There are three basic
types of Kalashnikov rifles on the market.
Older, larger bullet)
(Currently Used Smaller Bullet)
(heavy duty receiver)
was designed as an infantry rifle capable of firing
in either the semi-automatic or fully-automatic
mode. The first AK47s
had machined receivers.
The AK came in
two versions: the standard AK-47 with a fixed
wooden stock, and another, the AKS,
with a folding metal stock issued primarily to parachutist
and armor troops.
Later the Soviets
produced the AKM47s
(the "M" stands for modern). The Soviets found that
stampings were not only more efficient to produce
but resulted in longer receiver life and better
accuracy than the milled receivers.
was designed as a squad automatic weapon. The RPK
could also be fired in either semi or fully-automatic
modes. Squad automatic weapons, as deployed, are
more frequently fired in the fully automatic mode.
For this reason, one usually sees the RPK pictured
with an ultra-high capacity magazine such as a 75
round drum or 40 round box magazine instead of the
standard 30 round magazine typically used with the
AK. To handle the sustained automatic fire, the
was designed to be much stronger. First, the sheet
metal of the receiver of the RPK is 50% thicker
than that of the AKM47. Next, the trunion of the
RPK is larger and stronger than that of the AK47
or AKM47. The trunion is the part to which the barrel
is connected and into which the bolt locks. Because
the trunion is larger, the receiver must be bulged
out to accept the larger trunion. Hence the above
mentioned bulges on the RPK receiver.
The original design
for the Kalashnikov bolt action and the AK rifle
were never patented, and many factories around
the world started producing them. Copies of the
AK47 rifle are not in any way less robust or featured
than the original Russian production rifles, they
are just NOT Russian manufactured.
One major manufacturer
is the Chinese Norinco/Polytech company. They produced
several variants, and all of them are very good
rifles. The following is a list of several non-Soviet
manufactured AK assault rifles.
WUMs, Maddis, MISR, etc. are semi-automatic sporting
rifles based on the AKM47.
made in China by NORINCO. Semiauto copy of
Chinese model 56. 16" barrel, chromed
bore, stamped receiver and trigger. Receiver
appears to be blued, bolt carrier and bolt
appear to be chromed. These are slightly better
finished AKM's and the original AKM's came
with a folding pig sticker bayonet. Chambered
in 7.62x39mm and 5.56x45mm
Also Chinese-made. Longer, heavier barrel.
Higher quality stock. Some receivers are milled
from cast metal rather than stamped.
is based on the RPK. This stiffer receiver
makes for better accuracy and longer life
Maadi: supposedly made
using surplussed Russian tooling, and thus most
similar of all AK-variants to the original Russian
AK-47. The stock is generally a "laminate".
ROMAK (WASR, SAR-1)
Romanian AKM have
slightly better wood, better metal workmanship
and bluing but is otherwise unchanged from the
basic AKM. Chambered in 7.62x39mm
from Century International Arms: This
AK variant is a hybrid of Egyptian and Chinese
Parts. There may or may not be proper parts fittings.
Could be no worse than the many hybrids in Africa
and Asia as rifles wear out. These rifles since
they are basically AKMs.
(Hesse Arms) M47
Cast receiver and trigger. 16.5" barrel.
Chromed bore. Hardwood stock painted brown. Bolt
carrier, receiver, cover, and barrel finished
in some sort of black enamel.
wz 88 Tantal
of this rifle started in late seventies. The requirements
called for a 5.45 mm gas operated rifle with 3-shot
burst capability and ability to fire rifle grenades.
The designers based their work on the Russian
AK-74 although most of the mechanisms are original
solutions. First called wz. 81 (model 81) it was
accepted by the military in 1990 as "karabinek
wz. 89" (carbine model 89). Simultaneously
a shortened version was developed and was named
wz. 89 (Onyks). Since Poland is to became a NATO
member, a 5.56 mm NATO version was developed (wz.90),
but was not accepted by the Polish military
series made in China are true AK47's in which
the receiver is forged/milled. The barrel lengths
remain 16" in standard barrel weights. The
rifle is chambered in 7.62x39mm and 5.56x45mm.
The 5.56x45mm variant is extremely rare.
AKM and RPK. Most versions fire the 7.62x51
NATO (.308 NATO) round. Longer barrel than MAK-90.
The wood and workmanship of these rifles are almost
the same as the Romanian but the most important
variance is the metal thickness of the stamping.
Other countries use the 1mm thickness the Yugoslavs
used a 1.5mm thickness. This added thickness allows
for more rigidity in the receiver while still
allowing some flexing. Chamberings available for
this rifle are in 7.62x51mm, 8mm mauser, 7.62x54mmR,
7.62x39mm, 5.56x45mm and 5.45x39mm.
from Finland. Forged/milled
receivers and barrels between 16" and 20"
in lengths with varying barrel weights. The main
difference between Valmet's and other AK variants
is the movement of the sights and stock configuration.
The sight placement on AK's are with the rear
sights on the distal end of the receiver and the
front sight is on the barrel. The Valmet's places
the rear sight on the proximal sight of the receiver
cover and the front sight on the distal end of
the gas tube. This gives a longer sight radius
and aids in accuracy. The workmanship is good
to very good. This rifle is chambered in 7.62x51mm,
5.56x45mm and 7.62x39mm.
from Israel. AK variants
based off of the Valmet series. Forged/milled
receiver and the Valmet's sight arrangement. The
other changes include a sand scrapper addition
to the gas piston, ambidextrous safety
and an upturned bolt handle. The upturn bolt handle
allows for increase ease in cocking the rifle
with the left hand thus leaving the right hand
in a firing position. The ambidextrous safety
allows to user to bring his rifle into and out
of safe action without removing his hand from
the firing position. The sand scrapper, which
is part of the gas piston, dislodges any obstruction
in the gas piston and aids in reliability. I must
admit I am not sure how well this works since
a AK is very reliable as is. Available are in
5.56x45mm and 7.62x51m
in South Africa. This is a direct descendant of
the Galil with better finishing and workmanship.
The stock is larger and fits better to the average
American shooter than other AK's or AK variants.
uses the same operating principles, and looks
similar, but fires the 5.45x39 round, and was
adopted in 1974
are basically the same as the semi automatic versions
of "assault" rifles. The differences
are generally cosmetic with the sporter having
a "thumbhole" sporter stock taking the
place of the more conventional buttstock