Should You Buy An AK-47 Rifle?

Should You Buy An AK-47 Rifle?

Josh Wayner for TTAG

In a recent article of mine, I talked about both chickens and the .300 AAC Blackout round. I presented the idea that, from a practical standpoint, the 300 BLK is an extremely practical cartridge for general use, a breed made for today’s demands that can both show well and make meat, so to speak.

I noticed a number of comments about the AK rifle and the 7.62x39mm cartridge, so today we will be talking about whether an AK-47 is the right choice for you.

When we are discussing the AK-47 rifle here, I will be bouncing around a few Kalashnikov models (the AK-47, the AKM, and other Avtomat Kalashnikova variations), including the 5.45mm and 7.62mm rounds they fire, so be aware and don’t get your knickers in a knot if I generalize. While much of this discussion will focus on the 7.62x39mm AK-47 variant, I will address the others as much as I can.

So the big question is whether you should buy a semi-auto copy of Mikhail Kalashnikov’s rifle. The answer may not be as simple as you think due to a number of factors in the wider world. The first thing we need to look at is the general state of the AK rifle and what you get for your money.

The AK used to be the cheap everyman’s utility rifle. I remember back in the old days when I was perhaps sixteen or so looking at AR rifles and thinking I’d never own one. I bought my first AK for $300, which was a good price back around 2006. I remember when the AK rifles began to go up in price around 2008. For some weird reason and I thought I’d never see a decent semi-automatic for under $1,500 again.

Should You Buy An AK-47 Rifle?

EU for TTAG

Fast forward to today. Many strange things have happened in the last decade, and things seem to be getting stranger. The price of the AR-15 has dropped so far that I could chart it against the rising number of genders and likely find some sort of direct inverse correlation between the two.

If you had told me in 2008 that I could get a decent AR for $300, I’d have laughed at you, which I’m pretty sure counts as a microaggression today.

Should You Buy An AK-47 Rifle?

7.62x39mm and 5.45x39mm (Josh Wayner for TTAG)

The complete saturation of the AR on the American market has resulted in a decline in the general popularity of other rifles, including the AK. The AR has such tremendous dominance on the consumer and LE market that the pricing floor is approaching rock bottom. I wonder if at some point companies will lose money making AR parts due to the cost of machine time alone.

The AK, on the other hand, has seen a steady increase in prices. What was once considered the rifle of poor neckbeards and the anti-social prepper types has come out of the Obama era as the gun of the wealthy few. A good AK today is at least a $1,000 proposition and a great one from specialty makers can run you well over $2,500. How is this possible?

The reason behind this shift is the disparity in the number of imports and the lack of tooling and manufacturing experience here in America. The AR lends itself to easy manufacture on most of our existing tooling, with the only thing lacking from most shops being a broach cutter for the magazine well. The consistency that the AR can be made with today is unrivaled.

The AK family is a bit different. Unless it is adapted to our modern CNC technology, the AK is essentially a custom project, even for large makers. The methods of manufacture used on majority of AK rifles are archaic by our modern standards to the point that the AK has more in common with the M1 Garand than it does the AR-15.

The hand fitting, pressing, stamping, and riveting makes the process less precise and subject to more hours of labor to achieve the end result. The Russians can make all the AK rifles they want in their arsenals because their industry is set up around the gun where ours simply is not geared for its mass production.

Should You Buy An AK-47 Rifle?

Josh Wayner for TTAG

The lack of inexpensive, quality imports and good quality Western ammunition makes the AK-47 a less desirable gun for most consumers. The trope I often hear is that the AK is more reliable than the AR, but that is relative to the individual gun.

Sure, the AK is a generally more robust design, but it’s a machine that that is just as prone to malfunction as the next one. Today’s AR is not the same gun it was even ten years ago and that’s saying something. Gone are the days of the M16 and the old, crappy NATO ammo.

Another major issue with AK ownership is ammunition. A common statement I hear about 300 BLK as compared to 7.62x39mm, is that it’s too expensive and 7.62 is cheaper and more widely available in bulk. This is just plain wrong.

American-made 7.62x39mm is just as expensive as 300 BLK and harder to find. Most American 7.62x39mm is about $1.00 per round, the same, if not more than high-quality 300 BLK. Cheap, ComBloc crap isn’t available for the 300 BLK, which is apparently enough to keep it out of reach for some people despite the significant advantages it has over 7.62×39 for most gun owners.

Imported ammo is the sole reason to own an AK in 2019 America. The domestic AR is more practical, just as reliable (don’t give me that ‘bu…but mud…and…crawling…and…Soviet army’ nonsense…clean your gun and shoot good ammo), and just as cheap.

Hell, Brownell’s sells a 12,500 round drum of ammo for $3,100 after rebate. That’s $0.24/rd for 62gr M855, which is a great deal and way better than any steel-cased import ammo made today. If it weren’t for cheap imported steel-cased ammo, there would be no significant advantage to the AK today.

Look at what happened when Barry classified 5.45mm 7N6 as armor-piercing handgun ammo and banned it from import. I hardly know anyone with an AK-74 these days as a result.

The AK-47 today, what anti-gunners love to call the Kalashnikov assault rifle, is something of a holdover from better years. I think that the design is great and has many advantages, but it’s simply being out-manufactured by the AR, which is a far easier gun to build and maintain. In a modular age where rifle owners can easily switch calibers, barrel length, and just about everything on their gun, the AK is stuck within its limitations. I put a muzzle brake on my original gun and…that was it.

If it were me, I’d tell you not invest in an AK unless it’s in the custom-grade of rifles. You really have to spend some coin these days to get a quality rifle, and that’s just the way it is. When you get into the $1,200-2,000 range, a number of other options become available to you that are again objectively better than the AK-47, even ones made in the United States.

That said, if you really have your heart set on the old Soviet Union warhorse, go get one and make sure you stock up on cheap ammo while you still can.

comments

  1. avatar Ivan Smirnoffski says:

    Yes.

    1. avatar California Richard says:

      No

        1. avatar BLAMMO says:

          … on if you can afford one.

          (i.e., can you afford to miss?)

          Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

  2. avatar Josh says:

    Why is this article so long? Could have just been one word, “Yes.” End of article.

