Question of the Day: Why the AK?

By Nathan Shonts

There are plenty of hardcore AK fans out there but it’s really hard to see the attraction. Ask an AK owner why they like it so much and all they can manage is reliability and knockdown power. Sure, it’s kinda the Glock of rifles but there are so many downsides: it’s not particularly accurate and frustratingly hard to mount optics or accessories. As for looks, Kalashnikovs are sort of the Claire Danes of modern sporting rifles. Not particularly offensive, just sort of there. I am not knocking them (much). Actually, I want to like the AK but I need more than just caliber. Hell, Labradors are reliable. Why do you like yours so much?

comments

  1. avatar jwm says:

    My reasons for liking russian guns have been reliability and cost. The cost included the weapons and the ammo. But with the price of the guns edging constantly upwards I would be hard pressed to justify buying russian again when I can buy better ergo American and European guns for not much more money.
    I like the russian guns that i have, but i don’t see myself adding to them any time soon.

    1. avatar Not Your Mother says:

      Because the AK is not a high maintenance prom queen supermodel wannabe. It just works.

      There’s a reason militia gangs in Africa use them– because they are so simple they can teach a conscripted child how to operate one efficiently in a firefight.

      BTW, mine do NOT look as ugly as the comblock/woodstock in the photo. Mine sport the same Magpul stocks as you AR fans. I can run any optic as well, from an Aimpoint Micro to an ACOG, or magnified glass if that’s your style. I run polymer mags/grips made by Tango Down (a.k.a. US PALM). I have flash hiders with quick detach attachments for .30 cal suppressors. Yeah, I might just spend more on my AKs than you did on your cheap AR you picked up at Wally World.

      All that, and I still run 2-3 MOA which is more than good enough for dynamic shooting (the purpose of these rifles anyway since most rifle fights are ~30 yards, we’re talking 1 inch or less).

      If things were bad enough for me to need a rifle and need one “NOW” then I’ll grab one of my Kalashnikovs, thanks. I want to know I have something that will just work, no matter what.

      If you’re interested– really interested– look at training DVDs from Travis Haley (Adaptive Kalash) or Gabe Suarez (Kalashnikov Rifle Gunfighting series).

      1. avatar Armchair Command'oh says:

        The reason militia gangs in Africa use them is because that is what’s available. Of the 500 million firearms out there world wide, 100 million of them are AKs. The ease of training has nothing to do with it.

        1. avatar Not Your Mother says:

          I Disagree. Why are there 100 million AKs in the first place? Because they work and are easy to use. That’s why the Comblock made that many in the first place. The fact that their secondary owners can more easily get them further illustrates this point.

        2. avatar Human Being says:

          There are that many out there because the Soviets made them and literally handed them out. The Soviets made that many because you can construct the thing cheaply using machine tools available in the third world at the time. Also, it was a Russian-native design, so that’s what they went with.

          Since the end of the cold war, many former Kalashnikov-using nations have switched to AR-15s or some descendant of its design concepts. I don’t know of any nation that has dropped an AR-15-alike to start using a Kalashnikov derivative.

        3. avatar Not Your Mother says:

          That has more to do with NATO politics than the weapon system.

          Consider the Sako 95, which is finer quality than most AKs and is still in service with the Finns.

          The highest of the Kalashnikov evolution is the SIG 550 series. Note how the independent/neutral Swiss designed and run that rifle, even handing out select fire versions to all able bodied males for safe keeping at home.

      2. avatar matt says:

        Training has nothing to do with it. They take whatever arms they can get. I bet this teenage girl in Africa isnt aware that the MP44 she is holding is worth 5 figures here in the US
        http://claus.espeholt.dk/billeder/mp44/negermp44.jpg

        Can you spot a single AK amongst all the firearms in that picture? I cant.

        1. avatar Not Your Mother says:

          It would only be worth 5 figures if she sold it before 1986. Looks like that wasn’t a choice available to her. That one is legal unobtanium here.

        2. avatar matt says:

          I’m sure a FFL would still pay a handsome price for it, assuming you could figure out a way to import it.

      3. avatar Kaliope says:

        Ugly? That thing is absolutely beautiful. I find that an AK with the right wood is a gorgeous work of art.

        Ugly would be polymer furniture 😛
        As for the question at hand, I love AKs because of:
        Reliability
        Caliber (7.62x39mm preferred, will accept 5.45x39mm)
        Look
        Simplicity.

