Top 5 AK Variants

    The famous Avtomat Kalashnikova has been copied and adapted by many nations and organizations, but some shine above the rest. In this episode of TFBTV, we take a look at our 5 favorites and explain why we chose the ones we did.

    Guns featured:

    • Galil
    • AK74M
    • Yugo M70
    • Finnish RK 62 76.
    • Serbian Zastava

    Thanks to our Sponsors Ventura Munitions & Grizzly Targets.

    The full transcript …

    – Hey guys, I’m Alex C.

    – And I’m Patrick R.

    – We’ve got a really cool video coming at you today, that’s gonna be our picks for the top five best AK variants.

    Most people we come across usually have an AK, an AR or both.

    – Yep, yeah.

    – So it just makes sense to do a video where we kind of explain what we found works the best for us and what we found is what we just kinda cumulatively believe, think is the best.

    – Yep – Unfortunately, some of these are off the market right now in the US.

    However, you can find used examples, I’ll try and throw some prices at you.

    However, realize that these fluctuate because a lot of these are pre 89 ban guns and stuff like that.

    So with that said, let’s go ahead and get to it.

    – Yeah, I think we’re going to start with the Galil.

    – Yeah, we’ll start from our left to your right as usual.

    First, is gonna be the Galil.

    And this is a Galil ARM.

    You know, a lot of people would argue that the Galil is the best variant.

    It’s definitely prolific.

    It’s Israeli and it’s a development of the Finnish RK series.

    It’s got some really cool features on it.

    Most notably, it actually does have a bottle opener built-in.

    And now that’s gonna be your bi-pod retainer and we can show a close up of that sooner or later.

    But it’s also got a wire cutter.

    However, wire cutters and bottle openers don’t make for a great gun.

    Very unnecessarily.

    – No, no.

    But just how the gun’s laid out, that’s what makes this one great.

    – Absolutely, absolutely.

    What I really like is how it’s got the upswept bolt handle so that you can actually work the bolt by just reaching your hand over and it’s very comfortable.

    It’s also got a folding stock that’s very rigid and solid.

    The sights are also fantastic, it’s got a– – They are, I like the peep-sight.

    That’s something I don’t like about the other AK variants so much.

    – That’s always been one of the least appealing parts about an AK to me is the sights.

    But the RK series and the Galil fix that.

    Along with having some cool features like night sights that you flip up, which are nice if you’re fighting at night in the military.

    It’s also got a safety lever.

    Instead of having to remove your hand from the pistol grip, you just flip the lever with your thumb like you would on an AR which makes it so much more user friendly.

    – Now that’s another one of the features of this gun that I really do like.

    – Yeah and Patrick, you can kinda show the camera that.

    He’s actually moving his thumb.

    But you can see the dust cover comes down along with taking the gun into ready-to-fire.

    – I’m gonna flip it around.

    And the switch is just right here, it goes forwards and backwards.

    It’s not like an AR variant where it rotates.

    But it does work very, very well.

    – The downside of course is weight.

    This Galil ARMs especially are very heavy.

    – It is the LMG variant – This is the LMG variant.

    But even the Galil ARs are still reasonably heavy.

    They’re not as light as the stamped gun by any means.

    – But really though, it’s not that heavy.

    – I probably wouldn’t pick it as my– – Oh no, I wouldn’t want to carry it.

    – But it’s none the less not bad.

    But at least they gave you a carry handle for the guys that do carry these.

    And Israel is phasing them out in favor of the Tavor.

    But I personally like the Galil better than the Tavor.

    I don’t know why, I just like the fact that it’s a conventionally laid out rifle, maybe.

    But that’s a different video.

    So with that, I’d say that the Galil is a great AK variant.

    It fires a cartridge I’m familiar with and I like.

    – I’m not real partial to any particular intermediate cartridge but the fact that it shoots something that I regularly stock, because I’m primarily an AR shooter, it’s nice.

    – Absolutely guys and if you’re a primarily an AR guy with a ton of 556, a 556 AK is no joke.

    556 is a great cartridge.

    So kind of a “why not?” situation.

    Now the downside of these is they don’t import Galils any longer.

    I know the make the Galil ACE which’ll come in soon.

    But these old school Galils, a pre-ban one will run you about 3,000.

    You can build one now for probably about 15 hundred I think.

    – I think there’s a couple of companies out there that are offering kits that are a little bit cheaper.

    But I wanna say that the receivers is the big hurdle.

    – The receiver? Yeah, you gotta find someone who makes receivers and they do it in runs.

    – Right, yeah.

    And some of those are even spotty at best from what I understand.

    Now if we had a micro Galil in our collection, I think that might edge out, as my favorite.

    – Well, it goes under the umbrella of Galil variants.

    – Well yes, yes.

    Just in terms of usability and size, what have you..

    – For sure. Anyways guys, that’s the Galil.

    The Galil is a fantastic rifle.

    Israel did a great job with taking the AK platform and adding some bells and whist– Or taking the RK, which is an AK.

    But next up we’ve got a true Russian AK variant.

    This is a Saiga SGL.

