AK-47 Cutaway: A Soviet Teaching Aid
May 13, 2016
I am not being sarcastic when I say "teaching aid." I had the pleasure of observing this curiosity in operation on a couple of occasions. The very first time I experienced an AK-47 cutaway was at the beginning of the ninth grade at Public School No. 34 in Russia, where I was a student. It was part of the curriculum to attend an introductory class on the AK-47. This was part of the Beginner's Military Preparation Course, which all high-school students attended twice weekly.
The AK-47 cutaway was mounted on a plywood board, and all of ours were painted in open areas to reveal the different components and their relationship to other parts. The gun was fully functional. My teacher was a retired Navy Cap III (equal to an Army major), and I seriously doubt that he possessed in-depth knowledge of the interworkings of the Kalashnikov rifle.
Nevertheless, he proceeded to explain the basic cycle of operation and even moved the charging handle to make his points. I remember thinking even as a ninth-grader how simple and straightforward the operation of the AK-47 appeared.
The very next class had us handling two AKMs and one AKS-47 demilled rifle. Almost all Soviet middle schools and high schools had several demilitarized samples in their armories. My particular school also had PPSh-41s and Mosin carbines, as well as fully functioning German-made .22 rifles and air rifles. So much for a gun-free zone.
The AK-47 wooden stock was produced from solid hardwood. Once the Soviets switched to the modernized AKM rifle as its main battle rifle, the buttstock and handguards were made of red-stained birch plywood. The metal buttplate had a spring-loaded trap door for a cleaning kit that was stored inside the stock.
This 20-round magazine is typical of AK-patterned steel magazines and functions identically to 30- and 40-round examples. A durable spring pushes up against the bottom of the magazine's follower to ready a cartridge to be picked up by the rotating bolt and fed into the chamber.
This cutaway's internal components are intact and could be moved to simulate the real gun's operation. For a better view, simply remove the topcover.
There are a variety of pistol grips used on different AK rifle variants depending on the year of manufacture, model and country in which the gun was made. Pistol grips varied among solid wood, plywood, Bakelite and glass-filled plastic.
The mechanics of the AK rifle are pretty simple. The bolt carrier is riding on the receiver's guide rail. It is moved by the powder gases and recoil spring. The two-lug bolt rotates within the bolt carrier to lock the chamber.
The removable gas tube serves as a guide for the bolt-carrier piston and gas chamber. This cutaway features the solid-wood upper and lower handguards.
Like the original AKM rifle, this rifle is equipped with a 45-degree gas block. Once the round passes the gas port in the bore, it channels the expanding gases to the gas tube, where it pushes against the piston and cycles the action. The standard chrome-lined AK barrel is as shown here.