Getting Started with an AK pattern Rifle

Selecting a Rifle

Go with an Arsenal SGL-21 in 7.62×39 and save yourself the drama that can come with a Century Arms, IO, or other parts kit built gun.

Why 7.62×39?

Ammunition and magazines in 7.62x39mm are more common in the USA than for 5.45×39.


  • Surplus steel magazines and Bulgarian “Circle 10” polymer magazines are the ones I recommend as of this blog post.
  • The Magpul AK mags look very promising though.



    • Stock
      • Polymer solid stocks are always a good choice
      • I don’t really care for the wood furniture since it adds weight to the rifle
      • Folding Stocks
        • Avoid anything that requires you to take a dremel or hacksaw to the receiver to get it to fit.
          • ACE Folding stocks are notorious for requiring the user to cut the tang of the receiver to fit the stock.
        • If you are going to get a MAKO stock, then get the side folder model.
        • The TAPCO Galil style folding stocks are a bit cheap in both price and durability.
        • The Soviet paratrooper wire folders are not that comfortable to shoot
    • Pistol Grip
      • It is a matter of personal preference, but I really like the Hogue Grips
      • Magpul and US Palm make good pistol grips as well
    • Sling
      • Keep it simple with a two point sling
      • I don’t like the surplus slings with the leather buckles, the leather is often worn out or weather-beaten.
    • Optics and other accessories
      • The Ultimak gas tube rail mount is really the only scope mounting solution I recommend for an AK
      • The Aimpoint micro is the best red dot out there in terms of being able to tolerate heat and maintain zero. Like many good optics out there, it is not cheap.
      • Don’t try to turn your AK into a combination CQB and Sniper weapon. It will do neither well.
      • The Haley Strategic Thorntail SBR mount works great in combination with the Ultimak mount and a high quality heat resistant flashlight.
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Posted in Rifles
6 comments on “Getting Started with an AK pattern Rifle
  1. CrankyBuddha says:

    So tempting to start with a WASR. I’m not sure if the AK will be a primary weapon or just a plinker.
    I am tempted to use an AK pattern rifle for hog hunting. What do you think about the sporter versions from Russia?


    • The VEPRs are very accurate guns due to the VERY heavy barrels. You will need to install a bullet guide and modify the magazine catch to be able to use regular AK mags with it.

      The WASRs are notoriously hit or miss when it comes to quality since they are built from parts kits that may have quirks based on when and where they were made.

      The Arsenals are usually about $200 to $300 more than the WASRs but are worth every penny extra.

      Treat every one of your weapons like a primary weapon just outfit it as mentioned in the blog post and you should be good to go.


      • CrankyBuddha says:

        “Treat every one of your weapons like a primary weapon…”
        I really can’t agree with that. I have a number of weapons that I would not ever treat as a primary weapon. I have a Webley MkII that is over 100 years old and is only capable of handling very light loads (it was designed for black powder). Likewise I have two .22 LR rifles that are over 50 years old that I would not trust as a primary. I have a .22 pistol that is so prone to jamming that I only use it for plinking. It does make a great training aid for malfunction drills. I have hunting rifles that would be almost useless for self defense because they are set up for 100+ yard distances with optics for such a role. There are others in the list as well.
        I have firearms that I consider primary defense weapons and I treat/equip them accordingly. I also have guns that are just for fun. Would i use them if the need arose? Sure, but that means multiple primary weapons (self-defense weapons) have failed or run out of ammo.
        At that point we’re talking Zombie Apocalypse type scenarios.
        Like your blog.


      • I should have added “within the limits of reason” to my post! 😉

        I’ve always considered a sling as something mandatory but spending more than the gun is worth in gunsmithing parts and/or labor on an old rusty .22 just to put on a sling or scope makes no sense.


  2. Bulletmen says:

    Was using Kalashnikovs before they were cool.Best battle carbine invented for the conscript/peasant soldier.Rugged,easy to use,easy to maintain.The real ones with fun switch are not too bad to control with practice.Mikhail Timofeyvich knew what was needed.
    The Arsenal rifles are nice.If you can,spend the extra $$ for one. Have an old WASR with dimples,got lucky it works fine and is reasonably accurate.Put an East German pattern folder on it,makes it handy.
    If you want a budget AK try to cherry pick a WASR.
    Have a Tax Paid SBR Arsenal Sooka/Krinkov which is mighty handy little bitch.Cost a bit,but excellent close range carbine.
    Just remember what Kalashnikov is and what it is not. Not a tack driver,but it shoots minute of man. 7.62×39 is the way to go. .30 cal always better than a .22 especially out of a short barrel.
    Plus they take a lickin’ and keep on tickin’.


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