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Flaws in the AK design: By an AK lover.

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Hoplophile, Oct 27, 2008.

  1. Hoplophile

    Hoplophile Member

    Dec 23, 2007
    Before we get started, let me make a note of something: I'm currently holding a WASR-10/63 on my lap (was cleaning it). I love the AK and in my humble opinion, it is THE finest weapon ever designed.

    That said, here are flaws I've found in the AK design.

    1) The selector lever. You can't operate it without removing your hand from the grip. This can be fixed by an aftermarket part.

    2) No bolt-hold open. Perhaps this is for the better, as it adds complexity, but reduces reload time. I don't know. This can also be fixed by an aftermarket part.

    3) Charging handle is on the wrong side. I'd love to see an AK with the charging handle on the left, so I could charge it without taking my hand off the grip a la the FAL. Is this possible?

    4) Dust cover is hard to put back on sometimes.

    Other than that, I think it's the ultimate rifle :)
  2. wyocarp

    wyocarp Participating Member

    Jan 18, 2006
    Laramie, Wyoming
    I wouldn't want that. It would be less stable and cause AD's.

    I never use mine. It isn't a problem.
  3. Rubber_Duck

    Rubber_Duck Participating Member

    May 26, 2008
    New Mexico
    1) Agreed. The selector is teh suck.

    2)Nothing says rock n' roll like charging an AK.
    But seriously, I think this is one lacking feature that would be nice to have.

    3)I agree on this one too, the handle could easily be put on the other side and a slot cut into the topcover to accomodate it. But this doesn't bother me really.

    4)Not really a problem, keep practicing.

    I love the AK, they're virtually indestructible. But the way I see it, nothing is perfect, so every gun will have it's flaws (whether real or perceived).
  4. Candiru

    Candiru Member

    Feb 1, 2005
    I agree that the AK is a great design, but that it's not perfect. That being said, some of the flaws you pointed out are debatable.

    I've never had a problem working the selecter lever with my index finger while keeping a hand on the grip, but it does require a slight position shift.

    There's a really good argument that this simplifies the AK manual of arms so that reloads and malfunction drills are performed exactly the same. Any time the rifle goes click, remove the magazine, put a new one in, and work the charging handle.

    No argument there. It's awkward to work the handle with the firing hand on the grip: You either have to reach over the top or under the bottom.

    You can get a bolt carrier with the charging handle relocated to the left side. It's called the Lightning Bolt.

    Now you're just nitpicking. ;)
  5. Kenpo

    Kenpo New Member

    Oct 26, 2007
    Mesa, AZ
  6. sharkhunter2018

    sharkhunter2018 Active Member

    Jan 30, 2007
    m-burg, va
    Yea, you can get an aftermarket part, but some of the selectors are really stiff, mine included. Even if it were extended, I doubt I would be able to use only a finger. Besides, I don't use the safety. If it's loaded, I'm shooting.

    Practice some and it won't be much of an issue. Even replacing the empty with a fresh mag can be sped up some. Simply hit the mag catch lever with the fresh mag and insert fresh mag.

    Not really an issue for me. Even though I do use my right hand to charge it, it's not very difficult to tilt it to the left a bit to reach over and grab the handle with your left.

    It was an issue for me as well when I got my AK. But, once you take it apart enough for cleaning. This will cease to exist as a problem.
  7. Rifleman 173

