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Build your own AK-47?

Sounds hard, but Matthews demonstrates how it can be done with patience, careful measuring, persistence and common hand tools you already have.

By Steven Matthews

With a little patience and common hand tools, you can save hundreds by assembling your own AK-47. Heres how.
f you look through the pages of SGN, you have probably noticed that there are an abundance of ads for AK-47 parts kits, accessories and receivers. You may be surprised to know that these ads are not entirely directed towards manufacturers that build AK series semi-auto rifles. In fact the main target of these ads is the hobby gunsmith or do-it-yourself gunbuilder. There are large numbers of people who enjoy building their own firearms. If done according to BATFE regulations, which allow individuals to make guns for their own use, it is completely legal. There are dozens of model variations of the AK series, and depending on the model chosen, the cost savings can be substantial. You dont have to be a real mechanical wizard to make one of these guns. If you are reasonably competent with tools,

can read and follow instructions and have a basic understanding of how firearms operate, it is doable for the average gun hobbyist. I have been occasionally building guns from kits for more than 20 years and have a fair amount of skill, so I decided it was about time for me to build an AK rifle (or pistol!). I have built several AR-15s, an FN-FAL, single-shot .50 BMG rifle, semiauto Browning 1919A4, NFA M16, NFA MAC-10, NFA Browning 1919A4, NFA suppressed Ruger MK1, and too many others to mention. Based on my past experiences, if an AR-15 build would rate a 1 on a 1-10 scale and a Browning 1919A4 a 10, I would rate an AK-47 build about a 5. I will say that gunbuilding is one of those things that is not all that hard, but you have to pay attention to

what you are doing and have the knowledge required to build a project safely. You dont want to just slap together some parts when you dont really understand what they do, then expect things to work, especially when you are discharging a cartridge developing 40,000+ psi just inches from your face. The first job is to decide what model variation of the AK series you want to build. The AK-47 series of guns is well known to anyone even vaguely familiar with military firearms. If youve ever watched the network news, youve seen one! Designed by Mikhail Kalashnikov and adopted by the Soviet military in 1947, it was the official battle rifle of the communist world for more than a half-century. Early AK-47s featured a machined steel receiver that was time-consuming and expensive

Building the AK receiver requires precise riveting, which is best accomplished with a sturdy steel bench plate, steel backing blocks, ball-peen hammers and punches.

to manufacture. The AKM series was designed in the 1950s to use a sheet metal receiver reduced raw materials requirements and machine time. This sheet-metal receiver is what really makes this build project so desirable. Because theyre easy to make, they are inexpensive, usually in the $50-$80 range. Combine one with a surplus parts kit for $100-300, and you have a very cost-effective project. Things got a little more complicated as of July 13, when BATFE issued a letter to importers stating it would no longer issue import permits for frames, receivers and barrels. In the case of AKs, this means barrels, since full-auto receivers were unimportable anyway. There are still lots of imported barrels on hand, and this ruling will spur U.S. production of AK barrels, but prices may go up for a while. Before we go any further, I should address the legal issues involved in building an AK-47 style semi-auto rifle or pistol. While it is completely legal for an individual to build a semi-auto AK type rifle (or pistol), it does have to be done according to the rules. You are allowed to build these guns for your own personal use, not to manufacture for resale. First off it does have to be semiauto only! Full-auto guns are highly regulated and require prior BATFE approval and are beyond the scope of this article.

The second biggest issue in building these guns is the fact that you will be using a lot of imported parts to make an AK and the BATFE has a limit on just how many imported parts can be used in the construction of a semi-auto rifle. This 10-part rule is commonly referred to as the Section 922r ruling. According to the rules, you may use no more than 10 specified parts out of a list of 20 (see box). You can use any combination as long as it is not more than 10 imported parts; the rest have to be U.S. made. The U.S.-made parts may be identical to the imported parts. Its kinda dumb to replace good foreign parts with the same U.S.-made parts, but those are the rules. You have to do it that way to be legal! Only the parts on the list are regulated, if its not on the list, you can use it. Small parts such as pins, springs and hardware are not on the list, so they can be used without restriction. I recommend you use a U.S. made semi-auto fire control group (hammer, trigger, disconnector). This counts as three U.S.made parts and is what most people use for an AK rifle build. Just to make things more interesting, theres an important exception. The 10 parts rule only applies to semi-auto rifles, not pistols! A pistol version of the AK can have as many imported parts as you care to use, as long as they are in semi-auto configuration. Thanks to this regulatory quirk, it is very inexpensive to make an AK pistol, since it only requires a kit and a U.S.-made receiver. As far as receivers go, it is not mandatory to use a U.S.-made receiver, but it is recommended since they are the type readily available and they do count as a U.S. part in the 10 parts rule. Since I am going to be making a rifle and a pistol for this article, its important to address just what the technical difference is between a rifle and pistol. The BATFE requirements for a rifle state that it must have a minimum barrel length of 16 inches and a minimum overall length of 26 inches. A pistol may have a barrel of any length but must not have a buttstock or forward pistol grip or the means to attach either. In

