It’s On: Kalashnikov Saiga MK-107 vs. AR-15

The Kalashnikov Saiga MK-17, the first ever civilian version of the rare balanced recoil AK-107, is set to go on sale in Europe next year. For years we have speculated on how well a balanced recoil system will work in the real world and so I cannot wait to get my hands on one and find out for myself. The first video of the MK-107 “in the wild” has just been posted on Youtube. It shows two Russian competition shooters shooting the MK-107 and the AR-15 side by side. In this (very unscientific) test the MK-107 appears to handle the recoil better.

Thanks to Val for the tip.

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • Doom

    wonder if they will ever end up in the US?

    • Moose

      Not in anything resembling what you see above. Fixed stock like the current saiga’s, no pistol grip, sporting fore end, less rails, smaller magwell…..

      • LCON

        Unless a American manufacturer can convince the boys at Kalashnikov to allow either full licensed build here in the USA or kit assembly we would never see any…. Especially not in draconian states like mass, NY, Conn, or California. Just to name a few.

        • Cornelius Carroll


        • Bubba

          Even then tooling up to build them will be so expensive that the end product will cost a small fortune.

          • LCON

            Right. Hence kit builds with small parts is more likely. But some one has to invest in it.

  • FourString

    Europe as in not Britain 🙁

    • jamezb


  • sianmink

    Of course it’s going to handle unsupported recoil better with that counterweight. A more real test would be rapid fire at a 4″ 100yd steel and see who gets more hits in 10 seconds.

    • Joshua

      I would also say its less than scientific, one is using a VFG the other is not, one is holding the rifle with his wrist bent the other is holding his arm and wrist more inline.

      I get what they were going for but those minute differences play a huge role when it comes to keeping a rifle shooting flat.

  • Stevie T

    Umm, what European country allows civilian ownership of military pattern semi-autos?

    • Anthony

      Most of them.

      • dp

        Try Britain, Benelux countries and Scandinavia. none of them will accept anything like this for legal. Central and East Europe maybe, but rules are constantly tightening (pistols are still go, bur mil type rifles hardly). The America is the only mass-sales ground for anything like this.

        • Hanski

          Sorry to let you down but Finland will definitely allow these. If we can have older saigas, ak:s, and ar15 family i dont see why this weapon would be so much more dangerous.

          • dp

            Scandinavia is 4 countries including Denmark, Finland, Sweden and Norway. I am reading other gun blog and there are people from mentioned countries. Their testimonies are resounding NO. Very restricted or impossible. Same if not more is Holland.

          • Marcus Rosengren

            It’s possible to own AR15 family weapons here in Sweden as well, though it’s tricky, time consuming, and expensive.

            Here’s some IPSC shooting:

            Just search youtube for: ipsc gevär sverige

          • Hanski

            Well i live in Finland and i can safely say that its not impossible nor restricted. But it is not nearly as easy what you have in US. You have to be a member of a shootingclub, run some courses and pass some tests, meet certain requirements and fill lots of paper:/ But it sure is not restricted or impossible, you just have to show some commitment to the sport.

          • Ben 10

            now i know where the stupid and immoral Philippine National Police got their gun control ideas from.

          • Kestrel

            Completely legal in the Netherlands for a variety of shooting sports. Only restriction is that you have to be the owner of a weapon permit for a year before you can buy one.

            Most of these weapon blogs have readers from all across the globe. If you are not from a particular country it would behoove you to keep your trap shut regarding weapon laws.

          • Scorpy

            I’m Finnish. I only have .308 boltie, but the process for acquiring a full-size semi rifle is not different at all. You need to show a valid reason to own it (sports/hunting), and being a member of a reservist (compulsory mil service, you know) or shooting club and having done some shooting and courses will only help you.

            Because it’s a full-sized rifle, I can loan any other rifle with
            permission and buy ammo. .22LR single-shot with no magazine, or a .50
            BMG Barrett, doesn’t matter. Shotguns too. Under 16″ barrel length or under 33″
            overall however, or full-auto, are classified as “Other Weapons”, but are seen
            sometimes, mostly SBRs for IPSC and similar action-oriented shooting.

