Best AK-47 Rifles To Buy [2022 Guide]
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Best AK-47 Rifles To Buy [2022 Guide]

We’ll talk about the best AK-47 rifles on the market today. I’ll compare their characteristics, features, what they excel at, and where they flop, so you can...

ImageProductPrice
Zastava ZPAP M70Our Top PickZastava ZPAP M70Check Price
Arsenal SAM7R Arsenal SAM7R AK-47 Check Price
Century Arms WASR-10 Semi Automatic Modern Sporting Rifle Best Budget Option –Century Arms WASR-10 AK-47 Check Price
Kalashnikov USA KR-103 Best Polymer Option –Kalashnikov USA KR-103-3 Check Price
PSA AK-47 GF3 MOEkov Semi-Automatic Rifle Best Moddable Option – PSA AK-47 GF3 MOEkov Semi-Automatic RifleCheck Price

Intro

Undoubtedly one of the most iconic rifles in history, the AK-47—“Avtomat Kalashnikova 1947”—is a reliable assault rifle in the 7.62x39mm caliber.

It’s a global standard in firearms built to withstand the desert sands, the Amazonian rains, and, apparently, the muddy North Carolina waters.

Syrian Democratic Forces fighter with an AK-47
Syrian Democratic Forces fighter with an AK-47. Source: Wikimedia

There has been a significant rise and demand within the AK-47 market in the US. I bet it’s because of the talk in the Congress about Assault Weapon Bans, specifically, banning and restricting AK-style rifle sales.

But, how can one truly decide on a good modernized AK-47 platform with so many variants, models, and brands out there?

I suggest you stick to this guide.

We’ll talk about the best AK-47 rifles on the market today. I’ll compare their characteristics, features, what they excel at, and where they flop, so you can see if it suits your shooting style.

But first, a little history.

The AK-47 – A Brief History

Kalashnikov himself never thought to see the assault rifle in the modern market, let alone witness his legacy take the world by storm.

A tank crewman (and an occasional poet!) that sustained some injuries, a young Mikhail Kalashnikov became a firearms designer and engineer who tried out a few promising yet unsuccessful sub-machine guns and carbines in the 1940s.

Slowly learning from his mistakes, he managed to design the AK-47 to protect his country’s borders, which would later become the main firearm of the Eastern Bloc during the Cold War.

He built it with a long-stroke gas piston that can withstand all kinds of conditions and temperatures and made it as reliable, durable, and efficient as possible, built for continuous shooting on the front lines.

Today, the AK-47 is an easily recognizable firearm that anyone would like to get their hands on. The AR-15 might be the most common semi-auto rifle in the US, but the AK-47 dominates the global market.

Since there’s a liberal grant of license to manufacture, the AK-47 is widely copied throughout the world. Not only that, but it’s so easy to manufacture from scratch, that manufacturers today are willing to make some really cool modernized rifles on this platform.

Simply put, I believe that the AK-47 might as well be the ultimate semi-automatic rifle.

Top 5 AK-47 Rifles

Our Top Pick – Zastava ZPAP M70

Zastava ZPAP M70
Zastava Arms ZPAPM70 Unboxing (2)
Zastava Arms ZPAPM70 Unboxing

Specifications and Details

  • Magazine capacity: 30+1
  • Barrel length: 16.3 inches
  • Overall length: 35 inches
  • Stock: Dark Walnut; Black Polymer; Serbian Red
  • Finish: Blued steel
  • Weight: 7.9 pounds without magazines

Pros

  • One of the most reliable modernized AK-47 rifles
  • Surprisingly low recoil for an AK-47
  • Easy customization
  • Excellent trigger with smooth pull and trigger break
  • Zastava Arms USA limited lifetime warranty

Cons

  • Some orders come with a canted front sight, but they’re easy to fix

If you’ve seen the Romanian, Bulgarian, American, or Russian AK imports and still can’t decide, then go for the Zastava. I’m convinced there aren’t many platforms that come close to the modern ZPAP M70.

Zastava’s ZPAP M70 AK-47 relies on a greatly improved mechanism and internal parts with a modern twist while staying true to the classic Soviet aesthetics. The mid-tier price is nothing compared to the features and overall feel.

Since Yugoslavia has been long-disintegrated, you can call this PAP-series behemoth Serbian-made, as per the manufacturing plant that’s located in Kragujevac.

New Zastava USA ZPAP

Built with a cold hammer-forged, chrome-lined barrel, a threaded muzzle, incorporating fully interchangeable AK magazines, and a 1.5 mm thick stamped receiver, best believe the ZPAP M70 honors the old design.

