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  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2000
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    Beyond The Wall
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    44,770

    Default STATE OF THE AK - 2017/18

    I was working on a couple of rifles for my son and I for a backcountry expedition we are planning. Deep in the weeds for a few days...land nav, huge elevation changes, no human contact nor likely, cell phones. Area populated by black bear and lions...and maybe a couple of bad guy meth types. We will be using two SBR suppressed 300 BO incidentally. But as I was replacing them in the safe I glanced at my only AK left. It is an Arsenal SLR-107 UR. Bought on the eve of the Kenyan's election and SBR'd. Sporting an Ultimak rail and Aimpoint Micro, it was the epitome of the AK system in the heyday of the AK (2008-2012). With it and Lapua ammo I hit head shots in front of students out to 250 yards.

    I brought it out and began working it. The manual of arms we developed was still there. So it prompted me to have a peek into the AK world. After my workout (still being careful to stay on the right side of the Chambers line after surgery) I took a look. Here is what I saw.

    1). The AK world still seems to be divided into three groups.

    a). One keeps companies like Century and Wolf alive and feed on how cheap everything is. These WASR wizards are the same crowd that has given rise to the Polymer 80 in the Glock world, and eventually will comoditize everything they touch...meaning that both prices and quality will drop like flies.

    b). Another group are the traditionalists. I admit I was a part of that line when I developed the material for the AK. They want everything ComBloc and use the graphic of the Soviet soldier saying "Nyet...rifle is fine" when faced with the myriad of inventions. This group keeps Arsenal, Kvar and Vepr in business and want tradition and quality.

    c). Finally you have the innovators. They tend into both camps and try to make the rifles better. Eventually you end up with an AR for twice what an AR would have cost.

    2). The era of the build a rifle that will be as good as an Arsenal has passed. Today you get a century or you get an Arsenal. Nothing really in the middle. There are still people converting Saigas but is a $2500 "Traditional" rifle built on a Saiga better than the same result from Arsenal? I don't know. With Saigas and Molot and other Russian weapons being prevented from import...???

    3). I find it the height of hilarity and indicative of the thievery evident in the gun world that our "Red October" name for the yearly AK training event was grabbed up by a few guys (who incidentally know me) without even asking, for - wait for it - an IPSC-esque AK competition. Head shakes and eyes roll...

    4). New stuff? We saw Magpul bring out their accessories...but into a market that is flooded with accessories. The magazines however are far better in my opinion than any US made mags and as good as the high cost Circle ten magazines. I notice that the accessory market has remained fairly stagnant for the AK. Not much new since I moved away. The training? Head shaking again. I see a few places doing them...and under the guise of nebulous backgrounds, teaching all the crap that we laughed at when the US instructors were running their AKs like it was an M4.

    I don't know. I will keep my SBR, run it now and again to keep the hand in...but I am not seeing much changed since 2012. And I expect I will post an identical post in ten years.
    Gabriel Suarez

    Turning Lambs into Lions Since 1995

    Suarez International USA Headquarters

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    Western WA
    Posts
    5,508
    Agreed on all points.

    I still like running the AK...in the way you like running and old muscle car. Always fun but some things are lacking compared to modern choices.

    The AK was what brought me into SI, so I have a spot for it. In some ways it's still the rifle I am most comfortable with.

    But with my SI Recce, I can make eyeball shots at 100 and body shots at 1000. My 300 pistol can fold into a laptop bag. Can't do that with any of my AKs.
    Brent Yamamoto
    Suarez International Tier 1 Staff Instructor

    Ready, willing, able. Bring it.

    Instagram: karate_at_1200fps

    Upcoming classes:

    Advanced Close Range Gunfighting - Nov 2-3 Mapleton, OR

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    375
    Quote Originally Posted by Brent Yamamoto View Post
    I still like running the AK...in the way you like running and old muscle car. Always fun but some things are lacking compared to modern choices.
    Well said. Its a rifle that's nice to take out and get a reminder of how things were or how things are for the other guy but whenever we train with it we're seeing what we can do in spite of the weapon.

    I have mine because I enjoy them and to keep some foreign weapons proficiency. They are not first choice weapons.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    7,779
    I like them still, manual of arms are ingrained in my dna now(thanks to Gabe). But, I never stop trying to better myself.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Posts
    564
    Good stuff. Thanks for the insight.
    Be alert, stand firm in the faith, act like a man, be strong. Your every action must be done with love.

    “Adversity introduces a man to himself.”

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Posts
    865
    I just started playing with my Arsenal SGL-23-61 now I'm in a free state. I removed the bullet button and added a magpul folding stock. It's fun to shoot and feels like it will never break.

