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In the thirties, any time the press wished to sensationalize gangsters, a Tommy gun would generally be shown or alluded to. In similar fashion, all through the sixties, seventies, and eighties, any time you saw a photo of a terrorist, guerilla fighter, or member of a third world army, he always seemed to be holding an AK. During the fight for the assault rifle ban, the AK was brought up as an example of evil incarnate. The famous Stockton California school yard shooting was carried out using an AK, and it was always implied that the AK, along with the Tec 9, and a few other select models, is one of the preferred weapons of street gangs, and criminals. This is the gun that the gunhaters love to hate.
The AK is very heavy, by modern standards, weighing a bit more than an M-1 Garand, but firing a much less powerful cartridge. What it has going for it is cheapness of manufacture and a simple, foolproof design. The gun has acceptable accuracy (3"-5" groups at 100 yards), and a large capacity magazine, making it a suitable weapon for the masses of poorly trained conscripts which made up the bulk of the former comblock military.
As to the merits of the weapon itself, they are a mixed bag. The AK is compact, has a great thirty round magazine (unlike the flimsy AR-15 junk magazines), and is so reliable, that it is very nearly soldier proof. I have owned three AK's over the years. Two were Chinese, one of these being my currently owned thumbhole model, and one was Hungarian. One of the Chinese models had the side folding, bakelite stock (oh to have that gun back again). All were heavy, all were sturdily built, and very reliable. None were particularly accurate. Now I suppose it could be my shooting, but I am able to get sub one inch groups from my AR-15, Ultra Match, and just a hair over an inch with my bolt action. The AK is somewhat handicapped in the accuracy department, by its stamped receiver, and the shortness of it's sight radius. I am also talking here, about the gun in it's original 7.62x39 chambering. If the smaller caliber gun is more accurate, that is a different subject, and not one that I can respond to. I have never owned an AK-74.
The 7.62x39 cartridge is ballisticly almost a twin of the 30-30 Winchester round. The 30-30 is considered by most hunters to be a brush cartridge, usable at 50-100 yards. In truth the round is a competent performer out to maybe 300 yards. My personal model is one of the "clubfoot" types, dictated by yet another round of ridiculous government regulations. The model has a one piece thumbhole stock rather than the buttstock and pistol grip found on the military model. It is a Chinese model with a chrome plated bore, and a stamped receiver cover, which technically makes it an AKS rather than an AK-47. The pervasiveness of the gun means that ammunition and accessories are very easy to find and usually reasonably priced. I have a pair of 75 round drum magazines which were quite reasonably priced before the new regulations went into effect. I also have over thirty of the thirty round magazines which I bought for around three or four dollars apiece. The cost of the guns and especially of the magazines has skyrocketed since then. I have not, and will not, put a scope on this rifle; it is already heavy enough and has not the long range accuracy to justify such an addition.
This particular gun has a surprisingly rich, smooth blue finish, considering the numbers of these guns made, and the rather low price at which they are often sold. The quality of the AK can vary widely. The gun has an adjustable rear sight graduated up to a rather optimistic 800 yards. The twelve inch sight radius is little more than that of a long barreled pistol. In addition to the huge military market, which has always existed for these guns, the manufacturers are attempting to tap into the sporting arm arena with the relatively new Saiga versions of the rifle.
An interesting note on the development of this gun is that it's designer, was recently honored for his achievement. Mr. Kalishnikov was a sergeant in the Soviet army during the second world war before he developed what was to become the most pervasive military rifle in the world. It has been manufactured in a number of countries and exported to almost every trouble spot in the world. The gun's designer, now a retired colonel, lives in a small apartment and receives a pension for his wartime service equal to about $250 U.S. dollars a month. In the U.S. innovation is recognized sooner and rewarded better.
TO LOAD MAGAZINE
1.) Unlatch and open the rear cover. Depress the spring loaded button in the center of the drum and turn the spindle
clockwise until the magazine follower is returned to the beginning of the spiral track.
2.) Insert five (5) rounds into the slots located nearest
3.) With five rounds loaded, hold the spindle firmly in place
with one hand. With the other hand, wind the spring tensioning
5B.) Keep the drum tilted downwards, and rotate the spindle
5C.) Insert two rounds in the top section and release the
spindle. Complete loading the magazine by dropping cartridges
With step six completed, the magazine is ready to use.
DURING PROLONGED PERIODS OF STORAGE:
Open the rear cover and depress the spring loaded button at
the center of the drum. Do not tilt the drum, as the cartridges
TO UNLOAD THE MAGAZINE:
Open the rear cover and depress the spring loaded button at
the center of the drum. Dump the cartridges out. The rounds
MAINTENANCE OF THE MAGAZINE:Periodically, the magazine should be cleaned with solvent to prevent the build-up of unburned powder and grit in the spiral
track. A significant amount of residue in the track may hinder the functioning of the drum.
To disassemble the drum magazine, open the real cover and depress the spring loaded button. Turn the spring tensioning
key COUNTER-CLOCKWISE and remove it. Next, lift the spindle out of the magazine. DO NOT DISASSEMBLE
THE MAGAZINE ANY FURTHER.