Those who know me well know that I am a big fan of 5.45x39mm-chambered AK-74-pattern rifles. Their combination of rugged reliability, exotic appearance (at least by Western standards), and a soft-recoiling and affordable chambering makes them practically irresistible to me. So, what I recently saw within Century Arms International’s catalog pages was particularly intriguing.
What caught my eye was a demilled Bulgarian AK-74 parts kit featuring a wooden stock set. The kit was described as being in “good condition,” and offered with either a new U.S.-made barrel for $398.95 or without the barrel for $265.95. My immediate thought was that this kit would make for an excellent candidate for building into a semi-auto rifle.
Although I am reasonably familiar with the Sec. 922(r) parts compliance legalities (for questions regarding Sec. 922(r) requirements, visit the BATFE at atf.gov) involved in building these guns into semi-automatic civilian-legal rifles, I personally do not possess the expertise or equipment required to do this properly on my own on a Kalashnikov project. As a result, I decided to contact an AK builder whom I have heard very good things about from other Kalashnikov enthusiasts. That person is Troy Sellars, and his company is In Range, Inc.
“If I am out of the shop, then rifles are not being built,” Sellars told me once we started communicating about this project. He explained that he is the sole proprietor of this business, and builds each and every gun himself. To be frank, it was very illuminating discussing this project with him as I quickly ascertained that Sellars really knows his way around a Kalashnikov rifle.
As some background, Sellars began his career as a machinist, later moving over into the automotive industry in metal stampings. When that industry began having trouble in the mid-1990s, Sellars started a career as a law enforcement officer, and attended just about every armorer’s course that was offered. Taking his background in metalworking and manufacturing, and combining it with his expertise with firearms, Sellars decided to explore his passion for building Kalashnikovs in 1997 and started In Range, Inc. that year. He ran it as a part-time business until 2004, when he then moved over to it as a full-time job.
“Am I am going to get rich building these AKs? No. But I love doing it and it makes me happy,” he bluntly told me. And I quickly surmised that he is well versed in the production of these types of rifles, having built them for companies such as Tennessee Guns and MarColMar Firearms as well as for individuals. I also found out that he spent some time doing hands-on training at a Kalashnikov factory in Central Europe, further burnishing his credentials.
Once we got down to the details on the project, I received a refresher course in the requirements on building a semi-auto civilian-legal rifle from parts kits. “To put it in layman’s terms, a good rule of thumb with Kalashnikov’s is that you will need six U.S.-manufactured replacement parts from the BATFE-mandated list for a stamped-receiver rifle like this Bulgarian kit you are looking at, and five parts for a comparable milled-receiver rifle,” Sellars explained to me.