6 Reasons the AK-47 Is the Most Reliable Rifle in the World: A Guide to Kalashnikov’s Magic for Aspiring Gun Designers, Part I

Ak-47-iraqis

Today we know the Kalashnikov family of rifles as one of the most successful and reliable weapon families ever designed. Even as the rifle’s legend has begun to be peeled back, the weapon’s reputation for reliability is still largely unquestioned, and many consider it to be the most reliable individual automatic weapon ever made.

Beyond just its reputation, though, the Kalashnikov is an extremely well-designed weapon that was from the outset optimized for reliability in many ways. The AK incorporates more design elements intended to enhance its reliability than probably any other production automatic rifle that I know of, and these features are doubtless what has allowed the legend of Kalashnikov reliability to grow beyond the reality (however well-designed they are, Kalashnikovs do in fact jam sometimes!).

Despite its reputation, I don’t think the reasons for the AK’s reliability are fully appreciated, so I wanted to take a little time to go over the exceptional elements I have identified in the rifle’s system that I think allow it to be such a consistently good performer.

 

1. Operating mechanism design: Anti-preengagement, mass ratio, and more

The AK’s fixed piston, two-lug rotating bolt operating group has become one of the most revered elements of the weapon, but it still remains poorly understood in the common literature. For example, the fixed piston operating rod style action is often called a “long stroke” gas piston, even though the propellant gas does not impinge on the piston for the entire length of the operating rod’s travel (it is vented soon after the piston begins to move to the rear). Therefore, we should take a closer look at why the AK’s operating mechanism has stood the test of time.

Probably the three biggest assets of this operating group are its anti-preengagement (APE) mechanism, its high mass ratio, and the generous clearances around the moving parts. I’ve discussed the value of having a mechanism that prevents premature bolt lock – which I’ve called by the somewhat clunky name of “anti-preengagement” – before, in my post on the genetics of the AK’s design, and in my critique of the M1 Garand’s design. In the latter post, I explain:

For an autoloading weapon with a locking bolt mechanism that is actuated by the compression of the bolt and carrier (as in most designs), it is important that the locking mechanism not be able to lock too early. In many designs, this is done by simply not giving the mechanism room until it is in the right position for locking.

For example, in an AR-15, the bolt is prevented in its rotation by the inside of the receiver, which bears against the cam pin. Once the bolt has reached the end of its travel, a special cutout in the side of the receiver, visible from the outside as a small “hump” on the side of the receiver, allows the cam pin to rotate and the bolt to engage. While this system works very well, it means that the bolt is trying to engage throughout its travel forward as the force of the ammunition and friction of the magazine tries to force it rearward. This induces friction between the moving parts and the receiver, which must be overcome for reliable functioning.

There is a more elegant way to overcome this, which has been described as an “anti pre-engagement mechanism”. The Garand features this. Essentially, instead of the locking element trying to actuate throughout its travel in the receiver, the Garand features a shelf in the operating rod:

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The flat surface lightly highlighted in red is the anti pre-engagement mechanism, which supports the bolt during operation, preventing it from trying to rotate against the cam track. Image source: gunauction.com.

Another flat surface on the bolt lug rests against this shelf during cycling, preventing the bolt from trying to make a turning move, and reducing friction during operation. Just before locking, a bump in the receiver knocks the bolt out of alignment with this shelf, allowing it to complete its rotation.

The AK’s cam track and cam lug design are copied directly from the M1’s, and therefore its APE mechanism works exactly the same way, giving it the same low-friction cycling characteristics as the M1.

In locked-breech firearms, the moving parts group needs to have enough momentum to open the action, initiate extraction and ejection, and then on the return stroke feed the next round and lock it in the breech. One might assume that the ideal way to accomplish this is with a light moving parts group moving very quickly, but there is a limit to how fast the operating group can move. The lighter the moving parts group is, the stronger the return spring must be to give it enough momentum, and the harder the weapon will be to charge. In addition, the faster the moving parts group is going, the stronger the magazine spring must be to move the cartridge stack into position in time for feeding, and the more quickly the weapon will wear out.

The correct solution to this problem is to optimize the moving parts group’s mass ratio, which is the ratio of the operating piece (bolt carrier or operating rod) to the locking assembly (breechblock and locking piece, or bolt). Having a favorable (higher) mass ratio allows the operating piece to lose the momentum of the locking assembly during locking, and still complete its forward travel with plenty of momentum to spare.

The M1 Garand, which provided much of the mechanical basis for the AK, has a relatively poor mass ratio of 1.75 to 1 for its operating rod vs. its bolt, while the AK family has an excellent mass ratio of about 5.6 to 1. This means that the AK’s operating group has ample momentum to complete the operating cycle positively every time.

Previously, we talked about the principle of “underslide”, where dwell time is built-in to the unlocking piece of a locked-breech automatic firearm to allow pressure to drop in the barrel before extraction occurs. Most, if not all, serious studies of automatic firearm mechanics identify this feature as a major boon to the extraction reliability of automatic firearms that have it. While the American AR-15 rifle (which is excellent, nonetheless) possesses virtually no underslide, the Russian AK series possesses significant underslide to the tune of about a half inch. This means that the AK gives its ammunition slightly more time for the pressure in the chamber – and therefore the force on the case walls – to lessen, aiding extraction.

To wrap this section up, let’s talk about the operating group in general, and especially the bolt. One of the lessons that Kalashnikov very astutely learned from Garand’s M1 rifle is that whenever possible wide clearances should be given to a rifle’s parts. This allows parts to move even when debris, dirt, and fouling have interfered. Colonel Roy Rayle relays John Garand’s experience in Random Shots: Episodes in the Life of a Weapons Developer, on page 31:

On one of my trips with John Garand to see Dave Mathewson in New Haven, with Stan Fish driving, I asked John if he could explain to me why his rifles got through sand, dust and mud so much better than other rifles. He said the answer is simple. Other rifles use a bolt carrier with tight fitting surfaces between carrier and bolt, as well as between carrier and receiver, while his rifles use no carrier. The only tight fit for his rifle is at unlocking; once the bolt is unlocked there is only a sloppy fit between bolt and receiver, so his rifle has no trouble in back and forth motion in those tests.

Kalashnikov studied the M1 rifle closely, but never met with John Garand (certainly not before the production of the AK-47). The fact that he was able to recognize and incorporate this principle of loose fit from just observation, not to mention the fact that he combined that principle with a bolt carrier – which John Garand was unable to do – speaks highly of his talent as a designer, and as an appreciator of the designs of others. Indeed, this appreciation for Garand’s work becomes overwhelmingly obvious when reading Edward Ezell’s landmark work on Kalashnikov:

Kalashnikov talked at length about how he did his work, and to whom he was indebted for his design ideas. For example, he showed us his 7.62x41mm self-loading carbine, which he had developed in 1944 and 1945. He retracted the bolt and, pointing to the Garand-type cartridge follower, he told us that this weapon used a 10-shot en bloc clip of the M1 rifle type. Kalashnikov told us that John Garand was one of his design mentors, and that he borrowed several design features from the M1 rifle and M1 carbine (which he mistakenly believed was also designed by Garand). I was impressed by Kalashnikov’s frank willingness to acknowledge his debt to other designers, a trait which I attribute to his being very secure in himself regarding his position in the world of small arms designers.

At one point curator Natsvaladze commented that John Garand had not created as many different weapons as had Kalashnikov. Mikhail Timofeyevich snapped back at him. “When you get it correct the first time, you don’t spend your time designing weapons for a museum!” Garand was obviously one of Kalashnikov’s heroes, and no one should question the accomplishments of his heroes!

I take this substantial aside on Kalashnikov’s relationship to John Garand to point out that just as some do not know Kalashnikov produced anything beyond the AK-47, Kalashnikov himself was not aware of John Garand’s substantial corpus outside of the M1!

Kalashnikov’s bolt design – which is common to his self-loading carbine, as well as the AK-46 and AK-47 assault rifles – was substantially influenced by John Garand, yet also improved. Where Garand was unwilling to use a bolt carrier, Kalashnikov designed a bolt carrier that provided the same clearances as Garand’s masterpiece, yet which controlled and protected the bolt better than any of Garand’s designs. Also from Garand, and virtually by extension, Paul Mauser, Kalashnikov also retained the feature of chamfered locking lugs on the bolt. These specially shaped lugs were an innovation made during the height of the military bolt-action rifle, and most commonly seen on Mauser’s 93 and 98 model rifles.

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Two late model AK bolts. Note the chamfered and shaped locking lugs. Image source: forum.saiga-12.com

 

What does lug chamfering do, though? Well, in the original bolt-action application, it allowed for primary extraction, which refers to how the bolt of some bolt-action rifles can retract during the lifting portion of bolt handle movement. Essentially, this movement allows the shooter to break a stuck case free using the mechanical advantage given by the bolt handle. As the bolt handle is lifted up, the bolt rotates and then moves backward slightly in its chamfered lug recesses, which breaks the case free of a grimy chamber.

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An M1 Garand bolt; note the heavily chamfered locking lugs, just like the AK. Image source: thefiringline.com

 

In the AK, we don’t see much of this effect directly. Because the bolt carrier acts on a lug just a short distance from the axis of the bolt, the force of primary extraction is probably limited. However, the chamfering probably does ease the lugs into and out of their locking recesses during cycling, freeing up that much more energy for both feeding and extraction. I think it is appropriate to consider the chamfering of AK locking lugs as a “luxury”, but that to me illustrates just how focused Kalashnikov and his team were on making the AK a reliable design, versus an economical one, especially when this is contrasted to the mechanically simpler AR-15.

We have now very nearly reached 2,000 words, and therefore should take a little break. Fear not, though, tomorrow we will be back, examining the rest of the Kalashnikov’s best features which make it the most reliable automatic rifle in the world!



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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  • xebat

    There is one thing tough about the AK in regards of reliability where it loses against the AR.
    The problem of water,mud and other dirt getting into the action. The action of the AR is much better sealed. The AK has slits and open areas all over the gun.

    • guest

      that is perhaps the one and only feature of the AR that has a clear advantage, but is only true if compared to older AK models.
      However, russian weapons tests involve dust chambers that deposit dust into the weapon unless it is literally dust-proof, without any openings. AK does not magically avoid this problem outright, but it does deal with it by having looser tolerances which permit operation in such conditions none the less.

      • micmac80

        That dust chamber would sieze the AR15 in seconds ,the thing which most u-tube test get wrong is that lack of any type of FOD once gun is firing and cycling you tbe is full of sam lame , cover the gun in mud tests that prove nothing.

        • Paladin

          AKOU tested an AR15 in their makeshift dust chamber test, and it went through a full mag, a feat most of the AKs they tested could not match.

          • Cal S.

            It was a PSA Freedom build, iirc.

        • CommonSense23

          Why are you directly putting FOD in the chamber? That’s not realistic in any way?

          • Uniform223

            Intententionally introducing FOD into the chamber (NOT to be confused with the receiver) into ANY WEAPON WILL CAUSE A MALFUNCTION. These extreme dust tests are unrealistic and IMO should not be taken as gospel.

      • Cal S.

        You need to watch the AK Operator’s Union if you want to see how good both rifles are when repeatedly tested side-by-side.

      • LilWolfy

        Just regular shooting on the range in clean conditions will expose the AK for the malf-o-matic that it is in many cases, particularly the 7.62×39 chambered guns.

        I’ve shot more rounds through multiple AKs in a day than most people will ever see in a life, and many of the guns flat out broke.

        But you will see an army of internet experts who have little or no trigger time on them expound on the virtues of the relentless reliability of the AK. They fail regularly. Especially as the guns build a round count on them, springs and other small parts experience high cycle wear, firing pins don’t indent primers enough, pins start to walk, and you get malfs.

        They are about as reliable as an imitation FakeR-15 fed Russian ammunition.

        • I’m not going to try to overwrite your experience or stand my own up against it, but I will point out that there are others who are just as well-shot who hold different opinions.

          • Kivaari

            The only AK I saw fail in the civilian world was a Chinese in .223. All of the others worked just fine.

          • LilWolfy

            We don’t know what relevant experience he has, but it is certainly different than mine. What I saw with US servicemen, particularly SF, who are first exposed to the AK is that they reinforce the idea that the AK is reliable after a range session or 2.