            For my application a few years back, I filled in the form: personal info, type of weapon I’m about to acquire (.308, mag fed single single shot), reasons, gave the paper and money to the nice lady on the other side of the desk and got a time for interview (my 1st rifle). Got interviewed by a police officer, who asked normal things about me, my life and some of my views for certain things (alcohol, drugs etc), besides the hobby itself. Presented my shooting log (about a year’s worth at that point, besides 12 months military) too, plus a few membership cards. A few weeks of red tape, got my permission to buy the rifle, went and bought it, showed it to the police and got my weapon-specific license.

            With a few recent mass shootings, the legislation has changed, and (at least for pistols) you need 2 years of shooting experience plus, I believe, recommendations, and the license needs to be renewed every 5 years IIRC.

            Restricted compared to the US? Certainly. Do I feel threatened as a gun owner, or if I weren’t a gun owner, or the fact I don’t have a pistol and couldn’t legally carry one around? Not at all. Gun related crime is relatively rare over here, and I’ve a feeling drunk middle aged men with hunting weapons have their share in those statistics.

          • BOB

            thanks for that info, its always interesting to see how other countries approach firearms.

          • blahblah

            Little known fact, gun related crime is pretty rare in the U.S. If you leave the environs of the inner cities, it’s almost non-existent, but even counting them, it’s not much higher than European countries that severely restrict civilian firearm ownership.

            And then, there’s Russia…

          • Smart Ass Swede

            Although you seem to be an expert in our countries, I would say “Scandinavia” is three countries: Sweden, Norway, Denmark.

            “The Nordics” is five countries: Sweden Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland. It has to do with the mountain range called The Scands which reaches down from the top of norway down to Denmark.

            But that’s just what they teach us in school here in Sweden. I’m sure your internet buddies know better.

            Also, I have two friends, in Sweden, who own FN FAL and H&K SL8’s.

          • Martijn

            You are misinformed. My Bulgarian Arsenal SAR M9 in the Netherlands:

        • swede1986

          It’s perfectly legal here in Sweden. How about you keep your mouth shut about matters you don’t understand?

        • Why

          People like you should not comment and spread half truths.
          If you don’t have any real insight into European gun laws, why comment? Are you that desperate?

    • Bubba

      Most of them will, but you typically need a lot of paperwork and a squeaky clean background. Then you’re allowed to own them, but they are typically very expensive compared to the sale price in the US.

    • Alex C.

      Scandinavian countries, Germany, France, Italy, Switzerland, Czech Republic, and more. More restrictive than the US, but possible.
      Those boys in the Czech Republic have a flourishing gun culture.

      • Karina

        For France’s case, only with the relevant fuckton of paperwork, and it’s only going to be a range queen. No using this for hunting (violates cartridge limit law of 3 including one in the chamber + probably more), and don’t even think about home defense.

      • VladimirD.

        Hi, greetings from the Czech Republic. In CZ we can own military pattern semi-autos without any issues (with gun licence). Just must be registered by Police as any other gun (pistol, rifle, shotgun), so not big deal. There is a lot of CZ 858 owners, which is semi-auto version of Vz. 58 and of course a lot of AR-15 / AK owners.

  • dp

    Very ‘unscientific’, but visible. The margin is only slight. So, the next question is when more ‘scientific’ tests can be made on this side of pond.

    • Esh325

      Hard to say if without firing it, but in fully automatic or bust, hands down the AK-107 will be better.

      • dp

        Perhaps, then it should bounce off to military application on this side of ocean. don’t you think?

        • Esh325

          I don’t think the US military would want anything to do with it.

    • zardinuk

      Look at that fake muzzle rise, these are a couple of clowns. The laws of physics say the gun, firing a similar sized bullet at similar speed, would be in the same position after the bolt carrier stops moving, the only difference would be felt in your hand and shoulder as a different recoil impulse wave form, so it’s anyone’s guess why that clown has the ar tilted up 15 degrees.

      • Spencer

        These guys are definitely clowns, but there is some good theoretical physics at play here to offset the recoil. F(recoil) = mass of rifle * deceleration of rifle – mass of counterweight * deceleration of counterweight.

        Of course theoretical physics and practical engineering don’t always play nice. Especially when you throw out lab conditions and add in materials science.

        I’m very skeptical of this weapon performing as advertised, but it might be worth owning one just for the uniqueness and historical value of it.

  • Here are some more pictures of the MK-107.

