AK47 Research and Recommendations

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Ready to add an AK47 to the mix - might even rotate AR out once I get one.
There are so many variations and a lot of confusing information on the interweb, so I am turning to the NWFA network for info and perspectives. Let's play nice though.

Is there a local resource (Portland area) to go see, fondle, learn and purchase from?

Is there an online resource to recommend (perhaps a NWFA posting to point to)?

I found the link below and thought it was a good read, but no idea of accuracy or alignment to other's opinions. http://blog.cheaperthandirt.com/so-youre-thinking-of-buying-an-ak-47/

Lastly - what do you recommend as a starter AK47 in the $500 range?
What to look for … and what to avoid, for example; yes consider Century Arms or no, avoid them.
 
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Oregon arms and ammunition always keeps a really good selection of AK's. I picked one up from them a couple weeks ago, guys behind the counter really helped me out and make a good choice. When I was there on Thursday they had 5-6 different kinds of the wall to pick from
 

Joe13

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I'd start with an SKS. Very similar and shoot cheap ammo.

I like mine so much, I've opted to wait and put down some serious cash on a milled AK someday, and I'm happy with that:)

If your budget is about $500, get a great SKS vs a bottom of the line AK.

Kreg has a few up for sale - he is a wealth of knowledge about them and finds some real gems.
 
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Edit:
I had a friend of mine ask me to show him how to clean his SKS, he had not cleaned it since he bought it a few years back. Anyway, he told me he had fired over 1200 rounds through it, and it was still cycling ammo without a hitch.
You can drag them through any kind of weather, mud, snow, and whatever, and they continue to cycle.....but the trade off is you'll never be able to get the accuracy of a good AR.

As far as Cheaper Than Dirt's info articles go, I've found them to be fairly accurate, and un-biased. They often make enjoyable reading, I read one the other night about different rates of twist in 5.56 AR barrels.
 
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"Experience varies directly with broken tools." - Anon

Some random thought from a few decades of experience.

1. Factory guns are MUCH preferable to guns built from parts kits. (no matter who built the kit) These days that pretty much means the new N-PAP and O-PAP Yugoslavian 7.62x39 guns, converted to take standard hi-cap mags. These are probably the best of the true AK's.

2. There is the "cool factor" and the real world. Decide which is more important to you. I don't care for most folding stocks. The wood stock versions are more robust and more user-friendly. But the folders are "cooler".

3. You can get a AK in 5.56, but I don't recommend it. One of the main advantages of the AK platform is the better 7.62x39 round.

4. If you are hell-bent on buying a parts kit gun, NEVER buy sight unseen. Learn what to look for in basic finishing and fitting. If you don't feel safe with your level of knowledge find an experienced hand to go with you.

5. You can trick your AK out like some blingmobile but you doing yourself and the gun a disservice. Try to keep your AK in character. Its a club that shoots bullets. Its simple and crude. That is its glory. Keep the mods and accessories to a minimum. About all I do to mine is an AR-type flash hider with a Bushnell TRS-25 optical sight mounted on an Ultimak rail. Less than $200 total. Beyond that, I'd recommend shooting your AK for about 6 months and then decide if you really need that next doodad.

Welcome to AK's. A good AK will not let you down. Damn few things in the world you can say that about these days.
 
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IMO buy a Saiga 7.62 and do the conversion yourself. It's pretty easy and makes it that much more your rifle. Also, you can choose what parts to put in. I'd recommend Texas AK Triggers over Tapco. Ultimak also makes an amazing gas tube/rail.

Carolina Shooter Supply and Mississippi Auto Arms are the two biggest AK parts sites that I know of. I prefer CSS, but both have great stuff.
 
OP
cowboygraphics
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Oregon arms and ammunition always keeps a really good selection of AK's. I picked one up from them a couple weeks ago, guys behind the counter really helped me out and make a good choice. When I was there on Thursday they had 5-6 different kinds of the wall to pick from
Wasn't even aware of Oregon arms and ammunition. PLUS they are on the west side, not far from work. Thank you Norm0931
 

ZA_Survivalist

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+1 to what Joe13 said
If $500 is your budget a simple Norinco or Yugo SKS that isnt "tacticool'd" out should run around

$289-350 max any more than that for either of those in their basic form is overpaying.