        I’m the kind of guy who runs iron sights no matter what it is. I won’t buy a weapon without iron sights. I like to keep everything simple. Adjustable sights? I blow my nose at you. I want a weapon that can be used, abused, maintained little (not that I mind maintenance, but sometimes I just ain’t got the time). I want something that will work like a dog and keep coming back for more.

        And I don’t like hanging all kinds of useless shit off my weapon, so I’ve avoided ARs like the plague. Specifically, I can buy a cheaper weapon that can do the same job as an un-adorned AR. The same job that I need it to, I mean.

        Will I win a competition with an AK? Probably not, unless the competition involves dragging the damn thing through miles of mud. But I wouldn’t trade mine for the world.

        1. avatar Justice06RR says:

          Flashlights, slings, and optics are “useless”? C’mon…
          FYI an AR will work without all that too, and can be as reliable and more accurate than AK. AR’s just do it more refined.

          Its funny how some AK aficionados hate on the AR. I have both and don’t discriminate. But clearly each has its advantages.

          I wouldn’t drag any of my firearms through miles of mud if I didn’t have to, although I know they can be.

  2. avatar matt says:

    Is it really appropriate to call a AK a modern sporting rifle? Its sort of like calling a original Ford Thunderbird a modern sports car.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      +1.

      If the AK is a modern sporting rifle than the modern firearms era begins with the M-1 Garand. Come to think of it the modern firearms era does begin with the M-1.

      1. avatar Loyd says:

        +1 on the Garands being the granddaddy of (almost) everything (sturgweher being the granddaddy of the AK).

        Honestly I think firearms development really stalled since the the 1950s. The newest-latest-greatest everything is a recycled AR/AK/Garand or some other classic design. There are some exceptions, but for the most part.

      2. avatar matt says:

        As I said, its the same as calling a 1940s Thunderbird a modern sports car. If it is from your grand parents era it isnt modern. A ACR, SCAR, RFB, etc, are all modern sporting rifles, a AR15/AK47 is not.

        1. avatar matt says:

          The post above should have been deleted…

    2. avatar rosignol says:

      Considering the AR-15 design dates from 1958? Yeah, I suppose, at least until something really revolutionary comes along.

      Might be interesting to discuss what characteristics make a ‘Modern Rifle’, but I’m not sure this is the place to do it.

  3. avatar JoshinGA says:

    Well, my labrador fetches incredibly well, especially when in water. That is definitely a job Ill leave to him. Oh, you mean the AK?

  4. avatar dracon1201 says:

    Actually, I like it for the rich history behind the weapon along with the dozens of variants coupled with thousands of looks. Both of these factors (Along with the availability of a bumpfire stock and drum magazines) make it a great gun that I love.

  5. avatar Koop says:

    Don’t forget the other attribute: inexpensive.

    WASR’s can be easily found for under $400, less than the price of a used Glock. Ammo’s about the most inexpensive round you can find this side of the .22LR, and packs a punch roughly equivalent to the 30-30. Barrier penetration is superior to the .223, so as always, be aware of your target, and what’s BEHIND it.

    It’s a rifle you can afford to train with enough to become well acquainted with its limitations, even on a budget.

  6. avatar Darkstar says:

    A big part of the attraction for me is the fact that when I was a kid the Russians were the bad guys. I have always been interested in Warsaw Pact weapons for that reason. Kind of like cheering for the bad guys in the movies.

    Plus, I just think they look cool, which in my opinion is a perfectly valid reason to buy a firearm.

  7. avatar DrewR55 says:

    Mind you, I don’t own one and all I have are observations about others. The majority of AK owners that I have met tended to be the guys who just wanted to be different. I don’t think the AK is any better then other rifles but the people who own and love them do so because they aren’t ARs or other mainstream rifles.

  8. avatar mdc says:

    A true SHTF urban gun.A wall of lead when you will need it most.From a urbanite.Can we agree that things in the world are getting intresting at this time.Ill take the AK.

    1. avatar Not Too Eloquent says:

      Exactly. AK guys love to just blow shiit up on the range with iron sights while the mini-snipers are all micro-adjusting their bipod mounted sniper rifles and handloads through chronographs and worrying about a 1/4″ at a whole 100 yards like some kind of firearm scientist.

      1. avatar RIGHT! says:

        That was a less than eloquent statement but there is some truth to it, just as there is truth in comparing an elephant to a puppy to a killer whale

        1. avatar Not Too Eloquent says:

          Mini sniper, aren’t you?

