Thursday, October 14, 2010

Interesting discussion of the Kalashnikov.

At the risk of starting another interminable, AK vs AR vs 7.62 NATO battle rifle flame war. . .

From Pete at WRSA comes this interview with the author of a new book on the AK-47 series rifle.


One common misperception is that the AK-47 is reliable and effective, therefore it is abundant. This is not really the case. The weapon's superabundance, its near ubiquity, is related less to its performance than to the facts of its manufacture. Once it was designated a standard Eastern Bloc arm, it was assembled and stockpiled in planned economies whether anyone paid for or wanted the rifles or not. This led to an uncountable accumulation of the weapons. And once the weapons existed, they moved. Had the weapon not been hooked up to the unending output of the planned economy, it would have been a much less significant device. If it had been invented in Liechtenstein, you might have never even heard of it.

And one of the reasons it became ubiquitous in American militia units in the 90s was that those planned economy factories continued to crank them out after the fall of Communism because it was the one thing they knew how to produce and they were CHEAP to buy by U.S. standards. Same goes for the SKS. They had been made in the millions, were just sitting there, and could be sold for quick foreign exchange. Ironically, the American militias made up of anti-collectivists were armed largely with weapons built by collectivists for the overthrow of capitalism.

Two other factors merit consideration. First, the Kalashnikov is eminently reliable and incomparably abundant, but it's not a miracle weapon. Nor is it ideal for all uses. It is, for example, stubbornly mediocre in terms of its accuracy at even medium ranges. At the longer ranges common to fighting in arid environments, it's not a good choice. So it might not be the best weapon for the West right now even if the Pentagon somehow wanted to issue them. Second, American arming decisions are tied to NATO and to alliance-wide decisions. Changing rifles is a woefully complicated process. The status quo is a powerful thing.

And although the Kalashnikov continues to be very popular in American constitutional militia units because it is less expensive than most other semi-auto rifles, it is ill-equipped to win the "300 Meter War."


Mark Matis said...

I would note that, in spite of all the talk of the "300 meter war", it is actually going to end up being a "3 meter war" when they smash your door down to get you.

The Trainer said...

MBV: "And although the Kalashnikov continues to be very popular in American constitutional militia units because it is less expensive than most other semi-auto rifles, it is ill-equipped to win the "300 Meter War." "

Damn straight!

tom said...

"AK-47 The Grim Reaper", available from Small Arms Review book shop, is plausibly a better book on a number of levels, in my vaguely-sometimes-humble opinion. 868 pages of Kalashnikitties. I reckon the two books are complimentary so people should own both.

Shoot Straight

Anonymous said...

The Kalashnikov might not do well in the 300m realm, but it will suffice nicely in most urban and suburban settings where distances are severely limited by obstructions.

Pat H. said...

Mikhail Kalashnikov will be 91 years old next month, seems to be doing pretty well for that age.

Mile66 said...

Mmmmm.... M14! /Homer Simpson voice off.

Rick said...

Indeed. The M1A is another great rifle to reach out and touch someone the old fashioned way. Outfitted with good glass in can operate very well as a designated marksman weapon out past 800 yards with significant terminal ballistics. Try that with any AK. Fat chance.

Pericles said...

If you could walk into an arsenal that had every type of weapon used by every major army in the last 50 years, how many of you would walk out of there carrying an AK?

Dennis308 said...

I like my M1-A1 so much, I now have two of them and hope to be able to buy another. A Match Rifle this time around to go with the Standard and the Scout Models. The Scout Rifle can be used in the Urban setting(300yds.and less)with more energy (that =s penetration)and the Standard Rifle out to 600yds. I want the Match Rifle(with a Suppressor and a Scope)to go to the 1000 yd. mark. And still have the authority to drop the targets,with semi-auto fire I doubt that there are many Kalahnikovs that can do that.


PS, I have a question Can a
Springfield M1-A1 be converted to full-auto. Not that I would ever do so without the Government Permit,I would Never break the law,Just Curious.

Mark Matis said...

You'll be FAR better served with one of these:
covering the most likely points of blast and enter. That at least evens the odds a little, at least if it's placed, charged, and ready-to-fire with his "friction primer".

Of course, the bad guys may choose to use alternate entry points to avoid such systems. Does anyone know what punji sticks look like on the IR scanners they will undoubtedly use before their unconstitutional forced entry?

