Advice For Shooting An Old AK-47

Editor’s note: This article was written by Claymore. His previous blog posts can be read here.

Back more than a few years ago I was with my usual partner in Thal Pakistan where Ho Chi Lynn had built an inclosed area for training of our Afghan Muji fighters.

This is one photo that I won’t have to disguise myself. Here I am standing in front of “the fort” when we first got there after a hairy ride down from Peshawar .

photo 1

The place was full of Muji from Afghanistan and on this trip my partner and I would be supplying “realistic” gunfire while the students were being run through an field training exercise (FTX).

As you can see in this photo we also were letting off explosive charges to try and raise the students stress levels to see if they can function in battle.

photo 2

The added stress we apply can be seen in the faces of the student medics.

photo 3

We try and make things a realistic as possible out in the field and the students performance is watched and graded at to how well they did. It also helps us develop training when and if we notice more then one student making the same mistakes.


OK you guys are saying to yourself what in heck does this have to do with shooting an AK?

I was just trying to set the stage for giving the advice I’m about to impart to our readers.

So the scene is almost set we were getting our gear together to make the explosions and we needed a couple of AKs to provide the sound effects. So I went to Mr Lynn and he handed me an AK that he took from one of our guards and said “use this”.

As we walk across the street carrying all the piles of equipment for the students needs and our effects I got to thinking that this was a hell of a place here where one can saunter across the road with explosives, AKs and run a full fledged FTX with about 50 people right off the main drag while continuously firing Aks and letting off high explosives.

When we got to the area for the FTX we had a bit of down time and I began to look over the AK as I always do. I was not surprised to find it in good working order and nice and clean because I knew Mr Lynn was serious with the guards that their weapons MUST be up to snuff.

But one thing had me scratching my head. The front end of the forearm was wrapped with a dirty old rag. Sorry I never got and photos of it but it wrapped around both the upper and lower parts and I thought it might be because they always rattle or something like that.

The guard that I got it from was not at the site so I couldn’t ask him about it and my inner MARINE jumped out and I untied that unsightly old rag and took it off.

My inner Marine felt better but that was a big mistake as you are about to find out.

It seems that the rag was covering the metal “rivet” that is inserted into the lower forearm of the older models or Aks and AKMs as shown in this photo.

photo 5

My partner and I were finally ready and what a day it was going to be as we had full auto AKs, a bunch of ammo and the best part was one of the new students there making sure he knew how to load AK mags by being our ammo bearer for the day.

The FTX started off well and we got down to blasting away full auto fire as fast as we could to provide realistic sound and smell effects to get the student medics heart racing and put them under pressure.

Things were going along real well and we had settled in and had begun switching off firing to try and cool off the AKs just a bit.

By this time the AKs were smoking they were so hot from all our continuous firing and it didn’t help that the air temp was also a quite warm 110F.

Then IT happened I found out why that dirty old rag was there the hard way!!

My support hand was moving forward on the forearm trying to find the most comfortable position when I felt something like a HORNET STING on my fingers and the back of my thumb. I couldn’t figure out what the heck was happening but I knew it hurt like hell.

Well after I stopped jumping around swearing profusely and shaking my hand I looked at it and found blisters on the inner and front side of my fingers and my thumb.

And the light bulb came on!!


We discovered that my hand slid far enough forward to touch the rivet and forearm part and they we BLAZING HOT from all our continuous firing in 110F degree weather.

We had work to do and I quickly picked up that dirty old rag and wrapped it around my hand like a hot pot holder and finished the day with my hand hurting like hell.

In this photo you can make that rag out AFTER I started using it like a potholder LOL.

photo 6

The guard that was the keeper of that AK laughed until tears were rolling out his eyes when we got back. I didn’t have to say a word just showed him the removed dirty old rag in one hand and my blistered fingers on the other hand.

The moral of the story is if you don’t know why something is done leave it alone until you can find out why somebody did it. In this case WATCH OUT for that stupid HOT AK rivet and forearm part. I STILL HAVE THE SCARS to this day a whole bunch of years later.