    But it’s based on the AK-74M, which is actually the Russian Federation’s current service AK.

    So if their using it, that means it’s probably good enough for us to be using it for fun and hunting or whatever.

    Tell ’em about some of the features of AK-74 that we like.

    – You know, it’s a pretty standard AK.

    It’s chambered in 545 by 39.

    You have your standard control layout that you’ll find on any AK.

    One thing I really do like about the Saiga converted guns is the fit and finish is really nice.

    – The arsenal ones I’d like to mention.

    – Well yes, yes.

    The arsenal guns are very well finished out.

    It’s light, it’s handy. It shoulders well.

    I’m not particularly fond of the sights but that’s kind of a ding that I give to most– Well, two out of the three that we have remaining.

    The furniture is something else.

    It does handle heat a little bit better than the wood does.

    – Right the 74M marked Russia’s departure from wooden stuff to polymer which is kinda cool.

    They also lightened up the bolt to make the recoil impulse feel a little lighter.

    As well as did little things like reenforce the top cover there.

    – I think they smoothed it out as well.

    – They smoothed it out, yeah.

    And a few other bells and whistles.

    I think they redesigned the muzzle break a little bit.

    Don’t quote me on that, I wanna say that’s a thing they did.

    But anyways, you’ll notice also the cleaning rod.

    You have to remove the muzzle break to access the cleaning rod which is not– I wouldn’t call that desirable but at least they put the cleaning rod on there.

    – I think I’ve tried to clean an AK with a cleaning rod a couple of times and it’s not quite long enough in many cases.

    So removing the muzzle device…

    – It is what it is, however it’s almost endearing because of its no-nonsense simplicity to me.

    Which is cool and then when you shoot one of these you’re like, “Huh, so this is what those guys “are using and working with everyday.” That’s cool.

    – We’ve said before that the RPK-74 was one of our favorite machine guns and– – Oh! Also guys, Larry Vickers has a really cool video he put out recently about the AK-74 in slow-mo.

    Check out that video after this, it’s good stuff.

    – But we’ve said that is probably one of our favorite AKs to shoot.

    We didn’t include it because it’s basically the White machine gun variant of this.

    But 545 is just a wonderful round to shoot.

    – It is, and even though the 7 and 6 ban went through, it’s still cheap guys. It’s not like– – No, I think it’s right around $200 a tin.

    – Yeah, $200 a tin, which is fine.

    Even 750 rounds is something like 200 bucks.

    I’d also like to give a shout out to one of our sponsors, that’s gonna be Ventura Munitions.

    And Ventura actually saw that we did a video on assault rifles and then we mentioned we wanted to do a burning AK-74 video and they piped up and they said, “Hey, we’ll hook you guys up with some ammo.” So we’d really like to thank those guy for helping.

    – Absolutely.

    – Check them out too, they’re a great company.

    Anyways, on to the next gun here.

    We’ve got a Yugo M70 series.

    Now the reason I really like the Yugo guns, for one thing Yugo mags are cool because they have a bolt hold open.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t dig to the bottom of the bin and find a Yugo mag but that’s one feature that’s enduring.

    Another one is they have a gas cutoff, which is cool for launching rifle grenades.

    They also have night sights as well that you flip up just like the Galil but laid out a little differently.

    – I actually think that the rear one…

    Yeah, the rear one’s there.

    – Now these are very old and they don’t glow anymore.

    However, they could be made to glow.

    But these are great low-cost, I think about 600 buck or so.

    – I wanna say they’re under that right now.

    – So 600 high end price on one of these.

    – Right, yeah.

    – Also, my favorite feature is they have an RPK trunion.

    Which means it’s reenforced and they can take a whole lot of punishment guys.

    We’ve done mag dump after mag dump after mag dump– – Admittedly, this is the AK that kind of beats us up a little bit if you’ve heard us refer to it in the past.

    – Yeah, this is the punishment stick.

    But you’ll also notice our friends TJ redid the wood and he put a cool hammer and sickle.

    Now obviously, Yugoslavia was a kind of a strange enigma, not technically a Soviet satellite state but kind of a– That’s a weird situation.

    But is an inherently Russian design, of course, so that’s kinda paying homage to that.

    If anybody asks why’s a Serb AK have it.

    – Now something we’ve done in the past, is we’ve– One thing I do think is pretty cool about this particular variant is whenever you flip the grenade launcher sight up you can slow the cyclic grade down a little bit.

    – That’s not intentional obviously, but it’s cool.

    – It is and it brings it down to a very chugga, chugga, chugga kind of rate of fire.

    Which I do like.

    – That’s a great bargain gun honestly and the Serb stuff is probably, in my opinion, the best value right now on the market.

    – Yes, I’ll agree with you.

    – But we’ll get to that in a second.

    This is probably going to be my personal favorite, next.

    It’s gonna be the Finnish RK series.

    This is an RK-6276.

    The Finnish RK series were some of the first western AK variants.

    They’re very cool guns.

    They were some of the first AK variants to be imported into the US even.

    Aside from guns brought back by GIs less than legally during Vietnam and what not.

