Best AK47 Rifles You Can Buy for Under $1000

by Ryan Cleckner

January 12, 2023



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. This is especially driving them to look into what is the best AK47 for their needs.

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.

Best AK 47 Rifles that Won’t Bust the Bank

Gun University has put together a list of what we deem the best AK47-style (i.e. AKM-style) weapons available at budget, “everyman” prices.

  1. Century Arms WASR-10
  2. Century Arms VSKA
  3. PSA PS-AK47 GF3
  4. Century Arms C39V2 AK Rifle
  5. Zastava ZPAP M02
  6. Draco NAK9 (9mm AK)

Note: these rifles are not listed in order of priority – each has its own features to recommend (or against it). Read through the pros and cons, and if you need more info check out the more in-depth write-ups we’ve done on the individual weapons.

List of the Best AK-47 Rifles

  • Gas Operated
  • 30+1-Round capacity
  • Fixed Front Sight
  • Plain Muzzle
Check Price
Century Arms VSKA
  • Carburized bolt
  • RAK-1 enhanced trigger
  • Stamped steel receiver
  • Accepts standard AK magazines
Check Price
  • Gas Nitride 4150 Steel Treated Barrel
  • Stamped Steel Receiver
  • Forged Front Trunnion
  • Hammer Forged Bolt
Check Price
  • 30+1 rounds
  • 10.6″ barrel with LH 14×1 threading
  • Milled receiver
  • Magpul® MOE
Check Price
Zastava ZPAP92
  • Extremely compact, would make a great truck gun
  • Common caliber and mags
  • Significant modularity and customizing potential
Check price
Draco NAK9
  • AK reliability
  • Vast aftermarket support system
  • Low recoil
  • Glock mag compatible
Check price
Honorable Mention


  • 30+1 round capacity
  • Adjustable Krinkov-style sights
  • Krinkov-style muzzle brake
  • Krinkov-style hinged dust cover
Check Price

Before we see the hate in the comments below, we get it: you get what you pay for. Some folks want a budget AK so that they can at least have something or they merely want it for plinking or “just in case” and can’t afford to spend (or don’t want to spend) that much on a rifle.

So, we’ve collected the 5 best AKs for under $800…although with the economy the way it is, some of our original choices might be pushing up past that ceiling.

So, if you’re looking to build your warzone load out with your “AK 47 assault rifle” (ugh, we hate that term), you may need to stop playing so much Black Ops Cold War or Modern Warfare and actually get out to do some live-fire training IRL.

However, if you want to know the best ak-47 rifle for under $800, read on…

Note: each of these rifle links shows the best prices online (yes, you can buy guns online)

Reviews of the Best AK47 Rifles Under $1000

Let’s take a look-see at each of the AK models in turn that are not only something you can buy today, but also are usually under $1000.

1. WASR-10 AK-47 Rifle

Editor's Choice
WASR 10 Review

WASR-10 AK-47 Rifle

The WASR-10 is an excellent model of the AK-47, even though it is the cheapest. We don’t hesitate to recommend.

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  • Shootability B+
  • Reliability A
  • Ergonomics B+
  • Accuracy C+
  • Value B

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Reviewed by Ryan Cleckner

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WASR-10 AK-47 Rifle Specs

  • Host Platform WASR-10
  • Caliber 7.62x39mm
  • Weight 7.5 lbs
  • Length (collapsed) 34.25’’
  • Capacity 30 rounds

Century Arms WASR-10 AK-47 Rifle Review

The WASR-10 is where it’s at! I know, I know, there are 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, I believe they are really great rifles (especially for the money).

First, they’re made in Romania, where they have a LONG history of knowing how to make quality rifles. I have heard WAY, WAY, WAY more complaints about American AK-47s (even pricier models) than I have ever heard about a WASR-10.

Of course, there are some complaints about “I don’t like them,” but I don’t hear about reliability or safety issues as I have with other AK-47s.

Yes, they are 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 quickly.

