AK Wars – Stamped vs Milled!

Image courtesy TAPCO

Image courtesy TAPCO

There is no more controversial topic in AK Operators community than discussion about “Stamped versus Milled” receivers. Both sides tried to use hundreds of “proofs” and “reasons” to justify to other group, why their solution is superior to other. Let’s quickly try to sort out some main difference between both types. So called “milled” type is basically AK receiver made during machining process out of solid block of metal by use of different milling machines. On the other hand, so called “stamped” Ak receiver is made by use of stamping press, where receivers, literally are stamp out in sheet metal. This is as basic description of manufacturing processes as it gets. Supporters of “milled” version very often appeal to “purists” crowd by falsely stating that first AK was manufactured based on machined receiver. According to them, this is the only “acceptable” way how AK rifles should be built. This argument can’t be farther from the truth. In reality, AK 46 (yes, “46”), was produced as two prototypes: one with a milled receiver (AK-1) and one with a stamped receiver (AK-2). AK-2 was to be an end product while AK-1 was to be used during field testing by the Red Army. Because of these field trials and based on feedback from the testing units, other AK versions were produced. Finally, in 1949 (yes it was 1949), the prototype AK-47 number 2 and number 4 were accepted by the Red Army and their official designations became AK (with fixed stock) and AKS (with under-folding stock). As my friend Bart “Sergei” Norman wrote in one of his articles on this subject “Both the AK-47 number 2 and number 4 had a specific receiver that was deep stamped.

AK Type 1. Picture from Bart "Sergei" Norman

AK Type 1. Picture from Bart “Sergei” Norman

These were called AK type I”. So there you have it, AK type 1 was made on stamped receiver and not machined one, like “milled” supporters and “purists” would like you to believe. Originally AK was designed to be made on stamped receiver; however, at that time the Izhevsk factory that was awarded production of the AK rifles did not have the capacity for a mass production using deep stamping (deep drawing) method. So out of necessity, the AK type II was created based on machined receivers. Now, let’s have a look at some other arguments used in these “Stamped vs Milled” discussions. One of the points used to support “milled” way of thinking is claim that only machined receivers can give durability to survive decades of battlefield abuse. This is another “stretched” argument.

Scout from Russian 45th Regiment (Spetsnaz group). Photo by Михаил Михин

Scout from Russian 45th Regiment (Spetsnaz group). Photo by Михаил Михин

Today you can find in Russian armories “stamped AK’s” made decades ago and they still are used in active service…many of these AK’s have seen intense action in combat zones across the world. When on that subject, majority of Russian AK operators, when asked about it, will tell you that they prefer stamped versions, simply because of the weight increase associated with milled AK’s (fact very often ignored in many of these discussions). But going back to the “durability” claim, theoretically it is true, that milled receiver will last for longer period of time, but nobody can accurately predict how much longer it will be, or how many more rounds milled receiver can withstand than stamped version. As I said above, millions of “stamped” AK rifles were made around the world through decades and they still continue to kick ass on daily basis. Honestly, how much more “durability” we need? Finally, very often people will throw against stamped receivers fact that AK’s manufactured through stamping process, are prone to flexing. Well, this is true, stamped receivers will flex, however, they forgetting to tell us that milled receivers will flex as well. As a matter of fact, flexing on milled receivers was a problem in early production stages and led to yet another changes in design and production process. Now, with all that said, I love both versions: milled and stamped. There is room for all of these in my heart. I don’t understand why so many people are being so easily divided by small differences. At the end of the day all it matters is that our AK rifles will probably outlast us all and they will continue to shoot long time after I will turn into the dust…;-)

Please don’t forget to voice your opinion in our “Stamped vs Milled” voting poll.

-Rob Ski

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Kalashnikov co-witness drama…

Rifles used by one of the Spetsanz groups. Note optics.

