Looking at AKs, which caliber and model to get?

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May 22, 2011
When I was younger and less knowledgeable I purchased the most expensive gun I have ever (to this day) paid for. A WASR-10. Well, I'm kind of tired of having a crappy gun. SP and HP rounds just get smashed straight into the back face of the barrel instead of going into the chamber. I also had to clean up the horrible tooling inside the gun which made the action so rough it would lock up on itself. I've done a ton of work on it to make it better, and as long as you use FMJ ammo it works fine, but just looking at the thing makes me angry right now.

Anyway, I currently have all this stuff up for sale for $1200 until I figure out what I want to get to replace it. Thats just a FYI, this is really about helping me pick out what to replace it with I just wanted to show you what I already have and what I could price that at and actually sell it.


I know that price is too much but right now that is what I'd need to have in order to part with it not knowing what I want next or how much it is really worth. I just listed it in the off chance that someone saw it who would be willing to actually pay that much.

Anyway, I've been considering switching calibers to 5.45 or 5.56 because of the extra range and, at least I'd think they would be more accurate. I thought I would ask and find out what some of you think who own/have owned AK's in different calibers. I'm familiar with the 7.62 in the AK, and the 5.56 in the M16A2 and A4, but I've never fired a 5.45 and not sure how the 5.56 would be coming out of the AK and if there would be trouble acquiring mags or other things specific to that caliber and model. Arsenal is the only company I've seen who makes the 5.56, and they're all sold out at K-Var so I'm not entirely sure how I'd get one anyway, if gun shops can just order them from Arsenal or what.

I've also found a more cost effective option for the 5.45 but haven't heard of the companies involved.


Century Arms isn't even an option. Local stores don't carry them and I don't have the money to throw away buying another sight-unseen. Also, I'm not so sure about getting anything from Lancaster Arms because of their BBB rating.

So, what would be a realistic price to get the most out of what I'm selling in that picture (and I will be honest with the buyer about the SP & HP issue before the sale is finalized so keep that in mind as well. I don't appreciate being misled and I won't mislead anyone. My Character is worth a lot more than a few extra dollars here and there.) Also, what do you guys think would be good as far as getting a replacement which is readily available, what caliber is best, company, etc.

Thanks for reading my giant wall-o-text!
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These are only my opinions, but if you're going to switch calibers, I would go ahead and switch platforms. I love AK's, primarily for the big ol heavy 7.62X39 bullet. The 7.62 does really well out to 200 yards and marginally acceptable out to 300, even with open sights, and the penetration of the 7.62 is far superior to the smaller 5.56 and 5.45. There are primarily 3 reasons to get an AK

1- It's cheap.
2- It uses a very potent large caliber bullet.
3- It's ultra rugged and reliable.

If you take away any of those three, I think you'd be better off with an AR platform rifle, and the reliability argument doesnt carry much weight in my opinion because the AR's of today have proven themselves to be plenty reliable.

My preference for self defense is the AK in 7.62, and I wouldnt pay more than 500.00 for an AK. For target shooting, plinking, and long range accuracy, I would prefer an AR. If cost were no object, my ideal weapon would be an AR chambered in .308, but cost is an object for me and I like to shoot a LOT so the cheap Russian surplus ammo and bulk 5.56 is a plus in my book. Next month I'll be ordering my first AR in 5.56, but it will mainly be a fun gun for plinking, and shooting at the range. Once again, these are only MY opinions. Hope it helped a little with your decision process.
A brand new WASR10 is ~$450 or maybe a couple bucks less. $1200 might be a little high for a used one that doesn't really work too well.

How much extra range do you think you are going to get from a different caliber?
I'd send your WASR off to Jim Fuller at Rifle Dynamics or some other place that does AK refurbs/tuning and get it fixed up. WASRs aren't great in terms of build quality, but the basic parts are sound, they're just built poorly. Some light (and modest, expense wise) gunsmithing can fix it right up.

Anyway, I've been considering switching calibers to 5.45 or 5.56 because of the extra range and, at least I'd think they would be more accurate.

