AKs, AKs and AKs
One of the decisions we have to make in our survival preparations is “Which rifle?” It should be easy to use, durable, extensively field tested, affordable, reasonably accurate, and have respectable power. Ammunition and accessories should be easy to find and reasonably priced. There are several rifles which meet these criteria. This article will deal with the AK-47s and near AK-47s.
Types of AK-47s
AK in 7.62×39 Caliber
- A Romanian model is currently selling for $380 with one 30 rd. magazine at jgsales.com
- This caliber is approximately equal in power to the 30-30.
- The advantage of this round is more knock down power compared to some of the other choices.
- The disadvantage is that with more power comes more weight. (twice as much as the .223’s 62 grain bullet vs the 122 grain bullet for the 7.62×39)
- Another disadvantage is that ammo is mainly mass produced in Russia and then imported. A presidential order(theirs or ours) or other trade disruption could cut off the main supply.
- Thirty round magazines are readily available for $10 each, Aim surplus is having a sale now, 10 at $4.95 each.
- Ammunition is currently between .20 to .25 a round, when buying a case of 1000.
AK in .223 (5.56mm current military issue)
- Major advantage: Ammunition is more commonly available than the other calibers. (Most ARs use it and the Mini-14 as well)
- Major disadvantage: When the .223/5.56 round first came out it was classified as a “varmint” round. Made for killing praire dogs, gophers, weasels, racoons, foxes and bunnies. Not for killing people. I would use a .223/5.56 rifle over many other choices, but I would always keep this in mind. To those that would say: “Yeah but the American military uses it and have upgraded the round”. I answer that the people in the Pentagon that chose it are the same kind that saw how wonderful it was to downgrade the military pistol from a .45acp to a 9mm. Ask our troops how that is working out.
- A Romanian AK in .223/5.56 caliber is currently being sold by j&gsales.com for $429 with one magazine.
- Magazines are about $20 each, and ammo starts at .20 a round.
AK in 5.45×39
- This was the Soviets answer to our M16 .223/5.56. The result was a round that perhaps just barely matched the M16 round when we were using the 55 grain bullet. It will not match the 62 grain bullet.
- Advantages: Currently ammo can be had for as low as 11 cents a round and magazines are $10. (Aim surplus)
- Disadvantages: Main source of cheap 11 cent ammo is Russia and has the same problem noted above for the 7.62×39 ammo. The 11 cent ammo is corrosive, which is an annoyance for some since prompt cleaning after shoooting is a must.
- Currently selling at j&gsales.com for $429 and comes with one magazine.
- Of the three calibers made by Romania, this rifle seems to have the best accuracy.
- An AK with a standard rifle stock, no pistol grip.
- Priced slightly less than the traditional AK, and for a reason. They do not accept standard AK magazines without modification.
- There was a story going around that the Saiga arms factory was declaring bankruptcy. It was the auto manufacturing branch that was doing so.
- Made in Russia.
- For our consideration purposes, it is made in the above calibers and308. The 308 is selling for $449 at classicarms.us. That would be great except…….an eight round magazine sells for +/- $50. Too bad Tapco doesn’t make a 20 rounder for these and sell them for $20. The 308 saigas would sell like hotcakes.
- This is an Israeli piece of work. They took good ideas from the AK and the HK and put them together. They exist in 308 and 223, but only the 223 is considered in this article. (308 = $$$$)
- This rifle has a side folding stock, and the rear sight has been moved all the way back and turned into a peep sight.
- There is a magazine adapter that allows the use of M16 magazines, which would be great except it is hard to find a seller and very expensive.
- Earlier this year these rifles could be bought for $499, reason being was that the magazines were scarce. A 35 round magazine was going for up to $50 used when you could find them. Then Tapco started making a 30 round mag for it and selling them for $15. The Galil/Golani is much harder to find now.
- This also is made in Romania. Available for $600 at j&gsales.com. It comes with two 10 round magazines and a scope.
- Advantages: Uses the 7.62x54r round, which is slightly less powerful that the 30-06 and more powerful than any of the above in this article. Increased range and penetration. Ammo price starts as low as 20 cents a round.
- Disadvantages: The 20 cent ammo is corrosive (again, no big deal, just clean it after shooting). Magazines hold only ten rounds, usually sell for about $20 ea. and can be hard to find at times. The rifle is longer and heavier than the others above. Cheap ammo is currently abundant, as military surplus sells out this will change.
Buying an AK-47
A good AK is not always the easiest to find. You have to shop hard and be patient. Guns.com and Palmetto State Armory are probably going to be your biggest sources to find something. Of course, at the rate AKs can chew up ammo, you’ll also want to watch for bulk ammo deals.
The average shooter should expect to be able to use any of the above (excluding the Romak) and defend themselves out to 200 yards. A better than average shooter using good quality ammo could expect to have an effective range out to 300 yards, but that would be pushing it. I stress the “defend” part, I am not talking about putting holes in paper.
