P1360038

It’s a shame that the 7.62×39 cartridge is so under-utilized in the United States. Sure everyone and their brother has an AK-47 sitting in the back of the closet, but (at least for me) the only time it gets taken out is when there’s a foreigner you need to impress with your tear-inducing level of freedom. It’s a fun range toy, but the lack of rail space for optics, the chunky nature of the platform, and the lack of accuracy are all reasons that it doesn’t come with me to the ranch for hunting season. Which is a shame, since the 7.62×39 cartridge is basically perfect for hog hunting. It seems like CMMG has seen this need for a more accurate and modern AK-47, they have responded by introducing their brand new Mk47 rifle.

I know some of you are thinking to yourselves, “didn’t we just see the press release about this gun like 30 minutes ago?” Yup. CMMG graciously offered to send us one of their new Mk47 rifles to review in advance of the official release date, with the understanding that we would keep mum about the gun until the embargo date has passed. Since that timer ran out at midnight this morning, I now get the opportunity to give y’all a full review of a rifle on the very same day that it was first announced to the public. I thought that was kinda cool.

P1360042

At first glance, the Mk47 looks like just another AR-15 that someone has crammed an AK-47 magazine into. Scratch that — it looks like the unholy result of a night of drunken passion between Michael Kalashnikov and Eugene Stoner. There are a couple manufacturers who have done something similar, from the MGI Hydra to Rock River Arms’ LAR-47, but this is taking the design to a new level. Instead of sticking with the dimensions of the AR-15 platform, CMMG has decided to simply use the concepts from the AR-15 and reproduce them on an AK-47 scale.

Let’s compare, shall we?

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Starting with the most obvious place, the lower receiver, we can definitely see some differences with a standard AR-15 lower receiver. The Mk47 is longer, which precludes the ability to swap out the upper for any standard AR-15 size replacements — you’re stuck with the gun you got. The added length allows for the generous opening for the AK-47 magazine (the gun readily accepts polymer, steel, or bakelite options) and also the magazine release mechanism. Instead of a push-button style release, CMMG has gone with a modified paddle release mechanism very similar to that of the original AK-47. It makes removing and inserting magazines a snap, and while it is definitely different from a normal; AR-15 it isn’t too hard to get used to.

Yes, I said that both steel and plastic magazines work. Normally, using a steel magazine in an aluminum based rifle is a huge no-no, since the harder steel will wear away at the aluminum. In this case, though, CMMG has fitted a steel pin (which appears to be replaceable) to take the brunt of that wear and tear. The pin is visible in the above image just behind the takedown pin. So while the magazine support structure is strengthened, it is also replaceable if it breaks. Nifty.

Just behind the magazine release is an enlarged and permanent metal triggerguard, which I really like as opposed to the USGI or Magpul add-on versions.

One thing that is completely absent on the Mk47 is a bolt hold open feature. On the AR-15 the bolt locks open after the last round has been fired in the magazine. The AK-47 design had no such convenience, and neither does the Mk47 (as the AK magazines aren’t designed to support that). It’s a little annoying, especially since thanks to the stiffer recoil spring in the buffer the gun is harder to charge than a standard AR-15. I would have liked to see some sort of hold open feature, but I get the feeling that it would have required proprietary magazines. I prefer to live without if it means I get standard magazines.

While there are definitely some differences, there are a heck of a lot of things that are still 100% compatible with the good ol’ AR-15 rifle. The fire control group, for example, is compatible with the existing AR-15 parts so you can swap it out for whatever trigger system you prefer. The grip is another AR-15 commonality, in this case a Magpul MOE grip. And while the buffer and spring in the gun might be proprietary to the rifle, the buffer tube and stock are definitely compatible with the existing AR-15 aftermarket parts and so can easily be swapped for whatever strikes your fancy. In short, while the receiver itself is definitely unique to this gun all of the user interface parts can be swapped to match the shooter’s preference.

One nifty feature I want to point out is that it seems like the receiver is specifically designed to be idiot proof. Not only are the takedown pins set wider than with normal AR-15 rifles to keep you from using your old receivers on the gun, the channel appears to be smaller as well. Normal AR-15 upper receivers will not fit into the Mk47 receiver at all, which should keep the end users from mix-and-matching their parts if cleaning multiple guns at the same time.

P1360133

Moving on to the upper receiver, the features and the proportions of the part all remain familiar. There’s a full length top rail for optics, a dust cover for Kevin Brittingham to fuss over in his OCD-esque manner every time you spend more than five seconds on safe without closing it,  and a nice shell deflector for keeping the steel cased cartridges from flying into your face while firing. The difference here is the bolt on the inside.

While most manufacturers of AR-15 rifles in 7.62×39 simply enlarge the bolt face to accept the larger case head, CMMG has gone the extra mile to make everything about the bolt and bolt carrier bigger. The bolt has been widened to accept the case head, and they have even increased the thickness of the metal surrounding and supporting the head on the bolt. The bolt’s locking lugs are thicker, and sport curved edges instead of the sharp edges on the 5.56 NATO version to reduce the probability that they will crack or shear off. The bolt carrier itself is larger too, offering a heavier reciprocating mass to mimic the chunky AK-47 action and provide a little more reliability.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is the diameter of the rear section of the bolt. In order to make the bolt fit into the AR-15 sized buffer tube, the rear of the bolt is the same diameter as a standard AR-15 bolt. It’s a similar setup to the Colt 901 rifle, and it works well.