    My 300BLK is easier to suppress and add lights and lasers. Comparable ballistics to the 7.62 x 39. I don't see the value over the AK for a work gun.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Made it to Free America
    Posts
    13,286
    I think theres still a place for the AK, admittedly its a lot smaller since 300BlkOut has become a Walmart round in both Super and Subsonic loads. I have or have had AKs from all three classes, plus some from some well known and one now infamous builder. Yep the good and great ones are pure treasures to handle and use in a fight. The base line models are, well, baseline--minimum standard quality. Likewise Ive used and handled similar minimum quality ARs; but treasure my Tier One guns.

    Perhaps the best feature of AKs is the lack of a buffer tube that makes them more portable and potentially concealable. I recall carrying a full size Underfolder around an apartment complex in a folding chair bag without anyone noticing. With a SBRd AK (or folding braced pistol), the AK can be small AND fired from that small package--a AR cant do that (at least not more than once). Is that a big deal IDK....but it is a feature at least worth of consideration. Nothing folds slimmer than a UFer AK. Is it a perfect package--no far from it..but it is an option not otherwise available in a AR

    Now none of this means that I would choose a AK over a AR, neither would I stock up on a "family" of AKs today. The AR is king but a quality AK is far from useless

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    East Coast
    Posts
    375
    Another interesting data point. A well known firearms commentator noted that some of the Russians he met with had preferred to use captured Bushmaster M4 type rifles from Georgia when deployed.
    If you have access to the best AKs and still choose a Bushmaster what does that say about the AK?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Posts
    1,526
    Despite the fact that the AK is still in production with brand new guns being issued to soldiers as we speak, it is in essence a nostalgic weapon platform. I think that's why the state of the rifle hasn't changed much. Kind of like "new" lever actions and bolt actions with rails and features "new on this year's models!" It's still the same as it was and will be.

    From a practical point of view, it makes sense to be proficient (or at least competent) with the most prolific rifle on the globe. That said I have two. One being the Saiga that I put the time and money into to have the best AK I could given the legal restrictions in he state I lived in when I built it. None of the top shelf makers offered a CT compliant one so I bought a Saiga and converted it to suit the situation. The other is a sentimental attachment from an uncle. It was the first AK I ever handled. I don't know it's history except that I remember shooting it with him it in the 80s. I added a sling and a bayonet to round out the package. Classic wood and steel with good memories that made a strong impression on me.

    I too have heard from a few Eastern Europeans that given a choice, guys there want an AR. Maybe it's the old "grass looks greener on the other side of the fence" thing.

    When I bought my son his first airsoft (it can bet a great way to get gun handling skills into a young head) I went for a good quality M4 copy NOT an AK. I want the AR controls seared deep into his muscle memory. Sure, the AK comes to the range and what kid doesn't love to blast away with one, but the AR is the de facto standard rifle of here and now. I dig the old goods as much as anyone. I will always love my lever actions, double barrel shotguns, revolvers, WWII USGI guns gear and so on; but one must have perspective. I live now. Today. In this first world land. I have the option of having guns that previous generations didn't. Why not have it all?
    Last edited by jlwilliams; 12-31-2017 at 06:43 AM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Location
    NWFL
    Posts
    14,878
    Quote Originally Posted by Hammer27 View Post
    Another interesting data point. A well known firearms commentator noted that some of the Russians he met with had preferred to use captured Bushmaster M4 type rifles from Georgia when deployed.
    If you have access to the best AKs and still choose a Bushmaster what does that say about the AK?
    Soldiers are just like anyone else when it comes to choosing different weapons. It was not uncommon during WWII for GIs to use a captured german weapon and the germans reissued every captured M1 carbine that they could.

    Not sure if some soldiers thoughts are enough to make a decision of best rifle. The ak rifle series now is one of the longest running rifles relative to years of use as the front line weapon which is about 70 years. While not as easy to make as some think, once a gunmaker is properly setup the unit cost is low. I believe it is lower than the AR to turn out a military grade rifle. The US now has the AR manufacture down pat for military rifles. I thing the USA pays more per unit rifle. But none of that applies to the dedicated armed USA civilian in rifle choice. A decent AK in the USA costs about the same as a decent AR. For now I am keeping at least some of my combloc AKs and even SKSs as I venture into the AR world. One advantage of the AK47 was the 7.62x39 and its steel magazine, but now there are ARs that use the same round. IF you are not using a suppressor, the advantage of the somewhat less powerful 300 blackout (AKA whisper) that is about 100 fps slower is the greater choice of .308 projectiles and the greater abundance of boxer primed brass.
    One who hammers his gun into a plow plows for those who do not....Unknown
    ...at the end of the day its not about anything else but YOU AND YOURS..... Gabe Suarez
    ....WANT not NEED is what America is all about. ..... Gabe Suarez
    Its not about how fast you can load, but about how well you can shoot ..... Someone being saved by a speed load is not something that has happened with any regularity. Gabe Suarez

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