Mark after our interview the other day I got to thinking about an AK which I don't have.
I am thinking about getting one. I am already an AR Guy. But I see that the ammo is cheap and the functionality is reliable.
What can they be gotten for and is there anything in particular to look or shop for and on the flip side anything to stay away from.
I am looking at the AK and not the SKS mainly because of the detachable magazine without all the modifications.
When I was looking into getting mine, I soon found out that it's a literal plethroa of options. Too many to even track, really. Like ARs, there are certain nick-nacks that'll help in getting you in the right direction, but there's never anything ideal. For example, the one I got comes in about 4 different variants, of which only one has the heavy receiver I was looking for which in turn was also known to have a front sight that might be cocked over to one side. Others were lighter recievers but had good sights BUT would then have sloppy mag locks. Geeze. One thing I didn't realize is that my Yugo is NOT a standard AK as it pertains to furniture. It will not take standard AK handguards and such. Even the mags are different as there are Yugo mags that'll do a bolt hold-open whereas many do not. Not a big deal, but now you get the picture: things are complicated as so many countries made their own versions.
There are a couple of things to look for:
- Mag well is centered.
- Dimples in the reciever (help lock in the mag)
- Front sight is vertical/straight (even new builds have an issue with this sometimes)
- A TAPCO trigger, identified with a "G2" on the trigger itself will indicate a US made trigger group is in there. They are much nicer than the as-issued ones.
- Obviously milled are better than stamped/folded recievers, but they'll be heavier.
- I don't know about any others, but y Yugo has a heavier reciever (1.5mm vs 0.9-1.0 mm thick). Again, this matters to me as I prefer brute strength over super-duper lightness.
- You can't really accessorize them. There's a few things you can do with them, but don't think you're going to go all tacticool like an AR.
- Some receivers are tapped/drilled on the sides to allow mounting of optics. I didn't care since I just ploppped a cheapie red dot on mine.
- They are moderately accurate. I can hit what I'm pointing at without much effort out to 200 yards, but the holes are all over the place. They are, however, 30-cal holes!
BTW, mine has shot everything I've fed it without issue which is as expected from the AK system. All (Tula, Wolf, Hornady, Winchester, Surplus) shot between 3-4MOA. Recoil is not that bad considering it's 30-cal. It's certainly less than my FAL (308) and definitely less than an M1A. If that's a problem, it takes about 20 seconds to swap out the muzzle brake and there are many different types available.
Anyways, I would expect a decent AK to go for $450-$550. That'll get you one which should at least have a new barrel. Everything else is not real relevant as, like you say, they're simple machines. If you can't fix/mod it yourself, it'll be pretty easy to find someone who can without much cost.
ARFCOM has a great write up here: http://www.ar15.com/forums/t_4_64/141256_The_AK_Buyer_s_Guide___A_Beginner_s_Guide_to_the_AK_Platform__ask_all_new_AK_questions_in_here_.html
Personally, if I were to get another one, I'd see about either a high end one (Arsenal SGL or SAM series) or a good 'ole WASER 10. Knowing what you're into, I'd suggest a WASER 10. I believe this is what Brannam is running and he loves it since it just won't die and shoots pefectly fine for it's intended purpose.
A couple of places, outside of gunbroker and texasguntrader (where the prices are high but will give you an idea) are:http://www.atlanticfirearms.com/http://www.jgsales.com/
(where I got mine)http://www.centerfiresystems.com/http://www.aimsurplus.com/
Here's mine as arrived from JG Sales.
To be honest, the big thing for me was that swapping out of the blade sight for a peep sight. I just can't use blades sights well at all. The rest of the alterations were just for something to do. Nothing made the rifle any more effective or more fun to shoot.
By the way, Magpul makes polymer AK mags now and they work great. Typical Magpul quality and locks up solid in my AK. Add to that, they're cheaper than many of the surplus mags (about 12 bucks vs 15-20 depending on they type/condition).
Hope this helps, and good luck.