Category Archives: AK & Related Rifles

Used to discuss AK-47, AK-74, and related rifles

8mm Mauser “Realistic Snap Caps” Are Great For Testing

I’m tuning a bunch of Yugo M76 magazines so they no longer nose dive when the bolt hold open (BHO) follower is hit from behind. It involves welding a small tab of 20 gauge sheet metal behind the follower and is straight forward – I’ll write a post about it shortly. The challenge I ran into was the need to reliably test ammunition feeding safely.

I had to add in the “safely” comment. I would tell you to never use live ammo when you are doing this kind of work because an accidental discharge could happen for a ton of reasons. There are a number of companies that make dummy rounds to enable folks to safely test their weapons. You’ll hear these rounds called things like “dummy rounds”, “snap caps”, “action proving rounds”, and probably tons of other things.

They tend to be made either from machined aluminum or from real components – such as real brass cases and jull metal jacket (FMJ) bullets – that are asssembled without powder and usually something rubbery in the primer pocket to protect the firing pin during dry firing. Assuming you are using a reputable vendor who is making the rounds to accurate dimensional specificaitons, either will work. The issue is longevity – especially in a big semi-auto rifle.

Aluminum is inherently soft. I’ve used a number of makers’ products over the years and some get chewed up real fast by heavy actions that slam rounds into the chamber with force. I’ve literally had chips/shavings of aluminum fall out after soft aluminum met hardened steel.

So, in order to safely test the feeding of the M76, I knew I could not go with aluminum rounds. I did some searching around and found “Realistic Snap Cap” brand and they take the route of producing an inert round (meaning not “live” because there is no powder and primer).

For reasons I’m not clear on, the firm makes two 8mm mauser snap caps – one with a blunted nose and one with a full size FMJ bullet that is the normal length. I did not know this when I ordered a package of five off Amazon because I mistakenly assumed the product photo shown accidentally did not show the top of the bullet.

You can see the blunt snap cap vs. a full size one. Do not use the blunt rounds to test a M76.

I really do not know why they made the blunted rounds. It might have been for people wanting to test hollow points, soft points or maybe wanting an even more positive identifier that it was a test round. Whatever the reason, they work horribly in a semi-auto M76.

I couldn’t blame the maker or Amazon because I knew better that to try a shorter than spec round that had a blunted nose vs. the curvature of a FMJ round that assists with feeding. I was too caught up in the “let’s get this done” mindset so it was my own fault.

The short rounds were made well so I did some digging and they did make a full size 8mm Mauser model described as “Advanced Tactical 8mm Mauser” that I ordered. Ok, now these work great.

They are well made and the patina is a pretty quick visual indicator that they are snap caps but never ever have live ammo anywhere near a firearm you are working on or you are risking an accident especially if you are tired.

Thanks to the right snap caps, I could then test all of the magazines and the snap caps held up great. Just be sure to get the full size ones if you are testing an M76 and would bet that their other calibers are equally well done.


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My Cool New Kalashnikov Coffee Cup

Guys, I must confess that I have a coffee addiction 🙂 As most of you know, I am into AK rifles as well. As part of that interest, I have read every biography I could find of Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov to try and better understand what led to the creation of the AK-47 and the eventual family of Kalashnikov designs.

Recently I was searching on Amazon and surprisingly found a coffee cup with a great photo of a young Kalashnikov that was tastefully done and, of courcase, had to order it. I had to wait a few weeks as it shipped from Germany.

When it arrived, I was surprised that the graphic was a different color than what the Amazon ad depicted. I thought about returning it but I do like the cup. The following shows you the cup that arrived – it is pretty cool and the color has grown on me.

My wife’s reaction was “Why did you buy another coffee cup?” To which I answered “But honey, this is Kalashnikov” at which she just turned around while shaking her head 🙂

In case you are looking for a conversation piece, check out this cup.

If you don’t see an Amazon listing, go to Amazon and search for: B07CMXMNNX


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.



The Russian Ratnik Program – The Evolution of the Future Infantry Combat System

In past blog posts, I have featured the modernization efforts of the base Kalashnikov rifle that resulted in the 5.45×39 AK-12. What many people do not know is that this was just part of a much broader Russian program to create a future infantry combat system. The name of this program is “Ratnik” (Ратник) that translates as warrior.

While R&D started ear;lier, prototype Ratnik kits for the first generation components were delivered in 2013. Firearms, optics, communication, navigation, uniform, load bearing and body armor elements were accepted into service on October 23, 2014. Approximate 200,000 sets were delivered by September 2017, and 100% adoption is estimated in 2020 of the Ratnik-2 system. Ratnik-3 hasn’t been released yet but the suit will include a powered exoskeleton to improve strength, speed and stamina.

