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Larry Vickers: "Kalashnikov: Opinions, Conclusions, and Lessons."

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    Larry Vickers: "Kalashnikov: Opinions, Conclusions, and Lessons."

    I have taught many AK classes over the years and along the way I have arrived at some opinions, conclusions and lessons. I'll hit some key points that hopefully the reader can learn from.

    Kalashnikov Accuracy

    1) The Kalashnikov is dramatically more accurate than it is given credit for being. The standard iron sights affect its shoot ability to be sure, but with a suitable optic mounted, such as an Aimpoint, it is capable of perfectly acceptable accuracy, with head shots out to 50-75 yds and upper torso hits out to 200 yds. More than enough to get the job done.

    2) In my experience the 5.45 x 39mm is inherently more accurate than 7.62 x 39mm. This, of course, is ammunition dependent but all things being equal, the smaller caliber has the accuracy edge.


    3) An enhanced safety like the offering from Krebs Custom is a great upgrade to an AK. It offers a right handed shooter a 'shelf' in which the trigger finger can be used to manipulate the safety on and off. It doesn't really offer any real advantage to a left handed shooter, however.

    4) The Kalashnikov uses a lot of sheet metal in its fabrication so extensive range fire is best accomplished with shooting gloves to avoid nicks and scrapes. In addition, it is recommended that an end user who is looking to refinish or customize their AK should take the opportunity to debur and radius these edges before refinishing.

    Rails & Optics

    5) Siderail optics rails have been used for decades on Kalashnikovs and were originally copied from the World War II German G43 series of rifles. It is imperative that the rivets holding the siderail are tight, as optic zero retention depends on this. As far as siderail optic mounts themselves go, the best I have seen to date are made by RS Regulate.

    6) Several manufacturers offer replacement gas tube optic mounts which allow direct mounting of red dot sights or picatinny rails. In my experience, these work very well and in normal use they hold up well with no issues from gas tube heat transfer. Of course, extensive full auto fire is begging for trouble with a gas tube optic mount and thus should be avoided or minimized.


    7) Magazines often need hand fitting in Kalashnikov rifles. Don't expect brand new magazines of any make to fit without modification. The good news is once they are fit to a particular rifle they are good to go for the life of the magazine or rifle. In my experience, the Soviet-made steel or Bakelite magazines are the best of the breed and remain the gold standard in AK mags. Buying several of these in new to like new condition and fitting them to your rifle is highly recommended.

    8) Understand that although many aftermarket accessories exist for the AK most are to be avoided for serious use rifles. This is because many of them are made for the recreational shooter and not for those that use AK's in harms way. Some of my personal favorites are the AK trigger from Geissele, my signature AK sling from Blue Force Gear and the aftermarket AK furniture from Magpul. This is not an all exclusive list but these items all seem to be good pieces of kit from my experience.

    Do your research

    9) The Kalashnikov is a very forgiving rifle but it is still a machine and can fail like anything man made. Not all AK's are created equal and you don't always get what you pay for. Do your research before you buy and choose wisely. Just because a rifle is made by a well-known AK gunsmith doesn't mean it's the correct AK for you. Sometimes less is best.

    10) Take care of it and it will take care of you. Keep it lubed and feed it good Ammo. The Kalashnikov has proven itself throughout the world and will serve you well. The historical significance of the Kalashnikov series alone, as one of the most influential small arms in history, means it is a weapon whose place in small arms history is secure. And any serious gun guy needs at least one in his collection. You will not be disappointed.

    LAV out
    Larry Vickers
    Master Sergeant ( Retired )
    US Army SOF Combat Veteran

    Moderators, maybe you can rename this section of the forum to AK47/74 ?



      The ak wins again!!!