Zastava Arms ZPAPM70 stock

Most importantly, the ZPAP M70 boasts unmatched reliability and low reports of misfires and feeding failures, according to loads and loads of YouTube torture tests, customer feedback, and word of mouth.

Simply put, it’s a Yugoslav-made AK-47 platform with a fiery temper and a no-nonsense attitude.

Runner-Up – Arsenal SAM7R AK-47

Arsenal SAM7R
Arsenal SAM7R Review

Specifications and Details

  • Magazine capacity: 10+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 16.3 inches
  • Overall length: 36.5 inches
  • Stock: American-made trapdoor-style
  • Finish: Black polymer
  • Weight: 8 pounds

Pros

  • Exceptional build and milled construction
  • AK-scope rail
  • Hard chrome-plated bore and chamber
  • Steyr manufacturing technology
  • Threaded muzzle and bayonet lug
  • Comes with a cleaning kit
  • Bayonet lug

Cons

  • A traditional wood finish would’ve been nicer than a polymer
  • Only 10 rounds

Here come the Slavs again.

Arsenal SAM7R 7.62x39mm AK-47 (6)
Arsenal SAM7R 7.62x39mm AK-47 (5)
Arsenal SAM7R 7.62x39mm AK-47 (4)

Arsenal AK rifles penetrated the US market in the early 90s when the Soviet communist regime was at its end. Truth be told, the Bulgarians kept the original blueprint for a really long time.

Arsenal SAM7R 7.62x39mm AK-47 (3)

The thing is, most AK-producing countries quickly switched to AKM (modernized) rifles, but not the Bulgarians. They continued producing milled quality stuff, and the Arsenal SAM7R AK-47 is a shining example.

The Bulgarian-made Arsenal SAM7R AK-47 rifles are as close as they can get to the original Soviet platforms. It’s built like a tank, using a milled receiver with exceptional reliability and longevity.

There are multiple models available, like the side-folding SAM-7SF and the SA M-7 Classic with wooden furniture and under-folding stock.

The stock is a strong black polymer with exceptional ergonomics, and the muzzle is threaded, so you have the opportunity to replace it with some cool muzzle breaks. Although, I wouldn’t change a thing. The bayonet lug is a nice addition as well.

Arsenal SAM7R 7.62x39mm AK-47 (2)

The one thing I don’t like is the 10-round capacity, but hey, it comes with a free cleaning kit.

Best Budget Option – Century Arms WASR-10 AK-47

Century Arms WASR-10 Semi Automatic Modern Sporting Rifle
Century Arms WASR 10 AK47 Review (5)
Century Arms WASR 10 AK47 Review (4)

Specifications and Details

  • Magazine capacity: 30+1
  • Barrel length: 16.25 inches
  • Overall length: 34.25 inches
  • Stock: Wood
  • Finish: Black nitride
  • Weight: 7.5 pounds

Pros

  • A classic AK-47 feel
  • Surprisingly reliable for a budget option
  • Customizable and sturdy
  • 40-round magazine available
  • Has that classic AK-47 design

Cons

  • Customers report rattling magazine wells
  • Folding stock might not be for everyone

Here’s the common people’s choice, the ultimate AK-47 budget option that actually shoots.

The Century Arms WASR-10 with a stamped receiver, hammer-forged barrel, and RAK-1 enhanced trigger group is built to spew hellfire, and by Golly, it does.

The Romanian Cugir firearms manufacturer produced it, and Century Arms imports it under this name.

It’s a stamped AK-47 platform with a riveting that could use a bit more work. Additionally, the magwell could loosen up as well, but hey, that’s a budget option for you.

Century Arms WASR 10 AK47 Review (3)

On the other hand, the safeties and the pistol grip are intuitive and convenient, while the overall handling as you fire rapid follow-ups could be decent enough for anyone.

Century Arms WASR 10 AK47 Review (2)

The Century Arms WASR-10 shines when it comes to customization. It has a Magpul MOE furniture, side mount scope rail, interchangeable wooden parts, and takes all standard AK magazines. There’s a 40-round magazine available if you want to see how hot it can get.

Century Arms WASR 10 AK47 Review

To sum it up, the Century Arms WASR-10 offers much more than its low price, and that’s why they can be really hard to come by. It offers one of the best values on the market, and I would definitely recommend it if you want to modify it and still retain the classic look.

