The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

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The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Dave_M » Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:45 pm

The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Let me preface this by saying that this primer is specific to 7.62x39 magazines only. Although most of these guidelines apply to other calibers (such as 5.45 and 5.56) not everything is consistent across the board.

There are many options for AK magazines these days. Every company that makes them makes big promises about producing never-failing, ever-lasting magazines for your AK. Guess what? Most of those companies are full of shit.

Whenever you shop for an AK magazine, you should look for three things first:
-Metal-lined (or metal!) feed lips
-Metal-lined (or metal!) locking lugs
and
-Metal-lined (or metal!) magazine bodies

(Anyone else see a trend here?)

Why?
Part 1: Feed Lips

Let’s not pussy-foot around this: If you are properly training, you are putting your gear (which includes your rig, weapon, and magazines) through hell. Yes, magazines are consumable (liable to be used up or depleted) but that doesn’t mean you should pick a loser from the start (unless you have a reason, more on this later).

AK magazines without metal-lined feed lips can develop cracks (or breaks!) on the feed lips themselves when doing nothing but just sitting around loaded! The pressure from the spring (and an AK spring is very large), provides sufficient pressure to crack and break feed-lips that are not metal-lined.

If the feed-lips do not break outright, they can do something less visible and just as catastrophic: They can bend. The pressure from the spring on non-metal lined feed-lips can be enough to spread the feed-lips outward (please, refrain from any sexual innuendo on this part) and bestow feeding malfunctions. Yes, even the venerable AK can malfunction if you put a shitty magazine into the system (the very best mag-fed weapon in the world is just a paper-weight if you use garbage magazines).

Part 2: Locking Lugs

Magazines with plastic locking lugs have been known to break from simple, rapid insertion, let alone withstanding any falls. Sure, sure, I can hear it now, “I’ll never fall on my magazine”. In ideal circumstances, like shooting from a bench at a range on a sunny day, this probably won’t happen—that said, this isn’t the situation we’re talking about nor preparing for.

Here’s the question: If you fall down, be it from an inner-ear problem or from slipping on ice, and land on your magazine, will it hold up? The magazine is the part you’re likely to fall on, as it protrudes farther down to the rear than your buttstock or pistol grip. Ignore the, ‘pushup’ test videos—a pushup is nothing compared to a falling body transferring all of the weight onto a magazine during a fall. It’s not just falling either. When you drop quickly into a prone position, your magazine can hit the ground. Do not construe that I am advocating using your magazine to break your fall—I’m not. I am just saying that when you drop into prone dynamically, odds are that your magazine is going to hit the ground in the process.

Magazines with completely polymer locking lugs usually fail when introduced to this test. The two most common outcomes with these magazines is: Breaking off the front or rear locking lug or breaking the magazine body in half (to be covered in the next section).

Additionally, polymer locking lugs are more prone to breakage after doing multiple aggressive magazine changes. Just one more reason to rotate these magazines out of your fighting rig and into your training rig.

Part 3: Magazine Bodies

Many types of modern polymers are more elastic than steel. They have a much higher elastic limit and therefore can accept more stress. No AK magazine completely made of polymer that currently exists in the market can rightfully make that claim.

In test after test, metal-lined polymer magazines can take more stress on the body from multiple directions than straight polymer magazines. Sure sure, some you have seen the ‘test’ where a truck rides over a polymer AK magazine and it still functions perfectly (no no, not the magpul PMag test—that was for ARs, remember?) but when it comes to an actually fall a user is likely to experience (like a slip), they, ‘fall’ short (har har).


Now that the nuts and bolts are finished, what magazines actually fulfill these requirements?

If you want a synthetic magazine (and there are many reasons to want one, weight and durability being at the top of the list), look no further than genuine black Bulgarian waffle magazines.. This is arguably the toughest and most durable of all AK-series magazines. They will hold up when an all-metal magazine will crush or dent (impeding proper function) and they weigh less to boot.

