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