View Full Version : Need advice on choosing an AK.

Count Blackula
May 6, 2010, 03:40 PM
Note: I am extremely inexperienced with firearms (only fired an 870 Express a few times before), so bear with me.

I want to buy an assault rifle (to start a hobby in firearms, and also in case the SHTF), and I've settled on the AK platform due to its ruggedness and reliability. However, I don't know whether to choose an AK-47 or AK-74. I've lurked on these forums for some information, and I also went to a local gun store and handled an AK, but I'm still not sure. I know that the 74 has less recoil, and the ammo is cheaper, but despite that, "the AK-74 nut" that worked at that local gun store said to go with the 47.

I am willing to pay a fairly high price (such as the AKs at K-VAR), so long as it is a high-quality model. Is imported 5.45x39 ammo going to dry up soon? What about the prices of spare magazines, replacement parts, etc? And once I settle on one, should there be a particular brand I should look for (such as Arsenal)? Or, am I just getting ahead of my inexperienced self in wanting an assault rifle?

Thanks for all your help.

May 6, 2010, 03:55 PM
Look for a Norinco ak-47 post ban.

May 6, 2010, 04:05 PM
Have you shot either of the 47 or the 74? Sometimes that will help you to make a decision.

Get whichever speaks to you. Supposedly the 47 will penetrate better than the 74.

Get a few magazines, and make sure they all work in your firearm.

Spend some money on accessories, magpouches, etc.

Personally I would not purchase one without the scope rail on the left of the receiver, as I'm to an age where optics are becoming mandatory.

If you don't like your choice, you can always sell it.

Count Blackula
May 6, 2010, 04:05 PM
@TGDKYSER: Why would you recommend that (I'm not trying to be a prick. I'm asking an honest question)?

EDIT: @stubbicatt: No, I haven't fired either. I've just handled an AK-47 at a store.

May 6, 2010, 04:33 PM
I used to have a pre-ban Norinco. It was the best ak-style rifle I've ever shot, I wasn't an "assault" rifle though. It was just a regular semiauto. I never assaulted anything except targets with it.:rolleyes: the Arsenal ak's are top-notch as far as quality if you want a new one.

May 6, 2010, 04:39 PM
Investing in a nice pre-ban 7.62 Norinco Type 56s is a good idea.

May 6, 2010, 04:40 PM
AK's you find in America aren't assault rifles. Just semi-automatic rifles with a large magazine.

Get a 47 because you never know if the Russian 5.45 will be banned or some silly thing like that.
Also, 7.62 packs more punch!

I bought this because I wanted one that was put together well:


And it's easily on par with my higher end rifles from companies like Marlin and Pedersoli in terms of feel and quality of parts.

May 6, 2010, 05:47 PM
A fool and his money are soon parted, according to the English proverb.
Likewise the overeager AKM buyer ignorant of the market. There are some real turkeys out there at prices similar to the gems.

Sign up and lurk at a couple of AKM discussion boards until you know the difference between a good rifle and a good ripping off. PM me if you need help doing that. If you can, you should arrange to borrow whatever you are thinking of buying and shoot it a few times to see if you like it.

May 6, 2010, 06:21 PM
I'd go the WASR route and see how you like them before dumping a lot of money into them. They tend to be on the lower end of the price spectrum, and they shoot just as well as the high end guns, and actually better than some of the US made guns.

I have or have had SAR's, WASR's, an Arsenal/Global Trades SSR-85C, and a Krebs restored Saiga, and all but the SSR-85C shot/shoot the same. As pretty as the 85C was, it was a dog of a shooter, and cost about half again what the SAR's and WASR's cost. I think youre better off with guns built/barreled in the country of origin buy the companies/factories that build them for their military.

I'd also go with 7.62x39, as its more mainstream and more likely to still be around if the 5.45x39 dries up. It may seem cheaper now, but what happens if they cut the imports off?

I think youll also find there are also a lot more accessories available for the 7.62 guns.

If you do get one, all you really need is a good sling (the Russians are the nicest and best made) and some good mags. A decent sight tool is also a plus, and its worth spending the extra money for a good one. The cheap ones are about $7-10, where the good one (B Square) is about $25.

I would avoid all the gimmick stuff as far as add ons go, they are unnecessary and often detrimental to the both you and the gun.

May 6, 2010, 06:26 PM
It really depends on what you like and how you plan to use it. I used to have both, and ended up keeping the 47.

One more thing to keep in mind is the cheap surplus 5.45 is corrosive, which makes very prompt and thorough cleaning more important. Non-corrosive stuff is available, (such as Silver Bear or Wolf), but on a price per round basis, costs the same as non-corrosive 7.62x39, except the latter is more widely available.