Image

To ensure that you have a genuine Bulgarian waffle magazine, simply look for the ‘circle-10’ marking on the left side of the magazine

Image
I specify black Bulgarian magazines because some of the other colors (specifically the ‘smoke’ or ‘clear’ versions) do not have metal-lined locking lugs, feedlips, or magazine bodies for aesthetic purposes. If you have some of these, that’s okay but please take them out of your ‘go-to’ rig. Even some of the opaque colored magazines are not as strong (even though they are metal-lined) due to the process of making the polymer in a different color. Olive drab and plum magazines are probably usable but I will say this: just stick to the proven black magazine and simply paint them if you want another color.

There are some downsides to these magazines though: They have a larger OD than standard surplus magazines and as such, may not fit readily into all magazine wells (specifically Wasr-10’s which come in country with single stack magwells and are later opened up by Century Arms, with sometimes dubious and inconsistent results). If they don’t fit, fit your rifle to them and not the magazine itself. The second downside is cost. Currently, Bulgarian waffle mags go for over $30. Yes, that is a lot of money to pay for the upsides of this magazine. However, you can be confident that no other magazine in existence can hold a candle to the longevity and durability of it. If you want to pay less for surplus mags that’s fine and I’ll cover them further down in this article.

There is another magazine produced in Bulgaria that should only be for show or range purposes and that is the Bulgarian, ‘Bullet’ magazine

Image

This magazine is very weak compared to the waffle magazine and cracks easily. Once again, if you want synthetic mags, just go with the black Bulgarian waffles.

Yes, there is a US company that produces an aesthetically similar magazine (ProMag) but what the cheap US copy does not include is ----you guessed it--- any of the three features I mentioned from the very start.

I have heard time and time again, “but my ProMag magazines work great!”. This is often from the mouths of those that do not even shoot their weapons often and certainly do not train with them. If you think your ProMags are, “great” try putting them through the paces at a decent shooting school and see what happens. You will not like the results, that I will say.

Other common synthetic AK magazines on the market include:
-Tapco
-Master Molder (Thermold)
-ProMag

If you view the following videos (yes, the audio tracks suck) you will see why the black Bulgarian waffle magazine is the clear winner:
http://www.k-var.com/shop/pages.php?pageid=15" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

(No, I do not work for K-Var but I appreciate them doing the Russian military drop tests with competitor’s magazines so I don’t have to do the same myself)


Surplus Magazines

These are normally the cheapest bet for usable magazines. Whether they are from Romania, Russia, China, or any country in between, they are usually good magazines (with a few caveats).

These can be found for $15 or less apiece currently. When selecting surplus magazines there are a couple things you should look for right off the bat:

-Avoid any magazine with excessive cosmoline or other preservative.
When you purchase surplus magazines, the condition can sometimes be dubious. Excessive cosmoline can prevent you from noticing any physical problems (such as dents) that prevent the follower from fully constricting under load. Let’s be honest here, cosmoline can be (easily is the first word that comes to mind but is not always the case) cleaned out but a dent in the magazine can he harder to fix. If a magazine has been in storage for a long period of time, cosmoline can prevent the function of the magazine follower. One of the better ways I have found to clean cosmoline off is to heat the magazine in the oven at 150 degrees and use a solvent (such as diesel fuel) to remove the cosmoline. You might be surprised at the size of a dent that can impede proper follower function.

-Avoid ‘bolt hold open’ followers
These are very common with Yugoslavian surplus magazines. The bolt of the rifle hits an extended follower, stopping the forward motion of the bolt.

At the end of a magazine, the bolt will, ‘hold open’ and instead of getting the, ‘Kalashnikov click’, you get a squishy trigger. Since the follower physically holds the bolt to the rear, as soon as you remove the magazine the bolt will ride home. There is not tactical advantage (since a squishy trigger indicates a malfunction and not an empty magazine) nor a speed advantage (since the bolt releases as soon as the magazine releases) to bolt hold-open followers.

I have heard others argue that the pseudo bolt hold-open is an advantage. While I do not agree with this, if you think they have an advantage, ensure all of your magazines have bolt hold-open followers. You want everything to be exactly the same, all of the time, whenever possible.