So, because of its reliability, and its cost, this gets my #1 pick for best AK 47. Sure, you might find better, but you’re paying a premium for slightly better. But when it comes down to a AK47, this is a great all-round choice. Don’t believe me? Check out our full WASR-10 review.

WASR-10 Pros and Cons

  • Made in Eastern Europe!
  • Insanely Reliable
  • Compatibility with aftermarket components
  • Great value
  • It’s a great AK, but not a premium rifle.

2. Century Arms VSKA : Century Arms VSKA (American)

Century Arms VSKA

A “fixed” model of the CAI rifles, the CAI VSKA was a good move for Century Arms. Great for shooting and easier on the budget.

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  • Shootability A-
  • Reliability B+
  • Ergonomics A-
  • Accuracy B
  • Value A-

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VSKA Specs

  • Operating System Gas Piston (long stroke)
  • Caliber 7.62x39mm
  • Barrel Length 16″
  • Colors Black
  • Sights Integrated Iron Sights


As you’ll see, Century Arms is the most popular name on this list. This is because Century Arms is the biggest importer AND manufacturer of AK-47s – especially budget varieties which I like!

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 trunnions and bolts. In this VSKA, however, they use S7 tool steel and mill the parts out of forgings (this is great news).

So, why did I make this the #2 best AK47? Well, while it is affordable, it usually comes at a higher price than the WASR listed above. But on the other side, I have found that finding a VSKA on the market is usually a bit easier. So, you can go either way on that part.

I do love the improved trigger and BCG, but I’m going to knock it some points due to it being machined billet instead of using forged components.

So, because of this, I have listed this as the #2 on the list. But if you are looking for an American-made AK-47 with some classic styling, I think you should check out the VSKA. But, if you are still on the fence and would like to know more, then be sure to check out my full CAI VSKA review including pictures and results.

CAI VSKA Pros and Cons

  • Nice improvement over RAS-47
  • Great value
  • Improved trigger and BCG
  • Compatible with AKM accessories
  • American made (something weird about that)
  • No bayonet lug/cleaning rod
  • Machined billet

3. PSAK 47 GF3 : Moekov Rifle (American)

Palmetto State Armory PSA AK GF3 review


A meat-and-potatoes AK-style rifle from PSA with plenty of upgrades. Possibly the best American production AK yet. 

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  • Shootability B+
  • Reliability B+
  • Ergonomics A-
  • Accuracy B
  • Value B+

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PSA PS-AK47 GF3 Specs

  • Operating System PSA
  • Caliber 7.62×39mm
  • Magazines Magpul Mags
  • Capacity 30 round magazine

PSA PS-AK47 GF3 Review

Palmetto State Armory is known for budget firearms. But I find this to be both good and bad and the PSA PS-AK47 GF3 is no exception. Because of this, the GF3 is affordable but it isn’t the best quality of the bunch.

I generally like the GF3. Like i said, it’s still on the affordable side. Plus, I find it is decently accurate (for a AK47) and reliable. However, this GF3 is a clear delineation for the classical look of a AK47.

It does come with “upgraded” Magpul furniture, which I generally like, but am not a major fan of when it comes to AK 47s. Call me a bit of a purist but it seems a bit off. Usability wise, I really do like the folded stock.

Another issue I have is that while it is shrouded with the Magpul components or ‘upgrades,’ I find that the quality of the materials around it are lacking as compared to the true and tested materials of the WASR or the VSKA.

So, because of it not being the cheapest or the best ROI in my mind, and isn’t of the greatest material as compared to others, I make this the #3 on the list of best ak-47 rifles.

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

4. Century Arms C39V2 : AK RIFLE


Century Arms C39V2

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.

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  • Shootability B-
  • Reliability B+
  • Ergonomics B-
  • Accuracy B+
  • Value B

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  • Host Platform Century
  • Caliber 7.62 x 39 mm
  • Magazines Removable
  • Weight 8.2 lbs
  • Length 35.25″
  • Capacity 30+1-Round

Century Arms C39V2 Review

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, which is one of the reasons why it made my list for best ak47.

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.

