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USA made AK47s

JTofSDJTofSD Member Posts: 119 ✭✭
edited October 2014 in Ask the Experts
I have seen that Inter Ordinance and Century are both making "100% made in the USA" AK47 style rifles.

I have not tested one, but am interested.

What are your experiences or thoughts on these rifles?

How do they compare to foreign made AKs?

What are the differences between the IO and the Century? Which is better? Why?

Thanks for your assistance.

Comments

  • beantownshootahbeantownshootah Member Posts: 12,776 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    Let's preface this by saying that the AK rifle was designed specifically with low cost and simplicity of manufacture in mind. Rifles are built in third world countries in garages/caves with hand tools, and work fine. So, IMO, the most important thing about AK rifles isn't where the parts come from, but rather the quality of the actual parts and the build quality (which mostly reflects the skill of the builder).

    In general, the problem with AK rifles is that its no longer legal to import whole rifles. So most AKs on the market are either assembled from combinations of imported parts (in some cases used parts) and domestic ones, or converted and finished after importation from an AK-variant that is legal to import (eg Saiga rifles). The former category includes lots of individual guns with questionable parts or build quality. The latter category is usually fairly expensive.

    In theory, a 100% American made AK bypasses many of the issues with these, and so I think the idea is sound. In practice, I think these "100% American" AKs, actually use *mostly* American parts, but still use imported bolts, carriers, and likely a few other small parts (eg rear sight assemblies, etc). If I'm wrong about this, please someone correct me, but what I'm saying is that despite the claim, to the best of my knowledge, its still not possible to built an AK out of 100% American made PARTS, because some of the parts simply aren't made in the USA. *ALL* AKs on the market are effectively built (or assembled) in the USA from some combination of foreign and American parts; its just a question of which parts and their quality.

    Regardless, the question here is not just whether or not these "American" guns are better than imports, but whether they represent a good value proposition (ie is the price proportionate to the quality).

    To (not) answer the question, I haven't tried either Century or IO American-built AKs (yet). So I can't really answer this question from experience.

    In GENERAL, Century Arms has a spotty reputation for build quality and QC. That said, most reviews on its C39 rifle I've seen are positive. These are built on milled steel American receivers, and don't seem have issues with canted sights, mag wobble, or other problems that are common with guns built from imported parts. Milled receiver adds a little over a pound of extra weight; whether that's good or bad depends a little on your perspective, but it does potentially add a bit of accuracy and some people want this feature.

    Again, not having shot one, I can't comment too much on the IO guns, but like Century, IO has also had issues with build quality in the past. Its AKs are built on American made sheet metal (not milled) receivers, and offer a few variations with rails, different types of furniture, etc. Price on Century vs IO is roughly similar; Century has milled receiver, IO has more other bells and whistles.

    I did have the opportunity to check out a recent Century arms imported/built Yugo/Serbian AK last week, and the gun was (to me surprisingly) solid. Mags fit fine, it ran 100% with milsurp steel mags, and the furniture was actually pretty nice too. Good enough that I'd actually buy one.

    So my bottom line is that it comes down to what you're looking for. If you want a true milled receiver AK, your choices are more limited, and I'd consider the Century gun in that context. If you just want a "beater" AK, so long as you get a good individual specimen, I think one of the imports can be fine and I'm skeptical that the "all American" guns really offer much advantage. You can always customize one, if you so choose. For best possible quality, I think you'll want one of the better builds.
  • JTofSDJTofSD Member Posts: 119 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by beantownshootah
    Let's preface this by saying that the AK rifle was designed specifically with low cost and simplicity of manufacture in mind. ......
    So my bottom line is that it comes down to what you're looking for. If you want a true milled receiver AK, your choices are more limited, and I'd consider the Century gun in that context. If you just want a "beater" AK, so long as you get a good individual specimen, I think one of the imports can be fine and I'm skeptical that the "all American" guns really offer much advantage. You can always customize one, if you so choose. For best possible quality, I think you'll want one of the better builds.





    Thank you very much for the extremely helpful answer. I appreciate it.

    Which of the "imported/rebuilds" would you consider a best bet? It looks like I may have to order one. I would prefer to personally assess it in hand before buying, but that limits my options and the ones locally are running far higher than online prices.

    Any suggestions?
  • rambo rebelrambo rebel Member Posts: 4,028
    edited November -1
    actually, you can get the best AK made and its made in the USA!!!

    texans are building bulgarian AKs right here. (go figure) bulgarian AKs are condidered the best by most AK guys. they are well made. check out Arseal USA for info. heres one at a great price (at the moment but it was made in bulgaria - not TX - SLR95, 95 being the date)

    http://www.GunBroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=448761008

    replace thumb hole stock with a US made stock and get a US mag for it and you are good to go. (6 US parts for 922 compliance)

    do a search for arsenal AK-47 here on GB.

    if you want to scope it the new ones ($1200ish) come with a side rail mount which is the best way to scope one.