Count Blackula
May 6, 2010, 08:04 PM
Sign up and lurk at a couple of AKM discussion boards until you know the difference between a good rifle and a good ripping off. PM me if you need help doing that. If you can, you should arrange to borrow whatever you are thinking of buying and shoot it a few times to see if you like it.
Odds are good that I will have to buy it off the internet, as the only stores that are near me that sell rifles are Dick's, Dunham's, etc, and they sell limited varieties. Though my local gun shop does sell Century Arms AKs, but they were all WASRs.

@AK103K: I've heard that WASRs can be extremely low quality. You haven't had that sort of problem?

@raftman: I plan to use it for target practice/hobby, and whether the SHTF or not, self defense.

May 6, 2010, 08:19 PM
The WASR's, and their predecessors, the SAR's are not as pretty as some of the fancier guns, but they are still usually functionally fine. The SAR's were the rifles with most of the problems early on, but even there, they were corrected for the most part. I have yet to see a WASR with canted sights or a trigger with "slap".

Accuracy wise, my WASR and SAR shoot just as well as my AK103K by Krebs with ammo they like.

Since youre new to this, it would probably be better to see if you can find someone who has something your interested in and go shoot with them. You may find that the AK isnt your cup of tea, and an AR (or something else), more to your liking. Even better, try and shoot both at the same time, so you can compare.

Keep in mind, the internet has generated two of greatest gun myths out there, those being, "the AK is inaccurate", and "the AR is unreliable". Both are far from the truth.

Eagle Vision
May 6, 2010, 08:33 PM
Can someone fill me on banning 5.45? I just bought an AK 74 and have been seeing it a lot.

May 6, 2010, 09:13 PM
paying big bucks for an ak is like paying big bucks for a 30 year old ford escort....with a brand new paint job.
one might look better than the other, but it's still just a 30 year old ford on the inside.
an ak is an ak.
some shoot slightly tighter groups at 100 yards than others, but i missed the memo about the national match shoot for aks. as long as i can hit a 12" circle off hand at 100 yards i'm happy...so far my crappy romanians make me happy.

Count Blackula
May 6, 2010, 09:24 PM
@AK103K: I don't know how I could try out an AK/AR, as I don't know anyone with them (or any other rifles), or any ranges that rent out semi-auto rifles. I just handled both inside a gun store.

May 6, 2010, 10:43 PM
Can someone fill me on banning 5.45? I just bought an AK 74 and have been seeing it a lot.

There is currently no ban on 5.45 ammo nor are there any clear plans for one. The concern is that the vast majority of 5.45 ammo is imported. Should a ban on the importation of ammo in that caliber or from that country come about (it's happened before, that's why we can't buy Russian 7.62x25 ammo), the supply of 5.45 ammo would essentially dry up. Luckily, Hornady just began making 5.45 ammo so should its importation be banned, there is still at least one domestic source of it.

May 6, 2010, 11:12 PM
... that's why we can't buy Russian 7.62x25 ammo...

At the risk of going off topic. You know, just earlier today, I was wondering, why it is there was Polish surplus, Romanian, Yugoslavian, among others for 7.62 Tokarev, but not Russian. What exactly is the story behind this ban?

May 6, 2010, 11:18 PM
Count- what part of Indiana are you in? id be more than happy to let you shoot my 93 Norinco post ban. To get an idea.

Eagle Vision
May 7, 2010, 07:55 AM
Hornady just began making 5.45 ammo

I saw it advertised, do you know when we will be able to by some? I would like to have some quality defensive rounds.

May 7, 2010, 08:27 AM
5.45 ammo is pretty cheap now so "buy it cheap and stack it deep".
If importation did get banned, I would be very surprised if a domestic ammo maker did not start producting that ammo to fill the gap.

May 7, 2010, 09:45 AM
I have 2 Arsenal SLR-106 Ak rifles in 5.56. I choose that caliber because of the large variety of ammo that is available. Both rifles have been trouble free, but I only use Bulgarian Circle 10 mags. I like the folding stock and the Arsenal 2 stage trigger-- the accuracy is on par with my Colt 6920.

Count Blackula
May 7, 2010, 08:40 PM
@TGDKYSER: I live in northern Indiana, specifically South Bend. If you live in the general area, that would be really cool/nice of you.

And what's with the Circle 10 magazines (as I've repeatedly heard that mentioned before)? Are they of a real high quality? Where could I purchase them (either a store or online)?

May 7, 2010, 11:08 PM
A Saiga may be a good way to go. In 7.62x39 or 5.45x39, they're available brand new for the less than just about any Century Arms equivalents, and Saigas will have superior fit and finish and the odds of getting a quality product are by far greater as these come from the same factory that's been making AK's since the day the AK was first introduced. They don't look as much like traditional AK's, but that can be changed if it really matters to you.

May 8, 2010, 06:02 AM
If your looking for an AK, and want to go the Saiga route, get it restored to what it was before by one of reputable companies doing the conversions. The Saigas as they now come in in the import configuration, dont use standard AK mags, and are not as readily accessorized as even the cheapest Century gun.