    2. avatar tdiinva says:

      Unless you have an huge supply of ammo you will be firing one shot at time just like everyone else. A guy with a bolt gun in a good defensive position will blow you away everytime.

      1. avatar Not Too Eloquent says:

        Why are these guys with bolt guns “in defensive positions” looking to blow me away? I’m out having fun at the range.

  9. avatar bctripp says:

    The lack of accuracy argument is silly. The rifle itself is probably more accurate than most shooters.
    Optics and accessories? Lots of solutions for those. You’d have to buy a railed handguard for most stock AR’s if you want to mount accessories. So both rifles are in the same boat on that point.

    The AK is a fun gun to shoot. Ammo is cheaper than .223. There aren’t a lot of parts to break. As far as looks go, I think it looks great.

    1. avatar Brad says:

      I think the ammo prices are roughly equivalent now. At the Fredrickburg gunshow this weekend, 7.63×39 was $40 a bag for 100 generic loads. .223 was 38.50 (55 grain) for the same number. I didn’t price the Russian ammo but they had it there

        1. avatar bctripp says:

          7.62 x 39 is definitely still a lot more affordable than .223. I recently purchased 1260 rounds of yugo mil-surp ammo for $100 less than the cheapest 1000 round pack in .223 I can find online.

  10. Simplicity. Big, heavy solid parts that don’t have tight tolerances and are exceptionally resilient. Its a weapon that you have to try really hard to break or to even lose any of the parts when cleaning it.

    That being said, I just got into AR-15s and the ergonomics may win me over, but there is still a simple beauty in the simplicity of the AK. There’s no pins to lose, just a giant spring, a giant bolt carrier and a one piece bolt. Three parts.

  11. avatar Steve says:

    .5 Less expensive than the alternatives.

    .4 Fires a substantial round.

    .3 Goes bang when you pull the trigger.

    .2 accurate enough for most, at ranges most shoot.

    .1 Face it. It’s cool. It reeks of rebellion. It’s in your face. It says “Up yours buddy”. It’s that cheap whiskey you secretly really like. It’s that bad girl that satisfies, even though you’d probably be better off dumping her.

    1. avatar rosignol says:

      Throw in “Doesn’t mind being ridden hard and put away dirty” and you’ve got it.

      1. avatar Dr. Mike says:

        Like my lawnmower!

  12. avatar Brett says:

    There are few great reasons to pick up an AK.

    1) They are cheap, although a good one like an Aresenal will still run you about a grand.
    2) Cleaning is optional. Dirt is like machine oil to these things.
    3) Ammo is cheap, and it will eat the cheapest, most Russian ammo you can find.
    4) Accuracy is moot in my opinion. Will an AR shoot better groups? You betcha. Does an AK still have minute-of-badguy accuracy out to 3oo yards? Yes it does.

    These things above make it an ideal SHTF/Zombie apocalypse/Obama re-elected type of gun. Personally in that situation I value supreme durability and practical accuracy over 1 moa at 100 yards. And the ergonomic upgrades are increasing. New grips, rails, even a bolt hold-open top cover are available.

  13. avatar Loyd says:

    My first long gun I ever bought was a Romanian WASR 10/63 AKM clone. $400 at the LGS. All my friends had ARs and I wanted to be different (but also, bigger caliber, more alleged reliability, all the other arguments, etc etc). Within 300 rounds the retaining pins for the fire control group rattled out and the trigger fell out of the receiver. When it started turning into a money pit, I sold it to a buddy who took it to a gun smith and now it runs fine. In the years since I’ve learned that Century imported AKs are POSes because they mismatch the parts on reassembly, and if I want a quality AK to look at Arsenal. But by then I’m looking at $1000, so I’ll stick with the AR platform in all of its customizable goodness anyway, thankyouverymuch.

    1. avatar Loyd says:

      FTR, a recent question of the day asked about Tapco’s reputation. My only experience with Tapco was the G2 fire control group that was installed to make the WASR 922r compliant. In the rifle’s defense, it was the Tapco parts that refused to stay married to the receiver. YMMV, but AKs and Tapco both have less than stellar histories in my mind.