My personal experience with AKs (.mil versions in all three calibers, as well as personally owned 5.45 and 7.62 versions) is that the sights are a bigger liability for longer range accuracy than the ballistics of 7.62x39, as long as you're zeroed and understand your round's trajectory. That said, a lot of AK accuracy issues also relate to the absolute crap ammo out there -- some of the Russian made stuff has 150-200 fps velocity spreads within the same lot, which won't allow for decent grouping and accuracy.
I have AKs in various calibers. If I were only going to keep one it would be my S12, but for rifles if I were only going to keep one it would be a 7.62x39.

Good luck getting $1200 for that.

Neither will support a decent scope setup but they aren't meant for that kind of shooting anyway

Breyl rail, its a pretty decent scope setup.
Something to check out would be a VZ-2008/VZ-58. They run about $350 to $400, use the 7.62x39, and are a better platform then either AK or AR. I'd part with any on my 7 AKs or 2 high end ARs before getting rid of my VZ-58.
I think I might be a bit too spoiled to buy an affordable AR-15. Right before I went to Iraq they took my M16A2 and gave me a brand new M16A4 with light gathering optics. The brand new A4 was pretty nice but quite a few of the brand new batch had to be sent back to the armory when we went to the range with them because of accuracy issues, we're talking 60+ MOA. It wasn't the shooters either, the range coaches tested them to be sure of that (These were FN rifles btw). The A2 I carried was older, and maybe it was a weak recoil spring but that sucker liked to lock up on me, so I'd really need a top notch milspec AR to be happy with it.

I guess what I don't like about the AR is the stock. I pretty much had to have the bottom edge of the buttstock shoved into my collar bone to aim it whereas with the AK I have better stock to shoulder weld. I do like the fact though that they sell the green tip 5.56 ammo now and they'll be illegal as soon as Obama finds out about it.

Sending my current AK off for work does sound like a cost-effective plan, but honestly I think it's more of a psychological thing now and I'd hate it even if it was perfect. I bought the gun in spite of the jerk who owned the shop for $450 almost 5 years ago because I just really wanted one and there was a small selection of shops. I figure by the time I sell this one and take that money I can buy something else for not much more than getting this one fixed and not be stuck with stigma I've attached to this thing.

I do like having one for a really rainy day, but you would need to shoot at a very long rifle range or else you probably wouldn't get to shoot for very long unless there was a ton of people on your side of the range that day. Thats the only reason I was looking at another caliber, wanting maybe an extra 200 to 300 yards but now that I think about it those smaller calibers would bounce off a piece of paper at those ranges. Those side mounts are really stable and I would like to mount a 4x on the next AK I own, because you're right that the sights are a bigger liability than what the gun and round are actually capable of.

I think I might just keep the accessories I've got and just sell the rifle setup for $550. I did put a side mount and scope, barrel mount, and red dot laser on it after all, and it is a lot better since I've worked on it than when I first got it. I got the rifle for $450, laser for $30 (I bought it just to try and sell the gun) mount and scope for around $50 combined, so that puts me at $530 not including shipping, so I'll pretty much be at break even give or take a few dollars. So I'll start at $600 that way I have some room to go down I think. Like I said, unless you order these they aren't available in shops around here so that does add a little extra value to it as well.

So, maybe an Arsenal gun in 7.62? If you guys know of any other or better deals let me know.
Get the AK 74, sweet shooting gun . AMmo is still cheaper than the rest of them.
I have an Arsenal SGL-21 (7.62x39) and I'm very happy with it. The quality seems to be excellent and, although it's expensive for an AK, it's still cheaper than an AR of similar quality. I like the larger caliber, which is one reason I decided on an AK rather than an AR. The muzzle break on the SGL seems to be effective; I haven't shot an AK without one, but the recoil was less than I expected when I shot it for the first time.

