In the past decade, the semi-auto AK, once largely scorned in the U.S. as being ugly, inaccurate, cheap and ugly, has gained an impressive amount of ground in the marketplace.
The AK now has quite a following across a wide spectrum of shooters due to the fact it is a rugged and reliable package in a very shootable chambering. They’re not exactly highly crafted pieces of the precision gun-maker’s art, but they do work, and they keep on working, which overcomes a hell of a lot of the ugly factor for a hell of a lot of end-users.
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However, with the increased cost of ammunition, shooting them can become expensive. So, if you like the styling of the AK and just like to blast soda cans now and then or introduce a new shooter to the platform, what can you do? You can take a look at Mossberg’s Blaze-47.
Fuel The Fire
The Mossberg Blaze-47 is a .22 LR AK lookalike that offers much of the same external profile as the time-honored AK-47 and its variants. Mossberg invested a lot of plastic in the Blaze-47, and that includes the outer polymer receiver shell, rear sight assembly, gas tube/front sling point and front sight/compensator assembly. Four variants are available—two with six-position-collapsible stocks and black furniture, and two with classic wooden furniture—and you understand up front that this is not military-grade hardware. That said, these rifles are fun, lightweight and easy to run.
I recently got my hands on a wood-stocked model with a 25-round magazine for testing. As usual, the operating handle and ejection port are on the right side. A nice concession to lefties on the Blaze-47 is an ambidextrous, AR-style thumb safety that blocks the trigger and rotates easily, but still clicks positively (and audibly) into its “safe” and “fire” positions. This is a much more ergonomic setup than the centerfire AK’s large and distinctly non-ergonomic pivoting safety.
The bolt runs smoothly, and the action will lock open after you fire the last round from a magazine. On this rifle, the bolt will close, though, if you remove the mag before pushing the bolt handle into the receiver detent, and you can use that bolt handle to lock the action open independently without a magazine in place. The magazine rocks and locks into place like an AK’s, but the release rides inside the lower receiver shell, where you’re unlikely to knock it loose under stress if neighborhood squirrels mount a mass attack.
Magazine & Sights
Mossberg’s 25-round magazine deserves its own short paragraph. Polymer and sturdy, this banana magazine was totally reliable at the range. It may be made of polymer, but there’s nothing flimsy about it, and the spring-compression buttons on the follower make it extremely easy to load to capacity. The channel for the buttons shows at a glance (in conjunction with 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 number indicators on both sides of the mag body) how many rounds you’ve got left. And, if needed, the magazine can also be taken completely apart for cleaning by removing six Phillips-head screws on the left side.
The sights are polymer. The rear sight uses two green fiber-optic inserts, with a large disc on top to adjust for elevation and a smaller drum on the right side for windage. Both are quick and easy to use with just your fingers. Up front on the 16.5-inch barrel, the tall sight tower features a wide orange blade between two protective ears, and the front and rear sights contrast quite well. It should also be noted that both the front and rear sights have to be removed as part of the disassembly process to get at the internal receiver for a thorough cleaning. This obviously means you’ll need to re-zero the gun after doing so, but on this plinker the barrel’s the most important section to worry about when you get back home after a soda can or rabbit hunt, and it’s easy to get at. The action should only need attention every few hundred rounds or so.
After checking the bore and dribbling a couple drops of oil on the receiver walls and bolt through the ejection port, I put four different high-velocity loads through the Blaze-47 off a sandbag rest at 50 yards. And I found out two things very quickly: This little pseudo-AK can hold under 3 inches at that distance, and it’s reliable.
Through several strings of fire with three hollow points and one solid, I experienced no misfeeds or failures of any kind. Some kind soul had left several deteriorating pre-Halloween pumpkins lined up right where I normally put my target stand in the old stone quarry, so I stood up and deteriorated them further with the Mossberg, bare sights and all. The 5.25-pound, two-stage trigger was as crisp and clean as those on many guns costing twice as much.
Weighing approximately 5 pounds with a fully loaded magazine on board, the little Mossberg is a tote-all-day package that carries light, projects a high threat level to any rabbit, squirrel or soda can out to 50 or 60 yards, and makes a fun introduction to the AK world without the sound or fury of the real thing (or the expense of buying and shooting the real thing).
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As it comes at a suggested retail price of $375, the biggest danger to your wallet will probably lie in buying enough ammo to keep shooting it as much as you’ll want to.
For more information, visit mossberg.com or call 203-230-5300.
- CALIBER: .22 LR
- BARREL: 16.5 inches
- WEIGHT: 4.75 pounds (empty)
- OA LENGTH: 35.75 inches
- STOCK: Wood
- SIGHTS: Front post, adjustable fiber-optic rear
- ACTION: Semi-auto
- FINISH: Blued
- CAPACITY: 25+1
- MSRP: $375