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It seems like the AR will always be America’s Rifle, but an old challenger from the East is giving the comparatively young AR a real run for its money in the domestic tactical market. The AK, or Avtomat Kalashnikova, still has a long way to go to catch up to the AR, but it is making significant strides with a plethora of aftermarket accessories and several companies making AKs here in the U.S.

Two new DVDs from the American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) aim to take full advantage of this growing market and offer AK aficionados and newbies a great deal of information. The first, Disassembly/Reassembly of AK Type Semi-Auto Rifles, provides over an hour of detailed instructions on how to completely disassemble the AK rifle and its many variants. This is especially helpful for properly maintaining your rifle, or accessorizing/updating it.

The AK has a well-earned reputation for reliability, but its ergonomics are a bit lacking and many AK owners seek ways to improve their rifles. Common upgrades include adding a new stock, replacing the pistol grip, installing a new trigger assembly, replacing the safety, adding a quad-rail handguard, adding an optics rail, replacing the muzzle device, replacing the rear sight, etc. These upgrades are not difficult in and of themselves, but they do require some knowledge of the best and most effective ways to remove and replace the parts you want. The AK is tough, but some home gunsmiths can be rough on guns with their trial-and-error approaches.

In the Disassembly/Reassembly of AK Type Semi-Auto Rifles DVD, master gunsmith and AGI instructor Ken Brooks, who has worked with master gunsmith Bob Dunlap at PISCO Gunsmithing in Oregon for 25 years and is a TIG welding specialist, walks you through the entire AK platform. He discusses each part and how it operates and functions as well as how it is removed and installed in the most efficient way possible.

Brooks even covers all the parts you may need to replace if they become damaged, such as the extractor, firing pin and magazine release lever. Most importantly, he covers the proper reassembly using the right tools. As is usually the case, disassembly is much easier than reassembly, especially if you forget the steps. Brooks make sure you won’t miss anything. The only parts that are not removed are those that are welded or riveted. The disassembly/reassembly procedures for each and every part are completely indexed in the DVD menu so you can jump right to what you need without having to scroll around.

Build Your Own

If you are interested in more than simply tinkering with your AK, then AGI offers an even more comprehensive DVD: Building the AKS Rifle from a Parts Kit. Building ARs from the ground up has exponentially increased in popularity. For AK fans, the situation is a bit different. The AK has been manufactured in over 30 countries, and many collectors want a specific model. You can get parts kits imported but not complete rifles. That means if you want a Hungarian AMD-65, you are going to have to buy one assembled in the U.S. with a mix of Hungarian and U.S. parts or build it yourself that way.

This is not a simple task, and it is made more complicated by the manufacturing differences from one country to the next. But, if you have the tools and are up for the challenge, it can be immensely rewarding to build your own AK. The AGI DVD course features master armorer John Bush, a firearms expert consultant on military arms to importers and manufacturers, offering three hours of his solid knowledge.

This DVD was a collaborative effort involving many of AGI’s most experienced master gunsmiths who studied extensively all of the different ways there are to build an AK rifle. What they found was extensive variation in the methods and a lot of misinformation online. Together, they developed one straightforward system for assembling and building an AK from a parts kit.

The DVD is structured in an extremely detailed way with a comprehensive menu so that the builder can easily jump right to the section they need. The instruction is clear and easy to follow.

Bush starts off with receiver selection and discusses semi-completed receivers and the differences between them. You can start from what is literally a flat sheet of steel with two holes drilled in it all the way to a complete receiver with the front trunnion, internal rails and triggerguard/magazine release installed. The level of completion of the receiver determines if it is legally a firearm or not when purchased.

Bush explains the advantages and disadvantages of one type of receiver over another and advises that you should first buy your parts kit and then select a receiver to match—very sound advice. He details the differences in parts kits and how to inspect them as well as the advantage of buying a barrel and bolt that have already been installed into a trunnion (which virtually guarantees proper headspacing is achieved if done correctly).

The DVD walks the budding builder through drilling the proper receiver holes, bending the receiver to the correct shape, fitting the front and rear trunnions, installing the interior rails, drilling the fire control and safety lever holes, installing the barrel with a barrel press and checking the headspacing.

Bush also details the limit on the use of foreign parts and what parts are included in that list. To be U.S. complaint, an AK must use no more than 10 imported parts from a list of 20 parts. The rest must be American made. One of the most valuable assets that is included with the DVD is a set of 29 printable blueprints that provide an exact guide on hole placement and size for receivers as well as a guide of the proper receiver bends and instructions for barrel installation tools.

Solid Foundation

AGI’s professional gunsmiths are truly experts with decades of experience. For home hobbyists and professional gunsmiths, AGI offers instructional DVDs on every aspect of gunsmithing, plus armorer’s courses and video manuals for dozens of the most popular rifles, shotguns and handguns available today.

For more information, visit americangunsmith.com or call 800-797-0867.

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