      1. avatar SeanC says:

        Tapco’s reputation for their AK trigger is excellent. If you have either their retaining plate (or someone elses) or the original shepards crook to retain the pins, nothing should shake out, assuming you put it back together correctly. It could be your receiver wasn’t heat treated and the holes diameter opened up, which wouldn’t be Tapco’s fault. WASR receivers should have been heat treated. Just saying…

  14. avatar Jim Scrummy says:

    I love my lab. She’s the jeep of dogs. She can hunt, swim, bark, run with me for 5 miles and not get tired (well kinda not get tired). Great with kids and other animals. All of this for just a few dog treats, plus regular feeding.

    An AK? Nah, I’ll pass. It doesn’t like dog treats…

  15. avatar Mike S says:

    The AR platform is clearly superior in almost any measurable way.
    However, if the S were to truly HTF…..
    I dont mean Katrina, either. I mean an actual, honest-to-Crom economic meltdown in the “we’re gonna be living like third-worlders for a while” sense, I’ll take an iron sighted AK type every time. Luckily, this is an unlikely scenario, but theres a reason they’re on the flags of a couple of African nations.

  16. avatar Levi B says:

    Another thing to add on top of what everyone has already said…

    The ballistics of 7.62x39mm hold up much better in a short barreled configuration than the 5.56x45mm AR-15s use (or 5.45x39mm of the AK-74). The smaller projectiles depend almost entirely on velocity, and lopping a good chunk of velocity off the top really hobbles their performance. It’s not nearly so bad with a .30 caliber projectile.

    1. avatar SeanC says:

      Wrong on the 5.45×39. That round works wonderfully out of short barreled rifles due to the design of the projectile not being dependent on velocity to fragment the round like the 5.56×45 needs for ideal performance. The 5.45×39 will tumble and yaw just fine from short barrels.

  17. avatar ST says:

    Some conclusions ive learned from shooting my WASR 10. First off my example purchased this year has no mag rattle and the sighting block is dead nuts straight.
    Two, the AK is just as accurate as the AR15 is at home defense distances. I chalk up the former’s reputation for inaccuracy to the short Warsaw Pact stock it sells with.Most AK’s sell with a fixed stock that’s just plain too short for most American shooters, whereas nearly every 16″ AR15 comes with a collapsible stock . Shooting a rifle with an ill-fitting stock is like changing a tire with a crescent wrench:you’ll get the job done, but it won’t be easy.

    With the factory stock, I could shoot 2″ 3 shot offhand groups with my WASR at 30 yards, but I found it necessary to re-adjust my stance after every shot because I didn’t have any shoulder engagement. When I yanked the old stock for a VLTOR-adapted Magpul unit it was like shooting a different rifle. While I doubt my WASR 10 is a threat to an AR past 200 yards,there’s no legally kosher situation I can think of where i’d need to make a killshot at greater than 100 yards distance. For my needs, the AK is plenty accurate.

    At the end of the day, I find myself comparing the WASR 10 with other rifles and finding them wanting. Quad rails and tactical stuff is all well and good for the door kickers, which thankfully is a day job I don’t have. My bargain basement AK hasn’t had a problem in 500 rounds ,and is plenty accurate enough to end the career of any criminal foolish enough to kick in my front door.

  18. avatar إبليس says:

    1. Inexpensive parts and ammunition.
    2. A design so reliable CAI can only screw it up 40% of the time!
    3. Rugged, SIMPLE, conscript-proof
    4. The history and romanticism.
    5. FUN!!!! A solid, cost-effective, romantic, fighting rifle that isn’t covered with black plastic!

  19. avatar JSIII says:

    The side clamp on optic mount is not hard to use. You can also find railed handguards for reflex or red dot sights. Reliability is one consideration but so is the economics of both the rifle and ammo.

  20. avatar Ralph says:

    Everybody should own an AK just to piss off Diane Feinstein.

    1. avatar outwardhound says:

      Ha! Good enough reason for me…..I’ll get one right after work today!

    2. avatar Don says:

      Does it need the shoulder thingy that goes up or can I get it without?

  21. avatar Tim says:

    The notion all AK’s are “inaccurate” is patently false. I’ve disproved this in several videos I’ve posted to the Military Arms Channel. The Polish made Archer is capable of 1-1.5″ groups with decent ammo, about what you could expect from an AR. The Saiga .308 AK is another variant that’s known for good accuracy. A Krebs conversion I tested shot 1″ groups with iron sights at 100 yards.

    The 7.62×39 variant is the least accurate rifle in the family of AK’s. The Russians dropped the 7.62×39 in favor of the 5.45×39 in the 1970’s. European nations that still use the AK now run them in 5.56mm, which offers improved accuracy and range over the older 7.62×39 cartridge. I personally favor the 5.45×39 cartridge.