addition to the length requirements, the pistol has to have a receiver that is classified as a pistol receiver and the rifle has to have one classified as a rifle receiver. If you are using a virgin receiver, this classification can be specified at the time of purchase. When you buy it, have it listed on the BATFE form 4473 as one or the other and also have a receipt that specifies which it is. At this point its identity as a rifle or pistol is set. You cannot legally change it once it is papered. For more info on the legal issues of home gun building, check out the BATFE website at www.atf.treas.gov/firearms/faq/ index.htm The internet is a wealth of information on building AK rifles or pistols. One of the best internet sources for AK building is the Gunsmithing and Build It Yourself section of the akfiles.com. It is a discussion forum that is frequented by multitude of experienced AK builders with first-hand knowledge that can be especially useful to the novice builder. If you arent into computers, there are many advertisers in SGN that offer books, DVDs, and tapes that take you through the building process step by step. A complete step-by-step tutorial would be too large for this article, so I will just cover some of the more important aspects of building. If you are knowledgeable on how guns work, you can fill in the gaps. If you arent, you can research on the internet or buy one of the instructional videos or books.

Knowing rules and regulations is vital when building your own. For example, a pistol cant have a front pistol grip or place to mount one, so the handguard was modified.

Once you have the info on how to build you need the parts and the best source of parts, SGN, is in your hands right now. After researching this project, I decide I wanted to build two AKs. I decided to build an AK-74 rifle, which is the 5.45x39mm version of the older 7.62x39mm AK-47. It is almost identical to the older 7.62 gun other than caliber.

A Hungarian AMD-65 parts kit from Clearview Investments got Matthews started on his AK pistol project. The 12.5-inch barrel is just the thing for pistol building.

A pistol cant have a buttstock or mounting point for one, either, so the Hungarian rear trunnion had to be welded to prevent future installation of a buttstock.

I also decided to build an AK pistol in the original 7.62x39mm. The pistol version is just a short-barreled AK-47 without a buttstock or forward pistol grip. For the rifle, I ordered a Bulgarian AK-74 kit from Akron Armory. This kit was advertised as in excellent condition and was priced at $199. When received, it was in the stated condition. In a business where conditions are generally over-hyped, it was nice to get one that was as advertised! For the pistol build I ordered a Hungarian AMD-65 kit from Clearview Investments that was advertised as in unissued condition and was priced at $129. It also was as advertised. What makes the AMD-65 kit so desirable for a pistol build is that it comes with a 12.5-inch barrel, which is just right for this type of pistol. It also has a wire stock that is easy to delete for the pistol legal requirement. Both of these kits were also advertised as all matching numbers, which indicates that the bolts are already properly headspaced to the trunnions. This makes the building a lot easier and less costly. One thing I might mention about the condition of these kits is that they were in excellent condition for Com-Block military guns. Dont expect them to have the fit and finish of an American made commercial gun. They were made for functionality, not good looks! I chose Ohio Ordnance Works AK-74 and AK-47 receivers; there are slight differences between the two. I obtained one from a gun show vendor for about $85, which I thought was a bit high, so I looked for a better price on line. I found that Ohio Rapidfire in Troy, Ohio, sold them for $65, and since they were only about an hour or so away from where I live I drove down to buy one. I was surprised when I got to Ohio Rapidfire to find they carry many parts and accessories for the AK builder. Most shops dont carry anything for home builders and it was nice to find a place that catered to my hobby interest. The OOW receivers are U.S. made and are generally considered to be one of the better receivers on the market.