However, a milled receiver can be more precisely manufactured and give a more rigid platform for your rifle (at the cost of a higher weight). 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.

However, some of the things I didn’t like in the C39v2 is a felt more recoil from this one than the other models above. It’s clear when you’re shooting them all side by side, and this was definitely the case in my test. It’s also left leaning and thus reduces your options for muzzle devices.

So, because of the recoil and some of the limiting options on the C39V2, I didn’t place it in the top 3 for this list. Still though, I think that the milled component makes it a target in this class if that is important to you.

If you’d like to dig a little bit more into this AK 47 rifle, then be sure to read my full C392 review!

C39V2 AK47 Pros and Cons

  • Milled receiver
  • Budget friendly
  • Milled receiver
  • More recoil than others
  • Left leaning

5. Zastava ZPAP92 AK : Zastava ZPAP M92

The Zastava ZPAP92

Zastava ZPAP92 AK

The ZPAP92 is an AK SBR (or pistol) chambered in 7.62×39.

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  • Shootability B
  • Reliability A+
  • Ergonomics C-
  • Accuracy C
  • A

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ZPAP92 Specs

  • Caliber 7.62×39
  • Barrel length 10″ cold hammer forged chrome lined
  • Sights Krinkov style rear, post front
  • Overall length 19.3″
  • Weight 6.6 lbs.

Zastava ZPAP92 Review

The M92 is probably just as popular as a Krink stand-in as it is on its own merits. Maybe more so. Krinks aren’t easy to get hold of, and they’re not exactly cheap, either. Enter the Zastava ZPAP92.

It scratches that itch for many an AK shooter.

The ZPAP92 is a smooth cycling machine with a bolt that moves like it’s on bearings. Although it is most often found as a pistol, it won’t take much work to make it an SBR – and even if you don’t want to go NFA with it there is plenty of potential here for modularity and customization.

This compact little AK makes for a great truck gun, though if you don’t put a brace on it you’ll be limited to shooting with sling tension for stability. That’s hardly ideal.

It’s by no means a precision instrument but has proven to be very reliable, and that’s by AK standards. You’ll have to watch your wallet on ammo though. If you figure the cost of operation using a price-per-round metric, you’ll find it gets about the same mileage as a 1968 Chevy Nova.

Might as well hit the pedal and go fast.

Read our full review.

Zastava ZPAP92 Pros and Cons

  • Adaptable – The platform allows for easy customization
  • Common caliber – 7.62×39 is still available en masse
  • It’s an AK – It’s as reliable as…an AK.
  • Iron-centric – Harder to accommodate optics
  • Big boned – Still heavy even in the short configuration
  • Inaccurate- Surgically precise it’s not.

6. CAI Draco NAK9: 9mm AK : Draco NAK9

Draco 9 mm AK

CAI Draco NAK9: 9mm AK

The Draco NAK9 is a 9mm AK pistol from Century Arms.

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  • Shootability C+
  • Reliability B+
  • Ergonomics B-
  • Accuracy B
  • Value C+

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Draco 9mm Specs

  • Caliber 9mm
  • Trigger RAK-1 Enhanced
  • Barrel Length 11.14″
  • Sights Front/Rear adjustable (AK style)
  • Overall length 19.1″
  • Weight 6.38 lbs.
  • Receiver Stamped

Draco NAK9 Review

It is easy to confuse the different Dracos. There’s the 7.62×39 Draco many of us think of when you hear the moniker, the Draco Mini, the Draco Micro, and some others (including one that takes Scorpion mags).

Well, NAK9 Draco is a pistol caliber carbine (PCC). It’s chambered in 9x19mm and most importantly it accepts Glock mags. Glock mags are everywhere. Even people who don’t shoot or like Glocks have one somewhere.

In addition to the traits you expect from a weapon in this cartridge, the NAK9 has the advantages of modularity and a dummy-proof design. Taking the NAK9 down for maintenance is extremely simple.

Although the mag release is on the left side only (would have been nice to see this as ambi), that’s hardly a deal breaker. Everything else is about what you’d expect of an AK, including the ability to digest many different brands and kinds of ammunition. That includes hollow points, which sometimes give PCCs some trouble.

