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Length Overall Barrel Length Weight  Caliber Action Type Magazine Capacity
34.35" 16.34" 10.58 Pounds 7.62x39 Gas Semi 30
    This gun has possibly the worst reputation of any firearm since the old Tommy Gun. It is also arguably the most recognized gun in the world. It is in many ways a very crude and cumbersome weapon. This was the gun with which the Soviet Union was going to slowly take over the world during the cold war. In virtually every theater in which the U.S. or it's allies found themselves fighting, this was the weapon they were up against. After being imported into the U.S. it developed a mostly undeserved reputation as a criminal and street gang weapon.
    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.


After removing the magazine, pull back on the charging handle. This will clear any rounds from the chamber, and cock the hammer. Depressing the latch at the rear of the receiver cover will allow it to be lifted up for removal from the receiver.

Removing the top cover permits access to the workings of the gun.

Push forward on the latch, until it comes off of the receiver. This will permit the recoil spring to be pulled back out of the bolt carrier.

With the recoil spring removed, the bolt carrier may be pulled back off of the receiver.

The AK-47 stripped for cleaning.

A twist of the bolt, releases it for removal from it's carrier.

A look at the receiver, with the magazine in place.
The 75 Round Drum Magazine

    The drum magazines will fit any standard AK, unlike the drum of the Thompson, which will only fit models designed for it.  These drums are based on the drum design of the Soviet PPSH, which is in turn a development of the old "snail shell" Luger magazine. The classic 50 round drum of the Thompson submachine gun works on similar principles, but has  no feeder column to fit into a standard magazine well. As such, all are key wound, and use a flat coiled spring in concert with a series of levers and arms, called a spider, to advance the cartridges. The magazines may be left loaded, and unwound indefinitely, without straining the magazine spring. There are several stages involved in the loading of these magazines. The first is to insure that all of the tension is taken off of the spring. This is done by opening the cover on the drum, and pushing on a button in the center of the housing. This will produce a startling click, and should make the mechanism free turning. The next step is to turn the spider, and load the individual sections of the magazine separately, starting with the one to the right of the feed column. The magazine spring is then wound. A fully loaded magazine is shown on the left, with it's cover open, and an empty mag is shown on the right. The spider, and the spring release button in it's center, are clearly visible in the photo of the empty drum. I presently have two of these magazines in my collection. Since the unconstitutional magazine ban, these have gone up in value fivefold. The loading instructions which came with the magazine are reproduced below, for the curious, or the unfortunate owner who has lost his manual, and forgotten how to load his drum.

  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
  the top (column) section of the magazine.

  3.) With five rounds loaded, hold the spindle firmly in place with one hand. With the other hand, wind the spring tensioning
  key (located under the spring loaded button) CLOCKWISE three (3) clicks.
  CAUTION: Hold the spindle securely while applying tension in order to prevent it from slipping and catching your fingers.
  4.) With the spring tensioned, quickly release the spindle. The five rounds loaded previously will be pushed to the top of the
  magazine, and the last round will hold the spindle in place.
  5.) At this point you have the option as to how to load the magazine. If cartridges are dropped in the remaining slots, the
  total magazine capacity will be seventy three (73) rounds. Alternately, if the procedure described as follows is used, the
  total capacity will be seventy five (75) rounds.
  5A.) Tilt the column portion of the drum at a slight downward angle and turn the spindle clockwise just slightly. Remove the
  last two rounds.

  5B.) Keep the drum tilted downwards, and rotate the spindle
  so that the follower is returned to the beginning of the
  spiral track (as in step 1).

  5C.) Insert two rounds in the top section and release the spindle. Complete loading the magazine by dropping cartridges
  into the remaining slots.
  6.) With the drum fully loaded, close the rear cover and secure with both latches. Wind the mainspring with the key located
  on the rear cover. Wind the key seven (7) revolutions (360 degrees). If the magazine is loaded to only thirty (30) rounds,
  then the tension should be reduced to five (5) revolutions. DO NOT EXCEED THE RECOMMENDED NUMBER OF

  With step six completed, the magazine is ready to use.


  Open the rear cover and depress the spring loaded button at the center of the drum. Do not tilt the drum, as the cartridges
  might fall out. Close and latch the back cover and re-tension the spring three (3) clicks. The drum magazine can be stored
  in this manner indefinitely.


  Open the rear cover and depress the spring loaded button at the center of the drum. Dump the cartridges out. The rounds
  in the column will need to be removed individually.


  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