In this post 2016 election world many gun owners have spent the last few weeks rejoicing that a clearly Anti 2nd Amendment candidate was defeated. In the euphoria that has followed we have seen the prices of all models and makes of military sporting rifles return to normal levels, easing all of our collective psyches. A secondary effect of this election is the rise in availability of good quality rifle parts kits that have hit the market. With no assault rifle bans looming on the horizon to destabilize prices we now are beginning to see more available AK47 and AK74 pattern parts kits in good to excellent condition. This perfect storm that has happened is leaving many of us asking ourselves. Is this the Best Time to Build a Rifle? It’s an interesting prospect to say the least.
Some of you maybe saying to yourself that building a rifle like the AK47 or AK74 is too tough and requires specialized tools and skills, and that is partially true. Let me for a second offer a compromise to that scenario, do some research, acquire the parts and pieces that you need or want on your rifle and pay a professional to have it done. Think about it you can have finally have a Russian AK47 parts kit built on a U.S. Made receiver using 922r compliant parts. It’s not a new concept several companies like Atlantic Firearms have been offering various rifles built with a blend of quality foreign parts and U.S. Parts. I currently have one of these types of rifles and trust me it runs like a swiss clock. Once you educate yourself and make a plan the fear of building a rifle goes away.
I chose to focus on the two major types of gun parts kits available the AK47 and AK74, because of the huge amount of fan following that these rifles have. Another point I would like to bring up is that there are now many qualified and competent gunsmiths in the country that make a living doing just what we are talking about. Narrowing that list down is 100% up to you though.
WHERE TO START ?
Once you decided to help support the growing American small business economy by having a rifle built there are many places that you can check to get a quality AK pattern parts kit. I would avoid Gunbroker and GunsAmerica for this one, since you don’t need a Federal Firearms License holder to get a parts kit, its best to go to the source of the kits instead of a third party vendor. Sites such as AK Builder.com, APEX Gun parts, and What A Country.com all should have plenty of kits to choose from. The hard part is figuring out what YOU want, in terms of caliber and country of origin for your kit. When starting this process it’s ok to ask your builder questions, or even the people that you are purchasing your parts from. Everyone has to start somewhere and I have found the vast majority of AK builders to be friendly and willing to help greatly.
Once you have acquired the parts kit you want, wether it be Polish, Bulgarian, Romanian, Russia or what have you, then you can move onto the parts needed to complete this phase of the project. The legislation that has come to be a pain for all gun builders is what we refer to as 922(r). This basically tells us that when building guns like the AK family of rifles we have to use a certain number of U.S. made parts in addition to a U.S. made receiver. To make things easy we made a list of parts you are likely to need in an AK build project. Many of these parts can be found at the sites we listed above.
- AK Rivet Kit : Be sure you know what parts kit you have this matters in rivet kits
- U.S. Made Barrel: Since you need a new barrel invest in a chrome lined 4140 or 4150 barrel.
- U.S. Trigger kit: I would say buy the ALG Defense AKT trigger, its cheap and it makes a noticeable difference
- U.S. Made gas piston
- U.S. Made muzzle device: I recommend the Definitive Arms Fighter Brake
- U.S. Made grip: Many companies make excellent grips like MagPul, & U.S. Palm
This is just a short list of the parts you will need, again working with your builder and letting them know you intentions helps smooth the snags out that are sure to come up. In our opinion the biggest part of this process is the parts kit itself, I can’t stress that enough. If you are choosing between a kit listed as “good” or one listed as “excellent” it’s always better to drop the extra cash and get the kit with the better rating, in my opinion anyway. High quality builds starts with high quality parts, I learned this the hard way.
In the world of AK builds there are really only two choices when it comes to receivers. The first is Nodak Spud/Morrissey receivers of Minnesota, and the other is Childers receivers. In my experience Nodak is the gold standard of commercially produced receivers but Childers Guns offers some personal touches that are an advantage when it comes to customizing. Childers Guns will allow you to choose your serial number if it already hasn’t been taken by a previous builder and allow you to have a receiver with correct markings for the safety / fire selector. What this means is that in theory you get a Bulgarian parts kit and the number on the trunion is 77-22334, then you can have your U.S. made receiver have that same number, it basically makes it as close to a numbers matching gun as you can get. Also you can give a nod to the Soviet Union and have your marking on the side of the rifle in Cyrillic, its just the little things that can make a gun build unique. Its a point to note that receivers must be shipped to a legal FFL holder as per ATF regulations.
PARTS COMPLETE….MAIL IT OFF..AND WAIT
This is the hard part, you have assembled your parts kit and 922(r) compliant parts and now it’s time to send your package off to your gunsmith or builder to assemble, test and shoot. You have to put your precious AK project in the hands of another to complete. Hopefully before this point you have decided what sort of finish you want on your new rifle. There might be some of you out there who think it will be easier to just go buy a new AK and be done with it, that might be true, but. There are also many people out there who have always wanted an AK but are operating on a tighter budget, for them building this way has advantages. First it lets them space out the cost of the build over a wider time frame, secondly it lets them learn alot about the gun they are eventually going to own. They will learn every facet of the rifle and will have the pride in being able to say they selected the components for their custom AK rifle.
SHOW US YOUR BUILDS
We want you to show us your builds if you chose to undertake this type of project. Once again we here at the site are putting our money where our mouth it and have started a project right along side our readers. I have acquired a Bulgarian AK74 parts kit and will attempt to do the same project I have outlined above. This will be my second attempt at having an AK built the way I wanted. I chose a builder that turned out to be less than spectacular in my last project and will not make that mistake again. I want to remind people YOU are the consumer, YOU are the one the gunsmith is working for. He needs your money, you can always find another gunsmith, but that’s no reason to run rough shot on the hard working smith. Many gunsmiths today have massive egos and superiority issues, be sure to vet your gunsmith completely. It could save you alot of money.
(Feature Image Courtesy: gunsamerica.com)