Read our full review.

Draco NAK9 Pros and Cons

  • AK Reliability – It’ll take some effort to get a malfunction
  • All that potential – Many aftermarket accessories available
  • Low recoil – Very handy when shooting with sling retention
  • Glock magophile – Who doesn’t have Glock mags?
  • No bolt lock-back – In true AK style; still a Bad Thing
  • Resistance – Heavy trigger pull

HM Zastava N-PAP M70 AK47

Zastava N-PAP M70 AK47

Sold at

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.

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  • Shootability A
  • Reliability B+
  • Ergonomics A
  • Accuracy A+
  • Value A+

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Zastava N-PAP M70 AK47 Specs

  • Host Platform Zastava N PAP
  • Caliber 7.62 x 39 mm
  • Weight 7.7 lbs
  • Length 36.25’’
  • Capacity 30 rounds

Zastava N-PAP M70 AK47 Review

Here’s the thing. We have very little direct experience with this particular Zastava AK offering, but it comes recommended by AK Operators Union (and passed their torture test!), which is plenty good enough for us!

If in the future though, we get our hands on it, we’ll be sure to update the article. Also, one of the best things about Gun University is that you can find the user’s score on the article. This is where any of our readers can review the gun as well – thus helping you to see what others think.

So, be sure to check that out if you’re on the fence, and like I said, if we get our hands on it, or one of our writers gets their hands on it, we’ll be sure to update the article.

Zastava M70 Pros and Cons

  • Novel design, small, can utilize same cartridge in pistol
  • No real prcatical use, expensive ammo

Worst AK47s to Avoid

When it comes to AK47s, there are an ungodly amount of cheap or poorly made AK47s that should be avoided – but lets face it – this is one of the reasons why so many countries around the world use them.

Therefore, the first thing that I recommend is make sure you don’t get an unrecognizable branded AK47. Now, let me caveat this – I am not a ‘brand’ guy and just because a brand is a well known or popular, doesn’t mean every gun they make is going to be excellent.

However, when it comes to AK47s, you might want to have a recognizable branded behind it. This way, you’re not going to get a Frankenstein or a unit, or something worse.

Now, for the below Avtomat Kalashnikova 1947s, it does NOT necessarily mean they are terrible, or a health risk. I just figured I should list any of the AKs that I didn’t like or were not good enough to make the list. This way, you know they were a part of the comparison and you can confidently pass them:

Palmetto State Armory AK-103:

Palmetto State Armory had a rough start getting into AKs in the past. However, as you saw above on the G3, they’ve started to get the hang of it.

And while the AK 103 isn’t terrible, I just don’t think it deserved to be on the above list. I liked its modern components and its a folding stock. Plus I thought it was decently accurate for a AK. Furthermore, its inclusion of a AK-74 muzzle brake helps with muzzle rise management.

However, I had a lot of problem with its exhaust mitigation and was one of the loudest. Now, I hear you saying – dude, its an AK47 – who is trying to keep it quite? True – but the way it is built gives me pause. Also, its just around 1000 and for that amount, there are better on the market. If you’d like to learn more about this one, you can check out our latest in-depth review here.

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 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 1940s 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.

Nowadays 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 nowadays are metal cast, with a number of synthetic and plastic pieces added. There is an estimated 100 million AK-47s that have been manufactured to date around the world.

A little history…

Unlike the service rifles of the USA or Germany, or the first-generation battle rifles of the West in the 1950s, the AK was manufactured without an excess of precision which limited its adaptability as, say, a sniper rifle. (The AK’s then-unique use of an intermediate cartridge also did this). But it suited Soviet doctrine of mass attacks and mass fires well.

AK history: Cold War era Soviet conscript infantry charging


Unlike the NATO rifleman, the Soviet soldier, although instructed in semiautomatic fire on ranges, was also extensively drilled in live-fire obstacle courses, and was expected to run them firing on full-automatic, from the hip.