  • Snusmumr

    Speaking of balanced automatics:

    Looks like AEK’s system removes muzzle climb quite effectively.

    I don’t know if “Kalashnikov” perfected their balanced automatics to the same degree as “Degtyaryov’s Plant” did, though. Besides, in semi-auto and using a 5.56mm or 5.45mm a balanced system’s advantage is less noticeable anyway.

    • Joshua

      Do not forget it also uses a compensator which we all know makes a rifle super flat shooting.

  • Nathaniel

    As far as I have been able to tell, the “secret sauce” of the balanced action rifles does work.

    Having said that, you can only trust the results of this video as far as you trust the shooters.

  • Lance

    If you have recoil problems with either rifles your a wimp, BIG TIME!!!!!!!!!! Overall the AK vs M-16 debate will never end and will rage for the rest of our lives in gun talks. I think the AR is more ergonomic accurate and modular than any AK. But many agree many disagree its all shooters preference.

    • nadnerbus

      I don’t think anyone was trying to solve the debate with this one. The question is does the system make felt recoil similar or less than the AR with the AK gas system. Topic at hand.

    • Esh325

      One of the big reasons behind the AK-107 balanced recoil systems is that they want a rifle that would be controllable even in unstable positions, and I think this video shows pretty well that the AK-107 is better at handling recoil in positions with less support. It’s so much about being a “wimp”. The effects of recoil will always be there no matter what the training. Let’s just say that if we could design a rifle that had no felt recoil, it would certainly be an advantage over a rifle like M4.

      • Joshua

        Different arm positions and hand positions play a role as well. The one with the AR has his wrist more canted and arm more tucked to his side, while the one with the AK has his arm more inline with his wrist.

        I will also not that a VFG is less stable than a handguard grip. Had they gripped them like for like I would not be saying this.

  • Anders Albertsson

    WHY have they not lengthened the handguard?! All these other modifications and they ignore perhaps the most immediately beneficial one from a control standpoint.

    • Esh325

      More weight and slightly more expense? It’s entirely possible they could change it later on.

      • Anders Albertsson

        It’s been all but proven that getting your hand closer to the muzzle results in increased recoil control, faster follow up shots, and better split times between targets.

        • Esh325

          If the rifle is as effective in recoil management as advertised, it might not make any difference.

        • Cobalt-60

          This is a military rifle gone civilian. When designing it they had to think about the population using the said rifle, and in the 107s case that meant an entire army that is used to the hand guards being in that exact spot (as it is for the 74 and 105). Probably just boils down to cost and training. Maybe its the same reason why the Army doesn’t put rifle length hand guards on the m4.

  • Russ

    Send it to Peru!

  • Nicholas Mew

    I just want this version, just give it a heavy barrel with polygonal rifling and slightly smaller rear sights. Not the tactical shit.

  • joe

    that was the worst empirical testing I have ever witnessed =p. From what I have read, I want a 107 bad. Looks to a great new addition to an already perfect firearm.

  • Patrick Keogan

    IMHO this balanced recoil is the greatest firearm technology to come along in decades. I dunno what the video was demonstrating (it sucked). Hopefully shitty Democrats don’t prevent these from reaching the shores of shitty America.

  • Patrick Keogan

    & is it 5.45 or 7.62?

    • Esh325

      5.56×45 only at the moment.

  • Troy

    People seem to forget that the 5.45 has somewhat less recoil than 5.56. The ak74 is more controllable in auto compared to an m4 (I know the break on the 74 helps some but the 5.45 bullet is lower pressure). Try shooting wolf .223 next to black hills 5.56 and see the difference for yourself. So how much difference the counter balancing system has is hard to quantify. I do know that the action was intended to dovetail with the soviet practice of firing full auto.

  • José Pulido

    Wikipedia lists the AK-107(standard non-export version without full length rails) as weighing around 8.3lbs… so basically, you can add the weight of rails to that, and you’ve got something that weighs well over 2lbs more than an M4 with those horrid quad rails.

    Nevertheless, I’d still probably buy one if they brought it to the USA at less than $2,000 and in 5.56. I’d sure as heck buy one if they come with standard receivers that Definitive Arms will convert to standard AR-15 style feeding.

  • Tea party

    I hope to get one if that piece of shit Obama doesn’t ban guns. Fucking politics.