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Alex C.

The Kalashnikov Family: Details Grand and Obscure

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Over the years I just kind of learned to accept the AK for what it is. Cheap garbage intended to be issued to conscripts and nothing more.

 

But then my tastes changed, I asked for forgiveness, admitted I was wrong, and I kind of went off the deep end.

 

I've even scored a rare, 7.62x39 Finnish RK62 in proper FDF pattern. About 200 were imported before they realized that in the 60s there was no 7.62x39 anywhere for purchase so... way to go Valmet!

 

Anyways this is going to be more or less a photo journal showing the minor and major differences between various Kalashnikovs. I realize this is information many of you know already but some of the measurements even surprised me.

 

 

So I'll kick it off with a proper Type 3 AK47 vs. an AKM. So the quintessential AK47 vs. what everyone incorrectly thinks is the quintessential AK47. Top is a 1970 Russian kit build, bottom is a Polytech Legend (100% factory made straight out of factory number 386).

 

Zp2lgqZ.jpg

 

 

The Type 3 here is a little lighter than a Russian Type 3 because chu wood is famously light. It also dents if you look at it funny.

 

 

 

3ONLc8K.jpg

 

 

AKM Lighter:

 

 

3534K1v.jpg

 

 

And just some receiver photos:

 

3WLkQip.jpg

 

9uZhSNM.jpg

 

4YzPpgH.jpg

 

 

Also that lovely triangle that lets you know you overpaid, as well as the Y stamp that lets you know you really overpaid. For the uninformed, Russian kits are a no-no, and foreign "military barrels" were banned in 2005. I bought this gun mostly because of the Russian parts (especially the barrel):

 

banyL2w.jpg

 

 

So the Type 3 Doesn't have a bayonet lug. It clamps onto the muzzle nut. The AKM's bayonet slides on easily. You have the be pretty deliberate to throw the pig sticker on your T3:

 

Wo46wQA.jpg

 

O0wYh2i.jpg

 

BVg0XbI.jpg

 

j09B5o4.jpg

 

 

Also I never realized how heavy slabsides are. Holy Jesus:

 

19OWokK.jpg

 

bNKjCBU.jpg

 

 

Also one of the best bits. The AKM's stock is much more inline with the barrel making them a shit ton easier to control (not all AKM's had a slant brake, I believe this was a change made in 67 or 68):

 

 

wSSXb8i.jpg

 

Type 3 pistol grip fat and with shit texture. AKM grip textured well and slimmer:

 

BdoMEuv.jpg

 

 

 

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Handguards. The palm swell makes the AKM much easier to hold when you are sweaty and trying to stay on target:

 

qDGkIiu.jpg

 

Sights. AKM 1000m, Type 3 800m. I don't know why this is.

 

dnVMZxj.jpg

 

Sling attachment points. Receiver and gas block on type 3, stock and handguard retainer on AKM:

 

BKgi52O.jpg

 

rszTG4D.jpg

 

thoBy63.jpg

 

lWtOSRs.jpg

 

 

Gas venting holes on Type 3 drilled into tube. Vent holes on AKM cast into actual block.

 

GGwdZSu.jpg

 

2P3D4iB.jpg

 

 

Dust covers: thin and reinforced with ribbing vs. thick and smooth.

 

BPfL5Fi.jpg

 

 

Type 3 thickness:

 

juAP3SH.jpg

 

AKM Thickness:

 

IdQieRT.jpg

 

 

Barrel thickness of Type 3 (near breech first, then near the end)

 

5uJPVmo.jpg

 

e8oOyNR.jpg

 

 

Barrel thickness of AKM (again, breech then near end)

 

YBPwGBy.jpg

 

QBLZLVT.jpg

 

 

 

So in my opinion the AKM is leagues better. It's lighter, easier to handle, more svelte, you can hold the damn thing, the stock's drop is more pleasant, bayo slips right on, and in go fast they had a rate reducer/hammer retarder. Is the Type 3 marginally more accurate? Probably, but not enough to offset the advantages of the AKM when it came to production and fielding the damn thing. A few notes though: A proper Type 3 would have a screwed in barrel, not a pinned one. Also the Type 3 rifles were in fact blued like this one, whereas the AKMs were paint over park.

