Point Shooting With A Folding Stock AK-74

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I doubt that any of my readers have never seen a film in which a suitably menacing-looking Kalashnikov rifle was used this way: With the sling over the shoulder, stock folded, pointing from the hip:

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A common portrayal of the folding-stock AK rifle: menacingly held at the hip, supported by the sling, blazing away on fully automatic. To those who use firearms regularly, a somewhat dubious method of using the gun, but how bad is it, really? Image source: IMFDB.org

When one comes into ownership of a folding-stocked rifle of this type, the reason for this portrayal becomes obvious: It feels right. When the rifle is slung over the shoulder with the stock folded, muzzle pointing down, the rifle comes to the hands easily in this manner.

Because it felt so natural to me, I obtained a digital copy of the AKS-74U manual to see if it said anything about this. Sure enough, it did:

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Oh hey, this looks familiar.

 

The accompanying text describes this method of point shooting thusly (thanks to Ensign Expendable of the Soviet Gun Archives blog for the manual and its translation):

Page 70:

51. When moving out to exercises and on march, the rifle is carried on its sling in the “by the sling”, “behind the back”, and “on the chest” positions (fig. 42). The sling must be adjusted so that the rifle does not knock on hard parts of the kit. The rifle is carried with a magazine inserted and the stock folded. The rest of the magazines are in the pouch. During breaks between exercises and at rest stops, the rifle is held by the rifleman “by the sling” or in his hands, and by a grenadier “on the chest” (fig. 43).

 

Pages 100-101:

99. To take aim while standing, you must:

  1. If the rifle is in the “by the sling” position: half-turn to the right relative to your target, and move your left foot about shoulder width apart, as convenient for the rifleman, spreading your weight between both legs. At the same time, moving your right hand up the sling, take the rifle off your shoulder, grasp it with your left hand by the hand guard, open the stock with your right hand, grip the pistol grip, and energetically raise the muzzle towards the target.
  2. If the rifle is in the “on the chest” position: take the hand guard with your left hand, and move it slightly up and forward. Take your right hand from underneath the sling, and throw the sling over your head. At the same time, make a half-turn to the right… (same as in part 1). (fig. 50). When a grenadier takes aim while standing, his rifle is, as a rule, “by the sling” (fig. 51). When the grenadier takes aim with his grenade launcher while standing, the rifle is moved to the “behind the back” position (fig. 52), for which the grenadier takes his grenade launcher with his left hand, takes the carbine and ring of the sling with his right hand, and moves the rifle to his back, after which he prepares for firing the grenade launcher.

100. When taking aim with your rifle “on the chest”, it is allowed to keep the sling around your neck and use it to brace your rifle (fig. 53).

Well… It’s in the manual! Let’s try it out!

First, my SO and I practiced presenting the weapon to the target from the slung position; her being much more photogenic than I, of course:

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Sitting around, waiting for something to happen. In this shot, the rifle is not hiked up quite as high as the manual portrays.

 

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The first step is to take one step back with the right foot. The rifle’s inertia and weight carries it forward even further than is shown in this shot, and it is ready to be grabbed, if the user times it right. To complete the move, the user’s hands would already be moving.

 

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As the rifle slings forward, catch it by the handguard with your left hand.

 

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Then move your right hand over the safety, pushing it to the “semi” position (not depicted here) and acquire the pistol grip with your shooting hand.

 

I tried shooting using this method twice at the seven yard line, and once at the five yard line, to get an idea of its effectiveness. I was not shooting for speed, though I was trying to keep up a reasonable rate of fire. Due to mounting limitations, the chests of the silhouette targets were about right for a kneeling man, not a standing one. Accuracy was… Not good:

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The first seven-yard line group. Six shots hit the paper, our of ten fired. When using this method, one had to struggle to keep rounds high enough to be effective. Against a standing opponent, this would have been about hip-level.

 

 

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The second seven-yard group was even worse. The struggle to keep rounds high enough to be on target is evident here.

 

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The five-yard target. Considerably better accuracy, only the first shot missed the target. The rounds, though, are still very low, the majority being about shin-level for a standing man.

Frankly, shooting the weapon this way is highly unpleasant, as the characteristic muzzle brake blows gas into the shooter’s face. I can only imagine the discomfort when shooting an AKS-74U with its 8″ barrel.

This technique, though it is in the manual for the AKS-74U, is not one I could recommend for distances above a few yards. I ceased shooting from this position due to safety concerns; while I think it’s possible that a soldier could practice enough to get reasonable accuracy at these distances, where would he practice? It’s reasonable to assume that better hit probability and speed could be achieved if the weapon were set to full auto instead of semi, but that doesn’t really mate well with the technique, as the shooter would have to ensure that he didn’t push the safety beyond the “full” position and into “semi”, and that takes time.

I certainly think this point shooting technique is better than dying because you couldn’t get your weapon into action quickly enough. I don’t think it’s better than anything else, though, and I think it provides a strong argument for single-point slings.

There is one last consideration: The manual specifically prescribes this method for the grenadier – i.e. RPG carrier – and the rifle isn’t his primary weapon. That doesn’t make the method any more effective, of course, but if the grenadier is using his RPG-7, and has to switch to the rifle, this is the natural way that one would do that. Hopefully for any grenadiers thus taught, their targets were not so far away!



Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


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  • PeterK

    Well if the target is sufficiently far away you’d have time to get your rifle into a better position, yes?