    Mounting an optic to the AK is no more frustrating than mounting one to an AR in my experience. The quick detach rail system works very well. Slide the sight on, flip the locking lever, shoot the gun. I don’t find the process to be particularly difficult.

    The AK is often times maligned by folks that have little or no experience with it. They repeat what they’ve been told or read elsewhere without doing any significant testing on their own. “I fired my buddy’s last weekend” doesn’t count as having much experience with the firearm, IMHO.

    The charging handle on the AK is in the same location as the charging handle on the M1 Garand, M1A and M1 Carbine. I’ve never heard of people complaining about the location of the charging handles on these rifles. But for some reason when it’s used on the AK people think it’s the most unergonomic device ever invented.

    People complain about the “short stock” yet when they pick up their M4’geries they run the collapsible stock in the mid-position — roughly the same length as the AK. A short LOP is desirable in a fighting rifle (especially where body armor and other gear is used) whereas a longer LOP is desirable in a bench rest/target rifle.

    The iron sights are intended for modern combat distances. Kalashnikov didn’t invent them, he borrowed the design from other rifles intended for close to medium range fighting, like the StG44. The AK’s rear sight is open and far enough forward that it facilitates rapid target acquisition with one or two eyes open. It’s open design allows for superior peripheral vision and situational awareness — a benefit in combat, not so much on the target range as it sacrifices the precision offered by aperture sights.

    There are ample accessories these days for the AK. Rail systems, multiple types of sight mounting options, stock options, grip options, muzzle device options, etc.

    I like AK’s because they’re accurate, reliable, stupid simple and fun to shoot. Ammo is also affordable, for now.

    1. avatar L says:

      Well said. I’ve used my 7.62×39 Saiga for hog hunting plenty of times with excellent results.
      BTW your “Dirt” video was an excellent example of the AK reliability, well done.

    2. avatar Chris Dumm says:

      Tim nails it again: 5.45 and 5.56mm AKs are capable of accuracy that usually surprises most CAI AK shooters. The Bulgarian 5.56 SLR-106 I tested gave 2.1 MOA with steel-cased ammo, and this is more than good enough for defensive/tactical competition use out to beyond 200 yards. A whole lot of S is gonna have to HTF before any civilian will be justified in a defensive shooting at that range.

      In a long-term survival situation, an AK will also function essentially forever in the field without any maintenance, spare parts or even lubricant. ARs aren’t find of using diesel as a cleaner and 10W40 as lubricant if you can find them, but the AK won’t care what you do (if anything) to keep it clean.

      As a field expedient you can even piss down an AK barrel to clean out corrosive residue. And ain’t *nobody* ever going to piss down the barrel of my AR. Just sayin’.

    3. avatar Scott says:

      Tim nailed it.

      Just like people say the AK doesn’t do it for them, the AR doesn’t do it for me. I have fired a plethora of AR’s and they don’t do it for me. Not a fan of direct gas impingement and the AR’s delicate nature. Putting the recoil system in the buttstock one of the dumbest ideas ever especially when that tube can easily break.

      I don’t buy guns because they are “Made in America”, I buy ones that work. Plus as someone else said, the AK has the same ergonomics like the bolt carrier grip on the right side just like the M14, M1 Carbine, and M1 Garand yet no one ever calls them out. I guess cause they are Made in America they are infallible.

      1. avatar SeanC says:

        Ditto! The AR doesn’t do it for me either. When I want a tack driver, I go to my .22LR. I know that 5.56/223 can accurately reach out much further, but if that has to be done in defense of life, my 7.62/5.45×39 AKs will get the job done from close up to just beyond my marksmanship capabilities.

  22. avatar Angel says:

    What about AK’s in .223 or AR’s in 7.62×39? I think most guns have become so modular that any arguments you may have towards one can be muted with some tinkering. Don’t like AK ergo’s? Add a Magpul kit to it. Don’t like AR’s 5.56 round? Get yourself a 50 BMG upper. Want cheap ammo? Get either in 5.45×39. The possibilities are endless with either rifle.

  23. avatar Michael B. says:

    Simple, reliable, decent prices on ammo and accurate enough within 300 yards for me.

    I don’t need or want all that fancy stuff on my rifles. That’s why I’m not a huge fan of gear reviews on here, btw.

