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This is the link for the AK-47, and AKS series of rifles. The curved ends catch notches at the end of the AK hammer, and hold it back until the link is tripped by the forward movement of the bolt. It is shown approximately twice actual size, and may be easily inserted, and removed from the weapon. The picture was taken from an add on an Internet web sight where it was being sold; don't ask me for the address. As there is no serial number on the piece, and the seller in question is not a class 3 dealer, I can only assume that the device in question is illegal, and being sold illegally. As may be seen, this is simply a flat piece of spring steel which has been cut and bent to size. It can be produced easily with minimal equipment for a couple of dollars, and yet I see these bits of prison bait selling for hundreds of dollars.
This is an example of the so called "Drop in Auto Sear" for the AR-15 rifle,
as in the case of the preceding example, this is shown approximately twice
it's actual size. This device is a bit more difficult to fabricate than the
above device for the AK. The drop in sear actually requires some machining
and milling be done; it is also composed of two parts, one of which is a
moving part. These too are selling for much more than their complexity, quality,
and cost of manufacture would mandate. In all of these cases the cost is
a reflection of the non-compliant, black market nature of these devices. I
want to emphasize that it is not illegal to own these devices, but legal ownership
is highly regulated, and expensive. Like the above device, this requires
no modification to the firearm. The upper receiver of the AR-15 is tipped
up, and this device is placed at the rear of the action with the toggle placed
towards the front. The pin holding the rear of the upper receiver also holds
the drop in sear in place. After installation, the toggle performs the function
of the auto sear, by being forced down when the bolt returns to battery.
when the toggle is forced down, it presses upon the disconnector, causing
it to release the hammer. As long as the trigger is held back the rifle will
continue to fire. This device has no effect on the primary sear, so the rifle
will stop firing when the trigger is released.
This is a "lightning Link" the cheapest and most infamous of all of the auto sear devices, being cut or stamped out of a flat piece of sheet metal. The lightning link has earned itself quite a reputation in certain circles, and caused quite a stir when it was first concocted. This is the "Saturday Night Special" of the full auto world, and as such, is the horror of the anti gun left. The Lightning Link functions in a similar manner to the drop in sear listed above, but depends upon the tension and rigidity of the spring steel used in it's construction to hold it in place, rather than being held rigidly in place by a block of steel. It is installed by clipping the two pieces together into a sort of an L shape. The longer of the two pieces goes around the trigger group, while the shorter piece sticks up behind the rear pin holding the upper and lower receivers together. As can be seen in the photo, the lightning link goes over the disconnector, and is held in place be a tension between the disconnector and the rear pin holding the receivers together. When the bolt comes all the way forward, it increases the tension on the link which in turn puts tension on the disconnector, pulling it off of the hammer sear and releasing the hammer. The lightning link need not even be bought, as it is so simple to make that any one with a Moto-tool, or even a pair of tin snips could fabricate one. This is a pretty good illustration of the main pitfall of these types of devices, and the danger they can present for the user. This is so easily and cheaply made that it may not be taken very seriously by the experimenter, or the curious until they find themselves staring at a long prison term and hefty fine.
Besides the obvious legal problems, there are some other problems with the drop in sears. First, though the drop-ins mimic the action of the factory sears, these are not true auto sears, and can be some what temperamental. It must be remembered that the firearms in which these devices are used, were not originally designed to produce full auto fire in this fashion. Proper adjustment and reliability can be a matter of luck. Since many of these devices are produced in backyard, and basement shops, they are not something I would want to stake my life on, or put into a firearm which I may someday have to rely upon. The other problem with these devices is that the rifle is transformed to fire in full auto mode only. The only way to convert back to semi auto is to open the action and remove the drop in sear. In the real world, semi auto fire is far more useful than full auto in all but a few situations.
On the plus side, these devices are cheap if you make them yourself, they do work, and they leave no permanent incriminating modifications on your gun. Of course, you must decide if the potential legal problems are worth whatever advantage you think full auto capability will provide. I have some really mixed feelings about people having and using these devices. On the one hand I do not believe that the government has the right to restrict devices of this type, or machine guns, silencers, or any of the other banned weapons. These types of legislation would seem to be clearly forbidden by the Second Amendment. On the other hand, these laws have been made, and it is a not acceptable to have each individual making up his own mind about whether or not he ought to be obligated to obey this or that law based upon his own idea of the validity of the law in question. A better solution for the civilian, who is not anxious to flout the laws of the Federal government, might be one of the non NFA trigger devices.
One advantage that all of these trigger devices have over the drop in sears is that they allow the user to quickly switch over to single shot firing by simply bypassing them and squeezing the trigger directly. There is also the undeniable advantage of not having to find a hiding place for these devices, and of being able to use them without taking a chance on going to prison. Most of them can be had for between $30-$50, which is really quite a sum of money for a bit of wire, and plastic, but it does beat having to mutilate your firearm, and maybe being mutilated yourself by the legal system. Full auto fire can be a lot of fun, but it's practical uses are so limited that it is hardly worth the effort, and certainly not worth the risk. The civilian marksman and sport shooter will probably find his taste for full auto shooting more than satisfied by the legal trigger devices available.