Green AK furniture

akm74_004

Recently a number of AK groups on the internet have been abuzz with green AK furniture. At first I thought this might have been various owners painting existing bakelite material dark green, but this was not to be the case. The furniture sets are real and are some of the rarest furniture sets that an AK collector can get their hands on.

akm74_016

Initially the green glass reinforced polymer was supposed to be adopted by the Soviet Union, for use on the AKM and then later on the AK74 series of rifles. However, a different polymer and color scheme were picked for what would become the iconic tan colored bakelite that we see today on traditional Soviet AK74/AKS74U/RPK74 rifles and light machine guns. So where does this leave us with the green furniture? Due to odd circumstances, the furniture was kept in production, and was given out as award guns to the Soviet Border guards when they retired from their service. These rifles were not actually used in service, but were awarded as a sort of gift to these men when they retired. Somehow, a small number of these sets that included the stock, grip, handguards, and magazine, all color matching, were able to make their way over to the United States and today the furniture is extremely rare among collectors, fetching upwards of hundreds of dollars for a complete set, or even a magazine. The sets were made for both the AKM and AK74 series of rifles. It appears that the Border Guards got to keep the fully automatic feature as well.

akm74_012 akm74_013 akm74_014 akm74_015 akm74_017 0_be184_ee39b2c2_XL ak74border002 akm74_001 akm74_002 akm74_005 akm74_006 akm74_007 akm74_008 akm74_009 akm74_010 akm74_011

Much thanks to TFB reader Hrachya H. for the information and pictures!



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


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  • Anonymoose

    Are you listening K-VAR? We will pay top-dollar for this color!

  • M.M.D.C.

    Boy, that pic of the three guys is a strange one. Awkward family photo?

    Like the green furniture, though. Beats the heck out of a gold watch.

    • Major Tom

      Now if only my retirement AK (in full auto) were gold plated…

  • Harrison Jones

    So Soviet border guard were allowed to own or keep firearms after retirement?

    Or were they presented then held by local authorities?

    • Chelovek RuBear

      The weapons were kept at the unit location, these were not handed out to guards after retirement

  • Chelovek RuBear

    Two comments on the photos – there are several showing Ukrainian border guard with bright green furniture on AK-74 – which would not be getting anything from M Kalashnikov, since they are separate countries. However, they might have copied the tradition for themselves.
    Second – the plaques on the AKMs say these were given to the winner of “socialist” competition – not really a retirement item.

    • Malthrak

      They were at one time the same country, and Ukraine had large numbers of Soviet Border Guards stationed there. It’s likely many of these were issued during the soviet era, and possibly held over after.

      • Chelovek RuBear

        Both you and Evan quite possibly correct, especially considering the age of the person in the photo,

    • Evan

      I noticed the Ukrainian uniforms. My Russian isn’t nearly good enough to know what the plaques say (I can read it, but couldn’t tell you what any of it means). Could be guys who were Soviet border guards pre-1991 and won the rifles then, then transferred to the Ukrainian border guard after the breakup of the USSR. That would be my guess. Ukraine wouldn’t give out plaques or rifles for winning a socialist competition.

    • BrandonAKsALot

      Russia awarded Ukrainian border guards with these also. One and the same country at one point. The whole socialist competition thing is what they’ve always said. Probably just translates weird to English.

    • Leigh Rich

      Proof everything on the internet is true.

  • Pete M

    I don’t know why, but I love me some Bakelite. This green is awesome. Thanks for putting this together.

    • Blake

      I wonder if they ever made green beaver barf furniture for the vz. 58?

      • Pete M

        If not, someone should.

      • BrandonAKsALot

        Rit dye will do it.

  • randomswede

    One of my pet peeves is that the term “bakelite magazines” survives to this day.
    I wonder if it was part of a propaganda campaign?

    Bakelite is very brittle and would be a little better than porcelain as material for a magazine what they are made of has changed over time but fiber reinforced plastic fits most of them.

    I know most people don’t care; similar to the ammo delivering machines known as magazines being called clips doesn’t bother most people.

    • They’re actually a kind of fiber-filled phenolic resin, IIRC.

      Sounds like a primitive material, until you think about how poorly most plastics perform in the cold, and the limited number of suitable alternatives until very recently.

      • randomswede

        Indeed,
        I did some quick research and most “bakelite” magazines and furnitures are AG-4S fiber reinforced phenol-formaldehyde resin.
        Cellulose fibre according to some and glass fiber according to others.
        Resin being the name for what becomes a polymer when set, or in common speech “plastic”.
        (Cellulose is made from wood pulp or cotton.)

        The green mags are supposedly polyamide; so nylon, aramid or some other “plastic” from that family and supposedly not reinforced with fibers or beads.

        There’s supposedly some brown/orange magazines made from ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) I found nothing to indicate that they were reinforced either.