    My AR-15 has Troy flip-up irons with tritium inserts and those work just fine for me.

  24. avatar WHATEVER says:

    I don’t like AK(s), which is why I own an AR. Same opinion regarding a 1911, which I also do not own because I am a Glock Fanboy. Whatever floats your boat.

  25. avatar Aharon says:

    The AR I carried in basic training was a cheap POS with some tiny parts that could easily get lost (certainly when cleaning it in the dark) or damaged. One or two grains of sand would jam my AR. Yes, logically I am aware that today’s ARs are superior. Still, the rep of the AK47 was that of a strong solid real combat gun that would fire and was reliable.

    I am a believer in simplicity when appropriate. I want to put together a ‘tactical scout’ lever-action carbine that I can use for social unrest, home self-defense, and survival hunting.

  26. avatar Tim says:

    Because you can feed it shit and it will shoot shit bullets.

  27. avatar Milsurp Collector says:

    Not sure if this is a legend, but I once heard a story about the AK47 in Vietnam. A squad of US troops happened upon the rotten corpse of an enemy soldier. His AK was literally fused with his rib cage in a pile of wet fleshy matter with barely any wood left. One of our boys picked up the rifle and had to step on the bolt to break the rust sealing it shut. The AK, despite being rusted to hell and covered in decomposing human, was then fired full-auto without a single failure.

    Case and point their reliability is unparalleled. I have yet to buy one and hope to do so soon.

  28. avatar Blade says:

    I have several AK and AR platform rifles. I like both. Until the “phased plasma rifle in a 40 watt range” becomes available I will continue shooting my AKs.

  29. avatar Eric says:

    How many countries have AR’s on their national flags? Answer = 0
    How many countries have AK’s on their national flags? Answer = 1 Mozambique
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Mozambique

  30. avatar Danny McBee says:

    MAC’s response is pretty much spot on.

    Most decent AKs aren’t sharp shooter rifles, but they’re plenty accurate to get the job done. They’ll hit any practical target within their optimal range (I’d say that’s 300 and under, you can get longer but 7.62×39 is a bit harder to hit with past that) so long as the user does their part. I can light targets up at around 200 yards with my irons very easily, and it’s even easier with a red dot or any other improved sighting system.
    The ergonomics aren’t great, but they’re easy to modify and you can train to overcome what you can’t modify. I replaced my old, stiff safety with a Krebs safety (which I highly recommend), so the safety is easier for me to operate than an AR’s safety. LOP too short? Mine was (I have gorilla arms), so I just through a Nato Length stock on it and called it good. The base trigger suck? Tapco and Arsenal both make excellent replacements. As far as charging the gun, if you practice doing it going under or over the gun to charge isn’t that hard and it’s pretty darn fast, even faster with one of those funneled mag wells or a left side charging handle.
    You want optics? The basic side rail mounts kind of suck, but there’s a lot of good, American made side rail mounts for whatever style of scope you desire. If red dots are your game (I know they’re mine), than an Ultimak rail will suffice so long as you don’t use a super low quality optic. If you don’t like the Ultimak isn’t your thing MI make’s some nifty dot sight mounts as well.

    I like mine (Pre-Ban MAK 90) for about $500, which is a little less than of what I’d pay for a quality AR. I bought the accessories that fit me the best for it (longer stock, better fore-arm, better pistol grip, Ultimak rail with a RDS and light) and I didn’t pay too terribly much for any of those. I can get one of the sturdiest magazines available on the market for $10, and they double as a clubbing device (Har har har). The ammo is cheaper than .223 or .308, and it can double as a hunting round for deer. Lastly, the rifle is more than accurate enough to fulfill my role of defensive firearm. The reliability is really nice too.

  31. avatar Fyrewerx says:

    My WASR 10 was my first long gun purchase since leaving the military in 1972. I chose it because its a classic. I would add all the points made by Loyd, ST, and Tim, plus, I’m throwing in the reason added by Ralph (piss off Feinstein). The most fun of shooting it comes from the challenge of placing the tightest shot group in the 50 – 100 yd. range (I don’t have access to anything longer).
    As noted, the quick release side mounts work great for optics (more repeatable/stable mount than hand guard IMHO), although I often remove them to accomodate the iron sight challenge.
    Yes, I definitely could use a better stock.
    The first time I picked my AK up to hold, then shot, then took it apart for cleaning, my thoughts were…. “M1 Garand all over again.” (just a lot easier to come by).
    Meanwhile, I also acquired an AR, and I also like it. But its not a “classic” yet.
    When I take my long gun bag to the range, and anyone asks to see my two guns, the one they pick up and show interest in first is almost always the AK. Their comments are always something like, “Hey, I’ve always seen these on TV News – wondered what they’re like to fire.” So, I let them try a few rounds. Most get a kick out of it. Most say they’ll stick to their AR – LOL. But, they always appreciate letting them try it. Its a classic (and it pisses off Feinstein).