Overall, what you are seeing is a concerted move away from the Soviet doctrine of volumes of relative untrained and marginally equipped armed forces personnel (all branches exclude Spetsnaz) to that of a professional modern force of trained and well equipped soldiers.

Soldier with an AK-12 rifle with a blank firing adapter. He is wearing a 6B45 ballistic vest, 6sh117 lightweight individual carrying equipment, and, 6B47 helmet.

Soldier with an AK-12 rifle with a blank firing adapter. He is wearing a 6B45 ballistic vest, 6sh117 lightweight individual carrying equipment, and, 6B47 helmet. 6B50 Protective goggles, 6B51 knee and elbow pads were part of Ratnik also.
Better view of the 76B47 helpes with covers and the 6B50 eye goggles.
This is the 6B46 tactical vest
Improved communications capabilities.

The Videos

The following video is in Russian but affords the viewer a really good opportunity to see the Ratnik-1 and -2 equipment first hand.

The following is a brief video showing Russian Paratroopers doing drills in Pskov.


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Please note that any images shown were extracted from the videos and remain the property of their respective owner(s).


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October 2018 Tour of the Polish Fabryka Broni “ŁUCZNIK” Radom Arsenal Production Facility

This amazing video has four parts. First is a private tour of the FB “Łucznik” Radom factory and you will note the extensive automation, cleanliness and attention to detail. The second part is a media group touring the facility and the third is a montage of military groups shooting Beryls and different weapons.

You get to see a variety of weapons including the Mod.96 Beryl, Mod.96 Mini-Beryl, PM-06 and PM-98 submachine guns, the MSBS GROT and more.

Here’s the Video


Please note that all images are extracts from the video and remain the property of their respective owner(s),


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Brief Overview of Russian RPK-16

At a tradeshow, a representative gives a brief overview of the RPK-16 light machine gun in 5.45×39. He highlights design features including the adjustable buttstock, full length Picatinny rail, 4 kilogram light weight, 96 round drum, ability to use AK magazines, free floating handguard, different barrel lengths and that the barrels can be changed in the field.

The RPK-16 builds on the innovations developed for the AK-12.
The RPK-16 in 5.45×39 can use a 96-round drum or standard AK magazines.

Here’s The Video


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Please note that all images are extracts from the video and remain the property of their respective owner(s).


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Larry Vickers Interview in Russia – Is the AK Outdated?

During his visit to Russia in 2018, Larry Vickers was interviewed by
Vladimir Onokoy, a technical consultant with the Kalashnikov Concern, about Larry’s views on the traditional AK platform.

The two discussed a number of topics and I’ll just hit some personal highlights that I found interesting:

  • Larry mentioned that people get hung up on the design of the safety and the short sight radius but the positives of the design far outweigh the negatives. This is especially true because the safety works just fine once you get used to it and the addition of a good red dot is a game changer. I agree with both points.
  • Vladimir asked Larry his caliber preference. Larry said if he had to only pick one, it would be 7.62×39. That’s definitely my go-to caliber for the rifle.
  • Larry made a really interesting point – the tapers of the 7.62×39 and 5.45×39 aid in reliable feeding in the AK platform. The 5.56×45 is at a disadvantage because it does not have the same degree of taper. That caught my attention – I never really stopped and thought about the impacts of case taper on reliability given how to AK operates. Interesting point.

So, is the AK obsolete? In my opinion, it is an extensible platform but watch this interesting video and here Larry’s thoughts first hand.


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The inventor of the AK-47. Autograph of Mikhail Timofeevich Kalashnikov

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Polish Armed Forces – How Strong Are They?

Being interested in AK weapons also leads me to an interest in the militaries that used them.  AKs are in military use in 106 countries and the USSR licensed production to 30 countries including East Germany, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Poland, and Yugoslavia just to name a few.  Interestingly enough, there have been some licensing issues but that is a topic for another day.

One of the high quality producers of small arms is Poland.  In my opinion, their AKs and other small arms are very well made.  When I started to research about their Beryl series, I was surprised to find out that Poland has been very pragmatic with their weapons and are leveraging designs from Eastern and Western countries.

A Polish soldier with a kbs wz. 1996C Beryl.
Polish soldiers with kbs wz. 1996A Beryls.  I’m pretty sure these are A-series rifles because with the B, they introduced a fixed front grip that is integral with the lower handguard.
Another soldier with a kbs wz.1996C series Beryl. 
The Poles use the Russian Hind-D gunship and plans to modernize them.  This is one of my favorite helicopters so I had to include the photo.

