BOTW: Rifle Dynamics AK Build

Tom R
by Tom R

The seventh Installment of Build of the Week was contributed by Rick. This is actually a full repost of his write up that he originally submitted on in May of 2017.

In any case, keep the submissions coming in! We are publishing them in the order in which they were received (with the exception of a single person submitting back to back–those will get spread out).

You can submit your own build at

I wanted to share my experience building my own AK-47 at the Rifle Dynamics AK Build Class on Oct 16-18, 2015. Rifle Dynamics is one of the top custom AK builders in the country, and for the past few years they have been offering an AK Build Class on the side. Most of their AK Build Classes are at their shop in Las Vegas, but for the first time they partnered with a gun club in Texas, so I jumped at the chance. So I made my way down to the Arena Gun Club in Laredo to build my very own AK-47.

When I arrived, I was handed a bag of parts, containing a Polish AK parts kit, a Green Mountain nitride barrel, a Morrissey stamped receiver (Morrissey makes NoDak Spud receivers), an ALG trigger, and various other small parts. To meet U.S. law (922r compliance), you need 6 U.S. parts on an AK-47 of this type (stamped receiver), and for this build my 6 U.S. parts were the receiver, barrel, trigger group (counts as 3 parts towards 922r compliance), and slant muzzle device. Rifle Dynamics stripped and parkerized the parts, so they had a good finish on them when I received them. The Polish AK parts kit came from a 1969 Polish AK-47 that was de-milled and sold to a U.S. importer. Poland made some of the best AK-47 rifles, and it’s pretty cool making a new AK-47 out of some historical communist parts that are almost 50 years old.

During the first two days of class, we completely assembled the rifle. First, we riveted the trigger guard, front trunnion, and rear trunnion to the receiver, using a 12-ton hydraulic press. We then pressed the barrel into the front trunnion using the hydraulic press, followed by pressing the barrel pin into the front trunnion. Then we assembled the bolt and the recoil spring assembly. Next, we installed the trigger group and safety into the receiver. Lastly, we installed the furniture on the rifle (stock, handguard, and pistol grip). At the end of the second day, we had a fully assembled rifle ready for testing.

On the morning of the third day, we all lined up to break-in our rifles with a 30-round mag dump (pulling the trigger as fast as possible), to look for any problems that needed to be addressed. It sounded like a war zone. Unfortunately, I only got one round downrange, and that was it. I had built a single-shot AK-47! Turns out that this was due to the barrel assembly I received in my bag of parts. Before the AK Build Class started, Rifle Dynamics installed (drilled/aligned/pinned) the front and rear sight blocks, and the gas block, on the barrel. This assembly was done ahead of time, because it would have otherwise added another couple of days to the AK Build Class, due to the complexity of this drilling and alignment process. Unfortunately, they accidentally misaligned the gas block with the barrel, which wasn’t allowing enough gas through the system to cycle the action. We didn’t have the right equipment to fix this problem in Laredo, so Rifle Dynamics had to take my rifle back to Las Vegas with them to fix.

Since they had to take my rifle back with them, I decided to get some Rifle Dynamics upgrades while they had it in their shop. You get a pretty fat discount on any Rifle Dynamics work that they do on a rifle that is built in one of their Build Classes. So I got their Rifle Dynamics Custom Front End, which includes shortening the barrel and pinning/welding a PWS FSC 47 muzzle device to bring it to 16″, as well as their Bolton combination front sight base/gas block, which I got pinned in place. This made the rifle lighter and moved the center of gravity rearwards. I also got an UltiMAK scope rail, Krebs safety, Magpul furniture, and a Grey Moly Finish, which is similar to CeraKote.