    1. avatar Steve says:

      Agreed – this was one of my few impulse buy rifles in college and probably the only one I’ve never wanted to screw with, and never regretted.

    2. avatar Tom T says:

      Exactly.
      “Yes. Next question.”

    3. avatar Anonymous says:

      I agree. Everyone should have one of each gun. What kind of question is this???

      1. avatar Anonymous says:

        It’s called “Diversity.” Libs approved.

  3. avatar MB says:

    You should have many tools in your toolbox, a gun is just a tool, one your life or freedom may depend. Metric or S.A.E., AR or AK, they both are useful. I prefer…. both. But for each person, there is no wrong answer. Don’t care about squabbling about which is better.

    1. avatar Gadsden says:

      You figure in this hypothetical future civil war, an AK will come in handy, and not for the reasons most will be thinking. What you do is, you fight with your AK, while wearing a burka or turbin, and the liberal soldiers will be unable to shoot back at you, do to an intersectionality based ROE.

  4. avatar Chadwick says:

    The imported ammo is a big question mark on the 7.62×39. A 5.56 ak is a nice way to have your cake and feed it too. I love 5.45×39 but the 7n6 import crap that bathhouse Barry put on us is making me think of converting at least 1 5.45 ak to 6.5 Grendel or 5.56. The fact is that AKs are very fun and can be great hunting or defensive weapons just like the modern AR. Just don’t expect sub 2moa AKs to be the norm like most decent ARs tend to be. With that said, I doubt most people can tell a 4moa gun from a 1moa gun. I don’t bench shoot much and I don’t think I’d be able to tell the difference without extensive is or bench shooting some paper. Hell, some days I drink too much coffee and turn a 1.5moa 308 into a bolt action AK if you catch my drift.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      I sure couldn’t tell without a scope. I can keep my .30-30 in a 6″ circle at 100 yards, but it’s probably capable of <2MOA.

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        What kind of .30-30?

        My 336W is probably an anomaly but it will consistantly cut a cigarette in half at 50 yards using the irons.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          strych, you obviously get out to the range more than I do. Anyway it’s a 336BL. I’ve got a Wild West trigger in it, which is better than stock, but probably doesn’t really help much for open sight accuracy. Still, I don’t consider being able to keep 20 rounds within a 3″ radius of point of aim as all that bad at 100 yards.

        2. avatar strych9 says:

          No, that’s quite good IMHO.

          .30-30 isn’t a cartridge that I am super knowledgable about so I can’t say much in terms of what to expect from what barrels with what bullets and ar what ranges.

          All I know for certain is that over the years I’ve made quite a bit of money on bets with that rifle and made a lot of old guys really angry when they had to open their wallets over a shot they said was either impossible or dumb luck.

        3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Lever guns aren’t known for sub-moa groups. But without a scope I’m sure my point of aim wanders more than the rifle’s grouping. And that’s from a bench. I don’t think I’d even try standing offhand at 100 yard for fear of the embarrassment of missing the target altogether. But that’s why I got the .30-30 – I hardly ever shot anything with open sights and wanted to hone that skill. Just need to get out to the range more.

    2. avatar LarryinTX says:

      I haven’t bought one yet, but my consideration is more like, if anyone ever invades the US, what kind of ammo will they leave me after I kill them? OTOH, they’ll likely leave me the gun to shoot it, as well.

      1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

        The invasion is already happening and the Demoncrats just want the doors left open for the invaders.

      2. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

        Do socialist that sell out their country to authoritarian governments prefer to be executed with communist 7.62×39 or do they realize the err of their ways and prefer American .45 ACP and NATO 5.56?

        Asking for a friend.

        1. avatar Derringer Dave says:

          It’s the Trump regime that’s selling out our country to an authoritarian hostile foreign nation, Russia.
          He’s been in the pocket of the Russians since his 1987 trip to Moscow, when KGB leader Vladimir Putin (who’d had his eye on Donald Trump since the early 1980s) first started grooming Donald as a Russian asset. Since then, he graduated from Russian money launderer, to Russian asset, to Russian agent, to Manchurian candidate, to Russia’s own man in the Oval Office.
          Do you remember what happened to Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after they sold U.S. secrets to Russia?
          The Trump Treason Family deserves the same fate.

          P.S.: Don’t reply with “But what about….?” because we loyal Americans are all sick and tired of what-aboutism from those defending Traitor Trump.

        2. avatar MB says:

          Smoking crack now? This is a non-political forum. Please get on next boat to somewhere else.

        3. avatar Robman says:

          Oh please…

          I’ll reply with anything I damn well please, ESPECIALLY to someone touting the nonsense you are, and then cloaking yourself as part of “we loyal Americans”.

          Obama was Putin’s bitch to the max. He was the one who, during the open mic moment in ’12, promised then Russian President Medvedev “more flexibility after the election”. We never found out what that was, thanks to our completely corrupt Obama butt-kissing media.

          But we do know Obama invited Russia into the Middle East over the Syrian chemical weapons incident in September of ’13 in what was the biggest concession to Russia by any American leader since WW2.

          Trump, on the other hand, has been tougher on Russia than any president since Reagan. In February of last year he presided over the slaughter of 200 Russian mercenaries in Syria by our forces. And it is Trump who has the balls to talk about withdrawing from the INF Treaty, finally, after Russia has been cheating for years.

          And it was Hillary – not Trump – who facilitated the sale of one fifth of our uranium reserves to Russia, and pocketed a healthy kickback from them for her “Clinton Foundation” in the bargain.

          I’ll “what about” you all day long…I’ve got that much in the way of actual facts, against your bullshit, you troll. You want to see a traitor? Look in the mirror, pal.

  5. avatar mountaineer says:

    Been on this site just a short while and it is apparent Josh has no CLUE!
    The 300 blk is way too expensive! And when you have a rifle with tight tolerances, combat conditions show a bunch of dead men/women with jammed and inoperable firearms! Apparently you have never been their Josh! In a perfect world your 300 is tops! I’ll take the AK or sks and my M14!!
    BTW: you can build an AR47…works like a charm with more punch!

    1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

      so sad that josh has never been their’s!!!!!!!

      1. avatar Rad Man says:

        Everybody’s an expert, even if their grammar isn’t.

    2. avatar James W Crawford says:

      Hecklar and Koch 93!!!!
      AK reliability, .308 ballistics, near bolt action accuracy.