One thing that doesn’t work well is the charging handle. The guys at CMMG included a standard size charging handle, and there’s simply not enough space on the latch to allow me to get the leverage I need to cycle the gun, Thanks to the stiffer spring, more force is needed to move the bolt around. And since there’s no last round hold-open, you’ll be doing that for every magazine change. If the CMMG guys are taking notes: BCM Gunfighter. Look into it.

The rifle uses a standard AR-15 style direct impingement / gas expansion system for the operating system, which is nifty to see but might lead to a heavier cleaning schedule than what we are used to with the AK-47 rifles. The only complaint I had about the gun was that it refused to cycle with the expensive Hornady match grade 7.62×39 ammunition, which is strange because it worked perfectly with the dirt cheap stuff. I have mentioned this to the engineers and they are working on a fix.

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Out front, the handguard is a keymod affair with a full length top rail. I’m a big fan of the keymod systems, and I think their handguard works very nicely with the gun. The barrel is a fairly light version (although not as light as Adams Arms’ COR Ultra Lite rifle), and there’s a removable muzzle brake out on the end of the gun to keep some of that recoil out of your shoulder.

On paper, the gun looks great. The chunkier parts might make much of the gun proprietary and not easily swappable with aftermarket offerings, but enough of the gun is standard that it can be tuned to fit the particular shooter. The real question, however, is how it shoots on the range.

P1360087

I spent a good hour just farting around shooting dirt clods in a short range bay at the range, and I gotta say it was a ton of fun. The gun definitely has more recoil than a 5.56 NATO rifle, but the muzzle brake combined with the in-line design of the barrel and stock mean that there’s less recoil than a standard AK-47 and what’s left is channeled directly into your shoulder. Muzzle rise is minimal, and making quick follow-up shots is easy. Even magazine changes were a snap, thanks to the widened magazine release paddle — I was able to work it with my trigger finger while keeping my hand on the fire controls, something I sorely missed with the normal AK-47 style magazine release.

The only thing I’m really not digging is the trigger. The rifle ships with a normal mil-spec style single stage trigger, and it is terrible. There’s enough stacking that it could honestly be called a two-stage trigger, and the break is about as crisp as my Dad’s mashed potatoes. It was a real let-down compared to the rest of the gun, which feels solid and well-built to me. I think that trigger had some impact on the accuracy of the gun (or at least, my ability to shoot groups with the rifle).

IMG_20141118_133342

As I said, I was using Hornady ammunition for the groups and the gun wouldn’t reliably cycle. It was short stroking — ejecting the spent case but failing to pick up the next round off the magazine. This happened no matter which mag I was using (steel or plastic) so I think it’s an issue with that specific ammo in the gun. Again, the techs are working on it, and in the meantime the steel cased stuff works great.

Talking about the group specifically, my best of the day was this 1.5 MoA group (shot at 100 yards off a rest). It’s definitely not the tightest group I have ever shot, but considering the tools it’s not that bad at all. James Grant reviewed Arsenal’s SGL-21 (a modern production AK-47 in 7.62×39) and was only able to get 2 MoA groups out of it, so 1.5 is definitely an improvement. I get the feeling that a better trigger and some practice will get those groups down to the much sought after 1 MoA size.

P1360042

The very first moment I picked this gun up from the FFL, I knew its place in the world: hog gun. Personally I prefer my 300 AAC Blackout firearms for all hunting related purposes, but the prohibitive price of the ammo combined with the spotty availability means investing in that caliber can be a bit of a leap of faith. Using that 7.62×39 caliber cartridge in this gun removes that barrier to entry, and offers a ballistic profile similar (if not superior) to the 300 BLK cartridge. And since the gun uses standard AK-47 magazines, there’s no need to worry about finding proprietary magazines or potential feeding issues.

Ammunition cheap enough that you can throw tons of it downrange without batting an eyelash. Hard-hitting projectiles with deadly terminal ballistics, an 30 of them on tap (more with a drum). Reliability. Easy to use. All it needs is a shorter barrel and you’ve got yourself a real winner, but then we get into the world of the tax stamps and ATF funtimes. That endless supply of cheap ammunition does come with a price, namely a lot of proprietary parts and the inability to change calibers (yet — fingers crossed for 5.45). But as-is, on its own merits, this is a pretty cool piece of kit. A bit expensive, but novelty has its price.

Specifications: CMMG Mk47 “Mutant” AKM

Caliber: 7.62×39
Action: Semi-auto
Barrel: 16.1″ Medium profile
Weight: 7.2 lbs
Length: 33.5 Inches (collapsed)
Magazine: Standard AK-47
MSRP: $1,649.95

Ratings (out of five stars):

Accuracy: * * *
Good for an AK, substandard for an AR-15. The trigger has a lot to do with it though, I think. Upgrade the trigger and I’m confident you can get it under 1 MoA.

Ergonomics: * * * *
Caveat: I’m a big guy. But I really like it. It handles well, the stock is adjustable, and the magazine release is well thought out. The only problem is the charging handle, which has too small a latch to get any good leverage on while charging the rifle, and the lack of a bolt hold open.

Ease of Use: * * * * *
Like the best parts of an AR-15 and an AK-47.

Reliability: * * * *
One star off for the issues with Hornady ammunition, but the issue seems isolated to that one brand. Otherwise it works beautifully. I’d like to see a piston version of this rifle in the future, but as-is the gas expansion system isn’t too bad. More dirty than an AK-47, but not as bad as a suppressed 5.56 gun. The above pictures were taken after 200 rounds with no cleaning, by the way.

