Izhmash 7.62×39 Review (Kalashnikov Concern AK103)

by Forrest Cooper

April 14, 2023



Home-field advantage and the fact that most AR-15’s are manufactured in the same country make comparing and contrasting AKM and AK-inspired firearms rarely as simple as one make/model versus another. In this way, the AK platform straddles both the old world and the new, as the icon of 20th century mass manufactured firearms meets the attention to detail this marketplace values.

For AKs, both the country of origin and the manufacturer come into play, with some specific factories singled out for their reputation. 

Kalashnikov Concern AK103 Specs

  • Caliber 7.62×39
  • Action Lon-Stroke Gas Piston
  • Magazine Standard AK
  • Furinture Polymer
  • Barrel Chrome Lined
  • Barrel Length 16 in
  • Weight 7.9 lbs
  • Country of Manufacture Russia
  • Factory Izhmash

Izhmash Saiga AKM Background

When we think of Guns made in American (even if only allegedly), we think make/model. When we think of guns imported from other countries, we think type/country/factory. One should not be faulted, however, for thinking of a factory when they see the name Izhmash, as it has referred to both a physical location, and a company responsible for manufacturing firearms of the Kalashnikov genome. 

Anywhere in the world, the Kalashnikov name can get you far. Just as the millions of AK-pattern rifles came from numerous factories across a number of countries, name changes notwithstanding.  So the novelty of a mass-produced firearm gets combined with the value of knowing a thing or two about what to look for when inspecting it. The AKM style frame is new enough to enjoy the “modularity” of aftermarket support, while still requiring something of the end user when it comes to fitment. Not every part works on every gun. 

Here’s where the Izhmash comes in, and in the same swing, deals a blow against itself. Generally speaking, we can see the Izhmash-made AKM as closer to the schematic. While objectively, this means that commonly available replacement parts are more likely to fit, it subjectively implies that it should be kept stock for history’s sake. This is further exacerbated by the welded muzzle brake.  

Izhmash 7.62×39 Features

Izhmash Saiga AKM Gun Features
1 Proper Rivets

The telltale sign of sturdy AK manufacturing is present.

2 Aftermarket Support

One Perk to being pureblood is they make most dressings with you in mind.

3 Side Rail Included

Optics are an option for those who prefer the stock front rail.

4 Iconic Marking

It’s proud of what it is.

5 Forged Front Trunnion and Chrome Lined Barrel

Both are reliable with available ammunition.

Models and Variations of the Izhmash Saiga AKM

Kalashnikov Concerns has many different AKMs. They offer the AK100 series which includes 4 long and short version of the AKM in 7.62×39 and 5.56 NATO. They also have the Classic AK74M in 5.45×39. All of these are pretty hard to get your hands on in the US these days.

Izhmash Saiga AKM 7.62×39 –  Our Take

Saiga Izhmash 7.62x39 Hero Shot

The problem with reviewing an AK is that sometimes you are working with a piece of history, and sometimes you are evaluating a tool for its utility. The first implies subjective qualities, and the second assumes mostly objective characteristics. 

Objectively speaking, the whole firearm works together in the way that an AKM should: the accuracy is acceptable, and the felt recoil is considerably more enjoyable with the fixed brake than with other AK variants. Replacing the thin stock grip with a readily available US Palm improves the quality of life of the shooter. Magazines still require a bit of fitting to function correctly, but with a little bit of Magpul at the back and Midwest Industries at the front, they can smooth out some of the sharp edges. 


Izhmash 7.62x39 Forend

For those of us in the Head’s Up camp of modern shooting posture, mounting an optic on the forend does work well with night vision, but may very well force any laser to be side-mounted. Whether you go forward or back, you’re going to have to deal with some zero-shift as things heat up or the scenario gets rugged. 

The objective performance of this AKM can occasionally surprise those familiar with the raw mechanical feel of other AKs. Compared side-by-side, it feels like they smoothed the rough edges out, at least on the inside. As the long-stroke gas piston rocks back and forth, the whole firearm rolls gently in the shooter’s hands, making it easy to keep a dot on target. The flash, however, makes low-light shooting a little spicy. 

Reliability and Ergonomics

Quality of Life with this AKM is one part equipment, two parts user experience. With each action in the manual of arms such as reloading or fixing malfunctions, add-ons and fine tuning mostly sort themselves between two types: either pass/fail, or levels of improvement. If you must be able to mount an optic, this AKM will suffice. Does it hit reliably at 100 meters with steel cased ammunition? Yes. Can you swap out the most offending parts? Yes. But if you’re looking for a host to incorporate a left-side charging handle, there are other options.  


Izhmash 7.62x39 Field Strip

There is a myth that survives on Mountain Dew that claims the AKM is an inherently inaccurate firearm. But what this misses out on is just how far the AR-15 has come in the last 15 years. In a world where the average infantryman deployed with a 3 MOA barrel on his M4, and the moral dubiousness of the variety of end users of the AK, accuracy is a thing to be considered on a case-by-case basis. 