            Once guys have to run a training program covering months, everything changes, and parts failure on the AK plague the training, with the 18Bs trying to teach the rest of the guys how to repair the things quickly in order to fulfill the training mission in as smooth of a fashion as possible, especially if there are no professionally-trained armorers on the host nation end.

            Most developed nations with professional armies don’t use garbage weapons like AKs, and they have their armorer support pretty wire-tight, particularly with Northern European armies where dealing with mechanical problems in an organized manner is part of the culture.

            This is where the AK makes sense though, for inbred developmentally disabled anthropomorphic apes who learn to improvise by pounding and replacing parts with what they can find from scrap. If they were to do that with refined weapons, it would look like doo-doo, but since it’s an AK with a lot of steel and wood, then no harm, no foul. Let the back alley bazaars release the welders!

        • Mike Lashewitz

          Well I hope you are wrong. I have never had any malfunctions and It is still as fun as day 1. I have put a few thousand rounds through it without any degradation.

          • rare slav pepe

            he’s wrong he’s a Call of duty kid who thinks he knows everything about guns from vidya games

          • Mike Lashewitz

            LMAO!!!

        • Nom de G

          LilWolfy, are you by chance an Arfcomer with decades of infantry experience and an affinity for the 6.5 Grendel?

        • rare slav pepe

          sure kiddo, COD is defiantly a fun game but remember it’s just a video game

      • User

        If you say “only true if compared to older AK models” than… The “AK47” is NOT “Tha most reliable Rifle in tha world” … so i call the title bullshit.

    • Sasquatch

      I will have to disagree. Those open places allow for dust to be blow out after each trigger pull thanks to the ak being over gassed. I like both rifles owning both just what I have experienced on my own.

      • AC97

        Did it work out like that in the mud test on InRangeTV?

        I don’t think so, the best way to deal with stuff from getting into the gun is to seal it from the elements.

        Furthermore, look at the Mini 14 compared to the AR 15 in dirt tests.

        • Sasquatch

          We are not talking about a mini 14. Me and a buddy of mine put a wasr10 through hell and back. Hasnt been cleaned and only some motor oil here and there. Its been left out side in the south Mississippi and Louisiana humidity. Has shot lord know how many rounds through it. It gets routine dirt bathes and the think just works. The AR is reliable but if it receives the same treatment as that wasr 10, lets just say it ain’t gonna be pretty.

          • AC97

            I brought up the Mini 14 as an example of what happens when there’s a lot of open spaces in the gun. Now, granted, the AK-47 is a better designed gun compared to the Mini 14.

            As for the AR-15, as long as it’s lubricated properly and there’s no dirt or whatever in the fire control group, it’ll probably work.

          • Sasquatch

            As would any gun. Though the ak is like the honey badger of guns. It just don’t give a [insert bad word]

          • ExMachina1

            “It gets routine dirt bathes and the think just works. ”

            It do?

            Seriously dude, read more, think more…post less

          • Sasquatch

            Seriously its a typo you douche. Congratulations!

          • LilWolfy

            WASR-10 is one of the worst examples of AK variants that fail on a regular basis. They are garbage. Romania builds garbage. What are your questions at this point?

          • Sasquatch

            Dang another one came from the caves.

          • .45

            Hey, my Wasr is a happy little AK. It doesn’t like it when gloves are fed into the action and it don’t run with broken mags, but other than that it shoots.

          • Malthrak

            Romania makes decent guns.

            Century rebuilds of imported Romanian parts guns are a different thing.

    • iksnilol

      I dunno, more holes = more gooder in regards to water.

    • Frank Grimes

      Yeah, the mythical status of AK reliability is really dumb.

      It’s just a rifle, no more no less.

      Quality variants of it are no more or less reliable than quality variants of other rifles.

    • Robert Rodriguez

      While it can set a good baseline, don’t try to use that video as exact proof of reliability.

      1) They only test with the mud they have, which in Arizona is sandy, gritty and fine silt. Different areas of the world will have different types of mud based on geology, absence or presence of decayed organic material, etc. It is only good for somewhere that has Arizona mud or something similar.

      2) They wiped the mud off of the ejection port and the bolt carrier. So far, from the other videos of theirs, they have not given that treatment to any other rifle. Either don’t wipe or wipe each and every one.

      3) The whole thing they brought up with having the ejection port cover closed is fine and dandy, but while that only applies to only the first round fired, anything can happen once it is open. Exposing the action (not the internals or the chamber, but having the ejection port cover open, while the bolt is in battery) would have been a more level comparison.

      This is not a bash on Ian or Karl, just some observations about their testing methods.

  • guest

    Again with Garand and his rifle.
    Nathaniel, until you educate yourself on the assault rifle trials which started just after WW2 until AK-46 was finalized, and do not understand what exactly was the contribution of other designers – where Bulkin was the foremost (imho) to, to the AK design we know TODAY, you are literally talking out of your rear end. This is just like talking about aviation up to and including WW2, then skipping the Korean and Vietnam wars and picking up in 1990 and assuming you can trough your own imagination account as to what exactly led to F-15 and Su-27 being designed.

    • Sasquatch

      Wow what cave did you crawl out of?

      • Wolfgar

        ROTFLMAO

      • guest

        Out of the russian language cave, that describes the prolonged assault rifle trials OUT OF WHICH (and not as a result of Mikhail’s own creativity) the AK rifle as it is known today was born. You got a better source than that?

        • CommonSense23

          You got a source on that?

        • AC97

          “and not as a result of Mikhail’s own creativity”

          I think this bears repeating: What cave did you crawl out of?

        • Sometime in the future, I will be addressing this argument about Bulkin’s weapon directly. There’s no doubt Kalashnikov took some broad inspiration from Bulkin’s design, but the AK-47 is very much not a copy.

        • Sasquatch

          Oh dear it’s worse than I thought.

    • Mild correction, the Russian assault rifle trials started in late 1943, not just after the war ended. You can learn more about that program by reading this article I wrote a year ago.

      • Lol

        AK fan Bois gettin BTFO!!!! AK receivers hand built by savages. Good for maybe 100k. Ar 15 built by NASA aero space 7075 T6 supreme alloy.

        • DW

          7075 had been around for decades before AR15s, and they were famously used on Japanese Zero fighters. It’s an excellent aircraft-grade material that existed back in WW2, not rocket science.

        • George

          Let’s get real about round counts.

          Bulk combat packed M855A1 is about $0.90 per round (2013 procurement #s). Rifle (M4A1) is about $1,200.

          If the rifle lasts for 1,333 rounds it’s fired its own cost in ammo.

          If it lasts 13,333 rounds it’s fired 10x its own cost in ammo.

          If it makes it to 133,333 rounds it’s 100x its own cost in ammo.

          Running around in circles about weapon endurance, once you pass say a year in combat, is meaningless.

          • Not sure where you got your price figures. An M4 or new AK will be between $400-$700 for military procurement, and last I checked M855A1 was like $0.35.

          • George

            The M855A1 bulk training pack (ranges, not combat, no stripper clips etc, not waterproof) was $0.40 that year. The waterproof stripper clip combat packs were $0.90/round. I can give you part #s if relevant. Can also check 2015 possibly 2016 numbers.

            I could have taken all the non-linked 855A1 package types and developed a weighted cost based on relative costs and counts. Still can if you want, but I think the combat packs were most of the procurement.

            For this post I read ~100 pages of ammo budget procurement docs (fortunately not the other 550!… Sigh. Why do I do this?…)

            The $1,200 was last actual M-4A1 procurement I saw numbers on, but that could have been a high year. My impression was that fed certifications added a good chunk over “civilian (LE)” market units. But I am just guessing there.

  • Ron Last

    You mean “most reliable after bolt actions”. Fixed it for you.

    • CommonSense23

      Except that in itself is not true.

    • Sasquatch

      Apples and oranges my friend….

    • micmac80

      That is not true ,have experienced way to many ‘siezed’ up bolts in my sniper bolt action rifles after stalk excersizes praticulary in fine sand ,AK would cycle with same girt no problem , bolt action siezed.

  • J.K.

    Most successful, due to its ease of manufacture, cost and propagation, yes.

    Most reliable? I don’t think so.

    • Sasquatch

      Have you ever tortured one?

      • J.K.

        No, but I’ve put one through an enhanced interrogation. 😉

        • Sasquatch

          Tehe

    • micmac80

      It is when you have actual AK to work with! not US knockoffs and kitbuilds that give AKs a bad name.

      • LilWolfy

        I haven’t seen that, and most of my experiences with AKs have been real ones, not US civilian market. They are poorly manufactured firearms for underdeveloped nations with conscript armies at best, tribal warlord hordes more often than not.

        • Scott P

          My experience and others say quite the opposite. And I also have had lots of range time and shooting with mine so you can’t hold that canard over my head either.

          • LilWolfy

            I doubt you’ve seen the number of variants I have, or burned 11,500 rounds in 4 hours through multiple variants.

            Also, if I had only based my experience on just that one spendex, the guns actually ran and I didn’t recall many malfs. When we took them to the cleaning room back at the Group compound, most of the Romanian AKs were deadlined due to linkage of the piston to the bolt carrier failing. These were full auto Romanian military AKs, not built kits with quality American parts.

            The East Germans MPKiMS-74s were fine.

            Since then (late 90s), every high volume range session I’ve been at or conducted where AKs were present involved malfs that ended up distracting from training in many cases.

            I see a lot of guys who have done fam fire with AKs or limited spendex overseas walk away with a confirmation bias that they are reliable. Once you take on a long-term training program with them as the go-to rifle for who you are training, you find out very quickly that you are going to need to become adept at dealing with logistics of the AK, especially springs, small parts, field repairs, mag compatibility issues, firing pins, etc.

            They are garbage weapons for bipedal vertebrate mammals, nothing more.

        • Malthrak

          Thats simply where they have ended up, they were designed to be used by anyone and function reliably, and they do that just fine. The idea that an AK is fit only for african warlords and conscripts is the exact same thinking that kept the US behind in small arms for over a decade and got soldiers killed when facing superior volume of fire from peasans armed with an effective and reliable weapon.

          In what way is a real AK “poorly” manufactured? They might have tool marks in irrelevant areas, but the guns work and they’ll deliver as much accuracy out of the box as most other rifles.

          • Dude 7.62 Times Banned

            That fellow Little Wolfie is a propaganda troll. Ignore him. Or tell him to read this:

            The AK-47 – Best Fighting Rifle in History (by Jeff Kirkham)

          • LilWolfy

            It’s not possible to manufacture something to a standard in the countries that made AKs, for the most part.

            Exceptions were East Germany to an extent, and maybe Poland. My hands-on with the Polish AKs is limited though, but GROM prefers not to use them after getting M4s.

            The Finnish Valmet and SAKO rifles can’t really be described as AKs in a Warsaw Pact sense, and they are of extremely high quality manufacture. The Asian and Middle Eastern guns are garbage, aside from real Galils. I like the Galil SAR the best out of all the AK variants. I would never purposely reach for one unless I was working with the Estonians again.

    • Tritro29

      Most reliable under the harshest conditions, yes. IAF notifying that the most problematic issue with M16a2’s is the maintenance frequency. You read it right, it’s not it’s unreliable, no, it’s the fact you need to clean and maintain it more frequently…that’s a serviceability and availability cost. Some people don’t have the luxury of time.

  • Pedro .Persson

    Just to be clear the fixed ejector, plus continuation rail in the receiver of the AK acts the exact same way as the cam pin track on the receiver of the AR-15.
    And the ability to deal with light debris is rendered moot when you have an open action like on the M1 and AK, the AR-15 is practically a sealed design. Also the lose tolerances mean that larger harder pieces of crap can get lodged somewhere in the action.

    • Re: Ejector and receiver rails. That is not correct. What stops the rotation of the bolt in an AK is the anti-preengagement shelf, not the receiver rails or the ejector.

      The AK’s action is hardly open (certainly not like an M1’s). It’s not as well sealed as an AR-15’s, but it’s better sealed than the actions of many other rifles.

  • Sasquatch

    Here come the AR15 fanboys…

    • Major Tom

      And DI fanboys being triggered.

      • Sasquatch

        Dl? Inlighten me major tom.

        • Major Tom

          Direct impingement. Gas operation like in the AR-15 where there’s no operating rod or contact surfaces otherwise between the bolt carrier and other internal bits and the gas being used to cycle the weapon.

          It has advantages in weight over operating rod actions like the AK but suffers the need for constant maintenance and cleaning lest its reliability be compromised.