    Rifleman 173 Member

    May 24, 2007
    Central Illinois
    One of the things that I'm doing is experimenting with an M-4 variant that shoots 7.62 X 39 ammo. I have a Bushmaster lower and a Model 1 upper slapped together for this test. So far my biggest headache has been finding magazines that feed and hold 7.62 X 39 ammo and fit the mag well of the M-4 carbine. I have 5 of the 10 round mags which seem to work but I would like to get about 7 mags that hold about 25 rounds in each one for tactical work and testing. The ergonomics of the M-4 make it a user friendly carbine and much more user friendly than the AK type of rifles. The .223/5.56 bullet is just too wimpy for my liking so I opted for the 7.62 X 39 to use. The 6.8 SPC is too expensive at a buck a pop and the 6.5 Grendel is a nice rifle but it is tied up too much with patent controls and such to be practical to me. On top of everything the 3 most popular bullets are the 7.62 NATO, the 5.56 NATO and the 7.62 X 39. So why not go with what's easily available? So in the next few days I'll be test firing the 7.62 X 39 variant of the civilian M-4. Now, if you guys are really well behaved, I'll let you know how things come out in the testing...
  8. Hoplophile

    Hoplophile Member

    Dec 23, 2007
    Agreed, I absolutely love that sound. Clack, CLACK! They say bad guys crap themselves at the sound of a racked shotgun, I wonder if their intestines would simply fly out of their butts at the stentorian bark of the AK's abrupt tone...
  9. lonegunman

    lonegunman Member

    Nov 2, 2005
    pac nor west
    With 75,000,000 copies in use in nearly every conflict on earth since 1947 I'm thinking they are not "flaws" worth mentioning.

    You could really call them, "Things you would prefer the AK had to make you like it better."

    The AK pretty much does exactly what it was designed to do for the right price and with the right amount of realibility. Sadly, the US military never seems to buy a weapon that does as well.
  10. Evil Monkey

    Evil Monkey member

    Jun 26, 2006
    The AK is an obsolete design, ergonomically speaking. However, you can't blame the big Soviet Communist machine for wanting to mass produce a cheap commodity firearm. Remember folks, the AK was never meant for the professional.

    There are serious flaws in its design, certainly.

    The selector is trash today. After market parts don't help when it's so stiff in manipulation. An ambidextrous thumb switch is just as simple to manufacture and much easier to manipulate, since you are using your thumbs.

    The AK doesn't have a bolt catch and external release. These days, you can't take a rifle like this as seriously as those rifles that have the improvement.

    I don't like the rock and lock magazine system that the AK uses. A straight locking system like the AR15 is desirable because it's easier to work with. If a polymer mag is to be developed for an AK, it should have steel reinforcement for the locking tabs or the mag can be broken right out of the rifle's shallow mag well if there's enough force (such as dropping the rifle on the magazine. This applies to any rifle that uses rock and lock mags). A straight lock mag like the AR15 that's made of polymer doesn't need steel reinforcement because the mag is designed to go up and down into the mag well only, not an additional sideways movement as required by the AK's rock and lock design. As a result, straight lock mags can be made cheaper. Further more, if a rock and lock system is to be used in a bullpup rifle, the magazine can interfere with the pistol grip when manipulating the magazine during insertion into the mag well. This could also be problematic in a conventional rifle with a forward grip or grenade launcher attached, although straighter mags like the 5.45mm have less problems than pronouncedly curved ones like the 7.62mm AK magazine.

    The identity of the AK, the long stroke gas operated mechanism, can be considered a "flaw". With its long steel piston, attached to the massive carrier, and the huge 3 lug bolt, you have some great mechanical recoil. If it wasn't somewhat of a problem, the Russians wouldn't have messed with the AEK-971\972\973 and AK-107\108\109 rifles, which utilized a synchronized counter weight that moved forward as the carrier assembly reciprocated.

    The fix is simple. Machine a smaller carrier, possible a lighter weight alloy. The piston should be a lightweight tube with a chromed piston head screwed on at the receiving end. Finally, the bolt can stay the same. Another route would be using an AR18 operating system which features a very light weight carrier/bolt assembley, and a light weight piston in a short stroke gas operated system which separates the piston rod from the carrier, thus, not allowing the mechanical recoil to be received in one large pulse.

    I'll be back to crap on the AK some more later. :D
  11. nalioth

    nalioth Mentor

    Jul 9, 2007
    Houston, Texas
    You guys forget for what this weapon was designed to do 60 years ago.