Again, this post is similar to ones I have previously made at Western Rifle Shooters and Cliffs of Insanity. Sorry if that offends anyone, but this would appear to be a great legal (as long as you don't use exploding shells) equalizer in the 3 meter war.

Anonymous said...

I agree, but for now my $300 WASR is all I've got, and I have to make the best with it. Anyone have any loaner FALs or M14s?

Anonymous said...

Can you get better than an AK? Of course! But I'd rather see every man with an AK in his hands than to see only half the men armed with expensive rifles.

pdxr13 said...

148 1.25oz lead balls from a smoothbore mountain cannon does quite a number on a deer at 120 yards. There are no obsolete weapons, just ones that are more available than a TOW or DRAGON.

Thanks MM for the link.


Mark Matis said...

Of Pericles I ask:

Why would you not RIDE out of there in an M1A2? With as many other toys stowed in it as possible? I mean, that SURE beats the 300 meter war. And the 30 meter and 3 meter wars as well...

Johnny said...

The Kalashnikov you chose to picture should have no trouble reaching out to 300 yards/metres.

Anonymous said...

Yes I would walk out with an AK.
And have. It is my go to gun. I have to disagree with Mike on its supposed inadaquate performance. Give it a good meal (not surplus 30 year old ammo) and it will kill beyond 300 yrds and shoots minute of man with no problems. It will function filled with dirt and rocks and it does not shit where it eats. Will I win at camp Perry with it. Nope but this aint about putting holes in paper at any distance its about poking holes in moving folks at phonebooth distance. The Ak has been doing that in more shitholes around the world than any other rifle ever. She ain pretty shes a butchers blade not a scalple.

If you think you cant get a good Ak talk to Jim Fuller at Rifle Dynamics or Will from Red Jacket Fire Arms.

Anonymous said...

You are so much better off with a decent 308 bolt gun with good glass.

Lighter, less parts, far more accurate and the same caliber as the boat anchors.

If the SHTF and you are armed with a decent 700 or Savage and a 3x9 Leupold, you can harvest whatever type of weapon you like.

Jay Stang said...

The best all around rifle is the FAL. It has the reliability and toughness of the AK, with the range and accuracy of the M16A2/M-14; not mention the stopping power.

Anonymous said...

The issue I have with the AK is simply ammo availability.

I truly believe that if we become embroiled in a domestic SHTF scenario, of which many of us here believe is a distinct possibility, the availability of 5.45 and 7.62x39 will be less available than 7.62x51 and 5.56.

Other than that....I believe the AK is a fine combat weapon.


Anonymous said...

Here's an issue with the AK in the USA.

Currently one can secure via some online ammo suppliers, WOLF 5.56mm at a price of $189.00 per 1,000 rounds. That's not much more than what you'd pay for the Combloc caliber ammo for the AK-47 and 74.

As an aside....I shoot a boatload of Wolf/Tula....the price is right and I've had no harm to my ARs.

Again, can one justify an AK with extra mags, different ammo, etc., if one already owns an AR in 5.56mm ? Normally I could and would. But in today's political and economic atmosphere I say "NYET" to and AK. Simply because I have two ARs in 5.56mm and one AR in 7.62mm.


Anonymous said...

Dennis III per your comments @ October 14, 2010 8:43 AM, I'd just like to mention I have a DPMS Panther in A4, in 7.62mm. Have a Leupold CQ/t sitting on it. I REALLY like this weapon and the price was right. Found it new, from a Florida dealer on Gunbroker. Price was $1,000 bucks plus FFL transfer and shipping.

The only problem I have with the weapon is that the supplied steel mags suck. However, MagPul is making PMAGs for this weapon and they work GREATTTTT !

Anyhow....just an aside to your M1a1 comments.

Good shooting.


Anonymous said...

Side note: Here's a problem I seem to have noticed. People, I think, are TOO attached to their rifles.

I know people with thousands and thousands of dollars worth of rifles in their gun safes. I have a friend who has ARs, AKs, an RPK, PSL, several Mosin-Nagants, shotguns, tuned bolt-guns, an FAL, and a National Match M1A with some top end scope on it, not to mention at least a dozen handguns. He has never even fired his M1A because "he's too afraid too hurt it." Thus, he does not know how different kinds of ammo fairs in it.