      1. avatar BR says:

        And very heavy, and erratic ejection and recoil, and damaged brass, and no floating barrel so kiss bipods goodbye, and lengthy manual of operations, and difficulty/restriction of optics options.

    3. avatar Cornfused says:

      Also, he starts out comparing the AK to 300 BLK, then mentions a giant bucket of M855 5.56 ammo for sale real cheap.

    4. avatar JD says:

      Dude, it’s not 1967 anymore. The AR is more reliable than any of your guns you mentioned. I’d like to know how far you can lug that boat anchor m14/m1a around.

  6. avatar TruthTellers says:

    An AR in 7.62×39 is the best of both worlds. The only thing the x39 doesn’t have going for it is the tacticool subsonic ammo or 220 grain bullets. Palmetto State Armory makes an AR that uses AK mags and it works. Sure, it’s not a standard AR, but it does allow you to use AR triggers, pistol grips, buttstocks… the usual stuff you’ll want to mod to your liking.

    1. avatar Jack says:

      If those are the only benefits to 300blk you see, you aren’t looking hard enough.

  7. avatar Manse Jolly says:

    Or like I did and build your own 7.62×39 on a AR platform.

  8. avatar Enuf says:

    No, I should not buy an AK47.

    I’ve nothing against American companies making the gun in the USA provided the money all stays here at home. Go right ahead, take the enemy’s design, serves them right for losing.

    But if I wanted to shoot the 7.62×39 I can do that in an AR platform and gain all the advantages of precision manufacturing and a wealth of after market options.

    Besides, I’ve invested in enough ammo for my AR’s and other rifles, handguns and shotguns to last the rest of days. Adding a new cartridge now is not in the budget, doesn’t fit in the gun closet, my safes are full up, and I already run out of trunk space as it is when I load up the car to go shooting.

    What are you trying to do with this AK47 nonsense anyway? Overload the shocks on my car?

    1. avatar luigi says:

      Russia isn’t our enemy anymore

  9. avatar Wally1 says:

    Simple answer: Yes’ you should have a AK47 or variant. There are more and more restrictions coming from the anti rights crowd, so you should have one of these tucked away for the time when things fall apart or a crisis. Ammo is cheap and this is a nice addition to your firearm line up. AK’s are simple and they just work.

    1. avatar Southern Cross says:

      Certainly for the collection and to appreciate the history and legacy of the design.

      1. avatar Chadwick says:

        If nothing else they are nice for that. Some people drink history or eat it, but shooting some is nice too.

  10. avatar cgray says:

    Why would I? I already have two.

    1. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

      Boat accidents happen.

      Two is one and one is in the gun safe that fell overboard.

  11. avatar Roman of Texas says:

    Far be it from me to tell you which to get. I own quite a few, and the first rifle I grew up shooting was an Ak. I think my favorite is my Rtac from Atlantic Firearms pro series. It’s light, handles well. As for mods, aks have plenty. Not as much as Ars, but plenty. They make great truck guns, great fun guns, and my tantal (polish ak74) is a great throwaway gun. I’d highly recommend it to people. Probably over an AR if you’re only gonna have one and never use it. If you’re gonna use it, you prob already own an AR. (I don’t. Have an ACR, a FS2000, and X95- those are my 556s). To each there own.

  12. avatar Disgruntled Floridian says:

    Just get a WASR for $600-700. It works just fine and is reliable. Best option for your money that isn’t built off of a parts kit or an American grenade.

    1. avatar Joe in San Antonio says:

      I remember when WASR was under 250

      1. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        i remember when budwasr was under 2.50 and i had a six pack.

      2. avatar KalashnikovCat says:

        That was the WASR-10/63 most likely. They were Romanian AKs cut up and rebuilt on semi-auto only receivers by the Cugir arms factory in Romania. Those rifles had inconsistent qaility. The WASR-10s sold today are completely new production and have vastly improved qaulity control. $630 is the cheapest I’ve seen them for sale online this year and that gets you a rifle made in a military factory made to mostly orginal specs with a cold hammer forged and chrome lined barrel. Not a bad deal.

    2. avatar Mikial says:

      I’m really glad someone brought up the WASR, since I was going to but saw your comment first. My wife wanted an AK so I got her a nice WASR with nice furniture and a rail for about the same price you just mentioned. It shoots great and we have a lot of fun with it.

  13. avatar No one of consequence says:

    If you want one, yes.

    If you don’t want one, no.

    1. avatar Mikial says:

      Good answer.

      1. avatar California Richard says:

        Agreed. Best answer tonight.

  14. avatar former water walker says:

    Golly I’m only now getting and learning all I can about the AR. BUT to even suggest prices will stay low is insane. SEE:2013. And the ASSault weapons ban. I wish I could trust Donnie,Republitards and the court’s but I can’t…lock & load.

  15. avatar Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod says:

    vz 58? Definitely.

    AK? Whatever.

    1. avatar doesky2 says:

      Out of all the guns I have my VZ at $399 + 5 magazines was by far the best buy and the one that I wish I would have bought a dozen of.

      Beaver barf rules!

      1. avatar Swarf says:

        Why do you think the vz is better? That’s an honest question, I’m not familiar with them.

        1. avatar Hoyden says:

          https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vz._58

          What the Tartar/Mongol horde would have designed/built/exported if elegance of engineering had trumped stamped steel internationalist workers world domination.

          AK’s, built for 3rd worlders to slaughter 1st worlders
          AR’s, built for 1st worlders to slaughter 3rd worlders without reaching for the nukes
          Mosin’s, built for Finns to capture from Russkies and turn them back on their makers
          VZ’s, built by Aryans, forced to chamber by Slavs

        2. avatar doesky2 says:

          PROS:
          It’s lighter even thought it’s milled and more importantly it feels lighter.
          It feels small and compact in the hands.
          The front end seems lighter and thus faster.
          Lighter short piston then long action of AK.
          More ergo charging handle.
          Pullling back action reveals innards with a complelely open top versus little portal thru side on AK.
          Much more ergo safety.
          To many the beaver barf stock is love or hate….I’m firmly in love with the retro look and trim form.

