Selecting your first AK platform can be a daunting task but we are here to help. Here are a few things to look for when selecting an AKM at Wade’s Eastside Guns.
Rivets: The AK is a rifle designed to be mass produced. Rivets were chosen instead of milling the receiver to save time, money, and material during the fabrication process. When checking rivets, make sure they look like a dome over the receiver. The rivets should not be indented into the receiver, nor should they be loose making a mushroom appearance.
Yugo AK’s are milled, as well as a small selection of others. Milled AK’s are stronger but heavier. Keep this in mind while shopping for your rifle.
Barrel: When manufacturers press the barrel into the trunnion, it can sometimes be warped or bent, although this usually gets fixed at QC, sometimes things fall through the cracks and it can end up on our shelf. To check for this, hold the rifle up, pointing it straight up at eye level. Make sure the barrel is parallel with the trunnion and pointing straight. It should not curve left or right. (even if your doctor says its ok)
Feel free to ask us about the barrel construction itself. The best AK barrels are cold hammer forged and chrome lined.
If the gun happens to be a parts kit build, ask us if the rifle still has its original barrel. Some of the more recent imports come without a barrel per ATF regulations.
The “slant break” is a normal muzzle break that comes on most factory AK47s. (it’s not broken) AK’s tend to recoil high and right, so the muzzle break vents the gas in that direction, making a cheap and easy fix to the recoil problem.
Sights: There’s not much to say about iron sights on an AKM, they tend to be graduated out to around 1000 meters with a base sight of 100. Behind the 100 meter notch is a “combat” notch which is a basic 300 meter zero.Check the left side of the receiver for an optics mount. It should look like a wavy piece of metal either welded or riveted on. This mount is required mounting scopes or red dots.
Stocks: In the back of the stock, there should be a hole to find a cleaning kit. Make sure it’s there. It’s not the end of the world if it’s not, it just increases collector value down the road.
Want your AKM to be compact for storage or transportation? An under-folder is a great option, just make sure that the stock is in line with the bore when unfolded.
Do you prefer a side folder? Just make sure you can still use the safety and charging handle when the stock is folded.
Country of Origin: The country of origin isn’t as big a deal as people say. During the Cold War, Russian advisors went to every country in the Comintern (and even some that weren’t like China and Egypt) to help set up tooling, QC, and material import. All AKM’s from those countries are superb in quality and I highly recommend them. You will see people arguing about “East German vs Polish” or “Maddi vs FEG” but the rule of thumb is that if the Russians helped set up tooling and QC, then it’s a wonderful rifle.
The AKM is a robust platform. It’s the most produced firearm ever. They are fun range guns and reliable home defense weapons. Have fun selecting your rifle and good luck!