AKs from Finland. Part 3: Finnish AKs Go to Hollywood

Vladimir Onokoy
by Vladimir Onokoy

In part 1 of this article, I wrote about the early development history of Finnish AKs, part 2 was dedicated to RK 60 and RK 62. In this article, I will talk about less-known Finnish AKs some of which became truly iconic in the most unexpected way.

AK History @ TFB:

RK 62 Improvements

After RK 62 was officially accepted into service, both Finnish weapon factories, Valmet and Sako received orders for production of the new rifle. Each factory had to produce 10,000 rifles. By August 1965, both factories delivered the orders to the Finnish Defense Forces. Serial numbers for Valmet-made rifles started at 100001, and Sako had a serial number range beginning from 200001.

Some early guns had a primitive cylinder-shaped flash hider, but at some point, in the early 60s, a member of the Finnish military read some US gun magazines, where he saw a cool and unusual flash hider. He brought this magazine to the engineers of the factory and based on a photo they created a signature RK 62 three-prong flash hider.

RK 62 flash hider. Source: U.S. Army photo by Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Keeler, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Div

In 1965, engineers were tasked with the design of night sights for RK 62, and by 1968 night sights became standard on all new Finnish AKs. The older version of the gun then received a special designation PT, meaning “Day sight only”.

Also, the original T-shaped stock was replaced with a stock that had a triangular butt pad. Not much else changed, until in the late 60s the Finnish Defense Forces decided that they wanted to modify the rifle so it would have a sheet steel stamped receiver, just like most other AKs.

Valmet factory manufactured four prototypes called 1/68, 2/68, 3/68 and 4/68. The last one was chosen for future development and received a designation m/71. It had a more conventional gas block, separated from the front sight. However, after the weapon was tested, it did not have any significant advantages over the standard RK 62.

Based on the m/71, Valmet later produced the m/62-76 rifle, better known as the Valmet M76. TFB TV has a great video about this rare rifle.

However, in the 80s factory engineers realized that they didn’t really save that much money producing stamped receiver guns. The entire ordeal ended up being a total waste of time and the Valmet factory went back to producing standard milled receiver RK 62s.

Finnish AKs in the US

Robin Williams with an M76 in the movie “Survivors” (1983). Director: Michael Ritchie. Columbia Pictures Source: www.imfdb.org

RK 62 variants were the first semi-auto AKs imported into the US. Some of the samples came in as early as 1970, long before Egypt and China started exporting their AKs to the US. The designation of the civilian variant was M62S.

Later on, M71, M76, and other Finnish AKs, including rare prototypes, were exported to the US. My Finnish friend once had to buy a rare Finnish AK in the USA and import it back to Finland cause he couldn’t find this model in his country.

However, the 1989 import ban put an end to the sales of Finnish AKs in the US. The guns that were already in the country became highly collectible and now an estimated value of M62S in good condition is somewhere between $5 000 and $10 000.

M82 – the gun of the dark future

Screenshot from the movie "Terminator", 1984. Director: James Cameron.

In the early 80s, the Valmet factory developed a bullpup rifle based on AK called M82. There were versions chambered both in 7.62×39 and 5.56×45. The Finnish Defense rejected this weapon.

This bullpup was quite literally harmful to the left-handed shooters. Sights were shifted to the left side of the weapon, so you could not aim properly if you’re left eye dominant. Also, a charging handle could break teeth if you attempt to shoot it from the left shoulder. The trigger was attached to the barrel and got hot really quickly.

However, this gun became known under a different designation, the Westinghouse M-25 plasma rifle. It was used by a group of rebels known as the Resistance in the movie Terminator 1. Many rifles were exported to the US civilian market by a company out of Alexandria, Virginia called ODIN International Ltd.

Going commando with Valmet M78/83

Screenshot from the movie “Commando”, 1985. Director  Source: www.giantfreakinrobot.com

There was another Finnish AK that had had an iconic appearance on the silver screen. It is called M78/83, and TFB has a post dedicated to this movie gun. M78 was the prototype of the light machine gun, but the Finnish Defense Forces did not show any interest, and the guns were exported to the US.

Its most famous appearance was in the movie “Commando” with Arnold Schwarzenegger where he uses it in the final battle. And just a few years later, this same gun was used against Schwarzenegger’s character in the movie “Predator”, where this Valmet was used by Central American rebels.

In the next (and the last) part of this story, I will talk about RK 95, the last rifle in the lineage of Finnish AKs.

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

More by Vladimir Onokoy

Join the conversation
  • Kurt Akemann Kurt Akemann on Apr 22, 2024

    The M78/83 from Commando was also seen being blown out of the hands of South American insurgents in Predator.

    • Vlad Vlad on Apr 23, 2024

      @Kurt Akemann Good point, thanks. Added it to the article.

  • SP mclaughlin SP mclaughlin on Apr 23, 2024

    Don't forget the M78 also served as a stand-in for the RPK in Red Dawn.