A few years ago I would have mocked the notion of being an AK guy. I looked down on the Kalash life as nothing but uninformed hype. Less than two years after building one myself, I’ve put thousands and thousands of rounds through a brace of different AKs. I’ve taken dozens of deer, even more pigs, and a big Catalina ram with my home-brewed AK.

With ballistics matching my .30-30 lever rifles, the AK’s enough gun for most of the shots I take here in Hill Country, and dang it, it’s just handy. I’ve come to enjoy the simplicity of the manual of arms and I’ve learned a lot about the engineering of the rifle as a system. After shooting a variety of models, I’ve also gotten a better idea of what I really want — which just happens to be not exactly what I have. Imagine that.

With a better build in mind, I called the guys at Dead Goose Society and asked if they’d make me one of their in-house, fixed-stock AKM-47s. As the pre-election panic buying was in full swing, took DGS about two months to complete the build. It was worth the wait. The rifle was better than I would’ve ever guessed.

DGS started with a choice Romanian AKM Model 63, vintage 1976. This is not a WASR rifle; it’s the model for those guns. The AKM Model 63 rifle isn’t a “sporter” version either, it’s an all-serial-number-matching gun, including the bolt, carrier and barrel trunnions.

The receiver’s grey worn patina and dust cover were slightly polished, but otherwise left alone, maintaining the “battlefield pick-up” look. I’ve done some stock carving and engraving for DGS in the past. They’d sent me a set of reddish-purple original Russian lacquer furniture. I asked if they still had it, and they did.

Not having seen the stock, I was iffy on what it would look like on the grey metal — that I’d also not seen. I told DGS what I was thinking, and let them use their judgment. Their judgment was sound. The receiver’s steely grey is perfect with the purple of the wood.

There’s plenty not to like about an original Russian stock. They’re too short (for me) and there is obviously no adjustment for length of pull or drop at comb. But dear sweet Lord if you’re used to the bare metal of a side-folder (as I am), commie laminate is absolute heaven.

Not only can I actually have some semblance of a cheek/stock weld, but it’s so much more comfortable after long strings than my home build. Gone are the scrapes and bruises from firing a combat load wearing a T-shirt.

There’s also room for engraving and embellishment. I chose to laser engrave a Javelina on one side and a Buffalo on the other. The fore-stock is wide and comfortable to hold, although it also gets warm after long strings. This one has a jack-rabbit engraved on the right side.

There’s no mistaking this for a ComBloc rifle. The rifle looks — it’s weird to say this about an AK — classic. Dark and gleaming, it says “machine” as much as it does “gun.” Yet there’s no mistaking that it is either. Everyone I let handle it– including anti-AR Fudds — love the way it looks. The most frequent comment: “Now this is a real gun”.

Since I asked for the best rifle DGS could make, they included the ALG Enhanced trigger. The ALG trigger kit is worlds away from a stock AK trigger. To make it even better, DGS put a high polish on the underside of the bolt carrier, as well as all of the surfaces of the trigger itself. The result is a single stage trigger with a small amount of pre-travel, followed by zero stacking and a light, crisp break.

This isn’t a trigger that’s “good for an AK.” This is an AK trigger that’s far better than many AR pattern rifles and the better factory bolt action rifles. I’ll be reviewing the CMC AK47 trigger soon; this trigger will be the standard by which I judge it and all other Kalashnikov triggers.

While the manual of arms is the same as my first AK, the Model 63 is so much more fun to shoot. The rifle’s rear sight is cut a bit wider than the stock sight on my original home build; the front sight is sharp, serrated, and dark. I’ll either polish it bright or swap it out with a fiber optic front sight, as it still disappears on a dark target for a snap shot.

The action is spectacular. I don’t know if it’s just that this was built more expertly than I built mine, or that DGS spent the time to carefully fit and polish all the internals. Maybe both. In any case, this rifle is Sean Connery 007 smooth. The bolt literally glides on the rails. With the superior trigger, controlled pairs on 19″ silhouettes all the way out to the 100 yard were a breeze. Mag dumps at 25 were just giggly fun.

This Romy has lived up to the vaunted Kalashnikov reputation for reliability. I put 500 rounds through it the first two days, and another 500 over the rest of the week.

I shot several different brands of FMJ and HP surplus rounds, as well as my own hand loads using PPU brass and soft point rounds, ranging from 123gr to 180gr. I had zero malfunctions of any kind with any round. I used Magpul P-Mags, as well as multiple types of surplus magazines made in several different countries.

