Lessons learned from military surplus rifles

Following my ‘rooney gun’ post below, I thought it might be fun to revisit a meme that’s been doing the rounds on shooting forums and blogs for some years now. It’s “Things You Know If You Have A [insert name of military surplus rifle here]”. The ‘things’ usually take the form of a particular attribute, and how a given rifle handles or deals with that thing. For example, cleaning the weapon:

AK-47: It works though you have never cleaned it. Ever.

M16/AR15: You have $9 per ounce special non-detergent synthetic Teflon infused oil for cleaning.

Mosin-Nagant: It was last cleaned in Berlin in 1945.

MAS-36: It was last cleaned somewhere in the jungles of Viet Nam.

Arisaka: It was last cleaned somewhere in a jungle in the south pacific by a Japanese soldier that didn’t surrender until thirty years after World War 2.

(Click on the name of each weapon above for a description of it.)

You’ll find many other ‘things to know’ (most of them tongue in cheek) on two Web pages: here for the first three weapons mentioned above, and here for the last two. Enjoy!


1 comment

  1. Just a quick comment from someone who has been intimately involved in manufacturing AK's.

    The controversy over accuracy between the AK and the AR is always couched in the wrong terms.

    As delivered the standard AR in 5.56 is somewhat over 1 MOA, with SUB-MOA easily available.

    A well-made AK (e.g. Polish or Hungarian or Bulgarian)in 7.62×39 from the military factory should be between 2 and 4 MOA, with something amiss if it goes over 4 MOA. The variability causing this was never really sorted out at the factory, since the 4 MOA met the design criterion of a skilled marksman being able to hit a man in the chest at 300 meters. (most AR guys also couldn't hit the man at 300 meters, since very few riflemen can be described as skilled)

    We were able to select rifles from our production that would group under 2" at 100 yards with cheap ammo, with the best being around 1.75"

    But this is not a direct comparison to the AR. We built a series of AK's in 5.56, actually with NATO spec chambers. There was the usual variability in these rifles, but it ranged from .5" to 1.5" at 100 yards. Only a few examples opened up to 2+ ". One of these rifles won a police shooting competition restricted to open sights, shooting against some very expensive "bench queen" ARs. The owner related that he though he was going to have to use the rifle to defend himself while leaving the match. The AR guys were furious. The truth was of course that the ARs were more accurate but the AK shooter was better than they were. (he was a retired Marine sniper)

    Later, we built some 5.56 examples using mostly standard parts and only very small assembly modifications that were remarkably accurate. In the hands of a very skilled retired military shooter, one example would consistently shoot 1.75" groups at 300 yards using the original iron sights, a standard design trigger, and good-grade military ammo. This was not the standard military ammo that will not group below 3 MOA in a target rifle.

    All of the rifles I mention were fully AK reliable. We did nothing that would change its ability to operate full of sand, mud, or years of accumulated gunk.

    The story of why the AK is so reliable is an interesting one, but too long to detail here.

    Just my $.02 worth.

    Someone who's been there

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