An interesting side note on these receivers is that they are known as Ohio Ordnance Works receivers, but are marked as being made by ITM. I contacted OOW about this and was told that ITM is their manufacturing source. Since the rifle required several U.S.-made parts for legality, I bought a U.S.-made gas piston and fire contol group (hammer, trigger, disconnector) from TAPCO for $50. I also bought a U.S.made pistol grip($10) and U.S. muzzle brake($25) at local gun shows. These parts brought the U.S.-made parts count up to the legal requirement. I also bought several $8 military surplus(new) magazines for both guns. Now that I had the parts, receivers and info on how to build, what about tools? I built both kits with basic hand tools that you would find in any well-equipped home workshop. These included include a small die grinder or Dremel Moto-Tool, hammers, punches, files, dial calipers, marking fluid or black marker, a large strong vise, screwdrivers, clamps, blocks of steel for backing up rivets, etc. To keep costs down, I chose to use basic tools even though there are specialty tools available for AK building. Riveting tools and an arbor press are somewhat expensive, and since I was only building two guns, I traded off ease of building for cost savings. Installing parts in a U.S.-made receiver boils down to riveting in the front and rear trunnions and a trigger guard/mag release assembly. The trigger guard/mag release assembly location is already drilled and located on the OOW receivers. The trunnions have to be located and drilled by the builder. This is to accommodate the multitude of AK kits that may come from several manufacturers and countries. Locating and installing these trunnions (and also the barrel) is the most difficult part of AK building. You need to choose at this point whether to use rivets or screws. The truninons and trigger guard assemblies are riveted in place on factory-built AK-47s and AK 74s. This was and is the fast and easy way to assemble them in a factory setting. For the home builder with nothing but basic hand tools, this riveting method is doable but rather slow and somewhat difficult, but I traded ease of build for reduced cost. If you want your AK to look original, the rivet method is the way to go. One downside of rivet builds is that it also requires the barrel to be removed from the trunnion to install the new rivets. Screw builds dont require barrel removal,

Steel backing blocks support the rivet heads as the trigger guard assembly is riveted in place. Holes are pre-drilled here, so its a good place to start assembly.

but do require drilling and tapping several holes and using screws and some nuts instead of rivets. The shallow depth of some of the holes can make tapping difficult. Screw builds are a proven method of home building AKs, but in my opinion, screws make the gun look cheap and amateurish. I started one of these guns as a screw build but soon abandoned it when it became apparent to me that a screw build was not that much easier than a rivet build. For more about riveting, see the sidebar. The first part to be installed on the new receiver is the trigger guard/ mag release assembly. This is not a random choice, as this location is set by the receiver manufacturer and this location also determines where the front trunnion will locate. To install the trigger guard on a rivet build, you obviously need rivets. You can buy the correct metric rivets at a rather high cost($10-15 for a dozen or so rivets) or do as I did and replace them with standard size rivets that are available at hardware stores for a few cents each. The trigger guard holes are sized just about right for common 5/32"x 1/2" round head steel rivets. They will need to be shortened so that only about 1/8" extends through the trigger guard/mag release assembly, selector stop plate and receiver. This will be enough to form a head on the inside or the receiver. Assemble the parts (be sure you get the selector stop on the correct side!) and insert the rivets with the round heads on the outside and the unformed shanks extending into the receiver. Use a couple blocks of steel under the round heads to back up the rivets. Also support the receiver so that it doesnt fall over when you are working on it.

Trigger parts are best replaced with U.S.-made equivalents, both to build the U.S. parts count and to ensure you arent using any full-auto fire control parts.

Slide the front trunnion into the receiver and use a magazine to set the proper location. Use a dial caliper to measure hole positions and transfer to the receiver.

A steel backing bar takes the place of the barrel in the trunnion, supporting it and the receiver as the rivets are flattened. This is the toughest part of the job.

