Gun Review: AMD-65 and Accessories

Capitalizing on the success of the AK-47 design, military engineers in the 1950’s and 60’s began designing lighter, more compact AK platforms that would be used by airborne forces as well as secondary troops, such as tank crewmen, supply convoys, military police, ordinance folks, and various other REMF types. The Hungarian AMD-65 is one of the more ubiquitous designs produced as a result of this experiment. Think of it as commie version of the M-1 Carbine – but with a little more bite…

Though once obscure, the AMD-65 has seen a bit of a renaissance lately due to its service in Afghanistan and the recent importation of parts kits. In fact, semi-auto AMD-65 builds made from surplus parts kits are a fairly common sight in gun shops around the country.  In this article, we test the TG International (“TGI”) SA 2000M “AMD-65”, a frequently-encountered build based on the FÉG SA 2000M. The SA 2000M is a single stack, 10-shot Clinton-Era AK variant designed during the dark ages of the Assault Weapon Ban (“AWB”) for the U.S. market. In this article, we test this puppy and let you know if it’s worth the $500-$600 asking price. As an extra bonus, we test the UltiMAK’s M7-B rail and AMD65Tech’s stock adapter, sling loop, and recoil buffer, too.

Ok, before we get into the specifics of the TGI rebuild being tested here, let’s talk a bit of history and doctrine, so we know exactly what this weapon was originally intended to accomplish.

A Brief History of FÉG and the Evolution of the AMD-65

The original AMD-65 was made in Budapest, Hungary by FÉG. From what I understand, FÉG is now defunct. The name most recently stood for Fegyver És Gépgyár, which, according to Wikipedia, translates into “Arms and Machine Factory,” although at one time it stood for other names, including Fegyver És Gazkaszulekgar (Arms and Gas Appliances Company.)  Interesting combo, eh?

Prior to its demise, FÉG had been in business in various guises and ownership since the late 1800’s. It manufactured most, if not all, of the small arms for the Hungarian Defense Forces. The company went bankrupt in 2004, when, according to Wikipedia, “many of its traditional export markets were put under embargo.”   

Students of history will recall that Hungary was a nominal ally of the Germans in WWII, and the country was the scene of vicious fighting in the early months of 1945. In fact, it was in Hungary that Hitler’s most elite division, SS-Liebstandarte, was finally reduced to shambles by the Soviets. Well, payback, as they say, is a bitch; the Soviets turned Hungary into a puppet state in 1945.

The Hungarian military came under the umbrella of the Warsaw Pact and as a result, adopted Soviet military doctrine and equipment. The USSR was more than happy to sell arms to all of its puppet states, but some of its new “friends,” Hungary included, were too proud to buy Russki imports. Hungary developed its own milled receiver AK-47 clone in the mid-50s. In 1963, FÉG developed the AKM-63, which was basically a stamped receiver (i.e. “AKM”)  type weapon with some modifications. Two years later, in 1965, FÉG developed the AMD-65, which was intended to be a lighter, more compact version of the AKM- 63. It featured a short 12.5 inch barrel, a thin hollow wire stock, a vertical foregrip, and a muzzle-brake, all coming in at under 6 pounds.

The design criteria for the AMD-65 emphasized the following attributes:

  • Smaller, lighter, and easier to carry than the AKM-63
  • Same caliber, manual of arms, and operator interface as the AKM-63
  • useable by both officers and airborne troops
  • compensator for reduced muzzle climb
  • 20 round magazine
  • tubular folding stock which allowed trigger operation when folded

As the “D” in the AMD name indicates, it was intended for use by paratrooper (“descent”) units, but various other branches of the Hungarian armed forces, such as mechanized infantry, armor, and support units, also took interest. This was consistent with 1950’s-era Soviet doctrine, whose TO&E called for issuing folding stock “AKS” rifle to their elite airborne forces and mechanized infantry.

In World War II, the Soviets equipped most of their elite forces, such as their Guards units, with as many short range, fully-automatic submachine guns (PSsh 41, PHs 43, lend lease Thompsons M1928s, etc) as they could get their hands on. In fact, soon after WWII ended, the Soviets transitioned from submachine-sized cartridges and full-power Mosin-Nagant (7.62 x 54R) cartridges in favor of the “one-size-fits-all” intermediate round that we all know and love: the M43 (7.62 x 39).

The Soviets knew that they would have numeric superiority in any battle, so their doctrine called for mechanized infantry to rapidly close with the enemy and engage in aggressive close-range combat after debarking from battle taxies such as the BTR-50P, BMP-1, BDM, and BTR 60. Rifles that fire 600-800 meters accurately were not considered very important. Rather, small compact bullet hoses that could be used inside vehicles and had sufficient output rates to gain fire superiority at short range (<200 meters) were highly favored.

Viewed in this light, the AMD-65 seems to be a natural outgrowth of Soviet TO&E and doctrine: a short, lightweight assault rifle chambered in an intermediate range / power cartridges intended for achieving fire superiority in short-range combat.

Of course, shaving a couple pounds and a few inches of barrel and stock off of a gun is going to introduce some new issues not apparent on the original gun. Critics of the AMD-65 generally cite three problem areas: decreased range and accuracy due to the short barrel, heat burns from the unshielded metal handguard, and reliability concerns.

Perhaps the biggest complaint is the AMD-65’s reputation for having a limited effective range. It stands to reason that shortening an AK barrel from slightly more than 16 inches to slightly more than 12 inches will result in making a relatively inaccurate design even more inaccurate, or so one would think. Although some of this perceived inaccuracy may result from a shorter barrel, the primary culprit lies in the shorter sight radius.  Obviously, the shorter the distance between the front and rear sights, the greater potential for aiming errors. In order to accommodate a longer muzzle brake, the front sight is set back further from the muzzle than it is on many AK designs. The photo above shows a comparison to a standard AKMS.  You will notice that the AMD-65’s front sight post is four (4) inches closer to the rear sight post than the AKMS (~11 inches vs. ~15 inches).

But that is not the only culprit. IMHO, the biggest factor leading to the lack of perceived accuracy with the AMD-65 is the lack of a cheek-weld on the butt-stock.  The butt-stock is a single piece of hollow steel and it’s shaped so that it gives plenty of clearance for the charging handle and safety lever. Unfortunately, it gives the shooter nothing to rest his or her brain carrier on, and therefore prohibits good accuracy for all but the best trained shooters.

