Year of development: 1947
Years of service: 1947 – present
Nations of service: Every communist nation under the sun
Conflicts of service: Just about every major conflict since 1947
Bullet diameter: 308 – 311
Bullet weight: 123 grains
Effective range: 400 meters
Capacity: Standard 30 round magazine
I have to be perfectly honest, the AK-47 is not my primary SHTF survival rifle.
AR-15 with its 223 Remington / 5.56mm NATO is well suited for dealing undesirable predators that come around the Bug Out Location and small game. There are a good number of people that deer and hogs with the 223 Remington, but I am not one of them. I am a firm believer of using enough gun for the job. When I go deer hunting, I use at least a 270 Winchester or a 280 Remington / 7mm Express.
The low recoil of the AR-15 makes it appealing to people like my teenage daughter.
FN/FAL with its 308 Winchester is well suited in a defensive role, and for taking deer sized game. Remington core-Lokt in 150 grains is more then capable of dropping a whitetail deer, or game of equal size.
My son hunts with a Marlin 336 30-30. The ammunition he uses is Remington core-lokt 150 grain softpoint. 150 grain bullet makes a small hole going in, and a larger hole going out. In the past 4 years my son has harvested 3 southeast Texas whitetail deer. One year he did not see anything worth taking.
Where does this leave the AK-47 and the 7.62×39?
Right between the 223 Remington and the 308 Winchester.
Let me rephrase that, after the AR-15 runs out of ammunition or small part breaks, and after the FN/FAL either breaks or runs out of ammunition, the AK-47 is my last resort.
My train of thought is, you do not put a weak tool last on the list. You put a quality product last.
The AK-47 is my “oh crap, I am down to my last rifle” option. Granted it might take years for the AR-15 and FN/FAL to finally give out, our it might take a few days for the weakest part to break.
The AK-47 Feels Right
Have you ever held something and said, “damn that feels good”? That is how the AK feels. The only thing I can compare how the AK-47 feels, is how holding a woman feels, its just feels “right”.
One of the things I like about the AK is how simple it is. There is a magazine latch, safety and that is it.
The rifle breaks down into just a few major parts, and none of the parts are very small. If you had to, the AK can be disassembled, washed off in a river or creek and reassembled.
Handling of the AK can be taught in just a couple of minutes. The most difficult thing is learning to insert the magazine. And that is because the magazine has to catch on the lip, and then be pulled into place.
When stockpiling ammunition for a long term survival situation, its going to be difficult to beat the low cost of the 7.62×39.
If you and your team are stockpiling ammunition at the Bug Out Location, I mostly stock steel cased 7.62×39. In fact, all I have fired from my AK for the past decade has been steel cased ammunition.
To make sure I have some good quality 7.62×39 for hunting, I bought some Winchester softpoints. But its safe to say that 90% of my 7.62×39 is cheap steel cased ammunition.
From time to time soviet block 7.62×39 hits the market at dirt cheap prices. Just about all of my 7.62×39 is either Monarch, Tula and a few boxes of Winchester.
A few years ago Academy sports and outdoors sold Monarch 7.62×39 for $2.99 a box. but those days are long gone.
Keep It Simple
The more you add to anything means there is more to maintain and more to break. This goes for rifles as well. A red dot scope here, a light there,,, then you have to keep batteries on hand, and there is that much more that can break.
The AK-47 is the ultimate simple survival rifle. Open sights, no rails, no lights, so scopes, no bipod,,, its simple and straight forward.
If there is one thing about the AK-47 that stands out, it has to be the solid military service history. From the Siberian north, to the jungles of Vietnam, to the desert of the middle east, the AK-47 has been a proven performer.
When considering a SHTF survival rifle, I think its important to look at the history of the firearm. What conditions has the rifle preformed in, what did it do well, what did it do wrong.
Unlike to AR-15/M-16 that has evolved since the 1960s, the AK frame has remained pretty much unchanged. How do you improve perfection?