How Many Parts Does Your AK Need to Fire a Cartridge?

    How Many Parts Does Your AK Need to Fire a Cartridge (1)

    Kalashnikov Media has published a new Gun Myths series video showing a quite an interesting experiment set up to find out what is the minimum amount of parts that an AK rifle needs to fire a cartridge. Most of you have probably seen videos where people fire AKs without a receiver top cover or gas tube. But how far can you go removing parts from the gun and still having it go bang?

    In the mentioned video, George Gubich, a Kalashnikov Concern specialist, first removed the top cover of the receiver, the muzzle device and the pistol grip and attempted to fire the gun. Well, for those of you who know how AKs work, it is not a surprise that the rifle will cycle just fine without these parts.

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    How Many Parts Does Your AK Need to Fire a Cartridge (3)

    Next, George removed the gas tube assembly, lower handguard and did not attach the magazine manually loading the cartridge. Again, not a surprise that the rifle cycled and the only reason it became a single-shot gun is that there was no feeding device.

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    But Kalashnikov Media experiment went on removing more parts and this is where things start getting interesting. Next, they removed the recoil spring assembly, stock and bolt carrier. They snapped the cartridge rim under the extractor and inserted the bolt with the cartridge held in the bolt face into the gun manually rotating the bolt in the front trunnion to close the action. With the gun fixed in a vise to hold it still and not allow the bolt to rotate open, it fired again. As you can see, at this point things also become dangerous, so I have to warn you – DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!

    How Many Parts Does Your AK Need to Fire a Cartridge (7)

    Nope, they didn’t stop there. Next, Gubich removed the trigger mechanism and disassembled the bolt. Placing a cartridge into the chamber and closing the bolt behind it, they then inserted the firing pin into the bolt and hit it with a hammer … I mean a hand tool hammer. Bang!

    Below you can find the mentioned Kalashnikov Media video. Although it is in Russian, it’s pretty much self-explanatory.

    Theoretically speaking, if you use an external force to hit the firing pin, then all the AK needs to fire a cartridge is the bolt, firing pin and the barrel pressed into the front trunnion and fixed in place via the barrel pin. It will be similar for the AR-15 too – if you have a barrel (with the barrel extension attached) bolt and firing pin, you can make it go bang.

    Well, if we rephrase the question and ask how many parts an AK needs to fire a cartridge without the use of an external impact force and with reasonable level of safety, then you can probably make it fire only if it has the following from the removable parts: bolt, firing pin, bolt carrier, hammer, hammer spring and pin. Without having a trigger, one could probably manually rotate the hammer back and let it go to fire the round. The bolt carrier would be needed to ensure safety because if the bolt is not rotated and the action is open, the hammer won’t be able to hit the firing pin – it will hit the tail of the bolt carrier.

    DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME … but do tell what do you think about this experiment.

    Images are screenshots from the embedded Kalashnikov Media video.

    Hrachya H

    Managing Editor

    Being a lifelong firearms enthusiast, Hrachya always enjoys studying the history and design of guns and ammunition. He also writes for and
    Should you need to contact him, feel free to shoot him a message at [email protected]