Episode 45 show notes

Episode 45: All about AK's

Milled vs. Stamped receiver - Stamped will be lighter, more available furniture, more modern design.  Milled receivers will be stiffer, thought not necessarily stronger. The trunnions in the stamped guns are forged steel and extremely strong.

Buy ready to go, or a project gun? 
A Saiga rifle, though not available new any longer due to import bans, is still available on the used market.  I'd advise finding a relatively unmolested one, anything under $600 is acceptable.  Once that is done, finding milsurp furniture, a Tapco G2 trigger group (or preferably an ALG Defense like what I have used), gas block, and front sight block will restore the Saiga to a nearly perfect AK replica.  Swapping out some of these parts will require use of a hydraulic press and rivetting tools, or contacting a gunsmith.

A Vepr rifle, currently available new, presents a mixed bag.  They are not as faithful a rendition of a milspec AKM as the Saiga is, using the 1.5mm thick receiver and heavier barrel from an RPK (the Molot factory that produces them also produces RPK's), and correspondingly AKM furniture may not fit or may require serious massaging to fit.  BUT, the build quality and machining on the rifles is excellent, as good or better than a Saiga.

To buy once and cry once, current market seems to favor the Arsenal rifles imported from Bulgaria. Their side folding stock models (either "triangle" folder or the polymer stock folding options) are highly sought after and well regarded.  Resale value will be strong, price will be a premium over other options.  They are all based on AKM's using sheet metal receivers, 90 degree gas blocks, all features of the most modern versions of the AK, and may be had in either 7.62x39 or 5.45x39.  I can not recommend other calibers.

On the used market, Zastava rifles (Serbian), Maadi's (Egyptian), and WASR's (Romanian) has all been available at one point or another at reasonable price points.  All were foreign manufactured guns "neutered" to comply with US import laws, then later restored to "AK" specs.  All were on the whole decent rifles, though each demands a thorough inspection before taking delivery and NONE should be purchased sight unseen. Norinco's and MAK's were imported prior to Chinese imports being banned, and are highly favored by AK aficionados as reliable and well built rifles, both should be inspected before purchase.

Caliber war: 7.62 or 5.45
For starters, I rule out 308 Win and 5.56 guns.  Both of these calibers have dramatically straighter case walls than the original combloc calibers, which was part and parcel to their reliability. 

7.62x39 will provide more available ammo (7.62x39 is the third most common rifle cartridge in North America, behind 5.56 and 308 Win), cheaper ammo, more available and cheaper magazines, more common parts, etc. than a 5.45 gun.  The caliber has simply been around longer in civilian hands and is by default more available.

5.45x39 is flatter shooting, more inherently accurate, less recoiling than 7.62.  The 7N6 milsurp ammo (no longer available, thanks ATF) was a devastating home defense round, with drastically greater ability to wound than the older 7.62 rounds. But, since very few other firearms in North America are chambered in this cartridge, it is less available and more expensive.  Magazines are also two to three times more expensive for milsurps.  Plan accordingly.

For a home defense round, either is effective, with 5.45 definitely having an advantage in wounding soft skinned targets and 7.62 excelling in barrier penetration. 

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