I had no issues with loading, feeding or excessive wobble with any mag, including a Croatian-made bolt-hold open magazine. As with all my reviews, I sprayed some RAA gun lube prior to shooting, and never cleaned or lubed the gun again throughout the review process. I did my accuracy testing at the 500 round mark.

The AK has has a rep for being an inaccurate rifle. That’s a shame, since the design itself isn’t inherently inaccurate. I’ve also heard — often from people who should know better — that the problem is the 7.62X39 round itself. It’s poor workmanship, not poor design that led to false assumptions.

For rebuilt de-militarized guns like the WASRs, the case for poor accuracy is based on poorly fitting parts. The Dead Goose Society guns don’t have that problem. Their rifles are built by pressing each rivet by hand, the same with the barrel, and then checking to ensure a tight headspace after firing.

I’ve gone through this with Travis before, and I’ve even watched a major manufacturer come to the DGS shop to watch and learn how he does it. It’s not a secret. It’s just attention to detail and taking the necessary time.

Another factor leading to the bad rep: surplus barrels. In short, they suck. Some are bad due to wear, but many are bad right from the start, thanks to the famous ComBloc attention to detail QC. As in bores not centered in the barrel, which also makes them unsafe to use with a suppressor.

DGS’s rifles are made with brand new 4150v, black nitride 1:9 twist Green Mountain barrels made here in the USA.

The result of all the good materials and good workmanship: an AKM-47 that shoots 2 ¾” five-round groups at 100 yards off of bags with surplus ammo. Not bad, but not great either. Which brings us to round selection. I’ll say it yet again: half of all your accuracy is due to the round.

After a day of careful load development, I built a hunting round that prints 1.5” groups with DGS’s rifle. Open sight, five-rounds groups, off (many) bags, at 100 yards. That’s better than my issued M4s, which were usually not better than 2MOA (and that was with a 4X scope).

Considering the ballistics of the round, that makes this Romanian AKM-47 a legitimate hunting round for deer or pigs out past 300 yards. It’s limited only by the terminal ballistics of the round, not accuracy. Those ballistics, by the way, almost perfectly match a 150gr .30-30 round fired from my Winchester Model 94.

This rifle showed me the huge delta between the quality of my home build compared to the DGS build. Yes, I like the AK I built myself in a garage. It’s got over 10,000 rounds through it and it’s still going strong. That’s awesome, and it highlights the absolute futility of gun control. But as much as I like it, there’s just no comparison to the DGS Romy.

The DGS finish is better (a pretty low bar since I left mine unfinished). The wood-to-metal fit is better, the trunnions are riveted evenly, tightly and without marring the rivets (unlike mine).

There’s a massive difference in the action. I thought mine was smooth after 10,000 rounds. I didn’t know what smooth was. Apparently if the rails are both polished and the rails are welded in correctly, everything just glides in place. (Who knew?)

Once again, I’m reminded that there really is something to be said for leaving it to the professionals.

Specifications: Dead Goose Society AKM-47 Model 63

Receiver: 1.0mm stamped steel, kiln treated
Barrel: 16.25” 4140v Green Mountain, Black Nitride, 1:9 twist, standard LH thread
Stock: Original surplus Russian lacquered wood
Trigger: ALG Enhanced Single Stage (shop polished)
Handle: Surplus Bakelite
Sights: surplus front post, adjustable, surplus rear, elevation adjustable and marked
Weight: 7.5lbs
Length: overall 34.25”
Muzzle device: Surplus slant
MSRP: $995.55

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style * * * * *
This gun has soul. Every person I handed it to admired it as a physical thing, if not a weapon. Even people who don’t like guns. There’s just something about that hard fought finish. It’s still smooth, machine like, but the wood and patina add a rawness and a realness to it that Cerkakote and plastic just won’t ever bring t0 the table. I dig the engraving.

Reliability * * * * *
This is not my surprised face. Zero problems, any round, any magazine, including the weird bolt hold open Croatian model for a thousand rounds.

Accuracy * * * * and * * * * * 
With surplus rounds, this gun hangs with any open sighted military carbine out there. With careful hand-loads, it blows them away.

Overall * * * * * 
When I called the Dead Goose Society, I asked them to make me the best AKM-47 they could. I expected good. I didn’t expect this good. I really like my homemade “Khyber Pass” rifle, and it’s got some charm, but this outclasses it in every sense. Now, which one do I leave in the truck?