          CONS:
          The need of side rail for optics (like all AK’s)
          If you had to use in full-auto in a war the handguards would probably get to hot.
          Trigger is not great and the AK has better upgrade options nowdays. Have no idea if the military trigger in full-auto was better though.

          When I introduce newbies to guns and I have them go thru a variety of my guns they universally choose the VZ from the 7.62 family. With that said however, the ultimate winner is usally a lightweight AR with good eye-level ergonomic optics especially if they have old eyes.

      2. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

        ahh, now i see. wood chip impregnated plastic=crafty bucky vomit.

  16. avatar Shwiggie says:

    Don’t need an AK. I have a vz58.

  17. avatar Tim U says:

    Got to be honest, my ARs have given me trouble in cold weather. Never had a problem with my AKs.

    As someone who’s in a state where it is cold a lot of the year, yes you should have an AK.

    1. avatar possum says:

      Why do you think that is? Perhaps it the oiil you use?

  18. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I probably should but I wont.

    Too many nice lever actions and pistol caliber carbines.

    1. avatar doesky2 says:

      You’ll be able to buy lever actions for a lot longer than you will an AK.
      My purchasing over the past 5 years has been biased to getting the ones that will be banned first.

      1. avatar Specialist38 says:

        I would be more likely to buy a mini 30. I prefer the stock and operating system.

        The minis have gone way up in the last 4 uears.

  19. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    Yes. And any other modern military grade rifle.

  20. avatar strych9 says:

    I didn’t realise how expensive 7.62×39 had gotten. Last I bought any for my AK and SKS it was dirt cheap and with free shipping.

    That was an order that made my UPS driver HATE me.

  21. avatar Dave says:

    “Sure, the AK is a generally more robust design, but it’s a machine that that is just as prone to malfunction as the next one. Today’s AR is not the same gun it was even ten years ago and that’s saying something. Gone are the days of the M16 and the old, crappy NATO ammo.”

    That statement is just patently false. There are some limited conditions that will cause an AK stoppage which an AR platform gun, in a good state of maintenance will survive without a malfunction, but, by and large the AK platform is more resistant to malfunctions, it is “conscript proof”, not just soldier proof and will go literally thousands of rounds further than an AR15 before needing any kind of attention. Not cheating by pouring oil on the bolt carrier of the AR every nnn rounds as some magazines have been known to do to produce the desired result of their “test”

    It’s true that today’s AR is not your father or grandfather’s M16, we have the advantage of adjustable gas blocks, product improved bolt and carrier designs, better, more widely available ammo and the amortization has brought the price of AR ownership more cost effective.

    I have been working with AK’s since the 1990’s, AR’s since about 2010. In recent years I’ve been shooting them suppressed; not exclusively, but the majority of the time. My observation is that the AK (assuming the barrel threads are concentric and will take a QD mount or otherwise a can mount) can shoot supersonic ammo … well, I’m up to about 2100 rounds with no lube, not cleaning, nothing. just pick it up, check it, shoot it. This includes steel case com block ammo, some American brass cased supersonic and subsonic hand loads. I’ve yet to see an AR platform gun get close to this without some kind of attention. They begin to malfunction about half the current AK round count. Suppressed fire is exceedingly dirty, and even with adjustable gas, the AR just gets dirtier quicker and starts suffering stoppages.

    Now, I will say that about the best I’ve seen from an AK is 1.75 MOA, whereas I’m able to easily get a 1MOA AR even with 55 FJM Hornady. I’ve had really good luck with the Faxon pencil profile barrels in .223. I’ve not put as much into finding a 300 barrel for precision, but the projectile selection with the 300 blackout is a significant advantage over the AK. My AK subsonic rounds get to about 35 yards before accuracy goes away. The 300 blackout subsonic produce far better groups beyond 40 yards.

    This may, or may not sway someone to buying / owning an AK, and that’s fine either way, but please don’t opine that the AR is anywhere near as robust as the AK, or is even remotely capable of a MRBF approaching an AK. The AK is nowhere near as prone to malfunction as the AR.

    AKOU got really good results from their 5,000 round test with PSA’s AK, and it’s only about 600. Not super cheap, but a great value.

  22. avatar StLPro2A says:

    To buy; or not to buy an AK? That is a dumb question!! I’ve never met a gun I should not buy….and I have no adult supervision in my life.

  23. avatar CalGunsMD says:

    Who in their right mind pays a dollar per round to feed a rifle whose Barrel harmonics resemble a fishing pole?
    I’m a hardcore Kalashnikov fanboy, but I don’t indulge this delusion that every rifle has to shoot under one MOA. Rack grade AR an M-16 shoot four Moa.
    These are combat rifles. They’re meant for combat effective hits. If you want to sit at a bench and put bullet after bullet through the same hole in a piece of paper, this is not a gun for you. And by the way, neither is a stoner pattern rifle for the most part and especially in the price range the author keeps referencing.

  24. avatar 22winmag says:

    I stopped reading at $1,000…

  25. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

    I bought the RAS 47 from century arms. Do your online homework about their trunnion wear and don’t buy a RAS47; forget the fact it’s all made in USA. I’ve only got a round count of 1410 through it, so it’s half used up already.

    Currently looking at AR47 carbines or pistols with braces to replace it. I feel the AR platform is “better” than AK for me due to actual reliability seems to be the same, lighter weight, availability and interchangeable parts.

  26. avatar Lowell says:

    If you can afford only one, as an American you need an AR15 of some kind simply for logistics reasons. AR15 spare parts, ammo, mags are things that you basically trip over these days, and will quite literally be doing so after any gun battle should things get bad enough.

    In America, an AK is something you screw with because you think that it’s cool, but your duty gun should be an AR.

  27. avatar Minu says:

    What was the point of this article? I hate to say this but nobody is going out and buying a AK-47 these days. There are a lot of good clones out there though in the $600 to $900 range. Cheap ammo is available.

  28. avatar jay says:

    Yes, you should buy one. Apparently I’m better connected than the author. Forget $1000 price tags. A good AK can be had for $500, and a great one can be had for under $700. Most buyers will be lucky to get the “$300 AR” for $350 after shipping, transfer, etc. $3000 dollar ARs do exist, so let’s compare apples to apples. I don’t know anyone who buys an AK to shoot US made ammo. Cheap Russian spam cans are 50% of the point. My AKs are the one style of gun I will shoot steel cased ammo in. My ARs will not digest it. 7.62×39 and .300 black out were not designed to compete with each other. They are different animals engineered decades apart. Arguing the price and availability are similiar is nonsense for large parts of the country. An Ak will digest far more dirt, and function with a wider range of ammo with less cleaning. There are pros to having an AR, but I don’t see too many youtube videos of one being shot after being packed full of twinkies.