Customization: * * * *
The barrel, bolt, bolt carrier, and the receivers are all proprietary and unchangeable. Everything else, though, is easily swapped to the version of your choice.

Overall Rating: * * * *
The catch with this gun is that, while it looks like an AR-15, you don’t get all of the associated caliber swapping awesomeness inherent in that platform. You’re pretty much stuck with 7.62×39. But if you’re happy with that caliber, then this is a pretty awesome gun. It runs well, shoots well, and is easy to use. If you’re looking for the perfect hog hunting gun, then look no further. Heck, even for deer hunting this would be pretty sweet. I’m still partial to 300 BLK, but as soon as there’s an SBR version of the Mk47 available I’ll be all over that.

As for the final rating, the gun is just a touch above the average price range for the other AK-47 / AR-15 love children, but offers better features and better looks. RRA wants $1,500 for their LAR-47, but the magazine release is all wonky and the handguard doesn’t strike my fancy. MGI wants $1,300 for their Hydra in 7.62×39, but the accuracy sucks and the system isn’t ideal. CMMG has a better product at a reasonable price, but it still has a few issues like a crappy trigger and a charging handle latch that’s too small to do the job. All replaceable with aftermarket parts, but we judge guns by how they come from the factory and not some idealized possibility. The only gun that really gives this a run for its money is the SIG SAUER 556XI Russian, but it doesn’t have all the features and parts commonality that the CMMG offers. So four stars — above average, but needs work to be perfect.

88 Responses to Gun Review: CMMG Mk47 “Mutant” AR-15 in 7.62×39

    • Ditto. My 556R, while a bit portly, is just peachy. The rest of the AKs in the safe are a catty bunch that bitch about her incessantly though. 😉

      • Lol.

        To paraphrase: ‘We shot it multiple times with a shotgun and damaged the gasket (where the charging handle slides) which got pellets in the action and broke it. (they apparently do this to simulate what IED shrapnel can be like)

        We cleaned it up and it ran fine until we threw in the river, where it was stuck in ice so we shot it again with a shotgun to free it then the magazine started getting misfeeds.’

        The older 556R has an aluminum rail, which the 556xi apparently is now equipped with a polymer rail (which was shot to hell when they shot at it with the shotgun).

        • Yeah it’s pretty crazy to shoot a gun with a shotgun. But. The 556xi R is a $1200 gun that couldn’t survive being shot by a shotgun. And the century arms c39 is a $600 gun that did. You say redculious test, I say if I can spend half as much for a gun that could pass why buy the sig at all?
          Also the part I found disturbing was not that it fails the shotgun test. I was shocked the charging handle broke while being dragged by the truck. Note several AKs have been treated the same and their charging handles didn’t break. Why pay more for less?

  1. For plinking, I can understand why someone would want a 7.62×39 rifle. Cheap ammo, and even the lowest of the low would work in a pinch for self defense. But .300 BLK seems superior in almost every way for self defense and hunting. Maybe I’m missing something, but it seems like you get a much larger gun with less features (bolt hold open is nice) that has extremely similar ballistics to supersonic .300 BLK. I think there’s a reason people haven’t moved from the AK platform to these hybrid style ARs.

    • Nope. I agree wholeheartedly.

      I have the .223 version of that CZ carbine bolt action and have not been able to find the 7.62×39 version at a reasonable price otherwise it would be in the safe as well.

      Savage used to make one as well, but I don’t know if they still do anymore (scout rifle).

    • When I bought my new hunting rifle I gave serious thought to one of those CZ bolt guns in 7.62×39. I kept a stock of Wolf and other russian brands for my sks and practice would have been cheap. And yes, the x39 is at least as good as the .30-30.

      The clincher for me, a CA resident, was the lack of commercil non lead x39. I went with a .243 instead.

    • I took the plunge and bought a CZ-527 in 7.62×39 for around $700. I slapped a Nikon Prostaff 3-9×40 on it. The gun is anything you hear and more. It is able to do 1 MOA. I shot it to 200 yards and remains 1 MOA. all with Tula and Brown Bear HP. It is just awesome. So when I get frustrated by the lack of accuracy in AK platform, I use this to soothe myself. 🙂
      Buy it, you won’t regret it.

      • Ugh. Yeah, that is around the price I see it at. Once, just once I saw it just over five, but it was gone by the time I logged in and got it in my cart. Never to be seen again.

        You’d think CZ would import more of these given every forum I’ve frequented several folks are on the prowl for one of them.

    • Keep an eye out for an old enfield that’s been converted to 7.62×39. There used to be an outfit out of Nevada that offered a kit.

    • Savage would make a ton of money on a cheap bolt action chambered in 7.62×39. I know they have the scout rifle, but just any everyday knock around gun. for $475-550 would be a winner.

  2. Or for $1600 you can get 3 AK’s with optic rails and not worry about whether or not it will cycle. Are ammo-budget conscious types the same people who would drop $1600 on a half-assed frankengun for the sake of novelty?

    • The ‘beauty’ of an AK is the design and not the caliber….

      I’ll stick with my .223 caliber AKs thank you…

  3. I have a Chinese sporter SKS with a 16″ barrel that accepts unmodified 30 rnd. AK mags. I put on a Tapco gas tube picatinny scope mount with a Burris pistol scope. I’ve gotten less than inch groups at a hundred yards from this platform. I’ve done the same with a Yugo SKS with a 20″ barrel with the standard 10 rnd. receiver and have also gotten less than inch groups at a hundred yards.

