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“This is the AK-47 assault rifle, the preferred weapon of your enemy.
It makes a very distinctive sound when fired at you, so remember it.”
-Gunnery Sgt. Tom Highway — From the motion picture Heartbreak Ridge-
- Introduction To The AK-47 / AK-74
- Kalashnikov Accuracy
- How The Kalashnikov Rifle Functions
- AK-47 Parts Diagrams
- AK-47 / AK-74 Identification
- Milled vs. Stamped Receiver Identification
- Receiver Markings Identification
- Levels of Quality and How To Shop For An AK-47
- Ammunition and Caliber Choices
- Factors To Consider When Choosing Kalashnikov Magazines
- Loading Magazines With Stripper Clips
- Chinese Drum Magazines
Kalashnikov Cleaning, Maintenance, Repairs, & Upgrades:
- How To Fieldstrip The AK Rifle
- How To Clean The AK Rifle
- How To Clean The AK Rifle After Shooting Corrosive Ammunition
- How To Lubricate The AK Rifle
- How To Remove Wood Handgrip From The AK Gas Tube
- Accessories, Modification, & Improvements
- Slide-Fire Bumpfiring Device
- How To Install A New Trigger
- AK Parts and Accessories
Introduction To The AK-47 / AK-74:
AK-47 & AKM:
Magazine fed, semi automatic, gas-operated 7.62×39mm assault rifle, first developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov (pictured right). It is officially known as Avtomat Kalashnikova. It is also known as a Kalashnikov, an “AK”, or, in Russian slang, Kalash. Military versions feature select fire operation.
In the mid 1950s developement was underway to solve the warping problem encountered with the initial stamped receiver of the T1 version of the AK-47. In 1959 the problem was solved when a stamped receiver AK47 was adopted by the Soviet military as the AKM (the Modernizirovanniy Avtomat Kalashnikova) which was a lighter weapon and easier to produce.
The AK74 was introduced in 1974 in response to the United States having adopted the M193 NATO 5.56mm ball cartridge a decade earlier. The AK74 fired the lighter 5.54x39mm cartridge, about half the weight of the AK47’s 7.62x39mm round. It was not until the Soviet-Afganistan War (1978-1988) that the West first got a look at the AK74. The weapon has now been adopted by over two dozen countries.
“AK-47, the very best there is. When you absolutely, positively, got to kill every motherfucker in the room; accept no substitutes.”
-Ordell Robbie — From the motion picture Jackie Brown-
How the Kalashnikov Rifle Functions:
AK-47 Parts Diagrams:
AK-47 / AK-74 Identification:
You only have to know three basic parts to differentiate Kalashnikov rifles:
- Magazines: AK style rifles comes in three basic calibers. 7.62x39mm Soviet, 5.45x39mm Soviet, and a few have even been manufactured in 5.56×45 NATO. You can tell the caliber by the shape of the magazine.
- Stocks: You can recognize the AK-47 vs. the AKM vs. the AK-74 by the shape of the stock.
- Barrel / Gas Tube Assembly:
Milled vs. Stamped Receiver Identification:
If you decide to replace the stock on your AK, it is very important to be able to recognize the type of receiver on your rifle so that you can order the right part.
Receiver Markings Identification:
“Today I didn’t even have to use my A.K.
I got to say it was a good day.”
Levels of Quality and How To Shop For An AK-47:
Ammunition and Caliber Choices:
Pictured far left in the photo on the right, it was initially designed during World War II for use in the SKS Carbine. Today, 7.62×39 rounds are most commonly fired by AK-47 shooters at the range, used by some North American hunters in the field, and still relied upon for military use in China, North Korea, Venzuela, and Finland.
Pictured in the middle of the photo on the right is a bottlenecked cartridge without a rim that was developed in the mid-1970’s by the Soviet Union. Looking for a light-weight, fast projectile, 5.45x39mm became a favorite among militaries in the former Eastern Bloc. Today’s shooters will find most 5.45×39 is produced in the former Soviet Union, Bulgaria, Poland, and other former communist nations.