He was the heir of the submachine-gun battalions of the Battle of Berlin, and planned to fight the same way, as mechanized infantry guarding the flanks and securing the obstacle-ridden forests and towns to enable the great tank attack. Hence, the first click off safety on an AK is full-auto, contrary to every successful NATO selective-fire rifle.


Soviet Cold War infantry doctrine: mass assaults (AK history)


The same adaptations, design decisions, and production practicality that made the AK a perfect replacement for Ivan’s retired PPSh submachine guns, made the AK a perfect weapon for terrorist groups, “national liberation” movements, and under-resourced armies of newly free colonies worldwide.


Like the Mauser before it, the AK is a universal gun. And like the Mauser, the AK will be with us until something better supplants it. And “better,” in this case, will be defined by history and by nations, not necessarily by gun experts.


Kevin “Hognose” O’Brien: Weaponsman


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 the 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 resetting 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.

Stamped vs Milled

One thing you may encounter as you scroll social media, visit Reddit, or read forums about the AK is an ongoing debate about stamped vs. milled receivers. Milled receivers are often viewed as superior to their more mass-produced, stamped, cousins. In our view this is an unnecessarily contentious subject that is far less significant than many would like you to believe.

Unfortunately, the number of AK owners who dogmatically participate in this argument is smaller than the number of AK owners who actually know an understand the issue – including, at one point, some of the Gun University faculty.

Here’s the thing: check as many reviews as you can and buy the one that appeals to you most within your budget range. Stamped vs. milled should be a secondary concern at best.

Differentiating the AKM

AKM stands for Avtomát Kalášnikova modernizírovannyj, or “Kalashnikov’s Automatic Rifle, Modernized”. It’s an improved version of the AK-47, which it began replacing in 1959. Some of the changes made to earn it the moniker modernizírovannyj include:

  • Use of a stamped receiver vs one that’s milled. (More on that here.)
  • Use of rivets instead of welds.
  • Introduction of the iconic slant compensator.
  • Use of parkerization metal treatment vs. bluing
  • Introduction of the “hammer release delay mechanism”.
  • Improvements to the gas ports, which were moved forward to the gas block.
  • Barrel pressed and pinned to the receiver (vs being threaded and screwed in).

The AKM was mostly replaced in the late 1970s by AK-74 (A K seven four, which is easily mistaken/transposed for A K four seven). The AK-74 was then superseded in turn. The lineage now includes different versions of the AK-12 (including the AK-15 and AK-19) in various calibers.

Confused? Don’t sweat it unless you’re on the hook for an AK trivia game.

We’ll provide some links below if you’re interested in learning more.

Imports vs. “Home-Grown” AKs

If you’re looking to modify or buy an imported AK, you need be aware of what we refer to as 922R. That is a part of the federal laws governing the importation of rifles and shotguns.


Specifically, that’s US Code, Title 18: Crimes and Criminal Procedure. The 44th chapter of Title 18 governs firearms and section 922 (18 USC 922) explains what can be done, and not be done, with firearms. When someone says 922R they are referring to Subsection R of Section 922.


Clear as mud? Let’s break it down Barney-style:


There are certain rifles and shotguns that may NOT be imported because they are not “suitable [] for sporting purposes” and it is illegal to assemble one of these banned rifles or shotguns from too many imported parts.


Note the nuance there: you can build/assemble an otherwise illegal to import firearm IF you use enough US Made parts (there aren’t too many foreign parts).


Learn more about 922R.

AK Calibers

Most AKs you’ll see will be chambered in one of four calibers: the original 7.62, the subsequent 5.45, or the NATO-side 5.56. Other calibers are available, but typically only in niche platforms and/or limited numbers.

More recently we’ve begun seeing what effectively AK Pistol Caliber Carbines (PCCs), mostly in 9mm Parabellum (like the Draco NAK9).

Wondering what the various models are, and in what caliber? Read on.

Please not that this might not be 100% complete or accurate (we’re working on that). It is a pretty comprehensive list, though, and one we can’t take credit for it,either. That honor goes to Bernard Samartsev, from a conversation in the comments of an article on the Firearms History Blog.

