How to Shop for a Quality AK

Posted by Kris Vermillion on November 1, 2018
How to Shop for a Quality AK

As the American AK market has become more crowded these days, more options mean lower prices. As production and availability for AK rifles increase and the number of options grow, it's a good idea to have a game plan in place as you begin shopping for your next AK.

We've compiled a list of what we think are the 3 key features you can look for to make sure your AK is up to par, and all 3 are pretty well identifiable while you stand at your favorite gun store counter.

1. Alignment

ak 47 alignment

Simply put, alignment is making sure the rifle is straight from head to toe. Due to the way AK rifles are built, there's a higher possibility for a crooked result if proper care isn't taken while attaching the barrel or buttstock. To gauge the alignment of the rifle is pretty easy. Pick up the rifle and look down the buttstock toward the front sight. Use the heel of the buttstock, the rear sight, the gas block and the front sight as reference points and make sure that the 4 of them form a straight line. If there's a curvature to the rifle, there may be a problem, so check the alignment both top and bottom. Meaning, once you look down the rifle from the top, turn it over and do it again from the bottom.

2. Rivets

ak 47 rivets

Rivets are pressed into place on AK rifles. If they look marred, flat or scraped, corners may have been cut during the build process and somebody may have thought faster was better than right. Rivets should look uniform and round on the rifle. Do not forget to check the bottom of the trigger guard. There are 4 rivets in place there, and they should look as clean as the rivets lining the receiver.

3. Magazine Fit

ak 47 magazine fit

Now that you have determined that the alignment is good and the rivets have been pressed properly into place, you need to focus on the fit of your favorite style magazine in the AK you are considering. AK magazines are supposed to fit into the receiver with a bit of "slack" or "slop", or more easily described as loosely.

ak 47 slag or slop

Since there are dozens and dozens of AK mag styles (Bulgarian, Russian, Polish, Magpul, etc.) it's a good idea to take your favorite style of magazine along with you, and test its fit for your AK. If you're shopping in a store, ask a store employee if you can use your own magazines to test the AK before buying. Further, if you're able, remove the dust cover, carrier and bolt and insert the magazine to see if the magazine's feed lips line up correctly with the AK's internal rails. There will be a rail on each side of the inside of the receiver. The magazine's feed lips should run parallel to those rails.

There are plenty of great AK rifles in the market these days, and you can certainly find a quality rifle for an affordable price if you know what to look for while you shop. If you have any additional tips or tricks about how to shop for an AK, we would love to read them in the comments below.

About Kris Vermillion

About Kris Vermillion

Kris Vermillion is a lifelong shooter who focuses his training on defensive shooting techniques and the shooter's mindset. Kris works with Palmetto State Armory doing Ecommerce and Marketing.

2 years ago at 5:53 PM
Would be great if your stores actually had some ammo in stock for them. I have an AR-47 upper to use for hunting and I just can never find any cheap ammo to just practice with. Like selling cereal with no milk.
2 years ago at 1:45 AM
It's everywhere Ammo, s&g ammo, Sell way ammo, Discount ammo to name a few.
2 years ago at 3:35 PM
I'm talking brick and mortar locations, especially at the store that is selling me the rifle. No need to pay shipping and handling when I drive by one of the PSA stores everyday. The closest one only ever seems to have maybe 2 offerings and those offerings are $26 a box. I'd like to see some brass practice rounds besides the Tula (as you can only use brass at PSA ranges).
2 years ago at 3:27 PM
There is no such thing as \"cheap\" brass ak ammo. The steel is what's so economical. You will probably find that brass is going to run in the mid 20's. Maybe instead of blaming palmetto you should have done the research because you would already have known this.
2 years ago at 6:20 PM
What no one is understanding is I'm referring to my local PSA store, they have but 2 options for AK ammo one box is $26 for 20. I'm not talking on their website, or someone else's website. I'm well aware that I can go to some online site, but sometimes I prefer to stop at my local store, support locals. Wolff makes some cheap brass option, but never seen it at my local store, but I know there are some cheap brass options. Brass is needed if I want to stop by PSA's indoor range, they won't allow steel case ammo to be shot there. Remember this is a PSA blog, not ammo depot or such.
Charles Meredith
2 years ago at 11:23 PM
I'm not sure Chris, but most indoor ranges restrict steel projectiles, not steel cases. Steel and AP bullets damage range backboards is my understanding. Keep looking. You may find some online suppliers that pay the shipping if you buy bulk, which you should be doing anyway. Shoot half and stash half for hard times or SHTF.
Miles Huggins
2 years ago at 4:12 AM
most steel case ammo is steel projectile or at least a proprietary allow of steel/metal
Abe Glaser
2 years ago at 4:45 PM
Try your local Wal-Mart. They should have at least two 7.62 x 39 loads. Pay sales tax too instead of shipping.
2 years ago at 9:22 PM
For crying out loud. Ammo is LOOK FOR IT.
Hillary Clinton
2 years ago at 4:53 PM
Smitty is absolutely right! Chris, I hate To tell you buy ammo for all rifles including ak’s HAS NEVER BEEN MORE PLENTIFUL ON THE MARKET. Seriously dude, prices haven’t been this cheap in almost 15 years....
john w.
2 years ago at 7:05 PM
I own 2 of your folding stock AKs. Great product at a great price.
2 years ago at 6:31 PM
Sure wish you would stock one of your PSAK-47 GB2 LIBERTY RED WOOD TRIANGLE SIDE FOLDER RIFLE for purchase ...
2 years ago at 10:22 PM
You should have talked about the differance between hammer forged trunnions and cast trunnions too...
Devon Burt
2 years ago at 11:24 PM
When is the PSA AKV9mm going to be available? The wait is killing me!!!!!!
2 years ago at 4:58 PM
BTW PSA, u Guys are great. When you put stuff on sale and on clearance FIREARMS and ammo are never more affordable. COULD YOU ALSO PRODUCE A KALASHNIKOV STYKE RIFLE IN AK 74? We desperately need one to be produced. It’s the best kept secret in the combloc world. Zero recoil, flat shooting, and just a great hobby.!!!!
2 years ago at 12:45 AM
I second that. AK-74 are great. I have one, but wouldn't mind getting another. My neighbor is also looking for one.
Josh Buchanan
2 years ago at 7:43 AM
I prefer to have forged trunions with a stamped receiver, I guess it's an opinion thing...
2 years ago at 6:51 PM
I have a PM State AR 47 upper short bbl. I have been waiting on PM state to sale a complete AR 47 Pistol Lower for the past year. PM state if your listening that sure would be nice otherwise I’m stuck with a useless upper. Come on guys out a complete pistol lower up for sale already.
2 years ago at 5:43 PM
What's your top picks on an AK Rifle?
2 years ago at 11:52 PM
Good tips...thanks for Posting this, its going to help New Shooters when buying an AK.