A young man assembled the below video about the Armed Fores of the Republic of Poland as part of his Facts Without Borders broadcast series and found it very interesting.  He has assembled some excellent footage and commentary about the Polish military including aspects you may not have considered.  You ought to consider subscribing to his channel on Youtube also.

Here’s the video


Please note that all photos were extracted from the photo and remain the property of their respective owner(s).


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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AK-200, AK-308, AM-17 and AMB-17 At Army 2018 in Moscow

DefenseWeb attended the Army 2018 expo in Moscow and released this video where they interviewed Vladmir Onokoy, a technical consultant with the Kalashnikov and experienced AK armorer, about Kalashnikov Concern’s new AK-200, AK-308, AM-17 and AMD-17 rifles.

AK-201 rifle in 5.56×45.  The AK-20x family of weapons is available in 5.45×39, 5.56×45 and 7.62×39 plus in long and short versions.
AK-308 for countries wishing to use 7.62×51/.308 ammo
AM-17 compact assault rifle that replaces the out of production AKS-74U.
AMB-17 compact assault rifle with integral suppressor.
To the left is the AM-17 and the AMB-17 is to the right.

The AM-17 and AMB-17 are of special interest to me as some groups are looking for compact weapons and this rifle will have to compete against the well established Tula’s AS Val, VSS Vintorez and SR-3 rifles.

Here’s the video


Please note that all photos above are extracted from the video.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Kalashnikov Concern Reviews the Hungarian AK-55 and AKM-63/AMD-63

I am really enjoying these videos that Kalashnikov Concern in Russia is producing. In this video, Vladimir Onokoy, a technical consultant with the Kalashnikov and experienced AK armorer, discusses the Hungarian AK evolution with Pavel Pticin, founder of the AK-info.ru web portal, who has extensive AK knowledge.

I’ve always liked Hungarian AKs and found them to be high quality.  Over the years I’ve built several AMD-65s and an AMMS.  The kits all had original barrels and I was impressed by the fit and finish of the parts plus the rifles just ran and ran with no problems.  They are definitely unique AK variants and I was actually really interested to watch this video and learned quite a bit.

Vladimir actually showed photos of a modified AK-63D that he encountered in Somalia.  He mentioned how very impressed he was that it was still running with very little maintenance for close to 20 years.

This is one of Vladimir’s photos of the Somalian AK.  Pavel noted it was likely an AK-63D with a cut down barrel, modified gas block and an AMD-65 muzzle break.  One can’t help but wonder who did the work and why.

The video is just over 12 minutes and they discuss the early AK-55 rifle that is very similar to the Type 2 AK-47 with a milled receiver.  They then move to a discussion of the AKM-63 (I’ve always heard it referred to as the AMD-63 in the US) with its distinctive handguard and grips plus other design differences.

As you may know, I own Ronin’s Grips and we make replica AMD grips.  In one of the funniest gun video lines ever, Vladimir noted that the designer who decided to put an identical pistol grip at the front but simply reverse it deserved a medal!  The Hungarians wanted to add it to improve accuracy and control under full auto fire. 

Both Vladimir and Pavel noted that the front grip made reloading problematic and Vladimir pointed out that he had encountered rifles with the front grip cut down to reduce interference with loading magazines.

I finally got the best explanation ever as to why they used that bluish colored plastic.  When the Hungarians decided to experiment with and move to polymer stocks, they lacked the ability to manufacture the base plastic.  Because they were a Socialist country aligned with the USSR, the only plastic they could find that they could buy and import was a bluish plastic intended for dish making!  You know what, that makes sense to me and what I will explain going forward.

The blue color is because the only plastic they could buy abroad was intended for dish making!

Lastly, they brought up some great examples of unique features you will see in the AKM/AMD rifles:

  • Distinctive pistol grip design
  • Metal lower handguard with no gas tube cover
  • The selector notches are labeled with an infinity diagram for full auto and a “1” for semi-auto.
  • The rear sight leaf has an “A” on it
The Hungarians used unique selector markings – the infinity loop is for full auto and the “1” is for semi-auto.
The rear sight leaf has an “A” on it.

Here’s the video


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Prototype AK-47 Underfolder Circa 1948

Kalashnikov Concern released an interesting short video of this prototype 7.62x39mm AK-47 that they say dates to around 1948.  There are some interesting design features to point out:

  • A sheet metal receiver with no reinforcing center rivet/spacer visible.
  • The muzzle brake is integral with the barrel
  • The fire control group is permanently mounted
  • The cocking handle is a hollow tube
Source:  Photo from the video

Source:  Photo from the video

Here’s the Video:


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