          • Sasquatch

            Oh ok! Then I do know what DI is.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Except the ar-15 isn’t direct impingement, it’s still a piston operated system

            Here’s an animation from kr-15 that helps show how the bolt acts as a piston https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/0565ddfe4dec4242f1b3e1c037e49d7f78ed115844f6dfe4c526818af3d7b8b1.gif

          • Major Tom

            Then define direct impingement. Because literature everywhere defines the AR-15’s action as direct impingement, not a gas piston system.

          • Twilight sparkle

            The ar-15 is often discribed as di because it shares a few similar features but it’s separated from di since the ar has a gas chamber for the expanding gasses, a piston cylinder and piston rings (which are called gas rings in this case). In order for something to be di the gasses have to be brought directly back to the bolt (similar to the ar) but those gasses have to act on the bolt as soon as they reach that position which the stoner design doesn’t do because of those aforementioned features.

          • CommonSense23

            I think the moment it really dawned on me that AR is a piston design was taking apart my vehicles engine and seeing the piston rings and realising how similar the car piston and bolt of a AR were.

          • Kivaari

            What DI guns have gases directly impinging upon the bolt? The Hakim and MAS 49/56 do NOT impinge upon the bolt, but impinge upon the bolt carrier. After the csrriers move about 1/2 inch the gas is then vented directly to the atmosphere. In contrast the AR captures a metered amount of gas inside the bolt carrier (delivered directly into the carrier proper, not just the nose) that pushes the carrier rearward just like the MAS, except in order to keep the weight down the bolt acts as a piston. Regardless of that the gases are directly incontact with the carrier performing the same function as on the other DI rifles.
            An AR would not be DI if it had a piston tapping or driving the carrier.

          • Twilight sparkle

            It seems like you’re getting a lot of the concept but not the whole thing, the bolt is a piston which is pushing against the chamber, obviously the bolt can’t move forward because that chamber is in the way… This is where newtons 3rd law of motion comes into play where the explosion of expanding gasses in the bcg push against that pistons cylinder causing it to move backwards instead of the piston itself. It would be like if you welded a rod to the end of your car piston and held your engin upside down on that rod against an immovable object, the piston itself will stop moving and the engine will start moving instead. A piston is still driving the carrier of an ar, the piston doesn’t necessarily have to be moving to have a force on that carrier though

          • Kivaari

            The piston isn’t driving anything. It is static during the critical moments. Gas is hitting the chamber just like it was a cup. When the carrier moves a little ways it cuts off additional gas flow and the expanding gases shove the carrier rearward. Then it vents to the atmosphere. That is just like the MAS, except the gases are inside the carrier in more direct contact than the MAS. I get what you are saying, I just find it non-sense to say it isn’t DI when there isn’t another gun anymore directly gassed than those based on Stoners system. The chamber is just a more refined system that controls the gas volume in a more complex manner. I suspect the system wouldn’t be needed had he simply increased its mass and used a MAS style cup. It is just a more complex so the weight can be reduced. Think about where that gas is being dumped. It is inside the carrier. Not on the outside like the MAS or Ljungman. You can’t get any more direct than that. The Stoner design did not NEED the gas rings except to isolate the fouling, a good thing. The pistol cylinder combination is a gas metering device.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Take all of the gas rings out of your ar and shoot it then get back to me

          • Kivaari

            The gas rings are critical to the operation. Some of you say the gas has to directly impinge upon the bolt (those people are wrong). In the AR the gas directly impinges upon both the bolt and the carrier. YOU may want to refer to it as a piston-cylinder type of operation, and it is. But it remains the most direct impingement rifle I know of.
            The gas rings allow less fouling to collect. They also compensate for heat expansion. They could be eliminated if the gas flow were increased – but that brings the fouling issues that Stoner so cleverly limited.
            Since we have been calling the rifle a DI gun since it was introduced in 1957, and some people want to claim it is something else, I am going to stick to the obvious. It’s DI to the maximum. As soon as someone can show me how the gases don’t enter the bolt carrier group impinging directly upon both parts I’ll reconsider. The cylinder-piston description many are using is applicable to the M1 carbine except for the separate op rod.

          • CommonSense23

            And plenty of literatur talks about how reliable and accurate the M14 is.

          • Cal S.

            Except it’s not. The M14 had an extremely troubled introduction (which an entire generation forgets because they just want to rag on the ‘new’ M16). So much so, that frontline troops in Germany at Checkpoint Charlie swapped out their issue guns back to the Garands temporarily.

          • Cymond

            Precisely.
            CommonSense is pointing out that we shouldn’t believe something just because it’s in a book, or even a lot of books.

          • Twilight sparkle

            That’s the point, literature isn’t always right, the m14 wasn’t great and the ar-10 isn’t di

          • CommonSense23

            I know. That’s why I brought it up. The 14s are crap but you can read all over about how awesome they were.

          • Kivaari

            AHHH, the real history of the M14 in the 50-60s was of a rifle with extreme poor performance. Why do you think the DoD cancelled the purchases of them in favor of an entirely new rifle?

          • CommonSense23

            I know. But you find plenty of literature talks about how great it is. Even some official documents. My point is sometimes what’s written isn’t true.

          • Kivaari

            ARs are about a DI as anything can get. Why some people refuse to accept that baffles me. Just because the gas “cup” isn’t exposed to the eye, but is hidden within the bolt carrier certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t DI. If the gas hit a pistol not inside the carrier than they would have something to talk about, but it doesn’t.
            I think they are being silly to say the AR is not DI.

          • Paladin

            No, they’re not. The gas acts on a piston (the bolt) to open the gun, rather than simply directly impinging on the carrier. If it were a true DI gun there would be no need for gas rings on the bolt.

            It is without a doubt distinct from true DI guns.

          • Kivaari

            No the bolt is stationary. It doesn’t move until the gas impingeing upon the carrier shoves the carrier rearward. Then the cam pin unlocks the bolt and that impinged upon carrier carries the bolt rearward. It is no different from other guns where the carrier is directly hit with gas and as the carrier moves (first) then the bolt is moved. In the 16 it rotates it in others it cams the bolt out of battery by tilting the bolt.

          • LilWolfy

            We referred to the AR15 as DI because we weren’t as educated or refined in the stone age days of gun rags written by semi-competent and not very competent authors.

            Now we can just look up the Stoner patents and see that we were wrong.

          • Sasquatch

            Um that’s direct impingement….

          • JT303

            It’s generally (but incorrectly) referred to as DI. Technically, it’s called internal gas piston. Call it what you will, it’s not the same as an AK or SCAR. I personally don’t get too fussed about it, and I call it DI at times, esp. if it’s for convenience.

          • Sasquatch

            I can roll with that.

          • Kivaari

            Except the “piston” (bolt) is not doing any of the work. The carrier being shoved directly by the gas is doing the work and the bolt is along for the ride.

          • ostiariusalpha

            No, the piston/bolt does half the work by pushing against the breech. This makes the cycling more efficient, requiring less gas to be tapped off than the Ljungman and MAS-49 systems do.

          • George

            No, the bolt (piston) is doing *no* work as it’s not moving. Selection of the bolt as the fixed element which the carrier is pushed away from was purely for compact design rather than any mechanical advantage or participation by the bolt in the motion. The only advantage other than compactness is keeping the bolt carrier thrust lined up on the bolt centerline and bore/chamber centerline.

          • iksnilol

            Nah, internal piston is what it is. Direct impinpement is a Ljungman and the like. Where the gas pushes directly.

          • Kivaari

            “Pushes directly” on the carrier. Some here seem to think DI means the gas impinges the bolt directly to cause it to unlock. In the cited DI models that isn’t the case. If anything the AR is MORE DI than any other model since it impinges upon both the bolt and the carrier at the same time. The piston is simply a cork in the bottle. It does no work that isn’t imparted to it by the actions of the carrier.

          • Wolfgar

            Technically he is correct, sorry guys!

          • Joseph Goins

            “Except the ar-15 isn’t direct impingement, it’s still a piston operated system”

            Funny how the graphic that YOU provided calls it direct impingement.

          • Twilight sparkle

            Actually it says gas impingement which means gas interaction, all gas operated firearms are going to have some sort of gas impingement weather that is direct or not is a different story.

          • Sasquatch
          • Twilight sparkle
          • Wolfgar

            Give it up, it is beyond their comprehension! Maybe if you could draw it in crayons it would help 🙂

          • Joseph Goins

            So direct impingement is not direct impingement?

          • Twilight sparkle

            Not necisarily, you will have gas impingement in a direct impingement system you just don’t need a direct impingement system to have gas impingement. There’s gas impingement in the piston system of an ak and that’s definitely not direct impingement. Impingement basically just means to collide with or act upon.

          • Kivaari

            Yep. The AK is as DI as a MAS or Hakim. In those guns gas hits the carrier and unlocks the bolt, in the AK the gas hits a long rod atop the carrier (attached). That’s unlike the M1 or M14 or Mini 14 with a separate operating rod. Semantics.

          • Cal S.

            I just looked at it again, it still says “Gas impingement”. There is a difference between “Direct” and “Gas”. They’re not the same thing…

          • Uniform223

            The piston being in the BCG.

          • Kivaari

            It is still pushing the carrier to the rear. Just like the MAS rifle. Gas hits the “cup” which just happens to be inside of the carrier, and it shoves the carrier to the rear. The cam pin simply rotates the bolt head. I don’t know how it can be called anything except DI. It’s pretty direct to me.

          • Twilight sparkle

            The “cup” you’re referring to is the expansion chamber for the gases which act on the bolt head itself which is sort of the piston in this scenario except that the piston runs out of room to move forward so that causes the cylinder itself to move rearward which in this case is the bcg. When the bcg moves rearward it eventually gets to a point where the gases leave the system via the two gas vent holes in the bcg which are basically acting as valves for this system. If this were a di system those vents wouldn’t be there. The two systems have similarities but they aren’t the same.

          • Scouse

            The above is straight blow back, no piston. My Steyr AUG, wee hole in barrel, sends gas to a short piston, which raps the bolt, sending it rearward.

          • Twilight sparkle

            I’m really confused with what you’re trying to say here. All firearms previously mentioned were locked breach not blowback?

          • MPWS

            Weight advantage is questionable since AR is not significantly lighter than AK. Lots of weight is added by buffer, which is needed due to very light action.

          • UnrepentantLib

            (MAS 49/56 Fanboy) Don’t forget the DI system on the MAS 49/56!

          • CommonSense23

            Cause having my rifle go thousands of rifles without cleaning suppressed is constant maintenance.

          • n0truscotsman

            Nope.

            See Armalite’s “Technical Note 54”.

            Normally, I dont get bent out of shape when people say ‘direct impingement’ regarding AR15s. whatever. But SInce you’re doubling down on technicalities, lets get it right for the record.

          • Uniform223

            What you said at the end is incredibly superficial

        • Paladin

          The MAS 49/56 and AG42 are both true DI guns, the AR15 is not. In both the MAS49/56 and AG42 the gas impinges directly on the bolt carrier to drive it rearward (hence, Direct Impingement). Neither of these guns has any form of piston, the gas tube terminates in a “cup” shape on the bolt carrier. In the AR 15 the bolt itself is used as a piston with the bolt carrier forming the cylinder. The gas tube and gas key of the AR15 externally resemble elements of true DI designs leading to it often being mistaken as one, even to the extent of being popularly known as a DI design, but it is quite mechanically distinct, which is why it is more properly known as an internal piston or gas expansion design.

          • ostiariusalpha

            In the technical sense the gas tube’s nipple acts as a fixed piston on true direct impingement designs.

          • Kivaari

            The ARs are about as DI as you can get just because the “cup” isn’t on the face of the bolt carrier, it sure is on the inside.

          • Paladin

            No, it’s not. Take a look at a MAS 49/56, AG42 or Hakim, they operate on a very different principle, using the jet of gas from the gas tube to directly operate the bolt. The AR15 directs gas inside the BCG to act on the bolt as a piston. While a DI gun has a cup on which the gas acts, the AR15 uses the BCG as a cylinder in which the bolt acts as a piston.

          • Kivaari

            From memory, I had both the MAS and Ljungman, the gas cup is on the face of the bolt carrier and not on the bolt. The carriers move and cams tilt the bolts to unlock them. Next week I’ll take another look at a Hakim that’s at a local shop. But there is no way that gas directly hits the bolt.