The second complaint concerns the forward handguard which is made of sheet metal (see photo above). Most conventional AK variants feature wood or polymer handguards with built-in metal heat shields. The AMD-65’s bare metal, non-shielded handguard conducts heat. According to at least one report from Afghanistan, Afghan police equipped with the AMD-65 complain that when they fire several 30-round magazines through their AMD-65s, the handguard can become too hot to touch. But the reported problem is most likely a reflection of poor training – more aimed fire and less jihad-inspired over-the-head-without-aiming mag dumps would cure that problem in all but the most heated battles.

The third complaint concerns alleged problems with reliability. Unlike many variants in the Kalashnikov line, the AMD-65 is reported to have a reputation among Afghan police for untimely stoppages. Personally, I am skeptical of this complaint. While I have little doubt that the Afghan police units probably do a poor job of maintaining their weapons, I find it hard to believe that any AK variant would be less reliable than the AR platform in that part of the world. Nonetheless, the AMD-65 seems to have gotten some bad press lately, so even more reason to test it out and see for myself. Of course, Portland, Oregon, is a long way from Afghanistan (thank you, Lord), so my testing won’t be able to replicate the conditions in the “Graveyard of Empires.”

TG International SA 2000M Conversion

TG International (“TGI”), located in Knoxville, Tennessee, sells military surplus parts and accessories. According to their website, they “have been proudly importing the finest quality surplus from Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Finland, Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, and Austria for more than a dozen years.” A few years ago, TGI got a hold of a bunch of FEG SA 2000M’s which were a post-ban single-stack AK design that came with a proprietary single-stack 10-round magazine and a Choate Dragunov-inspired thumbhole stock.

The FEG SA 2000M was originally made in Hungary and imported in 1999-2000 by KBI and RSR.  The SA 2000M apparently didn’t sell very well so there were still quite a few sitting around in dealers’ warehouses when the AWB rode off into the sunset in 2004.  Freed from that stupid law, many of the remaining inventories of SA 2000M’s were converted by TGI and others to handle conventional double-stack AK mags.

The sample gun features Tapco fire-control parts, the original FEG receiver, and the original FEG chrome-lined barrel, which has been cut to 12.6″ inches. In order to keep the gun from being deemed an NFA short-barrelled rifle by the BATF, a combination barrel extension and muzzle brake is permanently welded to the barrel to reach the magic total barrel length of 16 inches. TGI also expanded the mag well to accept standard (double stack) AK-47 magazines.

Overall quality of the conversion is pretty good: functional but not pretty. Of course, my primary concern when I buy a gun built from surplus parts is that it functions properly and is reasonably accurate. In these two departments, TGI got it right. The sample gun has been 100% reliable and, as discussed in more detail below, it’s surprisingly accurate. Another pleasant surprise was the fact that the sights were dead on right out of the box.  So, considering the price (roughly $500.00), I think most gun enthusiasts would be satisfied.

There are, however, two disappointments. First, many of the TGI builds (the sample gun included) have a lot of play between the rear magazine lug and the magazine catch in the trigger guard. As a result, the magazines have a tendency to wobble up and down and side to side by a 1/16 of an inch or so. None of this seems to affect the gun’s reliability, but it is kind of annoying. Certainly, the noise generated by mag rattle could be an issue in a tactical situation. I’ve found that some mags fit better than others, so it pays to shop around. TGI ships the gun with what appear to be Pro-Mag waffle mags which are U.S. parts that are probably needed to achieve “922” compliance.

A second disappointment stems from the fact that TGI really cut corners on the paint job.   I’m not sure if they used a regular can of Krylon straight off the shelf at Home Depot or not, but they may as well have. Whatever they used, it sucks. With less than 1000 rounds downrange, the commie carbine re-build is showing considerable wear and tear already, as the photos below demonstrate:

Maybe the sample gun happened to be made on a Friday afternoon at 4:30. I was at a gun show last weekend I saw a dealer with a TGI AMD-65 that exhibited far better fit and finish than this sample gun. It also had the beechwood handgrips, which are better looking, albeit somewhat less comfortable. So maybe it pays to shop around if you are in the market for one of these guns.

In any event, I figured this review would be more interesting if the test sample was customized a bit. So I called the good folks at UltiMAK and AMD65Tech and ask them to send me some accessories for testing and evaluation. Both kindly obliged.

UltiMAK M-7B Rail

I have never been a fan of the typical tangent sight arrangement on AK style weapons. As a kid, I learned how to shoot using the tangent sights on the Ruger 10/22 and they always seemed to work fine. But in high school, I was introduced to the aperture sights of the M-16 and the HK-91, and everything changed: I got spoiled. Since then, I find that there’s something about the AK’s iron sights design that makes them difficult to use with accuracy. And as my eyesight gets worse with age, these types of sights become even more problematic. So for me, having optics on an AK is mandatory.

Unfortunately, Mikhail Kalashnikov didn’t design the AK-47 with optics in mind, so installing them on an AK can be a bit of a challenge. Anyone wishing to install optics on a typical AK variant will have four basic options:

(1)  “Scout” mount which replace top hand guard & gas tube assembly

(2)   Side rail mount assembly.

(3)   Rails that attach to the rear sight post mount.

(4)   Rails that replace the receiver cover, including, for example, the Dog Leg™ Scope Rail with integral dust cover.

While it’s beyond the scope of this review to discuss the relative merits of each of these designs, it’s fair to say that each presents its own set of challenges and limitations. In this case, we decided to settle on a scout mount design because it doesn’t interfere with the dis-assembly of the rifle.

Cashing in on the tacticool craze, AK scout rails are now available from Midwest Industries, Krebs, Samson, as well as less expensive offerings from Tapco, UTG, Leapers, and others. The original UltiMAK rail is still the best, in my opinion, because it’s low enough to allow you to maintain your cheek weld and co-witness your iron sights.

UltiMAK is a small, family-owned-and operated business based out of the small town of Moscow, Idaho. They originally began manufacturing scout-mount rails for the AK platform in 2000 and immediately found a receptive audience from the gun-buying public. Motivated by their initial success, the company now makes similar rails for M-1 carbines, M-1 Garands, M-1A’s, Ruger Mini-14s, and Saiga shotguns.