Use a large hammer and punch to flatten the ends of the rivets. You dont need to form round heads, since this is on the inside where it is not visible. Make sure you have the rivets backed up solidly; you want your hammering force to be transferred to the rivets, not the parts. If you dont have the rivets supported well, you will bend your parts! Also, make sure that the parts are staying tightly together while riveting. You may want to do one rivet at a time to make it easier, but dont fully tighten the rivets till all are in place. Once the rivets are tight, it is hard to reposition any parts that may have moved while you were hammer-forming the previous rivet. The two forward rivets are hard to reach, but if you angle in your punch, you can form a head that is adequate for the inside where it wont show. Now comes what most builders consider to be the most difficult part of AK building, locating and installing the front trunnion. Before you can install the front trunnion, you must remove the barrel from the trunnion since the old rivets are under the barrel and the new ones will go in their place. Place your trunnion assembly securely in a vise and use a large hammer and appropriate-sized punch to drive out the barrelretaining crosspin. These pins are sometimes very hard to remove, so make sure you have everything clamped securely. You may really have to bang on it, so be careful you are not bending anything when trying to remove it. Once the pin is out, you can remove the barrel from the trunnion; this may also require a lot of force. The method I used was to wrap the barrel in a rag and lightly clamp it in the vise and butt the trunnion up against the side of the vise jaws. The idea here is to allow the barrel to slide through the vise jaws but have the trunnion stopped by the jaws. Place a couple of soft copper coins or soft washers against the rear of the barrel and use a punch slightly smaller than the barrel shank to drive out the barrel. An alternative method I saw on the Internet was to use an automotive-style gear puller to press out the barrel. I didnt try it but I dont see why it wouldnt work. If you have a hydraulic arbor press, it works a lot easier for barrel removal than the hammer method. On the pistol build that I did first I pressed the barrel out with a hydraulic arbor press at my workplace. Total time to set it up and press it out was only about 15 minutes, so if you have to take yours to a machine shop you should only have to pay about $15-20 (shop rates in my area are about $50-60/hour) For the rifle build, I used the big hammer method which worked well and didnt cost anything other than effort. Its up to you to decide if you can handle it yourself or you want to hire it done. If you take it to a machine shop, be sure its gun friendly and even then dont even mention the words AK-

47. We know this build is completely legal, but the general public only believes what the media tells them about those evil AK47s! Some barrels may be so hard to remove that you may have no choice but to take it somewhere and have it pressed out for a few bucks. Mine came out fine with the hammer method. Once the barrel is out, use some emery cloth to polish up the barrel shank, crosspin, crosspin hole and the trunnion hole to remove any burrs that will make reinstallation difficult. Now the bare trunnion needs to be fitted to the new receiver. Slide it into the receiver with the upper receiver edges sliding into the groove in the trunnion. Some hand fitting may be required to get the parts to fit properly.

Remove your trunnion and, using dial calipers, measure how far back from the front and how far down from the top your new holes need to be drilled. Measure to the edge of the holes and add 1/2 a rivet diameter to get the center point for your hole location. Measure both sides, as there may be some difference between the two. Transfer these dimensions to the receiver and center punch them before drilling. Drill the holes several sizes undersize and slide the receiver and trunnion together to verify they are where they are supposed to be. If you have made a mistake, you may have to move the holes by filing on one side or the other to correct it. If they are exactly where they are supposed to be, go ahead and drill them full size.

The rear trunnion is installed in much the same way. Measure the rivet locations, transfer them to the receiver, center punch and then drill, carefully.

You locate the trunnion in the receiver with a magazine, since the front magazine catch is machined into the rear of the trunnion. You slide the trunnion in until you get a good fit of the magazine. The magazines need to be held securely but not so tight as to make removal difficult. Try several magazines to make sure they fit correctly. Once a good location is found, use a c-clamp to clamp the trunnion in place and then trim the edges of the receiver flush with the trunnion. Some receivers will not require trimming. Having this trimmed up evenly will aid you in locating the holes youll need to drill for the front trunnion rivets.

With the trunnion riveted in position, the barrel and its crosspin can be installed. Its a tight fit, so you may have to cool the barrel and heat the trunnion.

After I drilled the correct metric-sized holes and verified that they were right, I clamped the two pieces together and re-drilled them to accept the next size larger standard rivets, 3/16". These are only a few thousandths larger and a lot easier to find. Once youve located and drilled your holes, its time to install the rivets. I installed the four front rivets with the round heads on the inside of the trunnion and also trimmed them to conform to its inside radius. They extended about 3/16" past the outside of the receiver to leave enough material to form a round head. I did one rivet at a time. Clamp a piece of steel just a little smaller than the hole in the trunnion in your vise to back up the rivet heads and slide the trunnion receiver assembly on to it. You will probably have to trim the round rivet head to allow you to slide the assembly onto the back up piece. Once you have the rivet head supported, begin hammering the shank that extends through the receiver. I hammered them flat about halfway, then began to hammer around the edges of the rivet to form a round head. By tapping the edges with a small hammer, you can get a pretty decent looking rivet head without the need to buy rivet-forming punches. Continue forming the head till you are sure it is tight, then proceed to the next rivet and repeat the process. Remember you want all your hammering force going into forming the rivet, not deforming your trunnion or receiver, so be sure your backing bar is supporting the rivet head. The two lower rivets will need to be installed next, using the same technique. After your rivets are set, be sure to check that