I have one of the early Saiga's done by Krebs. Its one of the chopped down AK103's with a 14" barrel and welded on brake, which he calls the AK103K. Its a great gun, and he did a real nice job on the conversion.


If the fit and finish of the WASR or SAR bothers you, painting them is cheap enough. :)


May 8, 2010, 07:21 AM

Count Blackula
May 8, 2010, 03:07 PM
Is the WASR 10 a good choice, so long as I inspect the rifle in person? I have gathered that newer models aren't as prone to canted gas blocks/sights, but there is still the possibility of somewhat tight/loose fitting magazines, along with trigger slap (what does that feel like, exactly?). What are people's experiences with WASRs?

Also, is it inexpensive/easy to stain an AK's wooden furniture (if I wanted to do it myself)?

May 8, 2010, 03:31 PM
I would prefer to look at one before I bought it, but I feel the same about any of them in that respect.

With the WASR's, I would want to check the mag fit, just to be sure. Still, the ones I've seen didnt have anything excessive either way.

I think they have the slap issue pretty well worked out, or at least I havent heard of any complaints from people I know that have them.

Slap is the trigger kicking back as it resets, and it leaves a stinging sensation in the tip of your finger as you shoot. It usually gets more painful as you go. Its not usually something you can feel unless your shooting the gun.

My SAR did have a nasty case of it, and I swapped it out for a Red Star Arms trigger, which while a little pricey, is a very nice trigger. I did swap out the trigger in my WASR for a Tapco "G2" trigger, since everyone was raving about them, and I figured I'd try it out and see. The Tapco I got was terrible. It was crunchy and had a lot of drag as you pulled on it, and if you let go before it let off, it would usually be very light on the next pull, and was not consistent at all. I've since replaced the original trigger, which isnt at all bad either by the way. If I feel the need for another, I'll go with the RSA.

As far as the furniture goes, I dont see that it wold be expensive or hard to refinish. Like any of them, it will probably be some work, but i dont see why you'd have a problem doing it.

If you go to KVAR or AA-OK, you can also get pretty much any type of the polymer type stocks for them too, and at fairly reasonable prices.

May 8, 2010, 05:05 PM
Count, I'd say the WASR is a good choice especially since you said you had some available locally. You hear of prices around $400 so don't go way over that. My experience parallels AK103K and he gave you good advice, WASRs give you a lot of bang for the buck.

My WASR-10/63 is an older one that I bought 4 years ago in a post ban configuration with a welded barrel nut and filed down bayonet lug. I cut off the nut and screwed on a good flash hider but never bothered with the bayonet lug. Otherwise mine has been a very reliable rifle and handles cheap surplus ammo and surplus steel magazines. It's a lot of fun and would be excellent in a defensive situation.

Definitely inspect a WASR (as you would any firearm) and pick a good one that doesn't have any obvious problems. I would avoid one with a welded nut if you come across one of those. I like the Tapco G2 trigger that came with my WASR so some must be better than others.

Count Blackula
May 9, 2010, 11:51 PM
Thanks for all the help so far, everyone. :)

I've been snooping around, and my local Dunham's has a WASR 10 (double stack) on sale for $380, which comes with a clip (ad doesn't say how many rounds, but I would guess 5 or 10). However, I've been checking out classicarms.us, and they have a "ROMANIAN AK- MV" that includes two 30 round magazines, cleaning kit/oil bottle, sling, magazine pouch, bayonet/sheath (don't really care about that, but I guess it would be nice) and manual for only $10 more, $390. Is Classic Arms a good company to order from (i.e. are their products of a decent/high quality)? It almost sounds too good to be true....

May 10, 2010, 12:04 AM
Includes 1 surplus steel and 1 Tapco polymer magazine, Bayonet, and other assorted accessories.


Romanian WASR review . NRA American Rifleman


Very good choice.

May 10, 2010, 12:19 AM
I have a lancaster, I dig it totally. But, Every AK I have shot, eats up ammo the same, and seems reliable after a hard days shooting even though I still cant get over how cheezey they seem to be made.:D

May 10, 2010, 12:56 AM
I have a wasr and no complaints. wouldnt take a 20 round mag, but I think that was the mag and not the gun. Who wants 20 round mags anyway?

May 10, 2010, 02:35 AM
in my opinion you should 1st go buy a bolt action 22 with iron sights. and two bricks of ammo.(150$ total probably) then shoot the crap out of it. get used to handling it, goin to the range, ect. THEN pick up an AK... heck spend what you would have spent on your 1st batch of ammo on the 22 to get started.... just my .02

May 10, 2010, 10:22 AM
Go with a WASR GP 10/63. The stamped receiver is fine. The US milled receivers are nice but don't do much more in terms of function other than to add weight.

Count Blackula
May 11, 2010, 01:31 AM
@alaskaman94: That is what some people have suggested on a different forum (where I also asked for advice). So I think I will buy a .22lr first.