The AK Guy Shows You How to Smooth Out AK Action

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Like its established AR-platform competition, AK’s come in a huge variety of styles, levels, grades, and configurations. However, unlike the AR, its common for those rifles to vary wildly (relative to the AR) due to the lack of a solid TDP that various companies work off of. As a result, especially on the low-end of AKs, the action has a tendency to be much rougher than the AR. While yes, AR’s can be rough, its not typical to have the bolt carrier hang-upon on its own receiver or hammer.

Typical causes for this are unrefined rails (typically just welded in) and a hammer whose shape can cause the action to hang-up if charged slowly. While, yes, the AK will eventually shoot itself in, there are some relatively simple steps that one can take to smoothen out their action, which primarily revolves around the hammer of the rifle.

The AK guys runs through this home-brew machining in detail. The only tools required? A file, dremel, and some sandpaper (typically you will want 100-180 grit for basic metal work).

Basically, pull out the fire control group, round out the hammer, and remove the surface inconsistencies common to stamped and bent metal. Once done, a rifle will be noticeably smoother and the hang-up found in certain brands at the rear of travel will be gone.

The only drawback? You can remove some protective finish from the operating components.

Or? Pick up a solid after-market trigger like the Elftmann or the ALG Defense AK trigger. That may be easier.



Nathan S.

One of TFB’s resident Jarheads, Nathan now works within the firearms industry. A consecutive Marine rifle and pistol expert, he enjoys local 3-gun, NFA, gunsmithing, MSR’s, & high-speed gear. Nathan has traveled to over 30 countries working with US DoD & foreign MoDs.

Nathan can be reached at Nathan.S@TheFirearmBlog.com

The above post is my opinion and does not reflect the views of any company or organization.


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  • RW

    I felt like I stepped back in time reading this article… such old news. not only the video topic (been covered hundreds of times already on youtube, literally), but blogs republishing this as news. he must have a lot of friends there at TFB, cause they certainly like to push a lot of his regurgitated content out.

    • John doe

      Not everyone is up to speed on every detail, and he’s catering to that market.

    • I think this is the first video we’ve ever shown from him?

    • sliversimpson

      First time I have seen any of his vids.

  • BattleshipGrey

    I don’t doubt there’s less resistance in the action after his polishing job, but it seems to be a lot of work for little gain. Mine used to hang up like he was talking, but after 1000 rounds the bolt carrier will fly home on its own.

    If someone wants to spend the time or it just doesn’t feel right and you’ve gotta put your hands to work, knock yourself out. I’m fine with the way my action cycles though.

    • iksnilol

      I think a polishing is cheaper than 1000 rounds.

      • DIR911911 .

        but nowhere near as FUN 🙂

      • BattleshipGrey

        In a sense yes. But if I knew about this polish job when I bought the rifle 17 years ago (I feel older just saying that), I still wouldn’t have done it since it wasn’t affecting the gun while actually shooting. So I saved myself some time, which is worth something. I was also going to shoot the 1K rounds anyway. 🙂

  • 2hotel9

    Hand working interior of receiver is a nice, relaxing activity for a snowy winter evening. And never forget, kids, powdered graphite works wonders for smoothing out rough actions. It will get you over the hump till your AK gets properly broken in! 😉

  • Hensley Beuron Garlington

    One of the bullet points for the AK is the ability to be rough with it.
    My first AK as the MPAP M92. Mine had so much friction between the hammer and the bolt that if you tried to ease the bolt carrier forward, it would get hung. I took a Dremel to the hammer and had to take off significant amounts of metal. Then I polished it and smoothed out some rough spots along the guide rails and extractor. I am horribly OCD so I took it too far the first go around and took a little too much off the extractor and I started to have stove pipes and such. So I got a friend to tig wield me a little more to work with back on the extractor and then smoothed that out until it functioned flawlessly. Then I heated the metal up until it glowed almost white hot and then doused it with ice water hoping to heat treat it. That sucker ran sooo good after that and put a smile on my face just charging it.

    I think the AK was a good first rifle for me because it allowed me to learn without breaking the bank.

