to Build an AK-47
Part One of our series on US AK47 builders
- Chris Horn's AK47 building method
Our doberman pup inspects a table of
AK47 rifles & AK47 pistols fitted and ready for
We worked with Chris Horn as he builds
AK47 rifles and AK47 pistols at his workshop near
Flagstaff, AZ. Since no one in the US has the same
equipment they use in Russia or Europe, US builders
have developed multiple methods of building their
US made AK47s.
We've broken down the assembly of a US
made AK47 into 12 steps that we will illustrate with
text and images here. Videos are also available at
Keep in mind all information
and photos are for informational use, our instructions
are not an attempt to include every aspect of building
a safe rifle. No
amount of explanation can replace experience. We worked
with Chris Horn who has built literally thousands
of AK47 rifles and AK47 pistols in the last few years.
His skill at building quality rifles is a result of
his interest, abilities and proper tools to do the
a AK47 Parts Kit
There are many AK47 parts kits out there
for sale, deciding which to buy can be a tough
choice. First consider what type of finished
rifle you would like to end up with. After that
things to look for are quality of parts, matching
numbers on the parts which indicates the parts
kit was once a complete rifle not just spare
parts thrown together. The best way in our opinion
to ensure you are buying a quality kit is to
do some research first, then buy the kit in
person so you can inspect the barrel, bolt and
other parts for use and age. Many of the Romanian
AK47 parts kits (which are among the least expensive
and of high quality) are dated so you can easily
determine the age of the original rifle.
Most complete kits come in the same plastic bag they
used when they disassembled the AK47 originally. If
your parts kit comes in a box or just loose parts,
be extra careful to ensure your kit is made up of
parts from one AK47 and not just spare parts from
past builds, collections, etc.
Also keep in mind the laws
in your city, county, state and country. Make sure
it is legal or you to build your AK47. Learn what
parts are OK and which are not. For example, the full
auto trigger group included with many kits is not
legal anywhere in the US to use for building. In addition
you'll need to use 25% US made parts on your complete
apart the AK47 Parts Kit
Now that you've chosen a good kit, and
are ready to start on your AK47 build, you'll
need to remove some parts from many of the AK47
parts kits available today. Some kits have these
steps done for you, some kits were never made
into rifles and these steps wouldn't be required.
First remove all the parts from
the bag your kit came in. Look over the parts
for defects, areas worn from use, or missing
parts. Remove the full auto trigger parts that
wouldn't be legal to use for your build.
Next steps involve tools, here we go.
Take the wood parts off the front end unit (top &
bottom handguards) also remove the cleaning rod if
your AK47 parts kit included one.Also remove the wooden
stock assuming that you have one of those. Your left
with all the metal parts from the original AK47, a
few are still attached to the old parts of the original
So the next step is the trigger
guard and safety selector stop plate. Put the
magazine catch into a vice. First go after the
4 rivets together in the front. Grind the rivets
from the inside of the original receiver to
avoid any permanent marks to your new rifle.
Grind the heads all the way off and since you
won't need the piece of original receiver, if
you grind into it a bit that's OK. Next pry
the old receiver piece off. Grind the rivets
again to make removing the safety selector stop
plate easier. Use a cold chisel to pry the safety
stop off the trigger guard, then grind the rivets
again to make popping them through the trigger
guard easier without bending the metal.
Next remove the rear rivet to remove
the trigger guard from the old receiver. It's pretty
easy, just be careful not to bend the trigger guard
in the process.
Watch the trigger guard during disassembly, sometimes
on torch cut AK47 parts kilts the trigger guard
is weakened from the heat and it can bend or break
easily. Use caution and go slowly so you keep
your trigger guard in good shape.
