The first rifle I ever bought was a Norinco AKM-47S, made in china, with a fold under stock. This is a stock photo of what that entails, though I never owned a huge drum magazine. When I bought it, it came with three 30-round steel magazines, a cheap bayonet, and a cleaning kit. An AKM shoots a relatively large, slow round in 7.62×39.
Within a year, I acquired a Russian Saiga AK-74. It came with two 30-round magazines, and was chambered in tiny, high velocity 5.45×39. Unlike the AKM, this rifle was fully automatic.
Purchase and ownership of either of these weapons was a very serious crime in the area where I lived at the time, so while I shot them relatively frequently, I was very careful not to let anyone see me carrying them around. I figured that if I ever needed to use one in my own defense, I was going to end up in prison, which meant that there was no option to merely flash it and warn someone away. The minute I had to get one out, I was going to start shooting to kill and stacking bodies. Thankfully, I was never in any situation to necessitate such an eventuality.
I acquired the second weapon assuming it would be obviously superior to the first. After it wasn’t, I figured I would keep shooting both of them, and imagined that I would discard one or the other before too much time had elapsed. That never happened. The Chinese rifle shot larger, heavier ammo, which would be an obvious advantage in the sort of close-quarters combat that might erupt in one’s day-to-day life, but it also had a folding stock that was difficult to get a good cheek-weld to. The Russian rifle was far more comfortable and noticeably more accurate at range, but the rounds I had available (7N6 armor penetrating) lacked lethality. The internet is full of stories of soldiers shooting combatants multiple times with no immediate effect.
At about the time I was planning to return to the U.S., I had shot the Russian so often, running it so hot, that I was beginning to keyhole my targets. When this started happening, I was overjoyed, as the ammo I was using suddenly seemed to become much more destructive. In reality, I needed a new barrel. In hindsight, I probably shot 20,000 rounds through this rifle, over the course of my young adulthood.
I debated giving the Chinese rifle away, but didn’t want to be responsible if the recipient got into some sort of trouble with it. One night, I disassembled them, and dumped the parts into Kootenay Lake.
Earlier this year, I decided that I ought to be a good American, and buy a new rifle. My first assumption was that I would buy an AK-74 in semi-auto only. I’m still looking.
I have also learned that the cheap surplus 7N6 and 7N10 ammo I love is unavailable in the U.S., thanks to Donald Trump’s executive order against armor penetrating ammunition. My guess is that I’ll end up buying an AR-15 rifle, but I’m dreading the process. The AR-15 is commonly known to be overly complex, unelegant, and generally far less reliable than the Russian equivalent. On the other hand, M855 ammo (the equivalent of 7N6) is readily available, even if it is more expensive. Apparently, armor penetrating ammunition is cool, if its chambered for an imperialist calibre.
I started thinking about this after reading Snapper’s article on his new Hi-Point Carbine. Do you have a favorite rifle? Tell me all about it.