This Saiga 7,62, made in Russia by Izhmash, holds a consistent group between 1.5 and 2 MOA, ammunition dependent. In the future, we’d like to test it with some match grade ammunition to see if there’s room for improvement.


Subjectively, this Saiga AKM resides in-between two worlds. In the American Market, they rarely come available unaltered in some way, and this one is not quite a collector piece, though it may become one, someday. However, the irreversible work necessary to turn this one into a platform depicting modern tastes might be better suited for someone to do on a different specimen. The virtues of this specific Saiga 7,62, made in/by Izhmash, are also its greatest challenges. 

Izhmash 7.62×39 Pros and Cons 

  • Sturdy Manufacturing – The gun is trustworthy, on and off the range
  • Classic + Perks – Functions well out of the box, but accepts some of your preferences
  • Total Package – The whole is a summary of good parts
  • Acquisition – Thanks to import bans, they are not easy to get your hands on
  • Fixed flash Hider – If you want to add a suppressor, it’s going to take some irreversible work

Report Card


Exceptional in its family tree


Simply because it’s not easy to come by. A higher rating would be warranted if replacement parts didn’t require so much fitting.


It’s an AK, which function for their era, but have fallen behind more modern standards.


Acceptable, nothing more, nothing less.


Eye of the Beholder. Considering that the price of these specific AKMs fluctuates so much, their value changes from piece to piece, and month to month if cost is a factor.

Izhmash Saiga AKM Final Grade

Our Grade


Reviewed by Forrest Cooper

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Based on 1 Reviews

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Izhmash 7.62×39 Starter Pack

These three items are must haves for all firearms owners.

  • Eye Protection: Eyes are hard to replace, you need to have eye protection on when shooting. Here are our recommendations for the best shooting glasses!
  • Hearing Protection: Odds are you already are damaging your ears in day to day life before adding shooting to the mix. If you are going to be shooting you need to have good hearing protection.
  • Gun Cleaning Kit: Here is a link to our article on gun cleaning kits you’ll need to keep your firearms maintained.  

Upgrades and Accessories for the Kalashnikov Concern AK103

The first things to get for your rifle are extra magazines and a good sling. Magpul always delivers with good magazines. The Ferro Concepts sling offers a pad for comfort and fast, easy adjustment.

For the next upgrades, you may want to tread lightly. We have some furniture upgrades selected for your Izmash AKM. If you do feel the need to customize your somewhat hard to find Izmash rifle, these are great options.

Upgrades and Accessories for the AK103

Magpul PMAG AK-47 / AKM MOE 7.62x39 30-Round Magazine
  • Impact and crush resistant all polymer body
  • Constant-curve internal geometry for smooth feeding
  • Anti-tilt, self-lubricating follower for increased reliability
  • Long life stainless steel spring
Check Price
Ferro Concepts Slingster
  • Adjustable pad to maximize comfort
  • Removable pad allowing the use of a plain Slingster
  • Made in the USA
Buy on Amazon
Midwest Industries AKG2 Universal M-Lok Topcover
  • Weighs only 7.5 ounces
  • Installs in minutes with no permanent modifications
  • Lifetime Warranty
  • 100% Made in the U.S.A.
Check Price
Magpul Zhukov-S Folding Collapsible Stock
  • Angled rubber butt-pad
  • Positive retention in the folded position
  • Option QD socket and cheek risers
  • Adjustable length of pull
Check Price
US Palm AK Pistol Grip
  • More vertical angle for modern shooting techniques
  • High-strength polymer construction
  • Non-slip texture for all weather
  • Fits almost any AK pattern rifle ever made
Check Price

Best Ammo for Your Kalashnikov Concern AK103

Tula and Wolf steel case ammo is what was used for this review. We found some deals on line for you to stock up with.

Range Rounds

Tula 7.62x39 122GR FMJ Ammo

Tula 7.62×39 122GR FMJ

Cost Per Round
Gun.deals $0.47
Palmetto State Armory $0.47

Defensive Ammo

Wolf 7.62x39mm 123 grain FMJ Ammo

Wolf 7.62×39 123 GR FMJ

Cost Per Round
Gun.deals $0.40
Optics Planet $0.57
Sportsman’s Guide $0.66

Other Rifles Class to Check Out

We dedicated an articles to our favorite AK Rifles. Check it out here. Here are two that scored high though.

WASR 10 Review

WASR-10 AK-47 Rifle

The WASR-10 is an excellent model of the AK-47. Even though it’s pretty cheap, we don’t hesitate to recommend it.

Check Latest Price

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

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Reader’s Grade


Based on 20 Reviews

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test PSA AK47 MOEkov



The PSAK47 MOEkov model is a variant of the PSA AK GF3 series of American AKs from Palmetto State Armory.

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

Our Grade


Reader’s Grade


Based on 1 Reviews

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How to Care for AK47

This video from Classic Firearms shows you how to take apart and clean your AK style rifle.

Check out the links below for the manufacturer’s website.


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