On the rear end of that same receiver
piece you'll need to remove the rivets and pry off
the old receiver that remains. The trunion is hardened,
so you won't damage it it the process. As before the
old receiver is not going to be used again so if you
grind into it, it will just make prying off the receiver
Once the receiver is removed from the
rear trunion, you'll need to drill out the rivets.
they go straight through, so a drill press would work,
but a mill is much stronger if you have access to
one. The trunion is hardened so you probably won't
hurt it during the drilling but you might break a
few bits learning this step.
the US AK47 receiver from a flat
If you really want to build the whole gun yourself
you'll want to know how to bend the receiver
from a flat. Chris uses common bending tools
along with a custom made jig (fixture). Starting
with a standard flat receiver
Chris bends the new receiver into shape with
a jig and an inexpensive press. After pressing
the basic shape the rails are bent over with
a hammer and soft metal block. The trigger pin
holes are also attended too after bending.
rails in place, support pin, drilling holes
After folding the receiver it's time
to add rails, extractor and center pin. A spot welder
is the preferred method for attaching the side rails,
but you can also use rivets. screws or tack welds
to attach the rails. Whichever method you use, be
sure to heat treat your new receiver after bending
and attaching rails. After hardening your receiver
will last for a long time though many shooting sessions.
This video still in production
First you take out the barrel pin,
then take the rifle to a press and use a soft
metal rod to push the barrel out. Sounds easy
and it really is a simple operation. Just be
careful not to damage the barrel or trunion
in the process.
trunions into the US AK47 receiver
Installing the trunions is probably
the most difficult step in the process (aside
from bending the receiver) mostly because a
specialty tool is required to press the rivets.
Using a rivet tool is the preferred method of
the professionals. Using hard steel rivets and
installing them correctly is the the line that
divides a professional AK47 build from a junk
build and display items.
Available on how to
Installing trunions into the US AK47 receiver
the trigger guard & magazine latch
More rivets are used to attach the trigger
guard & magazine latch. Using a small jig
(fixture) to hold the rivets in the receiver
makes installing these rivets easy with an air
hammer or press.
Pressing the barrel back into place
requires either an angle iron, or simple fixture
to hold the trunion while the barrel is pushed
back into place. using the barrel pin hole as
a guide press the barrel back into it's original
the Trigger Group
Installing a US trigger group is easier
than an original trigger and gives you 3 US parts.
US trigger groups also shoot better in most people
opinion. Once your receiver holes are correct, installing
the trigger group is easy after the first few attempts.
Use a complete trigger assembly as a guide if possible.
First put the hammer spring on the hammer and wrap
the arms around the flat part of the hammer, slide
it into place between the rails and push it's pin
through the receiver to hold the hammer in place.
Next assemble the trigger and disconnect
with the spring from your parts kit. On many US parts
kits there is a round sleeve that hold these parts
together and this system can be placed into the receiver
easily. Or hold these parts together and drop them
into the receiver and pin them as the hammer.
Drop the hammer spring arms down and hook the hammer
on both sides. Test the trigger by holding down
the trigger and cycling the bolt. Watch in the gap
to see if the hammer is falling only one per trigger
pull. Some US triggers are adjustable so the draw
weight of the trigger can be changed to your preference.
This video still in production
and Test Firing
Chatting after the build about common problems encountered
while building. How to move receiver holes, how to
change the front sight post, how to remove the wood
from the front of the AK47.
After your AK47 is built there are various
ways to finish the rifle. Add a AR style stock, rails
to hold lights and sights. Add a bolt hold open on
the safety lever. Make your AK47 look the way you
want it to.
This video still in production
One of the things about using an AK47
at a public shooting range is it's lack
of a bolt hold open. Most ranges require
all rifles to be opened and unloaded during
a cease fire, and typically the only option
for an AK47 shooter is to hold the bolt
back with a spent round or plastic chamber
block. Chris devised a simple modification
to the AK47 safety lever that will allow
the bolt to safely stay back with the
chamber open and visible.
This means you can step away from your rifle
on a range and the line safety guys can see
that your AK47 is unloaded easily.
Another feature of the modified AK47 safety
lever is the 'quick release' found in other
rifles that have a bolt hold open feature. You
can load a full magazine, and simply drop the
safety then you are ready to shoot in almost