Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Guns: My First AK

Back in the old days, before I started researching, scrimping, and saving before every major gun purchase, I bought firearms carelessly. One of those careless purchases was from a local army surplus store, M&C Surplus. I overpaid nearly $100 for what turned out to be a WASR-10 Romanian-made AK. This is a converted single-stack magazine model; it's been crudely modified to accept standard double-stack AK mags. Many examples of this AK clone exhibit signs of the poor workmanship, whether it be from the original builders or the monkeys at Century. Canted sight towers, canted gas blocks, worn-out finishes, iffy magazine loading...

Like nearly all AKs, though, the WASR was essentially jam-proof. There's nothing that ensures reliability like a generous gas pulse, an oversize spring, and a huge piston. The only real weakness of the gun in terms of operation was its trigger assembly. I started noticing trigger slap (the trigger is forcefully reset by the bolt as the gun cycles, "slapping" your index finger) whenever I shot the gun, which definitely made it less comfortable. This slap eventually became so vexing that I sold the gun some time later.

The accuracy was up to usual AK standards, which is to say, not that great. I believe the sights had an optimistic maximum range of 600 meters. That's not to say a good shooter with a good AK couldn't hit practical targets at that range, but the AK, like other 20th century carbines, is really designed for shooting at a range up to and including 200 yards. 7.62x39, which is probably the cheapest rifle round available nowadays, has a lower muzzle velocity and does tend to exhibit a more rainbow-like trajectory than its main rival, 5.56mm.

Nowadays, were I to purchase another AK, it would be a higher quality variant, like a VEPR or an Arsenal AK. More likely, though, I'd go for an AR-15. There are a lot of good reasons for this, but one reason removed from any mechanical considerations is that since most AK stuff (the rifles themselves, the ammo, the parts, the mags, etc.) is imported from other countries, it would be easy for a future President to halt importation of said AK stuff into the U.S. This may be mildly paranoid, but considering our prospects for 2008, I'm not holding my breath.


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