    1. avatar Art out West says:

      Steel cased ammo works fine in SKS, Mosins, and Makarovs as well as AKs. Basically any Eastern Comblock firearm should do fine with steel (VZ, Tokarev, Nagant revolver, etc.).

  29. avatar tsbhoa.p.jr says:

    if only they were available in 6.5×39 krzeedmoorski.

  30. avatar James W Crawford says:

    Just FYI, according to FBI LEOKA, the AK that Clinton claimed was “the weapon of choice” for drug dealers, gang bangers and cop killers” had been used to kill atotal of 2 police officers prior to the Clinton gun ban. In contrast, the Ruger Mini-14 had been used to kill more police officers then all of the specifically banned rifles combined. While the Mini-14 was exempted from the ban, cop killers suddenly traded in their Mini-14s as well as M1 carbines for AK-47s. More cops were killed with 7.62×39 mm each year the ban was in place then all previous years combined! Once the Clinton gun ban was rescinded, cop killers traded in their AKs for ARs.

    BTW, the terminal performance of 7.62 x 39mm is spectacular, on chickens.

  31. avatar Dan B says:

    The AK parts kit market is exploding with more home shops set up then ever before. Prices are going up and Americans are buying every kit we can get our hands on. Perhaps that’s the solution to the man hours problem, distribute it over the thousands of assemblers! The AK will ALWAYS be Americans #2 favorite rifle! And if you don’t own one your missing out! Actually forgot that. The AK sucks and you should all just buy 300Blackout uppers and let me have all that dirty commie junk.

  32. avatar Ogre says:

    Developed a lot of respect for the AK/SKS in Vietnam, with little respect for the AR platform. The AK could be buried in a shit pile and it would work – the AR not so much, it being finicky and demanding scrupulous daily cleaning. Accuracy to 300 meters was about the same. So, when the time came, I bought an AK (about $600) in preference to an AR (which I will never own). Later, I purchased a Ruger Mini-30 in 7.62x39mm, since I was initially trained in the USMC on the M-14/Garand platform, and the Mini-30 is IMHO better built, better sights, &c. It’s more expensive, but not by much.That is my SHTF weapon now. It will require some pimping (stronger hammer spring for Ruski ammo, and maybe an attachment to allow loading the in-gun magazine from SKS clips). I may sell the AK. Just my opinion, but there you have it.

  33. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

    Back in the days of the rec.guns USEnet discussion group, there was an answer we more experienced shootists gave the newbies:

    “Buy them all.”

    It became the rec.guns unofficial motto. I think we should resurrect it here.

    As for which: I like the looks of the VZ-58 myself. I’m partial to the Czech workmanship, which is usually quite good on everything. I should take a vacation there someday….

    1. avatar Red in CO says:

      You really should. If I ever vacationed to any European country it would be the Czech Republic. Not only have they actually loosened gun restrictions in the last 5 years (while just about every EU nation has done the opposite) but Czech women are some of the most beautiful on the planet

      1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

        And they have good beer, I’m told.

  34. avatar Dave Lewis says:

    Back in my “Red Dawn” days I was a big believer in owning something that the other side shot so that I could tap into “their” ammunition supply. Money was tight back then and AKs were a bit beyond my budget so I picked up a nice SKS, a spam can of Chinese steel case ball and a ziplock bag of stripper clips. The SKS and ammo are gone and I found the stripper clips in a cabinet a couple of months back.

    I’ve looked at AKs but I just can’t convince myself that a piece of stamped sheet metal is worth $600. Not when I can buy or build a good enough AR for about 2/3 that price. These days if I want something that the other side might shoot, I’m afraid that its going to be in 5.56, .308 or 9mm.

  35. avatar doesky2 says:

    The glaring downsde of AK’s is the fact that if you want to add an optic it will cost your at least $150 and 8 ounces of metal hanging on one side of your gun just to get a MOSTLY reliable picitinny rail. That blows.

    1. avatar Swarf says:

      This is an excellent point.

  36. avatar possum says:

    I am an AK fanboy, their $300 guns at the most. The AK was designed to do one thing, it’s not a target rifle, it’s NOT a hunting rifle, if a person is looking for a multi purpose rifle the AK is not it.

    1. avatar When you absolutely positively got to kill every mothe.... says:

      https://en.m.wikiquote.org/wiki/AK-47

      Includes Samuel L. Jackson’s quote,

      Trigger warning. NSFW

    2. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      The AK met its design criteria quite well, and exceeded it.

      The USSR was looking for an answer to the idea of the German assault rifle they encountered in WWII. They could tell that it was going to be the future of infantry rifles, along with the idea of highly trained shock troops instead of huge human waves of illiterate conscripts. But they still needed a weapon for the illiterate soldier, because, after all, who else buys into communism other than the western intellectual fraud (aka Harvard and Yale graduates) and the third world illiterate?

      The USSR found out that because the AK was so easy to produce, and the equipment to make the AK so easily exported and set up in client countries, it became an instrument of foreign policy for the communists. Exporting cheap AK’s and ammo to feed them became a way to destabilize governments all over the globe, from southeast Asia to Africa to South America.

      While we Americans might sniff and sneer at the AK’s lack of precision, the poor (non-existent) workmanship, etc – it served its purpose and it succeeded amazingly well. It is the first rifle to exceed the Mauser 98 pattern rifle in production numbers worldwide, and the only rifle design with a greater influence on military and political history than the Mauser 98.

  37. avatar Richard Hertz says:

    Hell yes buy an AK! Buy an AR! Buy both! Just don’t buy a cheap AK. I highly recommend the Arsenal SAM7. Mine has proven to be very accurate and reliable.

  38. avatar B.D. says:

    If you don’t have an AK, yes.