    I've seen where high standard is making them but I haven't seen or shot one. I have the bulgarian. it will be in the top tier in anybodys AK must have book.

    quality and price considered, its hard to beat a chinese MAK-90. $5-700, throw in a few US parts and you can make it into any configuration you want.
  • rambo rebelrambo rebel Member Posts: 4,028
    edited November -1
    this MAK90 is ILLEGAL to have;


    http://www.GunBroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=449404544

    - been converted to a pistol grip (shabbably I may ad) no US parts in it or on it to make it 922 complient or the seller would state it - notice extended legality disclaimer. if your FFL accepts it and transfers it to an individual someone in that loop is TECHNICLY breaking the law.

    but all you need to do is buy a US stock set for $1-150 and a $30 US mag and it will be legal. stock counts as 3 pieces and mag as 3 (body, follower, and floor plate)

    this MAK90 (and shameless plug[:D]) is legal;

    http://www.GunBroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=449451795
  • JTofSDJTofSD Member Posts: 119 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    Thanks for the info.
  • beantownshootahbeantownshootah Member Posts: 12,776 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by rambo rebel
    this MAK90 is ILLEGAL to have;

    http://www.GunBroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=449404544

    - been converted to a pistol grip (shabbably I may ad) no US parts in it or on it to make it 922 complient or the seller would state it - notice extended legality disclaimer. if your FFL accepts it and transfers it to an individual someone in that loop is TECHNICLY breaking the law.

    but all you need to do is buy a US stock set for $1-150 and a $30 US mag and it will be legal. stock counts as 3 pieces and mag as 3 (body, follower, and floor plate)

    this MAK90 (and shameless plug[:D]) is legal;

    http://www.GunBroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=449451795

    Your gun is good (In fact, please drop me a note about it) and your heart is in the right place, but I think you're mistaken about 922R and the legality here.

    In a nutshell 922R says that its illegal to build a gun out of foreign parts that it would be illegal to import. In other words, it effectively prevents gun builders from getting around importation bans by importing and then assembling parts instead of whole guns. For an illegal foreign type gun to be made legal, it has to have a certain number of American made parts, and with enough of them in the gun (or inversely, FEW enough foreign parts) the BATFE then considers the gun to be made American made gun (rather than an import). So that's why people are concerned with parts counts and such.

    Here is the exact wording, 922 paragraph R:
    quote:It shall be unlawful for any person to assemble from imported parts any semiautomatic rifle or any shotgun which is identical to any rifle or shotgun prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) of this chapter as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes except that this subsection shall not apply to. . .

    Get that?

    Again, 922R says that its illegal to ASSEMBLE a gun into an illegal configuration. Contrary to popular (mis)belief, 922R says ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about OWNING, TRANSFERRING, or SELLING such a gun once built, and there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ILLEGAL ABOUT DOING SO.

    And no you should NOT take my word for this; see here with your own eyes, where the BATFE in writing states that this section only applies to the ASSEMBLY (NOT possession) of illegal weapons:

    http://www.falfiles.com/forums/showthread.php?t=261731

    922replyp1.jpg

    In short, while its "nice" to make sure your particular foreign made gun has enough parts to be 922r compliant, in reality 922R applies mostly to importers of guns who are assembling them in large numbers. For individuals with individual guns, it would be extremely difficult for the BATFE to prove who assembled any given gun into a given configuration, and as a matter of practice, they don't even try (though that's a separate issue). While in many cases it is relatively easy to make non-922R compliant guns compliant by swapping out parts, the fact is that if you didn't build a given gun, 922R doesn't apply to you.

    Now, on JTRofSD's question:

    quote:Which of the "imported/rebuilds" would you consider a best bet? It looks like I may have to order one. I would prefer to personally assess it in hand before buying, but that limits my options and the ones locally are running far higher than online prices. "Best bet" in what way? What do you want this gun for, and what is your budget?

    Honestly, I haven't tried enough of these to recommend a particular one as best bang/buck. I think many of them are fine; it comes down to personal preference on furniture, features, etc.

    In terms of specific models, from what I've personally seen (and heard), the Century and IO guns are crap shoots. If you get a good one, you're good, but there are enough bad builds out there that you need to be careful. The ROMAK (Romanian) guns are considered bottom of the barrel in terms of build quality, but despite that many of these are perfectly fine.

    As mentioned above, Arsenal has a great reputation, and if you're able/willing to pay for one, I don't think you'll be unhappy with it. VEPR guns have a good reputation. If you really want something high end, Krebs Custom also enjoys a good reputation, but these are seriously expensive custom builds.