    I was shocked! Shocked! I tell you!

    With the machined receiver, it’s in-line bolt and a scope mount that holds a zero; there is a much greater accuracy potential from an SKS that actually rivals an AR-15.

  4. “lack of rail space for optics”

    There a ton on rail options for AKs, starting from the dust cover on forward.

    “the chunky nature of the platform”

    I find AK’s tiny, especially with Warsaw length stocks.

  5. “Sure everyone and their brother has an AK-47 sitting in the back of the closet, but (at least for me) the only time it gets taken out is when there’s a foreigner you need to impress with your tear-inducing level of freedom.”

    http://www.akoperatorsunionlocal4774.com

    Only for you Nick, only for you. ARs are for retired guys who have time to clean them.

    • I don’t know why people think AR’s have to be squeaky clean… still afraid of their Drill Instructors, I guess.

      I clean my AR-15s when they start malfunctioning, just lube them up after I get off the range. Sitting at 5000 rounds so far, about 20% of that suppressed. Gawd she’s dirty, but she runs. Want to learn more? Google Filthy 14.

      Both weapons will get the job done… it’s the Indian, not the arrow, which matters.

    • That wouldn’t (and doesn’t) solve any problems. The Yugo mags work by sticking the follower up between the bolt and the chamber to block the bolt from going home. As soon as you remove the mag the bolt falls home anyway. So in this rifle the mag would stick the bolt back and then you would remove the mag and then still have to pull the charging handle. And they would introduce a new problem, in that the heady recoil spring would be slamming your bolt face on a steel follower, which will either result in sticking or eventually a broken bolt.

  6. I’m just patiently waiting for the Galil Ace to be sold here so you guys can tell me how badly I need to empty my bank account on it.

  7. “It’s a fun range toy, but the lack of rail space for optics…”

    http://russianoptics.net/Zenit.html
    http://www.tdi-arms.biz/#/shop/4559208106/x47-–-ak47-5-rails-system-aluminium/1451230
    https://www.chaosus.com/cgi/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=AK47_TITAN_RAIL
    http://www.parabellumarmament.com/AK.html
    https://troyind.com/rail-systems-accessories/rails/ak47
    http://www.texasweaponsystems.com
    https://www.midwestindustriesinc.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=category.display&category_ID=240
    http://rsregulate.com/optics.php
    http://www.krebscustom.com/products/53/Krebs-Custom-AK-Rear-Sight-Rail-System
    http://www.krebscustom.com/products/79/Krebs-Custom-UFM-Keymod-System-for-Saiga-Rifles
    http://ultimak.com/BuyAK.htm

    Nick,
    If you cannot find “enough” rail space for your AK, it might say more about you than the AK. Like that you haven’t bothered to look. Or that even if you found them you wouldn’t bother to buy them. There are so many options on the market. Just some are above. Stop holding your own inaction or disinterest against the AK. You say, “… the lack of rail space for optics …” as though it was some kind of fact. It is not. You are wrong.

    • All of those are after market add-ons that may or may not work with your specific AK. For my specific AK, the thing is such a pain in the ass to modify in any way that it simply isn’t worth it to try.

      I’ve used everything from the Ultimak gas tube replacement to a full rail system, and none of them work to my satisfaction. They are all bolt-on attempts to solve a problem that instead requires a complete redesign to fix.

      I’m not lazy. I just prefer things that work properly.

      • Well I guess we will have to agree to disagree then.
        I don’t see anything wrong with aftermarket “bolt on” enhancements to a rifle. Especially when you can buy a rifle for $600 and a badass “bolt on” rail for $300, which is still $500 then the CMMG Mutant. Further. It should be pointed out, flat top receivers for the AR were an after market part until recently. It’s only a matter of time before AKs hit shelves with rails factory installed. Most of these aftermarket “bolt on” solutions work quiet well. I’m sorry to hear you had bad experiences, but now, most of them are quite well executed and work quite well.
        I never met an AK I couldn’t put rails on. And the idea of the variations in rifles is so wide you cannot be sure what will fit is highly overplayed. For the most part everything out there is an AKM and will fit AKM parts. Accept of course the few special AKs; the Yugos, Chinese, Finish, Galils… That sort of thing. Even the Chinese guns aren’t that far off AKM spec that you cannot use AKM parts with proper use of a file.
        As far as weather or not its worth the time to try to add on to your AK, I’m sad to hear you say, “no.” But Just as I respect your experience that AK rails don’t work, respect that I stand by my opinion that you are wrong. I don’t think they are hard to install, function poorly, or that they are, “attempts to solve a problem that instead requires a complete redesign to fix.” I don’t feel a scope is a requirement as much as a luxury.
        Once again I think we have different experiences.
        Also I should point out that the side rail mounts sold by companies like RS Regulate aren’t even really after market. They are American made versions of the factory Russian scope mounting system. Not aftermarket, just adaptations.

        Finally, I just have to point out one thing. “… I just prefer things that work properly.” Is an interesting thing to write in the comments of an article in which you wrote, “… it refused to cycle with the expensive Hornady match grade 7.62×39 ammunition.” Refusing to cycle a specific type of ammo sounds a lot less like “working Properly” then few places to mount a scope. If what you wanted to say is “I just prefer an AR.” Then feel free to say that. There is no wrong answer. I just didn’t appreciate that the introduction to your review AND your preview could be paraphrased as, ‘This AR is great because the AK sucks so much!’