  39. avatar James A. "Jim" Farmer says:

    Should you buy and AK-47 rifle? Actually lets rephrase the question for me personally: “would I buy an AK-47 rifle?” Answer: Probably not. Reason: my late dad’s 1950 .300 Savage Model 99 lever action rifle, though
    limited to five rounds inside the brass rotary spool magazine, and one round in the chamber, allows me six
    shots. Too bear in mind the .300 Savage caliber itself is far superior to the 7.62mmx39 round in the AK-47 and SKS in regards to ballistics: killing power, and shock! In fact, most states limit semi-automatic rifles
    for big game hunting to five rounds anyway. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t oppose others who choose to own
    an AK type rifle from doing so. I feel that is their business. But for myself though, a six shot .38 caliber revolver: .38 Special or .357 Magnum revolver, is basically all I require, want, or need for the triple duty of
    “self defense/house protection/concealed carry.” With a six shot revolver it’s still “six shots for sure!”

    Now I realize the Second Amendment isn’t about hunting. I already know that. Nor do I need an arsenal
    to protect myself, provide homeland security, and remain safe. Remember no substitute exists for accuracy, shot placement, and knowing where to place the shot. In addition to the .300 Savage were I
    to choose a dual purpose “deer/elk” hunting rifle, the venerable 1892 vintage 7mm Mauser (7×57) chambered in a domestic or foreign bolt action sporting rifle, topped with a quality 4x scope, and carry
    sling would be hard to beat. Too bad Ruger’s current bolt action sporting rifle isn’t chambered in 7mm
    Mauser (7×57). The Spanish Hornet (7mm Mauser), like the .300 Savage, easily exceeds the 7.62mmx39
    round common in AK’s and SKS’s in actual killing power, shock, and lethality!

    But again each person must choose for him/herself what is best for them. Call me old fashioned, a traditionalist, or whatever. I really doesn’t matter.

    James A. “Jim” Farmer
    Merrill, Oregon (Klamath County)

    1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

      I think the Savage 99 is one of the most overlooked rifles in US arms history. It is slick, fast, accurate (especially when compared to Browning lever-action designs) and quick-pointing.

      In all the lever-action rifles I’ve worked on, I’d have to say that the 99’s are my favorites. Don’t get me wrong – JMB’s designs are interesting and neat, but the Savage 99 gets so much more done with fewer parts and an easier design to maintain. It take take Spitzer bullets in the ammo.

      I think if we could get a Savage 99 (or clone) made to chamber .223 ammo, we’d have one of the most perfect truck/saddle guns ever made. The only reason I say that is that .223 ammo would allow us to have probably eight to nine rounds in the rotary magazine.

      1. avatar GS650G says:

        It’s a shame the model 99 was discontinued 20 years ago it looks like a fine rifle in a world of calibers. I hate looking for used guns that are either overpriced or worn out and sometimes both.

        1. avatar Dyspeptic Gunsmith says:

          If you (or anyone else) wants a 99, then you should probably keep your eyes peeled for one in the next couple of years. I’m noticing that collectors are starting to take 99’s out of circulation, because after the Winchesters, Colts and early Brownings have been bid up beyond the price level where most people can play, the early 99’s seem to be next on the list.

          If it seems I’m lavish in my praise of the 99, I am. But remember, unlike lots of gun owners, I look at guns from the standpoint of “how much goes wrong?” and “how well made are they, really, on the inside?

          The early Winchester level-guns have very good workmanship and fine finishing. The Browning BLR’s are nice, quick handling lever guns. The early Marlins are OK (the latest ones are rough). But the 99’s – well, they’re in a market niche of their own. They’re really much, much simpler than most of JMB’s lever designs to detail strip, they’re capable of taking spitzer bullets without the downside of a detachable magazine you can lose (and without the extra “hump” in the action right where you want to carry the rifle, ala the Winchester Model 1895), and they were pretty accurate. Oh, and you can mount a scope on a 99 very easily.

          If you pick a 99 up, you could have it re-barreled/re-chambered in modern cartridges. A .300 Savage is nearly equivalent to the .308 Winchester, so you could have a ‘smith modify a 99 to take a .308, .243 7mm08 (which would be my preference). I’m looking around for a 99 in nice shape in .300 Savage to convert to 7mm08. I think that would be a dandy pack/saddle/truck gun.

          Anyway, enough bragging on the 99. Summary: They’re a gun that deserved more market attention than they got, and I wish Savage would bring them back in a quality execution. No corner-cutting, just bring it back in modern cartridges. Keep the brass magazine counter, too.

    2. avatar possum says:

      a person doesn’t hear much about the 7×57 anymore, in the U.S. anyway. In my opinion it’s one of those magic cartridges, However, if ever, the jets are screaming, and the smoke is rolling, and I hear the horses thunder down in the valley below, I would prefer an AK

  40. avatar Andrew Lias says:

    Forget buying an AK; should build this out to the hilt instead.

  41. avatar robert says:

    As an RSO at a (very) large range near home, I have one major complaint about many AK’s. MOST of them do not have a mechanism which will lock the action open after the last shot. (There are some that do.) On a purely Range Safety issue, it is a problem. We literally have to Rube Goldberg around that problem.

    1. avatar possum says:

      Yes that would be the shts. I’ve often wondered why Mickail didn’t add a bolt hold open?

    2. avatar Timothy says:

      This may be too late for you to see the reply. But would closing the action with a spent case acting like a stove pipe not be sufficient? that’s what I do with my AK.

    3. avatar Robman says:

      My CAI C39v2 was one of the first AK clones to offer a bolt hold open cut-out on the selector switch as a standard feature. This is becoming more common now, and any that don’t have this can be easily modified with after-market parts.

      Basically, after the last shot you simply pull back the bolt while simultaneously raising the selector switch to the safe position, lining up the charging handle with the cutout. It takes getting used to but with a little practice it becomes second nature. Combine this with a last shot bolt hold open follower on the magazine – I have Zastava mags with this feature – and you are good to go. Only trouble with the bolt hold open magazine followers is that eventually, the bolt slamming into them wears them out, and you have to get another (this has already happened to me once).

  42. avatar Jackalope says:

    PTR32? Runs AK mags, more accurate out of the box than any AK. Digests steel case like it was designed for it. It is heavy sinve it uses the same receiver as the PTR91. But, the weight makes it the softest shooting .30 cal you’ll ever lay a hand on.
    And in the Unicorn category: Knight’s SR-47.