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44 Responses to Gun Review: Dead Goose Society AKM-47 Model 63 Rifle

  1. Nice rifle. I have used the circle10 AK rear sight before and it can be pretty nice if you are looking for something between a peep sight and the factory AK notch style. I was making connections on a 20″ plate at 500 yards with an underfolder with the circle10 AK rear sight. I prefer my TWS top cover and red dot, but it isn’t for everyone and not for every rifle. Keep up the fun Dan.

  2. Yeah… AKs get a bad rap in general. A quality built AK can go toe to toe with a quality built .300 AAC rifle every day and twice on Sunday. Now that I’ve shot my 7.62 Krink in competition, I’m putting together a wish list for a “tactical” AK that I’m going to send over to my favorite custom gun smith.

    I’m thinking…
    16.5″ 1-9 nitrided RPK style barrel with suppressor ready threading for a soviet style can
    RPK stamped receiver and trunnion
    MOE Handguard
    Ultimak gas tube
    Zhukov stock
    MOE pistol grop
    ALG trigger

    I’m also going to ask if I can get all the steel nitrided rather than parkerized. It might be a bit of a stretch, but I just like the finish and wear resistance better than the standard finish we see on most AKs.

    Now we just need a major manufacturer to start churning out sub-sonic 7.62×39 ammo.

    • Want to put some money on that? I don’t have a .300 Copout but I have an AR in 7.62x40WT, which is basically the same cartridge plus 5 cm of case length and was designed for Bill Wilson for hog hunting. Its proprietary to Wilson Combat so mine has an 18″ Wilson Combat stainless match barrel and I put a Timney 3-lb. competition trigger in it. It center-punches prairie dogs at 150+ like nobody’s business with 110-grain Hornady V-Maxes at 2450 fps. I think a lot of you AK fanboys are pretty clueless about ARs in general. Unlike AKs, an AR is MODULAR and you can build them to be as accurate as you want. The “typical” 3-4 MOA accuracy of M4s and ARs with mil-spec uppers is mainly due to chrome-lined barrels and loose chrome-lined chambers, along with mil-spec bolts and barrel extensions that have quite a bit of clearance in them. And of course the different firing modes of M16s and M4s rifles ranging from semi-auto to 3-round burst to full-auto and the various ways different shooters release the bolts all lead to differences in headspacing from round to round, and that will cause accuracy “issues” compared to a commercial-spec semi-auto only rifle that tends to lock up and headspace the same every time. There is also considerable parts mixing and matching in military rifles, and that doesn’t help. Neither do non-floating handguards and the tendency to run guns dry even when wet and dirty is preferable to dry and dirty. The various 5.56 ammo types made to be reliable and non-fouling in all weather conditions rather than for match accuracy. don’t help, and I’d be curious to know how many M4s being used with “heavy” bullets don’t have twist rates fast enough for the bullets, Not to mention that barrel length also plays a role in stabilization. 14.7″ barrels are pretty short and none of those things help accuracy. If that’s the goal, I’ve got a 5.56 AR with an 18″ stainless Wilson match barrel and Timney trigger, too. I’m not a benchrest shooter or even a great marksman but it’ll put 10 rounds in an inch at 100 yards with simple Hornady V-Max reloads. That’s one of the many differences between an AK and an AR. An AK is what it is when its built and there are inherent flaws and weaknesses that are just there. That’s not the case with ARs. Whereas 3-4 MOA is pretty decent for an AK, it’s pretty weak for an AR. So if you want to put your AK up against an AR spitting .308″ bullets, I’m game.

  3. “Considering the ballistics of the round, that makes this Romanian AKM-47 a legitimate hunting round for deer or pigs out past 300 yards.”

    I disagree emphatically. A 125 grain bullet leaving the muzzle at 2300 fps will be travelling to slow to be ethical at 300 yards. Additional evidence: everyone seems to agree that the maximum range for .30-30 Winchester, which shoots a substantially heavier 150 grain bullet, is 200 yards.

    “Those ballistics, by the way, almost perfectly match a 150gr .30-30 round fired from my Winchester Model 94.”

    I disagree again. There is a BIG difference between a 125 grain bullet exiting the muzzle at 2300 fps and a 150 grain bullet exiting the muzzle at 2300 fps … especially at extended ranges where that significant increase in mass translates to a significant increase in long-range velocity.

    • According to my applied balistics point mass ballistic solver, the difference in energy at 300 yards between mulsurp Wolf FMJ 7.62×39 and the standard 150gr Winchester .30-30RN is a massive 6flbs of energy. Six.

      • Regardless of the difference in energy, both cartridges are too slow and have too little energy for ethical hunting at 300 yards. Would they eventually kill an animal at 300 yards? Probably, hours and several hundred yards later.

