The AK-47 has been left behind to a certain degree. If we look back on the past 10+ years of civilian small arms development, we can see the AR15 has grown by leaps and bounds while the AK market has had much less evolution.
Sure there have been a few advancements worth noting, such as the gas tube rail mounts and Magpul everything, but by and large the hardcore research and development dollars are sidestepping the AK for the much larger and more lucrative AR15 market.
With the introduction of the .224 Valkyrie, we have developed the standard AR15 into a long range, lightweight semi-auto that can ballistically out-perform the .308 in a 7lb package. That’s just one example of the *many* branches Eugene’s little rifle has moved to.
Compare that development to the AK which has by and large been marginalized by the AR15’s advancements. AK’s just haven’t had the ammunition development, the materials development, or the public attention to advance the platform to the next level.
However… shooters all over the U.S. have made the “standard” AK ubiquitous. Despite its flaws and lack of innovation, many shooters trust this platform with their life. The goal of the Red Rifleman Series has been to explore the AK as is and develop my understanding of the platform further.
Summary: In part one I created mexican match ammo by pulling commie bullets, adding in Hornady bullets, and re-measuring the powder. Accuracy improved from 8 MOA to 6 MOA with iron sights. Also tested was the Ultimak gas tube which reduced accuracy with mexican match reloads in my AK.
In part two, we are going to get to the baseline of AK accuracy and reliability.
Let’s get started:
Accuracy Testing Round 2:
The first round of testing was a success. Reducing the 8 MOA group to 6 MOA is a good start and the primary driver of that was the Mexican match loads I created in Vol 1. Taking what I learned from that experience, I created another set of Mexican Match loads using the same process but instead substituting a new powder… Accurate 2230.
Using 27 grains of 2230 I then set a new Hornady .310 V-Max on top and gave it a crimp. I would be comparing the load to Barnal factory ammunition which retailed about 7 dollars a box at a local retail outlet.
The tools I used to evaluate the loads were a GG&G AK-47 Scope Mount, Warne medium height 30mm rings, and a Atibal Verum 1-4x optic. These will be reviewed together in a separate upcoming article. Glass is essential for accuracy development, and while this isn’t a 10x optic, this rifle might not be deserving of that much trouble in the first place.
I decided that a 1-4x optic would fit the bill nicely as it would give me a fighting chance to improve on my 6 MOA grouping from the last session and continue to evaluate my MM reloads.
The optic was sighted in an inch low at 25 yards and I then proceeded to evaluate the accuracy at 100 yards.
To my suprise, the Grey Polymer Coated Barnaul/Monarch ammunition was a improvement over the laquer coated bullets I tested last time, and they even bested my Mexican Match reloads. Using a statistically significant 10 round group, I was able to acheive 4.2 MOA of accuracy using $7 off the shelf AK fodder.
Compare that to my MM reloads which landed in at 6.2 MOA… which was where I started using only irons. It is no longer worth the trouble to reload the Mexican Match loading if off the shelf ammo outperforms it.
At 4.2 MOA I was quite surprised. This isn’t a national match rifle, but we consider a “fighting” AR15 good if it keeps everything under 2 MOA with factory ammo. Consider that 62 grain Hornady Black factory ammo was capable of 2.15 MOA between my Straight Jacket and Colt HBAR with 10x glass as perspective.
The performance gap between the AK and Ar15 using factory ammunition is present, but not insurmountable for a practical rifle. The next step would be to develop a variety of loadings for the AK and evaluate which one performs better than the Barnaul. If the AK is able to score 3 MOA groups, I would be incredibly excited to share what, why, when and how. I will continue to pursue this further.
High Glass, Sore Neck:
One of the problems with glass on the AK is that in prone position, a hyper-extension of the neck occurs. This became an uncomfortable problem during the course of the day. Upright and unsuported, the position is quite comfortable… but going prone is problematic for long strings. The logical solution is a higher comb and this can be acheived with aftermarket upgrades or simply Paki-Tape, a picture of your favorite girl, and foam.
I am looking at option number 1… as desirable and affordable as paki-tape may be, I also want a rubber butt-pad to keep the rifle in position better. The steel butt-plate shifted on my shoulder with every shot and it may as well have been coated in teflon. Solving the sore neck problem may be as simple as purchasing an aftermarket MagPul stock.
We all know that AK’s are reliable. Right? Some recent experience with US made AK’s has soured the reputation among our ranks lately… but overall I would say that I am happy with the reliability of the AK. There is plenty of information on the net to make your own opinion of the reliability of the AK, so I don’t have much new to add here unless… let me find it… what do I have here?
Oh yes, a rusty, used, put away wet, AK-47 magazine from Vietnam. This was in Pop “Doc” Schneider’s attic for many years. My father in law mentioned the AK magazine to me many times. He said that it was with his Vietnam stuff “up there somewhere” in the attic. It was a war trophy brought back when he was a young man. When he passed, my mother in law found it amongst his stuff and gave it to me.
As awesome as it would be to mount on a placard, the AK deserves this magazine. This magazine was *possibly* last fired at USGI’s in Vietnam, and years later a world away… it fed my Romanian SAR-1 on US Soil, liberated from commie hands. Do you hear the eagles and smell the freedom? The whole session the magazine was used exclusively and the rifle functioned 100 percent without issue.
While US made Ar15 magazines are still rocking from that era as well, we all know that a misplaced foot or drop on the feed-lips can render them into malfunction clearance drill practice magazines…
The AK has once again shown us that it’s a tractor in the world of firearms. It’s magazines are not a weak point in the design.
The NAM mag is back in storage and won’t be used too often. Obviously it has value for who it belonged to and where it was from, but my curiosity was too piqued to not let lead fly.
So we see the AK continues to improve in performance from my perception. Areas of improvement are 1) Continued research into AK accuracy via load improvement. 2) Ergonomic improvements to allow comfortable use of a 4x optic and mount. 3) Improvement of trigger pull. 4) Purchase of 20 round magazines for better prone shooting.
The AK continues to demonstrate to me that it is a reliable, versatile self defense firearm. While my overall opinion that the AR15 is a superior weapon has not changed, my exploration of the AK is meant to have value to the shooters who still prefer the AK platform of which there are many.
We must all be as ready and prepared as we can be for whatever the future may bring. Every man must develop himself into a rifleman and explore his or her potential, and understand the capability of his or her choice of weapon. There will be no gun left behind if things get hot, and every gun should be dialed and ready.
Thanks for reading!