People I know have regularly mocked my “cheap” WASR-10 AK pattern rifle, calling it trash and every other name in the book. But they could never get the rifle to fail. In fact, I have never experienced a misfire or jam with an AK in nearly 2 decades. Meanwhile, they would struggle with malfunction with AR-15s while I plinked away happily with my cheap Romanian.
Loose tolerances, forged trunnions, bolt carrier groups, and a cold hammer forged and chrome lined barrel are all hallmarks of imported former Communist-bloc (com-bloc) AK pattern rifles. It is what adds to their reliability, longevity, and durability. In fact, we have almost taken for granted with boring expectation the ability to pick up an AK, put in a mag full of ammo, and pop every round off without a single hiccup.
This has become the expectation of the AKs in America. Often touted, errantly, as an inaccurate blunderbuss, it is also known as the inaccurate blunderbuss that will always function. Hundreds of thousands of imported AKs have led to this credibility. This includes, Steyr Maadis, Norinco Type 56S and Mak90 rifles, Polytech series AKs, Russian Saiga rifles, Hungarian SA-85s, Romanian SARs and WASRs, Arsenal, and Zastava rifles. These are just some of the AK rifles with solid reputations for reliability.
WBP from Poland has shown a ton of promise as well, and now complete polish AKM rifles are being imported.
Lately, a new line of thinking has emerged. Many believe a AK pattern rifle built in the USA would be vastly superior to anything made in a communist sweat shop. It would surpass commie rifles in reliability and accuracy. Surely, we have superior steel and workmanship? The truth could not be farther away from this assumption. First, most US made AKs, especially those made here in the states by Century Arms, and IO, use many cast parts. Second, they have used softer and inferior steel that does not hold up to the same level as the same steel used in European AK manufacture.
Now even with cast parts and soft steel, these firearms should not fall apart right off the bat. But it has been well documented that IO and Century USA made AKs quickly disintegrate when put through real world testing. In fact, both company’s Kalashnikov rifles have failed to pass Rob Ski’s 5000-round test with the well-respected AK Operator’s Union. IO Inc. has further cut corners and installs all AK barrels improperly, using the barrel itself as a “bucking bar” and crushing the rivets against it. A big no-no in the world of AK production. IO rifles also incorporate a recoil buffer made of rubber which fails after 1,000 rounds or so leaving the rifle useless until replaced with another buffer. Both rifles were judged “unsafe for use” by Rob Ski.
They aren’t the only ones. For quite some time, the American made AK’s have been known for using less than stellar workmanship and inferior materials. Held up to the consumer as “The Gold Standard of AK Rifles”, they have been anything but. In case after case, YouTube video after video, the evidence of faulty and shoddy construction and materials is there in abundance.
This has led to many AK enthusiasts shouting “Com-Bloc AKs or Bust”. The reliability, longevity, and superiority of what was once thought to be nothing but a cheap rifle, has been proven. Ron from Battlefield Las Vegas, has posted many write-ups on AR15.com and akfiles.com, again proving the longevity of communist produced AK rifles over their American made AKs. Romanian WASRs, known as the “cheap truck gun,” are documented lasting to 100,000 rounds of fully automatic fire (rifles modified to fire in full automatic), before catastrophic failure. An AR-15 goes to 20,000 rounds on average.
Destructive Devices Inc. (DDI) and Palmetto State Armory were and are the first two domestic producers of 100% American made AKs that showed promise. DDI has gone the way of the DoDo bird and now a few other companies are stepping up to try to meet demand. Using billet and hammer forged parts, Their AKs are being documented to pass torture tests and last. The reliability of com-bloc weapons is also there as well. The next few years will show how well the AKs from these two companies stack up to imported AKs, but the future finally looks promising.
Until then, it is Com-Bloc or Bust!
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