The “M7-B” rail is the model that fits the AMD-65. Like all of the rails in the UltiMAK line, the M7-B is CNC manufactured from a solid billet of 6061-T6 aluminum alloy. The rail is hard anodized in a flat back finish. Overall, the fit and finish is first class, with very tight tolerances and no visible machining marks.  The rail clamps directly to the barrel via two “U” shaped clamps and four beefy Allen screws.

Installation of the AMD-65 version of this rail is a bit more tricky than the standard AK rails because the AMD-65 has a handguard that’s made of metal as opposed to the standard wood or plastic designs. Installing the M7-B on an AMD-65 requires the removal of approximately an 1/8 of an inch of the handguard for approximately a 3-inch strip on both sides of the upper side of the handguard.

If you’re handy with a Dremel tool, this should be no problem. Unfortunately, the manufacturer’s instructions weren’t specific to the AMD-65, so you are left to your own devices as to exactly how much material to remove from the steel handguard. Hopefully, UltiMAK will add some AMD-65-specific photos or an AMD-65-specific template to their instructions at some point.

I had recently purchased a Dremel tool, and this project was my first time using it. Turns out I was a bit of a Dremel Neanderthal, but after about two hours of incremental cuts, I finally managed to get the handguard to fit over the rail’s retaining brackets. Unfortunately, I also managed to grind off a big chunk of paint from the handguard. Rut-roh, Rel-roy. So much for me getting a job at Les Baer Custom any time soon.

Because the UltiMAK M7-B rail mounts directly to the barrel, I was expecting to have a major POI shift. Fortunately the shift, though noticeable, was very minimal and easily fixed by drifting the front sight.

I have made about five trips to the range with the UltiMAK rail-equipped AMD-65 and I am highly satisfied with this product. After almost 1000 rounds, it didn’t loosen up at all, and the finish has been very durable. I first mounted an Aimpoint Comp 2 on the carbine, but decided that I didn’t like having that much extra weight on the front of the gun. So I ended up installing a lighter optic: the Vortex SPARC. Maybe one day I’ll spring for an Aimpoint T-1, but for now I was trying to keep the gun under a grand. The SPARC is light enough that you barely notice it so, unlike the Comp 2, it doesn’t change the balance of the gun.

Some people have criticized the UltiMAK design, alleging that the rail will get so hot that it will melt your optic. Whatever. Maybe those Rambo wannabes who like cranking five or six 75-rd drums through their AK as fast as they can pull the trigger might have an issue.  Of course, those guys really should be shooting RPKs, not an AMD-65. On the other hand, if you’re one of those guys that actually aims when you shoot, you shoudn’t have a problem. We ran through several “combat” courses similar to those set up for three-gun competitions and the UltiMAK didn’t heat up sufficiently to give us any concern for the optics. Yeah, the rail got hot, but not THAT hot.

AMD65Tech Accessories

One great thing about America is that the entrepreneurial spirit is still alive and well.  There are lots of talented folks out there that will buy a product, figure out how it can be improved, and start a small business aimed at producing products to address perceived needs and existing deficiencies. Gio Vanderhider is one of those guys.

Gio and his wife Valerie run AMD65Tech.com out of their home in Grapevine, Texas. Gio is a U.S. Air Force vet who loves gunsmithing and machining and has a ton of raw talent. He has developed a loyal following amongst AMD-65 enthusiasts for his accessories. Gio was kind enough to send me some of his products for testing, and I can’t say enough about how grateful I am.

Gio saw promise in the AMD-65 design when he built his first one from a parts kit. He quickly zeroed in on its shortcomings and decided to do something about them. First, he fixed the biggest design limitation by designing a simple riser for the AMD-65’s stock.  His stock adapter is made out of solid steel and tightly wrapped in rubber vacuum tubing.  The unit is attached to the stock using two screw sets with lock washers. It’s finished in semi-gloss black using high temperature, high abrasion-resistant paint. If only the gun were painted so well.

The stock adapter makes a huge difference in the shooting and handling characteristics of the gun. By keeping your “Mark I Eyeball” in the same location shot after shot, you get more precise and repeatable sight alignment, greatly increasing the accuracy of the weapon.

As another bonus, the adapter has no effect on the operation of the bolt handle. If you mount it in a precise vertical plane over the stock, it could interfere with the manipulation of the safety lever when the stock is in the folded position. However, you can adjust for that by slightly offsetting (canting) the adapter from the vertical to allow clearance for the safety.

For my purposes, it’s not an issue regardless. If I had to carry the weapon with the buttstock folded, It would be in a modified Condition 3 (i.e. locked full magazine on empty chamber, safety off).  If you’re operating in an area where you expecting hostile contact, the AMD’s butt-stock should be extended, as it’s not the easiest thing to deploy on short notice.

The previous photo, above, also shows the AMD65Tech’s sling loop. This is a handy little accessory if your AMD-65 doesn’t have the factory sling loop attachment. It simply bolts on to the buttstock, and provides a solid attachment point for the sling. The paint that’s used on this little device may require some touch up occasionally with Duracoat™ or something along those lines.

The last product Gio sent me was a recoil buffer. This device is nothing more than a solid block of rubber that he’s expertly cut and fitted to the AMD-65. Gio reports the following performance enhancements from the recoil buffer:

  • Decreased felt recoil
  • Reduced stress and fatigue due to metal-to-metal contact
  • Increased speed of the action, due to the springing effect of the rubber
  • Noise reduction
  • Tighter dust cover fit
  • Prevents jamming occurring in guns that may have worn receiver rails

Now I have to say, I’ve had mixed experiences with recoil buffers. They can be great in full-auto guns because they often lower the cyclic rate. I religiously run Buffer Technologies buffers in my HK 91 and HK 93. But I once purchased a Buffer Technologies AK/Valmet Recoil Buffer and all it did was cause my Vector Arms AKMS to jam repeatedly.

Nonetheless, I tried Gio’s buffer in the TGI AMD-65 build and was pleased with its performance. The biggest effect is  – as you’d expect – reduced felt recoil. The effect is subtle at first, but gets more noticeable after a long day of shooting. The effect is most pronounced on warm days, when the natural rubber is at its softest. The unit is very rugged and I don’t see it wearing out any time soon.

One thing to keep in mind if you use the buffer is that it reduces the distance that the bolt travels to the rear. If you have a bolt hold-open cut into your safety, you may need to get a new safety because the location of the “cut” will change as a result of the buffer.  Gio sells safety levers that are pre-cut to work with the buffer.