Install the fire control group. Matthews suggests ditching the shepherds crook spring and retaining parts with easily available and installable steel clips.

the heads on the inside of the trunnion hole are below its edge. If they are too high, file or grind the heads below the edge of the trunnion hole so that they wont interfere with re-installing the barrel. To locate your rear trunnion, you use the top cover to find a location that allows it to fit properly. Use the same methods that you used to locate the front trunnion to locate the rear. Locate holes, drill and rivet in place. While on the subject of the rear trunnion, I should mention one of the legal issues on building an AK pistol. A pistol must not have a buttstock or a means to attach one, so before installing your rear trunnion, modify the one you got in your rifle parts kit so that it cannot accept a buttstock. This may require cutting off the stock tang on some models or filling in any stock recesses in the trunnion on other models. I welded in the recesses for the folding stock hardware on my AMD-65 kit and ground it down flat. Now that both the trunnions are installed, its time to get the barrel back in place. Although a hydraulic press is the easiest

way of reinstalling the barrel, I did it the old-fashioned way with the trusty big hammer method You aint a gunsmith if you dont have a big hammer! There are two hammer methods and either will work; I tried both and got equal results. The first is to clamp the barrel in a vise and slide the trunnion/receiver assembly on to the barrel stub and use a soft piece of material as a punch and tap the trunnion/receiver onto the barrel till the crosspin hole lines up exactly. Hammer on the trunnion only as the receiver is too thin to hammer on. The other method is kind of a reverse of the first. Clamp trunnion/receiver assembly in a vise (be careful to clamp down only where the receiver is supported by the trunnion so you dont crush it). I also recommend that you use some wood blocks between the vise jaws and the receiver to prevent marring the receiver. Then insert the barrel into the trunnion and tap into place. Place a piece of soft material over the muzzle so that you dont mar the end of the barrel, I used an old muzzle brake that was

basically scrap material to protect the muzzle. I recommend small taps when you get close to lining up the crosspin so you dont go too far. The crosspin hole needs to be lined up almost perfectly. The barrel requires an interference fit, so I recommend the following procedure to make it easier to install. First lightly oil both the trunnion hole and barrel shank. Then place your barrel in your kitchen freezer; the cold will shrink the diameter slightly. With a propane torch, gently heat the trunnion to expand the trunnion hole; only heat it to 200-300. An alternative to guessing on the temperature would be to place your trunnion and receiver in your kitchen oven set to the proper temperature for about 30 minutes. Expanding the hole and shrinking the shank will make the two slide together a lot easier. Once you start sliding the hot trunnion and cold barrel together, dont piddle around, as the two will immediately begin to equalize their temperatures and again be very hard to slide together. Have a large wrench at hand so that if the barrel needs to be rotated to align the crosspin hole, it is there where you can get to it quickly. Once the crosspin hole is lined up perfectly, clamp the trunnion in your vise and reinstall the barrel crosspin. Lubing both the pin and the hole will make installation easier. I might add at this point that even though you are hammering things together, you just dont beat things together with large hammer blows, you want to apply the force precisely where it needs to be applied and not to the surrounding parts. If you arent confident reinstalling your barrel yourself I recommend taking it to the machine shop that removed it for you and having them reinstall it. Just make sure they understand how precisely the parts have to be assembled and make sure they dont damage anything during reassembly. Now that your trigger guard/mag release assembly, front trunnion, rear trunnion and barrel are installed, the hardest part is done. All that remains is to install the rest of your parts.
Cont. to page 76

ne of the biggest concerns of the novice AK builder is the issue of riveting the gun together. Some think that this is difficult and requires some great skill; nothing could be further than the truth. Some even question how a firearm can be safely built using those crude-looking old-fashioned rivets. Rivets are one of the oldest and well-proven methods of fastening items together. The industrial age was based on rivets!

a skill you can master

Rivets have stood the test of time as fasteners. This Port Huron steam tractor, made early in the last century, still stands up to high pressure with riveted construction.