  • Rob

    Its old news, and not even the AK guy’s latest video…but he does a good job, and there are new shooters picking up their first “AK” everyday somewhere…

    • We do not have to share the latest. I thought it relevant, even despite its age.

      • John

        It is relevant. Too many people don’t understand that basic gunsmithing like this, is better than dropping a lot of money on parts. Thanks for this.

  • MPWS

    The guy in video is a handyman and this approach is completely doable fix with non-fancy design such as AK. Btw, the Hammer on this gun is ‘investment cast’; same mfg. method as on AR hammer. On the latter, on top of it is in that area an inlet gate, which is in later process smoothed out. So here you have it – they not that far apart.
    Lithium grease is good way how to treat the re-finished surfaces. The optional and probably preferred method would be by using Dry Film Lubricant; same is used on upper in AR since steel and aluminum genuinely do not like each other.

  • Rick_A

    OR, you could just shoot the thing…

  • Lance

    AKs not a fancy precision rifle. go with some rough edges and get over it.

  • Mcameron

    a solution looking for a problem…..

    the AKs action doesnt need “smoothing out”……they run fine right out of the box…..and you arent going to notice any difference at all after you do all this work to it…….

    rather than wasting time doing this “mod”…….why dont you buy a box of ammo and actually go out and shoot the thing.

  • Bill

    …or fill it with really fine sand and shoot it a bunch. Worked for the Taliban and any number of other end users…only in America would we try to fine-tune a gun that can be made out of rusty leaf springs and old tractor parts.

    Seriously, with the possible exception of some really delicate match guns, charging ANY semi or FA weapon “slowly” is asking for it to balk and shouldn’t be done. Why try to “fix” a “problem” that is caused by doing something wrong?

  • nova3930

    Step 1: Throw out AK
    Step 2: Buy AR
    :p 😀

    • iksnilol

      Step 3: Go to gulag, “comrade”.

    • John

      You forgot a few steps:

      1) Throw out AK
      2) Buy AR
      3) Forget to clean AR, or buy cheap ammo or buy any out spec part for AR
      4) Scream and pull your hair out because you are experiencing FTF, FTE, and a myriad of other problems with your AR
      5) Throw out AR and pick the AK back out of the garbage and be happy

      • Squirreltakular

        Step 6: Get higher-paying job
        Step 7: Buy mid-to-high-end AR that will run for 10k rounds with only a couple spritzes of CLP
        Step 8: Join 21st Century

        • 2hotel9

          Sorry, nothing 21st Century in the AR platform. Try again.

          • Squirreltakular

            It’s the 21st Century. Everyone still uses it, and effectively. Therefor…

            But seriously, I’m just bagging on the AK because it’s fun. I love and respect both platforms.

          • John

            These are two “purpose driven” rifles. The AR is desinged for more precision accuracy with lighter ammunition, the AK is designed for close range heavy firepower and reliability under any circumstance.

            I guess the compromise would be a piston driven AR but I would still take 7.62 if I was in urban combat because it does a nice job breaking through barriers.

            JMHO

          • 2hotel9

            John? Any rifle is only as accurate as the man firing it. You can spend thousands of dollars on custom built sniper rifle, put it in the hands of an substandard marksman, and it is just a pretty club.

            And yes. .30cal FTW!!!

          • John

            Actually, that is not always the case. Poorly made or maintained rifles shoot poorly, regardless of who’s shooting them. Ammunition such as the 7.62×39 is not designed as a 1000 yard round, that’s a fact. If I am hunting deer out to 800-1000 yards I will not take and AK I would take a bolt action .308 or .30-06, why, because it was built for that and the AK was not.

            BTW, the new sighting system from TrackingPoint can make just about anyone with a good rifle and good ammo a marksman.

          • 2hotel9

            Hahahahahaha. Thanks, needed a good laugh. I am sure trackingpoint will foist off a pile of their little technotoys on substandard shooters, and they will still be substandard. And have less money.

            And I will reiterate, yes, .30cal FTW!!!!! When I hunt I hump a Number 4 Mk1*, and no, I don’t tend to miss.

