Alright, let's see the combined wisdom for tips on buying an AK style rifle!


May 28, 2003, 01:47 PM
Because my wading through all of the nomenclature and pros and cons of various countries of manufacture, milled versus stamped, polymer versus wood, rivet holes or lack thereof, heat-treating or none, scope rails and open sights, accuracy concerns, trigger slap, etc., are getting me down.

Howabout some of the best wisdom you all have gleaned from buying and using AK style rifles?

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May 28, 2003, 01:55 PM
Wisdom? Uhm... buy more magazines than you think you need.

Wood upper handguards give off a nice campfire smell if you burn through ammo fast enough.

Iron sights are enough, but if you like a scope go for it.

I don't know what else to say, I thought by now everyone had an AK type rifle in their battery.

AJ Dual
May 28, 2003, 01:59 PM
I'd just get a SAR1, and see if you can pick from several to make sure you don't get canted sights.

Although this has been much better in the past few years.

If you get one that has significant trigger slap, you can fix it with about 5 minutes of grinding with a Dremel. It's caused by the fact that Century directly copied a full auto disconnector and it has a "thumb" on it that would normaly engage the rate reducer or some other full-auto part that dosen't exist in a semi. The "thumb" then gets whacked when the trigger resets.

Linx310 an excelent young man from Texas has a site with all you would want to know on the current AK imports.

He also has a good diagram of where to cut on the disconnector.

May 28, 2003, 02:53 PM
On the issues you have raised:

1. Country of origin is a matter of preference. All AK receivers are pretty much equal. Stick with any Combloc country and you should be fine.

2. Stamped versus milled is also a matter of preference. Milled could potentially be stronger but when with the last time you heard of a broken AK receiver? Stamped wins for weight savings in my book.

3. Polymer Versus wood, again preference really. I prefer polymer for it's easy maintenance and resistance to dings, dirt and solvents.

4. Rivet holes. I assume you are talking about the holes on a Saiga conversion (where the old trigger guard was postitioned)being welded up? This is purely asthetic, and it will save you some cash if you skip it. Of does look better with them welded up.

5. Heat treating. A must for a good receiver. The only ones I know of off hand that are not properly heat treated are the Ohio Ordnance receivers. However....Chris at AK-USA is now doing heat treating for these. I would contact him if you are planning on purchasing one.

6. Side rails are a nice accessory. If you ever plan on mounting a scope or a red dot sight, this will be nice to have.

7. Accuracy. All the AK's I have shot have managed to be able to hit a bucket lid at 200 yards offhand. This is plenty good enough for me for the intended purpose of the gun. If I want sub MOA, I'll take out my bolt gun. I haven't ever shot any for groups though so I can't comment on a specific group size.

8. Trigger slap. As long as you get a gun with a decent, heat treated FCG, this shouldnt be a problem. My SAR-1 had quite a bit of slap when I got it (due to the horrible Century FCG), I replaced it with a Gordon Technologies unit and it sweet as can be now.

May 28, 2003, 03:26 PM
I have very limited experience. I one a SAR-1 and so does my friend so I have experience with 2 SAR-1s.

Mine jammed a lot when I first got it used but after cleaning and oiling, it has been much better. Don't believe the crap about how AKs never need to be cleaned and they never jam, they are a gun and you have to take care of them or they won't work.

Both SAR-1s have plenty of trigger slap. Both SAR-1s are surprisingly accurate. You can actually hit things with them! They are not a spray and pray gun like I was led to believe.

I think you get what you pay for. The SAR is a rough and dirty import that could do with some new parts even in a new gun. If you plan on ever using the AK for more than a toy, I would get one of those milled Bulgarian AKs. If you don't mind having to do some work on it, the SAR is O.K.

BTW, I was at the range the other day and I saw a guy with a new SAR-1, it was jamming all the time. I have seen a lot of people at the range with SAR-1s and most of them had at least one jam. Just some info for you. I not anti SAR-1s or anything so don't flame me.

May 28, 2003, 04:58 PM
There are plenty of AKs out there nicer than the Romanian SARs, but they cost more money.

If you get an SAR that's something of a dog, check out Azex Arms ( They do a top notch SAR cleanup and refinish. Also check out the replacement trigger group from Red Star Arms (

Stay away from guns with Hesse receivers, or Saiga rifles that were converted by Hesse. More trouble than they're worth, in many cases.

But for a nicer rifle, check out these folks:

Arsenal Inc. (

Robinson Armament (

Global Trades/Arsenal USA (

Krebs Custom (

May 28, 2003, 05:11 PM
Arsenal USA/Global Trades SSR-56, wood stocks, 7.62x39mm
Arsenal Inc. SA M-5 .223
Robinson Armament/MOLOT VEPR KTR-03 .223 (or 5.45x39mm, can't tell.)
Robinson Armament/MOLOT VEPR II .308 w/ Scope, bipod, muzzle brake.
Before and After pictures of Azex Arms' Redo of a Romanian SAR-2 5.45mm.