Screws, nuts and bolts were only cheaply and readily available since the mid 1800s when high volume screw-making machinery became available. Before that, screws were basically hand-made and too expensive for most applications. Even into the mid 20th century, rivets were the most common fastener in applications like as shipbuilding, skyscraper construction and locomotives. When the AK-47 was redesigned in the 1950s to use the sheet metal receiver the manufacturers wanted a strong, permanent fastener and choose rivets! Although rivets are made from soft steel because they need to be malleable, they are more than adequate for the job. In a factory setting, the receiver and other parts are held in alignment by precision fixtures and fastened using pneumatic rivet squeezers. Its fast and can be done by semiskilled assemblers, a vital consideration in wartime when labor is scarce. The rivets in an AK are not under a great deal of stress. They only serve to hold the receiver and components together and in alignment. The barrel, front trunnion and bolt are the parts under stress at the time of firing. All forces of firing are contained within these parts. The receiver and riveted in components are there to allow the internal parts to reciprocate in the receiver for functioning and to provide a place to hang the magazine. The only stresses that are involved are the forces from recoil and the spring-driven bolt carrier assembly returning to battery.

Select rivets long enough to provide enough shank material to form an effective head. Too long means a lot of grinding, too short means a joint that might not hold.

Rivets also hold together some of the worlds most durable machine guns, most notably the Browning 1919 MG and the more recent FN-MAG (M240). These guns have a design life rated in the hundreds of thousands of rounds. Lets look at some extremely basic hand riveting methods. I did my rivet setting by hand with nothing more than a hammer, punches, and backup blocks. You can choose from a multitude of riveting tools and methods that range from basic rivet forming punches to hand held forming tools to hydraulically operated setting tools. Since hand riveting is so easy and there are only 15 rivets in an AK type firearm I could not justify the cost for the specialty tools. Rivets have to be soft enough so that the head will form without breaking or cracking, and long enough to extend through the parts to be assembled. Heads can be round, flat, short, tall, countersunk, etc., and each type will require a different amount of Cont. to page 76 extra material to form the heads.

Cont. from page 74

The rifle is complete, but is a motley collection of colors. Matthews suggests this is the time to do your test-firing, in case any modifications need to be made.

Manufacturing tolerances mean some minor hand-fitting of the remaining parts may be required. The fire control group needs to be installed in the receiver, but not just any fire control group, it needs to be a semi-auto fire control group. While the hammer and triggers are basically the same on the full auto and semi-auto, the semi-auto has a different disconnector. Either use a manufactured semi disconnector or modify the full auto disconnector by grinding off the tail so that it cannot be contacted by the safety/selector. The safety lever is installed by orienting it straight up, sliding through the hole in the receiver and then rotating it down into place. You will have to push the disconnector forward to allow it to be put into position. The fire control group in a semi AK consist of a hammer, trigger, disconnector, safety lever, hammer spring, disconnector spring, two pins and a pin retainer spring. If your kit comes with any of the full-auto fire control parts, I recommend that you throw them away just to stay legal. You dont need them and possession of them can be construed by law enforcement as intent to make an unregistered full-auto gun.

One thing that has caused a lot of frustration to AK builders is installing the shepherds hook spring that holds in the hammer and trigger pins, its just flat out difficult to install. The simplest solution to this is to just throw it away and use E-clips or pin retaining clips that are available at hardware stores. After your fire control group is installed, attach your pistol grip with the long screw and the angled nut that fits into the inside of the receiver. The lower handguard fits into the recess under the front trunnion at the rear. A lever on it rotates a cam that allows it to slide forward to allow handguard installation. The gas tube/upper handguard is installed between the gas port block and the sight base. It also has a lever and cam for removing and locking in place. Install the bolt into the bolt carrier and install it into the receiver followed by the recoil spring assembly. The spring end goes

