ak bag
My workspace at Progressive Service Die Company in Jacksonville, NC, home of the original Rifle Dynamics build course. We started with a receiver and a bag of parts.

I just completed the Rifle Dynamics AK Builder’s Class this past weekend, and have come away with a lot more respect for the AK platform than I had prior to taking the course. We’ll be doing a photo-heavy series of articles about the course (thanks to retired HSGI founder Gene Higdon, who graciously offered to do the photography of the entire event), but here are some quick thoughts about course to preview the series.

Rifle Dynamics needs to change the title of the course.

Currently, they market the course as “Build Your Own AK Classes.” In my opinion, that sells the course short of what it actually teaches. This isn’t just a “build party.” Jim Fuller and Billy Cho make it very clear that the purpose of the course is to give you the basic skills to hang out your own shingle as a professional-grade AK builder, capable of making an AK that will run for a lifetime. I think I’ll suggest renaming the class to something along the lines of “AK Builder/Armorer Course.”

My completed 1986 Polish AKM.
My completed 1986 Polish AKM.

Most of us don’t have a clue how good the AKM/AK-74 platforms are.

Many of the AK-pattern rifles sold in the United States are poorly manufactured. They are slapped together quickly by under-trained workers churning out guns built with out-of-spec parts who don’t care if they work correctly. It is because of these junk guns imported by unscrupulous companies that AKs have earned a reputation in the U.S. market for being “cheap” guns that are poorly made, inaccurate, and unreliable.

In direct contrast to these junk guns (which were my only prior experience with the platform), the Polish AKMs we built with Rifle Dynamics worked flawlessly, ran smoothly, and are probably 3 MOA-accurate rifles with factory ammunition. I’ll have to run mine at distance to verify my suspicions, but it is likely capable of “minute of man” accuracy out to 400+ yards with iron sights, limited only by the range limitations of the 7.62×39 cartridge itself.

The author, firing a 5.45 Krinkov SBR.
The author, firing a 5.45 AKS-74U “Krinkov” SBR.

AKs are a hot, fun mess.

We took them to the range without a drop of lubrication on them, and did a 30-round “burn in,” firing them just as fast as we could pull the trigger as a function check. We then sighted them in, and spent the rest of the morning blasting steel targets. Most shooters fired at least 120 rounds in these bone-dry rifles, and some fired quite a bit more than that. I think I fired only about 150 in mine. I would have fired more, if I hadn’t burned my fingers sliding my support hand forward like I do on an AR-15 with a much longer handguard. Those barrels tend to be hot, and I spent a bit of time holding ice cubes, hoping that my fingers wouldn’t blister (they did anyway).

A prior Rifle Dynamics customer brought out his AKS-74U (often called a “Krinkov”in the U.S.) which I was able to shoot and found to be a low-recoiling, accurate, fast-shooting little carbine.  Do I want one? Of course!

We’ll be going over what we learned from Rifle Dynamics in the days ahead, but I’ll leave you with this: they have just two classes left this year that haven’t yet sold out, and if you want to master the platform, those who attended all seemed to feel that the cost of tuition was money well spent.