Popular Imported 7.62x39mm Ammunition Recognition:
“He’s got an AK-47 for his best friend. Business the American way.”
-Queensryche — From the album Empire-
Factors To Consider When Choosing Kalashnikov Magazines:
Reliability: There isn’t much to say on the subject of reliability except that if the equipment isn’t reliable then it has no place in your prepper inventory.
Capacity: Depending on country of origin or manufacturer, double stack AK magazines are made in several different capacities including 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 45 rounds. The 5 and 10-round magazines are intended for shooting from a bench rest on the range, hunting, or for use in liberal controlled states that don’t allow standard capacity magazines. The 20-round magazines were originally intended for use in tight confines of an armored vehicle while shooting from a port. 30-round magazines are the most popular with 7.62x39mm rifles, while there are 40-round magazines that were intended to be used by RPK machine guns. Most AK-74 magazines have a 30 or 45-round capacity.
Metal vs. Polymer/Plastic: This is going to be a personal preference after weighing the pros and cons of each. Metal magazines are very durable, and depending on the country of origin and the manufacturer, they are extremely reliable. They can take abuse that will destroy most polymer magazines. The downside is that they are much heavier than polymer magazines. Remember: Ounces = pounds, and pounds = pain. Polymer magazines are going to be much lighter. There are polymer magazines that have metal reinforcements built in to strengthen parts that would normally be easy to break or deform, such as feed lips and locking lugs.
Loading Magazines with Stripper Clips:
Chinese Drum Magazines:
How To Load The Drum Magazine:
- Unlatch and open the rear cover. Depress the spring-loaded button in the center of the drum and turn the spindle clockwise until the magazine follower is returned to the beginning of the spiral track.
- Insert five (5) rounds into the slots located nearest the top (column) section of the magazine.
- With five rounds loaded, hold the spindle firmly in place with one hand. With the other hand, wind the spring tensioning key (located under the spring-loaded button) CLOCKWISE three (3) clicks. CAUTION: Hold the spindle securely while applying tension in order to prevent it from slipping and catching your fingers.
- With the spring tensioned, quickly release the spindle. The five rounds loaded previously will be pushed to the top of the magazine, and the last round will hold the spindle in place.
- At this point you have the option as to how to load the magazine. If cartridges are dropped in the remaining slots, the total magazine capacity will be seventy-three (73) rounds. Alternately, if the procedure described as follows is used, the total capacity will be seventy-five (75) rounds.
- Tilt the column portion of the drum at a slight downward angle and turn the spindle clockwise just slightly. Remove the last two rounds.
- Keep the drum tilted downwards, and rotate the spindle so that the follower is returned to the beginning of the spiral track (as in step 1).
- Insert two rounds in the top section and release the spindle. Complete loading the magazine by dropping cartridges into the remaining slots.
- With the drum fully loaded, close the rear cover and secure with both latches. Wind the mainspring with the key located on the rear cover. Wind the key seven (7) revolutions (360 degrees). If the magazine is loaded to only thirty (30) rounds, then the tension should be reduced to five (5) revolutions.
- With step six completed, the magazine is ready to use.
Warning: The above procedures should only be used when loading the magazine to it full capacity of 73 or 75 rounds. If the user intends to load only a partial magazine, then the magazine follower must be directly behind the last cartridge. If there is a gap between the last cartridge and the magazine follower, the drum may be damaged during firing.
Do not exceed the recommended number of revolutions, as this will cause undue wear or breakage to the mainspring.
Prolonged Storage of the Drum Magazine:
Open the rear cover and depress the spring-loaded button at the center of the drum. Do not tilt the drum, as the cartridges might fall out. Close and latch the back cover and re-tension the spring three (3) clicks. The drum magazine can be stored in this manner indefinitely.
To Unload The Drum Magazine:
Open the rear cover and depress the spring loaded button at the center of the drum. Dump the cartridges out. The rounds in the column will need to be removed individually.