    Pre-ban imports like old Norinco/Polytech guns are spendy, but considered amongst the best AK variants imported into the USA (when that could still be done). I think bought right, these also have potential investor/appreciation value, which doesn't hurt.

    If you want to save a few bucks, you can buy a new Saiga rifle, then modify it into an AK-pattern rifle yourself. Lots of people do this, its not that hard to do (you can see a bunch of videoes/web pages on line on how to do it) and since you're effectively starting with a new Russian Kalashnikov pattern gun, results tend to be good.

    What I suggest is just doing your homework. Figure out what's out there, what features you want on your particular gun, what features you DON'T want (or can live without) and what your budget it. Do these things, and I think you'll find something you like.
  • JTofSDJTofSD Member Posts: 119 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:

    Now, on JTRofSD's question:

    quote:Which of the "imported/rebuilds" would you consider a best bet? It looks like I may have to order one. I would prefer to personally assess it in hand before buying, but that limits my options and the ones locally are running far higher than online prices. "Best bet" in what way? What do you want this gun for, and what is your budget?

    Honestly, I haven't tried enough of these to recommend a particular one as best bang/buck. I think many of them are fine; it comes down to personal preference on furniture, features, etc.

    In terms of specific models, from what I've personally seen (and heard), the Century and IO guns are crap shoots. If you get a good one, you're good, but there are enough bad builds out there that you need to be careful. The ROMAK (Romanian) guns are considered bottom of the barrel in terms of build quality, but despite that many of these are perfectly fine.

    As mentioned above, Arsenal has a great reputation, and if you're able/willing to pay for one, I don't think you'll be unhappy with it. VEPR guns have a good reputation. If you really want something high end, Krebs Custom also enjoys a good reputation, but these are seriously expensive custom builds.

    Pre-ban imports like old Norinco/Polytech guns are spendy, but considered amongst the best AK variants imported into the USA (when that could still be done). I think bought right, these also have potential investor/appreciation value, which doesn't hurt.

    If you want to save a few bucks, you can buy a new Saiga rifle, then modify it into an AK-pattern rifle yourself. Lots of people do this, its not that hard to do (you can see a bunch of videoes/web pages on line on how to do it) and since you're effectively starting with a new Russian Kalashnikov pattern gun, results tend to be good.

    What I suggest is just doing your homework. Figure out what's out there, what features you want on your particular gun, what features you DON'T want (or can live without) and what your budget it. Do these things, and I think you'll find something you like.


    As to my comment on "best bet" you addressed it. It is a gamble to buy a weapon unseen, I prefer to inspect it in person. That being said, I have had good luck on GunBroker with several purchases.

    My budget is, well, as little as possible, as the AK would be for pleasure shooting and not competition or home defense or anything like that. I was hoping to spend less than $500.

    There is a Norinco here locally which they want $800 for, but the stock is sort of hokey.

    Thanks again for the information. And yes, I will keep doing my research.
  • gunnut505gunnut505 Member Posts: 10,290
    edited November -1
    It's NOT 'merican made, but a great builder or starter AK; the Yugo (yeah, I KNOW!) AB70 underfolder from Century for about $500.
    It doesn't have the uselessly stupid grenade launching thing on the barrel, though it does have a flip-up grenade launching front sight attached to the forend (with a dead tritium insert!)that you can hacksaw off if you think you need to.
    They have a flip-up rear sight with another dead tritium insert that goes well with the dead tritium insert on the front sight (that also flips up).
    Lose the underfolder for a solid stock, and you've got a nice AK for whatever purpose you may have in mind.
    I've had more trouble reloading the drum mags than I have had with my 2 copies of this firearm, if that's any help at all.
  • JTofSDJTofSD Member Posts: 119 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by gunnut505
    It's NOT 'merican made, but a great builder or starter AK; the Yugo (yeah, I KNOW!) AB70 underfolder from Century for about $500.
    It doesn't have the uselessly stupid grenade launching thing on the barrel, though it does have a flip-up grenade launching front sight attached to the forend (with a dead tritium insert!)that you can hacksaw off if you think you need to.
    They have a flip-up rear sight with another dead tritium insert that goes well with the dead tritium insert on the front sight (that also flips up).
    Lose the underfolder for a solid stock, and you've got a nice AK for whatever purpose you may have in mind.
    I've had more trouble reloading the drum mags than I have had with my 2 copies of this firearm, if that's any help at all.


    Thanks for the suggestion.
  • thunderboltthunderbolt Member Posts: 6,018 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    I've fired a couple of the IO ak guns. Those two seemed to be fairly accurate, but I couldn't get groups like IO advertises. I blame that on me and not the gun. Only got to shoot a few rounds. If I could have wasted a little more ammo, I may have gotten smaller groups.
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