 

So next I'd like to do the Type 56 because it is a straight up bizarre combination of the Type 3, RPK, and AKM. It's easy to write off the stamped Chinese guns as AKMs but they are more Type 3 (and interestingly save very little weight over a milled gun). 1.6mm receiver, RPK rivet pattern, Type 3 stock drop and furniture, Type 3 barrel profile. Really just weird hybrids but damn are they stout little bastards.

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That is a good reference photo. You can see the absence of any kind of barrel pin. Pinning barrels instead of screwing them in was a major improvement from a production standpoint.

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I forgot this. Type 3 BCG:

 

9kwvzYj.jpg

 

AKM BCG:

 

zjqYMl0.jpg

 

 

Closer in weight that I would have thought, but later the AKM got a relief cut near the rear of the right side of the carrier to save weight.

 

 

 

So now the Chinese Type 56-1. The "-1" designates it as a folder.

 

The reasons the 56 isn't a direct AKM copy is because of the Sino-Soviet split. The Chinese milled guns are damn near perfect Type 3 copies (the Soviets helped them out there) but the stamped guns were reverse engineered with their own stamping process. This was mostly for production simplification and reducing cost and time to make a gun. Very little (if any) weight is saved over a milled rifle. The receiver is 1.6mm thick whereas the AKM is 1.0mm

 

 

FrGfFfZ.jpg

 

ZK0VdoY.jpg

 

 

Trigger curvature different. Also notice single rivet trigger guard instead of Soviet double rivet:

 

AizjrmH.jpg

 

RPK rivet pattern:

 

VPLlsX3.jpg

 

Folder makes these piggy:

 

xnuG4Ss.jpg

 

Chinese flatback mags are between AG4 polymer and slabsides in weight:

 

X2OXj6y.jpg

 

Type 56 uses Type 3 handguards and grip. Please notice worst grip ever as there is no texture at all. These guns are slippery:

 

aX8x8Yf.jpg

 

KIukAij.jpg

 

Type 56 mag release is larger and round. I like this feature:

 

Ivd5E0k.jpg

 

Folding mechanism:

 

oLSmQsX.jpg

 

Identify a Chinese AK by the hooded front sight post:

 

0YmznzQ.jpg

 

Type 3 style vent holes:

 

PkL4nCh.jpg

 

AKM style dimples:

 

GcVYNtQ.jpg

 

Still the old 800m sights:

 

u7AG1zz.jpg

 

Note the double hook trigger and cross receiver reinforcing pin. Type 56 rifles also never had a rate reducer:

 

04Rwrcu.jpg

 

Standard bullet guide and ramp to kick the bolt out of the pre-engagement recess:

 

4fD7lNZ.jpg

 

Smooth and thick top cover like the type 3:

 

MLQlNZg.jpg

 

Barrel still type 3 thickness:

 

aKa5iWv.jpg

 

BCG weight:

 

DnS9HWe.jpg

 

 

So the stamped Type 56 is more AK47 than AKM. Yes its stamped but the furniture, trigger mechanism, rear sight, top cover, sling on gas block, lack of a rate reducer, barrel profile, vent holes, and so on are AK47 and not AKM.

IMO, the Type 56 (stamped) is neither AK47 nor AKM. It is uniquely its own monster: the Type 56. Any input here appreciated. What do you think? Is the 56 unique or would you comfortably say "AKM" as a blanket term because of the stamped receiver?

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6 hours ago, Alex C. said:

That is a good reference photo. You can see the absence of any kind of barrel pin. Pinning barrels instead of screwing them in was a major improvement from a production standpoint.

 

That's one of 3 (or four?) select-fire Type 3 AKs imported by Sam Cummings circa ~1960. The CIA requested two, and Sam seeing an opportunity didn't stop there. So that's one of the first if not the first AK pattern rifles in the US. It's not clear what the gun would have been designated in Polish service, but it's probably a kbk AK or pmK.

 

The guys at Circle 11 factory really knew what they were doing, too as that gun has the slickest bolt of any AK I've ever handled, period. Puts even Finnish guns to shame.

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3 hours ago, Alex C. said:

I forgot this. Type 3 BCG:

 

AKM BCG:

 

Closer in weight that I would have thought, but later the AKM got a relief cut near the rear of the right side of the carrier to save weight.

 

So now the Chinese Type 56-1. The "-1" designates it as a folder.