You may have a hard time selling your old rifle for $550 since it's used, but good luck with it.
I relisted what's in the picture at $650 for wiggle room and I have $580 invested in it total (not counting blood sweat and tears making the darned thing reliable with FMJ). I was hoping (though not really expecting) to get what I put into it. There was another guy in the local classifieds looking to sell or trade a CZ-97 BD for $525 OBO and I think I'm going to see if he'll swap me. Probably the best chance I have of getting anything out of the gun, although without cash I can't afford another AK. At least I have a few SKS that fire my giant 7.62 stockpile. Give the wife an idea of what to get me for present sometime though, cause I do want another AK. There isn't anyone looking to give anything away is there? Just thought I'd ask ;)

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i recently bought an arsenal sgl 21 & couldn't be happier with it. i have an ar 15 & mini 14 in 5.56/.223 but like the 7.62x39 round far more. i wish i would have bought one sooner i like this rifle almost as much as my m1a bush rifle. if you did most of the work yourself you could get a saiga rifle and convert it later just make sure you stay 922r compliant when you convert. these are the same base parts barrel & reciever, as the arsenal sgl series use.
That package would go for around 400 used around here.

Look into the Bulgarian SLR-106 series rifles, they're 5.56mm AKs without all the problems 5.56mm AKs traditionally had.

I've got two, an FR and a UR both run like a sewing machine and love the green tipped brass cased ammo.
Bulgarian AK-74 is the way to go.

Ammo is cheaper
Rounds go further
AND the 5.45x39mm ballistics are crazy they make the same temporary wound cavity as the 7.62mm NATO
Actually, green tip SS109 has been around for awhile. Totally legal and not a secret - so you don't need to worry on that.

The only 5.56 AK I've ever shot was a VEPR K. It was a very accurate rifle and totally reliable. I still wish I had kept it and had it customized instead of selling it. I was stupid. But it proved to me that an AK is capable of good accuracy in that caliber, and that they can work. Not sure what the current situation is on them, but at the time I used some Bulgarian Circle 10 magazines with it and it ran perfect - but I know that not all 5.56 AK's use the same magazines.

For a current 7.62 AK that would do it for me - I have to admit that I'm not sure one exists. I've owned six AK's in various persuasions - some of which just plain refused to work. One of them was a Lancaster BTW. My last AK was a Saiga SGL-31. It was reliable but I had to restake the rivet that holds the mag catch in and the trigger was attrocious. I could have stuck a G2 in it, but I shouldn't have to. It should have been fine as is. If they can make a decent gun in communist China, they can make a good gun from Russia into a good converted AK here. And if Arsenal is the best there is and they aren't ringing my bell with the quality of their work, guess I'm gonna have to move on to another platform.
Nice to hear about the green stuff, I guess I just never really paid attention before. I noticed that the SLR-106 rifles are Bulgarian and the SGL-31 rifles are Russian. That could be the difference between the reviews.

That $400 thing makes me sad. I've had a guy contact me asking about trading for a S&W 19-4 .357 4in barrel, and I contacted another guy who is looking to trade a CZ-97 DB. I'm thinking these may be my best choices to retain the monetary value I put into the guns. I think I'll post the question "which should I trade for" in the pistol area since it's too off topic for here. Thanks for the advice guys, I'll look into the Bulgarians more when I get some money, but it looks like a trade will be my best bet right now.
Got my $650 out of it so I'll be shopping for that replacement gun now :) Anyone know about the SGL-21?
Even though it only has external similarities, have you looked at the Czech VZ-58? Owners seem to be very happy with them.
The magazines are Not interchangeable with AK (47) mags.

On the back of the latest "Shorgun News" there is an ad for the rifles, both wooden stock and folding. They might be imported by Czech USA.
Accuracy for the 7.62 x 39 ammo drops off significantly at about 250 yards. You can hit minute of man at 300 yards but that's it. So don't expect it to be a long range weapon.

My SLR107FR is a pretty solid 4MOA rifle with the Yugo M67 ball. I use it at our local rifle matches and can hit the 12" plates at 300 yards. You have to know the drops and such more than a flat cartridge like 5.56 but it's doable.

Besides, if ever needed for real you're much more likely to be a bad breath range than 300 yards away.

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I guess it depends on what you want to use the rifle for. the ak-74 rounds are very cheap but most of it is corrosive. After buying my first AK (same as yours) I decided to find a VEPR and could not be happier. Very accurate, build quality much better than my Springfield Scout but not as accurate. Probably has to do with ammo quality though.

Get whatever makes you happy. I would keep the AK and have it built on a proper reciever that will take the magazine wobble out of it. I did and it made a world of difference.
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