From WARRIOR TALK NEWS
Getting Into The Kalashnikov Game - 2010
Posted by Gabe Suarez on 09/30/2010
I have been working with AKs for many years now, and teaching AK specific classes for over five years. The AK market has changed drastically since the first AK parts kits sold for little more than 80 bucks, and you could buy a thousand rounds for about $150.
I want to present this discussion on "how to get into the AK" today since we get many of the same questions we did back then.
First I want to discuss "why". The advantages of the AK have been written about extensively here and I won't get into them too deeply. No, its not a SOCOM M1A, nor a Daniel Defense M4, but there are things you can do with an AK that neither of those two American rifles will allow. Within the intervals of combat that we keep seeing around the world, the AK can stay up with either one of those rifles anywhere.
Century Arms delivered some 3 million AKs to its dealers last year and this year so I suspect the american gun world (the one that is never written about in gun magazines) is catching on to the value and effectiveness of the AK-47/74 system.
When selecting an AK, you need to ask yourself why you are getting one. If it is for playing gun games, or to do the Bubba Bump-Fire at the local gravel pit between beers and doughnuts, then don't bother reading anymore because I cannot help you. Go get the cheapest thing you can find and go enjoy yourself. Gun games are not our focus and we cannot make any suggestions for such endeavors.
If your needs are for a weapon to defend yourself, your home, and your family, then we can talk. The first thing, like with anything, is to get the best you can afford. Most often we hear about buying a "cheap AK". I laugh when I hear that. Would you buy cheap brakes for the family car? How about cheap fire extinguishers for your home? Or if you were sick would look for cheap heart doctors? Nope. Stinginess in life and death purchases is never a wise course.
Cadillac AKs can be found in the shops of Jim Fuller, Will Hayden, Mark Graham, or Marc Krebs. You can have a rifle made up in any way you like. Sure it will cost, but a Porsche or Land Rover will always cost more than a Hyundai or Smart.
Next best are the generic AKs found at Atlantic Firearms, made by Vector, Interarms, and Arsenal to name a few. These will run a little less but are often very nicely made rifles. These are more like the Chevy/Ford line, than the Porsche but still a great value.
Finally we have the Century rifles. These are difficult to classify because when we say "Century" we don't know who made them. Some are very good and other have some issues in assembly. To gain an understanding about what to look for in a new purchase, I suggest Jim Fuller's Kalashnikov Rifle Armorer DVD. That said, if the rifle has been inspected and found solid, you can get into a very nice AK pattern rifle for about $350-400.
There are of course other things that will need to be purchased with your new AK rifle. First you will need magazines. I classify them in three categories. Combat Use, Training Use, and Trash.
Combat Use magazines: Again, don't cheap out here. You can buy very good surplus steel magazines for about $15. These will be new surplus and are usually very nice. Resist the temptation to buy those "bulk packed" magazines that only cost $9 a piece. They are trash.
The better magazines will be the US Palm magazines made in the USA with current technology, lighter and stronger than everything else out there. They will run about $30 but you won't have to sort out the good ones from the bad ones. Almost as good are the Arsenal magazines.
Training Magazines: There are some Bulgarian Commercial magazines that are plastic. As well there are Korean magazines, and some "more used than average" steel magazines from eastern europe. These are OK for training uses but have not kept up with our use. Again...good for the range but not for betting your life on.
Trash magazines: Along with the "Fair" condition surplus magazines, the Tapco, and Pro-Mag magazines are also trash and to be avoided.
Ammo is another consideration. Again...US AK tradition is to go as cheap as you can. Ghetto ammo may be cool to shoot in training, but not what you want for serious duties. Much of the inaccurate rep the AK rifles has is due to trashy ammo. To train with, sure get the cheapest, but for serious uses, get a couple of magazines of the good stuff.
Two magazines is 60 rounds. These are the magazines that will be in your rifle and belt when you grab the rifle to repel home invaders, or to handle any other life and death issues, and not for shooting targets on the range. Think if you had to take a shot at a home invader past your daughter, will you want ComBloc Cheap-Ass-Bunker ammo, or Hornady V-Max. Even if the ammo was a dollar per shot (which match ammo usually is), $60 will not cause you to default on your mortgage.
Slings and miscellaneous items such as web gear are next. Most ComBloc webgear is unusable by larger american shooters. You will need a sling. For sling uses please see my description of it in my DVD. The sling should be as long as you are tall at the shoulder. That is a good rule of thumb. There are plenty of really good US Made slings out there although I am prejudiced to those I have designed and sold at OST. Even a length of tubular nylon, tied with 550 cord will be better than the ComBloc sling guys.
To carry your magazines and other miscellaneous items, get a rifle bag. These can range in cost with the lowest cost one being the TIB, and the higher dollar and more featured SneakyBag being the Cadillac.
That is it gents....a good AK (which is not hard to find), a set of fighting magazines, and a set of training magazines, along with a suitable sling, and either a magazine carry bag, and you are all set to go. In order to have a structure to your training, I suggest The Fundamental Kalashnikov, and Kalashnikov Rifle Gunfighting (Volumes 1, and volumes 2).
There you go. Now you have all the guidance I can give. Go get one and get to training!!!