Concerning the Romak 3, with good quality ammo, a better than average shooter would be able to extend the effective range out to 500 yards. If I were picking from the above for myself I would take either the Romanian AK in 7.62×39 or the Galil. I have mentioned several websites above. I have not received compensation in any form from any of them.
And – of course – don’t rule out any Made in the U.S.A. AKs.Save
My buddy has a Romanian in 762 x 39. What can he do about these 2 complaints ? 1-After each shot is fired, the smoke goes up his nose. 2-The rifle gets so hot that he keeps getting burns whenever he shoots it. thanks
it Is a Russian gun so do what a Russian would, drink водка
If he is getting burned he is probably touching something he shouldn’t, ie: the barrel. If he isn’t touching the barrel, reciever, etc and the heat is coming through the foregrip burning him he should probably replace the grip.
If he is getting smoke up his nose it is most likely caused by too much lubricant/cleaning solution in the barrel or the brand of ammo. There is going to be some smoke but if it’s excessive he should try a different type of ammo. Again, too much lubricant can also cause smoke as the bullet and powder exit the barrel and burn it off. This can also cause a malfunction and if it is stored with a loaded magazine (which none should ever be, right?) it could also give a feed problem as well as soak the rounds making them not fire properly.
If a gun is NOT loaded it’s only as good as a baseball bat….I’ll pass.
This video compares the AK and AK. Note the accuracy of the AK at 200 yards;
Now I’m sure there have been some improvements, but unless there are some design changes (bolt better centered, thicker barrel), can’t be a lot better.
I’ve had a couple AKs (MAK-91 and a SA-93) which were fun to shoot, but no where near as accurate as my SKS.
On a side note, a nice thing about 5.56 ammo on the civilian market is that HP is available while mil gets FMJ.
I’m leaning towards the newer (SNs starting with 580 or 581) Mini-14s – AK reliability/ruggedness, near AR accuracy.
A couple of comments about the PSL (Romak III):
Some on the market are not assembled in Romania but here in the states, and there seems to be a wide varaiation in quality no matter where the rifle is built. I have two, both from the Cuigar factory in Romania, and both of mine have issues that needed addressing. The trigger pulls were awful, but that can be easily fixed with a Tapco trigger. The bolt hold open device does not work consistently on either rifle – this is a magazine issue, but it does not bother me (any more than a lack of a BHO on an AK would). The magazines that came with my rifles (2 per rifle, both rifles from AIM this spring) feed reliably, and the rifles have been reliable, I have not had any failures to feed or extract.
The TIP scopes that come with the rifles are not centered over the bore axis but offset to the left and rather high, there is a zeroing procedure that has been published elsewhere that needs to be followed. I had to add cheekrests to the rifles to be able to get a good stockweld, and am going to add some sort of buttpad to lengthen the stock, its too short.
Keep in mind that the PSL was designed to shoot Light Ball 7.62X54R, there is heavy ball on the market but using it in a PSL will likely cause damage. One of the rifles seems to prefer old Polish ball from the 1950’s, holding 3 inches from the bench at 100 yards, the other does much better with Czech ball, late 1960’s ammo, and it will hold 1.5 inches at 100 yards. The scopes/mounts on both rifles have maintained their zero’s after mounting and dismounting.
Both rifles string their shots vertically as the bore gets hot, holding tight groups for 3 rounds, and increasing group size with the stringing when firing more than 3 shot groups – I let the rifles cool off between groups. It has been too hot to shoot the rifles for the past month but this fall I will see what sport of 5 and 10 shot groups the rifles will hold.
I am also going to try to tweak some better performance out of both rifles, some users have reported improvements relieving handguard wood from barrel contact, and I want to try some Russian ammo I purchased recently. I may try to add a bipod to one of the rifles.
The rifles are fun to shoot, and a heck of a lot cheaper to shoot than my Garands or M1A – my main reason for buying them. They are easy to clean and maintain (I use windex to neutralize the corrosive salts), the bores are chrome lined, and mine were decently finished. I think they are a good value in the $600 range.
hey guys. if your looking for a more affordable rifle there is always the SKS. i consider it the survivalist rifle. its a cheap gun. i got mine for $275. its a very reliable fire arm and can be pretty accurate. its in 7.62X39 cal, same as the ak-47 so ammo will always be around for it. its semi auto, with a ten round internal magazine but tapco sells 20 and 30 round magazines for it.
I ‘second’ the SKS as an option for a survival rifle. However, it is heavy as &W(#, and probably a lot more costly now in 2016. My other concern would by the 10-round capacity. Yes, removable ‘duckbill’ magazines exist, and I’ve had a couple of 20-round ones for my SKS, but the magazines are hit-or-miss, and not very stable. They can easily fall out if you don’t seat them in the rifle just so, and it’s not intuitive how to do that. I sold my SKS years ago, in favor of an AK, that weighs less, and is plenty accurate for my needs.