Maintenance of the Drum Magazine:
Periodically, the magazine should be cleaned with solvent to prevent the build-up of unburned powder and grit in the spiral track. A significant amount of residue in the track may hinder the functioning of the drum.
To disassemble the drum magazine, open the real cover and depress the spring loaded button. Turn the spring tensioning key COUNTER-CLOCKWISE and remove it. Next, lift the spindle out of the magazine. DO NOT DISASSEMBLE THE MAGAZINE ANY FURTHER.
“AK-47 is the tool. Don’t make me act the motherfucking fool.”
-Ice Cube, Straight Outta Compton-
AK Sights, How To Zero The AK, & AK Ballistic Trajectories:
- Savannah Arsenal’s How To Zero The Kalashnikov AK-47 — 7.62x39mm
- Savannah Arsenal’s AK-74 Trajectories — 5.45x39mm Soviet
Cleaning, Maintenance, and Repairs:
How To Fieldstrip The AK Rifle:
How To Clean The AK Rifle:
How To Clean The AK Rifle After Shooting Corrosive Ammunition:
How To Lubricate The AK Rifle
How To Remove Wood Handgrip From The AK Gas Tube:
Modifications & Improvements:
How To Install A New Trigger:
Slide-Fire Bumpfiring Device:
AK Parts and Accessories:
Kalashnikov Parts Websites:
- AA-OK.com’s AK-47 Parts
- Ace Ltd.
- Aim Surplus
- Apex Gun Parts
- Arms Of America
- Buy Milsurp
- Carolina Shooters Supply
- Cheaper Than Dirt
- Copes Distributing
- DPH Arms
- Gun Accessories
- Ironwood Designs: USA Made Stocks
- Israeli-Weapons Ltd.
- J&G Sales
- Kalinka Optics
- K-Var Corp: AK Parts & Accessories
- Midwest Industries
- Military Gun Supply
- Mississippi Auto Arms
- One Source Tactical
- Red Star Arms
- Robert RTG
- Rus Military
- Soviet Propaganda
- Texas Weapon System
- Tick Bite Supply
- US Palm
Kalashniov Related Websites, Blogs, and Articles:
- AR15.com’s AK-47 Forum
- AK47.net Forum
- AR15.com’s AK Picture Thread
- AR15.com’s Saiga Picture Thread
- AR15.com’s History of the AK47/74
Savannah Arsenal Related Pages:
- Savannah Arsenal’s Kalashnikov AK-47 / AK-74 Buyer’s Guide
- Savannah Arsenal’s How To Zero The AK-47
- Fordy Smith’s AK Operators Union / Center-T Class
- Fordy Smith’s AK Operator’s Union: Class Gear & Kit Review
- Fordy Smith’s AK Philosophy / Takeaways / Personal Opinions
- Savannah Arsenal’s Firearms Essentials Page
- Savannah Arsenal’s Ammunition Essentials Page
- Savannah Arsenal’s Marksmanship Page
- Savannah Arsenal’s Gun Cleaning & Maintenance Page
- Savannah Arsenal’s Tactical Rifle Essentials Page
- Savannah Arsenal’s Tactical Rifle Accessories Page
- Savannah Arsenal’s Tactical Rifle Ammunition Page
- Savannah Arsenal’s Tactical Rifle Optics Page
Purchase a quality rifle.
Purchase a quality carrying case.
Equip the rifle with a quality sling, weapon’s light, and red-dot optic (in that order of importance). See Savannah Arsenal’s Tactical Rifle Accessories page.
Purchase 8-10 quality 30-round magazines and some type of load bearing gear to carry at least 4 of those magazines. See Savannah Arsenal’s Defensive Loadout (2nd Gear) page.
Purchase at least one short, 5 or 10 round magazine for shooting from a rested position, such as when zeroing the rifle.
Purchase an AK sight adjustment tool. It is almost impossible to adjust the front sight without it.
Zero the rifle as discussed above. Afterwards, use the settings suggested above for shooting at known distances, and use the “battle setting” for “combat” shooting out to 250-275 meters.
Seek out proper training.
Practice, practice, practice.