I’m not sure if you could get a semi only AK that hot but if you have the older style forearm on yours be careful of the rivet and don’t move your hand far enough forward that it touches the metal part that holds the forearms together.

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.


  • Michael Bergeron

    I have seen Semi-auto AKs get hot enough to set themselves on fire so i imagine that would be more than hot enough to burn your hand on the metal bits.

  • Jeremiah Thompson

    I can tell you from personal experience that it is possible to get a WASR(semi-auto AK knockoff) hot enough to leave 3rd degree pinprick burns.

  • iksnilol

    So the lesson is:

    -Don’t change things until you know why they are the way they are.
    -Don’t touch hot metal

    and a bonus one:

    Don’t shoot so much that your gun sets itself on fire or bursts (many youtube vids of both things).

    • gunslinger

      don’t use other people’s guns w/o them telling you any of the quarks of it?

  • Rich Guy

    What is the back story of this “Claymore”? Anyone know?

    • Steve (TFB Editor)

      Professional Adventurer. Thats all I can say.

      • iksnilol

        Is it wrong that I am sorta envious? I mean there isn’t any proper adventures anymore, there ain’t no iron curtain hiding secrets to find out and stuff. It is only the NSA wiretapping everybody (EVERYBODY!), much less exciting than the old stuff.

        Seriously, what would you recommend if you wanted to do some Professional Adventuring in modern times if you aren’t millitary or police?

        • Steve (TFB Editor)

          Sure there are opportunities today. I know people who are or have been in recently working in ‘interesting’ parts of the world. That said, all of them were former military, and only one, whose job was not unlike Claymore’s, did it for the experience rather than the money.

          Why not try amateur adventuring first? Go visit some out-of-the-way non-tourist country, one that nobody will issue you travel insurance for, and see how you go. NOTE: I am not recommending this, in fact I DONT recommend it, simply saying its a better option than getting a job as a truck driver in Iraq and hating every second of it with a passion.

          My friend Andrew has had some interesting adventures:

          There are also plenty of relatively safe foreign places you can have amazing adventures at. Here are photos from an amazing trip I went on last year (with zero chance of bodily injury, and fully covered by travel insurance):

        • claymore

          Without military training it’s hard to find “adventures”. But it is still possible. One way is to take some EMT and other medical type courses and volunteer at a local ambulance squad.

          After one gets some training there are still volunteer medical refugee/ disaster help type organizations that help overseas that will take volunteers.

          Most will not pay but since it is a small community “word” gets out if you can get the job done under adverse conditions and more opportunities nay come up.

          • iksnilol

            I am going to think about that. Won’t happen in a while, but I will think aboyt it.

          • claymore

            Some people just want to bring the specious theories, that only they know about, about this war out in any forum.

          • claymore

            What you can do is start slowly. The Red Cross used to give various classes free but I’m not sure now. Start with a basic first aid class, them maybe CPR because you can always use them around your family. Then if you like it move up to EMT.

            But trades are also useful to these groups. Auto mechanics for fixing vehicles, Electrician for wiring remote camps, plumbers for building water supply things. Even photographers, or computer guys can be useful to them.

            Some of them take volunteers without special skills for gopher jobs like loading planes and general help but that may mean working in the USA BUT then they get to know you and how you work.

      • Guest

        Looks more like a goon amongst the many goons that built up what later became the Taliban, which in turn helped al Quaida which in turn… You know the rest.

        Oh, how USA manages to bite itself in the rear end never ceases to amaze me.

        • skusmc

          Eisenhower once said that hindsight is much more accurate than foresight, but much less valuable.

        • p schmoke

          Actually not entirely true. The US supported elements who became the NA, Massoud, Dotsum, etc, who ended up fighting, and then losing a civil war with the ISI supported Taliban after the Russians left.

          OBL even stated in more than one interview, that his Muj Group saw no support from the US at all. It was even a AQ recruiting point that they were US free, and did all on their own.

          Its funny and quite sad that the guys who started the whole mess in the first place, always seem to get a pass. If Russia had minded its own business, instead of trying to spread corrupt and oppressive as hell communism around the globe, Al-Qaeda wouldn’t be around today. Period.

