[Read Rifle Dynamics AK Builder & Armorer Class, Part 1: Theories and Rivets, and
Rifle Dynamics AK Builder & Armorer Class, Part 2: So You Wanna Build an AK?]

Burn in! Rifle Dynamics students torture their newly finished guns by firing them as fast as they can without a drop of oil or a hint of grease.
Burn in! Rifle Dynamics students torture their newly finished AK-74s and AKMs by firing them as fast as they can without a drop of oil or a hint of grease in them. Some shooters used ear plugs instead of muffs for hearing protection, though they didn’t show very well in some photos.  Photo by Gene Higdon.

While the first day of the Rifle Dynamics builder/armorer class was about Kalashnikov design theory and riveting, and the second day of the class was all about building the AKM and AK-74 rifles, the third day of class was all about the moment of truth… would the rifles we’d just completed the night before run as intended? We’d completed building the rifles Saturday afternoon, but were told not to put any sort of lubrication on them, so this was a real concern.

We assembled once again at Progressive Service Die Company Sunday morning, and then convoyed out to a private shooting range to shoot rifles.

Guerrilla Armament and Military Hardware generously supplied us with ammunition, and the first order of the day was the “burn in”.

Jim Fuller and Billy Cho of Rifle Dynamics explained that the first thing that we’d be doing at the range was loading a 30-round magazine for a mag dump into the range backstop, just as fast as we could pull the trigger, as shown in the photo above. There’s a method to the madness. We’d be looking to ensure that the rifles were ejecting in the 2 o’clock to 3 o’clock direction (forward and to the right to directly to the right), and that the parts, pins, and furniture weren’t working loose.

I was part of the first group of shooters. When Fuller called “Burn ’em out!” the sound of 15 rifles dumping a total of 450 rounds in less than 15 seconds was simply a roar. Being a long time AR-15 rifle shooter used to having a hand guard much longer than that of the ’86 Polish AKM I built, I slipped my support (left) had up to where I would normally have placed it on my AR… which just so happened to be where an AKM barrel rapidly heated to hundreds of degrees was waiting. I must have imagined it, but I swear that I heard the sound of bacon sizzling as the heat registered and I jerked my hand away from the hot barrel. It was a stupid mistake born of too much familiarity with another weapon system… and I was paying the price.

I cleared my rifle and had it verified clear before returning to the back of the range where the pile of ammunition and a cooler full of iced-down drinks was located. I grabbed a chunk of ice and held it in my burned hand, feeling the heat and the ice at the same time.

It wasn’t all that fun.

The skin on the author's "I don't like you" finger immediately blistered up and wrinkled from negligently grabbing a hot barrel. Kids, don't try this at home.
The skin on the author’s “I don’t like you” finger immediately blistered up from negligently grabbing a hot barrel. Kids, don’t try this at home.

The next order of business after the burn-in was getting our AKM rifles sighted in at 25 yards (the AK-74 shooters would come later, zeroing from 50 yards), and I managed to embarrass myself yet again.