          • Kivaari

            In the MAS 49/56, “…As the bullet passes down the barrel, a portion of the propelling gases pass through a gas port located about 7 1/2 inches from the bolt face. These gases travel through a gas tube on top of the barrel, and BLAST AGAINST THE BOLT CARRIER’S CUP-LIKE FRONT END (which overlaps about one-half inch of the end of the gas tube), forcing the carrier to the rear, the bolt carrier cams the rear of the bolt up from the locking shoulder in the receiver, unlocking the action. The carrier and bolt then continue to the rear…”. That is what I have been saying. Same goes for the Hakim. That is direct gas impingement and at no time does the gs directly impinge upon the bolt.
            Page 197 Vol II of International Armament Johnson and Lockhoven 1965.

          • While it’s not a direct impingement, the gas indirectly impinges by way of the expansion which renders the carrier in effect a piston which pulls rather than pushes the bolt out of battery and to the rear. No surprise the terminology is confusing: it’s actually an indirect direct impingement!

          • Ryfyle

            That gives food for thought on making a true DI system. Could save a ton on materials if you don’t need a rod

          • Steve Hanna

            I don’t know what I’d do without my rod

        • LilWolfy

          AR15 is internal gas expansion, not DI. It is explained in detail how it contrasts with DI in the Stoner patents.

      • Joshua

        Major Tom trolling.

      • Zachary marrs

        I don’t see many ag42 fanbois here.

        People who don’t understand gas systems, on the other hand…

      • Kivaari

        Worse is the guys that will say the AR isn’t direct impingement.

        • Major Tom

          Too late for that mate.

        • Cool Dude 7.62 (Banned)

          The average IQ in the US is 98.

    • J.K.

      Here comes the AK fanbois…

    • J.K.

      Here comes the piston fanbois…

    • gusto

      fanboys everywhere,

      liking the ak47 is like liking a willys jeep, cool and a workhorse but outdated
      liking the ar15 is like liking a toyota, works, cheap can be upgraded to run faster always a new model coming out. but seriously looks like a toy

      Have you guys not shot anything else?

      You do realize that there are other stuff out there?

      H&Ks, FNs etc

      • Sasquatch

        Yes and if you give me the money to buy a h&k I would. Now I have a FNS 9mm and I love it so gotcha.

    • John

      VIVA LA FAMAS!!!

      • Major Tom

        Murió la FAMAS!

        • Steve Hanna

          Lorenzo FAMAS

      • LilWolfy

        One of the worst assault rifle designs from an engineering perspective. Locking mechanisms? We don’t need no stinking locking mechanisms.

        • DW

          Well, delayed blowbacks was the deal in 70s and 80s, Famas was quite adequate then.

  • Tassiebush

    I always get excited reading about the anti pre engagement aspects of the design!

    • iksnilol

      basically the prenups of firearms ?

    • 624A24

      I kinda wish there’s a write-up on every anti-preengagement mechanism ever designed, but that’s gonna be really boring

      • Tassiebush

        I’d really enjoy that!

  • User

    At first “AK47”?? As far as i remember it had quite some problems until it became the AKM! (which we see 90% of the time).

    Also the gaps in the receiver are TERRIBLE for reliability, expecally mud. And the savety that OPENS up the receiver even more when st to fire….

    So wth is this article?

    • Wolfgar

      There are many more reliable designs incorporated into the AK rifle I’m sure Nathaniel will get to.There were no problems with the AK-47 which used a milled receiver. Cost, weight and the ease of manufacturing were the results of the AKM stamped receiver.

      • User

        Quote: “Replacement of the milled receiver with a receiver made out of stamped sheet steel.
        Using rivets instead of welds on the receiver.
        Improvements to barrel, gas ports etc. to speed up manufacturing and enhance reliability.
        Weight reduction of approximately 1 kg. (2.2 pounds)
        Retains the chrome lined barrel and chamber of the AK-47 Type-2 variant, but the barrel is pressed and pinned to the receiver, instead of the AK-47 which has a threaded barrel that is screwed into the receiver.
        The barrel is the first in the AK family to have a slant compensator (cut in an angle) to reduce muzzle climb, when shooting in automatic mode.
        Gas relief ports are moved forward to the gas block, instead of the gas tube.
        Bolt carrier was lightened slightly.
        Changes to the metal treatment applied.
        Uses modified spring and trigger assembly for better safety. The AKM fires in automatic mode only when the bolt is fully locked. The new trigger assembly also reduces “trigger bounce” and has a hammer release delay device to delay the release of the hammer by a few microseconds in automatic firing mode. The hammer release delay mechanism is sometimes incorrectly called a “rate reducer” by some people, but it doesn’t appreciably change the cyclic rate of fire. Instead it allows the bolt group to settle in the forwardmost position after returning into the battery.
        The wooden buttstock used in the AKM is further hollowed in order to reduce weight and is longer and straighter than that of the AK-47, which assists accuracy for subsequent shots during rapid and automatic fire.
        And a straight instead of angled checkrest.”

        Also ive heard about magazin reliability problems with the early Ak47.

        Overall, AKM’s are much more present, and due to the changes propably more reliable, so why is the title called “AK47”, when the AKM is better.

    • Debris resistance is just one small element of reliability, and the AK does moderately well in this regard. I would say that compared to its contemporaries, the AK does exceptionally well.

      The InRange tests are very useful, and I applaud Ian and Karl for going to such lengths to publicly shatter some of these myths. However, these tests must be understood in context (and I think Ian and Karl would agree). The InRange mud test is very severe (as it should be, don’t get me wrong), and therefore failure in that test isn’t a condemnation of a design’s reliability but rather a demonstration of its limits. The AK is not as well-protected against debris ingress as the AR-15, that’s true, but not only is that only one part of the reliability equation, but it’s even just one part of how a weapon performs in mud.

      • LilWolfy

        In my experiences with:
        Russian AKM
        Romanian AKM/PM
        Bulgarian AKM
        Hungarian AMD-65
        Polish Beryl
        DDR MPKiM-72
        Chicom Norinco
        Chicom Polytech
        DPRK Type 58
        DDR MPKiMS-74
        Israeli Galil ARM
        Israeli Galil SAR
        Finnish Valmet Rk62
        Finnish SAKO Rk92/95

        I have seen plenty of malfunctions on clean ranges in temperate weather on a regular basis with the Eurasian, Asian, and Eastern European AK variants.

        The ones that I can’t recall any malfs with to-date (although the soldiers of the FDF and Estonian DF assure me they have experienced them) are with the Valmet and SAKO rifles, as well as the Galil ARM and SAR. Additionally, I find the 5.45×39 AKS-74 variants to malfunction less than the 7.62×39 in my anecdotal experiences that span a few decades.

        The civilian AKs I’ve seen brought to high volume courses in Europe and the US have been even worse, especially the WASRs.

        Short story: I would never purposely reach for an AK if I had other choices, especially a real M4A1. The reliability record has proven to be more propaganda than reality when you shoot them.

        • There’s no reason an AK shouldn’t work well if properly built, but not all do. What is important here is that the AK as a type incorporates a lot of really clever design work that helps enhance reliability and durability.

        • Wolfgar

          I have never met a Vietnam vet who loved the M-16. They envied the AK for its robustness and reliability when compared to the M-16. Today it is a different story with the knowledge and improvements made with the Stoner system. My how times have changed!

        • n0truscotsman

          Most of my experiences in overall malfunctions are related to the ammunition.

          I’ve ran my Valmets hard (223/556) and they’ve been ridiculously reliable, so I share your experiences. Certainly more than my 7.62×39 guns overall, although I haven’t compiled data to make a technical comparison (and they’re still stupidly reliable too).

          Im convinced that running brass cased 5.56 is what enhances the reliability, because it tapers down to the 7.62’s level when I use steel cased (still very reliable, but not *as*)

      • User

        Ofcourse thats not the only point.. , but i find that the title is far to overexaggerated.

  • MPWS

    As AK design does not incorporate primary extraction (locking surfaces are square to axis of bore) the purpose of chamfers on front side of locking lugs is for easier lead-in into trunion before locking commences.

    The term “under-lug” or “under-slide” looks out of place (in-clear). Why not just use “idle travel” before unlocking?

    One detail fitting to mention is angle of locking / unlocking surfaces. It is (unlike on AR15) often not the same and for good reason(s) – it has to do with speed and ease of either portion of cycle. Look for example at AUG and other designs. In CNC age this is easy to do.

    • Re: AK and primary extraction. I keep going back and forth on this, but I think ultimately even if it does exist the effect is very minor. What’s more significant about the chamfered locking lugs is how they ease locking and unlocking, reducing or eliminating potential hitches caused by misalignment or something else.

      Re: Underlug/underslide. This originates in my informal education on small arms mechanics. Long before I was a writer for TFB, a couple friends and I began studying the subject. A buddy of mine read a copy of Brassey’s Essential Guide to Military Small Arms: Design Principles and Operating Methods that he got through inter-library loan, but which – obviously – we couldn’t just refer back to, since he had to return it. In that book, the concept is called “underslide” (I don’t know why). Along the way, long after he returned the book, my buddy and I began calling it “underlug” erroneously, so that’s where that term comes from.

      • Amit Jones

        I would have to agree with MPWS on the use of the chamfers on the lugs.
        The point you bring up regarding the primary extraction is imho a function solely of the cam profile, not the chamfers. The cam profile constrains the rotational and translational motion of the bolt head, and by varying its shape, you can tailor not only the dwell, but the proportion of bolt head rotation per translation. Tailoring that shape gives you the desired effects you highlight.

        • Yes, I agree, but the lugs need to be chamfered to allow for it.

          • Amit Jones

            Yup.
            And this is where things get interesting (and my inexperience shows). The chamfers are indeed beneficial, but to what extent are they necessary for different purposes, and to what extent does the real need for one of those purposes gives us a bonus benefit?
            From the perspective of offering clearance for the rotation, the chamfers themselves don’t have to be so large, comparing something like scar bolt lugs to ar-15 bolt lugs (if memory serves), the scar has much less chamfering (iirc,I don’t have one) however, the scar and the ar-15 have much different cam profiles. This suggests that the rotation from the cam profile dictates how much chamfer is needed to permit the motion without interference from the extension, if there would be any in the first place.
            We can figure this out using CAD and interference detection (Or you could confirm with your experience/knowledge). With a model of a bolt head, remove the chamfers, and simulate the bolt cycling. If the edges of the lugs (back or front of) interfere with those on the barrel extension during the rotation, then indeed they are definitely necessary to allow the rotation. If there is no interference, it would suggest that chamfers aren’t necessary to allow rotation.
            From the perspective of reliability, a case can be made that fouling can accumulate on the inside corners of the recesses of the barrel extension, and generous chamfers on the lugs allow a positive lockup despite the fouling, contributing to reliability.
            Of course, if the first purpose is true-that of providing clearance for the rotation- we will get the benefit of clearance for fouling and increased reliability.
            Let me know what you think.

            Best Regards

          • FWIW, the lugs do need to be chamfered to allow the trunnion to knock the bolt out of the APE shelf.

          • Amit Jones

            Right, and that would apply to those rifles with the APE shelf in their cam track. In that case those chamfers are camming surfaces, with a corresponding cam surface in the trunnion as with the AK, which knock the bolt off the flat profile and into the curved portion of the profile.
            That’s a different matter from those rifles without APE on their cam profile and chamfers on their lugs.

          • MPWS

            You said it right: bigger inlet chamfers are beneficial while these can be afforded only on bigger/lesser lugs. Two lugs require bigger rotation angle than 8 (7) at similar cam angle, which means more travel and time for bolt carrier = more delay aiding to reliability.

            Also worth of noting is that AK bolt has separate stripping lug which allows for lesser rotation angle. I’d suggest that SIG considered their options while they leaned on AK design instead or AR while working on type 550 and derived models.

        • MPWS

          In response to both you and Nathaniel (and I thank for you your own thoughts) I’d add that much (while partly repeating myself):

          – the idle travel (call it as you wish) is a key to reliability and not just of AK; it in a way it substitutes for lack of primary extraction
          – cam track profile at AR is created by .3125 (cca 8mm) dia cutter and is laid at 45deg angle and its over-travel / lead portions are small; this is a ‘cheap’ shortcut for otherwise fancy rifle
          – looking at more thought-out design version you can see extraction portion of cam at similar or less than 45deg while locking part being more snappy which is instrumental for reliability
          – AK due to its robust and simple design can afford greater amount of jam-free play and stay functional; AR cannot – it is finicky and tolerance sensitive (my experience)

          We should stop comparing both, but it is hard to avoid that for lack of other reference nd because they are tools of opposing forces. I think we are closing in on crux of the issue in a fair alignment of our thoughts.

