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Old January 12, 2014, 08:02 PM   #1
Klein Helmer
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First Rifle: To Buy or To Build?

Hello, everyone.

I am new here. I got my first few guns Spring 2013 - some S&W revolvers - then ventured to the semi auto pistol section of this forum for some help choosing between a few of those models.

The advice was great and now I am hoping to utilize some of your knowledge as it pertains to semi-auto rifles. I took a good deal of time deliberating over whether to go with the classic AK-47, or the more modern AR-15. After much thought, I decided on the former due to its simplicity, heavier construction, and greater knockdown power. I realize there are areas in which the AR is superior, but the 3 previously mentioned criteria being for me the most important, I opted for the classic.

I would like to own two AKs, one of which chambered in the traditional 7.62, and another in either .458 Socom, or whatever else may be the largest safely used round for the weapon system. I would like to start with the larger caliber build, and after that, once I have learned as much as possible, move on to the more classic 7.62. For this build, I mean to spare no expense, and assemble the biggest, heaviest, most possibly high quality and reliable AK-47 of which I can conceive.

I would however prefer to start with a more modest piece, one with which I can learn the ropes and teach myself not only proficiency with the completed weapon, but also knowledge as it pertains to its construction and maintenance.

So, as it stands, I have very little experience with semi-autos, or indeed rifles of any sort, and am looking to buy or build my first AK-47. I am seeking a solid yet reasonably priced model capable of utilizing the largest safely fired rounds from the system.

If I have written anything which easily identifies me as an utter neophyte, I apologize and hope I might learn from any necessary corrections.

How might I best proceed?

Best,

- H
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Old January 12, 2014, 09:55 PM   #2
ParabellumJ
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First Rifle: To Buy or To Build?

Given you know little about the platform I suggest buying a quality AK to start. After you get to really know your weapon would I consider building one. I bought my first AR, a Colt. It wasn't until I had spent a year or so shooting it and learning how the rifle really works did I decide to build an AR. Had I started with a build I wouldn't have known squat and probably would have made quite a few mistakes and poor decisions.
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Old January 12, 2014, 11:07 PM   #3
Dc777
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Buy one first. At 15 you wouldn't attempt to build an internal combustion engine without owning a car and learning to change spark plugs would you? Take your time bud. Learn it before you go out on a limb and try to build something that you know nothing about. Learn how something works before you play master technician with it. We aren't talking about painting a picture here... We are talking about something dangerous. Safety first. Don't do like others have done and wind up paying a gunsmith to fix your mess up and spending more on your first build than you can buy a new gun with a warranty for. Just my .02
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Old January 13, 2014, 01:17 AM   #4
chris in va
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Probably want to just buy a VEPR 308 then if you're going for power. The AK was never meant to be a big bore rifle and you will have a much harder time trying to do so. Conversely an AR's upper can be swapped out in a few seconds if you want a different caliber.
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Old January 13, 2014, 03:47 PM   #5
tirod
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Simplicity is relative. While the piston and bolt are bare bones pared down working parts, the issue isn't them at all - it's pressing a barrel into the receiver and setting the headspace.

Nobody builds AK's because that one operation isn't simple. It's the epitome of the hardest thing to do assembling any rifle, and it's done by gunsmith level trained personnel with a press, expensive gauges, and jigs to get it right. It's a high precision operation measured in thousandths of an inch.

In contrast, the barrel of the AR has a barrel extension screwed on, it is set as easy as screwing a micrometer in, and it's really no more expensive to buy the barrel with it already done as it is to get the parts separately. There's really no reason to bother. Plus, the AR then slips into the upper, is tightened to get the barrel nut lined up for the gas tube, done.

So, simplicity is really out the window for the kitchen table builder wanting an AK. Not going to happen.

Heavy construction, yes. That doesn't make it more robust or put up with more punishment, it just punishes the user more carrying it around. It's why the quad rails are selling less and less for AR's - they are dead weight and entirely counterproductive to the point of the firearm. The designers went to intermediate calibers to reduce recoil and trim the weight, adding back more useless pounds of it does nothing for accuracy or reliability.

Knock down power, highly arguable. The 7.62 x 39 ranks at the .30-30 level of power - not .308 or .30-06. It's intermediate, not battle rifle class. While the 5.56 doesn't compare, when you move into the 6.x mm and .30 intermediate cartridges, the difference narrows considerably. Plus, the newer modern cartridges take advantage of the ballistic properties to enhance their performance. It's the reason the 7.62 was dropped for the smaller Russian issue round - big slow heavy bullets might have more foot pounds of energy at close range, but the also have rainbow trajectories that make them difficult to use and hit targets with. The lighter bullets have flatter flight paths and are more likely to make a hit.

Overall, choosing the AK to build won't be an easy thing to do - there is no universal standard, parts from different sources may be built to different patterns. The AK may be renown the world over, but you can't build a gun from a pile of various parts with any assurance it will even fit, much less function. That's why most AK's are bought, and the discriminating buyer understands what source country pattern he is getting so he can avoid the known dogs.

Or - you can build an AR, like I did. Most of the parts came from different sources, upper and lower different, LPK different, buffer tube different, furniture different, barrel difference, FSB different, etc etc. It all fit together with no finesse as if it was meant to be done all on one assembly line. It cycles fine with no aberrations, ejects brass where it's supposed to, and hits the target. I built it fixed A2 stock with rifle handguard on a 16" midlength gas barrel in 6.8SPC - something AR's offer, AK's, no, not so much. I'm replacing he stock for a carbine set up with MFT Minimalist and a Gatorgrip freefloat - something AR's offer, AK's, no, not so much.

In either case, you won't get it done cheap -you have to buy all the parts at retail, and just buying an existing gun on the market would likely be less expensive. Sometimes the issue is that nobody builds it yet - so you have to. Ask yourself are you ready to press he barrel in the trunnion of a AK receiver to within a thousandth's of an inch, or just get one of them cheaper and quicker to enjoy it and learn what they are all about?

As a vet with 22 years of carrying the M16, Asc. Auto Tech, I felt I had the knowledge and training to handle the AR assembly. No way would I start building rifles if setting headspace and pressing barrels into receivers was involved - it's really the same skill level as boring blocks and fitting pistons. Some things are better left to pros who have done them so much they can't screw it up. The AR? Already done, drop it in and have fun.
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Old January 13, 2014, 04:19 PM   #6
madmo44mag
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The AR platform rifle could be built by a monkey and with a little practice he could build it in the dark.
I have no idea why people think this is a difficult build.
The interweb is full of good info and YouTube is running over with good videos.
You need a decent armors wrench, as vise and an AR holding jig.
The cost for the wrench and jig is less than 70.00 and if you plan on more than one rifle you will need them sooner or later.
I have never seen a head space issue with a AR platform rifle if all parts are mil-spec.
Get on YouTube and watch some videos your confidence will soar when you realize how easy they are to build.
Also when you build your own you can tailor it to your exact needs and wants.
I just finished another AR budget build and I have a 1,000.00 rifle for 700.00 bucks.
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Old January 14, 2014, 07:57 PM   #7
+1k ammo
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Sounds like good advice. I will replace wood on my a k but start pulling parts for my A r build. I looked on gun broker and couldn't find what I wanted for less than 1000-1200.
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