Operating the AK-47


Mateusz Kanigowski discusses the value of effective training with AK weapon systems.

Research, development, experience and technological progress. In every part of the globe military units, law enforcement officers and law abiding citizens use different types of firearms that support human capabilities. Most of them provide the user with state-of-the art solutions enhancing their accuracy, speed and positive affection on the target. There are, however, several small arms constructions, which introduced great influence and true change on the battlefield decades ago, setting the standard for others based on the most important rule in mechanics – simplicity. In this article, we give our attention to the AK-47, an invention of the great Mikhail Kalashnikov.

There are over 100,000,000 AK rifles in the world. Since serial production began in 1949, Avtomat Kalashnikova has played starring roles in many of the greatest military conflicts. The AK-47 has won battles, it has won wars, and it has started and ended revolutions.

I am Polish, so it is easy to presume that the AK-47 was the first assault rifle I ever fired. It was an amazing experience; the slick construction of wood and steel that fires lethal 7.62x39mm rounds. So easy to operate, even a 5-year-old child can do it. Even though I mainly operate on the AR platform these days – as it better suits my shooting style, is more accepting of body mechanics and provides extremely quick and effective manipulation – would it be my weapon of choice when the shit hits the fan in my AO? Perhaps not…

In eastern Europe, the AK-47 is the main firearm used by both the good guys and the bad guys. AK-47 based systems can be found basically everywhere, including SF units, regular army, law enforcement, the private security sector, competitive shooting, etc. In the United States things are a bit different, as there is a vast variety of firearms deployed throughout the country.

As we take a look at the world stage of conflict, the AK-47 is deeply connected and shamelessly obvious. The AK-47 is a common weapon visible in scenes of terrorism, hunger, autocracy, brutality, and generally pure evil. But, it is also connected with firepower, simplicity, endurance and strength. All the pros and cons of this iconic rifle make it an applicable tool on any modern battlefield. For those who often find themselves in AK-47 environments, it’s probably a good idea to understand how this firearm functions and be trained to utilize it.

Generally, operating an AK rifle is easy but when it comes to running it quickly and efficiently, everything can go wrong. Hands slip off the charging handle, the magazine can block itself in the well, and by mistake, the fire selector lands on auto. Of course, there is only one way to avoid or minimize these scenarios – hours upon hours of training. Here’s a bit of advice supporting AK-47 fundamentals that are key to your success on this platform:

Dry fire training. Do it a lot. Range training is a test, a kind of an exam. The dry fire is the homework. Do it often and do it well. Carefully learn the AK-47’s unique trigger reset.

Try to work with both standard and enhanced AK systems. Get used to rifles with no personalization options or upgrades such as rails, triggers, optics, stocks, grips, mag release levers, or charging handles. This is most likely the kind of AK-47 you might be forced to utilize in a hostile environment. Many of my students who work maritime contracts are provided with AK-47 firearms for their jobs. Usually, these are not a brand new blasters with state-of-the art accessories, but instead are 30+ year-old boomsticks with a thousands upon thousands of rounds fired though them.

Learn the 7.62×39 round ballistics. They’re a lot different than any other NATO approved ammunition. The 5.45×39 is similar to 5.56×45 in this manner, yet still the AK-47 platform is more popular.

Avoid fancy reloads. Pick your type of reload and stay consistent.

The AK-47 system jams just like any other mechanism. Maybe just not that often. Keep it clean. Keep it lubed.

Respect and appreciate the weapon, its simplicity and reliability.

And remember, safety first.

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