For my optic, I installed a Leatherwood/Hi-Lux Micro-Max B-Dot on the UltiMAK scope rail. I read about this red dot on The Firearm Blog, and I really like it. I also have a couple of Aimpoints, but I decided to go with this red dot because of where the controls are located. On an Aimpoint Micro, the controls for adjusting the dot brightness are on the right side of the optic, and since the optic is so far forward on the AK, you can’t adjust the optic while you’re holding it in a firing position, like you can on an AR with the optic more rearward. On this Leatherwood/Hi-Lux red dot, the controls are on the top, so in a firing position I’m able to use my left hands and reach the controls to adjust the dot brightness. I’ve got the rifle so hot, that this Leatherwood/Hi-Lux red dot was too hot to touch, but it still worked just fine, so I’ve been very happy with it. Here’s the article that introduced me to this optic:

In addition to building a rifle, we were also able to spend a lot of time talking with the crew from Rifle Dynamics, and absorbing all of their years of experience. Jim Fuller is a legend in the AK world, and he is a really cool guy to meet and work with. Rifle Dynamics brought several AK variants from multiple countries, and we had some hands-on history lessons with the different types of AK rifles and AK magazines. I also had the opportunity to shoot my first fully-automatic rifle, which was pretty awesome.

All in all, I couldn’t be happier about my experience with Rifle Dynamics and the AK Build Class. It was truly one of those unique experiences that I’ll always remember. After the Rifle Dynamics custom work they they did, my AK now weighs right at 7 pounds. I’ve put about 1500 rounds through it since I’ve received it back from Rifle Dynamics, and I haven’t had any failures of any kind. It’s a pretty accurate shooter for an AK, and I love shooting it. I’m an AR guy, but this AK is the favorite rifle that I own. If you ever get a chance to do a Rifle Dynamics Build Class, you won’t regret it. It is definitely pricey, but a lot of that cost goes into the highly unique 3-day experience that you get.

Comment below to ask Rick questions about his build.

Tom R
Tom R

Tom is a former Navy Corpsman that spent some time bumbling around the deserts of Iraq with a Marine Recon unit, kicking in tent flaps and harassing sheep. Prior to that he was a paramedic somewhere in DFW, also doing some Executive Protection work between shifts. Now that those exciting days are behind him, he teaches wilderness medicine and runs an on-demand medical staffing business. He hopes that his posts will help you find solid gear that will survive whatever you can throw at it--he is known (in certain circles) for his curse...ahem, find the breaking point of anything.You can reach him at tom.r AT or at

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7 of 27 comments
  • Sound awake Sound awake on Aug 02, 2018

    "nothing against aks and their variants or polish people my moms maiden name is sadoski and i used to own a saiga in 5.56 and i liked it but..."

    this is america so when i decided to build a msr i built an ar-15

    i didnt need to go to no 3 day class i just watched a youtube video

    i did it with simple hand tools like a hammer and a punch and a pair of needlenose pliers on my dining room table in my house

    yeah for sure i didnt assemble the upper but that wouldnt have been that much harder just some more time and a few more basic hand tools

    i still could have done the entire thing in way less than a day without using any hydraulics

    almost all my parts were sourced from the united states of america that were made by americans within the last 12 months probably

    when i was done building it i put it right in my gun cabinet and shot it the next day

    i dont know how much this guy spent but for $800 including the optic i built a rifle thats not "pretty accurate for an ar-15" its REAL ACCURATE like it puts them all in one ragged hole at 100 yards and less than 1 moa all the way out to 300 yards with factory match ammo that cost me 13 dollars a box

    oh yeah and if i want to shoot another caliber like .300 blackout or 6.5 grendel or 6.8 spc i just put that upper on the existing lower and i go to town i dont have to build an entirely new rifle if i dont want to

    but to each his own i guess

    • See 4 previous
    • Russ Kell Russ Kell on Aug 06, 2018

      @sound awake body tell him what the price of the 2day class is. ;) Before you look, please set up a video camera so we can live stream your head exploding.


  • Brut Faberge Brut Faberge on Aug 03, 2018

    Very nice looking AK. Would you feel comfortable building your own from a parts kit in your garage?