And speaking of paint, Gio’s also one heck of an artist. The photos displayed above showcase Gio’s skills with a paintbrush. The top picture highlights one of Gio’s personal AMD-65 builds, which is finished in a Vietnam-era tiger stripe pattern. The second photo showcases a Romanian AK painted in a snow camo pattern. The TGI paint on the test sample gun is so atrocious I’m going to send it to Gio to have it tiger striped once I squirrel away some extra dinero. These are highly labor-intensive paint finishes, so I don’t expect it to be cheap project. Stay tuned for the results.

Shooting and Accuracy Results

 

AK-47s and their variants have never been known for being particularly accurate weapons. From my experience (owning eight AK variants and shooting dozens of others),  I would estimate that most AKs shoot in that 3-4 MOA range. Nonetheless, it’s my personal observation that it’s difficult for most American shooters to achieve better than 4 – 8 MOA at 100 yards using a stock AK variant with iron sights, regardless of who manufactured the gun.

Having said that, much of the inherent accuracy potential of the AK is simply lost due to the fact that primitive WWI-era sights are both poorly designed and have a short sight radius (the front and rear sights are only 15 inches apart from one another on a typical AK variant). As discussed earlier, this latter problem is even more magnified on an AMD-65, since the sights are only 11 inches apart.

Because I wasn’t expecting very much out of this weapon in the accuracy department, I have to say that I was completely blown away by the field results. Using an Aimpoint Comp 2 (4 MOA) non-magnifying red dot sight, I achieved the following 3-shot groups at 50 yards (all results measured in inches):  1.0, 1.2, 1.4, 1.6, 1.75, 1.8, 1.9, 2.2, 2.2, 2.4.  I was using decent quality 123-grain ball ammo from Remington (UMC) and American Eagle, although admittedly I did not make any notes as to which ammo shot which groups  (I know, I know… amateur mistake. Sorry).

These shots were made from a shooting bench, and the rifle was rested on sandbags.  The front pistol-grip does tend to get in the way when shooting that way, but I tried to get as steady as possible. I attribute the high degree of variation in group size to two factors: 1) the vertical foregrip makes it difficult to bench-rest, and 2) the Aimpoint’s rough 4-MOA dot is designed to maximize speed, not precision.

I figured the little carbine could do even better than that if I could get the benefit of a little  scope magnification. So I went to a local sporting goods store intent on purchasing a scout scope, but they didn’t have any in stock. Instead, I purchased a Vortex Tactical “SPARC.” SPARC apparently stands for “Speed Point Aiming for Rapid Combat.” I’ll bet the mall ninjas will eat that sh*t up.

I really don’t expect to be in any “rapid combat” anytime soon, but I picked the Vortex over the virtually identical (made in same Chinese factory?) Bushnell TRS-25 because the Vortex comes with a screw-on 2x coupler which I thought might be useful for testing the accuracy of the AMD. For this second test, I also picked up 80 rounds of Winchester “white box” 123 grain ball at Wally-World.

The results were again surprising. Out of ten three-shot strings shot at 50 yards, two were in the 1 MOA range (.475 inches, .552 inches) and another two were in the 2 MOA range (1.03 in. and 1.193 in), with the remaining falling in the 3 to 4 MOA range (1.5 to 2.0 inches). The 2x magnification made things somewhat easier compared to the Comp 2, and undoubtedly accounts for those half- inch groups.

Problems Areas

I did encounter one fairly significant problem with the TGI build. After shooting it aggressively on a particularly cold day, the weld that holds the barrel extension onto the gun cracked, leaving the muzzle-brake loose. That could be a dangerous situation, because a round can hit the muzzle brake as it exits the barrel. This may be a one-off problem with this particular gun, as the TGI AMD-65 I saw at the gun show last week appeared to have a much larger, more aggressive weld. Fortunately for me, a local gunsmith who specializes in AK work re-pinned and re-welded the break in a stronger fashion, for only $40.00.  If you are Oregon, and need some AK work done, call Jesse at  http://762llc.com/

The Bottom Line

Overall, I am very pleased with the TCI AMD-65 build, all cosmetic issues aside. Most important, it’s light, accurate, and reliable. Moreover, it didn’t display the common foibles typical of many of the lower-end AK builds such as canted sight post, loose folding stocks, etc. The rattling sound from the over-sized magazine well is a bit of a bummer, but it doesn’t seem to affect reliability so I guess I can live with that. TGI’s crappy paint finish is aesthetically off-putting, but doesn’t affect function.  Those seeking a good-looking, high durability finish will want to consider Duracoating the carbine themselves or sending it to   AMD65Tech to let Gio work his magic on it. I also highly recommend using optics with your AMD-65, which makes something along the lines of the UltiMAK M7-B rail a necessity. And speaking of necessities, I simply can’t imagine owning an AMD-65 without that AMD65Tech stock adapter.

SPECIFICATIONS

Caliber:  7.62x39mm
Action: classic AKM: Gas operated semi-auto, rotating bolt, piston / tappet rod.
Capacity: 5, 20, 30, 45 round staggered row detachable box magazines, 75 round drums.
Overall Length: 27 inches folded, 33.5 extended.
Barrel Length: 12.5 inches (16.125 in.w/ permanently attached muzzle break)
Weight:  5.8 lbs. unloaded.
Sights: Tangent sight graduated 100-800/1000 meters.
Finish:  Crappy paint?
Price: $500-600 (Retail “Street” Price) as of Dec. 2011.  During the 2009 Obama-scare days, prices on these puppies was up to around $650-800, so you may encounter some sellers seeking to re-coup their (bad) investment.  Having said that, if – cringe – Obama gets a second term, expect another run on ammo and “evil black guns.”

RATINGS (out of five)

Style & Aesthetics * * *
Ever since I was a kid, I thought the AMD-65 was cool looking. Maybe it’s that sick-looking muzzle-brake. On the other hand, I’m sure whoever had the bright idea to use a second pistol grip (installed backwards) as a vertical fore-grip received some sort of Communist Party “Peoples Engineering Efficiency” award. And what exactly possessed the Hungarians to make those polypropylene grips that weird gray/blue-green color? Aftermarket grips are available here:

http://shop.roninsgrips.com/Hungarian-AMD-63-AMD-65-AMD65Grip.htm

http://www.tnguns.com/shop/index.php?main_page=index&cPath=6_13

Ergonomics (Shooting)
Without AMD-65Tech Stock Adapter  * *
With AMD-65Tech Stock Adapter  * * * *
The front vertical grip is canted to the front at a weird angle which leaves a lot to be desired. The standard AMD-65 “wire” stock doesn’t provide the operator with any sort of cheek-weld, which severely impedes accuracy. The latter problem can be fixed with the AMD65Tech stock riser, while the former can be solved with UltiMAK’s AK Modular Rail Forend System – Compact Model.