Best Polymer Option – Kalashnikov USA KR-103-3

Kalashnikov USA KR-103
Kalashnikov USA KR 103 (3)
Kalashnikov USA KR 103

Specifications and Details

  • Magazine capacity: 30+1 rounds
  • Barrel length: 16.25 inches
  • Overall length: 36.75 inches
  • Stock: Black polymer
  • Finish: Matte
  • Weight: 7.65 pounds

Pros

  • Cost-efficient platform
  • Surprisingly reliable
  • Easy to maintain
  • 100% American-made, despite the name
  • Compatible with most AKM and AK-47 parts

Cons

  • Polymer construction might not be for some
  • Sights may cant, so expect a little tweaking

First, a disclaimer: it’s not an original Kalashnikov manufacturer. This one’s based in Florida.

Kalashnikov USA have been mostly focused on AK-style shotguns and PCCs (pistol caliber carbines) for years now. Only in 2020 did they decide to do the obvious and pump out a 7.62x39mm platform.

With no relations to Russia, I give you the Kalashnikov KR-103, a faithful polymer AK-47 clone with a well-built construction directly patterned off the Russian 100 series.

What does that mean? Well, it’s basically an upgraded version of the AKM (modernized) style assault rifles. Only this time, it’s a predominantly polymer construction (God knows why), but it really shoots like a breeze.

The finish is top-quality for a polymer build with 5.5mm forged trunnions, the bolt is thin-stemmed, and the receiver joints are tight and secure.

Kalashnikov USA KR 103 (4)
Kalashnikov USA KR 103 (5)

It’s 100 percent U.S.-made, so it’s compatible with most AKMs and AK74 parts. But, what makes it stand out is the absolute masterstroke of AK goodness that is the front barrel assembly. It’s fabulously well-made, and you can expect smooth racking action and a smooth piston head that’s similar to a Saiga.

If you’re having problems with the Century Arms WASR-10, this one’s for you.

Kalashnikov USA KR 103 (2)

Best Moddable Option – PSA AK-47 GF3 MOEkov Semi-Automatic Rifle

PSA AK-47 GF3 MOEkov Semi-Automatic Rifle
PSAK-47 GF3

Specifications and Details

  • Magazine capacity: 30+1
  • Barrel length: 16.2 inches
  • Overall length: 35.25 inches
  • Stock: Magpul MOE Zhukov Stock
  • Finish: Matte black
  • Weight: 6.7 pounds

Pros

  • Hammer-forged bolt, carrier, and front trunnion
  • Steel-treated barrel for high reliability
  • Great trigger
  • Optics friendly
  • Cost-effective for its features

Cons

  • Requires breaking in
  • A bit heavy
  • No cleaning rod included

I firmly believe that South Carolina’s Palmetto State Armory really outdone themselves this time. The PSA AK-47 GF3 MOEkov is a beaming example of PSA’s engineering.

Introduced in 2015, PSA built the PSAK-47 from the ground up, using only the most modern components like gas nitride 4150 steel-treated barrel, hammer-forged bolt, carrier, and front trunnion.

PSAK-47 GF3 (2)
PSAK-47 GF3 (3)

It has a similarly stamped receiver like a Zastava ZPAP M70, and the barrel has a 1:9.5-inch twist. You might think that the mil-spec double-hook trigger needs upgrading, but believe me—it’s actually well-balanced and gives you an edge in follow-up shooting.

This AK-47 has a Magpul polymer handguard, stock, grip and isn’t picky when it comes to swapping magazines. Besides other mil-spec mags, I sincerely recommend you the Pro-Mag, or a Pro-Mag drum mag, but it’s alright if you already own spare AK magazines.

PSAK-47 GF3 (4)

Overall, it’s a fantastic option with all the right features for shootability and consistency and the option to mod it to hell and back. I recommend this one to the AR-15 enthusiasts.

PSAK-47 GF3 (5)

Honorable Mentions

Here are some AK-47 platforms that are a bit too niche for most but are still excellent options for anyone’s taste.

Best AK-47 Variant – IWI Galil ACE Gen II

IWI Galil Ace Gen II

Specifications and Details

  • Magazine capacity: 30+1
  • Barrel length: 16 inches; 1:9.45 inches twist rate
  • Overall length: 36 to 39.25 inches
  • Stock: Side-folding
  • Finish: Black
  • Weight: 8.78 pounds

Pros

  • High-quality build
  • A unique build with exceptional reliability and accuracy
  • Quality Picatinny-topped M-LOK rail
  • Sturdy folding stock

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Moderate recoil

Here’s an absolute rager.