  • anon

    HA AMERICAN CAPALITIST CANNOT BE INTO SHOOTINGS OF GLORIOUS AKS-74 FROM THE HIP. HAHAHA YOU DONOT KNOW THAT TO BE ACCURATE OF TRUE SLAV YOU MUST MAKE DRINKINGS OF MANY VODKA FIRST WHICH WILL ALLOW YOU USE THE POWER OF LENIN TO DEFEND THE MOTHERLAND FROM CAPATILISTS AND KEBAB.

  • micmac80

    AKS-74U Doesn’t have a conventional muzzle brake so gases in the face are non issue.

    • It compensates for this by having a mich shorter barrel, so I still don’t think it would be very pleasant.

      • RealitiCzech

        Don’t worry, the tinnitus will protect you!

        • Sumner_Vengeance

          Winner (bells ringing…)

          • MR

            WOULD SOMEBODY ANSWER THAT DANGED PHONE??!!!!

          • Sumner_Vengeance

            Whoosh, we must be near the airport! Or in the airplane!

    • Daniel

      That and the fact that a person could you know….man up a little. IF it were a combat situation the last thing on your mind will be, “Boy this muzzle blast is a little inconvenient.”

      • As I said, it’s certainly better than dying. In counterpoint, first the muzzle blast was a factor and therefore I felt I should write about it to give the whole picture. It’s clear that the muzzle device was not designed for use in this position. Second, it is one further strike against a shooting technique that has very little merit to it beyond absolute necessity, and it provides more evidence for single-point slings, which obviate this shooting position entirely.

  • MPWS

    There used to be term “shoot like Russian” which referred to something like “in full dedication”. You would not believe what can be achieved IF you put your heart in it.
    Seriously though, shooting off sling is bad idea at first place. If it was myself, I’d carry gun with open stock and keep it that way except for storage.

    • Cal S.

      I’ve had considerable success with side-folding stocks. Gives you the same compactness while not taking your firing hand off the grip while deploying the full stock.

  • Pete Sheppard

    Nice article. Thanks for the Russian instructions,
    Firing folded would be useful close-in, if you KNOW it’s all Bad Guys.
    I’d like to try it at the range, but the chance of shots going over the berm is too great.

  • iksnilol

    I guess like any other technique it has to be practiced.

    I really want to try it now.

  • hami

    I know a Goldeneye screenshot when I see one!

    • Lance

      Too bad they showed the gun, and not more Famke Jensen LOL!!

  • Jeff Smith

    As you mentioned, it seems like a method of getting off a burst of ammo extremely quickly at relatively close range. Accuracy wouldn’t be as important as quickly getting a couple of rounds on target before the other guy does the same. A torso/chest hit could buy you time to get a more accurate shot.

  • dan citizen

    In the USA this technique is not really trained for or used, so it is not surprising that skills are as yet undeveloped.

    Likewise, if you took a shooter that has never fired a rifle from a standing position and checked their results after a few tries, one would hardly dismiss the stance based on this limited experience.

    In some places this technique is practiced extensively and the results are impressive.

    I remember sitting in a dusty, nasty, camp. The soldiers there would pick a DSHK casing on the ground, without shouldering their weapon or using sights they would shoot the casing, then they had to hit it again before it stopped moving. Many would empty a magazine before missing. Now, granted, they could hit within a couple inches and the dirt would make it leap, but we are still talking consistent, rapid, point shooting.

    In America I have seen and played this game with a 12 gauge casing, using a .22 rifle.

    • RealitiCzech

      I’ve done it with an AR and SIRT laser bolt, it does work with practice. Also, the rifle must be immediately below your dominant eye. That greatly reduces left to right dispersion, so then the issue becomes getting a solid repeatable grip, and adjusting for elevation properly.

      • dan citizen

        Back in the day we trained with a few subguns. We were expected to be able to make reasonable hits via point shooting.

        One great instructor I had was from the depression era USA school of point shooting, where they would crouch and thrust the gun forward. He could consistently hit what he wanted. My favorite quote of his:

        “Sights on a combat handgun are a poor substitute for training “

    • Practice could significantly help, of course, but as mentioned this technique was prescribed for grenadiers (RPG-7 carriers). At what point would they be able to practice this technique, in addition to keeping their other skills proficient?

      • dan citizen

        That’s a great question. I don’t know how much range time they get, I think it varies a lot.

        I know most of the Russki soldiers I have met could shoot pretty damned well, their pistol qualifications is at something like 80 yards.

      • Tassiebush

        In the old manual “Kill or Get Killed” by Rex Applegate there is quite a bit of instruction on point shooting with longarms. It’s written with the view that it’s the quickest most cost effective way to develop fast combat shooting ability at close range. It might be worth checking out if you want to test the concept further. There is mention of properly using the technique with folded stocks. It’s not in anyway linked to the soviet approach but could show how readily the skillset can be developed.

  • Grindstone50k

    Shooting stance is fine.

  • Bal256

    I cant confirm, but supposedly the US Navy taught point shooting a long time ago for ship board combat, somewhere around the WW2 to mid cold war era. It requires muscle memory and training, and you need to hold the gun in a consistent manner to have consistent accuracy.

  • pdxbnohica

    Considering the initial use, masses of troops, the official training is probably a good thing. Tons of soldiers, even with the troops intended, as planned (troops behind the lines in smaller numbers). Militarily, from their POV, it works. And remember, we were pushing trained riflemen versus numbers… That was our doctrine, unspoken. Which worked so well in Korea.

  • highway9

    Anyone that’s seen GoldenEye knows xenia onatopp’s true power comes from the hip!