          • Comparing the AK and AR are inevitable. I didn’t do it because I think the AR-15 is inferior, but because they are so different and the AR-15 is so common. It’s a reference point that my readers can look at.

  • Wolfgar

    Nathaniel is correct about the extractor, bolt design and camming action. The long cam slot does have a smother motion when locking, unlocking and does increase dwell time which is a superior design. The AR-18 incorporated a longer cam slot compared to the M-16 The the AK is a wonderfully designed rifle that got many of the correct designs incorporated the first time around by Mr. Kalashnikov.

  • Twilight sparkle

    Don’t the lower rails of the receiver do basically the same thing as the anti-preengagement just acting on different surfaces of the bolt?

    • No, because what an anti-preengagement (APE) device does is prevent the bolt from trying to turn, thereby reducing friction. My good friend TroubleshooterBerlin explains the difference:

      I don’t think not having an anti-preengagement mechanism is a death sentence for a rifle (the AR-15 is, for example, a quite reliable rifle even in dusty conditions). However, the addition of an APE mechanism reduces frictional losses and increases the margins for successful cycling before a stoppage is introduced. As they say, the “devil is in the details”, and the AK is a rifle that’s had a lot of those little devils kicked out. 🙂

      • Twilight sparkle

        This makes more sense now.

      • Wolfgar

        Excellent video, thank you!

  • MPWS

    On subject of “idle run” before unlocking commences, AR is not as hopeless when comes to delay to extract. Since actuation is by direct gas, it takes some time to compress gas column (due to resistance of carrier, bolt and buffer); similar as in gas charged shock absorber albeit pressure is by order of magnitude higher. This ‘delay’ is small to compare with mechanical / solid parts contact but is there.

    One major item of difference to be mentioned is that AK action is loosely guided by bent 1mm/1.5mm thick SHEET METAL as opposed to precision guided action of AR. How is it possible that AK works so well in spite of this? Answer is 2 lugs which are strong enough even with plenty of entry clearance. This would be impossible to do with 8 (7 functional) lugs of AR. Tighter fit is causing problem, but is unavoidable. For this and direct gas reason, AK is clear winner.

    • Right, the AR-15’s gas dynamics are quite different so they aren’t directly comparable in this respect.

  • iksnilol

    MAH BOY NATHANIEL BRINGING DA FIRE!

    😀

  • .45

    Heh. Today I go to sight in a red dot atop my AK. This is good article to read before hand, I think it will give me luck. Perhaps red dot will be dead on already.

  • Minuteman

    I respect the AK platform. It is underrated and deserves more credit for what it does. Is it superior to the AR? Under optimal circumstances, most definitely not. Pitched against each other: a top of the line AK with top of the line ammo vs a ditto AR setup. AR wins, hands down plain and simple (OTM/BTHP ammo, double the effective range, better ergos). Outside these parameters, the AK wins. Because that ‘top of the line’ 5.56/.223 ammo is not what is usually available/affordable. And my realm is the civilian realm, folks. I give a hoot about what ‘the military’ -any military uses.
    The key difference here is the ammo and hence the availability -or lack of it. So if you pitch the same quality level rifles against each other in a non-Dior priced quality FMJ (Prvi, Golden Tiger) vs quality FMJ (ZQI, Black Gun, PMC) contest, the AK would pass with flying colors because it’s a harder hitting and better penetrating round.
    As a final remark I’d like to conclude with the statement that both the AK and AR are realistically 300m rifles given what is (un)available on the commercial ammo market. Both of them are good. Take your pick and have fun.

    Ps DDI is doing a fantastic job in getting me over the fence.

    • Bob

      I figure, as a civie, I may find the bigger 7.62×39 round will be more useful versus any four legged varmints I might face, a far more likely event than the dreaded zombie apocalypse.

      • Minuteman

        Why not use a Winchester 70 in .308 (OTM, go for a brain shot=instant incapacity & no suffering) for the purpose of stacking up your freezer with deer? Agreed on .22 being unsuitabe -let alone unethical- for larger game hunting purposes.

        • iksnilol

          I think he meant hostile varmints such as bears or cougars. Fast firing semi auto is a bit better there in spite of a weaker cartridge.

          • Minuteman

            Yeah I got that. Those are species you don’t hunt though.Hence my reference to hunting with actual purpose (deer for food).

          • iksnilol

            I feel against small, cuddly wuddly little deer (like whitetails) that a 308 is a bit much. Rather a 7.62×39 or 6.5×55 (with appropriate ammo).

          • ostiariusalpha

            Even 6.5x55mm is a bit more than you really need. I shoot them with its snot-nosed grandkid, the Grendel, and they still fall down as reliably as you could hope for.

          • iksnilol

            Yeah, but I don’t want to bother with making a 6.5 Grendel if I cna just get cheap 6.5×55.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Sure thing, 6.5x55mm is great for the budget shooter that wants some power, you can combine that with 7.62x39mm for everything that doesn’t require more for a simple two caliber system (assuming you’ve built up a budget for something Ike that).

          • iksnilol

            Basically.

            Thinking of rocking 6.5×55 and 30-06 switchbarrel Mauser.

          • Tassiebush

            People do hunt Mountain Lion and bears.

          • ostiariusalpha

            Bear can be pretty good depending on what it’s been eating. If it has gorged itself on fish, then the flavor can be something that you have to acquire an appreciation for over time, to say the least.

          • Tassiebush

            High in omega 3 I guess?! Funny you mention that as it came up in this article that I was reading just the other day http://www.backwoodshome.com/hunting-processing-and-serving-black-bear/ it really makes my tummy rumble reading about rendering the fat and keeping the crispy bits!

          • Tassiebush

            Sounds like when there’s lots of fruit they can be very tasty. I’m jealous to be honest!

          • Wolfgar

            Back in the 90’s I worked up Thompson river in northwest Montana. We were very far off road and I had to do my business in a whole I dug. When I finished I would bury it. From there on Every evening I would never have to dig a new whole because a big black bear would dig it up and eat every bit of it. Since then I have never eaten bear meat.

          • Minuteman

            I’m against needless destruction of animals. If you want to go trophy hunting get the next plane to Syria, I hear there’s plenty of Daeshi to prey on this season.

          • Tassiebush

            Depends on how you define needless. I’d think there are a bunch of reasons to hunt anything that eats livestock and occasionally humans. If someone enjoys it and can take the time and effort more power to them. I’ll draw my line at sustainability rather than deciding I like some animals so they should be off limits. If the population can’t sustain the pressure then sure leave it alone but if the numbers are adequate there’s no reason not to. We’re in dodgy territory (i.e sounding like a vegan) as soon as we start telling other people what they can or can’t take just because we don’t like the idea. As for the notion of fighting wars as a substitute for hunting that’s about as absurd as if I suggested you join the crew of sea shepherd and subject yourself to vegan food if you feel so strongly against the taking of animal life. I don’t think you’re actually like that and wouldn’t wish that on you. Just making the point by comparing the two. I’m going to speculate that you are probably young and urban/suburban and probably haven’t been that involved with wild or farmed animals. They die unpleasantly for the most part regardless of whether we’re involved and our hunting of them is generally a pretty modest source of suffering in the scheme of things. Plus it’s who and what we’re about under all the trappings of our cultures and civilisations. One last point is I don’t live in the US and locally I have a heap of species formerly considered to be game which are now protected without the evidence supporting that just because unimaginative lawmakers didn’t like the idea of them being hunted.

          • Minuteman

            Population control is a whole other matter. That should first and foremost be the job of wolves though. Humans can lend a hand when need be. But I’m for nature taking it’s own course and am only interventionist when there’s urgent need to (the threat of food shortages for species, overpopulation control when wolves simply cannot cope any longer etc). I’m close to hitting 37 and -unfortunately- urban, yet I’m a nature’s man at heart, and utterly disgusted with big city life.

          • Tassiebush

            I guess I differ in the sense that I think we should be in the mix more rather than standing off on the edges. I can understand though how in an urban context it’s hard not to be struck by the preciousness of the natural environment. I hope you get to live somewhere better suited to you.
            I must admit a lot of environmental issues scare the heck out of me. But it’s the big stuff like plastics in waterways and the oceans, soil and water contamination. Ocean acidification and climate change. Invasive species and pathogens. Stuff like that bothers me but I see the whole environment as our environment to draw from. That’s the birthright of all creatures. As far as nature balancing stuff out when you look at a huge number of environments it’s out of whack and the natural predators are either pretty problematic in the large numbers needed to perform that function or absent. We can’t for example reintroduce predators to large chunks of agricultural areas to manage wild animals without a hefty impact on domestic animals. In fact they most likely prefer livestock. It just makes more sense to balance things ourselves and use them as another resource as we do so. In an overpopulated world it’s very hard to justify sacrificing food production. It’s also about not making rural people always carry the burden of a nation’s environmental conscience.

          • Minuteman

            Good thoughts, mate.

          • Tassiebush

            Thanks man

          • Wolfgar

            Legalized, managed hunting has saved more wildlife and habitat than all the animal rights organizations combined. Like it or not it is effective.

        • Tassiebush

          I assumed he meant feral pigs since you don’t call game animals varmints.

        • .45

          I do have real rifles laying around, I was simply talking about my one and only big bad assault weapon. A minor SHTF incident is more along the lines of what I was thinking. Perhaps what I should say is that for such things I think an AK in 7.62×39 would be a more versatile set up than something in a man killer like 5.56 or 5.45. Thirty rounds of cheap and hefty medicine, as fast as you can pull the trigger.

          • .45

            And yes, I’m changing my name. I shall be .45, the Man Formerly Known as Bob now. Too many Bobs floating around…

          • Minuteman

            Roger that.

  • AC97

    You’re acting like its performance in mud is the only factor in its reliability.

    • Cal S.

      To be honest, I’ve seen the AK fail before an AR in dust tests too.

      • ostiariusalpha

        AKOU’s “sandstorm” test is hardly scientific, but I got a laugh when the Daniel Defense AR shrugged off the grit like it was nothing. Virtually every AK they test using this method ends up malfing.

        • AC97

          If we’re all being honest here, none of these tests are really scientific.

    • User

      My main point is why totally overdramatic call it the “MOST RELIABLE RIFLE IN THA WORLT” when it has so open gaps, and the savety is so terrible that it opens the receiver…
      Its performance in mud is ofcourse not the only factor, but opposes this overdramatic title.
      Besides that the AKM is named AKM for a reason, also reliability as far as i know, so why “AK47”?

      • Scott P

        AKM was made for cost cutting, not reliability of the AK-47.

        If anything the AKM was supposed to be THE AK-47 but they had tooling and stamping problems so they adopted a milled rifle in the interim until they could develop a stamped rifle.

        Every modification to the AK has always been about cutting manufacturing costs/speeding up production/lightening the gun, not fixing reliability issues.

  • Yuns_TFB

    Thanks so much for the awesome technical write up Nathaniel.

  • Cal S.

    Except when it touches mud. Then the M4/AR-15 kicks it’s pants all day, every day.

    But in good weather, we know the AR-15 jams up so bad it has to go to a gunsmith with just a gentle breeze.

    • User

      Finally a comment whos sane.
      The AK47 as far as i know had quite some problems until it became the AKM. So the title could be wrong already, also 90+% of what we see today are AKM clones not Ak47.

      And the gaps in the receiver are TERRIBLE for reliability, expecally mud like you sayd. Also the savety that OPENS up the receiver when set to fire is just stupid….

      • Scott P

        Wrong.

        AK-47=milled, expensive to make.
        AKM=stamped, cheaper to make

        Nothing to do with reliability.

      • Tritro29

        Durability=/=Reliability…

        M14 is a durable POS. Just not as reliable POS.

        AK “49” was a durable and reliable piece of machinery, but not the one intended initially.

    • Malthrak

      When submerged in thick clay like mud, sure. Keeping stuff out is of paramount at that point.

      That said, youve borked up if your gun is sitting in that stuff.

      Likewise, when they do stop, the AK is much easier to get going again than an AR. If my hands are freezing and covered in snow and mud, I can field strip an AK no problem. Breaking down an AR BCG is a much more fiddly affair at that point.