  43. avatar Elaine D. says:

    And here I was thinking it was all gonna come together and there would be an article about chicken hunting with an AK-47…

  44. avatar Nathan says:

    I went the California-safe route years ago and got an SKS – way better than an AK-anything7

    Buying an AK would have made sense when a DUBYAH was president.

  45. avatar Bearacuda says:

    An AK chambered in 5.56×45 with an AR mag compatible magwell would be an amazing “keep for emergencies” rifle. I love my ARs and would reach for them in 90% of the scenarios relevant to me but the AK’s ability to run well without a lot of babying for long periods of time makes its limitations worth it for me.

    That said, anyone who thinks the AK is malfunction proof has never seen InRange’s mud tests nor had to take off the top cover to remove a spent case that somehow ended up behind the trigger at an indoor range. :/

  46. avatar Red in CO says:

    At this point, I view AKs as being in the same vein as, say, an Enfield. A badass weapon to own and damn cool from a historical standpoint (especially because the capitalism vs communism conflict defined a lot of the 2nd half of the 20th century, and the AR and AK represented very different design philosophies indicative of the larger idealogical conflict), but of limited practical value here in the modern world.

    Even the much vaunted reliability is less of an issue than people make it out to be; I’ve been running an informal experiment with my own AR (a basic Rock River model, purchased used and pre-betrayal) and I’m over at 1300 rounds, of all kinds, with zero cleaning and zero lube. No failures thus far, and that involves rapid fire and combat marksmanship training in every condition (rain, snow, extreme cold, etc).

    AKs are cool as hell, but here in 2019 there’s little to recommend over a similarly priced AR

  47. avatar GS650G says:

    Look how easy the AK and it’s variants were adversely impacted by ammo or the lack of quality thereof. Stick with guns that not only have affordable supply by a variety of options.
    The .308 AR hits harder anyway.

  48. avatar Widdler says:

    Short answer “NO!” Buy an AR. Leaves more ammo for me!

  49. avatar Truckman says:

    I don’t know but I like the maadi thumbhole stock with longer barrel have had it for many years of course I got my ak and sks,s way back in the mid 90s I don,t have as much in my AK and norinco sks and russian hardwood stock sks as just one of eater would cost today but all my guns are old guns r

  50. avatar Robman says:

    Two and a half years ago I got my only military-style semiautomatic rifle, after some months of debating with myself if it should be a 5.56 NATO AR-15 platform or a 7.62x39mm AKM or AK-47. I went with the AK and I am very happy with my choice, but it did cost some $$$ to get it where I wanted it.

    I started out with a Century C39v2 “Zhukov”. Got it on the recommendation of a coworker and a couple glowing reviews I saw online. I would point out here that I have a lot of coworkers who are veterans of our recent wars in SW Asia, and most of them advised me that if I was only going to have ONE such rifle, between the AK and the AR, it should be the AK; this included a former USMC Force Recon vet.

    After I got my C39v2 – which was relatively early production (April ‘15), I started seeing the bad stuff about it online (soft metal issues, etc.). Mine shot great, and it didn’t have any quality issues I could see except for some wear on the tail end of the bolt carrier and a loose front sight post; the latter was promptly replaced by Century’s CS Department.

    Didn’t come with a sling, or even a front sling swivel, so that was the first mod. Wanted some low light capability so I replaced the original irons with a set of tritium irons (though the fat front post makes this a 100 yard shooter in practical terms).

    As a pre-emptive measure, replaced the OEM recoil spring assembly, bolt, and bolt carrier with East German stuff (things of beauty). Finally, had a gunsmith break the edge of the right receiver lug so it wouldn’t behave like a chisel. Yes, I got some Clymer headspace gauges and the bolt passed muster (won the AK lottery).

    In its final form I would stack mine against any new-build civilian market AKM/AK-47 pattern rifle currently available in the US. But it was a long and kinda expensive road to get there. I really prefer the 7.62x39mm round over 5.56 NATO (I served in the US Army in the 80s, by the way, infantry, and considered the latter underpowered), and the rugged simplicity and ease of maintenance of the AK trumps the slick ergonomics of the AR in my book.

    My advice to noobs trying to make this decision: First, see if you can try before you buy. Whatever you like shooting, go with that. To me, the AK is a blast to shoot, but some of you might like the AR better. If you prefer the AR, remember you are going to have to pay a lot more attention to maintenance if you want to be able to count on it.

    In general, if you are looking for a defensive rifle that you can compete in matches with, get a nice AR. If you want a rugged, powerful, and practical weapon as such, go for the AK. As for which one, I wouldn’t dismiss Century out of hand as others do here. The RAS47 (stamped receiver AKM clone) might be a little iffy but current production (Feb ‘18 or later) C39v2s are solid rifles (see Small Arms Defense Review Jan ‘18 test on both; quite extensive and interesting results). A friend of a friend just got one and it is terrific; the new ones shouldn’t need the internal mods I went through with mine.

    Current production WASR 10/63s are decent and not terribly expensive, and Arsenal is great if you have the dough.

    So, yes, depending on your tastes. But probably yes for most shooters.

    1. avatar doesky2 says:

      ” If you want a rugged, powerful, and practical weapon as such, go for the AK. As for which one, I wouldn’t dismiss Century out of hand as others do here. ”

      Well chalk up your experience to newbie ignorance and don’t feel bad because everybody has their horror stories. But don’t continue to the pain for other newbies. Century C39 and RAS’s are at the bottom of the list and the only reason they weren’t the VERY bottom is that IO Inc was making worse sheet. However since IO Inc recently threw in the towel I guess in fact Century has the claim for being the bottom rung.

      If you can only afford a C39/RAS Ak47 then buy a PSA AR instead.

      1. avatar Bearacuda says:

        Wait, did IO go bankrupt or something?

      2. avatar Robman says:

        Have you personally seen or fired any C39v2s, or are you just jumping on the Internet “trash Century” bandwagon?

        I have friends with WASRs and Saigas, and on the range they have been very impressed with my C39v2. One friend with a WASR ordered a C39v2 for a friend of his and liked it quite a lot; they have both had a lot of range time with that lately.

