Help! Brother wants an AK-47!


November 28, 2004, 11:03 PM
My brother doesn't own any guns...yet. He's shot my guns some and enjoyed the experience. After looking around, he's decided he wants an AK-47 pattern rifle. Here's the problem: He has limited use of his right hand and arm (stroke induced paralysis). He shoots left handed and cannot hold the forearm with his right hand. When he shoots rifles, he rests the forearm of the rifle on his right forearm (imagine a butler holding a towel over his arm). He's not a bad shot this way. He can hit large soupcan sized targets with my scoped Winchester at 100yds offhand.

Back to him and the AK...

After handling a variety of guns, he's decided that he's most comfortable with the ergonomics of the AK (he's a big boy, but it fits him well) and his ability to handle it safely during loading, unloading, firing, etc. He can't operate bolt rifles because he can't hold the gun safely while manipulating the bolt. Most guns are too long or too heavy as well. The AK is short, light, and he can safely manipulate it (he demonstrated for me at a gunshop this weekend).

He also checked out the SKS (too heavy, too long, stripper clips), the Mosin Nagant (bolt is difficult for him), my Winchester (bolt gun again), and pump shotguns (can barely cycle the pump). He can load an AK mag into the magwell and pull the bolt back to load the gun. I've seen him load magazines for my Beretta, so I know he can handle that. He'd rather have a rifle. He's definately more accurate with them than with handguns.

I know nothing about AKs. I've never shot one. I think he's be better suited by a 22lr or pistol caliber carbine, but none that we've looked at "fit" him well in his opinion. He seems to want this gun for the right reasons, but I want to make sure he's considered all of the possibilities. That said, he wants the AK for the right reasons (fit and ability to operate)

My concerns:

Controllability - Will the gun be tough to control if he's not holding the forearm? His good arm/hand is VERY strong, he might be able to put sufficient force on the gun via the pistol grip, but I don't know...

Places to shoot - There are only two ranges in his town, an indoor pistol range and a National Forest range. If he gets a gun that shoots rifle cartridges, he can only shoot it at the NF range. It's at a higher altitude and too cold to use 3 months out of the year (or more).

Comments? Is there anything like the AK in a pistol caliber?


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November 28, 2004, 11:29 PM
Another thing to keep in mind is that the AK ejects on the right side, which makes it tough on lefties.

November 28, 2004, 11:38 PM
The AK can be shot lefty (I have) some need a little extractor modifying but 90% of the AKs I've shot throw them forward-right (away from a lefty shooter).

If he can grab the front of the magazine with his right hand and pull straight back, he can shoot an AK offhand fine. Most non-paralyzed shooters hold the AK this way as a field-expedient vertical foregrip (even the Russians train to do this). I generally did this with my AK.

The Romanian SAR-1 runs about $300 and is a solid shooter. Not as pretty as some others, but fine for 100-200 yards. The Arsenal, Inc. models, or the Vector Arms rifles run a bit more ($450-500) but fit and finish are a bit nicer. Krebs Custom makes the top of the line Russian-import modified Saigas back to standard AK pattern rifles ($1,000).

The WASR-10, modified back to take hicaps (it was a Kalifornistan model) are also decent, just visually inspect the inside of the magazine well first.

As long as he doesn't rapid fire much, since his forearm won't hold the rifle down like hand grabbing the foregrip would, he'll be okay.

The Keltec Sub-2000 in 9mm or .40 handles like an Uzi (very easy to "one-hand" with a strong-handed shooter), it's centrally based layout, mag inside the pistol grip, and uses Glock or Beretta pistol mags. For $300, it's a nice plinker/home defense gun. Since it uses a pistol round, you can shoot at any range, and it's effective to about 100 yards.

The Ruger PC9/PC4 in 9mm or .40 use Ruger pistol mags, handle like the M1 carbine of WW2 (very light and handy, not barrel heavy) and it's somewhat lefty-friendly. Designed as a cop carbine, they can take a beating, run about $400-500 depending on new/used etc.

November 29, 2004, 12:41 AM
Might want to consider a AK-74 which is in 5.45x39 caliber, which is what I have. The recoil in the AK-47 in 7.62x39 isn't too much at all, but one handed, the AK-74 would be much easier to control as the recoil is marshmellow soft to me.

November 29, 2004, 12:57 AM
For one-handed control, there is nothing better than a pistol grip. Have him try every gun that has one, they'll be a lot more to his liking I assume. Also, having him try out an AR with a 16" barrel. If he likes it, he can get a .22 upper and shoot. DPMS and another company also makes lefty uppers for them as well, one even having the forward assist and dust cover on the left side.

November 29, 2004, 04:52 AM
The AR's charging handle would probably be difficult for him to manipulate. The AK's could be operated rather easily, even by ramming it against the corner of a wall or such. The safety/selector is a different story.

I don't see any problems with him resting the AK's forearm on his own.

November 29, 2004, 08:52 AM
My vote would be the AR with the left hand eject and a light weight 16" barrel. But more $$$

November 29, 2004, 09:06 AM
Thanks for the replies!

We've checked out a few pistol grip carbines and rifles, but he keeps coming back to the AK. I thought about the AK-74 and it's smaller cartridge, but I'm concerned about ammo availability. He lives in a small town and I don't think it's wise for him to get a gun that can only be fed via gunshows.

The KT Sub2000 seems like a good choice if he likes it. I have a Beretta and several mags, including a 35round mag he can have if he gets the KT. However, he wasn't impressed with the new KT (can't recall the name).

The lefty AR is a good idea. Unfortunately, even as a "build it yourself" kit, it's a bit pricey. That said, if he thinks that'll work for him, I'll build the lower myself and give it to him (I still owe him a Graduation present. :o . All he'd have to buy is the lefty upper.


November 29, 2004, 09:28 AM
AK lookalikes in 7.62x39 don't recoil badly at all, and as someone has mentioned 5.45x39 is even milder. The safety can be easily manipulated with the left hand by reaching under the rifle with your fingers while supporting it with your left palm (under the triggerguard) and right forearm. Some of the newer 7.62x39 AK lookalikes even have the slant muzzle brake, which will cut what little muzzle climb there is. Also, if he is resting the rifle on his right forearm, merely pulling his right arm to the rear will help hold the rifle down because of the pronounced forward curve of the magazine.

As far as 5.45x39 ammo availability, you can buy it in case lots from any number of mailorder places like Cheaper than Dirt or, so that's probably not much of an issue. Even 7.62x39 is a lot cheaper at gun shows or mailorder than at your local gun shop.

Dave Markowitz
November 29, 2004, 09:37 AM
Another thing to keep in mind is that the AK ejects on the right side, which makes it tough on lefties.

Not at all. Any AK I've seen (and I've owned 3) eject to the right front. I shoot left handed and I've never been hit by ejected empties.

November 29, 2004, 09:44 AM
Berreta Storm. It can be changed from right to left, it's light, can be had in 9mm or .40. It also has rails that you can put on it to attached just about anything you want. And it's fuuuunnn! :D

November 29, 2004, 12:28 PM
If he's dead set on an AK, it isn't that big of a deal. They're fine rifles, I have a Saiga .308 myself. As for ammo availability, he can order a case of wolf off the internet for about $79, so that shouldn't be a limiting factor.

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