  • Ryfyle

    This is getting me thinking. anyone know of a free CAD system?

  • Grump

    Me pull AK trigger. It go bang. Me no care why.

  • McThag

    What are article titles for gun sites that have completely run out of ideas for 1000?

  • Joseph Goins

    “Fear not, though, tomorrow we will be back, examining the rest of the Kalashnikov’s best features which make it the most reliable automatic rifle in the world!”

    Nathaniel must be smoking the good stuff if he thinks he can talk about every “automatic rifle” ever produced with only six points.

  • n0truscotsman
  • WELLS SHANE

    ITS A PIECE OF JUNK.TAKE A CAMERA POINT IT TO THE SIDE OF THE RIFLE. FILM IT SHOOTING ON FULL AUTO .THEN WATCH THE FILM ON SLOW IT WILL SHOW THE BARREL MOVING AND NOT FROM BUCKING.

  • LilWolfy

    Excellent technical and engineering discussion, even though my experience with untold tens of thousands of rounds through various models of AKs does not support the reliability premise.

    I would refer to “underslide” as pre-camming travel. Cam pin path elongation is one way to deal with case obturation and residual pressures fighting primary extraction.

    You see this on the G36 and SCAR, compared to the AR18 bolt carrier group that they copied.

    • Regarding the title, I might as well say it here: It’s a matter of fact that I need an eye-catching title that’s not too long. So I could write “one of the most reliable semiautomatic rifles in the world” but it’s shorter and better to write “the most reliable rifle in the world”.

      And of course, I want people to tune in for part 2, so I close with that as well.

      I know this level of showbiz pisses some people off (not you, but some people), but I’m not writing a technical document for the government. I have a challenge in that I need to get people to actually read my writing to appreciate it, so I don’t really have the luxury of calling it “A TREATISE ON THE RELIABILITY ENHANCING DETAIL FEATURES OF THE KALASHNIKOV RIFLE”. 😉

  • MindMelder

    Nice write-up. The simplicity of the AK is what makes it so great. I’m just not an AK guy though. I have run dozens of them and they’re really fun. For me, I will roll with my Primary Weapon Systems. The PWS long-stroke piston system combines the agility of the AR-15 with the reliability of the AK-47 into a sleek and efficient design. I shoot them better from 300 yards. Over 200 yards with an AK and my groups are sloppy. PWS Long stroke AR or SCAR for me when comparing the 3 platforms.

  • BrandonAKsALot

    Excellent post. I’m so sick of hearing that all they cared about was making a cheap gun. The bs spouted about this stuff drives me nuts. Betting utterly reliable and functioning through seriously adverse conditions was number one on design priority. Cost effectiveness was done after and they continually modified production processes and efficiency.

  • Minuteman

    That’s apples and oranges! Self defense against imminent danger is a whole other matter. I’m against shooting bears and other animals just for the thrill of it. Come on man, who shoots bears, raccoons etc??? I’m a Green, I am hardly capable of a violent action towards an animal. I can only do a clean brain shot at deer. Respectful, proper hunting for food. One go, one shot.

    • Wolfgar

      I’m a meat hunter my self but I have friends who hunt black bears and mountain lions legally and I have no problem with them at all as long as it is done legally. Their fees pay for the personnel and biologist who manage and protect these animals. Without hunting fees there would be no money to protect habitat or the animals. It is a win win situation with manged legalized hunting and trapping. Each to their own but when well intention but ignorant people try to stop hunting and trapping it can cause more problems than they realize. Wolves were reintroduced in Montana and Idaho which created many problems till they allowed legalized wolf hunting to control them. I grew up and work in the woods unlike yourself and love nature and wildlife more than you will ever understand. They are now trying to stop trapping here but the biologist and Fish and Game personnel are adamantly against it for good reasons. You need to re-think your ideas about hunting and trapping if you truly care about these animals.

      • Minuteman

        Trapping??? WTF!!!! That is hideously cruel :'( I don’t give a hoot about legality! I’m about ETHICS and utterly disapprove of needless suffering. I get your point, and I’m okay with proper hunting for food and management. I oppose cruelty and volatile killing though. Trapping and trophy hunting is just barbaric man…. I will never, ever be fine with that and will always support legislation forbiding such practice. I guess we agree to disagree, that’s fine because I believe in free, proper, respectful debate.

        • Wolfgar

          The only other option for trapping is poison. Rabies and other problems are solved by trapping and if it is banned poison is the only other option which is a nightmare for many reasons. Seriously your heart is in the right place but you need to do more study on this subject. Your opinion can cause more harm and suffering for animals than you realize. Like you I appreciate the respectful debate and will agree to disagree.

          • Minuteman

            Sh*t……. And how about more hunting? I’m in favor of proper riflemanship, nothing wrong with brain shots (instant incapacitation, no suffering). My point is that I don’t want animals to suffer, I can’t bear the thought of a helpless animal being in agony. I’m against zoo’s for the same reason. Unless those zoo’s were of course set up to preserve an endangered species and provide breeding programs. I’m Green, I have great love of animals and nature.

          • Wolfgar

            We are not so far apart in our thinking LOL. I hate slob hunters and un ethical cruel people who are the scum of the earth. In Africa Where big game,” AKA trophy hunting” is allowed and managed the animals are thriving. Where big game hunting is banned poachers have decimated the animals. Big game hunting creates a lot of money that is given to the local people who protect the animals from poachers with a vengeance. Sea World is a case in point that should have been shut down years ago with their killer whales. That is cruel and unnecessary. Blindly being oppose of something is not necessarily the best way to think. What is the best and proven method to protect wildlife and habitat should always be employed. Just because you say you are green and I’m for hunting and trapping does not mean you are morally superior when the subject is about animal cruelty and ethics. We both want the same thing.

          • Minuteman

            Africa is one big mess… Poachers should be hunted down instead of animals. I don’t think managed big game hunting solves the problem, it only facilitates and sustains an ethically already undesired situation. Tougher law enforcement/Rangers (and good wages to decrease corruption risk) are a better answer I guess. Africa is huge and needs lots of UAVs and helicopters to monitor the area and intervene with lightning fast strikes on poachers.
            Agreed!

          • Wolfgar

            Who is going to pay for those helicopters and UAV’s, rangers,law enforcement personnel etc? Those poachers are people who are trying to feed themselves and their families. I would rather not hunt down any human being and find a solution to their economic problems. You obviously don’t care to listen to facts and proven methods of wildlife and habitat methods. Your thinking has gone beyond logic and into a religious cult mind set. This topic has gotten of subject on this forum so I’ll bid you a good day.

          • Minuteman

            They could move in to other business ventures? Actually learn a trade? Becomes farmers? Organize and market safari’s [aimed at the very same crowd that wants to kill off species for no valid reason]? Govt has a moral repsonsibility to the tax payer to govern properly, be trustworthy and hence account for every dime the country makes, spend it wisely instead of investing in high end private real estate and Swiss bank accounts. Don’t you worry, I’m listnening, I just don’t see the need for animals to pay the bill each time humans want to have some “fun”.

          • Minuteman

            You know, why do people have to KILL an animal in order to enjoy nature? Why not just look at it, absorb it and be about your business? My stance is the following: if somebody wants to pick a fight, just pack and get on the next plane to Syria and try hunting something that actually shoots back. Elephants don’t do harm to humans unless provoked by human stupidity. Humans will always hate each others guts and deny them light of day. So my suggestion is let good guys go and take out bad guys. There’s plentu of jihadists roaming the planet, we could all collectively start hunting them instead of slaughtering animals just for the thrill of it. Problem solved. My guess is you agree with me on that thought.

  • scaatylobo

    I have always ben of the FIRM belief that if NOT for the “not invented here” syndrome,we would have seen HUGE development of that round AND action in this country.
    And that would have been LONG ago.
    Making us a nation using a .30 caliber rifle / carbine that was engineered as an original design with all that we could have put into it.
    Even as a fan or the M-4 platform,I see this would have been a MUCH better idea than we have now.
    My not so humble opinion.

  • Ryfyle

    What a neat revelation and examination of the Action. But how can we make one more simple and more affordable?

    • Scott P

      Not be in America where costs of labor is high and lots of government intervention in the economy, gun control, etc. make them such. Also get rid of lots of importation bans.

  • Kivaari

    What is DI? The REAL DI? Well the MAS 49/56 has gas hit the bolt carrier than the bolt is moved. The Ljungman as well. The AR the bolt stays put until the gas hits the carrier forcing it to move, thus moving the bolt. The only difference is two of the rifles impinge upon an exposed cup on the carrier. The AR is just the same thing but out of sight.

  • Dan

    I enjoyed this article but I am really here for the comments.

  • Tritro29

    You’re having a terminology breakdown. Reliable=/=Durable.

    Modern stamped AK will have no issues as far as reliability is concerned. It will have durability issues if not stored properly and treated abusively (lack of maintenance). But the magnificence of the AK is the simplicity, which confers reliability.

    You can have extreme stamping thickness, like the Chinese Type 81 testbeds with 2.5mm thickness which will come very close to a milled receiver, especially if you add a lower impulse cartridge.

    • Wolfgar

      I never said the stamped receiver was less reliable, “user” stated the stamped receiver was more reliable than the milled receiver which it is not. I stated the milled receiver was every bit as reliable and more durable. No terminology breakdown here.

      • Tritro29

        Which it was, the GRAU testing proved that model “52” stamped was more reliable, because it was modified to be so. And it was modified because it was meant to be a stamped receiver.

        • Wolfgar

          Explain how a stamped receiver is more reliable than a milled receiver. I’m all ears 🙂

          • Tritro29

            Barrel, bolt, piston and few other extras were modified to meet the GRAU target of 15 000 rounds. Testing revealed that the barrel wear and friction were minimal, after 35000 rounds, compared to the model “49” machined. The two rifles were simply different in requirements.

          • Wolfgar

            Those are not receiver oriented. Like I stated before, the milled receiver is just as reliable as the stamped and more durable.

          • Tritro29

            The gun based on a stamped receiver was “optimized” to be more reliable than the milled receiver. By design. You can argue that a milled receiver gun by design with the same specs like the ones that were devised for the model 52 and beyond should be on the same level of reliability, which is the whole point; historically the milled 49 model wasn’t designed in the same way.

          • Wolfgar

            You still haven’t shown how the stamped receiver is more reliable than the milled receiver. The reason is you cant. They do exactly the same thing, period. The improvements you mentioned are not receiver oriented and can be applied to both milled or stamped receivers.You keep repeating the stamp receiver is more reliable by design, so what stamped receiver design features are more reliable?

            By the way the stamped receiver is type 4A/B not type 52. When you are talking about the milled receiver are you talking about type 2/B or type 3/B?

          • Wolfgar

            Oh, by the way your design features you stated are improvements on durability not reliability. I guess your the one with terminology breakdown reliability=/=durability. LOL

          • Tritro29

            Unlike “types” I’m speaking about dates, because those are the ones we tend to see through. The Finalized stamped receiver rifle is the one that got approved in 1952 as far as the receiver is concerned. It had many small changes. the one every one calls AKM was based on the model 52. Same deal for the “milled” AK. The actual nomenclature wasn’t type something, but obr. 1949, which means of year 1949.

            Those improved were introduced as to make the rifle more reliable and were made to accommodate the stamped receiver. A different rifle with AKM specs but milled receiver would be the Rk60/62. But as far as Soviet production goes, the milled variants were designed with a different standard and were extremely crude. I regard so not the receiver per se, but the guns as not as reliable.

          • Wolfgar

            No, they had types and your dates are not even correct. The milled receivers were not crude but were quite impressive yet costly to manufacture. The first AK’s were stamped receivers and were prone to failure. In fact the US government just purchased a large quantity of Bulgarian milled receivers for the Iraqi army. The examples given by you states an increase of durability, not reliability you so clearly tried to accuse me of. Try reading this, hopefully it will clear things up for you.

