So, are modern AKs accurate and reliable, or do the long-held misconceptions ring true? Well, AKs have come a long way since their inception in 1947 and full production in 1949.
Over the decades, many communist countries have adopted and produced their own variants of AK, many with the help of then-Soviet Russia.
Some Eastern Bloc countries were given tooling and blueprints for making the parts appropriately, but not all did a stellar job reproducing those parts and the final assembly would render many sub-par batches of AKs.
Over the years, these pre-ban AKs made their way into the US market and soured many people’s opinions towards Kalashnikov’s magnificent creation.
Fast-forward to early post-ban AK imports and there were still batches of AKs coming in from those now formerly Com-Bloc countries that were still not producing AKs up to snuff.
Today, however, most of the AKs currently imported are excellent representations of Mikhail Kalashnikov’s original design, and some have even taken it a step forward and made many modern improvements over the original AK-47 design.
So, are modern AKs accurate & reliable, or have they stayed relatively unchanged since their inception? Read on to find out and other frequently asked questions regarding the AK-47!
What Makes Some AK-47s Reliable & Other AKs Prone to Failure?
There are many factors to consider when determining what exactly makes an AK reliable. It took the Russians many years to iron out the manufacturing process before they had an exceptionally reliable weapon they could have absolute confidence in.
Most of the faults were due to not having machining techniques ironed out. Trying to introduce stamped metal receivers in the Type-1 AKs was an absolute failure due to poor machining techniques and inadequate experience working with stamped sheet metal.
Switching to milled receivers was a temporary fix until they got the stamping techniques down pat. Fast-forward to today and now we see receivers that are exceptionally well heat treated in key areas such as the top rails, rivet holes, and the inner support rails.
When done correctly, these receivers are extremely tough and rugged and will stand up to tens of thousands of rounds.
Some other factors of utmost importance sometimes referred to as the “AK Trifecta”, are the front trunnion, bolt, and barrel.
These parts should be cold-hammer-forged and heat-treated to the correct Russian specifications. What separates the AKs prone to failure and the battled-hardened AKs the most are these three parts.
Some AK manufacturers cast these parts or make them from hammer-forged billet, which is not as strong and is prone to failure down the road.
Casting is the weakest way to produce trunnions and bolts and is usually the ones you see exploding on YouTube videos.
Many companies do this because it is substantially cheaper than hammer-forging parts and the pricing usually reflects that lower quality.
The final assembly of the AK rifle is of equal importance if you want a long-lasting rifle. Poorly riveted receivers, and badly pressed and pinned barrels, can cause issues with head-spacing and catastrophic failures.
The fit and finish of an AK can usually tell you a lot about how well an AK was made. If you want an AK that you can rely on for years to come, make sure it was made with hammer-forged parts and assembled correctly and in spec.
How Long Does an AK 47 Last?
That depends a lot on the AK in question but in our article about the Battlefield Vegas AK abuse forum post, we discovered that many of the AKs they used for full-auto fire (most of them WASRs) were getting 80-100 thousand rounds out of them before trunnion, receiver, bolt, or barrel failure!
Considering most of us only shoot our AKs just a tiny fraction of that amount, you can safely assume that any well-built AK with a good heat treat and all forged parts will last you many lifetimes!
Knowing what we know about what makes for a good and reliable AK, we’ve compiled the following list of modern-made and currently available AKs that we can say with some confidence will serve you well for many years:
- Modern Century Arms Imported WASR 10s & well-built original parts kit WASRs
- All Arsenal AKs
- Polish WBP AKs
- Zastava AKs
- PSA AK-103 with the cold-hammer-forged trinity and FN barrels
- Kalashnikov USA KR-103 with the cold-hammer-forged trinity and chrome-lined barrels
How Many Rounds Do AK Barrels Last?
Thanks to the relatively low pressure produced by the 7.62×39 cartridge, cold-hammer-forged chrome-lined AK barrels can last 100k plus rounds before experiencing any keyholing or other failures.
4140 nitrided barrels have respectable longevity too at around 50-80 rounds depending on who the manufacturer is.
What are the Most Accurate Modern AK Barrels?
One of the most accurate barrels we’ve tested on a modern AK comes from the PSA AK-103 which uses an FN cold-hammer-forged, magnetic-particle-inspected, chrome-lined barrel.
FN makes some of the finest barrels and guns in the world and we were delighted to see a US-made AK featuring such a gem of a barrel on their most premium AK models.
You can expect 1 to 2 MOA accuracy at 100 yards and 3 MOA at 300 yards out of these barrels in the right hands. Those are some truly spectacular results using cheap Wolf ammo on a windy day!
What is the Maximum Range an AK47 Can Shoot Effectively While Maintaining Accuracy?
Well, it really does depend on the shooter’s skill and whether you’re shooting moving targets under stress vs stationary targets at the range.
Weather conditions and visibility also factor in as well as the optic you’re using. A well-trained shooter can effectively engage and hit torso-sized targets with a properly sighted AK out to 440 yards.
In a real-world scenario, where targets shoot back, that number shrinks considerably though and that number will most likely be cut in half.
“In the US military the term maximum effective range for small arms is the range at which the average soldier can obtain 50 percent hits or better on the Known Distance range on a kneeling man target with (open) sights set for that range.
The Russian Army rates the AK-47 effective range at 400m in semi-auto mode and 300m in full auto. This is from a factory test under slow firing, non-stressful conditions. Choice of definition of “effective range” is in order. If you mean getting bullets in the general vicinity of the enemy causing them to have to take cover, then yes the 300m and 400m ranges may be realistic in some settings.”Source:Tom Kendra Quora
How Far Does an AK 47 Round Travel?
According to the Swiss ballistician Beat Kneubühl, the maximum 7.62×39 range at 32 degrees is 2710 meters. At 45 degrees the range will be 2571 meters or 2812 yards or 1.6 miles.
This does not take into account wind and atmospheric conditions but it’s still impressive to imagine the energy required to travel such a distance!
AKs have gotten a bad rap over the decades and have been thought to be low-quality junk that couldn’t hit a target 10 feet away!
Well, I’m here to tell you that, if you’ve got a well-made AK with a chrome-lined hammer-forged barrel, you should be able to reliably hit a human-sized target out to 200 yards using iron sights- and that’s using cheapo steel-cased Russian ammo!
Unfortunately, target-grade 7.62×39 ammunition just isn’t available in the States but you could try your hand at reloading your own brass cartridges if you really want to see what your AK is capable of- you can expect at least a 2 MOA improvement!
This isn’t really necessary though when shooting at distances out to 100 yards. Even the cheapest of the cheap 7.62×39 ammunition should find its way on target with enough trigger time at intermediate ranges.
Add a nice LPVO and you’ll be able to lob some shots out to 300 yards and beyond! No, the AK is not the flattest-shooting rifle at long ranges due to its relatively heavy 30-caliber bullet but it wasn’t really designed for long-distance combat.
So climb aboard the AK train and show your comrades what you can do with your Kalashnikov!
With a growing cult-like following in the States, it’s becoming harder and harder to be an AK hater. We’re not ashamed to admit our love and admiration for the Kalashnikov Avtomat rifle and its many iterations and variants. Until next time!