Ergonomics (Carrying)  * * * * *
The AMD-65 is small, light, and compact. It reminds me of a folding-stock M-1 Carbine both in terms of size and weight. If your AMD-65 doesn’t have a rear sling mount, AMD65Tech’s sling loop is the ticket.

Reliability  * * * * *
The test gun worked with typical AK efficiency – 100% reliability. Use the excellent Lubriplate Aero lithium grease to keep it lubed up right. http://www.lubriplate.com/webstore/detail.aspx?ID=14

Customize This  * * * *
While the options for customizing an AK variant aren’t as great as an AR, there are still sufficient after-market products to satisfy even the most hardcore mall ninja. However, AKMS variants aren’t the type of rifle you want to weigh down with a bunch of doo-dads; KISS is the way to go. I do highly recommend the stock riser from AMD65Tech as well as the excellent M7-B rail from UltiMAK. If you have a few extra Benjamins burning a hole in your pocket, UltiMAK’s “AK Modular Rail Forend System – Compact Model” and an aftermarket vertical foregrip are good-looking add-ons.

Accuracy  * * * *
Conventional AK designs aren’t going to win any awards for accuracy. However, based on my two half-inch 50 yard groups, I’d say this particular sample has the theoretical capability of shooting 1 MOA at 100 yards. Its practical real-world accuracy is somewhat less than that – probably in the 2-4 MOA neighborhood.

Overall  * * * *
If someone were to ask me what role the AMD-65 is best suited for, I’d have to say that it’s the ideal carbine for jungle environments. I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time in swamps in Louisiana and Florida, as well as jungles in Hawaii, Panama, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, and I can say if I had to be armed in any of those environments, I’d be reaching for the AMD-65 over any other gun – bar none. The 7.62×39 round is ideal for bustin’ through heavy cover, and the short lightweight carbine would be much easier to wield in the tangle of vines and thickets you’d encounter in those environments. And it’s great at the range, too.

56 Responses to Gun Review: AMD-65 and Accessories

  1. avatarTTACer says:

    That could be a dangerous situation, because a round can hit the muzzle brake as it exits the barrel because the BATFE&RBFs&GHs will accuse you of manufacturing a class 3 weapon..

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      Actually, in my case the weld broke such that the muzzle brake wobbled a bit, but the the muzzle brake did not come off entirely.

      Besides, a broken civilian legal rifle would not necessarily constitute the manufacture of an illegal class III weapon simply by virtue of the breakage. The government still has to prove that you took active steps to make the weapon an SBR (i.e. there is an element of intent element inherent in the crime), and so it you take prompt and reasonable steps to repair the weapon, you have not committed a crime. Obviously, the longer you continue to carry, use, fire the shortened weapon, etc, the easier it to make the case that you intended that result.

      • avatarTTACer says:

        As Eric said, excellent article. Regarding the potential SBR-this is the same agency that said a shoelace could be considered a machine-gun.

        • avatarJoe Grine says:

          Fortunately, the agency does not decide your guilt or innocence – the Constitution reserves that job for a court of law, and a jury of your peers.

          If you were in that situation and really wanted to be on the safe side, you could temporarily take the stock off the gun, thereby making the gun a pistol. You would need to keep the stock in someone else’s possession or otherwise make it unavailable. Another way to deal with the situation is to disassemble the gun so that it is no longer functioning, again, keeping some of the key parts somewhere away from your immidiate possession. In my estimation, all that is a bit overkill, esp. if you are not a guy that is otherwise in the government’s crosshairs for other reasons.

          Besides, my understanding is that the BATF has since issued a clarification on its ill-advised shoelace order. It would not be the first time a federal agency got it wrong – remember the whole “ketchup is a vegetable” thing? Reagan took a lot of flak for that, even thought it could be attributed to some fairly low-level bureaucrats at Dept of Ag.

        • avatarjoe says:

          I believe once a firearm is a “rifle” it can never be converted to a pistol, (might be the other way around though) much like the short barreled shotguns that are AOW’s, they never had a stock fixed to the reciever so they are not shotguns but ‘smooth bore pistols over 50 caliber’. Thankfully you would most likley get a jury, and any jury in the country would be hard pressed to convict you because of a defective product.

  2. avatarEric says:

    Wow Joe.
    Tons of work in this. Thanks.

  3. avatarChris Dumm says:

    The AMD-65 is about the shortest, handiest non-SBR rifle you can buy off the rack. I’ve shot Joe’s gun a lot, and other than the short sight radius and poor cheek weld, it’s much more accurate than I expected.

    If I were looking for another AK (and I will someday) this would be it.

  4. avatarRalph says:

    What a great job, Joe Grine! When it comes to great gun reports, you and Chris are like the Wachowski Brothers of The Pacific Northwest. Well, except for that whole cross-dresser-gender-bender thing.

    History, and connecting to it, is the reason why I collect battle rifles. So, as an amateur historian, I really appreciated the historical perspective that you provided and the research that went into it.

    FYI, now that I’ve read the book, I can’t wait for the movie.

  5. avatarMattCFII says:

    Did the Sparc co-witness fine with the magnifier off? It doesn’t co-witness with MI’s rails but they are different beasts than the Ultimak.

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      Yes, Matt, the SPARC does co-witness with the UltiMAK rail. That is the primary reason I think the UltiMAK is the best scout mount on the market.

      • avatarMattCFII says:

        Thanks! The weird thing is that the Aimpoint Micro and Primary Arms clone will co-witness with the MI mounts, but the Sparc doesn’t, which would mean it has a slightly higher base than the other two. Overall though I like the Sparc for features and price point.

        • avatarJoe Grine says:

          You are correct about the SPARC. Its base does seem to be a bit higher than the others you mention. If you are looking for something cheaper than a Aimpoint T1, the Primary Arms may be teh way to go.

