Bulgarian AK-74 Review
This article was originally posted by Heckler&Coke on the Survivalist Forum. Special thanks the Heckler&Coke for giving permission for this article to be reposted here.
As some of you may know, I recently got a AK74. It’s the Century M74 sporter. I got this one locally for about $400 out the door with a sealed case of 5.45 mil-surp, and 4 Bulgarian 30 round magazines after some haggling. It seems to just be relatively new Bulgarian parts kits built on a proper Nodak spud receiver. Big plus there imho. Also, worth noting, they seem to be assembled pretty well for Century.
After the first day I realized without a heat shield the hand guard was useless, as the plastic literally began to melt during my specialized mall ninja training routine, so I just refinished some wood furniture I had lying around and slapped it on.
My first impression wasn’t too good to be honest, and I was second guessing myself the whole time but as an AK fan I knew better than to reject it outright. These have the absolute worst AK furniture I’ve seen in my life. Cheap plastic, no heat shield, no hand guard bulge, heats and melts easily, and it has a cheap look and feel. The finish isn’t all that great either. It’s just a really flat grey pseudo parkerized finish. I’ve already scratched it up pretty good in a few hours of hard use.
…but for ~$350 what can you really expect?
I’m happy to report that not one had a canted sight block, canted gas tube, or mag wobble. The receivers have dimples, and more importantly, the proper rails within the mag well that prevent too much free-play. Structurally it seems as sound as anyother AK, which is a relief given the aesthetics.
I did notice a couple of these 74s had an issue where the matching up of the selector lever nipple, to the notch in the receiver was off by a couple milimeters. I’m not a scientist, but it seems someone screwed the pooch in punching the notches.
The rifle seems pretty good, it’s also very cheap, the ammo is also extremely cheap, mags are cheap, and overall this is a very cheap gun to use. Just get some quality furniture and it’s a perfect Ak74 clone. From my limited knowledge the 74 has a very solid reputation since it’s inception, despite Mr. Kalashnikov’s objections. It has seen extensive combat by both sides in Chechnya, Afghanistan, and Croatia just to name a few with a very good reputation. It has also given rise to the mythical status of the 5.45 “poison bullet” due to it’s certainty of tumbling upon impact.
It’s won me over as a very legitimate SHTF weapon, and this coming from an MBR nutjob who has argued about sissy rounds and barbie doll guns on many occasions.
“Blah, blah, blah H&C, I want to know how it PERFORMS!”
I’ve fired a 1,080rd tin thus far, and I’m very impressed. There’s literally next to no recoil, the accuracy is improved over the standard AK, I haven’t had a single malfunction and I’ve noticed the bullet tumbles quite easily upon impact of even mere cardboard. Out of the box it was near it’s zero. I got it perfectly zeroed from a bench at 50 with consistent 5 shot 1.5-2″ groupings, and proceeded to easily get offhand 5 shot groups into 8″ circles all day after that.
…Yes, I said 1.5-2″ groupings. Yes, with an AK. Yes, with mil-surp.
When I was doing my mall ninja bit my shots opened up, but were still easily minute of bad guy. Skipping on to 300m for fun I was able to hit an 8″ shoot n see with a consistency that I honestly don’t have with it’s 7.62×39 counterpart. Only my PTRs perform better at that range…
As I mentioned earlier, I shot all 1,080 rounds over a 4 day period without a single cleaning. It is corrosive mil-surp from 30 years ago, but no rust formed before I cleaned it. There was however a ton of red particles lining the bottom of the receiver, and all around the bolt group. Fun, fun…Something I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing and cleaning since they switched to polymer coated cases for commercial use.
For the same price as a wasr 10, it’s a no brainer to me. The price of owning, and using, this rifle makes it a great low-budget option for a capable combat rifle. I’d recommend at least a proper stock set, with a shielded hand guard, but other than that it’s a great rifle. The Bulgarian wood and plastic stock sets cost $15-50 depending on condition and how much shopping around you do, and you can get K-var’s 21st century plum and black plastic stuff for under $100. Keep in mind it’s an Ak…it’ll accept all normal stamped AK furniture with very minor fitting.
As soon as I get some more free time and ammo I’ll be giving a more detailed and image verified range report and torture test. But, for now, I’m out of ammo.
As promised, I finally got some images uploaded.
As you can see, I managed to get 4 shots actually touching at 100m from a rest. As well as two in the other group. Unfortunately, I had two very distinct fliers in 10 rounds that detracts from any ambrosial “moa” crap.
To be fair, I did not have that accuracy all day long (see below). The accuracy slightly tapered off after awhile and this is an exceptional target for me in any regard. (Keep in mind the circle is only 20cm/8 inches around)
On this one I actually had two miss the paper entirely.
For comparison my Yugoslavian AK47‘s best 5 shot group of the day;
As you can see the Ak47 is in the normal range, and my AK74 shoots far and away better than I honestly thought it would.
Just so everyone knows, I have done minor modifications to both the AK47, and AK74 in question. My accuracy before I worked on the triggers extensively was noticeably worse.
Now, on to the cooler part:
Yes, I did it. I threw a BRAND NEW rifle into the mud. Not only that, but I left the dustcover/safety down when I did it!
You can clearly see mud inside the receiver. I also failed to remove any mud from the muzzle brake.
Results: It worked. Yep, there is mud in the receiver and in the muzzle and it still worked. It did not blow up because of the clogged muzzle, and it did not have a failure through two full magazines.
However, it did NOT work well! The bolt carrier was extremely sluggish, the accuracy was “minute of cattle”, and the trigger was very rough. I could actually feel it struggling to release the hammer. Also, it did not self clean, in fact, the problem only got worse the more it cycled.
The cycling of the rifle seems to have flattened the mud into a smooth layer over every working part, and it lined the receiver rails that guide the bolt carrier. Unpleasant to fire to say the least…but it did cycle. (I must report, I did in fact have a single failure to fire after the second round of the third magazine. I felt satisfied and stopped after that.)
I can not in good faith recommend doing this test. I had to completely strip the rifle down to a bare receiver and barrel to clean every single individual part! The mud was caked onto everything. While I was cleaning, I could see water deposits forming rust in the chamber after only three or four hours! Also, to top it all off, it ruined my newly refinished wood!
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