Use the rest for ammo/stripper clips.

Now if the goal is a simple 7.62x39 rifle that accepts "standard" AKM mags the best bang for the buck right now in terms of price point & quality is the Zastava Npaps

Wasrs are fine as well and are beautiful in their own right.. Early wasr 10s have no threads OR have wacky threads (like mine does)
They seemed to smooth all the issues out with the Romy G parts kits AKs and wasr 10/63's.

However there are quite a few AKs for sale online right now that are awesome and fantastic deals that are great quality rifles:

J&G sales
Aim Surplus
Atlantic Firearms
PSA

Buy one have it shipped to your favorite FFL, if you watch the sale prices you can essentially buy a great rifle online, have it shipped, transferred/BGC'd and in your hands for less than what you could get it for from your FFL.

My M85 and VZ2008 both worked out that way. Saved a ton of money.

The question is:
What caliber AK do you want?
What style of AK do you want?

(Zastava or "yugo" AKs differ from standard AKMs and utilize different furniture)

For a first AK Id get a fixed stock and forgo an underfolder.
Id also go with 7.62x39

Id buy all the surplus mags you can while prices are still sane.
All plastic mags except Bulgarian Circle 10s WILL break, Ive broke every plastic mag Ive owned.
Stick with steel.
KCI mags are junk, VERY soft steel and the spot welds are crap.
Stick with European Surplus
(See AIMSurplus or Classic Firearms)
All rust can be removed, the body and parts can be reblued and all the functional parts can be replaced.. So if you get a few "fuzzy" surplus mags
Set aside some time in an afternoon and give those european beauties some TLC.

That being said, plastic mags "work" they just don't hold up to the abuse of AK owners over time.. Nor do KCI mags (in my experience) Also don't be fooled by US palms mags.. A lot there left to be desired.

With AKs its a platform that is VERY hard to fudge up. The whole "canted sights" internet folklore is a think of the past.. You'd be hard pressed to get a lemon AK
(yes even from century) nowadays.

If you have a 5.56x45 chambered 20" A2 AR 15 Ill trade you one of my various AKs.
The three on the chopping block:
Wasr 10
Zastava Npap
Saiga 7.62x39 (converted)

Oh that reminds me, the saiga AKs (well some) have a
"stepped chamber" which may funk with reloading.. Since I don't reload Ive never tried but it bulges the case neck a little. Check it out via google images or Saiga12forum

So unconverted/converted Saigas
(not Arsenals for some reason) you may want to avoid if you plan of shooting brass and seek to reload.

A vendor here on NWFA has wasr 10/63s for $530
 
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+1 to what Joe13 said
If $500 is your budget a simple Norinco or Yugo SKS that isnt "tacticool'd" out should run around

$289-350 max any more than that for either of those in their basic form is overpaying.

Use the rest for ammo/stripper clips.

Now if the goal is a simple 7.62x39 rifle that accepts "standard" AKM mags the best bang for the buck right now in terms of price point & quality is the Zastava Npaps

Wasrs are fine as well and are beautiful in their own right.. Early wasr 10s have no threads OR have wacky threads (like mine does)
They seemed to smooth all the issues out with the Romy G parts kits AKs and wasr 10/63's.

However there are quite a few AKs for sale online right now that are awesome and fantastic deals that are great quality rifles:

J&G sales
Aim Surplus
Atlantic Firearms
PSA

Buy one have it shipped to your favorite FFL, if you watch the sale prices you can essentially buy a great rifle online, have it shipped, transferred/BGC'd and in your hands for less than what you could get it for from your FFL.

My M85 and VZ2008 both worked out that way. Saved a ton of money.

The question is:
What caliber AK do you want?
What style of AK do you want?

