With increased talk of an Assault Weapon Ban, specifically bans on AK-style rifles (such as AK-47s and their clones), more and more Americans are looking to pick up an AK-style rifle before it’s too late.
If you’ve been researching AK-47 style rifles already… good luck! You already know that there’s a nearly endless supply of information on variants, features, pros/cons, etc.
It’s so much information that many can’t even decide what AK-47 to buy! Or, you (like me) might want to default to a higher-priced option just to make sure that you aren’t getting something that is a piece of junk (or worse, dangerous). This can work, however, spending $1,000 or more on an AK-47 defeats the purpose for many shooters.
|Gun||Details||Check It Out||Mobile bottom line|
So, we’ve collected the 5 best AKs for under $800. We were compiling a list and noticed a great video (from a great source) so we decided to share the video by AK Operators Union with you below and just list the AK rifles he features (after all, he’s one of the best authorities on these rifles).
Each of these links to the rifles show the best prices online (yes, you can buy guns online)
Reviews of the Best Budget AK-Style Rifles
CAI VSKA Background
As you’ll see, Century Arms is the most popular name in this list. This is because Century Arms is the biggest importer AND manufacturer of AK-47s – especially budget varieties!
They made a very popular American AK-47 called the RAS-47…BUT… it had some quality issues (serious ones) and it got a bad name quickly. Do not let this turn you off to all CAI rifles – there are plenty of good ones and this rifle, the VSKA, is their answer to the previous issues.
Previously, in the RAS-47, they used cast trunions and bolts. In this VSKA, however, they use S7 tool steel and mill the parts out of forgings (this is great news).
|Operating System||Gas Piston (long stroke)|
|Sights||Integrated Iron Sights|
CAI VSKA Pros and Cons
- Nice improvement over RAS-47
- Great value
- American made (something weird about that)
- No bayonet lug/cleaning rod
PSA PS-AK47 GF3
Given the nature and history of the AK-47, the PS-AK47 has many added upgrades already installed. This is a solid winner in my book, but not as good as pricier models.
PSA PS-AK47 GF3 Background
Palmetto State Armory is known for budget firearms.
This is both good and bad.
It’s good because someone with a tight budget can get a functional firearm. It’s bad because many folks believe that Palmetto State Armory firearms are just as good as more expensive options.
Here’s the truth: these rifles are a great value and, for the money, you’ll be happy with it. However, it is not better than higher-end options.
PSA PS-AK47 GF3 Specs
|Capacity||30 round magazine|
If you’re looking for “upgraded” Magpul furniture on your AK-47 (especially the folding stock), then this may be a great option for you because this rifle already comes with the “upgrades” installed. The downside to this is that there is less money left for the quality of the base rifle underneath – we are amazed that they had enough money to make a functional rifle (they did).
This rifle is the cheapest AK we recommend because it’s the only one that passed the torture test below:
PSAK-47 GF3 Pros and Cons
- Comes with Magpul AK furniture and folding stock
- Incredible Value
- American made AK (something weird about that)
- Lowest level of quality we’d recommend
WASR-10 AK-47 Rifle Background
The WASR-10 is where it’s at!
I know, I know, there’s some AK purists out there laughing at me right now for typing that. But, hear me out.
The WASR-10 has long been known as the bottom of the barrel/cheapest possible AK-47. Guys that like expensive AK-47s look down their noses at WASR-10s.
However, they are really great rifles (especially for the money).
WASR-10 AK-47 Rifle Specs
Of course, there are some complaints about “I don’t like them” but I don’t hear about reliability nor safety issues like I have with other AK-47s.
Yes, they’re cheap. No, they’re not very accurate.
They’re not supposed to be! You are probably going to be shooting the absolute cheapest Russian ammo you can find anyway!
Cheap/Plinking/End of the World Rifle: AK-47.
Accurate, premium, precision, etc rifle: AR-15.
Something about the WASR-10 just screams AK-47 (in a Russian accent) whereas the American versions seem like AK-like rifles, kind of.
With all the talks of an AK-47 ban, these will go quick. Here are the places we recommend:
WASR-10 Pros and Cons
- Made in Eastern Europe!
- Insanely Reliable
- It’s a great AK, but not a premium rifle.