 

The reasons the 56 isn't a direct AKM copy is because of the Sino-Soviet split. The Chinese milled guns are damn near perfect Type 3 copies (the Soviets helped them out there) but the stamped guns were reverse engineered with their own stamping process. This was mostly for production simplification and reducing cost and time to make a gun. Very little (if any) weight is saved over a milled rifle. The receiver is 1.6mm thick whereas the AKM is 1.0mm

 

Trigger curvature different. Also notice single rivet trigger guard instead of Soviet double rivet:

 

RPK rivet pattern:

 

Folder makes these piggy:

 

Chinese flatback mags are between AG4 polymer and slabsides in weight:

 

Type 56 uses Type 3 handguards and grip. Please notice worst grip ever as there is no texture at all. These guns are slippery:

 

Type 56 mag release is larger and round. I like this feature:

 

Folding mechanism:

 

Identify a Chinese AK by the hooded front sight post:

 

Type 3 style vent holes:

 

AKM style dimples:

 

Still the old 800m sights:

 

Note the double hook trigger and cross receiver reinforcing pin. Type 56 rifles also never had a rate reducer:

 

Standard bullet guide and ramp to kick the bolt out of the pre-engagement recess:

 

Smooth and thick top cover like the type 3:

 

Barrel still type 3 thickness:

 

BCG weight:

 

So the stamped Type 56 is more AK47 than AKM. Yes its stamped but the furniture, trigger mechanism, rear sight, top cover, sling on gas block, lack of a rate reducer, barrel profile, vent holes, and so on are AK47 and not AKM.

IMO, the Type 56 (stamped) is neither AK47 nor AKM. It is uniquely its own monster: the Type 56. Any input here appreciated. What do you think? Is the 56 unique or would you comfortably say "AKM" as a blanket term because of the stamped receiver?

 

I usually call them Type 56s because as you point out they really are their own thing.

 

@Vlad

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11 minutes ago, Sturgeon said:

 

That's one of 3 (or four?) select-fire Type 3 AKs imported by Sam Cummings circa ~1960. The CIA requested two, and Sam seeing an opportunity didn't stop there. So that's one of the first if not the first AK pattern rifles in the US. It's not clear what the gun would have been designated in Polish service, but it's probably a kbk AK or pmK.

 

The guys at Circle 11 factory really knew what they were doing, too as that gun has the slickest bolt of any AK I've ever handled, period. Puts even Finnish guns to shame.

 

Very interesting. And yes the Polish guns are amazing. Larry Vickers after finishing his AK book said they had the best fit and finish of all the traditional AK variants.

I do not own a Polish made AK but I certainly wish I did.

 

So next I can do either the AK 100 series 7.62x39 rifle (AK103) or the RK62. Chronologically the RK62 would be next but the 103 is Russian and features a number of improvements over the old 1959 and on AKMs.

 

The AK103 though has one serious problem: Bolt breakages. They may have solved this lately but Jesus, look how much material they removed from the bolt face (AK103 left, AKM right):

 

e062e546-115e-4ad1-9a40-c52f7a6eafaf_zps

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1 hour ago, Alex C. said:

 

Very interesting. And yes the Polish guns are amazing. Larry Vickers after finishing his AK book said they had the best fit and finish of all the traditional AK variants.

I do not own a Polish made AK but I certainly wish I did.

 

So next I can do either the AK 100 series 7.62x39 rifle (AK103) or the RK62. Chronologically the RK62 would be next but the 103 is Russian and features a number of improvements over the old 1959 and on AKMs.

 

The AK103 though has one serious problem: Bolt breakages. They may have solved this lately but Jesus, look how much material they removed from the bolt face (AK103 left, AKM right):

 

e062e546-115e-4ad1-9a40-c52f7a6eafaf_zps

 

What's with the more relieved bolt face? Is it just different proportions but the same diameter cut?

 

Rk. 62 plz.

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8 minutes ago, Sturgeon said:

 

What's with the more relieved bolt face? Is it just different proportions but the same diameter cut?

 

Rk. 62 plz.

I honestly don't know why they removed so much material on the 100 series guns (weight?). The stems are thinner too and people on the AKFiles are breaking bolts pretty frequently. Same shit happens to 7.62x39 AR15s and Daewoo DR300s.