Rifles used by one of the Spetsanz groups

Once upon a time, some “internet warrior” declared that only correct way of using optics on Ak is, to have them installed in so called co-witness setup. Faithful crowd quickly followed his advise and very often, when reading many online forums, if operator has no co-witness option on his rifle, he is basically doomed by “co-witness police”. Now please don’t get me wrong, if you really like co-witness, there are options available for it. Go and knock yourself out. However if we will take a deeper look into this issue, we can quickly discover that co-witness isn’t that popular among the Special Forces operators at all. From my conversations with Russian, Polish or Serbian operators,  I know for sure that many of them just don’t care about co-witness. Please have a look at this picture on the left – this “hardware” belongs to Spetsnaz operators from FSB. You can clearly see how high optics are mounted and there is no chance for co-witness. Even with Russian made optics which were design to utilize original Ak side rail, optics still are sitting very high – clearly Russians didn’t care for co-witness. Going even farther, I have discussed this topic with Travis Haley, when attending one of his classes. He said that many times, in close combat engagements, because of all the adrenaline, he couldn’t even see red dot when moving gun from target to target to eliminate them…now one has to ask, how realistic is acquiring targets with co-witness in situation like this? Would you really pay attention to your iron sights alignment and red dot? Based on what I know and what I heard from others, chances are you wouldn’t.

Ak with EOTech red dot, used by member of Russian Anti Drug Unit "Grom". Photo by Михаил Михин

Ak with EOTech red dot, used by member of Russian Anti Narcotic Unit “Grom”. Photo by Михаил Михин

However, one of the big arguments from co-witness supporting crowd is believe that you need co-witness in case of red dot going down. When I have asked about it one of the Russian operators, he couldn’t compute at first what i was trying to tell him. This confusion came from the fact that he has been using his optic in many “combat zones” for years, and he never had a single problem with it. Worst case, he said, he would just remove the optic and switch to iron sights. Genius, right!? Another factor to remember is that optics made by reputable companies like Aimpoint or EOTech, have seen combat for years now and their quality really is outstanding. Chances of these going down in the fight are really slim and Special Forces units from both side of the ocean are relying heavily on using optics when conducting their operations, but somehow, most of casual Ak users are led to believe that only correct way to have red dots on their rifle is co-witness way…As i’m always saying, don’t let anyone to tell you how to setup your rifle. It is you, who is going to use it, when needed most. You must feel comfortable with equipment installed on it. This is your rifle and your tool! That being said, I will provide you with some very good co-witness mounting options in one of my next posts on this blog. Please don’t forget to vote in our pool below. Voice your opinion now!

– Rob Ski

Customizing your Ak rifle – hand guards.

MVD Spetsnaz team member sporting hand guards made by MFT

MVD Spetsnaz team member sporting hand guards made by MFT, Picture by Михаил Михин

For many Ak operators, this is one of the most controversial subjects. Should they customize their wood furniture on their Ak’s or leave it “as is”? Especially in US I have witnessed many times how so called “purists” ripped apart across the online forums poor guys who were trying to modify their rifles. I honestly think that there is room for everything. If someone is happy with bare “wood” and has no need for forward grip, light or etc, more power to them. However, if you are looking to get most out of your Ak, customization of hand guards is probably very high on your  priority list. For me, modifying front end on my rifle was extremely important, because I’m using top portion of the hand guard for my little optic. So I have decided to go with full rail system for top and bottom portion (currently I’m using AK-47 Modular Forearm Assembly MkIII from Damage Industries). But some need only some small pieces of rail available at the bottom and on the sides – like something used by this MVD Spetsnaz operator from picture posted above. It is hand guard made by MFT . There are many other choices out there. You can even try to import some rail systems out of Russia, but usually prices are really high, besides, as we can see from our picture, even Russian operators are using US made accessories.

MVD Spetsnaz Hardware Picture by Михаил Михин

MVD Spetsnaz Hardware Picture by Михаил Михин

Also please remember that just because someone else is using equipment “A” it doesn’t automatically mean that the same equipment will be good for you. The best option is always to test in person some of the components before purchasing these; however, this is rather difficult in today’s internet shopping era. So please don’t let anyone tell you how your Ak should look like, it is all up to you – an individual operator – it is you, who’s going to use your rifle most, not anyone else…

Please don’t forget to vote in our voting pool – Have you customized hand guards on your Ak yet?

-Rob Ski