Here’s an easy way to identify a bolt hold-open follower:
Image
The bolt hold-open follower is on the left, the standard follower on the right. The extra hump on the follower is what holds the bolt to the rear.


-Inspect for any dents or imperfections
Since we’re talking about surplus magazines, yes, they likely have been used and abused throughout their lives. Even a small dent can impede proper follower movement and any magazine with dents that can be seen with the naked eye should be avoided. You can test follower movement with a pencil or other straight tool. Simply push the follower down and ensure that it does not hang-up at any point in its travel downwards or upwards.

There are generally two types of surplus magazines: Chinese, and everything else.

Most Eastern European magazines have a spine that runs along the back, as shown here:
Image

whereas most Chinese magazines are smooth backed, as shown here:
Image

Although it doesn’t look like much, that spine can be the difference between blood and comfort. I do not joke when I say that I have seen hands bleed from practicing reloads too much in one day using Eastern European surplus magazines.

When you grab a magazine for a reload, the webbing of your hand rests against the spine in this fashion:
Image

After many drills, this portion of your hand can become raw and actually bleed. If you use Chinese smooth-backed magazines, this can be prevented, at least bleeding from simple aggressive reloads. All is not lost if you run Eastern European surplus mags exclusively though, as wearing gloves greatly protects you from this.

In Summary:
My recommendations for AK magazines are the following (and in order)
-Black Bulgarian waffle magazines
-Chinese smooth-back magazines
-Eastern European surplus magazines

I do not currently advocate any US-made synthetic magazine for any purpose other than a malfunction/range magazine. Perhaps in the future someone will produce an American magazine worth a damn—today is not that day.


Further notes:
When talking about 922r compliance parts (google it) magazines invariably come up since US magazines consist of three compliance parts (Body, follower, and floorplate). My recommendation is to have legal compliance without the magazine even being considered.

Why? Well the last thing you want is for your rifle to be compliant with one magazine and not another. The best thing to do, in my opinion, is to have proper 922r compliance on the rifle itself.

If you have a threaded barrel, you need six compliance parts and if the barrel is unthreaded, only five. The cheapest and easiest way is to ensure you have the following US parts:
-Fire Control Group (3 US parts- trigger, hammer, and disconnecter)
-Pistol grip (1 US part)
-Buttstock or forend (1 US part)
-Muzzle device (if that applies if you have a threaded barrel, 1 US part)

It should be known that CAI guns (such as the WASR-10/63 or the SAR-1) come standard with the following US parts:
-Fire control group (3 parts)
-Pistol Grip (1 part)
-Gas piston (1 US part)
-Muzzle device (1 US part—WASR-10/63 only. The SAR series was imported without a thread barrel)

Parts count on build rifles can be dubious and they generally depend on the builder. It is also a good idea to inquire and then inspect for the proper number of US parts on any AK-series rifle purchased.

More at http://milcopptactical.com/blog.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by TDW586 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:01 pm

Great write-up, Dave, I've been looking for a good AK-magazine primer for a friend of mine I talked into buying a Krebs AK with the interest off his deployment savings :twisted:, I'll be forwarding this around to my non-ZS shooting buddies. Thanks!
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by rube79 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:33 pm

Nicely done Sir! I learned this info from experience. Only wish i would have read such a nice writeup a few years ago :D

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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Kommander » Thu Oct 22, 2009 1:44 pm

Thanks Dave. I use all steel euro mags and have had few problems. When I was new to the AK world I got one Pro-mag just to go with my new plastic furniture and it was junk. The only time I ever had malfunctions with my SAR-1 was with that thing. Also have you heard anything on the new steel AK mags coming in from Korea? They look like standard steel comblock mags, but are (obviously) brand new. They are also being sold for as little as $10. I like the idea of new metal mags for that price, but I have heard unpleasant things about them regarding the followers and their general sturdiness.
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Sig_Ocelot » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:15 pm

Excellent write up. I used to pick up nasty looking rusty China mags for about $15 a peice a few years ago. Owner of the shop said no one wanted them because they were rusty. A few hours with a some steel wool and CLP took care of that problem, but if left in my trunk for a few weeks, they will re-rust in some areas.

