It’s hard to make a name for yourself in such a competitive space that has seen manufacturers rushing in to produce their own civilian versions of the original Avtomat Kalashnikov. Fully US-made AKs are a relatively new thing.
Sure, there’s been quite a few US companies that have imported, (and still do), import com-bloc parts kits and assemble them with US-made barrels, triggers, receivers, and furniture, but these Franken-AKs are not always up to snuff and can suffer from major, or minor, inconsistencies once the final rivet has been pressed.
Sometimes, if you want something done right, you have to do it yourself. The US has had great success making its own rifle designs, (the AR-15 being our proudest example), but trying to nail down the processes involved in making an AK-47 rifle that has been perfected over generations from war-town nations can be challenging to those unfamiliar with the knowledge these countries possess and the tooling required to do it right. Fortunately, we’ve come a long way and have come closer than ever to figuring out exactly how to make an AK that can compete with the imports.
Seeing an opportunity to fill a demand for more affordable and readily available AKs is a risk that many have taken, and some have miserably failed. Not so for Riley Defense! Though it may take some time, and a lot of effort, how Riley Defense fares in the budget AK market lies solely on their shoulders. We are beginning to warm up to the idea of biting the bullet and finding out for ourselves! We will be sure to update you on the experiences we have with Riley Defense’s RAK-47C should we decide to get our hands on one. So be on the lookout to find out if this AK makes our top 10 list!
Introduction to the Riley Defense RAK Series
“Riley Defense rifles are manufactured in Charlotte North Carolina and feature a line of Classic and Tactical AK47 Rifles and Pistols. Solid built quality with reasonable prices and excellent customer service make Riley Defense a great choice. Atlantic Firearms is a Riley Defense direct distributor.” *From Atlantic Firearm’s website
After starting the production of these budget-friendly, 100% American-made AK-47s, Riley Defense has since stopped using cast carriers and front trunnions in favor of forged parts. This was a wise step in the right direction and should alleviate any concerns people had about the durability of the older versions of their AK lineup. They come in several configurations; a beautiful teak wood option, a stronger laminate wood version, an all-polymer furniture set, and a triangle folding stock with wooden handguards.
Specifications on the Riley Defense RAK-47C SF
- Side-folding triangular metal stock
- Stained solid TEAK wood upper and lower handguards and polymer pistol grip.
- Black oxide finish
- Fully Heat-Treated,Mil-spec stamped Receiver
- 4150 Nitride Barrel (16.25” length), 14×1 LH thread
- FORGED Trunion, bolt and carrier
- Machined scope mount side rail
- Front and rear sight (both adjustable)
- Bolt hold open Safety Lever
- 90o Gas Block
- Bayonet Lug
- Cleaning Rod
- Extended magazine release
- Magazine Capacity: 30
- Semi-automatic closed-bolt action
- Caliber: 7.62 x 39 mm
- Range: 350yds (effective), 1000 yds (Max)
Potential QC issues of the RAK-47C SF
As stated before, Riley Defense’s move to hammer-forged parts should alleviate any issues regarding the durability of these AK rifles internally. The finish is average, at best, which is not that uncommon with a lot of AKs out there- import or domestic. There may be some occasional riveting consistency issues between rifles that need to be addressed before we’d give it a solid recommendation.
It may be too soon to give a final verdict on the reliability of these AKs and will require a larger sample size of experiences to be sure. I’m sure those early adopters will undoubtedly uncover any issues as they put them through their paces. As of this writing, we’ve seen quite a few YouTubers that have put 4-5k rounds down range without a hiccup- so that’s encouraging!
Our Take on the RAK-47C by Riley Defense
Riley Defense has had 3 generations of AK since they got into the AK manufacturing space. The 1st generation had cast front and rear trunnions as well as a cast carrier. They’ve always used forged bolts from the get-go though, which was a good move in our opinion. The 2nd generation had a mixture of cast and forged parts. The front trunnion and bolt were forged on the 2nd gen but the carrier was still cast.
In the 3rd and current generation, the carrier, front trunnion, and bolt are now all forged parts. The less vital parts, such as the rear trunnion, rear sight block, trigger group, and gas block are all cast parts, which is common practice on a vast majority of AKs. If we didn’t already possess two stellar AKs made in the USA, we probably would’ve had space for one of these in our collection.
We would definitely choose to make room for the Riley Defense RAK-47C over the Century Arms VSKA hands down! From the forged parts trifecta to the plentiful furniture options, and the budget-friendly prices, this AK variant is a strong contender for the US-made AK market. Would we choose it over the PSA-103 or KUSA KR-103? Definitely not! We think both of those companies produce a higher quality AK that competes well with AKs costing even more.
We found a very informative video from Zeke Shoots’ YouTube channel that breaks down the 3 generations Riley Defense has made over the past few years that you should check out here: Cast or Forged?
RAK-47C-SF 5,000 Round Torture Test!
“Enough of the bullshit talk”! Let’s see what Robski has to say about this American AK.
Unfortunately, YouTube removed Rob’s video that was embedded here but we still have the images of the internals shown below!
Results of the 5,000 Round Torture Test
The results are in and the Riley Defense RAK-47C gets a passing grade! Even the cast trunnion and bolt carrier versions of this AK held up pretty well so it’s no surprise the all-forged version held up to the torture. Bolt wear was minimal and within spec for an AK and the hammer hitting the carrier tang had only a small deformation that has not progressed and shouldn’t be a problem.
This means the heat treatment between the hammer and carrier is analogous and the surfaces are mating up well. The angle geometry on the hammer is good as well and causes no hangups when racking the rifle.
Riley Defense makes its own trigger groups and does not outsource them as some other manufacturers do. So is the trigger any good? Well, they certainly seem to perform well enough with the RAK-47 AKs.
We would surmise they seem to be less harsh on carrier tails than Century Arms‘ RAK-1 triggers.
RD RAK-47C Price & Availability in 2023
The good news for you is we haven’t noticed a lack of availability for this particular AK model as of late. They offer several iterations of the AKM and AK-100 style rifles that start at a reasonable price of $789 on Impactguns.com. They are also regularly available on Atlanticfirearm.com and Rkguns.com, as well as other gun sites.
Our Final Score on the RAK 47C-SF
Until Riley Defense addresses the consistency of their fitment and finishing issues, as well as some suspect rivets from rifle to rifle, we really can’t justify a higher score, just yet, on this particular US-made AK47. Despite these issues, we think Riley Defense AKs get a passing grade and should serve you well in a pinch.
As always, thank you for reading and supporting our blog to keep you updated on all of the most relevant news and updates on your favorite rifles, firearms, and accessories. Keep a lookout for more things to come and check back often to stay informed!