  6. avatarSlamminsammy says:

    Hey I think these guns are great! I have owned one for about 2yrs. now. Mine shoots as well as my Arsenal! Red Star. Arms makes a stock adapter that works real well.

    • avatarDJ says:

      Did you have to do anything special to make the adapter fit your AMD? I know AK Builder makes one that you have to drill out the rivets and re-rivet the replacement. Krebs used to make one, but they quit making them and are taking names to be put on a waiting list.
      Thanks

      • avatarAnthony says:

        Hey DJ the Krebs adapter is currently being sold again on their website as of today (9/11/13) for $125.00 + $10.00 shipping (Yikes!). I bought one and plan on putting the ACE folder on it. The wire stock just doesn’t do it for me; At least that’s what I keep telling myself to justify the cost of that adapter!!!!

  7. avatarNathan says:

    Just so you know, tank crewmen are neither secondary troops nor REMF types.

    • avatarGossven says:

      I think he meant that tank crews (ideally) aren’t meant to be riflemen. So they wouldn’t have a need for a full-sized AK but would be eligible for the fun size variety. Just like paratroopers are better served by having a more compact weapon since they have enough shit to worry about without catching a stock in the solar plexus on landing.

  8. avatarslamminsammy says:

    My at bad!!!! Its Krebs that makes the stock adapter i mentioned in my first post! Sorry!

  9. avatarEbbs says:

    Longest. Review. Ever.

    In all seriousness, VERY well done, VERY informative, and VERY tempting to make me want to go and buy a 65 right now. OR order a kit for one.

  10. avatarMatt says:

    I wish I could get one in MI, but with no SBRs and this one under 26″ folded (as is the Uzi carbine), it’s a no-go.
    If I could get an SBR it would be Romanian AIMR builds, Arsenal 107UR chopped, a Robinson XCR in 6.8, Saiga 12 SBS too
    MI has some really weird laws regarding guns, some good, some not only bad, but stupid

  11. avatarRandall says:

    Great review!!!! This is my favorite rifle in my armory! If the world came to an end you would find me carrying an AMD 65!! Oh! and Gio at AMD65Tech is a great guy to deal with!!!!

  12. avatarAttila says:

    Hi all,
    I was born in Hungary, but I am a US citizen. So I am so proud to own a Hungarian AMD. :)
    My question about the law, if I will remove the front grip, and replace the front to a better hand guard with a rail is it legal right? But I can’t take it to the gunsmith to re-finish , re-tap the threads and put a different muzzle brake on it ? It has to be weld?
    Regards, Attila
    p.s, Joe , great article!

    • avatarJoe Grine says:

      Well, let me give you some really good legal advice… never get legal advice off of the internet. Ha!
      Having said that, here is my understanding of the law: Federal law does not have any prohibition that would prevent you from removing the factory AMD-65 foregrip and replacing it with an aftermarket foregrip (or permanently removing it, for that matter). Check out the Ultimak website – they sell a bottom rail for the AMD-65 for about $220.
      As far as removing the muzzle break: the thing you have to keep in mind is that federal law requires the barrel of a rifle to be 16.25 inches minimum. The AMD-65 has a 12 inch barrel, but somewhere along the line the BATF made a ruling that allows these shorter barrels so long as there is a permanently attached (i.e. welded) muzzle brake that brings the overall barrel length up to 16.25 inches. I own a CAR -15 that has a similar arrangement – 11 inch barrel and 5.25 inch flash supressor. As far as I know, they don’t care what the muzzle brake looks like, so you can change it out if you want. Whatever you put on has to be permanently welded onto the gun barrel, however.

    • avatarC says:

      Yes, replacing the front grip is legal, the more USA made and compliant parts the more non-compliant parts you can use.

      Yes, you can have a gunsmith replace the muzzle brake. They can connect it normally but it has to be attached permanently so a weld has to also be done. Not sure if it’s just a spot weld or if one needs to have a full or partial weld. I won’t find out until I get my new 4-hole muzzle from amd65 site and bring it in.

  13. avatarArmypete says:

    Great article!

  14. avatarAttila says:

    Here is mine :) Took a photo before and after my project
    [IMG]http://i986.photobucket.com/albums/ae342/Atti_Mac/Transformation.jpg[/IMG]

  15. avatartim says:

    I have an AMD 65 mod:SA2000m by TGI and it jams or “stove pipes” frequently.
    I have been buying bulk quanities of Tulammo in “spam cans” simply because it is affordable. Is the ammo the problem? i have field stripped it, cleaned it, and lubed it with white litium grease thoroughly every time it’s shot but it’s still a problem at least once per 30 rnd. clip…somtimes more! Any suggestions?

    • avatarMattCFII says:

      Honestly it is probably the rifle, TGI has sometimes had spotty QC. Tulammo is about the same quality as any other Russian/Eastern European brand and what AKs should eat for breakfast. Just to cover all the bases, I would try some other ammo like Yugo or even U.S. made brass cased but I don’t expect that much of a difference. Stovepipes normally would be an extractor/ejector issue.

      • avatartim says:

        i have 1000 rnds of Golden Tiger on the way….i’ll keep you posted. Dan @ AK47 world.com would agree that it IS the gun…we shall see.
        Any other suggestions?

        • avatarP A Figueroa says:

          Tim
          Please let us know if you were able to determine the the reason fot the jamming problem. I bought one which seems to have the same problem.

  16. avatarPAPO says:

    Tim, I am also interested to know if you find the reason for the jamming problem. I bought one that seems to have the same issue.

  17. avatarmarcus says:

    Do not use brass cased ammo in any AK that isn’t a Yugoslavian or an Egyptian because sometimes it can rip tha brass cased shell apart inside the chamber steer clear of Yugo or Walmart brass 7.62×39 use steel cased ammo like the AK was designed to take I like golden tiger works fine no issues and not bad on the wallet

  18. avatarKerry O. says:

    Could the rear stock on the above firearm be changed to a collapsible stock such as the Tapco AK T6 Collapsible Stock?

    • avatarMattCFII says:

      Not on an AMD, it’s folder is built into the rear of the receiver like underfolders, triangle, and polymer folders. East German, Romanian, and Polish wire folders (with a pronounced curve) go into the normal rear receiver and could be changed to a collapsible stock.

  19. avatarAttila says:

    No. MattCff. You wrong. it is $80 A block, what is fit in the end of the AMD and you can attach an Ace folding stock. I will look up who makes it.