I bought some polymer K-var 5.45 mags. I was very impressed with them. They had metal lined feed lips and locking lugs. I know this because my WASR2 chipped off all of the polymer around the lug.
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by BHP » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:35 pm

Dave, wish I could figure out how to send you a picture because I have an AK mag I can't identify. It has a hollow spine along the back that has a seperate bolt hold open in it, it's similar to the ridge along the back of the Colt 9mm mags. It fits into one of our 2 post sample AMD 65s but I haven't ever tried it in my other AK.

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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by FreuderLocks » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:39 pm

A question on Eastern euro milsurp mags.
I have an Arsenal 7.62,
I Use black euromags, anything I really need to be aware of?
They seem to work pretty good, ive only put about 200 rds through my AK so far and no problems.
Other than being crapulous on your dickskinners should I have any worries? The ones I get are from 5280 armory, are in good condition, no dents or anything like that. I get them for about $15, which seems like a fair price to me.
I will be investing in some Bulgy 30rd mags just for the hell of it, I would like some gear that is known reliable other than just my rifle.
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Brianww2e45 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 6:59 pm

The rib on back of magazines can be used to smack the magazine out with another mag, or to hit things with like a hammer without doing damage to the magazine itself. You can put in tent stakes with them, and they also lend support (I've held up tables on their corners before.) With two ribbed magazines, you strike the rib against the rib of the magazine inserted in the rifle and can speed up reloading considerably.

You can do this with flat back magazine (which several European manufacturers make flat-backs as well) but it will dent them. It shouldn't lead to any product malfunction, however.

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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by SweetTea » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:01 pm

Very informative, thank you.
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Brianww2e45 » Thu Oct 22, 2009 7:02 pm

BHP wrote:Dave, wish I could figure out how to send you a picture because I have an AK mag I can't identify. It has a hollow spine along the back that has a seperate bolt hold open in it, it's similar to the ridge along the back of the Colt 9mm mags. It fits into one of our 2 post sample AMD 65s but I haven't ever tried it in my other AK.
There are three types of AK magazines that have rib-positioned BHOs. Chinese made one (limited production,) the Soviets made one in prototype form (are there Arsenal markings?) and there was an American company that put out a run.

Is it slab-side? If not, how many indentations are in the sides? 2 or 3? If there's only one, you have Contract Croatian magazines from China which would be incredibly rare, as I've never seen one with the detent pin for BHO.

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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Dave_M » Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:46 pm

Due to comments on other forums I feel the need to add this:

Final comments
I did not include the Tango Down/US Palm magazine for two reasons: I have not used one yet and I haven’t seen a military drop-test. It’s fairly apparent that Tango Down did their research before they ever dropped polymer into the mold, which is always nice to see.

It does look very promising since it has metal-lined feed lips, locking lugs, and body. However, I’m not completely sold on the concept of a magazine that cannot be disassembled. The price point is the same as the Bulgarian waffle (~$30 new) so I’m currently not seeing an advantage (other than the 1oz lighter weight). So the Tango Down is a ‘time will tell’ magazine to me.
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Dave_M » Thu Oct 22, 2009 11:51 pm

Brianww2e45 wrote:The rib on back of magazines can be used to smack the magazine out with another mag, or to hit things with like a hammer without doing damage to the magazine itself. You can put in tent stakes with them, and they also lend support (I've held up tables on their corners before.) With two ribbed magazines, you strike the rib against the rib of the magazine inserted in the rifle and can speed up reloading considerably.

You can do this with flat back magazine (which several European manufacturers make flat-backs as well) but it will dent them. It shouldn't lead to any product malfunction, however.
You can do a variation of this (and is recommended by many instructors) with most any magazine. However, there is no need to strike, 'rib on rib', simply use the front of the magazine to hit the magazine release and sweep out the empty magazine then insert the fresh magazine. The, 'rib on rib' method is more cumbersome and time consuming than need be. I'll post a video on this later on.

