods, almost all of them run and run, with little maintainance. They can be more accurate (mostly with better ammo and sights).
    The predecessor to the AK in tactics was the numerous subguns used in The Great Patriotic War (We call it WWII). The Russian tactic was,"everybody charge, shooting like crazy. Someone is bound to hit something!"
    Hand an AK to a bushman in Africa, give him 10 minutes of instruction, and send him in. The AK will work, no matter how crude it looks. And if it fails, we have another martyr to Socialism, Comrades
    "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
    John Stuart Mill

  15. #15
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    I have an Egyptian MADI, and the thing runs like a top. It was imported pre-ban then modifed for sale...*they put a thumbhole stock on it and ground off the bayonet lug*
    Forti Fors Bona

  16. #16
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    I also have a MADI...figured I should get one so when all hell breaks loose, I can get ammo off the ground for it.

  17. #17
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    The AK is a weapon desinged to be used and repaired by conscript troops with limited educations.

    It can be repaired by a 12 year old in a mud hut with a hammer. It would be a fantastic SHTF type weapon and is a hoot to shoot.

  18. #18
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    I would like to add that when the M16 came on the scene, those of us used to guns made of steel and walnut derided it - it did not "look" like a gun.

    Is the AK crude? Yes. Does it function? In most examples, Yes. Will it last 40 years? Not Likely. Is it of the highest quality? Not in most examples. But when you are outfitting an army to fight, and not to look good on parade, who cares?
    "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
    John Stuart Mill

  19. #19
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    The AK-47 platform itself is well-designed and reliable. It is not super-accurate but it works great for what it was intended for.

    However, there are not many rifles that have been produced in as many variations as the AK-47. They have been manufactured all over the world, abused by their owners, stripped down for parts and re-sold as kits, etc. etc.

    So the platform is solid. But most AK's are not manufactured the same way most American rifles are. That's why they are so much cheaper.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sleuth View Post
    I would like to add that when the M16 came on the scene, those of us used to guns made of steel and walnut derided it - it did not "look" like a gun.

    Is the AK crude? Yes. Does it function? In most examples, Yes. Will it last 40 years? Not Likely. Is it of the highest quality? Not in most examples. But when you are outfitting an army to fight, and not to look good on parade, who cares?
    lol, i guess you've never seen an Iraqi Army's Arms room huh These guys have the oldest AK's known to man, and they still work just like day 1. Still, i'm not a real big fan of the AK weapon.

  21. #21
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    To begin with MOST people have never owned or even handled an AK-47.

    The AK-47 is a select fire rifle. The semi-auto variants are not AK-47's.

    We do not call our AR-15's "M16's" and that is because they are NOT M16's.

    I know people who have proven time and time again that an ar-15 will do anything an AK variant will do, and typically do it better. One such challenge was nicknamed the "brown cup challenge" because the winner got to take a dump in the losers rifle, and the AK varient was the one in need of hosing down afterwards NOT the AR.

    People who brag about not needing to clean an AK varient, not ever make me really ponder how smart a person is that does not maintain a tool he might have to bet his life on ??

    If you want a simpler system than any gas operated rifle why not go right to the HK designs ??

    The AK variants I have examined are very crudely machined, to the point that it looks as if a man with Parkinson s disease machined them with a worn out Dremel grinder.

    Many of the WASR rifles were assembled by Century arms, and you might have to look over a half dozen before you find one that is not put together straight and square.

    If you started from a clean slate and mfg an AK variant from the ground up in the USA with quality as the goal from the get go you might have something. It would probably cost $2k though.

    Bill

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