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1 hour ago, Alex C. said:

I honestly don't know why they removed so much material on the 100 series guns (weight?). The stems are thinner too and people on the AKFiles are breaking bolts pretty frequently. Same shit happens to 7.62x39 AR15s and Daewoo DR300s.

 

Did they just take the AK-74 bolt and mill it out?

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RK62 Rifle.

 

From Finland and based on a Polish rifle. The Finns added some pretty nifty stuff to the old AK, much of which the Israelis later copied. 200 were imported in the US starting in 1965. These were the first commercially available AK rifles and they flopped... hard. 7.62x39 was not available and Valmet realized this pretty quickly and brought out 223 and 308 guns. But this is a converted military rifle essentially from a military factory. Not a single US part on her.

 

Ue62RyN.jpg

 

fgGk70G.jpg

 

Stock coated in some kind of plastic that keeps your face from both burning and freezing:

 

XRLuUs5.jpg

 

Non-slip "cheese grater" handguard:

 

2IUCwNp.jpg

 

Note top cover reinforcement:

 

bVnhVSv.jpg

 

ipXwE2a.jpg

 

Good grip. AKM-like size and texture:

 

MMU3PHU.jpg

 

Excellent mag release:

 

cfUYjJD.jpg

 

Wire cutter flash hider + bayo lug:

 

44LQQEf.jpg

 

Front sight base and vented gas tube:

 

EoscL9e.jpg

 

Fine, non adjustable front sight:

 

kSh5Wd5.jpg

 

Night sight up:

 

4igC9aJ.jpg

 

Rear sight:

 

BYWkIda.jpg

 

cgU3pm3.jpg

 

RFZxggo.jpg

 

Safety like a type 3:

 

L0p9fES.jpg

 

Mag release is nice. Notice double-rivet trigger guard:

 

qnpe46l.jpg

 

Bullet guide rivet:

 

Jgc2Rou.jpg

 

Stock cleaning kit:

 

tZXM11D.jpg

 

Gas block and front sight adjustment:

 

gE27J83.jpg

 

Rear sight adjustment:

 

eCL27R3.jpg

 

j3psWWy.jpg

 

RK62 Magazines have a loop on the floorplate and a "T" marking:

 

u8nL86M.jpg

 

XvD52ne.jpg

 

P3sRtOk.jpg

 

Recoil assembly is RPK style with telescoping pieces:

 

7Leg5x8.jpg

 

Originally they are all double hook guns but as part of the semi conversion process, Valmet ground off the sear engaging side:

 

uzvthZB.jpg

 

Galil style gas tube (yes I know this came first):

 

WT5E4uI.jpg

 

Zkc5TE7.jpg

 

Barrel thick under handguard but I don't know how to remove the handguard:

 

Q54eCHB.jpg

 

Bolt is "T" marked:

 

qReQa0o.jpg

 

S84ojP7.jpg

 

Carrier still has sear engagement surface:

 

MkiCcaP.jpg

 

Gas tube "fingers" are there:

 

a9b5loI.jpg

 

BCG weight:

 

nZvISvY.jpg

 

Heavy guns!

 

cxvQWfM.jpg

 

Barrel thickness at end:

 

7MCG5iu.jpg

 

 

 

So the RK62 is heavy but has some great features. I love the mag release, sights (damn they are awesome), length of pull, trigger, furniture, and low recoil (mostly due to weight of course). That said if I'm going to march across some country fighting a war, give me the lightweight AKM. If I'm defending my country from invasion and will be in a static position, yeah I'll take the RK62. So from this perspective it made sense for Finland to go a little heavier (plus I doubt the USSR would have given them info on the AKM since it was pretty damn new at the time).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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8 hours ago, Sturgeon said:

@Alex C., btw did my numerous articles on the subject ever convince you Schmeisser didn't design the AK-47?

Heck no! The man couldnt even put out a good vodka, and hes from the land of vodka!

I actually keep a bottle around for kicks. It has him smiling on the label and then his army photo in the bottle which is cool.

 

But I will do the Galil next to contrast it with the RK62, then the 100 series rifle. Id also like to showcase the FNC and Sig 550 in this thread to show the similarities and differences to the AK.

 

So coming up:

Galil, Galil Ace, RK76, AK103, AK74M, SIG 550, FNC, and then maybe anything post-war people compare to the AK (vz58 and stuff).