  32. avatar '''Dr. Dave'' says:

    The AK is a great design from the 1940s. There are other guns that are great designs from other decades.

    I dont like AKs.

    I don’t need, and I dont trust, every ones opinion on them being so super reliable. AKs jam just like any other rifle does. I’m a firearms instructor and I work at a gun range, so I see that, all the time. And, in fact, the majority of AKs i’ve seen are complete POS. They’re made in foreign countries as cheaply as possible. There are some exceptions (Arsenal AKs are superb), but most of the imports are low quality.

    Add in the jumpy recoil in 7.62×39 versions and the awkward ergonomics, and I’ll pass on them, thank you very much.

    I’m a rifleman, not a soviet conscript or an African child soldier. I want a rifle that is very accurate, fast handiling, has low recoil, uses easily available (In the U.S, not Mozambique) mags and ammo and is made to be a precision instrument.

    1. avatar Stan says:

      Do you also judge the AR based on crappy $500 rifles hobbled together by people pinching pennies and using every no-name manufacture they can find via Google to source parts?

      Probably not. As an AR fan you probably dismiss stories of multiple failures by ARs by claiming the quality of the rifle in question was likely lacking in some way.

      The fact is a properly built AK is a superior fighting rifle than a properly built AR. The properly built AK is more reliable. It is easier to maintain. It is controllable, even more so than the AR (5.45×39 anyone?). It’s more robust and more durable. Yes, AKs can malfunction. Any machine can. However the AK malfunctions less than the AR and is far more forgiving than the AR is in hostile environments.

      Just because you can’t use it and find it awkward doesn’t mean others share your limitations. I prefer the simple, large and easy to use controls. The endless palpitation the Magpul gurus go through with the ARs safety is completely unnecessary. Flip, bang, flip, bang, flip, bang. In harms way you need to disengage the safety once and rest your finger along side the receiver. When safely in the rear you apply the safety. It’s really that simple. Lever masterbation isn’t required for safe handling of firearms, ask any Glock, M&P or XD user.

  33. avatar sdog says:

    i like my arsenal sgl because of its ubiquitousness in the world of firearms. it is not “better” per se, but it helping to increase my collection is a big part of why i wanted one, as well as the sound of it firing and the cost of ammo. now i do also have an lwrc which helps fill my “gucci” side of my collection (that and the styer a3 i am putting $ down on soon).

  34. avatar Peter says:

    The AK is the perfect weapon for people who see nothing wrong with taking a dump in the village well.

    1. avatar Jarhead1982 says:

      Hey, is your name Obama?

  35. avatar Buuurr says:

    “Ask an AK owner why they like it so much and all they can manage is reliability and knockdown power.”

    For none of the reasons above. For me it is because it was super cheap and the ammo costs less then the electricty required to dry a load of laundry.

  36. avatar smwlce says:

    AKs do work, no doubt about it.

    For a close combat, within 300 meters gun, they are pretty hard to beat. They require minimum maintenance and care yet will keep spitting out rounds.

    Are they as flexible as a AR? no. they werent designed to be. That is why I use the AR more.

    As far as preference of AK types, Ill take a Valmet. For a pseudo-AK type, the Czech Vz58.

    1. avatar Tim says:

      Just for clarification, the Vz58 isn’t a facsimile of the AK nor is it trying to be an AK as the use of the word “pseudo” might imply.

      On the internet there seems to be quite a bit of confusion regarding the Vz58. Many think it’s a Czech copy of the AK. There couldn’t be anything further from the truth.

      The Vz58 shares no parts with the AK. The only common component the Vz58 shares with the AK is the 7.62×39 round that it fires. Even the magazines are different and non-interchangeable.

      The Vz58 uses a completely different gas system and ignition system than the AK. The Vz58’s short stroke gas system is more like that of the SKS or FAL than the AK. The striker used to ignite the round is completely different than the hammer system used in the AK. The Vz58 also uses a dropping locking piece vs. the rotating bolt of the AK rifle.

