The 2 Dollar Shovel AK
Ever looked at those ads for torched up, hacked, and slashed parts kits for cheap and thought to yourself, you know, I think I can build my own (fill in the blank) from that. Well Boris, a fellow gun nut and AK-aficiano over at North East Shooters in Massachusetts undertook a project to make a working AK style rifle from a $2 shovel (and a torched parts kit). What happened may amaze you.
The Simplicity of the AK design
The AK-47 was the product of the design team of Mikhail Kalashnikov (with good old Hugo Schmeisser, formerly the designer of the STG44 for Hitler, looking over his shoulder) back in the 1940s Soviet Union. Its heart was a simple flat piece of steel that could be bent and pressed into shape to form the receiver-- the heart and soul of the firearm. Each of the other 52 parts mounts to, either in, or on to this piece. This simple format has made the AK design one of the easiest to mass-produce and as a result, millions of them have been made around the world in the past sixty years.
(surplus imported AK parts kits are the best thing about winning the Cold War)
Some of which, are weirder than others.
The Shovel Build
Boris took a $2 shovel with a plastic D-grip, wooden shaft, and steel spade-type blade as his starting point. He cut it up, heated, and hammered the blade flat. He then cut, bent and grinded the flat piece of steel until he had a relatively workable receiver. The shovel was a good bit (2.5x) thicker than a regular AK receiver blank was but through a lot of elbow grease, he made it work.
He describes it as 'straight as Liberace in drag thumbing through gay porn magazines," but further work and the use of a plasma torch to make cut-outs and the receiver took a recognizable form. He used a $200 Rumanian parts kit (without the barrel) that had been used and abused long before it was hit with the nearsighted cutter's torch and thrown in a box. This supplied the rails, trunnion, and other misc parts needed to flesh out the shovel receiver.
Add to that a barrel, some compliance parts, a cheap scope, and a few other odds and ends that were lying around brought to total cost of the build up to $262. Lots of riveting, welding, drilling, and sweat later and the rifle was good enough to make it to the range-- where it worked.
Is it real?
While we weren't there looking over Boris's shoulder, his descriptive text and 50+ pictures are very convincing. Home building a semi-auto AK in your garage with the use of a parts kit has become one of the manliest of manly hobbies. Almost anyone with electricity, a drill press, hammers, a grinder, punch set, spot welder and torch can pull one off with a modicum of know how. AR builds are also popular but slightly more difficult. A few years ago an enterprising home builder cranked out a wooden (as in made from a pine tree) lower for his AR that actually looked half way decent
We think Boris is legit, and give him and his shovel gun, two-thumbs up.