        You have an opinion based on what? A YouTube video? Some comments on an online forum? I have an actual rifle, and it is damn nice. I have been shooting for 50 years; I hardly claim to know everything about firearms but I know a good rifle when I see one, and especially when I fire one. And my C39v2 is one.

        The ones they are making today – and I’m talking about the C39v2, not the RAS47 – are very good. They have addressed their earlier issues, and you might have a look at one before you turn your nose up at them. You might be surprised.

  51. avatar M1Lou says:

    Or you can be like Mr and build an AK-74 in 300blk. I reload and it’s not that hard in the brass. I thought it was going to trash and dent it, but luckily it’s still good. Why did I do this? Well I own two ARs in the caliber and reload for it. It’s actually an easy round to load for. Also if the imports are ever shut off, I can still feed my 30 cal rifle with US ammo. Lastly, I plan to put a can on it. It will take some work, but it should be fun with a can and subs.

    It was also mentioned by others in this thread that you can snag a VZ58. I have two. One a modifed version with FAB defense parts, and a second regular beaver barf rifle. I bought one for $399+ 5 mags , bayonet, and cleaning kit. You won’t find a deal like that these days. I built the second one with a kit and AWO receiver. That was closer to $550. Receiver options are more limited now as I think CNC Warrive is the only company that makes refeivers. You can also buy a complete rifle from CSA. Most options are going to cost you close to $1000 for a VZ. The big negative for the VZ is the scope. You need a compact scope or make a shell deflector so cases don’t smack your tube and ding the tune or fall back into the action.

    Of course I lost all of these guns in a terrible boating accident.

    1. avatar M1Lou says:

      Wish I had an edit button to fix my phones auto “corrects”.

  52. avatar David says:

    Why on earth would anyone feed their Ak expensive American brass ammo? It was literally designed to run the cheapest steel garbage the Soviets could slap together. That’s all mine will ever eat and even now comm bloc 7.62×39 can be easily obtained for around 20-22 cents a round. Well below the average for 5.56 and a heck of a lot cheaper than any 300 black out.

  53. avatar Mark W DiSilvestro says:

    Wasrs are solid, reliable and not as pretty as the ‘$1000 AKs’ but they work. AKs were designed for steel ammo. With a bit of patience, you can still find one at or under $600.
    The ability to fit or find one with folding stock is a nice feature typically not shared with the AR.

    ARs are lighter rifles, using lighter ammo, having lighter recoil, with an extremely versatile rail system. The AR ‘take-down’ feature also is an advantage over fixed-stock AKs.

    One should have options. Get one of each!

  54. avatar Sora says:

    Why buy AK when PSA makes KS-47, AR hybrid that is even more reliable while taking all the AR goodies?
    https://palmettostatearmory.com/psa-gen2-ks47-16-carbine-length-7-62×39-nitride-13-5-lightweight-m-lok-moe-ept-rifle-5165450163.html

    And if you’re going to pay some money, don’t by the pressed steel crap. Buy the machined stock AK.

    PSA sells good AK for $559. Anything over and you’re paying too much.
    https://palmettostatearmory.com/psak-47-gf3-forged-classic-polymer-rifle-odg-no-cleaning-rod-5165450361.html

  55. avatar Eugene Stone says:

    No. I’m already to invested in the magazines, ammo, and accessories of other platforms.

  56. avatar john says:

    Everything in this article is an opinion, which is fine, everyone is permitted to have their own opinion.

    “Another major issue with AK ownership is ammunition. A common statement I hear about 300 BLK as compared to 7.62x39mm, is that it’s too expensive and 7.62 is cheaper and more widely available in bulk. This is just plain wrong.”

    This statement however is just plain wrong and the typical garbage I usually see about russian ammo. Do they have the best terminal ballistics? No, but neither do the american brass cased ammunition you are comparing them too. If you need that get some hornady 123gr sst black. As far as practice ammunition goes your statement couldn’t be further from the truth. I shoot thousands of rounds of steel cased ammunition every year and I have zero issue with accuracy.

    With a dot type optic, offhand, 12×24 silhouette….50yds stack one on top of the other…..150yds easy peasy….300yards take my time and hit 3/4 of shots.

    If you want to piss your $$ away on brass cased ammo that’s your prerogative. However, there is absolutely no reason for this based on ammunition performance. I am sure you can find multiple ammunition reviews that in fact show equal to worse accuracy results for brass cased 7.62×39. Just because it costs more doesn’t mean its better. Brass cased ammunition also does not make up for a crappy rifle or lack of ability to use said crap rifle.

    1. avatar Robman says:

      How many of these have you personally seen or fired? Or are you just another guy jumping on the internet “trash Century” bandwagon?

      I’ve been shooting for fifty years, have been around firearms all my life. Hardly know everything there is to know about guns but I know quality when I see it and especially when I shoot it.

      You just have an opinion but I have an excellent rifle. I’ve seen WASRs and Saigas, but as much as they are touted, I wasn’t overly impressed. I know one fellow with a WASR and a resent production C39v2 and he loves the latter.

    2. avatar Robman says:

      I was replying to “doesky2”.

  57. avatar hahahahahaha says:

    Do MOORE with 6.5……

  58. avatar JD says:

    AK is communist shit. Mounting optics sucks, accuracy sucks, ergonomics suck, no last round bolt hold open, sights suck, trigger slap, rocking in of mags suck, charging handle on wrong side of weapon, safety sucks, yawn. The AK does nothing for me.

  59. avatar raptor jesus says:

    I love my AK. Metal and wood. Yes, I paid a boatload for it because I’m a gun hipster, but, you know, it’s my money. I compare it to something like a good old fashioned Colt 1911. It’s a classic, even if it’s outclassed by modern offerings.

    If ARs are truly $300 these days now I think I need to get one.

  60. avatar MeRp says:

    Hmmm… I’m still a bit skeptical, even though I once owned a 300BLK AR (and have since switched to a 308 AR-10). If I don’t run a silencer, what does 300BLK offer that a 308 AR-10 doesn’t? The ammo is the same, or cheaper, for the 308. The projectile selection is the same. The range and ballistics are just simply better. Is it just ammo capacity? None of it seems to be worth the hassle, that I’ve seen.

  61. avatar neiowa says:

    NO you couldn’t give me one of the commie POS.

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