    But these and the Chinese guns came in roughly the same time.

    These are just fantastic rifles.

    Where I have to pay lip service on this gun is going to be the sights.

    The sights and the way the dust cover locks just holds zero, remarkably.

    And it’s a feature that even the Israelis borrowed on the Galil.

    – On the backside it’s kind of like a double thickness type of situation where it fits in really neatly.

    – And now they have an advanced variant of this called the RK-95.

    The RK-95 is this with more bells and whistles and it’s 760 by 39.

    This as a civilian gun is just a Jim Dandy riffle to shoot.

    It actually won our trigger-pull test we did a while back.

    – It did, it did.

    Yeah, the trigger on it is pretty fantastic.

    – Even the hand guards are nice and comfy.

    Where I feel nice and comfortable with them.

    – I’m not too much of a fan of it.

    It’s a unique arrangement.

    It’s not uncomfortable but it’s not quite as traditional as I would like.

    – Also, one more weird thing I’d like to hit on, is this does have a wire cutter but it’s much different than the Galil.

    For this the wire cutter, you’ll notice the flash hider is in the shape of a trident.

    You basically put it into the wire, twist the gun up and then fire the gun.

    And that’s a built-in, actual feature that they included in this gun.

    – It’s kinda strange but I guess if it works…

    – Yeah.

    – Until you shoot your buddy in the rear end.

    – Yeah, which would be bad.

    But anyways, the worst thing about these, is they don’t come with an adjustable front sight.

    So what I did is I took off the factory front sight and put an adjustable Galil front sight on there.

    I did not like that all the adjustment had to be done with the rear with a little screwdriver instead of an AK sight tool.

    That’s the one bad thing I had to say about it.

    – Now, one thing I do want to touch on is the mag release on this.

    I do actually like it quite a lot.

    I like it more so than I do your standard AK mag release.

    It’s got a little bit of a thumb paddle that sticks off to the right-hand side.

    So if you’re right-handed, it fits in real nice in your hand.

    It fits really well.

    – And I wanna say I paid about 15 hundred for this gun.

    This is also another gun that was banned by import in ’89.

    Which isn’t bad considering that you get really quality AK variant in 223.

    – And I have to say, this is probably one of the best AK variants that I’ve shot.

    It’s not my favorite but it is really well– – Just a well built gun. – Well built gun, yes.

    I liken it to a higher end AR-15 if you’re going to go ahead and say, compare the two.

    Now I wanna say there was some interesting trivia about this gun.

    Maybe to do with a movie.

    – Well I know that in Hollywood, before we could get other AKs from China and stuff they were used in lieu of…

    – Right, I wanna say it was Red Dawn where they bought a bunch of them, converted them to look like Russian AKs, or something.

    – They might have used some Vlamonts but I think most of those were Chinese.

    – Were they? – Could be, who knows? But yeah, check out IMFDB, I know that– – There’s a pretty extensive page on the Valmont.

    – Anyways, so last, we’ve got one of Patrick’s personal and favorite guns I believe.

    – Yes, I like it quite a lot.

    Admittedly, it’s kind of a Frankenstein but more or less, it is a Zastava M92.

    But we said that the Serbian guns are some of the best values for money out there right now.

    And that’s entirely accurate.

    Now, mine’s not really correct.

    I added a little picatinny rail on top of the dust cover, which, to be honest, doesn’t work very well and I wish I hadn’t done it.

    And then I– Don’t even remember who makes the buttstock.

    – It might be an Ace, I think or something.

    – No, it’s not. It’s a…

    The name eludes me, I’ll annotate it.

    – But this started out life as an N-PAP, I believe.

    – Yeah, actually it started out as a M92 PAP.

    – Ok – And we had to break it down, build it on a new receiver as a result of how they cut it.

    But it’s been reliable.

    It’s very handy gun, very light.

    I really enjoy shooting it.

    – All the PAP series guns guys, are just fantastic.

    Affordable, reliable. Great guns.

    – I think the PAP pistols are going for right around 400 to 450 right now online.

    These also have a night sight arrangement that they ship with.

    Or low light sights.

    But mine has since fallen off ’cause the recoil is fairly brutal with a little tiny AK pistol.

    – Oh yeah, big time.

    Anyways guys, I think this about covers our list for the top five AK variants.

    We have a lot of fun with these and we really should shoot them more.

    Patrick shoots this a lot but you’ll notice we haven’t actually done a video on any of these yet.

    – No – Kind of a sin really.

    But we’ll get out there and we’ll do that guys.

    – If there’s one in particular you’d like to see, go ahead and drop a comment.

    – Absolutely.

    Anyways, we’d like to take this time to ask you to subscribe to TFB TV.

    We have a lot of cool stuff coming.

    Hopefully featuring some of this stuff.

    And if there’s anything else you’d like to see us do, we’d be more than happy to do it.

    – Absolutely.

    – Anyways, thanks again guys.

    Hit that Subscribe button and we hope to see you next time.

    Alex C.

    Alex is a Senior Writer for The Firearm Blog and Director of TFBTV.