          • 2hotel9

            Oop, there it is. Too bad leftards refuse to accept reality and reject facts out of hand. OBL’s big drawing point was how he was not tainted by American money and influence, right up until CBS said he did, then SHAZAM, the political left began screeching about how America created OBL. Simply magical. Hahahahahahahaha.

          • Kevinberger

            IIRC, in a 1998 (?) French interview, your friendly neigbourhood Brzezinski (personal motto “Not quite evil as Kissinger, but almost there”) openly gloated having entrapped the Russians in a ‘Viet Nam war’ of his making, by basically lauching a covert war in Afghanistan, in JULY 1979…
            This, I’d guess, through the Safari club/Saudis and the powerful proxies the US intelligence looong has enjoyed in the radical islam alternate universe (as detailed in many, many books over the years, and I’m not talking about rabid conspiracy stuff).

            The intent was to goad the Soviets into trying to stabilize their Central Asia muslim backyard (the “green belt”) set ablaze by petrodollars-fueled islamic fundamentalist, and bled them dry…

            As a reminder, the palace coup/overthrow of the Afghan regime, and start of the Soviet intervention in the “country of insolence”, was on DECEMBER 1979, Christmas eve IIRC.

            So, the almost 40 years long Afghan war WAS started by the USA, if Zeb if to be believed.

          • claymore

            So tell me how much time did YOU spend there?

          • Kevinberger

            Irrelevant (unless you took this as a personal attack of some kind, in which case I can assure you it was not my intent.)
            Point is, the interview does exist, Brzezinski did say that. So, either he lied to build his legend, or he did not. That about covers it.

          • claymore

            Not irrelevant if you are making unsubstantiated claims. The big mouth griz forgets or maybe it was just you the the soviets invaded so unless the USA made them do it then the soviets started (your words ) “the almost 40 years long Afghan war”

          • Kevinberger

            Well, Ok then. Thanks for your answer, and for taking the time to tell what you think, even if we clearly won’t agree.
            Again, it wasn’t a comment aimed at you or at your own history – I find your articles interesting, and I don’t mean the “hardware” bits, but the stories behind; otherwise I wouldn’t bother reading them, much less responding in a comments thread.

          • claymore

            We get our information and in my case knowledge base and in your case theories from different sources and perspectives.

            But if you think this one was controversial wait until the yellow rain one.

          • Kevinberger

            “We get our information and in my case knowledge base and in your case theories from different sources and perspectives.”
            Yes, that is true, you have your own clandestine agent/spook/cold warrior/… (I’m not sure of how you’d prefer to refer to your path) history, and I have to try and make sense of it all, and it’s a mess; we’re not talking about the same, basically, it’s your “insider’s view” and my “what I’m trying to understand as a man-on-the street, because I’m fed up with having been fed a nice, whitewashed story”.

            Mine is not necessarily an adversary view, like I wrote, I’m not a 9/11 truther for example, but it just can’t be the same, because the perspectives are so different. Thanks for being civil, anyway, and understanding where I’m coming from on that.

            In any case, it’s pretty interesting to read your stories, because they are like little windows into a past that few people were privy to. Yellow rain? I think I get the clue. I’ll be reading that one too.

          • Guest

            Until there was mujahedeen, trained and equipped by Pakistan and US, there was no reason what so ever for the afghan govt to ask for military assistance (or what you call “invasion”) in the first place.

            From a purely humanitarian point of view, if the VVS had planted a FAB-500 in the immediate proximity of you and your ilk, over in Pakistan, Waziristan, or where thef**kistan where you were breeding these wahhabist mujis, there would have been no Soviet intervention, no 10+ year rule of religios morons who acid-spray shoolgirls, no blown up school buildings or poppy crops, no Karzai and his heroin kingdom run by his brother, and no US/ISAF soldier dead from fighting a war for over 13 that they can not win now and will never win.

            I am not your kin, but do tell mr “adventurer”, how is it like to have the blood of your own soldiers on your hands, even from indirect actions long ago?

          • claymore

            I feel fine because I know you are walking the wrong track.

