AK-47 For a Long Term SHTF Survival Situation

How well suited is the AK-47 for a long term SHTF survival situation?  The answer is part determined in who you ask.

Last weekend my wife and I made a trip to the camp where I fired off a few rounds from the AR15, AK47 and the FN/FAL.

Some people consider it a sin not to clean your firearms immediately after you get home from the range. But on that day the grandkids were over. I did not want the kids messing around while I was trying to clean my rifles. So I decided to wait a few days before cleaning.

The house is quiet today, so I decided to clean my rifles while none of the grandkids are running around.

Cleaning AK47

While I was going over the AK (its a WASR-10), I noticed how much little pieces of rust were building up here and there. The magazine (around 15 years old) is developing rust on it. This is a Chinese made AK47 magazine that I bought sometime in the mid – late 1990s. Well, I bought a lot of AK mags, but we using this one as an example. Just about all of my AK mags have some kind of rust on them.

The WASR-10 is my second AK-47.  My first AK was a Maadi and it “somehow” disappeared when my exwife and I divorced.  Aint it funny how things just disappear?

Long Term Magazine Storage

One of the problems with my AK mags, is that they have started to rust. Steel rust, that is just the way it is.

Just about all of my AK mags have a rather cheap coating on them. To help prevent the rust, I took a wire wheel on the grinder, buffed the rust off along with the magazine coating and painted the mag with rust-oleum.

Lets say you have 3 or 4 AKs and several dozen magazines.  Get ready to spend a weekend buffing and painting mags.

Instead of painting the mags, you could treat them for true long term storage.

Back in the mid-1990s, some buddies of mine and I took 2 – 3 mags for every firearm we owned, coated the mags with wheel bearing grease, put the magazines into a heavy duty plastic bag, then put the bag into a second bag.  Over the past 15 or so years the wheel bearing grease has seeped through the 2 layers of plastic bags and is leching on the outside of the bag.  When you grab the bag, your fingers are left with a grease residue.  But on the good side, the magazines are not developing rust.

One of the problems with coating magazines with wheel bearing grease, the grease has to be removed before using the magazine.

You and your family bug out to the Bug Out Location, then you spend several days degreasing your mags.  During a SHTF situation, would you rather be planting crops, or degreasing magazines?

For storing your magazines for the long term, I think the AR has the edge.  I have AR mags that are older then my AK mags, and the AR mags have not developed any corrosion on them.

If you have a Bug Out Location, you want to be able to store your gear, and not worry about stuff rusting up.

Storing AK mags – buff, paint, store.

Storing AR mags – store and forget.

No Small Parts

Take the small parts of the AR and compare them to the small parts of the AK.  What small parts on the AK?

Field stripped WASR-10 AK-47

The current AR fanboy club calls for everything to be staked, which is a good idea.  There is nothing wrong with improving the quality of a product.  But when you start listing ways to improve something, you also list weak points.

AK does not have a castle nut that can back out.

AK does not have a gas key that has to be staked.

AK does not have a gas system to clog with dirty ammo.  Well, the AK does have a gas system, but not like the AR.

Lets say that its 2 or 3 years into a long term SHTF survival event.  Couple of parts broke on your AR, so you start scavenging parts.  There are good quality parts and bad quality parts.  Just one example:  You might find a castle nut without the staking notches.  Then you have to cut notches into the castle nut, or just stake the castle nut without the notches.

With the AK, there are just parts.

Long Term Storage Of The Rifle

AK is made out of steel, and steel rust.

Painting AK47 Magazine

AR is made from aluminum, which resist corrosion.

If you want to buy a rifle, fire a few hundred rounds through it to make sure its broke in and then store it for the long term, you are going to have to lube that AK up real good.

I do not shoot my AK very often, maybe just a few times a year.  After its cleaning today, I noticed small pieces of rust developing around parts of the rifle.

If my AK has started to develop a little rust with cleaning it 2 or 3 times a year, what is going to happen when you store the AK for 3, 4, 5, 6,,, or more years?

Ease Of Use

While my wife and I were at the camp I gave some instruction to a family member over the operation of the AR15.

In my opinion, the AR is easier for someone to pick up and use then the AK.

The one big drawback to new users is how the AK magazine has to lock in place.  New users have to learn to catch the front of the magazine, then lock it in place.

With the AR, its insert, slap, and your good to go.

My personal opinion, and I am sure there are a lot of people that are going to disagree, I feel the AR platform is easier to learn then the AK.


Purpose of this article was to talk about points that are not usually covered in the typical AK VS AR discussion.  AK VS AR has been beat to death for the past 40+ years.

The truth is, both are fine rifles.  I think it comes down to what the shooter wants out of his/her firearm.

If something was overlooked, feel free to post your comments.