The rib is an artifact of the welding process. As you can clearly see from the photos above, the Chicomm mags are welded in a similar fashion, just from inside the magazine body itself. It is faster and easier to provide a 'spine' extension for welding rather than going from inside the mag--a clear of example of manufacturing speed over comfort and performance (hell, that was the, 'Soviet way', after all)
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Brianww2e45 » Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:01 am

DavePAL84 wrote:
Brianww2e45 wrote:The rib on back of magazines can be used to smack the magazine out with another mag, or to hit things with like a hammer without doing damage to the magazine itself. You can put in tent stakes with them, and they also lend support (I've held up tables on their corners before.) With two ribbed magazines, you strike the rib against the rib of the magazine inserted in the rifle and can speed up reloading considerably.

You can do this with flat back magazine (which several European manufacturers make flat-backs as well) but it will dent them. It shouldn't lead to any product malfunction, however.
You can do a variation of this (and is recommended by many instructors) with most any magazine. However, there is no need to strike, 'rib on rib', simply use the front of the magazine to hit the magazine release and sweep out the empty magazine then insert the fresh magazine. The, 'rib on rib' method is more cumbersome and time consuming than need be. I'll post a video on this later on.

The rib is an artifact of the welding process. As you can clearly see from the photos above, the Chicomm mags are welded in a similar fashion, just from inside the magazine body itself. It is faster and easier to provide a 'spine' extension for welding rather than going from inside the mag--a clear of example of manufacturing speed over comfort and performance (hell, that was the, 'Soviet way', after all)
It wasn't designed for it, but it's a lot easier to strike the back against the back. And that training falls out the window immediately when it's -10 and you're wearing wool socks you made into mittens (Oraovica 2001, Bujanovac.) Magazines with ribs also are stronger. I've seen Chinese magazines break apart in the back. I've also seen water/crud get into the additional magazine load indicators many of the Chi-com magazines have. I am a big advocate of the chrome followers some of the commercial Chicom's have, as a common problem if noticed in field situations is steel-cased ammo rusting to the followers (though since AK's don't mind a bit of cosmo it's always good to coat lightly the follower with some. It just generates some smoke.)

The problem is, the metal can sweat and the magazines will freeze in the gun. You can generate more force literally striking the back of with the rib. I suppose in a temperate climate it's not as big of a deal. It's not as "tactical" but then again I've seen people using the drum of PPSH's as a seat who'd I'd trust 300x's more than 50 Gabe Suarez's.
Last edited by Brianww2e45 on Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Dave_M » Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:07 am

Brianww2e45 wrote:It wasn't designed for it, but it's a lot easier to strike the back against the back. And that training falls out the window immediately when it's -10 and you're wearing wool socks you made into mittens (Oraovica 2001, Bujanovac.) Magazines with ribs also are stronger. I've seen Chinese magazines break apart in the back.

The problem is, the metal can sweat and the magazines will freeze in the gun. You can generate more force literally striking the back of the back. I suppose in a temperate climate it's not as big of a deal.
This all may be true but I won't know for sure until I see some kind of empirical test. I'm going to stick with my current assessments. Perhaps when winter comes I can do some tests myself and post em' up (it's not often I'm running around in -10 here in central Ohio but it does happen from time to time).

Just a quick note:

Eastern European magazines are just fine so long as they are serviceable. Wear some gloves and understand the limitations of said magazines. As of yet, I've never seen a perfect weapon nor magazine. This is just to give you a guideline.
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Brianww2e45 » Fri Oct 23, 2009 12:11 am

DavePAL84 wrote:
Brianww2e45 wrote:It wasn't designed for it, but it's a lot easier to strike the back against the back. And that training falls out the window immediately when it's -10 and you're wearing wool socks you made into mittens (Oraovica 2001, Bujanovac.) Magazines with ribs also are stronger. I've seen Chinese magazines break apart in the back.