into the back of the bolt carrier and the lug on the rear of the spring assembly engages into the groove in the rear trunnion. Slide the front of the top cover into the groove in the rear sight base and the rear in the groove that is machined into the rear trunnion and is held by the square spring loaded lug on the rear of the recoil spring. If you are doing a rifle build, this is the point at which you install the buttstock. That part is usually held in place by fitting into the rear of the receiver and by two additional screws. If you have a flash suppressor or muzzle brake, screw it onto the barrel. It will lock in place by the spring-loaded pin in the front sight base. Since one of the more popular U.S.-made parts to be replaced is the gas piston, I need to mention that not all gas pistons are the same. Model variations with different length barrels sometimes have different length gas pistons. For example, the 12.5-inch barreled AMD-65 doesnt have the same piston as the 16-inch standard models. Also the AK-74 and the AK-47 have slightly different piston lengths, but you can modify the bolt carrier in the AK-74 by shortening it to use a standard AK-47 piston. If you use the wrong piston, your gun may not function properly, so be sure to use one that is compatible with your parts kit.
Cont. to page 78

Cont. from page 74

Simply flattening the head about halfway is the first step in hand-forming a rivet. To get a rounded profile, you just start tapping the edges against the workpiece.

For this AK project I didnt want a large head protruding from the sides of my receiver and about 3/16 extra was all that was needed for forming my heads. As shown in the picture, you start with a rivet protruding from your work. With a hammer (or hammer and punch if you prefer) hammer the solidly supported head down about 1/2 its length.

To form the traditional round shape on the rivet head, just begin tapping around the edges of the rivet to round it over, work your way around the head till you have a nicely rounded head that is tight on your work. This forming is done with many light taps, not heavy hammer blows. After you have properly formed the head, smooth it up with a small file or grinder. Make sure that your rivet is always well supported so that all your hammering force is going into the rivet and not deforming your parts. If its not properly supported, all you will do is push your rivet out of your parts! For backing blocks I used flat blocks of steel (except for the backing block in the barrel hole). Flat blocks will cause the opposite heads to flatten somewhat when forming the head but since I didnt want protruding heads, this was fine with me. If you want to retain the round heads on the opposite ends you will have to have a backing block with a head shape machined into the block. Although the hammer method will work fine, you can also use a rivet head forming punch, which will allow you to form the head in one operation. This is simply a punch with a recess formed in the end that will allow the rivet shank to form a head as it is struck. It will still take many hits to form the head but it does make a nice looking head that requires no finish work. This punch can be bought or made. To make one, just grind a depression in the end of a large punch in the shape of a rivet head with a small stone in a Dremel Moto-tool. Just remember to make it large enough to form a head that is large enough not to pull though your work pieces. As with any project, there are some tips that may make the job easier or give better results. Here are a few. Always keep your parts firmly clamped together when riveting; you dont want to get your head all formed only to find out that the parts are loosely fitted. A lot of small hits work better when hand setting rivets that a few large hits, the hammer is easier to control and you will make fewer mistakes. When forming the heads, the rivet shanks in your work will expand and be very difficult to remove if you screw up and want to redo them (dont ask how I know this!), its best to get them

Grind a recess into the end of a large punch and youve made a rivet head punch. It will give a nicely rounded head (r.) without a lot of grinding and finishing needed.

right the first time. If you choose to use generic rivets rather than ones already sized for your project like I did you will have to experiment to get the right length for proper head forming. If you are uncertain on using the generic rivets, by all means spend the extra money for the ready-made ones for your own peace of mind. You can find a variety of sources for rivets on the Internet, and the sites make for interesting reading. Dont be intimidated by riveting. Remember medieval blacksmiths were riveting hundreds of years ago, its not high tech! Whether you use basic hand tools or the expensive rivet setting tools, you are just squashing a soft piece of metal

Cont. from page 76

One of the big incentives of building yourself is the cost savings. For the AMD-65 pistol build I had $130 in the parts, $85 in the receiver and about $20 in finishing cost for a total of $235, which is about $200 under the wholesale price of a factory-built AK pistol. This was a huge cost savings and well worth the work involved. The need for U.S.-made parts and the higher kit price meant the AK-74 rifle cost more. The kit cost $200, the receiver cost me $65, the U.S. made parts were about $85 and the KG GunKote was about $25 for a total of $375. This is also about $200 under wholesale price for factory-built AK-74 rifles. Add on dealer mark up and the cost savings are even greater. The large cost savings plus the satisfaction of knowing that you built it yourself make this a very attractive project. If you are willing to put in some work and study the project this may be one for you. I enjoyed the project and saved money so it doesnt get much better for me!