    It was NOT designed to be a 'go fast' (operationally) gun.

    It was designed to be used alongside hundreds (if not thousands) of your peers.

    (1) the commie soldier would be instructed to take the safety off and fire until they were told to safe it.
    (2)(3)"super fast combat reloads" weren't designed into it.

    These arguments are like complaining that a 1953 Corvette won't perform like a 1970 one [1](they're both Corvettes, right?).

    For it's time, the AK worked just fine.

    [1]Length of time between AK-47 and M-16 adoption by their respective militaries.

    Note: Attempted to post this at 0114 CST Monday 27 Oct 2008 - forum kept rejecting the post with
     1.  This forum requires that you wait 60 seconds between posts. Please try again in XX seconds.
  12. HorseSoldier

    HorseSoldier Mentor

    Jul 13, 2006
    Anchorage, AK
    I've read arguments that the AK's ergonomics are deliberate and that the intent was that you had to break your grip and take your hand off the pistol grip to work the controls as a means of reducing ADs and such. Not sure if that's really what Kalashnikov (or some obscure Soviet bureaucrat who wrote the specs Kalashnikov built to) had in mind, but in practice it's pretty true. You can work around AK ergos to an extent with little tricks like going over/under to work the charging handle or finger sweeping or staging the safety downward, but ultimately it's usually as quick and more positive to just run it right handed for shooters who aren't going to drill a lot with the AK.

    Lack of bolt hold open makes for a lot of clicks instead of bangs if you're shooting extended strings of rounds with an AK. A bolt hold open tends to produce a discernible change in recoil and cycle of weapon to cue reloading. Not a huge liability if you're topping off with a fresh mag after each engagement/bit of suppressive fire/whatever, so there are technique work arounds as well as mechanical ones.

    There's the AK Lightning Bolt from Colorado Shooting Sports, though it's not cheap ($225), and AK enthusiasts seem to be kind of divided on its value. Based on the one I've seen someone running in a class, it seems durable enough.

    I agree with the issue some people have pointed out -- if you're trying to learn the AK to run any old AK, the Lightning Bolt builds bad muscle memory. (On the other hand, if you're trying to make an AK competitive with the AR in terms of speed and fightability, it looks like an improvement.)
  13. Deus Machina

    Deus Machina Senior Member

    May 24, 2007
    Brandon, Florida
    For the time the AK was designed, it more than supplied the needs.

    I, for one, love it overall. And I do think having all the big, clunky controls on the right side is exactly what you need. It was, after all, made to be thrown to untrained grunts in the middle of Russia.

    How about you try manipulating an AR's mag release with either numb hands or ski gloves. Your left hand (for most of us) would be suitable only to hold the weapon while the right manipulates.

    That said, these days and in warmer climates, I would like to see a model compatible with AR mags and with a left-side or rear cocking handle.

    For those tinker-minded, there's even a spot you could mount one that would stay forward after cocking. Easy thing, but I'd need a second bolt carrier and cover to attempt it. I think one on the left that moves how it does now would whack my arm now and then.
  14. RP88

    RP88 Senior Member

    Jan 1, 2008
    the REAL flaws of the AK design:

    -iron sights (fixed by putting on a red dot)
    -lack of modularity (doesn't really matter, since all you'll really need is a grenade launcher, which the AK can be equipped with)

    that's about it. Everything else is a simple matter of individual preference (grip, ergos, etc.)

    that's just my opinion, though.
  15. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Senior Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    Hmmm, this guy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONXeqTHHCfA doesn't seem to have any problems manipulating his AK74.

    1) The selector works. When you are not in combat you leave it closed which protects the weapon from getting garbage in it and prevents the bolt from being fully opened. If you weapon is on safe, carry it like the guy in the video shows you.

    2) No bolt hold open. This means you are missing out on extra parts that would be needed to make this work & a way for exterior garbage to get into the gun when the bolt was open. You're also missing an extra control: where would you put it? As it stands all the AKs controls can be easily manipulated with the right hand.