    • avatarMattCFII says:

      Your right, I forgot about the Krebs block. if you get the Krebs block at $90 and the ACE pig nose adapter, a buffer tube, and a M4 style stock you can have a folding collapsible stock.

      But he was asking specifically about a Tapco collapsible style standard rear trunnion setup (also VLTOR and CAA make a metal version) so my mind slips on the pretty expensive and rare Krebs option, sorry!

      • avatarAttila says:

        I see :) Well using a Krebs adapter , or even do a little modification will allow him to use different folding stocks. I had only problem with it, I was using a low setup scope, and the Krebs block almost knocked my teeth out :) I guess the other problem was I bought a short version of Ace stock.

  20. avatarC says:

    The UTG quad-rail system for 70 bucks is the best system for the AMD 65. Acts as my red dot mount, my Mako front grip mount, my laser mount and it still holds zero on both the red dot and laser after 500+ rounds shot through it.

    No doubt the UltiMak system is nice, but it’s way over-priced. What would of cost me over 400 for the UltiMak optics rail and replacement front grip(my AMD 65 cost me 450) instead the system I chose cost me 70 going UTG. I was weary of quality but not anymore.

    I’m ordering from AMD65 site now, plan to buy the works.

    Love the AMD 65 by TGI, my favorite range gun now. I have a Romak and a Classic AK and the AMD 65 not only competes well in accuracy but it blows them away in every other category including the fun factor.

    • avatarC says:

      Sorry. The M7-B is only 98 bucks. I was looking at another optic piece from the same company for 220, and another that replaces the front rail forearm for 220. I did all this with the one 70 dollar UTG piece. I sure the M7-B works well.

    • avatarMattCFII says:

      The Ultimak gas tube alone isn’t really in the same class as the UTG Quad rail. Really it is a great method to forward mount a red dot or scout scope as low as possible. Where it really shines is for co-witnessing. I really don’t ever recommend the lower tri rail because there are better options at that price point (at its time of release though it was almost the only quad rail in the game). But the gas tube upper alone rocks and allows you to be more closer to a traditional AK aesthetic.

      The UTG is a decent value quad rail for sure. A lot of people look down their noses at it without giving it a chance. However, it isn’t a 922r countable part due to it being made in China.

      For a little more money you can upgrade to a Midwest Industries handguard that is more quality and is US made which helps with 922r. If you want to co-witness it has several optic specific uppers made in conjunction with US Palm. They also offer an extended version like the Ultimak lower, but at a better price point and a slick sided version with bolt on rails for only the place you need them. I think this system has the best chance of returning to zero after removing the gas tube for maintenance compaired to these other options of how its mounts to the barrel. However, I still wouldn’t trust it as a true return to zero system. For that you need a something like an RS Regulate side mount (which, if you are into side mounts, rock!) or a TWS dust cover (maybe a Parabellum Armament one too but I still want to see more independent testing).

      • avatarC says:

        Actually, the UTG Quad rail for both the ARs and AKs are Made in USA. Mine is printed and stamped Made In USA. I’m fairly certain it would qualify as a 922r part being it’s made in the states. Not sure where you got that china nonsense. I do know some UTG products, such as a few soft cases I have are made in china but this specific item is not. For 922r on the AMD all one needs to do is replace gas piston, after-market muzzle brake and add a Tapco trigger and/or pistol grip, most AMDs of which already come with all of these except the USA made piston.
        Honestly, leaving the AMD completely stock is the best thing to do. But I just didn’t like the look or feel of the foregrip and after all mods were added I have had no issues with accuracy.
        My only gripe now is I can’t find a soul that will remove and replace the AMD barrel. I have a new USA made chrome-lined barrel 12.5 and most gunsmiths won’t even touch em.

  21. avatarsteven jennett says:

    I have an amd 65 ak and find it hard to put my face next to the stock. it also is short. It shoots great and a good buy for the money cosidering you get actual hungarian receiver, crome line barrel and front grip. I didnt like the dust cover hard to put on any one else have this problem? It kicks like like a mule and loud gets looks at the range. I would like to buy a red dot scope but wasnt sure if it is worth getting or leave it the way it is.

    • avatarC says:

      You can do a few things about the stock. You can go to the amd65tech site and grab the 35 dollar stock adapter as I did, really helps with aiming and feel. Here is a vid of it if links are allowed

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOXcSBzgSBc

      Or you can go the 250+ dollar route and by the block, pin and custom folding stock. I don’t have a link for those pieces but when I was debating on doing this I found them doing basic google searches. It added up to almost 300 bucks.

      The dust cover can be tough sometimes, just be mean with it. You have to hit that notch at an angle and drop and push in one motion and it sets in just fine.

      I put a basic recoil buffer in and that helps with kick, really you just need to get use to it. amd65tech has buffers to.

      I bought the ghost ring front sight/pin add-on from amd65tech because I wanted more accuracy from the stock sights and it helped greatly. But I also wanted a reddot so I grabbed a Burris fastfire III on the UTG rail. The only downside using the UTG is you cannot in most cases co-witness the fixed sights to the reddot. For me this is meaningless being my Burris reddot is a quick detach and when I use my reddot no matter what firearm I never look at my fixed sights, only the reddot, but if co-witness is a must grab a rail system like the US Palm that allows this. But if you are not a big fan of reddots or you have never used one I would stick with the irons and maybe grab the front ring sight Gio sells at amd65tech. No matter what rail system you would use you need a quality reddot on a gun with so much recoil. So expect to spend 200-400 for a mount/rail and good reddot, many spend more which I find crazy on a weapon that costs as little as 300. If you don’t plan to add a light, laser, or new foregrip I would say no to a new rail and reddot with this gun. I have a very powerful light and a Mako foregrip so I needed a quad rail anyway and even though I love my reddot on this gun it was kind of a waste of money. This gun is a great short-mid range weapon, 25-250 yards, so fixed sights are good to go. It all comes down to if you like reddots. As for magnified optics the ONLY route there is buying the side mount system, no need for a aftermarket rail.

  22. avatarKevin says:

    Hi,
    Great article. I live in the Communist country of New York, I was wondering, To purchase an AMD-65, The stock can’t folding one. I love the website http://www.amd65tech.com .

    Would it be possible to make it stay open?

