Hungarian AKs (Part 2): AMD-65 – the Best Most Hated AK

Vladimir Onokoy
by Vladimir Onokoy
Hungarian AKs (Part 2): AMD-65 – the Best Most Hated AK

In Part 1 of this article, I talked about the first Hungarian AKs, AK-55 and AKM-63. In this article, I want to talk about perhaps the most famous and controversial Hungarian AK – AMD-65.

AMD-65 was developed by Hungarian engineer Karoly Zala. The first prototype was ready by March of 1965, and in September of the same year, the factory produced the first batch for trials. Mass production of the gun started in January 1967.

The concept, albeit simple, was much ahead of its time. AMD-65 is the first compact AK that was ever designed. 10 years before AKS74U, commonly known in the US as Krink(ov), and almost 30 years before Russian engineers finally developed their own short 7.62×39 Kalashnikov called AK 104.

AMD-65, late production with darker plastic parts

In fact, the idea of a shortened 7.62×39 AK made so much sense that over time it created a myth of AKMSU which I dissected in one of my previous articles: The legend of AKMSU – a mysterious AK that never was.

The name AMD stands for Automata Módosított Desszant (automatic modified desant). “Desant” is a word of Slavic origin that basically means “troops that are deployed via some unusual way” and it is usually translated as “airborne troops”. However, during WW2, the Red Army used “tank desant”, when a bunch of soldiers sat on top of the tank and jumped from it when the time came.

So whether you’re airborne “desant”, marine “desant” or airborne “desant”, AMD-65 was the right gun for you. Light and compact, easy to carry, but still very capable. Short guns have their cool factor, so it is not surprising that AMD-65 appeared in so many movies.

Sylvester Stallone shooting AMD-65 in the movie Rambo III

It was used by Rambo when he helped noble freedom fighters in Afghanistan to repel a foreign invasion (yeah, some movies don’t age well), and by Dolph Lundgren in “Red Scorpion” where he played a Soviet Spectnaz officer.

AMD-65 has a 12.7 inch (320 mm) barrel, and such a weird length is easy to explain – it was the shortest that could fit all the original components, so the factory didn’t have to spend a dime on a new gas block or front sight. Apart from “desant”, AMD was used by officers with a special compact 20-round magazine, almost as a PDW (personal defense weapon).

In the 80s, the AMD-65 in the Hungarian army was replaced by the more conventional AK-63. It seemed that it was destined to spend its remaining time covered in cosmoline slowly decaying in military warehouses. But life had a different plan for those little guns.

Dolph Lundgren in the movie "Red Scorpion", wreaking havoc in the bar with his AMD-65

New life abroad for AMD-65

In 2005, the Hungarian government sold 45,000 to the Pentagon, so the US Government could arm the Afghan National police. The price was around $300 apiece. Later on, Hungary donated another 39,000 rifles to the US. What they didn’t understand is that most Afghans are exquisite Kalashnikov connoisseurs and only want the best.

The situation got so bad that the New York Times published an article by C.J. Chivers: “ One Poor Choice in Arming the Afghans, and Its Repercussions” explaining all the issues with AMD-65. He listed five main complaints:

  • The first is related to the AMD-65’s effective range. The AMD-65 is a shortened Kalashnikov, and its reduced length has meant a shorter barrel. (…) One consequence of a shortened barrel is a reduced distance between the front and rear sights, which introduces greater potential for aiming errors.
  • The second complaint is about the forward handguard, which is made of sheet metal. Metal conducts heat. Afghans complain that when they fire several 30-round magazines through their AMD-65s, the handguard can become too hot to touch –- not exactly what is wanted in a handguard.
  • The third complaint is about reliability. Unlike many variants in the Kalashnikov line, the AMD-65 has a reputation among Afghans for untimely stoppages.
  • As used by many Afghans, the AMD-65 would seem like an ergonomic disaster. The single-strut folding stock gives the weapon the feel of being strangely suspended in front of the shooter’s eye. And the positioning of the vertical foregrip and the heat conducted by the handguard together often persuade shooters to wrap their left hand around the magazine when firing.
  • Moreover, the parts of an AMD-65, because of the rifle’s shortened design, are not interchangeable with the vast assortment of Kalashnikovs otherwise in Afghan government possession. This adds cost and complexity to training and repairs.
AMD-65, late production with darker plastic parts

When I read this article, I dismissed those concerns thinking that “the rifle is fine” and that Afghans just love to complain. A few years later I came to Afghanistan and actually learned a whole lot from Afgan armorers, realizing I was dead wrong on both points.

In the next part of the article, I want to talk about my personal experiences with AMD-65 and how it was different from the opinions of Afghan police officers.


P.S. For the information in this article I want to thank my friend Zoltán Szőrös, the author of the best website about Hungarian AKs https://www.kalasnyikov.hu/

Vladimir Onokoy
Vladimir Onokoy

Vladimir Onokoy is a small arms subject matter expert and firearms instructor. Over the years he worked in 20 different countries as a security contractor, armorer, firearms industry sales representative, product manager, and consultant. His articles were published in the Recoil magazine, Small Arms Review, Small Arms Defence Journal, and Silah Report. He also contributed chapters to books from the "Vickers Guide: Kalashnikov" series. Email: machaksilver at gmail dot com. Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Vladimir-Onokoy-articles-and-videos-about-guns-and-other-unpopular-stuff-107273143980300/ Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/vladonokoy/ YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/machaksilver

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  • Iksnilol Iksnilol on Feb 22, 2024

    Why does it need proprietary parts? Just chop regular akms down to almost gas block. Leave an inch or so ahead of the gas block.

    • See 2 previous
    • Uncle Yar Uncle Yar on Feb 22, 2024

      @iksnilol Good ideas at a glance. What, folded up nice and tight on your chest when you jump out. I'd just gone with one of those Romanian folders though, one that uses the fixed stock trunnion. And if I wanted a vert grip, same deal here. Cut dong works better.

  • Klaus Klaus on Feb 22, 2024

    https://uploads.disquscdn.c... Good read thanks. Stumbled across this photo a few years back would you know who and where?

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