          • John

            Um…Tracking Point just had a contest that pitted an expert against a novice. Who would you think would win? You would be wrong. I don’t agree with the concept of Tracking Point but you can not argue with technology if it works. Financially they may be a fail but the concept is solid if it is consistant.

          • 2hotel9

            A staged publicity stunt is no basis on which to gamble your life or the lives of soldiers. Technotoys have appallingly high failure rates under real world conditions. I far prefer to rely on superior weapons, training and cultivating those with native talent.

            There are plenty of optics systems that do enhance accuracy. None create it. That lies in the skill of the rifleman. Depending on technology alone is to court disaster. Just look at the problems from depending on satellite/drone reconnaissance instead of having men on the ground collecting realtime intel. We keep getting burned with this, and we keep falling into that same hole.

          • John

            I am not disagreeing with you, I am just stating that the technology exists to make novices hit their target without much skill. If someone does the legwork for you, the shot is not that complicated. My longest hit was 800 yards with Barrett .50 on a 36″ steel target. The rifle was over $15,000 and was set up by an expert, I just held the crosshairs on the spot and gently squeezed the trigger. It was 10% my skill and 90% setup and equipment. If you computerize that 90% we are entering a new world. Remember, computers took years before people could afford and accept them, now they run everything. Things change.

          • 2hotel9

            Yep, very expensive rifle setup and maintained by highly trained expert and on a range. Just about anyone can get hits under those circumstances. My longest confirmed hit is 1120 meters, mule deer, using 180gr .303Brit and iron sights, early morning with negligible wind and target against a light grey background and air temp below freezing. Friend with me called bullsh*t, we then packed up our crap and humped down one ridge side and up the other and tagged the deer. Ate backstrap for breakfast right where we sat. Then had to get it out of there, five hours with 4 guys just to get it to a point we could get it on 4wheelers.

            As for computers “running” everything? A very bad idea, which muslim terrorists are going to illustrate as they become more technologically adept. Centralization of control is what knuckleheads do, decentralization is what intelligent people do. Remember the East Coast power blackout a few years ago? Brought to you courtesy of centralized computer control, one went down and it cascaded across large sections of the grid.

            Change is not always good, as the last 8 years in America has so clearly shown.

          • John

            Agreed, we are just a few EMPs away from the stone age.

          • 2hotel9

            Actually, malware and virusi are the weapons they will use to crash electric power grids.

          • 2hotel9

            I got no respect for ARs. Seen too many men wounded or killed because their M16, of whatever flavor, failed them. This makes me unpopular with a lot of people, that does not change the facts. M16/AR is inferior to AKs, FN FALs, HKs, M14, or any of the Galil derivatives in either caliber. Just sayin’.

        • FarmerB

          Step 6: Get higher-paying job
          Step 7: Buy SIG 550 🙂

  • John

    I am curious, doesn’t changing the specs on these things by grinding off large amounts of metal open up potential problems? If it functions well, why would you greatly increase the bolt speed by taking the resistance way down? AKs are not known for being smooth as glass, they are known for flawless operation…why even mess with that? JMHO

  • Mc Cain

    Meh…I just threw mud and gravel in it for the first 500 rounds. Works great now.

  • Jason Lewis

    Just file/smooth out the hammer edges. Other than that shoot it.

  • Elvis

    That charging handle isn’t modified. It’s an SAR2. It came that way.

  • FarmerB

    Err, I’m not metal guy by any stretch, and I know this kitchen stuff can be done to any metal, but isn’t there some case hardening and surface treatment you are grinding off? What about bolt speed/over-gassing? I suppose it would work in the gun-shops of Pakistan, but seems somewhat crude to me (no, I’ve not seen it before either). Something I would have done as a teenager all those years ago 🙂

  • John Shore

    One bit of advice: Always use a sanding block when smoothing a flat, ‘plane’ surface. A block of wood, wrapping the sandpaper around a file, something to prevent dishing and rounding of what’s supposed to be a ‘plane’ surface running against another ‘plane’ surface–anything is better than just digging away with your hand and sandpaper. The result will be a much more satisfactory running surface without gaps, with less chance of gouging away finish you want to preserve.