        In my opinion both cartridges should be limited to 150 yards tops.

        Exception: Hornady’s Leverevolution offerings in .30-30 Winchester are rock solid for shots up to 200 yards and probably even 250 yards. Their 160 grain Leverevolution might even be good out to 300 yards if the bullet will expand reliably at the relatively slow impact velocities at that range.

        • You know, I keep reading all this internet obsession with velocity on gun forums across the web. I think people are starting to focus WAY too much on velocity as if it’s the ONLY thing that matters in a bullet/killing power. This is simply not the case. I’m not knocking it plays an important role, but look. For hundreds of years, really up until the last century, ALL guns shot huge slow moving bullets, and brought down people and animals relatively quickly. Now, I know those black powder rounds were exceptionally large compared today’s rounds, like .58, .69, and .75. But still, they were also fairly slow compared to any smokeless powder round.

        • Bill,

          There is a GINORMOUS difference between a .69 caliber bullet and a .30 caliber bullet. Not only does that .69 caliber bullet have a HUGE cross sectional area compared to a .30 caliber bullet, that .69 caliber bullet also weighs a LOT more. There really is no comparison.

          The reason that people are always talking about velocity is because almost all the rifles bullets are between .22 and .30 caliber. With such tiny bullets, they need to be moving FAST in order to inflict enough damage to promptly incapacitate a human attacker or a game animal such as a deer.

          For what it is worth, though, I would give my right arm for a reliable semi-auto home-defense rifle that sends 500+ grain, .63 caliber bullets out the barrel at a measly 700 fps. Those would have to be devastating to a human attacker at close range.

        • jwtaylor,

          Let me state right up front that I am not trying to be a tool or a troll — I am genuinely interested in learning something new. Your comment suggests that you have direct experience taking game animals quickly and humanely at ranges of 300+ yards with .30-30 Winchester and/or 7.62 x 39 mm. That seems to contradict “generally accepted wisdom”. Please share the details of your experience. Which caliber did you use? What bullet construction? What game animal? How far did it run after shooting it? How long for it to keel over dead after shooting it?

        • Uncommon_sense
          No problem. For many years a common gun that I hunted deer and pigs with was a single shot break open rifle chambered in .30-30 with a Weaver 6x scope. I have taken many, certainly more than 20 animals with this at or near the 300 yard mark, especially if you consider coyotes. I have also hunted with a starting load from a .308 and 7mm08 with 150gr and 145gr soft point rounds that have about the same energy at 300 yards.
          As with all rounds, shot placement is key. I’ve had deer run hundreds of yards before dying, and I’ve had them drop right there. I don’t recall ever recovering a round, but I do remember many pass throughs. It should be noted that all of the Texas game is exceedingly thin skinned, except for the largest of pigs.
          Also note that either of those rounds at 300 yards is delivering 20% more energy than a .45ACP from a 5″ barrel does at the muzzle, and more than the 45LC does at 10 yards.

        • jwtaylor,

          Hmm. Interesting. I can see how the lowly .30-30 Wincherster would still be quite lethal to coyotes at 300 yards. But I would not have expected it to provide quick kills on white-tailed deer at 300 yards — assuming that you were using typical factory round nose bullets with muzzle velocities of 2300 fps or so.

          Now, if you were shooting handloads with spitzer bullets (or LeveRevelotion cartridges), that helps quite a bit at long ranges. For example, your typical .30-30 Winchester 150 grain round-nosed bullet is down to 1,276 fps and 540 foot-pounds at 300 yards, which is underwhelming especially for white-tailed deer. But the 160 grain LeveRevolution is still doing 1,700 fps with 1,025 foot-pounds of energy. That is a big difference.

          At any rate the proof is in the pudding. If you are consistently dropping white-tailed deer at 300 yards with 150 grain bullets that are impacting at less than 1,300 fps, that sounds like a winner to me. Whether or not that jives with “conventional wisdom” doesn’t matter as long as you fill the freezer!

    • “It’s JWT.”

      It’s what I was thinking, but wasn’t sure. Thanks to all who answered it, before it got zapped.

      I must say, tho, that build looks it was made for ‘business’…

      • Thanks for commenting and clarifying that I’m not some crazy guy talking to himself. I was wondering what happened to your comment.

  4. Dude, that thing is frikking gorgeous! I love that ‘battlefield pick up’ look and I have heard nothing but great things about DGS. I think one is in the cards for me before it is all over. That’s a real gem!