        • AKs usually have a siderail. If you use a PSO or POSP optic it works just fine. Or you can get an adapter.

          Flattop ARs are also pretty new.

          No shame in admitting you just like ARs better.

  8. With the Galil ACE and now this, I’m thinking of something in 7.62 x 39, especially since I have a .30 cal Specwar 762 can on the way. With this rifle, I could probably attach the 7.62 flash hider on to the barrel, right?

    .300 BLK for me is in the running, too.

  9. I just did some Googling about this rifle. The demo video over at Tactical Life shows this rifle with a Saker 7.62 can, whose flash hiders are very similar to my Specwar flash hiders.

    So yeah, good to go for my can.

    Crap, I have a new candidate for a .30 cal rifle.

    • One is a proper review, one is a “first look” press release thing. We typically do both those posts for a new gun, but this is the first time both have happened on the same day (due to an embargo).

  10. I’m not a gunsmith. I’m a software guy. Shoot, I’m not even a software guy anymore, I’m in management. But it seems to me that if someone spent some time farting around with the actual AK platform, they could make a 1 MOA factory AK.

    That would be interesting. And I’ll bet it’d cycle that Hornady load, too.

    • IO is trying to. Standard disclaimer IO sucks never use them again shill blah blah blah. Reviews of their new products seem pretty promising, actually.

    • You could, but to what end?

      The single biggest claim to everlasting fame of the AK family of rifles is that you can abuse the crap out of them, down to storing them at the bottom of a pond for a decade, pull them out, use your boot to cycle the action, load them and fire them.

      You’re not going to achieve that level of reliability by closing up allowances, fits, feeding it better ammo, etc. The ammo they have now works exceedingly well, and can be stored in those spam-cans for decades underground, right next to the rifle.

      The AK does what it was suppose to do: Turn illiterate conscripts who treat their rifles little better than a sharp stick into an army that could kill people at 100 yards with no training, and up to 300 yards with some training. Be a tool of Soviet foreign policy to destabilize governments in the third world on the cheap. Be the gun that required much less maintenance and repair for satellite states of the Soviets to maintain their control over their populations on the cheap.

      It did all of these things well. I wish people would quit trying to turn it into a “better gun,” because you’re missing the objective of the AK design. The AK family is the better gun, just not for the purposes you have in mind. If you’re a scheming, machiavellian meddler in world affairs, the AK is about as close to perfect a rifle as you could make. If you’re a target shootist – the AK isn’t your rifle, and never will be.

      • It strikes me–perhaps incorrectly–that ARs have come a long way in terms of reliability in the last 10-15 years, without sacrificing accuracy. I wonder if something similar could be done for the AK: improve accuracy without damaging reliability. Which of its many loose tolerances can be tightened to most improve accuracy at the smallest cost to reliability?

        That just seems to me to be a more interesting project than this weird frankengun that has less customizability than the typical AK without the accuracy of the typical AR.

        • One of the bigger improvements to accuracy in US firearms (not just the AR) is the higher quality and consistency of the ammunition.

          As an example, I have a 1968-ish Winchester Model 70 in .270 Win. With Nosler Partitions and hand-loading, it was OK – 1.5″ five round groups at 100 yards. As soon as I went to Barnes TSX all-copper pills, the first loading I tried cut that group down to 3/4″. I quit and called it “more than good enough” for deer and elk. That’s my go-to load for that rifle now. I no longer buy Partitions for hunting as a result – and Partitions have been a premium bullet for decades and decades.

          This sort of improvement is true from .22LR on up – modern .22LR match ammo in a match rifle throws down groups that serious .22 shooters could only dream of 30 years ago.

          The first step in improving a 7.62×39 rifle is deciding whether you’re going to shoot com-bloc mil-surp ammo. If you are, well, there are going to be limits to how much you can improve accuracy. If you’re willing to give up 7.62×39 com-bloc mil-surp, well, you can then start to ponder further improvements by working on the rifle.

      • I just wish somebody would make handguards for it that don’t touch the barrel. You could get decent accuracy if it weren’t for the handguard (+ the gas piston and gas block, though you can just loosen the fit there for better accuracy).

        That and better sights, but that is already solved.

  11. Am I wrong because I can’t stand those skinny barrels? All you ever see (okay, me) are these skinny barrels that are just whipping around. I truly feel that that is one of the major accuracy problems that I have with my 556R and I can’t find a heavier barrel option. I can’t even find where people are talking about it. Frustrationville, U.S.A.

    • I have been told that the AK was designed to “whip”. The AK was designed to work all the time always and be so simple a small child could effectively use it. It has reigned supreme for decades in what it was designed to do. Most people ask something from these guns that it was never intended to do while ignoring everything it was built for. Also the x39 is not known for what most consider an accurate cartridge to be, which is where the 5.45 comes in if you want something a little easier to hit with.

      • Not really designed to whip, they just used a thin barrel. They used the same blanks for making 5.45 barrels which is also why 5.45 is more accurate.

        Use a RPK barrel and you should be good to go.

        Improving the accuracy without sacrificing reliability doesn’t go against Kalashnikovs design and/or intent with the rifle. it ain’t that hard: don’t hold the handguards when shooting (magwell grip), use decent ammo, have a good and thick (RPK) barrel.