The 5.45mm guns tend to be more accurate than the 7.62x39mm guns, at least with standard Wolf ammo. Though I've heard that the 7.62x39mm 154 grain Soft Points are MUCH more accurate than their FMJ or JHP stuff.

May 28, 2003, 05:23 PM
1. i think your 1st choice would have to do with calibre...either 7.62x39mm or 5.45x39mm

the 7.62 is more traditional and the ammo is a hair cheaper
the 5.45 is more accurate, lighter recoiling and is the current issue ammo

2. more accuracy comes from the stiffness of the receiver and the barrel/bolt interface. forged is usually stiffer, usually more "in square" and heavier.
3. trigger slap can be easily addressed either through grinding or replacement of the whole unit with the one from "red star"
4. polymer is more resistent to dings, but wood is warmer and easier to touch-up
5. the scope rail is the best option should you want to mount optics at anypoint during your ownership...the rail was designed with the kobra "red dot" unit specifically in mind.
6. some ak's are being put together on the RPK (SAW) receiver which is both longer and heavier...seems to defeat the purpose (going overboard)

Dave R
May 28, 2003, 06:09 PM
As others have pointed out, the AK works is almost as diverse as the automobile world. Saying "I'd like an AK" is kinda like saying "I'd like a car."

Choose your caliber. There are three: 7.62 X 39, 5.45 X 39, and .223. Ooops, four: .308.

Choose stamped vs. milled (I chose stamped for the low weight)

Choose your country of origin, which will aproximately relate to choosing where you want to be on the quality/price scale.

Sir Galahad
May 28, 2003, 06:42 PM
I got an SAR-1. Right out of the box accurate. No need to drift, cajole, or firmly talk to the sights in any way. :D Never have had a malfunction of any sort. Bought a bunch of mags for it. I leave it stock. I'm a small guy and the stock fits me fine. This has been one of the best buys I've ever made and worth every penny. I picked it from three. Sights are straight. And I knew it was good because it has "three-of-a-kind" in the serial number. (Call me superstitious; I'm a poker man.):D You pick out a good SAR and spend the rest in mags and ammo. Practice with it, and you'll see mag changes are not that slow really. You'll note the mags are pretty sturdy and will last forever, but still buy plenty. Galati International makes a great over-the-shoulder AK mag bag.

Got AK?

Dave Markowitz
May 28, 2003, 07:27 PM
The SARs are probably the best value for the money. They work well although they ain't pretty. If possible, pick it out in person to get the one that's the least ugly. :)

In addition to my SAR-1 I have a Saiga Sporter that was reworked by Hesse to look like an AK-103 and take standard AK mags. (I would NOT buy a gun with a Hesse receiver, however.)

Both rifles are in 7.62x39 and both function flawlessly. 7.62mm is easier to find than 5.45mm, but the latter is readily available via mail order. Whatever caliber you get you'll probably want to buy it by the case, since it goes fast. :D

May 28, 2003, 07:46 PM
How is the quality of pre-ban PolyTech AKs compared to say, the Arsenal, Inc., etc.?


May 28, 2003, 08:10 PM
From all accounts, Arsenal Inc's guns are VERY high quality. All of the manufactuers I listed make high quality guns. I don't think the prebans are worth the extra cost, myself.

Check out AK USA. (

May 28, 2003, 08:40 PM
Just look around until you find one you like.
The only really bad ones I have ever heard of are the ones with the Hesse name.
I currently own an SA-M7. It works.
I owned an SAR-1. It worked.
I also owned a VEPR. It worked.

The VEPR was accurate as hell, but poorly balanced.
The SAR worked just as it was, but was innaccurate and ugly. But it probably is comparable to a real life working man's AK, so it gets the nod for the reality check.
The SA-M7 is a good compromise of both. It is about a 3" at 100yds gun. It is only a little lighter than the VEPR was because of its milled reciever, but it balances and carrys way better. (I do actually carry it as a woods gun on occassion.) It is stout and solid. Mine did have a defect from the factory, but I replaced the rear sight and I am now pleased with it.
As I said, it works.

Just get what you can find and what works for you.
Try this sight out for more info.

May 28, 2003, 08:48 PM
Actually, from what I understand, genunine Russian Arsenal AKMs are MUCH nicer than what the Romanian guns display.

As for an AK slapped together by kids in Kabul..yeah...LOL

Splat Shot
May 28, 2003, 09:30 PM
Vepr II carbine in the caliber of your choice from Robinson Armament and don't look back. Best $550 or less AK on the market.

May 28, 2003, 10:45 PM
My only words of wisdom that I can give after getting my SAR-2 is this: If you go the AK-74 route, unless you have a well stocked gunstore prepare to order all your 5.45x39mm or head to the gunshows. Also, me SAR had no trigger slap or slanted sights, I have heard the SAR-2s are better finished and better assembled than the SAR-1s also. I don't know if that last statement is true or not, but as far as I have seen at gunshows I would agree with it.

