At the recent class in L.A. we had one AK in the class. I must say that while conditions were not challenging at all (quite nice, mid 60s) many of the AR-type weapons suffered from various malfunctions. All were solved, but I noticed the AK did not stop. Its owner switched back and forth between the AK and an AR, but he could have done just fine by staying with the AK.
I think it is important for all Americans to at least be familiar with the operation and manipulation of the AK, if not be an AK owner. Why?
Because it is the most prolific combat rifle in the world.
Because it is far more reliable than most other weapons.
Because it is easily aquired everywhere (except California)
Because the likelihood of coming across one is high.
Because it will probably be what the bad guys choose to use.
Because owning one or knowing how to use one infuriates the liberals.
The biggest mistake I see when guys come to class with an AK is they have been trained to use it like an AR-15. Listen carefully - the AK 47/74 weapon system is not an AR-15 and it does not need to be operated like one.
Grip of the rifle. Often we see guys shooting Assault Rifles as if they were 1903-A3 Springfields. They place the forened onto the support hand and allow it to "rest" there. This may be fine for long range unsupported shooting, but for in close CQB, you need to grab onto that weapon, lest you lose it, or lose control of it. Additionally, why would you place your support hand into a wrist lock? The best way we have found to use the magazine-fed rifles is by bringing the support hand back and using the juncture of the receiver and front of the magazine to grip the weapon.
With the AK this provides all of the advantages as with other weapons, and additionally insures the magazine is seated.
Use Of Safety/Selector Lever. With the AR the safety/selector is right there, thus an operator can flip it on or off as he pleases. The AK's lever is not so handy. But it was not designed to be used that way. The AK can be carried On Safe, and the disengagement of it must be a part of its reactive deployment. That is NOT a big deal. However, the weapon need not be "safed" until the fight or engagement is over. US mitary doctrine doesn't go along with this, but who is to say that US Military doctrine is the only way?
With the AK, carry it safety on, but if you anticipate needing to fire, or reactively need to fire, disengage the safety and leave it off until the fight is over.
This is best done with the fingers of the firing hand.
Clearing Stoppages. Clearing some stoppages with an AR can be challenging. With the AK it is as simple as reloading the weapon in most cases. No TAP need be done in the Tap Rack clearnaces, as a magazine not fully seated would simply fall out. Moreover, the hand placement we discussed will prevent this from happening.
If a tap rack fails to clear the problem, remove the magazine, rack the action and reload. No round will ever get trapped between the receiver and the gas tube, no bolt over base or other "mother-of-all-malfunction" situations. The weapon is "monkey simple".
The AK is a simple, rugged weapon that is intrinsically as accurate as you will ever need it to be for urban fighting. I suggest taking a long hard look at it as a viable weapon system for today's problems, and at the least, making it a point of additional study.