(Zastava or "yugo" AKs differ from standard AKMs and utilize different furniture)

For a first AK Id get a fixed stock and forgo an underfolder.
Id also go with 7.62x39

Id buy all the surplus mags you can while prices are still sane.
All plastic mags except Bulgarian Circle 10s WILL break, Ive broke every plastic mag Ive owned.
Stick with steel.
KCI mags are junk, VERY soft steel and the spot welds are crap.
Stick with European Surplus
(See AIMSurplus or Classic Firearms)
All rust can be removed, the body and parts can be reblued and all the functional parts can be replaced.. So if you get a few "fuzzy" surplus mags
Set aside some time in an afternoon and give those european beauties some TLC.

That being said, plastic mags "work" they just don't hold up to the abuse of AK owners over time.. Nor do KCI mags (in my experience) Also don't be fooled by US palms mags.. A lot there left to be desired.

With AKs its a platform that is VERY hard to fudge up. The whole "canted sights" internet folklore is a think of the past.. You'd be hard pressed to get a lemon AK
(yes even from century) nowadays.

If you have a 5.56x45 chambered 20" A2 AR 15 Ill trade you one of my various AKs.
The three on the chopping block:
Wasr 10
Zastava Npap
Saiga 7.62x39 (converted)

Oh that reminds me, the saiga AKs (well some) have a
"stepped chamber" which may funk with reloading.. Since I don't reload Ive never tried but it bulges the case neck a little. Check it out via google images or Saiga12forum

So unconverted/converted Saigas
(not Arsenals for some reason) you may want to avoid if you plan of shooting brass and seek to reload.

A vendor here on NWFA has wasr 10/63s for $530
The cheapest I could find N-Pap's for was 530 online plus shipping and transfer fees, I picked up my N-pap for 550 at OAA. Worked out to $10 more expensive to buy online after transfer and shipping and I got to walk out with it same day without having to wait a week plus ordering online. And I got to support a local shop that I love going to.

No affiliation with OAA just love the shop and want to see them do well.
 

ZA_Survivalist

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The cheapest I could find N-Pap's for was 530 online plus shipping and transfer fees, I picked up my N-pap for 550 at OAA. Worked out to $10 more expensive to buy online after transfer and shipping and I got to walk out with it same day without having to wait a week plus ordering online. And I got to support a local shop that I love going to.

No affiliation with OAA just love the shop and want to see them do well.
Sweet!
 
OP
cowboygraphics
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Once again NWFA members do NOT disappoint. Really valuable and solid input. Unless already a solution, Joe Link should figure out how to make resources like this sticky or archived in a research section for others to find easily and benefit from.

One surprise was the "start with an SKS" recommendation. That is one of the first rifles that I searched for when first joining NWFA.

You also helped solve the under folder question for me. I wondered if it was practical or better to get a solid stock. They don't look comfortable, but I was curious about the flexibility.

Thank you all for the time and finger clicks to share this info.
 

ankratz

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For $300 to $400 more you can find a used Arsenal AK.

If I was getting back into the AK game, I would go that route. With a $500 budget, the chances of finding a WASR that has a straight front sight, mags lock up tight, and doesn't feel like it was assembled by a drunk third grader are slim.

In your price range, you really need to cherry pick. Buy a $10 AK mag and bring it with you to try in every AK you pick up (if the owner will let you)

Alternatively, find a builder who has made several of them and tell them what you want. I had a guy build me a Yugo M70 underfolder on a milled Ohio receiver, and it was a fantastic weapon. What ultimately killed it for me was the underfolder stock (too long for me...). Point being, I spent maybe $200 more for something I was really happy with, and was put together in a quality manner.

My suggestion is save a little bit more and get something "nice," or play the waiting game and cherry pick the heck out of ones that are locally available.
 
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Get Off The X said:
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Cozy.
 
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WASR's get a lot of hate because of earlier quality control. I bought one and ended up selling it for another project but I loved mine. Sights were straight. Quality control is much better now. WASR's you do have to look at in person to make sure everything is ok. Barrel is chrome lined. Yugo PAP's are very popular right now and are a good price. I did not like the stock because it sights higher and have heard it can bruise your cheek. They are not chrome lined, which may or may not be a deal breaker.

Depending on what you want the gun for, WASRs are fantastic. If you care a lot about the finish and want it to look all pretty, there are better options. But for the price they are tough to beat.
 

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