    Man, it might be heresy with a classic look like that, but the Krebs enhanced safety is worth every penny. Easy to drop in too. Krebs safety plus the AKT trigger is nothing short of awesome fast. (I’d probably also recommending dumping the P-Mags and getting a few Circle 10 waffles, but I’m a snob on that sh!t, so don’t listen to me)

    I would have to say that accuracy isn’t overwhelming though. I can get 2″ groups on a good day with the DDI I put together (notably, also has a GM 4140 nitride barrel, but as i remember, DDI was paying GM more to make theirs to a higher level of QC. maybe that’s the diff, who knows when it comes to AK).

    For hunting though, since I’m in PA and we can’t use semi, I use a CZ 527M mini-mauser boltie in 7.62×39 with Hornady SST’s. I can’t recommend that thing enough. It’s the lightest, awesome-ist thing ever – and has a set trigger option for real precise shots. Beats hauling around an AK for bagging game. and the 18″ barrel gives you a little extra edge with the ballistics

    Anyway, congrats on your new AK man. What an incredible piece. I also followed a similar path, and ended up an AK junkie. On my third now, and eye-ing up a fourth. Either going to wait to see if we can get Saigas again, so Krebs can whip me up an AC-15 mod 2 full rail, or might end up going the DGS path… Only time will tell.

  5. Glad TTAG response time is quick to address authorship – not a criticism as much as QC. As a writer, I always hope proper credit is given. Guess my previous comment got deleted via the JWT vs DZ comment. Beautiful piece of ballistic hardware:)

  6. Love the used-but-loved look and the experienced enthusiasm of Jon Wayne Tayor as to reliability and accuracy. It’s like having a 1970 Dodge Charger R/T with a modern suspension and engine in it. If I had the money I’d order one from DGS today.

    • Right? A mid grade, factory -made AK runs for around $800. But for only $200 more, you can get a hand tuned piece of hardware that looks like this? I’ll have to give DGS a good chunk of money sometime in the near future….

  7. OT, but ten years ago when (most) AK’s were dirt cheap, everyone I knew who bought one did so for the novelty/fun of having something to blast cans with. Now that prices have climbed, there seem to be even more dedicated “AK guys” who put a lot more time and money into training/competing with them. Its been fun to watch.

    • I’m still waiting for 3Gun Nation to get off their asses and put the 7.62×39 AK into the heavy metal division where it belongs.

      • What defines the “heavy metal division?” 3 gun is a gun circle I haven’t jumped into yet, so I like to learn more about these things when the opportunities present themselves.

        • Basically .308 or above. Since there is no chrono requirement, you can download your .308 to basically .300 AAC ballistics and recoil and still compete. My impression is that the heavy metal division rules were written to specifically exclude “‘dem commie gunz”

  8. I’m relatively new to AKs, but I love mine, even though it’s a low-end Century Arms. I didn’t want to commit too much to the platform unless I was gonna love it, and I do. Any ammo, any milsurp mag, every time I pick it up and let fly it just rips away. Great to sling over my shoulder and “patrol” the perimeter of my farm on the 4-wheeler, a blast to shoot.
    But THIS. THIS gun in this article is just all kinds of awesome. Completely different level. Looks like one of my Dad’s old well-loved beaters that does everything asked of it.
    I gotta have one.

  9. sa85 post ban is so weird it should just remain in stock config.
    one of these would get taken out and used often. i like this a lot.
    but i thought i wanted a vz58. is this dgs really one lb heavier?

  10. I have a Siaga 7.62×39 that I love. I made a few mods to undo the abominable “sporter” arrangement and two “upgrades”(double hook trigger and TWS receiver cover with a peep sight) and it is just how I want it. The trigger is SHORT, not too light, crisp, and clean. Any competent shooter can hit coke cans (even with cheap ammo) at 100 yards all day long, and I do mean ALL DAY…

  11. Yikes. $1000.00 bucks for a quality AK ? That makes me really appreciate the fixed stock Poly Tech Legend I purchased for about $350.00 in 1989 at a Gibson’s in Weatherford Texas. The only upgrade was to recently replace the barrel nut with an Echo93 three-prong flash hider that matches the original bluing perfectly.

    Wish I still had my stamped Hungarian bottom-folder that I bought in the early 1990’s. Great gun and receiver wall thickness was thicker at 1.5mm

    • Unfortunately, gone are the days of cheap decent quality surplus rifles. Barely 10 years ago I was buying cases of Mosins at $60 a rifle. I wish now that I had been buying pallets full.
      1.5mm will be thick enough to even run a dedicated full auto gun. DGS will also make a 1.5mm receiver if you so order.

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