    AMD-65 TECH Replacement Wire Stock for AMD-65 $50

    Thanks,
    Kevin

    • avatarC says:

      From what I’ve read you just need to pin your stock open or replace the stock with the block, pin and stock I mention above in another comment but instead of buying a folding stock grab a fixed.
      The issue I see if you don’t already own an AMD is getting one shipped to NY. I imagine if folding stocks are banned there you could still order a regular AMD, get it sent to a local FFL shop and as long as they do gunsmith work they could pin your AMD before they transferred and sold it to you. But I’m on the Atlantic Firearms site now and I added a AMD 65 to my cart and used a NYC address and it’s not telling me there is any restrictions. But, I do see a few AK variants that say “NY Legal” and they are all fixed stocks so that makes me think folding and collapsible are illegal there. One is called a M10 AK47. Good Luck.

  23. avatarHerb says:

    I soaked my AMD65 With FROGLUBE (made by a Navy Seal) and man that suckers SINGS like a bird!!

  24. avatarmonte thovson says:

    i have adm 65 would like to know best mount andoptics for my gun and prices on both and your enforced cheekpiece

    • avatarLars says:

      Best mount for actual scope is a side mount, do not mount optics above gas chamber tube with products like shown here, products like Texas Weapons System, UTG Quad rail, any brand of cover rails, Ultimak systems, EMA, Mako, all garbage. Things like the UTG Quad rail and similar products for up front are great for accessories but not optics.
      You want something similar to the UTG side rail mount, UTG detachable side rail mount with the steel combat side plate shown about half way down page here.

      http://www.thecountryshed.com/ak47_scope_mounts.htm

      There are other side mount systems for the AK, some may just be hard to find currently.

      These type of side mounting systems on the AMD or any AK will hold zero better than anything else you see there or here. You do not want optics mounted forward on this gun, if you are not using an actual scope stick with the iron sights.
      The stock extension, recoil buffer, ultimate safety and front sight ghost ring neither of which is shown here are all good add-ons from amd65tech.

      REPLACE MUZZLE BRAKE!

  25. avatarDale Deger says:

    Wow, great write up and posts.
    I’m a complete newbie with the AK, so here goes:
    I recently purchased the IAI-65 Knoxville, side is stamped ITM Arms, MK99 and it has the chrome lined barrel.
    The folding stock will not fold, I’ve seen other posts elsewhere indicating it might be soldered or welded. Would definitely like to make it functional without having to take it to a gunsmith. Don’t see any spot welds and I don’t want to torch it to melt solder, any ideas.
    Will be getting the cheek guard for sure.
    Again great info.

    • avatarLars says:

      Sorry to be basic but are you pushing the round metal button located behind trigger guard in when attempting to fold side stock? If there is no visible weld on trunnion(rear of receiver where side stock connects) and the button pushes in then stock should fold. Some AMDs are just tighter than others, push that button in and fold hard. It will loosen some over time. Lube it up.

  26. avatarJared says:

    Hello all,

    My question is for Joe Grine. I’m running an AMD-65 with the UltiMAK, M-7B rail and Vortex SPARC w/2x magnifier. I was a bit disappointed after finishing my installation, finding that it did not co-witness with the front sight post. I’m not worried about the red-dot lining up with the front sight post, but I could not even see the front sight post. I used the smallest mount of the two that came with the SPARC. Am I missing something. Any guidance would be great! I really wanted the benefit of the 3x magnification while using the iron sights. Maybe a strange reason, but I wanted to practice my iron sight marksmanship with a little extra magnification.

    Jared

  27. avatarLaszlo k says:

    Awesome article Joe! Congratulation
    I was in the military and the original AMD 65 was my personal weapon along with a crap PA side gun.
    We spent lots of time on the shooting range.
    The targets we where shooting at:
    100 yards Simple 10” paper target, had to shoot 47 out 5 shots
    250 yards automated mimic human head, had to take it down in a short burst.
    400 yards automated standing human mimic waist up, again with single short burst had to go down
    800 yards an automated mimic helicopter also had to hit it with one single short burst.
    Every soldier had to qualify on these targets in our unit or they got transferred to some “Bokor ugro” (bush jumper) front line unit.
    We had no scope, or red dot sights kidding me didn’t even existed Red Dot back then, and how long would have lasted a scope? We used the gun the way it came out of FEG
    It’s an awesome firearm the original does not rattle and such as described the TGI version. It is accurate enough. When ever we where in the woods for training exercise, we where hunting with it. We had roasted boar.
    IMO the $4-500 is way too cheap for AMD 65. Ugly gun yes, even the original gun lost the paint at the 1st training exercise, and old design yes, still how many AKs and AMDs out there. Still today lots of countries use this gun as the main firearm of their armed forces. You can ABUSE the AMD 65, mud, dirt, water, you name it only shake it load it and shoot it. If I remember correctly the muzzle velocity is in the 700m/s range 7.62 ammo, it’s a handheld cannon.
    In war that would be my choice of weapon. If you think you can hide behind 12” solid concrete or a vehicle, or even 1” steel you are wrong. I know lots guns out there which are more accurate, and or longer range, but I don’t think there is any gun out there which could take such beating as an AMD65 can take, and still singing the note you conduct.
    By the way the original clip holds 30 and we possessed extended clips as well.
    Easy to load the clips need no muscle like some other clips.
    Big – : is tend to over heat on excessive use in a hands of an untrained shooter, why because you wont take down your target in a short burst, and you have to rain bullets on your target, reload repeat. Fix: carry fresh eggs once is overheated just break the eggs on the barrel breakfast served.
    Sincerely
    Laszlo

  28. avatarmike barker says:

    I have an amd65 I love it. It’s the greatest rifle I own it just sucks cause not alota options for it like different stock.I did find a dust cover with 3 rails mounted on it at aa-ok.com it was like 26 bucks so I have a holographic sight and laser on it now.Also if you are looking for one stay away from century arm int. They make pure junk I’ve seen they’re wasrs blow up and injure people also there cetmes are death traps they could careless bout things like head space and qualify for that matter.Tgi is the way to go

  29. avatarSN says:

    Have one of the FEG receiver AMD65′s and have always
    been pleased with it. Yes, the paint does chip and it’s
    LOUD. You need to take these guns for what they are
    and have realistic expectations. Mine has the wooden
    grips and only 20 round magazines are convenient. It’s
    the ultimate cool gun at the range however 8-]

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