He's even afraid to lay his AKs down on the ground, because they might get dirty.

They are just tools. That's it.

How many will, if the time comes, hand one of their beloved rifles to a friend who doesn't have one? How many will throw their rifles into a river, or melt it with a torch, or hide it, knowing they will never see it again? How many will completely give up their armory - guns, ammo, and all - to someone who will put it to better use, because, for whatever reason, they won't be in a position to utilize them?

Not accusing anyone of anything, just providing some food for thought.

Rhodes said...

Pericles it depends on if I want a rifle that works every time or one that might get me killed. How many would walk out with a Stoner rifle???

Besides I havent had a live 300 meter shot in years. Are they going to bush hog the woods before doing something silly?

All these things are correct which is why my "AK" uses 308 ammo, Russian Saiga to be exact, restored to AK config as god intended. Three hundred meters isnt even warming up as long as I do my part. The 308 should never have left the US arsenal of GI rifles.

Mark Matis said...

pdxr13: You may like this link:
as well!

WarriorClass said...

Never liked collectivist weapons. I use a POF .308, made in America by American capitalists. Good to 600 + yards and everything in between. Less bulky than the M1 and modular too. Pricey, but you get what you pay for. If that's too much get a FAL, but not an AK piece of sh@t, and don't support the ruble. Besides, I seriously doubt the M1 @ 1000 meters, or even 400. That's a guy that's not tried it with one, no disrespect, Dennis (I'm a natural born Texan, five generations ago) but it just ain't that accurate unless you've put a lot of work into it and $$ too. Just as well to buy a good weapon to begin with, than to waste the time and effort afterwards.

ACOG my friend,


Anonymous said...

For all the morons who think the ak is not accurate enough, you either have a low skill level or have never owned one, would you like to stand in front of me with mine I can unload 30 very fast and hit whatever I aim at! I practice regularly.

Dennis308 said...

Warrior Class, In reply to:
I do make HITS at 600 yds. with the Standard Rifle on a Silhouette Target with Iron Sights 4 out of 5 shots slow semi-auto prone or sitting 3 out of 5 with a rest. And I do think a Match Rifle will go out to that 1000yd. mark(Terminal Baistics????) with Ammo that the GUN LIKES and a good bi-pod,supressor and a Leopold or Night Force scope at 15X or 22X. Have´t done it YET but it is what I am aiming for.


PS hope to meet ya at the RTC- Brownsville Rally

Anonymous said...

I think the discussion is interesting, but the choices will be based on METT-T in your AO. MOUT/FIBUA needs a short-range weapon with MoM accuracy. Out in the open spaces, reaching out and touching people at distance is needed.

Any passive measures to deter trespass that is non-metallic should not show up as a "heat source". Now the shape might give it away, nature abhorring straight lines as a given, so think about that.

And area denial systems should be in depth to cover likely avenues of approach and cover. And a 12 ga shotgun shell in a PVC tube with a mechanical initiator can dissuade many over-eager but under-thinking individuals. Focused below the waist, it compounds many problems and can seriously stress the medical system.


WarriorClass said...

I like you Dennis. You must be a better shot than me!


Texan x 5
Katy, TX

Anonymous said...

Look have your AR's and super fancy M14's with all kinds of expensive glass. Thats fine its your dollar. You all have your preferences great. I do have the same concerns about ammo. Simple solution is the AK in 308 or 556. Bolt guns are great for fine grain work but you cant keep pace with a semi auto besides the Ak only has three basic moving parts as well. Comments about "commie rifles" are just short sighted. Are you a warrior or not? a warrior uses the tool that will do the job he does not care who made it or what their political beliefs are. Is the sword sharp? Is the sword strong? Is the sword balanced? Those are the questions the warrior asks not what were the beliefs of the sword maker.
The AK is a fine weapon. If its not your cup of tea so be it, dont be a gun snob we will start sounding like dildo liberals who argue over the best coffee.


Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, I know of too many that will just turn them all in when told to do so. Then cry like babies when the collectivists treat them like dirt. Way too many American males (I did not say men)have been feminized. Think of the insurance commercial where the husband is carrying a "European Shoulder Bag" because his wife gave it to him "it was a gift".
As long as it goes bang & sends a projectile downrange reasonably accurate anything will do if you don't have anything else. Of course, if you don't have anything that's a good excuse to stay home safe & comfortable with the rest of the helpless women that want to be helpless (and raped & dead). In memorandum to a brave female: On March 21, 1943, Cornelia Fort became the 1st WASP killed in the line of duty, RIP.

Scott J said...

28 comments. I think you started exactly what you wanted to avoid, Mike.

For those lamenting the cost of a full-on battle rifle (as opposed to a carbine like the 7.62X39 or 5.56) head on over to and check out M1 Garands for $495

I haven't seen a SKS or AK variant for less than $250 in ages. Most are going for over $300.

Witchwood said...

I would note that, in spite of all the talk of the "300 meter war", it is actually going to end up being a "3 meter war" when they smash your door down to get you.

My thoughts exactly. And if I need to shoot through the walls of my house to damage a target behind them, 5.56 isn't going to cut it. My Arsenal AK is very light, compact, easy to clean, exceptionally well made, and it delivers a round that is relevant in an urban environment.

Again, can one justify an AK with extra mags, different ammo, etc., if one already owns an AR in 5.56mm ? Normally I could and would.

It's interesting that no one has yet commented on the ballistic inadequacies of 5.56. That round's lack of stopping power is now nearly as famous as the AK's reliability.

Anonymous said...

To everyone bashing the AKs... Feel free to buy me a replacement. As of right now it's all I can afford so I'll be using what I got.

Hopefully, if I go about it with a little thought, careful planning, and a lot of patience, I will get a better weapon with it when the time comes... hopefully without getting shot myself.

The Trainer said...

Agree with WarriorClass: ACOG. Been putzing with one for about 4 months now on a M-14 type rifle. Does what it's supposed to do, but I still have to put some money in the base to get it to where I wouldn't trade it to someone.

The days are gone when I could shoot 600 iron. But there was a day with LC standard 7.62 Ball. So, because of my 'advanced chronology', I have to use optics. But even then, they're low powered and I can still hit to the maximum effective range of the ACOG - 600 meters.

The trick? Pay your dues performing the fundamentals: Snap-In drills. Dry fire....and (drum roll) RANGE TIME!

Also agree with Anonymous, 14 Oct, 3:56pm: IT'S A TOOL! Meant to take abuse! If you can't abuse it with weather, dirt, water, firing days at a time without cleaning, large swings in temperature, then you should re-evaluate the TOOL you've chosen.

Each man is going to choose his own carbine or rifle; that much is certain.

And yes, you can buy a basic platform in any configuration and make it 'sing'. As long as you don't mind paying the cash to do it, then go for it.

I tell my 'merry little band' only two things are required:

1 - Have the best you can afford.
2 - Be able to hit accurately to your round's maximum effective range.

Because everything else is gravy.

Dakota said...

Good comments by most here. Ultimately you pick what you think gives you a chance. To do otherwise is to admit defeat. What you choose should reflect your terrain you intend to protect.
If you are going urban an AK will work in most applications. I feel it has better stopping power than a 5.56 any day using ball ammo. Soft points on targets that are not wearing body armor is a different story.

I have different things for different missions. I had the luxury of knowing that I would need these things 30 years ago or so however. Sure glad to not have to pay the current prices I see. If I could walk in and choose any rifle ..... it would be an FN FAL hands down. THe 308 will still get it done with ease and there is not a finer rifle made for reliability and service .... period.

Anonymous said...


I like your comment about "mechanical" initiators. Not much to jam with those and if your timing is ever so slightly off... and even if it isn't in some cases... Of course that's always when a fire happens to start or a tank inadvertently picks your house as a parking space.

Reference the battle rifle war, I am in favor of that which I can use in combat at close range. I am also in favor of weapons which can project my defense or offense as needed. The AK does just fine for the former but cannot compete for the latter nor can the 5.45/5.56. Which leaves the 7.62x51. Of course the Soviets chose the 7.62x54. Fortunately, one can sling one while using the other.

Was in Cabela's recently and noted that they were asking $400 for an SKS. I laughed till I passed out and then left. They also tried to sell my daughter a dehorned 2" snubby .38 for defense carry. At least the had the dehorned right.