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20 AK-47 Variants You Want to Own

by Tim Pack   |  November 18th, 2013 23

The Kalashnikov AK-47 and its variants are the most widely used military rifles in the world. It has been put into service by more than 45 countries and seen action in every major military conflict since its creation in the late 1940s. While the overall design hasn’t changed significantly, many countries added their own unique tweaks to better fit their needs. In this article we will look at some of the most popular variants of the AK-47 and some of the lesser-known models as well. This guide can be used for identifying some of the less common models from around the world. We know you’d love to own the 20 AK-47 variants pictured here, but they’re owned by Kalashnikov Collectors Association member Stuart McDaniel.

  • Chad Burton

    AK-47, the very best there is. When you absolutely, positively, got to kill every motherfucker in the room; accept no substitutes.

  • Jim

    Am I the only one for whom the photos don’t change when I hit the “next” button? Any way to fix it? The descriptions change, but not the photos. This has been happening for the past few articles now.

    • Ivan

      agreed what a PITA

    • Steve L

      Jim, I could’nt tell you because when I clicked on the article I did’nt get any photos at all.



  • Adam

    Am I the only one that realizes that for the most part, the only difference is the stock?

    • Jim

      Nope, I’m with ya. For me, every single one is IDENTICAL! (descriptions change, but not the pics).
      But, good point. Other than stamped versus milled receivers, they are all pretty much the same deep down.

      • Jackson

        300 blackout DPMS takes care of things which go “bump” in the night.

  • brianparker

    What, no Galil? No Valmet?

  • Big Bad Cat

    I have a Norinco AK chambered for the American .556 round with chu wood stock
    How rare is that?

  • Tom Ceàrr

    No R 4’s either? What is this?

  • bill

    First off this site sucks on android, side panel covers article, links cover comments…
    The article is far from a top 20, good ones missing and shoddy ones were included. But to say they are all the same is like say a 70′ chevelle, c10 & c30 are the same because they are powered by a small block…
    You could divide ak into groups based on receiver types, first milled or sheet metal, then by Russian, satellite Soviet, or foreign. Some like Romanian & German were copies of Russian, while Yugoslavia and Poland are so different only mags interchange. The foreign I mention is a broad category from Chinese T56 & galil, to the Sig 556.

    My favorites are ak built on an rpk receiver like the yugo m70 & molot vepr. However, my Bulgarian milled has an unquantifiable solid quality feel that can only be experienced by firing it. To simplify the true difference between ak beyond the control features on different makes, it’s the thickness of the receiver & trunnion (breach area)…1 mil, 1.5mil, or 1.6 on stamped…and metallurgy on milled…

  • Donk

    No WSAR?

    • AlexB

      The WASR is the civilian version of the Romanian PM MD63, which is on the list genius!

      • fk you andrew wallace fgt.

        no idiot. die.

  • Ruiz Vale Tudo

    What about the Hungarian SA85M PRE & POST BAN? WHICH can you interchange parts and mags??? Which one comes with a chrome lined barrels???? Can anyone tell me why RPK receiver’s ARE BETTER ? AND HOW CAN WE TELL THE difference?

    • bill

      First to answer how to identify rpk receivers… look on the side of receiver below the charging handle, if it bulges its 1.6 mil rpk, if flat it’s standard 1 mil. The exception are the Chinese makes which are flat 1.5 mil. Milled have no rivets and pockets milled out for weight reduction under the ejection port.

      As for why they are better, it’s actually more up to debate. They are built to withstand the extreme abuse of the SAW roll, but also weigh a pound more. It’s a tradeoff in personal preference when in semiauto civilian configuration, the yugo m70 ab2 was built this way to hold up to launching rifle fired grenades.

      It can produce a stiffer more accurate rifle. However, the thing that people in the states need to understand is what we get are different from the originals(besides the obvious lack of select fire). Import regulations create hoops that need to be navigated. They do this in one of 3 ways. 1″sporting” variants with no pistol grip and 10 rd max capacity. 2- Demilled used parts kits, the receiver is destroyed and there can only be a limited parts count of foreign parts in the build. 3- Partially assembled and finished here.

      Aside from prebans, the only rifles fully assembled in the country of origin are the low capacity neutered “sporters”. Most ak’s you find at sporting good stores are imported by century international arms(CIA). They subcontract out to various builders to convert the low cap into std cap and pistol grip including enough American parts for 922r compliance. They also use a combination of used kits and American parts to build them. As with anything, the quality of the finished product is only as good manufacturer. A well built weaker design will out perform a shoddily produced excellent design.

      I say this because the original design may be rendered irrelevant on a case to case basis. I know how my examples perform, but can’t speak for all when you are dealing with modified butchered rifles that get reverse engineered once in country by different manufacturers.

      When people ask for advice on choosing one I focus more on their circumstances than the rifle. Everyone sees price, cost is more important though. Purchase price is a one time deal… ammo, mags, sighting options and accessories are a lifelong cost.
      So a realistic budget with an allowance for training must be established.
      Then caliber must be chosen, it must be suitable for needs, without violating other parameters.
      Reliabilityis next, if it fails when needed it’s worthless.
      Handling and balance are next, and need to fit the shooter. People hold accuracy with the most regard, however most situations require being able to make hits at varying ranges with no steady rest and limited time. An AI in .338 lapua with a s&b on top is an astounding rifle system, proven capable of dispatching enemy at over 1.5mi in expert hands. Most people couldn’t afford to learn it at 1000yds if they got it for free. Even those who can utilize the AI to its potential would be better served by a 4moa ak in 90+% of situations where a rifle is used.

  • Atilla D. Hun

    what AK model mostly carried by Afar tribe in Ethiopia?

  • ak-103

    in 7,62×39-ak-103 in 5,45×39-ak-74m in 5,56×45-m-21

  • Country Boy 91

    No Galil, Valmet, Beryl Archer?

  • Bj

    I just got a NHM 91/MAK 91,how rare is it?

  • Darko Tomasic

    I agree with Bill. As the Croatian war vet, I have tested many of AK 47, from Russian, Romanian to chinese, but the best was Serbian (Yugoslavian) AB II.


    it is the best

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