    • I have seen one heavy barreled AK. And I know you haven’t found it in your search because a guy made it. The heavy barrel did seem to improve accuracy. Here is a photo from his article that illustrates what you are interested in:
      http://s1178.photobucket.com/user/_ak_74_/media/shovel_ak/52.jpg.html
      He says that group is 10 rounds at 50 yards.
      However, his goal was not to build an accurate AK… He was building an AK out of a $2 shovel…. You should check out the article. It’s amazing.
      http://www.northeastshooters.com/vbulletin/threads/179192-DIY-Shovel-AK-photo-tsunami-warning!

  12. (media) SEE!? I *told you it was an AR-47! (/media)

    In all seriousness though, a gas piston would be nice for those who run that filthy, filthy Russian ammo. Any word on whether they’ll put out something similar to an SVD or Romak III in 7.62x54R?

  13. “It’s a shame that the 7.62×39 cartridge is so under-utilized in the United States.”

    With all the commercial cartridges and wildcats we have, if the 7.62×39 solved an actual problem, it would be more popular.

    There is nothing the 7.62×39 offers that isn’t already done as well or better than another cartridge already widely available in the US. Want cheap centerfire plinking ammo? 5.56/.223 is pretty cheap, and cheaper yet if you reload. Killing game? 7.62×39 offers no improvement over dozens and dozens of other cartridges for hunting. It offers less than nothing for target shooting, and given the highly evolved state of target rifle accuracy loads in the US today, no one is going to show up with a 7.62×39 at a target match, unless they want to tuck their tail and slink off in embarrassment afterwards.

    I’ll take that back. I suppose the 7.62×39 could win a match… if everyone else is shooting a smooth-bore musket.

    Then there’s the groove diameter issue. The 7.62×39, as with the 7.62x54R, isn’t the same bullet diameter as our .30 cartridges. When we Americans say “.30 caliber” in the US, we mean that the bore diameter (the lands in the barrel) is 0.300, the groove diameter (diameter from bottom of a groove on one side of the barrel to the bottom of the groove on the other side of the barrel) is 0.308 and the bullet diameter is 0.308. Rifling in a .30 caliber barrel is supposed to be 0.004″ deep.

    This applies to the .308/7.62×51, the .30-06, .300 Savage, .30-30, .300 AAC Blackout, etc on forward. When Americans say “.30 caliber” we mean bore .300, groove .308, bullet diameter .308, done deal, for now and forever. This specification might as well be written on stone tablets brought down from a snow-covered mountain in Utah by a Mormon gunsmith.

    The Russian cartridges have a bore diameter of 0.300, but a groove diameter of is usually somewhere around 0.311 (sometimes deeper, sometimes not – Commie QC is highly variable), and their bullet diameter is on the order of 0.311 to 0.312″. The Commies had deeper rifling[*], and often their bullets wouldn’t fully fill the groove diameter, which is one of the several issues that contribute to their less accurate performance than US-made rifles & barrels, where we control the groove diameter and bullet diameter much more closely.

    The net:net is that you should not just re-chamber some old standard American .30 cal barrel you have sitting around to cobble together a frankenrifle without handling possible pressure issues from a slightly over-sized bullet getting swaged down. You either need to come up with a longer throat on the chamber to help swage the bullets down to size more gradually, or you need a deeper groove diameter. The first won’t help accuracy. The second will drive up costs.

    This possible over-pressure issue is one of the big reasons why many gun companies aren’t going to hop right on that 7.62×39 issue.

    And why bother? As soon as the cheap ammo dries up (for whatever reason), the advantage (perceived or real) for owning or shooting most 7.62×39 rifles just… goes away.

    [*] Why the larger groove diameter? Simple: while the Russian-developed weapons were never target rifles, they’d keep shooting at their so-so level of accuracy longer, because you could tolerate more barrel wear and tear on the lands and still have the bullet engage the grooves. The commies designed everything about their arms for illiterate conscripts, down to even these details.

    • I once showed up for a match with a 7.62×39 AK. Out of the 6-8 of us on the line, everyone else was shooting ARs in 5.56. Mine was the only rife that didn’t malfunction during the first round of shooting. I didn’t win because the best shooter on the line only had a minor malfunction, but like I said, he was a much better shooter than me.

      The guy next to me was also a better shooter than me, but I think he only got off one or two rounds in a string of 10. I found his noisy cursing somewhat distracting, but probably less distracting than unjamming my AR would have been.

    • Now that you’ve explained all that in terms even I can understand, perhaps you can explain to me why an 1861 .36 Colt Navy when converted to shoot cartridges is suddenly a .38. Or why it is that some pistols measure caliber at the muzzle, and others by the cartridge. Endless confusion! (By the way, I second the comment about your writing. It is excellent, informative and succinct. Much appreciated.)

      • Oh, man. There’s a veritable novel that would be needed to address all of your questions fully, and putting that sort of novel into this thread would be a real head-scratcher (“Why is this information under an AR/AK morphidite rifle review?”).

        So I’ll try to address your questions as succinctly as possible here, and maybe write up something next year on this sort of thing – eg “Why can I shoot .38 Specials out of a .357 Magnum, ie aren’t .38 bullets too big for a .357?”

        In a revolver, you have a forcing cone (much like a shotgun does) at the rear of the barrel (older shotguns had a very steep angle on the forcing cones, I’m referring to the newer shotguns with long cones).