      Externally they look similar and this is perhaps where the confusion comes from.

      I’m not saying you’re confused, but I wanted to throw this out there because the brief nature of your comments might lead others to falsely believe the Vz58 is a Czech clone of the AK.

  37. avatar jay1975 says:

    We took my buddy’s eastern European AK to the range and were able to consistently hit the 400 meter iron maiden with iron sights. I never understood the claim that it isn’t accurate. I could pass the Army qualification with an AK, no problem.

  38. avatar jwm says:

    Meh, all this posturing about AK’s and AR’s. Real men shoot mosin nagant 91/30.

    My favorite of the AK or AR is the SKS.

  39. avatar Mark says:

    Because it works–always– and with Russian steel core ammo it will penetrate a windshield on the first shot. I used to have a YouTube link that compared the cover penetration abilities of the 7.62 vs. 5.56. AK was far more potent.

  40. avatar ry_ry says:

    I’ve owned an excellent example of an AK in a modern sporting saiga converted to the AK profile with bullet guide, trigger and stock conversion. It was nice and reliable, but I couldn’t get accustomed to the mag release or lack of a bolt hold open.

    At the end of the day, I sold it because I realized that an AR-15 is lighter and easier for me to reload, shoot, carry, etc. Just my .02….

  41. avatar anon@lol.com says:

    Because nothing says “FUCK YOU!” like an AK.

  42. avatar Robert says:

    Then again, some of us just prefer to follow-the-flag. For me (Winchester 1894, M1911A1) I’d never buy an AK unless I set out to build a collection of world historic firearms.

    But you know, love ’em or leave ’em, the great thing is you can do as you like. Um, so far, at least.

    But what happens starting November 7th is definitely up in the air.

  43. avatar janklow says:

    people always phrase this like you have to enjoy AKs OR ARs. you can’t have some of each and enjoy them all?

  44. avatar MotoJB says:

    Amazing history through incredible reliability, simplicity, lethality and toughness. I can’t get myself to like them. Will never own one. Nothing about AK’s excite me.

  45. avatar Stan says:

    Did a gun writer really say “knock down power” in an article?

    Can he please give us the formula used to calculate this elusive measurement?

    😉

  46. avatar Zack says:

    Because an AK with a side folding stock makes a compact truck gun. It is robust, and doesn’t require oil to work in a pinch because of slop in the tolerances. I also feel that 7.62 x 39 is a good caliber for shooting through light material (car doors, etc.) in short range encounters. I feel is the most likely kind of threat that I would be confronted with (God forbid it should happen).

  47. avatar Tim says:

    Maybe I’m just weird, but I like both ARs and AKs.

    My AR has survived an awful lot of use in a day. I don’t belittle the capability of it. Yet, if I was faced with a serious need for a fighting rifle (pick your favorite doomsday scenario), I would grab my AK.

    What I like about the AK, that is neither reliability (as I said, my AR is plenty reliable too) nor “knockdown power”:

    It’s simple. Whether you run out of ammunition, have a jam, whatever, the procedure for the AK is the same for all conditions: remove magazine, replace with fresh mag, rack the charging handle. problem solved. No need for “sports” or trying to figure out why the gun stopped firing.

    There are no small parts to lose in the field. I would never want to
    field strip my AR out in the wild.

    Reliability is nice and all, but for me these two things give the AK a big advantage over the AR for any prolonged conflict.

  48. avatar blehtastic says:

    You can’t go online and start buying parts and put together your own AK where you decide where you want to spend more money, and which parts don’t matter to you. You basically have to buy a whole AK, and then deal with it. You might be able to switch out a few parts with some upgrades, but its still pretty much the same gun as when you started. You can’t up and decide you want to change the caliber of your gun one day and just buy a new barrel (300 blackout).

    The only positive of an AK is its reliability, and honestly, if the SHTF bad enough that I expect it to stay that way long enough that massive battles will occur in dirty conditions, I’ll be sheltering in place and relying on a bow or a bolt action, both of which are far harder to run out of ammunition for. Firearms are a strictly short term apocalypse preparation investment. You better have a forge to melt them down into something actually useful when all the ammo’s gone.

  49. avatar DARKWATCH says:

    Aks are simple to operate & quick to disassemble, reliable accurate if its a veypr. They are light weight if they’re made with sheet metal receivers. The optic mounting is very easy with all the accessory options available out there now adays. And ammunition is cheap and plentiful.

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