The IWI Galil ACE Gen II isn’t exactly a Galil, nor is it an AK-47, but best believe it works like a charm.

Although it might be experimental for some, it’s a daring platform that’s inspired by the best of both worlds to make up for a surprisingly solid rifle.

The Galil ACE has milled mechanics that are mostly blueprinted by a Galil, only it’s much lighter and smaller and has a polymer lower receiver, so expect some hefty recoil shooting your 7.62×39 ammo.

It basically has the same mechanics as the Galil, but in a lighter, smaller platform with a polymer lower receiver. The chrome-lined barrel is responsible for that +1000-round reliability.

The side-folding adjustable stock is compatible with other AR-15 stocks, and the Picatinny-topped M-LOK rail is also a nice touch. IWI has other variations of this model in other calibers and barrel lengths if that’s your thing.

We can sit here all day and debate whether it’s a Galil or an AK. What’s certain is that the platform has been greatly improved from the first generation.

Overall, an innovative breath of fresh air that takes from two legendary platforms that somehow end up looking eerily similar to an AR-15. How about that?

Best AK Pistol – Arsenal SAM7K

Arsenal SAM7K

Specifications and Details

  • Magazine capacity: 10; 30; 40-round capacity
  • Barrel length: 8.5 inches
  • Overall length: 18 inches
  • Stock: Polymer
  • Finish: Black
  • Weight: 8 pounds

Pros

  • Ambidextrous
  • Picatinny rail for aftermarket accessories
  • Lightweight and durable
  • Anti-corrosion gas-nitride construction
  • Comes with a sling and cleaning kit

Cons

  • Staggeringly expensive
  • Extreme recoil
  • Suppressor does next to nothing to prevent recoil
  • Not for beginners

Here’s the Bulgarian Arsenal again, with an AK-pistol platform for all you fine ladies and gentlemen out there who have a buck to spare for this seriously-priced piece of weaponry.

I know that this one is really expensive, but if you’re going for an AK pistol, there’s no point in looking at anything other than the best one.

The Bulgarian-made SAM7K is made of the finest machinery with a hammer-forged milled receiver, threaded front sight block, and a chrome hammer-forged barrel with corrosion resistance.

The construction is heavy yet sturdy, and it has ambidextrous controls for the left-handed folk.

As for customization, the Picatinny rail is enough for rear attachments; adding a stock is possible but can be tedious to install. The arm brace is thin and foldable to the side, but I wouldn’t advise that, as it might get in the way of your optics.

Additionally, if you want to add a stock that’s less than 16 inches long, I recommend you consult your state’s laws.

All in all, the SAM7K is one of the most reliable and powerful AK pistols on the market.

Best AK-47 Rifles – A Buyer’s Guide

All of the AK-47 rifles I mentioned are way above the standard in terms of quality, and I’ve carefully selected them to fit the everyman’s price range; well, most of them. They do offer excellent features and are well worth their price.

That being said, if you still can’t decide, then here’s a nifty little buyer’s guide to show you the way.

AK-47 Action and Function

Before you consider anything, the first thing to look for in an AK-47 is its action.

Your AK-47’s overall function relies on the gas block of your rifle, and you must make sure that it’s in good condition and properly aligned.

To do that, just grab the bolt handle, slide it back, wait for the recoil spring pressure to increase, and then return the bolt handle to the original position. This is the old-school way of checking whether the handle is smooth or rough, and a rough slide means “not good”.

This rule of thumb shows you if your AK-47 rifle will cycle badly at some point. As much as this rifle type is reliable, bad manufacturing is still a thing.

I recommend you stick to well-machined rifles like the Arsenal SAM7R AK-47 or the Zastava ZPAP M70.

Milled vs. Stamped Receivers

AK-47 rifles can be either milled or stamped.

A milled receiver is machined from a metal block, resulting in a seriously strong yet heavy construction, and it’s designed for those who shoot every day.

Stamped receivers are cheaper and easier to make, but they can have some riveting problems, and this is what puts off people.

According to some, an AK-47 with a milled receiver is the high-end type, while the stamped is the plebeian’s choice. Believe me, this can’t be further from the truth. Neither milled nor stamped receivers decide the fate of an AK-47 rifle’s quality.

The reliability that a milled receiver offers is just barely comparable to a stamped receiver, because—let’s face it—you’re not going to shoot that thing every day right? …Right?