These are the 20 parts that are regulated by the BATFE for the construction of semi-auto rifles. No more than 10 of these parts can be imported and used to construct a semi-auto rifle. Note: Not all rifles have all the parts on the list. 1 Frames, receivers, receiver castings, forgings or stampings 2 Barrels 3 Barrel extensions 4 Mounting blocks(trunnions), receivers and trunnions may be counted as one part if in one piece 5 Muzzle attachments 6 Bolts 7 Bolt carriers 8 Operating rods 9 Gas pistons 10 Trigger housings 11 Triggers 12 Hammers 13 Sears 14 Disconnectors 15 Buttstocks 16 Pistol grips 17 Forearms, Handguards 18 Magazine bodies 19 Magazine followers 20 Magazine floorplates 100-yard accuracy. I was skeptical about how a pistol this large would handle. Although it was very heavy by pistol standards, I found that from a sandbag rest (with small magazines) I could shoot it as well as any long barrel pistol. It was a bit like a big semi-auto T-C Contender. Recoil was nowhere near as heavy as a 44 Mag. handgun yet the ballistic tables would indicate similar muzzle energies. At 100 yards I could shoot the AK pistol somewhat better than my S&W 629 44 Mag. with 838-inch barrel. Any combination of these parts can be used as long as no more than 10 imported parts are used, however certain parts are more commonly used by builders. The most popular U.S. parts to use are hammers, triggers, disconnectors, receivers, gas pistons, pistol grips, stocks, muzzle attachments (flash suppressors, muzzle brakes), magazine bodies, followers and floorplates.

Matthews chose KG GunKote finish for the rifle, hot tank bluing for the pistol. These guns arent going to have a shiny commercial look, but can stand on their own.

Once all your parts are installed, I recommend you do a final check of all your parts and how they function and then test fire before you proceed to final finishing. You may find some minor fitting problems that need correction before you apply the finish. There are a multitude of finish options ranging from simple spray paint to traditional or high tech finishes. For the AMD-65 pistol build I went with a traditional hot tank bluing job that I did myself. For the AK-74 rifle build I went with KG GunKote in charcoal gray that I also applied in my workshop. KG GunKote is a sprayed-on phenolic resin finish that is baked on to form a hard and durable finish and is an excellent finish for military firearms. These two finishing methods have been covered in previous articles that I have written for SGN if you are interested in the process of applying them. Another popular finish is Lauer Custom Weaponrys DuraCoat, which has also been covered in a previous article. I suppose the final test of how well you built your guns is how well they work. I guess I got lucky because both of mine worked extremely well. Both functioned fine and the AK-74 was especially surprising in how accurately it shot. Most AKs in 7.62x39mm will generally only shoot 6-inch groups at 100 yards. This rifle shoots 3-4" groups, even with the crude AK sights. I cant help but wonder how well it would do with a scope. I compared this AK-74 to a Polytech AK -47 7.62 sidefolder I have had for about 15 years and the AK-74 shot considerably better. The AK-47 pistol was something of a surprise also but not for

Semi-auto AK-47(74) Resource List

Information on building
http://www.akfiles.com American Gunsmithing Institute, 1325 Imola Ave. W., Suite 504, Dept. SGN, Napa, Calif., 94559, www.americangunsmith.com K-VAR, 5015 W. Sahara Ave., #125 PMB-136, Dept. SGN, Las Vegas, Nev. 89146-3407 www.K-VAR.com Clearview Investments Inc., 102 Fieldview Dr., Suite 300, Dept. SGN, Versailles, Ky. 40383 www.clearviewinvest.com Akron Armory, 2419 Front St., Dept. SGN, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, 44221 www.akronarmory.com email:AkronArmory@aol.com Ohio Rapidfire, 537 N. Elm St., Dept. SGN, Troy, Ohio, 45373 www.ohiorapidfire.com

Parts, acessories and receivers

Tapco, P.O. Box 2408, Dept. SGN, Kennesaw, Ga., 30144 www.Tapco.com Inter Ordnance, 3305 Westwood Industrial Drive, Dept. SGN, Monroe, N.C. 28110 www.intreordnance.com Ohio Ordnance Works, P.O. Box 687, Dept. SGN, Chardon, Ohio, 44024 www.ohioordnance.com