        “Not reinforced” only refers to what’s in the “batter”, the magazines can have reinforcing metal feed lips etc.

        There are some sources that claim that there were prototypes made with actual bakelite, if there were I suspect that was only on prototypes before tooling was made.

        Anyone who actually knows chemistry is probably flailing their arms about at my simplistic understanding, but until they correct me; that’ll do.

        • BrandonAKsALot

          The green mags were originally AG-4S. They swapped to the green polyamide for the 74’s and yes, they are glass filled or glass fiber reinforced. As far as I know, they did not produce any issue mags or hardly any prototype without glass reinforcement. They have have experimented with other types of reinforcements, but I don’t know. The Soviets never stopped experimenting to make their stuff better.

          The mags you said were ABS, were actually in between AG-4S production and polyamide. There are frequently and erroneously called “early bakelites”. They were early production for the 5.45 mags, but late for 7.62. I don’t believe they are ABS, but it is possible. I’ve seen them plenty, but never had one in my hands to be able to say. I highly doubt they are ABS though being that the Acetone was the base of the paints used for everything and ABS is just a thermoplast and is soluble in acetone. I believe they are something of the like being that they have a high gloss though.

          • randomswede

            The source I found on ABS magazines wasn’t very thorough, but I got the feeling it was in reference to magazines that are later than soviet era and not Russian sometimes mistaken for the AG-4S magazines, because they aren’t black and/or metal I suppose.
            (A post on “The AK Files” titled “Bakelite magazines?…..really.”)

            I really appreciate you taking the time to give me all this information, I can’t promise I’ll make use of it but I’ve certainly learned things I didn’t know and couldn’t readily find.

    • El Duderino

      You’re right. I much prefer “beaver barf”.

    • BrandonAKsALot

      It’s far too engrained in vocabulary. It’s like getting mad over Krinkov. It’s here to stay.

      It’s the same basic resin as bakelite anyway. It’s a phenolic formaldehyde base with unidirectional glass fiber reinforcement and it’s thermoset. Bakelite is that same resin, but can be reinforced with asbestos or paper/wood pulp and can be either a thermoplast or thermoset.

      • randomswede

        I didn’t know that bakelite was ever reinforced, the only experience I have of it is in old electronics that is fallen or falling apart and those have not clued me into any reinforcement.

        I wouldn’t say I get “mad” or bent out of shape but I guess it’s low level aspergers or something, it annoys me when two things that are different enough to merit their own names are clumped together making it ambiguous
        witch one was intended.

        “Krinkov” doesn’t bother me, I wish I could remember to call them “Okurok”, “Ksyukha” or any of the other names the Russians use but it’s like pineapple that’s called a variation of ananas in most of the world and sodium being natrium in most “european” languages.

        • BrandonAKsALot

          Bakelite was sort of the blanket term used for that resin. The AG-4S was actually produced in sheets and then thermoset. It was like laminating it all together under very high pressure and heat, and like forging, results in a much stronger material.This is a large part of the reason that you get such interesing results in the look of the mags.

          • randomswede

            I assume the magazines would have been set around a mandril with fiber wrapped around it, or did they reshape sheet material similar to stamping the metal magazines? (under heat of course)

            Is it simply the fiber that gives it the added strength or is it the trifecta of pressure thermoset, the slightly different chemical structure and fiber reinforcement?

            I have been wondering if one could home manufacture magazines buy wrapping a core (that comes apart) in glass/carbon/aramid fiber cloth and resin infuse in a mould.
            Not because it’s easy or cheap but to make a magazine you can’t buy for whatever reason.

          • BrandonAKsALot

            From what I have gathered is it was produced as sheets and reinforced already. Each sheet had the fibers already. Then it was produced in halves with the steel reinforcements in place. Similar to how steel mags are stamped like you said. The halves were joined with a high strength epoxy after.

            It’s an interesting process. You can see where the steel reinforcement along the front was held I place during molding. The black painted square is exposed steel. They typically painted the exposed parts black on all the non metal mags.

  • Ed

    Early Soviet mags turned out to be more Orange colored than tan. Cool pics looks similar to East German furniture made before its collapse.

  • John Cangelosi

    What “tan Bakelite” are they talking about? For furniture, Russia went from laminate wood until around 1984, then straight to plum poly through ’89-90, then to the black.

    • MichaelZWilliamson

      The grips were bakelite, and the 74 mags were.

  • Darryn

    Actually the furniture goes for THOUSANDS of dollars. The last complete set that sold in the US went for 5 digits. The magazines I’ve watched sell for 2k alone on my ak pages.

  • iksnilol

    They should start making green bakelite, those mags look neat’o.

  • El Duderino

    What an AK collector might look like:

  • BrandonAKsALot

    The original green sets were the AG4s resin we call bakelite. They then moved to the polyamide based sets that were basically plum, but green colored.