Jokes aside, I don’t know who said this, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t true: “A stamped receiver will last you a lifetime. A milled one will last you two. I’ve yet to see a man live and tell the difference.”

Front Sight Alignment

This is the second most common issue in AK-47s.

You’ll come across many budget AK rifles that are seriously cursed with misaligned and canted front sights, and constantly fixing them can be annoying.

Having a properly aligned front sight is imperative, and this also affects your red dot sights or other optics you might install.

The bad news is that there’s really no way of knowing if your AK-47 rifle’s sights will get crooked unless you really know that you have a prominent AK-47 brand on your hands popular for decent front sights.

I recommend you stick to Palmetto State Armory, Zastava Arms USA, and Arsenal. In geographical terms, look for anything Soviet, Czech, and US—steer clear of Chinese and Iraqi-made AK-47s.

This basically applies to other features as well, not just the sights.

Ammo

Forget about the recoil. Best believe that the 7.62x39mm caliber will cause absolute mayhem with its high-expansion potential, not just recoil. It’s much more powerful than the AR-15’s 5.56x45mm.

That’s why I strongly recommend you stick to FMJ (Full Metal Jacket) ammo boxes, and practice until you get the hang of the bullet expansion. This will affect recoil and overall accuracy.

Here are some recommendations:

Additionally, 7.62x39mm loads can be really loud. I strongly recommend you some good electronic hearing protection for the ranges.

Magazine Well

Last but not least, if you plan to use multiple magazines, your rifle’s magwell should be able to be compatible with most AK-47 magazines. Some AK magazine wells aren’t, and this might be an issue for some.

You can check this by inserting a couple of different types of mags into the rifle and decide if it needs more pushing or fits well. A good rifle has magazine wells that can take mags with no resistance, but this shouldn’t be a deciding factor for most.

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding AK-47 rifles.

Are Milled Receivers Better Than Stamped Receivers?

Milled receivers are more expensive and heavier than stamped receivers but are vastly more durable and stable.

AK-47 with stamped receivers are much easier to mold and make, and that’s why they’re more common. They’re much lighter than milled ones, as they have to be riveted into place, and this poses a chance of more feeding failures than milled receivers.

However, this does absolutely not mean that milled receivers are more viable than stamped ones.

I believe that everyone can use AK-47 with stamped receivers. There’s no need to pay massive amounts of cash for milled ones if you’re a casual shooter.

Stamped receivers are just fine.

What Are the Downsides of AK-47 Rifles?

The AK-47 rifle has slightly worse ergonomics when compared to the AR-15, as the controls and safeties are harder to manipulate, mainly the charging handle that’s located on the right side.

Not only that, but the heavy recoil thwarts its overall follow-up accuracy, and that’s why it’s a rifle that takes serious practice and drill sessions.

Are AK-47s Good For Home Defense?

The AK-47 is more than enough for self-defense, but for the price, you’d fare better with a handgun or a decently-priced AR-15 for the same home defense purpose.

I recommend you stick to your self-defense handguns. They’re much easier to operate in a life or death situation. An AK-47 is a serious weapon that demands respect and regular practice and drills if you want to pull off a home defense scenario.

Conclusion

To sum it up, there’s barely a contest for the Zastava ZPAP M70.

It’s a reasonably-priced low- to mid-tier AK-47 platform with all the essential features and a classic Soviet feel everyone’s talking about.

The mags are interchangeable, the controls are decent, and the reliability is unmatched, not to mention the three different finishes you get to choose from.

That being said, if you want to keep looking and anticipate some new and improved modern AK-47 rifles, here’s the ultimate criteria: look for brands with an AK reputation, sturdy sights that don’t cant, interchangeable mags, and the country of origin. Everything else is just a personal choice.

The AK platform is a serious piece of firearm designed to keep the enemy at bay, and with some hard work and regular practice, it works for home defense as well as fun, apparently.

Just remember to regularly clean it with gun cleaning kits and solvents, and it will sing 76.2x39mm hymns of the Motherland.

It’s the most popular rifle in the world, and I’m excited to see modernized and improved versions from our US manufacturers that stay true to the iconic mechanism. We might just see the ultimate human-made weapon if we wait long enough.

Otherwise, I urge you to snag one before something bad happens. Congress is watching.

Stay safe, shoot straight.

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Hi there, I'm Brady and I'm the owner of GunMade.com. I have been an avid gun enthusiast and hunter since I moved to the Midwest over 15 years ago. It's my passion to share my knowledge and expertise to help you find the best guns in your price range.

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