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6 hours ago, Alex C. said:

Heck no! The man couldnt even put out a good vodka, and hes from the land of vodka!

I actually keep a bottle around for kicks. It has him smiling on the label and then his army photo in the bottle which is cool.

 

 

Still a heretic, then. Somewhere in Secular Communist Non-Denominational Heaven, Mikhail is sad.

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18 hours ago, Sturgeon said:

 

Still a heretic, then. Somewhere in Secular Communist Non-Denominational Heaven, Mikhail is sad.

Naw, he’s probably just happy they tore that STG44 off his sculpture and replaced it with an AK a while back.

 

But have you read “Kalashnikov: The Arms and the Man”? Why was he opposed to 5.45? I know he was all for just using an improved 7.62x39.

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6 hours ago, Alex C. said:

Naw, he’s probably just happy they tore that STG44 off his sculpture and replaced it with an AK a while back.

 

But have you read “Kalashnikov: The Arms and the Man”? Why was he opposed to 5.45? I know he was all for just using an improved 7.62x39.

 

I dunno exactly why he was opposed to 5.45, other than that he thought an improved 7.62x39 made more sense. Maybe he was thinking logistics?

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15 hours ago, Sturgeon said:

 

I dunno exactly why he was opposed to 5.45, other than that he thought an improved 7.62x39 made more sense. Maybe he was thinking logistics?

Logistics makes sense, but so does the fact that he was an older guy (over 50 at the time) wanting more powa just like our older guys who want 7.62x51 back.

 

I know 7.62x39 with its taper, low thermal load, and diameter help the AK’s reliability. Perhaps he thought the 5.45 would negatively impact the rifle’s mechanical performance (does it?).

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7 hours ago, Alex C. said:

Logistics makes sense, but so does the fact that he was an older guy (over 50 at the time) wanting more powa just like our older guys who want 7.62x51 back.

 

I know 7.62x39 with its taper, low thermal load, and diameter help the AK’s reliability. Perhaps he thought the 5.45 would negatively impact the rifle’s mechanical performance (does it?).

 

Not demonstrably as far as I know, though yes 7.62x39 is perhaps the "worky-est" rifle round ever made.

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Well onto the AK100 series gun. Well, kind of. This is a Legion converted gun but I can use it to highlight some differences here I would like to showcase.

 

Anyways the proper 7.62x39 AK103 rifles are folders so just imagine you see a folder here I guess.

 

ufUw3Ce.jpg

 

 

Notice the selector moves up into a recess in the dust cover. Other than that, pretty AKM-like.

 

PU9E6Zr.jpg

 

74 style 90 degree gas block. Also notice accessory lug.

 

fkJT6yo.jpg

 

1000m rear sight:

 

ox8N21g.jpg

 

Injection-molded polymer AKM grip:

 

0w3DT6Q.jpg

 

Polymer hand guards with stainless heat shields:

 

NtgbNjw.jpg

 

Double rivet trigger guard:

 

Uko7N6a.jpg

 

Has a rail:

 

U3i8k3O.jpg

 

Smooth dust cover unlike AKM:

 

OwZEIn7.jpg

 

The famous "bump rivet":

 

JlIFpIi.jpg

 

Vent holes cast into gas block:

 

tzZyOoe.jpg

 

Underside:

 

phWUPtJ.jpg

 

Smooth piston head:

 

Ih94aE9.jpg

 

Conventional recoil assembly:

 

aAa56dn.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I've worked on a LOT of AK's.

 

"Junk" rarely entered the vocabulary (Save the handful of idiots who "took the challenge" and buried theirs for a year.  When you have to beat an AK  variant open with a hand sledge, it's likely achieved "junk" status).

 

I've lost count of how many rounds I've put through PKM's .  They are, by far my "This is RIGHT" machine. As few moving parts, doing as much work as possible, with maximum efficiency and minimal effort/stress. 

I have only seen one that was hamfisted, and even it was salvaged by a stout blow with a small hammer and a brass drift through the ejection chute.  The owner had bludgeoned the charging handle to a twisted mess, but the gun would still shoot if you used a cleaning rod to shove the works back through the ejection chute/port.

 

 

Love seeing the details on the variants. Brings a new appreciation to a fine bit of design.

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