5.45×39mm AKs

AK-12 (2012 – all-new AK with collapsible and folding stock, ambidextrous bolt catch and fire selector/safety lever, Picatinny rails, new muzzle brake, charging handle and pistol grip, semi-auto, 3-round burst and full-auto fire modes)
AK-74 and AKS-74 (1974 – AKS-74 has side folding metal stock)
AK-74M (1991 – side folding polyamide stock, polyamide handguard and dovetail side rail telescopic sight mount)
AK-74M3 (2011 – new pistol grip and receiver cover, additional safety lever, recoil pad and Picatinny rails, semi-auto and full-auto fire modes)
AK-105 (1994 – carbine version of AK-74M)
AK-105-1 (1994 – semi-auto only)
AK-105-2 (1999 – semi-auto, 3-round burst and full-auto fire modes)
AK-107 (1999 – version of AK-74M with recoil reducing operating system, semi-auto, 3-round burst and full-auto fire modes)
AKS-74U (1979 – carbine version of AKS-74)

AK Platforms Chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO

AK-12 (2012)
AK-101 (1994 – 5.56 mm version of AK-74M)
AK-101-1 (1994 – semi-auto only)
AK-101-2 (1999 – semi-auto, 3-round burst and full-auto fire modes)
AK-102 (1994 – carbine version of AK-101)
AK-102-1 (1994 – semi-auto only)
AK-102-2 (1999 – semi-auto, 3-round burst and full-auto fire modes)
AK-108 (1999 – version of AK-101 with recoil reducing operating system, semi-auto, 3-round burst and full-auto fire modes)

7.62x39mm AK Platform Weapons

AK and AKS (1949 – first model or Type 1, AKS has downward folding metal stock)
AK and AKS (1952 – second model or Type 2, AKS has downward folding metal stock)
AK and AKS (1955 – third model or Type 3, AKS has downward folding metal stock)
AK-12 (2012)
AK-103 (1994 – 7.62 mm version of AK-74M)
AK-103-1 (1994 – semi-auto only)
AK-103-2 (1999 – semi-auto, 3-round burst and full-auto fire modes)
AK-103-3 (2009 – new pistol grip and receiver cover, additional safety lever, bipod and Picatinny rails, semi-auto and full-auto fire modes)
AK-104 (1994 – carbine version of AK-103)
AK-104-1 (1994 – semi-auto only)
AK-104-2 (1999 – semi-auto, 3-round burst and full-auto fire modes)
AKM and AKMS (1959 – AKMS has downward folding metal stock)

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:

  1. Canted Sights– If you find an AK-47 with these types of sights, it’s probably more headache than its worth. There are better options, so I recommend staying away from these.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

When compared to an AR-15, the AKM has a bit more recoil and a bit slower bullet velocity.

Another thing to think about is whether or not you want to stick with the iron sights or whether you should get a scope for your AK47. Unlike other rifles, it is a bit rare to see a scope on one of these, and something that I don’t do, but it is something to consider. If you do, you’ll need to get something that can really take a beating.

This is because the rifle shoots ammo with a much bigger bullet. This bigger bullet sacrifices some recoil control for many shooters and doesn’t have the same range as an AR-15, but the recoil and bullet velocity comes with a positive that makes the AK platform popular: more energy on target (although the effective range is decreased, arguably the damage range is increased).


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About Ryan Cleckner

Ryan is a former special operations sniper (1/75 Ranger) and current firearms attorney, firearms industry executive, university lecturer, and bestselling author of the Long Range Shooting Handbook.

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  1. except for the WASR…. OUUUUUUUCHHHHH most of those rifles are American trash rifles.. Century should never be in a “buy it now!” guide. Also, the N-pap hasn’t been sold for years… No mention of FB Radom or WBP….


    1. Mike, you’re tracking that this is a BUDGET AK guide, right? I mean, a Saiga Izhmash is great…but it isn’t sub-$800 is it?

