AK-47 build tools investment risk


January 15, 2012, 12:58 PM
Hey guys I'm going to buy all the necessary tools to build a few AK's from parts kits this year instead of spending the extra cash on a new gun. Between a Drill press and a hydraulic press, plus headspacing gauges and receiver bending jig I'm looking at 400 or so dollars. My one worry due to my own luck is that I'll buy all this stuff that will take several builds to pay for itself and all the sudden the parts kits will be banned or just flat out become hard to find. I know these parts kits are fairly limited and they come in waves, but do you think that they will ever become extinct? Banned? I sure would hate to buy these tools to start a new hobby and then end up not being able to get the parts to build the ak's anymore. Is this a legit concern I have or is it one that I shouldn't have to worry about? Thanks for any info.

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January 15, 2012, 01:11 PM
I think building AK's made sense about 10 years ago, when really good parts kits with really good orginial barrels cost $79 bucks.

I really can't see it now, as kits are already getting scarce, costly, and of crappy quality.

You can buy a cheap ready to shoot AK and fix whatever needs fixing for less then you can build a good one out of a $250 buck crappy kit + a flat + 922R compliance parts + a halfway decent new barrel.


January 15, 2012, 01:27 PM
rcmodel is right, in my opinion. I would make this counter-proposal: About 10 years ago there was a small army of guys in the gunny community building AKs like mad with all those cheap and good parts kits. They bought jigs, riveting tools, gauges and all that stuff and built themselves many guns.

Those parts, jigs, fixtures, and tools are all still around, mostly sitting in folks' garages and basements now that the wave of AK building has largely run its course and petered out.

You can still build an AK for a little cheaper than you can buy one, I think, but not enough cheaper to make it worth while to go buy a bench-full of special tools.

Why not hit akfiles.com or some of the other ak-specific forums and find someone somewhat local who's got those tools and would either be happy to sell them at half-price, or (better yet, really) who'd be happy to host another ol' tyme AK build party?

I don't seem much reason to worry that parts kits will be further banned, just that "investing" in home building gear makes about as much sense now as investing in film photography. That train has sailed. ;)

January 15, 2012, 01:40 PM
thanks for the great info guys. I did sign up for akfiles.com but have not been approved yet to create threads or post. I understand that the parts kits used to be alot cheaper but through my limited beginning research even if my kit costed 170 bucks, plus 30 for a flat, plus 80 for a barrel I'm still way ahead of the 400+ dollars for a complete gun. So I don't quite get your statement on how its not that much cheaper to build than to buy complete. Please enlighten me if I'm missing something here. Again, thanks for the good info guys.

January 15, 2012, 01:51 PM
Amortize the tooling costs and figure out how many you would have have to build to pay for them.

Also, you left out the 922R compliance parts cost on your $280 estimate.


January 15, 2012, 01:55 PM
Ah I hear ya RC Model. I feel like I can get the tools to pay for themselves. If I undertake this hobby then I plan to build enough of these to make it worth it. As far as the 922 parts, I didn't factor in the cost. Ballpark figure how much extra money will it take to get the 922 parts?

January 15, 2012, 01:56 PM
While you can build for your own use, you cannot build with the intention of selling.

It would appear you are headed down that road.

Do you have a manufacturing FFL?

January 15, 2012, 02:31 PM
nah I'm gonna build these bad boys for myself.

January 15, 2012, 03:02 PM
As rcmodel said, you also need to figure on the trigger kit, gas piston, muzzle device, stock, and/or whatever other parts you plan on using for 922(r) compliance for each kit. Costs differer quite a bit depending on which parts you want to use. If you go with real cheap Tapco stock sets and parts you can keep the costs down. Probably the cheapest route is to only use US-made mags, or mag parts. I don't know anyone who'd recommend that, though. If you want to use a nice wooden stock like Ironwood Designs, well, that's pricey.

Now, all these tools you're going to buy ($400, you figure?) need to be added into the cost of however many guns you're planning to own when you're done.

(By the way, how are you going to do the lower rails? Did you figure a spot-welder into your $400? And what about heat-treating?)

And then there's your time. You're probably not counting that as worth anything, as this is a hobby, but after you've done a few, the time you spend on each may be more of a drag than it seems at first. You may find that your enthusiasm for getting out to the garage and banging together No. 7, 8, 9, whatever is a lot less than it was for No. 1, 2, 3... Meaning, you may not really want to make a lifetime (or even year-long) hobby of building AKs. So pick a number you think you'll build, subtract 25% and then use that quantity to amortize your tool costs.

So, how many AKs do you really want? The pal that helped me do my AKS-74 build put together ~20 or so for his own use back in the day -- one of each variant plus some spares, I think. Don't think he's bothered to do one in years, though. He uses one in matches. I never see the others come out of the safe.

January 15, 2012, 03:53 PM
I bought a Romanian WASR AK for $400. Then I invested another $200 in synthetic furniture, better trigger, gas cylinder, etc., (922 parts). If you were to build your AK's with good furniture and quality parts right off the bat you could have a really nice AK for a lot less. Your furniture will be some of the 922 parts if you buy US made and marked. That gives you an edge. In other words you are building $600 AKs, not $400 AKs, so your investment will pay off sooner.

As far as the tools... I like building weapons. A drill press can be used for a lot of things. Seems like I spend more time in the shop these days then the range. It's a hobby. Tools are never a bad investment. Trigger and bolt jigs can often be used on different weapons if you buy the right ones. I for one, do not understand why folks send their weapons out to be worked on. Take some time and learning (books, DVDs) and mistakes ($$$) and you end up being able to shoot and repair your own weapons. Never a bad thing to know, when the SHTF, if it ever does.

For instance...right now I have two inletting jobs I wish to do. Taking an HK SL8 and converting it to accept AR mags, and another is to allow my Rem 700 to take AICS mags. If I send the work out for some simple inletting it will cost me as much as if I bought my own milling machine. I have been looking at a milling table for my Drill Press ($100-200) or just buying a milling machine for a $1000+. I am sure down the road I will use it for something else, but with those two projects I can rationalize the purchase of the mill. In the end, I will have some fun, be a little wiser from the learning, and have the tools to do other jobs.

The trigger and sear jigs I have bought for trigger jobs has paid off already. I have 5 M14s and they all have sweet triggers now as well as a nice trigger jig, files, and stones in my tool box. Sending that work out would have cost me more than the tools and I can perform the same work on other triggers now.

If you are in a gun, or hunting club, you can make some side money helping your friends out. Lots of guys would like to have their Glocks tweaked, and that is some simple work. So today it is AKs for you, who knows what you are going to do down the road. Good luck to you.

January 15, 2012, 03:57 PM
should also consider buying the receiver instead of using a flat you will still need riveting tools a drill press and press and head space guages might cut down some on the tools needed and save you alot of work.

January 15, 2012, 07:57 PM
thanks, lots of great info

January 15, 2012, 10:14 PM
Not to mention, if you buy the receivers from a manufacturer, it becomes much easier to sell down the road, as the "gun" (receiver in this case) has already been "manufactured" by the 07 that built it and stamped his name on it.

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