May 29, 2003, 02:10 AM
If you have a jamming SAR you need to have a look at it's guts, because something is wrong. I have a SAR1 and 2 and have around 4,000 rounds between them without even one single failure of any kind. Mine are also fairly accurate, they shoot around 3" groups at 100 yards. They actually shoot better than my old MAK90 did, when heated up it's groups were effected noticeably more than the SARs. I got rid of the MAK to get the SAR2, haven't looked back...

I also don't quite understand the ugly statements, you refinish or replace the wood and they look just fine IMO. You can get a nicer metal finish but these don't catch my eye as "ugly"... Both of mine are 100% straight front sight base and gas block wise too BTW, hand picked the 2, lucked out on the 1. I love mine.

May 30, 2003, 12:31 AM
Just a note the Norinco 84s and Mak 90 in 223 are Both NOTORIOUS for doubling, tripling shots. It features a spring loaded firing pin and the spring is too weak so it slam fires.

The Arsenal guns are sweet, but almost as pricey as a pre-ban Norinco.

Still a 223 AK is wicked cool.. and NOISY! Accurate too.

May 30, 2003, 05:44 AM

May 30, 2003, 01:59 PM
Cant go wrong with a VEPR I sure love my vepr k!

May 30, 2003, 02:39 PM
Cant go wrong with a VEPR

It'd be hard to, wouldn't it?
VEPR II .223

But Kreb's Custom is excellent, too, though you pay for it since it's all custom work. And don't forget there are lots of used guns out there, too, Norincos, SLR-95s, etc.
Kreb's Custom AK-74M. $1,000.00.
Kreb's Custom Stretch Krinkov. $1,200.00.
Bulgarian SLR-95, for sale by Kreb's Custom. $700.00.
Kreb's Custom M-3A rifle, 7.62x39mm. Note the receiver sight. $1,000.00.

I just like posting pictures of Kalashnikovs, actually. Heh. :cool:

May 30, 2003, 03:06 PM
I'm coming to love AKs more and more. I've been using a Vepr for 3 gunning for the last few matches. (way cheaper practice ammo, and our maximum range where we shoot is only 200 yards so 7.62x39 doesn't hurt you to much).

I love my Vepr, but some people find them to heavy. They are extreamly accurate though. As I like to compete with iron sights, but hate the AKs rear sight I'm ordering one of those Krebs receiver sights. Well, I'm on thier list but they still haven't started shipping them yet.

Prettiest AK I've ever seen was from Krebs. I don't know what kind of finish he used, but it was goregous. Really expensive though.

I'm lucky to have the biggest AK nut on the planet as a friend of mine. He has a room filled with various types of AKs and other Russian arms. (as well as autographed pictures of Kalashnikov) :) He usually recommends people just buy an SAR to start. He has a SAR 3 that is surprisingly accurate.

May 30, 2003, 03:19 PM

Spoke to Brian at Krebs yesterday. He says that they have finished the instructions for the AR style rear sights (after 4-5 weeks :rolleyes: ). He told me he would be shipping mine out today. You should give him a call.

May 30, 2003, 03:41 PM
Cool. Thanks. I called last week and they said they were almost done. I'll call them now.

May 30, 2003, 03:47 PM
It is on the way. :D

May 30, 2003, 03:57 PM
Now Mr. Correia, we all want LOTS of pictures of your peep-sighted VEPR II when you get it all put together.

Is it a 16" or a 20"?

May 30, 2003, 04:01 PM
Nightcrawler, 16. It is a Vepr K II. 7.62x39. One of the first ones in the country. I've got 2 cases of Barnaul, and 1 case of Wolf, as well as a whole bunch of misc. stuff through it. 1 mystery malfunction from a bad round of Wolf. Other than that, perfect.

My only real hate on the AK is the rear sight. Hopefully this will be just the ticket. I examined one of the KTR Veprs at Robinson's and I came away very impressed.

May 30, 2003, 04:10 PM
I'm really looking foreward to moving to Salt Lake City next year. The gun stuff out there is incredible, and 16 years in Upper Michigan is quite enough for me.

Salt Lake City is huge and cosmopolitan compared to here, but it's not all dirty and crappy like some cities in Michigan. *cough* *cough* FLINT *cough* No stupid handgun registration, or taking 6 months and $200+ to get your CCW, either. Sounds good to me!

May 30, 2003, 04:40 PM

Are you using the standard VEPR II front sight in conjunction with the new peep? The only real thing that bothers me about this new sight is the fact that there is no rapid elevation adjustment. Have to turn the front sight post. Mine is going to be a back up iron sight anyway so I guess it's not a big deal. Would be nice if they came up with some kind of elevation knob though.

If you enjoyed reading about "Alright, let's see the combined wisdom for tips on buying an AK style rifle!" here in archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join today for the full version!