Buying Tips from a friend
Buying the AK-47
This is a recommendation for folks to buy the semi-automatic AK-47 in 30 caliber (7.62x39) as it’s (arguably) the most reliable and deadly battle rifle ever made. It can be bought in several calibers, but stay with the original 30 caliber version and 30 round “banana” mags.
1. Ammo almost universally available
2. Magazines almost universally available
3. Parts and accessories almost universally available
4. Very reliable in the most demanding conditions, rain, mud, sand, snow, cold, etc
5. Battle tested for 70 years
6. Appearance is rather intimidating; the original “Bad Boy" black rifle
In other words, the AK-47 has been proven to be a real warhorse in almost every military engagement since WWII ended. And because of its universal success, ammo and magazines are available world wide. The only reason the mainstream US military doesn’t use it is “not invented here” and the fact it was used against us in Vietnam and Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, etc., to great success. So, we could just say "it is not politically correct.” However, if you want to own one of the best killing machines ever made, then the AK-47 is for you. An interesting note, the Green Berets and SEALs often use the AK-47 as their weapon of choice.
There are two basic receiver construction designs for the AK - Milled and Stamped. While the milled receiver is very desirable, it is also more expensive. If you can afford an extra $300 to $500 for one, then by all means buy one. But, the 1mm stamped steel receiver is just as reliable as the milled, does the job just as well, and weighs a bit less. And there is also the thicker 1.6mm stamped steel receiver that is super rigid and is found on the VEPR series of Russian made AK’s and perhaps a few other versions.
Go out of your way to find genuine Military Surplus AK 30 round mags. Although there are made-in-USA mags out there, the mags made in one of the original nations fielding the AK are the ones you want, such as Russia, E Germany, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, Poland, Hungary, China, and so on. These will fit and function properly. Don’t "go cheap" on mags as they are the critical parts that make the AK function. Off-brand and aftermarket mags can break or even fall out of the receiver at the worst moment. Not worth saving a few $$ to get a “bargain bin" magazine. And, go with steel mags first. Some of the best steel mags ever made are the East German “ridge back” 30 rounders. There are several types of synthetic AK mags, and they are good, but go with the steel mags first; add the synthetic mags later. Synthetic mags are usually 2 or 3 times more costly than steel. But, if you have the money to burn …
Like with the mags, go with ammo from where the AK’s were used by the military. Russia makes several brands of steel cased 7.62x39mm AK ammo and it all works. The AK’s were designed and built “loose” to make the steel cased ammo very reliable. Berdan primered steel cased ammo is just right for the AK-47. Needless to say, it is quite a bit less expensive than brass cased ammo. Don’t waste your money on brass ammo unless you just have lots of cash. And, for sure, don’t opt for reloadable brass cased Boxer primer ammo as that just runs the cost up even more. AK ammo is so cheap it isn’t worth the effort to do your own reloading. Save that effort for your long range 7mm Rem Mag or 300 Win Mag ammo!
Jacketed hollow points or full metal jacket (FMJ)? Either one will feed fine. Exposed lead tipped hunting ammo? Use only after you have thoroughly tested it in your particular AK. Lead tipped hunting ammo in a semi-auto rifle is a potential trouble spot as the lead tips can deform, can drag across the feed ramp, and cause a jam. For combat, exposed lead tipped ammo is a no-no. It will jam at the worst moment.
There are dozens of accessories available for the AK-47’s.
A decent scope is a good investment but of course, be sure to first buy an AK with a built-in side-mount. Western style scopes can be fitted and will work, but the best setup is an original Russian-style side mount scope. The drawback with using a scope is that it takes away from the rough-and-tumble nature of the AK in that a scoped rifle usually requires less violent handling to protect the scope. For your first AK, I'd say forget the scope and keep the AK a true battle rifle you can put thru Hell and still operate.
Slings. A good Russian sling is one of the best. You can still find them on the various parts sites such as Robert RTG. The Russian sling is a canvas type and very strong. Leather slings are available too.
Pistol grips. There are many AK pistol grips available that can be easily changed with the removal of one long bolt. Buy several styles, keep one, and sell the ones you don’t love.
Pimp-out items. There is a tendency to “pimp-out” an AK, and each to his or her own tastes. But, most of these items are just dead weight and not particularly useful. Remember, you are not in a Rambo movie, you are in REAL life. Items that make a Hollywood movie AK-47 cool are there just to make the movie cool. Pimp-out your automobile, not your AK-47.