    3) The charging handle is on the correct side if you accept that the rifle is meant to be manipulated with the right hand. It's not a AR or FAL, don't try to manipulate it like one. Moving the charging handle would complicate the design.

    4) Dust cover hard to replace. Ok, sometimes. I generally line it up and whack it with the palm of my hand.

    Uh, the AK bolt and bolt carrier mass almost exactly what bolt, bolt carrier, and buffer do in a AR. Also, I've never seen a 3 lugged AK bolt...

    You mean like the Bulgarian waffle mags? Like these: http://www.k-var.com/shop/downloads.php

    I've been shooting my stock Arsenal SLR107FR at our local rifle matches for the past 8 months or so. When I first started using it (as opposed to an AR) I wasn't that good. Then I started practicing mag changes, selector manipulation, and the rest of the manual of arms of the AK. It's been interesting.

    Comparing the AR which I'd been shooting for about 2 years and the AK I'd sy either rifle, with practice, is capable of engaging man sized targets out to 300 yards. Either rifle can be fast, handy and effective. The AR gets points for having a flatter shooting cartridge that makes range estimation much less critical. The AK gets points for it's robustness. I have had (and have seen) AR parts break and rifles that quit working. I've never seen a functioning AK that stopped. BSW

    Weights (in grams) of AR and AK reciprocating parts. Chunky stuff on the AR buffer is fresh grease.


  16. 3sixbits

    3sixbits New Member

    Feb 15, 2007
    The stock design under recoil makes target rea-acquiring is next to impossible due to muzzle flip.

    The audible clank form the selector lever. Makes for great attention getter when trying for stealth.

    The sights are so poor that they become unusable in full auto. Of course due to the poor stock design the muzzle flip is so bad the sights are unimportant.

    How the world became so in love with a copy of someone Else's work as the AK plainly is (copy of the German)M-43/44 has always made me wonder? The ctg is a copy of the 7.92 Kurtz. Yep AK was a genius in what? His ability to copy and adapt the work of others.
  17. Slamfire

    Slamfire Mentor

    Dec 29, 2006
    As stated before, probably made this way so you have to take your hands off the grips.

    The system is simple and positive. You have to delibrately operate the mechanism, and you can do it with shaking hands.

    I have no doubt the Soviets had plenty of accidental discharges with their barely educated peasants. Even with training, our troops (and Cops!) have accidental discharges. You get 15,000 nervous people together, give them weapons, if the weapon is easy to set off, someone will do it. I read about accidental discharges with Garands in WWII. Happens in all Armies.

    I don't know why the HK91 or the AK does not have a hold open device. Such a device was found to be necessary with bolt rifles. I do not know how you can overcome this even with training. In combat, is anyone keeping track of the number of rounds you fire, like 12, 13, 14,....? What do guys do, shoot off a burst and drop a partially filled mag?
  18. 22lr

    22lr Active Member

    Aug 3, 2008
    My biggest thing against the AK is that the safety is a pain to take off in a hurry, and since the charging handle is on the wrong side it dosnt work to carry it cocked but unloaded. A tactical rifle needs to be able to be brought into action in a split second and frankly that's why I don't like the AK as much of other platforms.
  19. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Senior Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    The way I treat the lack of a BOH: If I haven't fired that many rounds I assume it's a misfire and run the bolt. If I have shot off 'some' number of rounds I assume the mag is empty and change mags (and run the bolt).

    I tend to reload AKs with my right hand so the left hand just has to stabilize the rifle while the right hand reloads and manipulates the charging handle. If I'm shooting off my left side I just reverse everything.

    I also usually store AK mags feed lips up as that lets me do a smoother reload.

    It's pretty much backwards from how I do the AR manual of arms. BSW
  20. cvb

    cvb New Member

    May 4, 2005
    AK lover

    I see no flaw in the the design -except for the steep asking price.

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