The problem is, the metal can sweat and the magazines will freeze in the gun. You can generate more force literally striking the back of the back. I suppose in a temperate climate it's not as big of a deal.
This all may be true but I won't know for sure until I see some kind of empirical test. I'm going to stick with my current assessments. Perhaps when winter comes I can do some tests myself and post em' up (it's not often I'm running around in -10 here in central Ohio but it does happen from time to time).

Just a quick note:

Eastern European magazines are just fine so long as they are serviceable. Wear some gloves and understand the limitations of said magazines. As of yet, I've never seen a perfect weapon nor magazine. This is just to give you a guideline.
You beat my long-winded edit, but yes. I agree it's not often you'll be in such cold circumstances. But all it takes is one horrible failure and it will stick with you the rest of your life, even if you never would encounter it again.

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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Istvan56 » Sat Oct 24, 2009 8:57 am

Nice write-up Dave but too bad it is several years too late for me. :oops:

As you can see this is my collection of Bulgarian waffle mags bought back when they were still fairly cheap, at about $14 a pop. I have mostly black but also two plum and two green. This is in addition to a pile of East European steel mags and one OD green ProMag I found out was POS after purchase and testing.

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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Dave_M » Sat Oct 24, 2009 6:05 pm

Istvan56 wrote:one OD green ProMag I found out was POS after purchase and testing.
Gotta love magazines that allow you to train malfunction drills without setting them up on purpose :mrgreen:
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by DrunkWookiee » Sun Oct 25, 2009 10:43 pm

Great info DavePAL, tyvm for posting. I have a few qustions for you.

1. 75rd drums? Good, bad, indifferent?

2. Could you replace a spring or follower in a milsurp magazine to get an extra compliance part and still keep the magazine reliable?
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Brianww2e45 » Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:02 pm

DrunkWookiee wrote:Great info DavePAL, tyvm for posting. I have a few qustions for you.

1. 75rd drums? Good, bad, indifferent?

2. Could you replace a spring or follower in a milsurp magazine to get an extra compliance part and still keep the magazine reliable?
I'm sure Dave would agree with this, but all 75 round drums currently in production (even the new Bulgies, and soon to be Koreans) are 100% if you make sure they're not filled with cosmo. The spring drums (Romanian, Bulgie, TBA Korean) should be about good to go. They're shorter than 30 rounders so shooting prone is easier. Of course they're significantly heavier. I'd say they would be excellent to keep in a base-defense weapon.

Now... the wind-up break drums (Chinese and Bulgie) are reliable... but if you drop them they will bust open. Easier to load? Yes. But for survival/combat I would definitely prefer the spring drums.

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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by American_Infidel » Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:08 pm

You can replace the follower with a US made one. Haven't heard of any complaints with US made followers. You could also get a US made floorplate but I haven't seen many around lately. Maybe someone else has. I don't think the magazine spring counts towards 922r.

I also agree that it was an excellent write up. Most all of my mags are the Eastern European steel varieties. I read somewhere that after a nuclear war that roaches would live in steel AK mags.
Also read over at theakforum.net that the Korean mags were made from thinner sheet metal than Chinese or Eastern Europe mags. May or may not be an issue...I don't know.

I have one of the new Tapco mags. Seems to be well made and haven't had any issues yet out of it.
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Trebor » Sun Nov 29, 2009 6:20 am

This deserves a bump, or really a sticky or placement in the Hall of Fame.
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by EricinVirginia » Sun Nov 29, 2009 8:34 am

One of ZS's best posts ever. Ever!

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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by ninja-elbow » Sun Nov 29, 2009 3:05 pm

The part about wearing gloves while practicing magazine changing with ridged-back eastern European mags? Yeah, true. I get a new nick every week from that.

As usual, good info Dave - thanks.
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Re: The Kalashnikov Magazine Primer

Post by Chase The hero » Sun Nov 29, 2009 10:46 pm

Very good info here, thanks dave!

just got my AK, so im glad to see some primers on what to get, what to avoid, and what is absolute shit.
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