- Usually don’t include a cleaning rod
CENTURY ARMS C39V2
Sold at Sportsmans Warehouse
Century Arms is probably one of the the only US manufacturers we trust when it comes to a US made AK-47. So with that being said, the C39V2 is a solidly made AK firearm and can be trusted to deliver.
Century Arms C39V2 Background
The C39v2 by Century Arms is their milled-receiver AK-47.
If you want a milled receiver under $800, then this is your only option.
Why a milled receiver vs a stamped receiver on most AKs? Well, it’s actually a matter of personal preference.
If you want an AK-47 style rifle that is more traditional, you want a stamped receiver. The stamped receiver is lighter and it is more flexible allowing for some forgiveness when shooting.
CENTURY ARMS C39V2 Specs
|Caliber||7.62 x 39 mm|
A milled receiver is NOT necessary, but if you’ve decided that you want one, the C39v2 is your best bet for this price range.
C39V2 AK47 Pros and Cons
- Milled receiver
- Milled receiver
ZASTAVA N-PAP M70 AK47
Sold at ranierarms.com
Given that the AK-47 can be modified in lots of different variations, the Zastava does not disappoint. It has many different specs that allow it to be just as versatile as any AK-47 on the market today.
Zastava N-PAP M70 AK47 Background
Honestly, we don’t have much (any) experience with the Zastava AK offering but it comes recommended by AK Operators Union and it passed their torture test (in the video below) which is good enough for us!
Zastava N-PAP M70 AK47 Specs
|Host Platform||Zastava N PAP|
|Caliber||7.62 x 39 mm|
Zastava M70 Pros and Cons
- Novel design, small, can utilize same cartridge in pistol
- No real prcatical use, expensive ammo
History and Buyer’s Guide for the AK-47
If you’re looking to pick up a new budget AK-47, you should at least learn a bit about one. It’s a gun full of rich history and uses.
What is an AK-47?
The AK-47 is a select-fire, and was designed to be a very simple and reliable automatic rifle. It touts a 7.62×39mm round, air-cooled, long-stroke-piston gas-operated, magazine-fed rifle, with a rotating bolt…that is a mouth full and no I cannot say it 10x’s in a row fast!
The goal for this firearm was to be able to be mass produced for a very low cost. The Soviet Union adopted the AK-47 in the late 1940’s and over the years, it has developed and is the most widely recognized firearm in the world today. The barrel and bolt were milled out of steel and hardened chrome, with a sheet metal receiver . The furniture on the Ak-47 is wood which was specific and helped the Soviet Union achieve the type of weapon it was hoping for in mass production.
Now days the Ak-47 has had so many overhauls and updates, that it has changed quite a bit. However, the process and guts are fairly the same today as when it was created so many years ago. A Lot of the parts now days are metal casted with a number of synthetic and plastic pieces added. There is an estimated 100 million AK-47’s that have been manufactured to date around the world.
How does it work?
The AK-47 is the most widely used, and a favorite, of fighting forces around the world. A big reason is because of how easily the firearm operates. The AK-47 is made up of fairly simple and large pieces, which allow for it to cycle in many different conditions, like sand, mud, and even water.
The moment the operator pulls the trigger, it releases the firing hammer then striking the pin. This will then ignite the bullet primer which ignites the gunpowder to launch the bullet. The pressure and gas that pushes the bullet out also pushes back on the bolt carrier, ejecting the empty shell, and resets the hammer to fire again.
The bolt will then grab a new round from the magazine, and place it into the barrel. During that action, the bolt hammer does not move because of the sear that is holding it in place, that is until the carrier returns to its original position.
What should a buyer think about when purchasing?
As much as I would like to say you can get a good AK-47 in the US, they’re just hard to find. The top things to be aware of when you’re looking for an AK-47 are the following:
- Canted Sights– If you find an AK-47 with these type of sights, it’s probably more headache than its worth. There are better options, so I recommend staying away from these.
- Safety and Trigger– make sure the safety moves easily and locks into its grooves on the frame. The trigger needs to be a clean pull and strongly resets.
- Magazine– This needs to fit “easily” into its slot, and if it does not, it is likely the gun is not cut to spec and you should walk away.
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