            Receiver development

            File:AKMS and AK-47 DD-ST-85-01270.jpg

            AKMS with a Type 4B receiver (top), and an AK-47 with a Type 2A

            There were many difficulties during the initial phase of production. The first production models had stamped sheet metal receivers. Difficulties were encountered in welding the guide and ejector rails, causing high rejection rates.[37]
            Instead of halting production, a heavy machined receiver was
            substituted for the sheet metal receiver. This was a more costly
            process, but the use of machined receivers accelerated production as
            tooling and labor for the earlier Mosin–Nagant
            rifle’s machined receiver were easily adapted. Partly because of these
            problems, the Soviets were not able to distribute large numbers of the
            new rifle to soldiers until 1956. During this time, production of the
            interim SKS rifle continued.[37]

            Once manufacturing difficulties had been overcome, a redesigned version designated the AKM (M for “modernized” or “upgraded”; in Russian: Автомат Калашникова Модернизированный [Avtomat Kalashnikova Modernizirovanniy]) was introduced in 1959.[38] This new model used a stamped sheet metal receiver and featured a slanted muzzle brake on the end of the barrel to compensate for muzzle rise
            under recoil. In addition, a hammer retarder was added to prevent the
            weapon from firing out of battery (without the bolt being fully closed),
            during rapid or automatic fire.[37]
            This is also sometimes referred to as a “cyclic rate reducer”, or
            simply “rate reducer”, as it also has the effect of reducing the number
            of rounds fired per minute during automatic fire. It was also roughly
            one-third lighter than the previous model.[38]

            Both licensed and unlicensed production of the Kalashnikov
            weapons abroad were almost exclusively of the AKM variant, partially due
            to the much easier production of the stamped receiver. This model is
            the most commonly encountered, having been produced in much greater
            quantities. All rifles based on the Kalashnikov design are frequently
            referred to as AK-47s in the West, although this is only correct when
            applied to rifles based on the original three receiver types.[39]
            In most former Eastern Bloc countries, the weapon is known simply as
            the “Kalashnikov” or “AK”. The photo above at right illustrates the
            differences between the Type 2 milled receiver and the Type 4 stamped,
            including the use of rivets rather than welds on the stamped receiver,
            as well as the placement of a small dimple above the magazine well for
            stabilization of the magazine.

            Receiver type

            Description

            Type 1A/B

            Original stamped receiver for AK-47. -1B modified for underfolding
            stock. A large hole is present on each side to accommodate the hardware
            for the underfolding stock.

            Type 2A/B

            Milled from steel forging.

            Type 3A/B

            “Final” version of the milled receiver, from steel bar stock. The most ubiquitous example of the milled-receiver AK-47.

            Type 4A/B

            Stamped AKM receiver. Overall, the most-used design in the construction of the AK-series rifles.

            In 1974, the Soviets began replacing their AK-47 and AKM rifles with a newer design, the AK-74, which uses 5.45×39mm ammunition. This new rifle and cartridge had only started to be manufactured in Eastern European nations when the Soviet Union collapsed, drastically slowing production of the AK-74 and other weapons of the former Soviet bloc.

            Features

          • Tritro29

            Are you currently trying to teach me to read or understand Russian or is this some kind of elaborate inside joke in America about types? Can you forward me this typology from GAU/GRAU blueprints?

            Because this is what i got:

            I квартале 1949 г. И уже 16 августа 1949 г. Совет Министров СССР распоряжением № 13047сс обязал Госплан СССР. Министерство Вооруженных сил подготовить предложения о поставках вооружения и боевой техники «необходимых для отмобилизации войск и пополнения запасов на первый период войны», на 1951-55 гг. Мобилизационная заявка на «расчетный период» предусматривала в числе другого вооружения производство 4,4 миллиона автоматов Калашникова и самозарядных карабинов Симонова, из которых на долю АК приходилось чуть менее 60 %.

            Уже в конце 1949 г. — модернизированные- автоматы АК с фрезерованной коробкой были отправлены на полигонные испытания. Результатом столь глубокой модернизации производства автоматов Калашникова, проведенной конструкторами и технологами завода № 74, стало снижение себестоимости в 1950 г. более чем в два раза — с 2003 до 1003 рублей, при этом в чертежи АК было внесено более 700 изменений по улучшению эксплуатационных качеств оружия. В начале 1951 г. на смену автомату АК со штампо-клепанной конструкцией ствольной коробки пришел его второй вариант.

            I will let your translator do the job.

            One last thing, it’s not because some dude classifies something foreign on his own mind that the classification is real or corresponding with the foreign classification.

            Gosplan which asked cheaper variant, yes cheaper, was approved in 1949, end of 1949 the modernized industrial variant went to testing. This model would be the milled variant you guys call Type 2/3. Something I have always tried to understand, because the most “models” refer to prototypes (like A580 for instance). It gets very quickly infuriating like hearing Krinkov for AKS74U.

          • Wolfgar

            Why do you think I’m trying to teach you Russian or it’s some kind of joke? What I posted was in English? The Gosplan papers are about as reliable as the American candidates campaign promises, pure propaganda. The cold war has been over and there is much better information that has been revealed than state sponsored rhetoric especially when it’s from the horses mouth.. The improvements you stated increase durability such as advancements in chrome lined barrels, etc. Use some common sense here and think for a moment. The milled receiver on the AK system is much more expensive to make than a stamping even with modern CNC machinery. Any machinist or manufacturer will know this as a fact. Why would they use the most expensive manufacturing technique for the lower receiver if the goal was to be cheaper? The milled receiver is more stable and solid compared to the lighter stamped receiver. This is why the anti bounce device was introduced with the stamped receiver, this is straight from Kalashnikov’s mouth. Nathaniel is a great gun writer but he has missed facts about certain firearms that were a given before he was even born. Nathaniel has also pointed out my ignorance on certain details that were
            over looked by me and many others. So goes the love of learning. You need to get Weapon Test and Evaluations by Peter Kokalis. Nathaniel could learn a lot by this book and so could you. I’m surprised no one today ever references his work. I get frustrated at times too when internet experts state false facts about the M-16 and it’s history but so be it. There is no ego here on my part but a love of all firearms and the truth about their history. N

          • Wolfgar

            “I quarter 1949 And August 16, 1949
            Council of Ministers decree number 13047ss ordered Gosplan. The Ministry of the
            Armed Forces to prepare proposals for the supply of arms and military equipment
            “necessary for otmobilizatsii troops and replenishment for the first
            period of the war” in the years 1951-55. Mobilization application for
            “billing period” stipulated among other weapons production 4.4
            million Kalashnikov assault rifles and SKS, of which the share of AK had a
            little less than 60%”

            “By the end of 1949 – the modernizirovannye- AK with milled gearbox were sent to field testing. The result of such a deep modernization of the production of Kalashnikov assault rifles, held by designers and technologists of the plant number 74, was the cost reduction in 1950, more than twice – from 2003 to 1003 rubles, while in the AC drawings were made more than 700 changes to improve the performance of weapons . At the beginning of 1951 to replace the AK-stamped riveted construction of the receiver it came to the second option.”

            I just translated your GAU decision and it is talking about the replacement for the first milled receiver with the second milled receiver which replaced the first failed attempt with Russia’s first stamped lower receiver, just as my information stated. As unreliable as the GAU is it just supported my information. Cheers!

          • Tritro29

            Nope that’s where you lie…it speaks about replacing the first stamped receiver with the second milled option. Instead of going for the stamped, they went for the milled. As I said just don’t try and pretend to know stuff.

            For your benefit the sequence is this.

            November 1949 the final milled variant is sent to testing, that variant is the one that will remain untouched until 1953. It’s not a 1951 gun, in 1951 the gun will be mass produced but the rifle will be an obr. 1949.

            GAU did not support your information and GAU isn’t unreliable…it’s actually the only source you can trust.

          • Wolfgar

            Your such a rube you cant even understand the Russian information you sent me. The first stamped receiver had such a high rejection rate, “as my information stated” and verified by your Gosplan paper”, they decided to use the milled receiver along side the continued manufacturing of the SKS.. What the Gosplan information you sent me is about the second milled receiver which plant 74 made manufacturing improvements to lower the cost compared to the first milled receiver :
            The result of such a deep modernization of the
            production of Kalashnikov assault rifles, held by designers and
            technologists of the plant number 74, was the cost reduction in 1950,
            more than twice – from 2003 to 1003 rubles, while in the AC drawings
            were made more than 700 changes to improve the performance of weapons .
            At the beginning of 1951 to replace the AK-stamped riveted construction
            of the receiver “it came to the second option”.

            I don’t lie and try to pretend to know stuff, its obvious you do LOL!

  • Banned Cool Dude 7.62

    That fellow Little Wolfie is a hater and a troll.

    He has shot a lot of old, worn-out rifles and it looks like he doesn’t understand that, although of course in fact he does but he pretends that it doesn’t matter.

    Ignore him.

    • LilWolfy

      Experience does not equal hate. If you make emotional ties to something you know nothing about, the emotions seem to run stronger for some reason, which is usually a sense of inexperience boiling under the surface looking to vent.

  • LilWolfy

    How about UW weapons for Group-Romanian PMs still in cosmoline packed in crates, brand new out of the box, already broken from the factory. They are the Lorcin of assault rifles: they come hot and broken as factory features. Run the serial numbers, and they’ve been stolen even before fired!

  • Mike Lashewitz

    I must say I love my WASR 10. Would love to have a few more.

  • mig1nc

    @nathaniel_f:disqus have you seen the POF roller cam pin? It’s purpose is to reduce friction in the cam path, primarily during the pre-engagement sequence you mention above.

    I’ve always wondered if the thing is prone to getting gummed up to the point it stops rolling.

  • Wolfgar

    Sorry I cant read Russian. As far as your outrage take it some where else. The Gosplan papers have been proven to be as about as reliable as nothing. I would get into it more with you if you truly wished to have a friendly dialog but I wont waste my time with the likes of you. If you can prove my sources wrong I would be happy to accept it. There has been so much BS that has been spread by both sides during the late unpleasantness that getting to the truth can be very difficult. I have never invented anything about the USSR or anything for that matter, infarct I have been one of the few defenders of Russia lately and have tried to end the demonetization of your nation. You said it all when you stated you didn’t need to use “common sense”. In that regard you have accomplished your objective. Dasvidaniya!

    • Wolfgar

      I quarter 1949 And August 16, 1949
      Council of Ministers decree number 13047ss ordered Gosplan. The Ministry of the
      Armed Forces to prepare proposals for the supply of arms and military equipment
      “necessary for otmobilizatsii troops and replenishment for the first
      period of the war” in the years 1951-55. Mobilization application for
      “billing period” stipulated among other weapons production 4.4
      million Kalashnikov assault rifles and SKS, of which the share of AK had a
      little less than 60%”

      “By
      the end of 1949 – the modernizirovannye- AK with milled gearbox were
      sent to field testing. The result of such a deep modernization of the
      production of Kalashnikov assault rifles, held by designers and
      technologists of the plant number 74, was the cost reduction in 1950,
      more than twice – from 2003 to 1003 rubles, while in the AC drawings
      were made more than 700 changes to improve the performance of weapons .
      At the beginning of 1951 to replace the AK-stamped riveted construction
      of the receiver it came to the second option.”

      I just translated
      your GAU decision and it is talking about the replacement for the first
      milled receiver with the second milled receiver which replaced the first
      failed attempt with Russia’s first stamped lower receiver, just as my
      information stated. As unreliable as the GAU is it just supported my
      information. Cheers!

    • Tritro29

      I don’t wish to have a friendly dialogue, I’m not discussing here I’m just disproving American non-sense about Soviet weapons. It happens you think stuff happened in a certain way, well it didn’t. I just showed you the evidence for it. In Russian. Fact is that most of the bullshit i read about how Kalashnikov stole designs (read Glock talk member Novocaine who is such a Schmeisser fanboy that he can’t even present a straight story about MikhTim) left and right while the Soviet method of development was one of overlapping designs with many political interventions in the process. Case in point is the the Korobov designs which wold have been a blessing for the Soviet troops with their delayed blowback action. You try and flip this by stating I need to use common sense when common sense isn’t needed, FFS it’s not my former political system that held the frigging belief that you could get impregnated by angels.

      Or that some dude from the Middle East had been killed for our sins. Fact is that i don’t care for people stopping the demonization of my country, because Russia is a special case. We could be the paradise on Earth and your political elite would still call us a “gas station with nukes”.

      What I’m trying to get through here is that what ever you think you know about the AK through empirical non-Soviet sources is wrong to variable extents. And I’m willing to show you the light so to speak.

      • Wolfgar

        You better get a check on that anger, its clouding your thinking. You did show me the evidence once I got it translated and it just verified what I stated before. I guess the schooling system is worst in Russia than in the states since you don’t even understand your own Russian info. What the hell does religion or some guy on Glock forum have to do with this?” You get angry about preconceived opinions about Russia but you sure as hell have a lot of your own about the U.S. The difference is we don’t care since we always consider the source I would recommend some type of meds to curb that anger problem but I’m sure you already do with great amounts of vodka. Weird talking to you!