        You can’t necessarily measure the diameter (land or groove) at the rear of a revolver barrel, especially a black powder cap-n-ball revolver, and call that “the caliber” of the handgun. 1861’s would usually be loaded with .375″ ball rounds, crammed into the cylinder, and their forcing cones would be longer and more gradual, which would swage the ball down to the actual “caliber” of the handgun, which is better measured at the muzzle, and would be closer to 0.36.

        OK, now what about the .38 caliber cartridge conversion? Well, there’s a rub. You can’t shoot jacketed pills through that, as I understand these conversion cylinders. You must use hollow-base wad cutters (like 148gr) of softer lead. You’re depending on the bullet’s base expanding as it leaves the cylinder so that the base of the bullet obdurates the bore. Supposedly, these conversion cylinders work OK, but I’ve never used one or seen one myself, so I’m just passing on what black powder shooters in the area have mentioned to me.

        Once you get into lead pills and specialized chambers/throats, you can start doing lots of black magic with bore sizes. Then add in paper patched bullets, or paper cartridges (where the paper might have been wrapped over the top of the bullet), and the mysteries to modern shooters deepens significantly.

    • Until the advent of .300 BLK, 7.62×39 did the same thing as .30-30 (which no-one would accuse of being a cartridge without a purpose!), but retaining velocity further out due to bullet shape.

      As far as plinking goes, it is still way cheaper at almost 20c/round compared to the more typical 35c/round for brass cased .223 (sure, you can get steel cased for 25c, but how many guns chambered in .223 or 5.56 will shoot it well?).

      And, of course, SKS is still one of the cheapest semi-auto centerfire rifles around, by a significant margin.

  14. I’ll stick to my AK’s in 7.62×39 made in actual arsenals not the jokes built in the mass market domestically, thanks.

    Say what you want about them but they work and have the track record for half a century and counting to prove it despite what the naysayers say. I shoot to defend myself not put little holes in tight little groups at distances one would not shoot at anyway especially when it is a two-way range. Less stress on me.

    I also laugh though at the hypocrisy that 7.62×39 AR’s are okay but put an AK in 5.56 and you committed the greatest sin of all time.

    And this is coming from someone who owns several AR’s too.

  15. Hey whats up Nick! Lemme start out by saying that I respect and read your articles every damn day, no lie you all have put forth great effort into this website over the years I have payed attention. I leave very few comments in order to not get in the squabble with what i call desk jockeys. But I will say one thing, the differences between 5.56, .300BLK and 7.62×39. 95% of the time they always use fmj rounds on the 7.62 to discuss wound capabilities. Our family uses both rounds (5.56 and 7.62) and from first hand experience the 7.62 just has more barrier defeating and wounding potential. Federal’s fusion, and winchesters pdx are superior rounds if you decide to go hog hunting, i highly recommend them as they work excellent on deer.
    ps 7.62×39 has a larger case capacity, wider and taller (thats what she said) and produces about 300 ft lbs of energy more than the .300BLK.
    Keep up the good work, I live in missouri and its good to see these guys keep moving up the podium.

  16. Where do you hunt hogs that a 7.62x 39 is sufficient? I have shot and helped guide for hogs in Kalifornia and seen boars and sows keep going after everything from .30-’06 to 375H&H from 50 to 400 meters with well placed shots.

  17. “…but might lead to a heavier cleaning schedule than what we are used to with the AK-47 rifles. “

    AK-47…cleaning schedule? I know all of those words, but don’t understand them in that context.

    Is that like when you’re crossing a stream and drop your AK in the mud?

  18. https://38.media.tumblr.com/e3003bf74516bdb8e79234103ca0c1ae/tumblr_mysybuqUVn1rwb76go1_500.png

    Pretty sweet idea and I’m a big fan of CMMG for producing good products at reasonable prices. But I have to ask, why? It seems like an answer in search of a question. 7.62 is a great, fun, cheap cartridge, but mounting optics on an AK isn’t all that impossible, and definitely cheaper than this rifle. With the proprietary parts, the rail is the only advantage I can see over a traditional AK pattern rifle. I’m sure this rifle is just as reliable as any DI gun, but the piston action of the AK will always be mechanically superior on the reliability front.

    As a ‘2nd kind of cool’ rifle, it’s pretty awesome. Not so much on the practical side of things.

  19. I do appreciate companies branching out and trying newish things like this. But really, at that price, I’d rather buy a decent AK, AND a decent AR. Maybe I could tape them together and get my own show on discovery channel.

  20. I prefer the X39 to the 5.56 for many reasons.
    Satisfied with the performance of the X39 in my SKS and my Mini 30, I began researching the issues w/ the X39 in the AR platform.
    I had an AR built to my specs by Liberty Gun Works, with a Cason Engineering bolt assy.
    This rifle has a med. contour barrel, w/ a Vortex muzzle device. DI gas system.
    After sorting out some mag lip/follower issues, I can report that I am very happy with this setup. It runs well with a variety of Chicom and Russian ammo. I was also surprised by how clean it was after the first 500 rds.
    The scarcity of reliable mags has been a factor in the unpopularity of X39 ARs. CpD and others have been working on it.
    I think the X39 is the best choice for a carbine. But if necessary, I can get a 5.56 upper pretty cheap these days.

