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At first glance, the AK-47 looks like a 70 year old piece of shit, and past its prime. But that's what makes it such an amazing piece of equipment. Time tested reliable parts with a simplistic design. Development for the AK-47 began in 1944 and was finished in 1946 almost immediately after the end of World War II. During World War II Germany developed the first true assault rifle, the Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44), after realizing most fire fights took place within 300 yards. They decided that the best rifle for this situation would have the capacity and select fire capabilities of a submachine gun coupled with the power of a rifle cartridge. The results were impressive, so impressive that the Russians felt compelled to create their own assault rifle.

The AK-47

The Russians held a competition to come up with an assault rifle chambered for a 7.62x41mm cartridge that would be rugged enough to handle the muddy, frozen, unforgiving Russian front lines. A young designer by the name of Mikhail Kalashnikov entered the competition with a carbine strongly influenced by the American M1 Garand. Kalashnikov lost. However, two years later another competition was held with similar requirements, only this time, the rifle had to be chambered for the new shorter 7.62x39mm cartridge. Kalashnikov entered two rifles, code named the AK-1 and the AK-2 which both fared well. However, Kalashnikov's assistant insisted that with some design modifications the AK-1 could be made even more reliable, thus the improved AK-1 came out for the second round of the competition in 1947. The new redesign proved to be extremely simple and reliable while still being easy to handle and use in a variety of conditions. In 1949 the AK-47 was officially adopted by the soviet army as the "7.62mm Kalashnikov assault rifle (AK)".

Since then the AK-47 has become the most popular rifle in the world, and it still holds that title despite being almost 70 years old and well outdated. It's simplicity to manufacture and use combined with its extreme reliability has lead to the AK-47 being manufactured by many countries across the globe and has lead to some updated variants that are also gaining popularity.

Functionality [10/10]

The AK-47 is extremely reliable and simple so let's run through a few scenarios:

Q. You discover an AK-47 and 2 full magazines covered with 20 years of dust in a basement, and the horde is knocking on the front door, what do you do?
A. You load a magazine, rack the bolt back and you're good to go with 30 rounds of zombie slaying fury.
Q. You discover an AK-47 and 2 full magazines buried in a sandbox behind someone's house, and the horde is slowly boxing you in, what do you do?
A. You load a magazine, rack the bolt back and you're good to go with 30 rounds of zombie slaying fury.
Q. You discover an AK-47 and 2 full magazines while tromping through a swamp, the magazines were sealed in a plastic bag and tethered to the gun, the horde is hot on your tail, and what do you do?
A. You load a magazine, rack the bolt back and you're good to go with 30 rounds of zombie slaying fury.

The AK-47's loose tolerances make it pretty reliable in a variety of situations.

Cleaning the AK-47 is just about as easy as shooting it, should you actually choose to clean it. Some people say the gun performs better the more you beat it and neglect it, but that's just a myth. To clean the AK-47, you pop the top cover off, pull the bolt out, and hose it down with gun scrubber and then give it a nice coating of oil. Seal it back up and you're good to go.

Effectiveness [7/10]

Pointing and shooting is simple enough. However the short distance between the rear and front sites make the rifle a bit inaccurate as there's greater margin of error with little movement of the rifle. Also, mechanically the AK-47 is a piece of shit. To keep manufacturing costs down and withstand the harsh conditions of the Russian front lines, the moving parts in the AK-47 were designed to keep working in muddy icy conditions so the clearances of the moving parts are very loose. Also, there are so many copies out there that you have to watch out for overly shoddy manufacturing. This leads to inconsistencies in the action that could cause poor shot grouping. Although the AK-47 is inaccurate, it's pretty effective at close range, and with a 30 round capacity with optional 100 round drums, there's some room for error.

Ammunition [8/10]

a NATO 5.56mm round next
to a 7.62x39mm round

The 7.62x39mm cartridge is clearly an aging cartridge. With that being said, it still performs well. The cartridge is very powerful and with a heavy load will leave your shoulder pretty bruised, combined with a heavy bullet, multi-kills are totally possible. The 7.62x39mm is ideal for punching holes in zombies, but punching holes in zombies isn't always what you want. You want to put down zombies not turn them into walking, groaning, biting pieces of Swiss cheese. A headshot with anything will put them down, but ballisticly the 7.62x39mm does not cause much trauma. Unlike the American 5.56mm NATO cartridge, used in the M16 and variants, which tumbles, yaws, and shatters to produce massive trauma, the 7.62 is too big and heavy and simply goes through its target instead of causing trauma like the 5.56. As for obtaining the ammo, it's a fairly common hunting round. Most sporting goods stores should carry as much 7.62x39mm as you need, and it should be hollow point ammo which will help compensate for the poor ballistics. However it is not as common as other rifle cartridges.

Portability [8/10]

The AK-47 is an assault rifle, and has many variants that range from small to large, and light to heavy, odds are you'll find an Americanized low carb AK-47 that doesn't have anything fun like a folding or collapsible stock, short barrels or whatever other tactical goodies you'd like to find on an AK-47. The standard AK-47 is pretty heavy and bulky coming in at 9.5 pounds (4.6 kg) empty and 34 inches (83.4 cm) long with a standard wooden stock. With a strap it's fairly portable, but over a few miles with a loaded magazine this AK-47 is going to feel a lot heavier than 9 pounds. Hopefully the AK-47 you find or own has a good strap so it will be much easier to transport around.

Practicality [9/10]

This weapon is extremely practical, if it wasn't practical why the hell would it be the most popular rifle in the world? The fact that it's a piece of shit is the very reason why it's so reliable, affordable, easy to use, and popular. The functionality, ease of use, reliability, powerful ammo, and decent portability make this a very practical weapon for the survivalist on the move or bunkered down.

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