  2. VSKA’s rebranded RAS47’s which are some of the worst ak’s you can buy

    Im not even going to list the RAS47 issues

    PSAK gen 2 has their fair share of issues

    C39V2’s are just as bad as VSKA’s if not worse

    2 for 1 ras47 and C39V2 failure

    Zastava is great with customer service with solid rifles but can’t take an ALG trigger and the WASR10 is know to be a workhorse with canted sights. M70 and WASR are the only rifles on this list I’d consider purchasing the others are straight up dangerous to shoot (VSKA/C39V2) or are known to have shitty QC and issue with multiple rifles(PSA)

    1. I’ve owned a c39v2 for about 5 years, I’ve put roughly 1500-2000 rounds through it, cleaned the rifle after every outing and never have had an issue, I hear the horror stories about these rifles but I don’t have anything to say but good things, I shoot mostly cheap tulammo rounds. Does anyone have any firsthand experience with one failing they would share?

    2. Only 2 are worth buying.
      PSA American Bastard “front and rear forged Trunnions, forged bolt and carrier, 4150 nitride barrel, ALG enhanced trigger, Jmac customs muzzle, Sb Tactical side folding Brace with Jmac RSA 4.5 Pic Adapter”

      Zast M70 ” 1.5inch stamped reciever,. F and R forged trunnions, forged bolt and carrier, 4150 nitride barrel”

      Both have passed multiple 10,000 Rd torture tests IMO PSA is the winner due to the lifetime warranty compared to 1 year.

    3. The VSKA isn’t a rebranded RAS47. It’s a later design, and while it definitely has issues, it has its own issues, not those of the RAS-47.

      You’ve put a lot of effort into listing out your thoughts on negative models, but could you go into more detail for the benefit of others reading this? “…the worst AKs you can buy” may (or may not) be accurate, but how about some specific perspective and concerns?


  3. My first AK I upgraded Trigger ALG ammo i shoot well with Hornady sst 7.62×39 not happy the bolt wont lock back. after putting many ARs together shooting cleaning i can say if all hell broke out i would grab my PSAK 47 GF3 my magpul gen2 30 round mags loaded with Hornady Black sst 7.62×39 lock load rock an roll

  4. The P. S. A rifles are for sure nice rifles but the triggers suck. Well the triggers in mine does.

  5. What is wrong with you yanks? Why would any sane person want or need a killing machine gun like these?

    In denial all the time!

    1. The primary reason I can think of to have “weapons of war” is that we no longer have to concern ourselves with the opinion of anyone that would call us “yanks.”

    2. Tell me something, Rob. How does it feel to live in a country where it’s UNLAWFUL for free men to exercise their God given right of self defense? Oh, I forgot….no US Constitution on that side of the pond. Good thing you have those blue helmets with MP5s protecting your sissy ass. For the most part, we just walk heavy over here…LAWFULLY… and take care of our own damn business.

  6. I don’t know if these are ranked in order from best to worst. But if they are I question anyone’s sanity who would put a cast trunnion rifle at number 1 and and a forged trunnion at number 2. Don’t get me wrong PSA has turned out some very cheaply made firearms that are just awful however, I have yet to hear of one their trunnions breaking apart like several of century’s rifles. I guess if you’re not planning on putting thousands of rounds through it sure get a cast trunnion.

  7. In 1977 I found myself unloading battlefield pick up AKs, raided AKs, and trade good AKs which I was told the value of was $210. Nobody told me how they came up with that figure but these AKs were the real thing. In 1992 the local sport shops were selling the legal (neutered) AKs for about $210. These guns were considered relics or curiosities with most people wanting to buy hunting type rifles. Fast forward to about 2010 or so these neutered Ask have gone upwards of $1000. The spirit of the AK was to arm allies for the world revolutiona. There was no such thing as a patent on these the plans were supplied to the Soviet client states. There was no profit motive in the AK proliferation. It’s hard to get interested in these pricey steers.

    1. Donald, we are, but the Saiga 7.62×39 is not in the price range of this particular rundown. When we do an article about higher price AKs you can bet that model will be included.

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