    P.S. I’d take an Eastern Bloc SKS over an AK. Those things just run and run and run…

  21. My analysis of the CMMG Mutant as I see it:

    They took the possibly single best feature of the AK design, the mags and magazine well. Then they messed it up horribly. Let’s see, long barrel with full length picatinny quad rail counterbalanced by just an alluminum receiver and a plastic stock, givin it the god-awful AR (especially M16) frontheavy balance, using a buffer recoil system instead of a return spring, no forward assist while still retaining the moronic AR15 rear top receiver charging handle, meaning that to clear any malf, you have to run a complex diagnostic instead of just yanking a handle. It’s also infamous for being breakable, which is unacceptable for an essential component of a weapon system. And for FTF, you have to waste a bullet on account of there being no forward assist on a gun with a non-reciprocating charging handle on AR’s. The lack of a bolt release is only troubling because it makes the awkwardly placed and relatively delicate charging handle the only way to manually work the action. They kept the stupid overly complex and ornate AR bolt instead of switching to the big, chunky, trusty AK bolt, but at least they made the bolt chunkier and thus a bit easier to work on. They kept the annoying huge and one-handed AR grip and selector, so unless you’re a six-footer shooting it exactly a Eugene Stoner intended it, taking your gun on and off safe is going to be a bitch. Last but not least, no fixed factor iron sights, which is unacceptable in a serious use rifle, as well as sorta a ripoff considering the price of sighting systems that won’t rattle off your gun within the first mag.
    Verdict: They took the third and second best features of the AK, and then they borked it by plastering it with moronic ideas, from making it awkward as possible to clear malfunctions, to not including any kind of iron sights by default. Needs work. Call me when there’s an AK style handle on it, or at least a forward assist + bolt catch. As angry as I sound, my actual opinion is that is sounds nice and just needs a bit more work to be ready for prime time.
    How’s that for an assessment?

  22. They would have more success with the 6.5 Grendel on this platform. Who wants to pay double for a platform that is inferior to the AK as far as toughness/reliability. Most AK ammo is not accurate to begin with, so why try? I would pay for a Grendel in this platform, accurate rounds, rifle that keeps it accurate, and a gun that won’t break the bolt. Don’t forget the 6.5 Grendel PMAG as the 6.8 PMAG is too tight.

  23. The issue I see that would keep this in a small niche market is the mixing of two contradictory paradigms, as the enemy of perfection is good enough, and viceversa.

    Paper punchers strive for perfection in accuracy. Steel cased rds never give them what they desire. Only through reloading can they approach their goal. Between the odd diameter bullet, with its small selection, and the fact that combloc rifles ruin brass with their violent ejection, reloading doesn’t offer much support for 7.62×39. In contrast 300aac, can utilize a wide range of projectiles, and brass is abundant(with effort).

    On the other end you have 7.62×39 fans. They are drawn to its mix affordability and potency. Comparing it with 5.56 is like comparing a truck vs a sports car. Neither is better, each is just better at certain things. 7.62 is better on deer, but if you need better than 4moa to hit something it is likely either overkill for the target or the target is out of its effective range. For those utilizing cheap ammo, the $1600 price tag would be a no go($400+ ak’s are barely tolerated by them).

    So it’s in a caliber precision shooters avoid, in a platform that the 7.62×39 lovers dislike. They did 2 things right though. The ar’s multi-cal adaptability is neat in concept, however the std magwell doesn’t feed tapered cartridges well. The other thing is the meatier bolt, by trying to cram larger rimmed cases onto a std bolt face other designs end up prone to breakage. So by making it to proprietary dimensions they haven’t sacrificed reliability, and it still uses common, cheap, and reliable mags.

    More practical training is banging steels, or busting bottles and cans at undefined ranges from field positions. When paper punchers shoot alongside steel case shooters in this manner they soon realise that all their extra time and efforts working up loads to gain an inch matters little when they all make hits about the same. Ak guys don’t know their group size, only how far they can make hits on a can of soda. Handling, balance and techniques mean more in the real world than groups from a rest. Only through practice can you fully utilize your rifles potential. So if one puts their reloading bench time(case prep, weighing, measuring, & loading) in at their job they could afford more steel cased ammo. If they could take their shooting bench time(chrono, load evaluation, data collection) and put it to field position practice. This would turn their time & money into skill.

    There is a small market for this rifle. It’s those with a deep yearning for perfection, who take comfort in knowing their lovingly crafted hand loads are tailored to their needs, which may be up to medium game, yet have conceded that their time is better spent training than reloading. They can still handload for special occasions because of the gentle nature of a DI AR on brass. Yet they can save some cash, and most importantly time by training with steel. Yes, 5.56 can fit the bill, but 7.62×39 is a better deer rd. I use 125gr sp silver bear.

    I’ve Ar in 5.45 &5.56, ak’s in 5.45 & 7.62(39, 51, & 54r) and 8 rifles in 7.62×39(aks, sks, and Vz2008). Also my hunting/range buddies use .458socom, 50beowolf,& .308 ar’s. So I’m not biased, but I’ve found that when you stray from the rd a military pattern rifle was designed around, they get picky and less reliable if they are not redesigned. This one sounds like it needs a reciprocating charging handle.

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  35. I bought one a year ago. Installed a skeletonized hard stock, Eotech holographic site, and a 7x flip down magnifier, and a Franklin armory binary trigger. As far as accuracy, well I am easily hitting a steel rabbit silhouette at 325 yards. And that’s with cheap Tula steel case ammo. No holdover either. Mine is super accurate. NEVER a malfunction. I wouldn’t part with mine.

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