        • Tritro29

          Anger? Why you inventing facts? I don’t have preconceived opinions on the US, quite the contrary.

  • Wolfgar

    This is getting stupid, were arguing about the same thing.

    Fact #1.I never said the milled was a better made rifle, I said the milled receiver was stronger than the stamped receiver.

    Fact #2 there was a second milled receiver:
    Receiver types;
    First milled receiver:

    Type 2A/B

    Milled from steel forging.

    [Second milled receiver] the most common milled receiver manufactured:
    Type 3A/B

    Fact #3 The GAU papers have been proven to be unreliable source of truth by both Russian and American historians since historians were allowed in the Kremlin archives.
    Fact#4 The only sources you have shown me were apparently from GAU papers which supported my information.

    So what other facts are you not showing me that are at your hand?

    • Wolfgar

      After further research I have to admit I was mistaken on the manufacturers dates. The Type 1 AK with the stamped receiver was made from 1949 to 1951. The type 2 AK with machined receiver was put into production in 1951. The type 3 was the second machined receiver in 1954 because the first machine receiver method of stock attachment was unsatisfactory. The final stamped receiver were first made in 1955 but not adopted until 1959 which are known as the AKM. We both missed the target on this one.

    • Tritro29

      What supported your information?

      °You said that there was a second milled prototype in 1949. There wasn’t. The only prototype that was ever made came after it proved impossible to attain 40% production rate of the initial amount of rifles.

      °You said my dates were wrong, I proved I was right. And you are invnting “prototypes that did not exist at the time.
      ° You said GAU info is unreliable, while I proved that the articulation of Type 1/2/3/4 is an oversimplification of the GAU data, because, I suspect, the people who read them simply had no insight on how to make the narrative easy to follow.

      ° Type 3 so called was introduced in 1953 while it was “modernized in 1952”. And produced until 1957.

      ° You said the milled receivers were qualitatively better made, they weren’t “better made” they were made cheaper and sometimes the milling was really bad. There were also other assembly problems with the milled receivers, but that’s for the next round.

      Do we keep this discussion of do you want me to start quoting you?

      • Wolfgar

        BS, my dates were off and I admitted it below if you care to read them. There were 2 milled versions. Type one stamped receiver was made from 49 to 51 but had a high rejection rate and was supplanted with the Type 2 which was milled and was put into production in 51. Type 3 was second machine receiver and was produced till 1959. The modern AKM stamped receiver wasn’t adopted until 1959. These are proven dates. I said the milled receiver was a stronger receiver, I never said the rifle was better, go ahead and quote me.

        • Tritro29

          Your dates were off and you admitted them where?

          Quote n°1:

          “No, they had types and your dates are not even correct. The milled receivers were not crude but were quite impressive yet costly to manufacture.”

          -Dates not correct.
          -Receivers impressive/costly to manufacture…
          -Typology.

          Shall we continue?

          • Wolfgar

            The milled receivers are more costly to manufacture. They take a 5.7 pound block of solid steel and after 120 machining operations they have a 1.41lb receiver. Yet a stamped receiver has just a few stamping operations to complete and it is somehow more expensive to make? Like you said you don’t use common sense!

            My new dates are correct, the type 3 milled receiver was in production from 1954 until 1959 when the modern AKM replaced it. The first type 1 stamped receiver was manufactured for 3 years from 1949 until 1951. The type 2 milled lower receiver was produced from 1951 until 1954 until the type 3 milled lower receiver supplanted it. I have all the pictures and diagrams of this evolution of the AK rifle system.
            Look below this post and you will see my admit-ion of correction with the dates.

            My information comes from The World’s Assault Rifle , chapter 48 page 731.

          • Wolfgar

            Just to speed things up the contributors of this in formation are all Russian;

            Degtyarev M V Krylor and Kulinski
            From the Artillery Museum, ST Petersburg Russia

            Kuzyk B N Novichkov, Shvarev M Kenzhetayer, A. Simakov
            Russia Arms Of the Worlds Arms Market Moscow Russia

            Natsvaladze, Yu, B.V, Paranin
            Kalashnikov Arms Moscow Russia

            Nedelio Alexi
            Kalashnikov Arms Moscow Russia

            Shall we continue?

          • Tritro29

            They are not, because of simple labor cost. They needed more labor time for stamping, proofing and qualifying the rifles (over 2000 wartime rubles) than for milled rifles. Receiver is only part of the issue. You simply don’t get it, do you. Cost is more than material and labor time for the receiver.

            You need your steel to be produced in sheets with a different hardness and quality and that process is more costly on its own. FFS just drop it.

            Your new dates? Why would yo need new dates? Oh yeah your previous also “allegedly correct dates” were not correct?

            But wait…why are you talking about 1954, while I was talking about 1949? Why were you talking about a second “modernized” milled receiver, while there was none except for the only milled variant that was tested and approved (barely) in 1949 and 1950 for general issue.

            My information comes from “History of the Russian Automatic”, Monetchikov, 2005. You can basically read the damn think online. there are other sources in printed form but basically this one is enough for the AK, because it has one of the most comprehensive timeline for the AK (bar the MTKM in Izhevsk).

          • Wolfgar

            I was going off of memory and when I dug up my information I corrected and owned my mistake about the dates. That is what we call being an adult. You on the other hand are a moron to put it nicely. Sheet metal cost are not even in the same ball park when dealing with milled forging let alone labor and time. I new this before your own Russian historians stated it because unlike you I do apply common sense.. All of our differences you so arrogantly tried to throw in my face claiming,” it is stupid, paranoid, perceived American ideas of the Kalashnikov rifle” is information supplied by your own Russian historians labeled below. They also stated the milling process was a very expensive and slow process when manufacturing the AK lower receiver compared to the stamping. If you don’t believe me look up the information and people I named . If there is conflicting information about the Kalashnikov rifle it is from your own mother Russia, not from Americans. You wish for me to read, “how did you put it, oh yes let me quote, “you can read the damn thing on line”. So explain to me genius, which Russian sources should I believe since under your logic the historians at the Artillery museum in St Petersberg, and Moscow are incorrect and all screwed up?

          • Tritro29

            Sheet metal needed to make 1mm thin receivers was becoming scarce and the quality needed was more expensive than the raw blocks of rather low grade steel you needed for the milled variant. You know what exactly?

            I posted the actual cost requirement, you on the other hand asked me to “use common sense”, why would I use common sense while I have the exact cost per unit. So you know wartime rubles were roughly worth a hundred times less than New rubles. Even after reconstruction the AKM variant with 1mm stamped receiver would cost roughly 43 rubles (which is more or less 4300 wartime rubles) until 1971. Let me tell you something, my knowledge and my remarks towards you come from the fact I’m Russian, live there, have seen the material you claim to base your knowledge on and understand why stamped guns would cost more than milled guns.

            Now more expensive? Nathan explained to you that the cost of the rifle jumps because you need a different material to obtain the durability out of thinner sheets as required by blueprint and also to resist the bolt on technique of the trunion employed until then.

            On the other side this milling technique was so expensive and time consuming that the quantities of milled AK sky rocketed in little less than 6 years. From 51 to 57 not less than 13 million rifles were produced, most of these were milled. From that perspective they were building milled SKS rifle in the mean time. About 2 more million SKS rifles were built from 51 to 54. Hardly a more expensive or time consuming process.

            Please offer me your source about Russian historians saying that the milling process was more costly or expensive overall, because we have every budget form the Armed forces since 1922.

            Historians in St Petersburg said the milled AK had a bigger cost? Please explain where? You guys have obviously no clue on how the Soviet Union was looking like then and what were the priorities.

            You can provide sources, because I did.

          • Wolfgar

            The World’s Assault Rifles page 810 list the people who provided the pictures and information on the history of the AK series of weapons. I already listed their names and locations. This and other sources, “which there is a great amount” states it was not the lack of sheet metal or cost but poor metallurgy, poor spot welds on the rails and design which created a high failure rate in the first stamped AK receivers. Advancements in stampings made fire arms incredibly cheap and easier to manufacture in every other nation that employed it compared to milling solid forgings. If added cost included brand new machinery, R&D and factories per AKM receiver then it would have increased the AKM cost per unit on a budget sheet. If your labor was nothing and vast amounts of machinery used to manufacture the Mosin Nagant was already being utilized to manufactuer the milled receiver and not added to the cost of the machined lower per unit, this could explain the cost differences. It does not mean the milled lower was inferior. Once again use some common sense.

            The Thompson M1 and M1A1 vs the M-3 SMG

            MP-18, MP-38 vs MP-40

            MG-34 vs MG-42

            The AR-18 was designed to be easier and cheaper to manufacture compared to the M-16 because it employed stamping technology.

            .

          • Wolfgar

            The Soviets must have had a hard time with stamping technology since they had the AKM by 1955 gut didn’t adopt it until 1959. I don’t know the complete story since the Soviet government didn’t publish the history of their failures during that time period. Milling is an old world method of making firearms which is preferred by private firearm owners since casting and stampings are considered cheap. Stampings have an advantage in weight, efficiently of manufacturing and cost compared to milling. If the Soviets couldn’t master this then it is a story of the Soviet state not the techniques of firearm manufacturing,

          • Tritro29

            World Assault rifles page 810 lists what exactly, why can’t you give a simple, single source. I gave you a whole tome on the AK…

            Poor metallurgy? It’s always more complex and more difficult to grasp a phenomenon than a single cause. The Chinese were confronted with the same “poor metallurgy issue” and you know what they did? They simple took a healthier metal sheet of 2mm then 1.5mm to go around the over-elasticity of the receiver and the very unsatisfactory “bolting” of the trunion to the stamped receiver. As for the welds they were gotten rid off since basically the second variant of the stamped receiver, the one that actually got deployed first. The initial issued AK was riveted.

            The issue once again, is that the Chinese had the same design problems even when they had access to the AKM variants, that they solved by having a thicker sheet, stress out less, until they got their own alloy-rich steel receivers.

            Advancement in stampings … do you even understand what advancement you’re talking about? What advancement are you going to have in stamping…explain to me what plays a bigger role in stamping than the metal sheet you’re bending? The quality, durability and malleability of the metal sheet allows for a low pressure stamping or a high pressure stamping.

            It is exactly because the USSR had to re-invent its small arms sector that the AK in stamped receiver was extremely expensive when compared to the milled variant, and why it took a decade from design to actual success of the rifle. Cost is global and no matter what you say, that’s the real budget issue. I keep telling you guys that a military budget is more than what you think and cost isn’t calculated only on what you see, there’s hidden cost that you just don’t see.

            For the Soviet Union budget, the milled variant could be produced for 1000 war rubles, the stamped was at over 2000 war rubles. These are facts that stood on the budget. And the rifle against the budget of the USSR was costing half the price of the stamped machine, while being more durable.

            And once again, I’m not using “common sense” because that’s what was spent for the stamped AK’s and twice the initial amount for the AKM.

            The AR-18 is probably the worst example you could give about price point because the rifle ended up being more expensive to adopt than to keep the AR-15…guess why.

          • Wolfgar

            I think were agreeing about cost when creating a whole new manufacturing process when compared to an established process. The US was already established with the M-16 and never considered adopting the AR-18. Trying to use government bean counters as a reasoning to justify an adopted firearm is not very reliable. The powers in beaded wanted the M-14 not the M-16. They used cost, reliability issues and other excuses not to change to the light weight Armalite rifle. It wasn’t until Vietnam that the advantage of the crappy, inaccurate AK-47 showed the flaws of that thinking. The military even tried to sabotage the results in favor of the M-14. The F-35 was suppose to be a cheaper investment after all the bugs were worked out and NATO partners purchasing the plane in numbers. Reality is it will be the most expensive adopted fighter in US history and it doesn’t even look like it will perform as promised. The whole argument we have been having was about the durability and reliability of the milled lower receiver compared to the stamped receiver. If the cost advantage was not a part of the end results then that was not in my information. You have given me a second outlook on that point. I’m positive that wasn’t in the plans when trying to create a stamped receiver, though it may have ended up that way. Perhaps it wasn’t the stamping technology that delayed the production of the AKM but the ability to produce the metallurgy and heat treating necessary in the AKM stampings. You may not know it but you have given me new information that I have not read elsewhere.