          • 2hotel9

            Wow, FTE, you really pissed in somebody’s wheaties. Funny how the America Haters always jump in and screech that America is the cause of all evil in the world and defend Muslim terrorists. Too bad this set of them is too young to actually remember the 1970s and get all their info from Howie Zinn and the history revisionists at cnn.

          • Kevinberger

            Might be worth noting that the “independence from the USA” selling point was more than likely very overstated, seeing how, for example, funding tours for what would became AQ through the CONUS were organized by US intelligence front orgs (hence the supposed “Tim Osman” identity given to UBL for one of his US visits).
            And, FWIW, UBL himself appears to have been in contact with both the Saudi and US intelligence apparatus well after he was officially wanted – Cf. the credible reports of negociations and even US-provided medical care, up until the very eve of 9/11.

            Note that I am not a “truther” or anything like that, though there is no avoiding the fact that the official story is nothing if not a shameless ” Gee, who could have guessed?…” CYA for all parties involved, US intelligence & counter-terrorism, Saudi & Gulf Elites, US “rogue” intelligence à la Contragate – the 9/11 hijackers appear to have infiltrated the USA through the very same channels left over fully standing from the Reagan/Bush era shennanigans -, Turkish, Israelis, Germans, drug traffiking & gambling organized crime,…

            It’s just that there appear to be an irrestible need to whitewash past events, in light of current partisanships.

            I mean, 9/11 didn’t happen ex nihilo, like a thunderbolt out of the blue sky, it was but a direct consequence of foreign affairs decisions, grand strategies, events,… set in place already in the 1940’s. UBL might not have been an US creature per se (though I recall an US career diplomatic/intelligence guy (?) who actually said he was the one who had to go recruit a then outwardly non-religious young UBL, living the VIP good life in Turkey, on behalf of the Saudi family, a move greenlighted by his hierarchy), but the shadowy world he lived in, was.

          • Guest

            “Actually not entirely true” sound a lot like a teenage girl’s answer to a concerned parent that she is “a little” pregnant.

            Long story short is that US with the help of Pakistan and the sunny religious wahhabism from UAE molded the Taliban, that then became the bed-and-breakfast of AQ. Then when the Soviets left SHTF, much like it did and probably will do even more in Libya.

        • claymore

          And you know this how? Were you there to know who we trained?

    • J.T.

      Judging from his stories he is a former Spook.

    • claymore

      ?????????????????? LOL

      • 2hotel9

        You could tell him, then you would have to,,,,,well, we all know the rest. 😉

  • 2hotel9

    Thanks for the story, although, I was taught that point of AK handling the hard way my own bad self! Got a nice 1/4 inch diameter scar on the side of my left index finger from that f**king rivet. On some it is counter sunk a bit, on most it is right out on the face of the foregrip. That is one reason I file “grip strips” on the foregrip under and sides, keeps those fingy things from going there. Done it on both my AK and RPK, deep enough to easily feel them even with gloves.

    And yea, I have seen a couple of people get their semi-autos so hot the wood chars and one time actually flamed up.

  • hkryan

    More of these stories please!

  • claymore

    Ok so now you have the story of what happened so now let me tell you my way of “Fixing” this problem.

    The first one is obvious just use a rag tied on in the rivet area. Simple, effective, but rags collect dirt and debris and must be removed to take the two halves apart.

    The next one is also cheap and effective and materials can be found even in remote places. Go to the local hardware store or auto parts place and grab a thick “O” ring. Slip it over the barrel and up the forearm until it blocks your hand from the rivet. It also stops the dreaded AK rattle.

    The same thing can be done with a section of bicycle tire tube cut like a thick “O” shape and slid on.

    • 2hotel9

      Improvisation, if you have to explain they don’t get it! I have always been a “mod-er”, never been happy with the way people make things most of the time.

      I have seen the inner tube trick done in a few places, just have to be sure it is not loose enough to slide forward and contact the metal. 1 inch wide nylon strap wrapped around it works, too. If you have a small enough buckle it is easy to take off, otherwise it can be secured with a staple pulled from a pallet or wood ammo crate. The beauty of wooden furniture, it can be repaired and modified quite readily.