GUNS: The Kalashnikov Rifle in Security Contracting

The Author with his trusty AK wile on security operations in Iraq

Read Part 2 Here >>>

If you are a contractor, it won’t be long until you have in your hands one of the most infamous rifles ever to spring forth from the dark recesses of human ingenuity. THE AK-47.

When it comes to assault rifles, there are few competitors with a more basic design. The AK and its modernized form the AKM are bound to be pointed in your direction sooner or later if you’re working the Red Zone.

It’s best to get acquainted with this system early on, and master its manual of arms. You WILL be seeing a lot of this rifle when wandering the contract circuit or 3rd world. This rifle and its millions of unlicensed reproductions litter most of the battlefields around the globe.

You know the story, you’ve seen it in the hands of every photo op of a bad guy with a flag being waved in the air, or in the hands of some jungle bound insurgent waiting to snatch the life from the unwary, and now it resides in the armories of every private military company as well.

Now, you’ll notice a curious difference between AKs fielded by contractors and those being run in stock form by crazy militants, dedicated insurgents, and Chechen vest bombers. A Contractor’s AK will invariably have modifications courtesy of any number of aftermarket accessory companies that are intended to enhance not only the cool factor but utility of the rifle.

A tricked out AK used by a friend of the author

Contractors are suckers for aftermarket products to ‘enhance’ their weapons systems. While on the other hand, an insurgent or ‘loyal’ host nation counterpart will tend to make modifications going in the other direction sometimes removing or cutting the buttstock off, or using the rifle with no rear sight fixed in place or the front sight pin completely missing. For them, it’s business as usual.

Any way you cut it, professionals and amateurs, wanna-be’s and gonna-be’s have all fielded this rifle.

For me, I like my working AKs to stick to their more original forms. I do like the wire stock models over the under-folder models, and do find that most solid wood buttstocks feel a bit short in length for me even with body armor on. However, I make do with what’s issued more often than not.

Wire stock and under-folder AK’s

When it comes to AK sights, I stick to the iron ones and have avoided the temptation to throw a red dot on one thus far. Folks really have begun to shy away from a system that works every time in lieu of pretty optics. There’s still a place for iron sights (always will be) and I would suggest spending enough time with them to keep proficient.

Also, finding N type batteries to run your favorite dot in third world shit holes can be a project all by itself. In my opinion, time and finances can be better spent on the range with iron sights. Put the red dots down long enough to master your gun fighting skills without them.

As for the 7.62x39MM round the AK/AKM are chambered for? I give it the thumbs up. For use inside its intended ranges, it does the job. You just can’t go wrong with .30cal in my mind. It is not the greatest answer to the caliber controversy, but it seems to draw blood and rend flesh in a manner that’s fitting and satisfactory to most its users.

Below are some of my favorite AK photos I have taken over the past couple of years

an American Security Contractor with his ak
Ak toting Iraqi army guys at a checkpoint in 06′
The author and his buddy in Iraq with gold and silver plated ak’s
Nepali Security Contractor roof gunner with an AK (Iraq)
A night shot of one of my buddies with his AK, also in Iraq
An Iraqi national guard soldier with AK during a sandstorm
James G. Goofing off with his AK on his Compound in Baghdad 2003
Nepali trunk monkey with his AK

Read Part 2 Here >>>

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~Bubba G
Editor at Large

Bubba G. is an active protective professional presently performing contract duties in the Middle East and has well over 15 years of military, high risk contracting, international training and martial arts experience.

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30 thoughts on “GUNS: The Kalashnikov Rifle in Security Contracting”

  1. That tricked out AK looks straight-up fucking stupid

    ~James G

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    1. Please forgive my ignorance, but was that AK used in the field or made up as a “collectable”?

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  2. And the most important trait of the AK/M, it goes bang when you pull the trigger, regardless of the abuse you have put it through.

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  3. What makes are the most common? Romanian, Bulgarian, Polish etc or do you just see a mix of all the above?

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  4. There is a complete mix of AKs, but many are TYPE 56 Chinese knock-offs, Egyptian AKMs, Romanian AKM, Tabuks, East German, and Yugoslavian Kalshnikovs.

    Mine are East German (wire stock) and Chinese (underfolder); both shoot straight.

    Bubba M.

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  5. “Please do not feed the Nepali trunk monkeys.”

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  7. That tricked out AK looks straight-up fucking stupid~James G  

    I would agree, how do rock the mag in with the huge vertical foregrip? You guys should try some AK30 from us palm. They are rock solid in this civi point of view.

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  8. Best I’ve ever seen is Serbian AK. Built in grenade launcher gas block, night sights, good machine work and just all around better tolerances. Typical Jugoslav’s, take someone else’s design and enhance it. Earlier models are better. Now that Jugo is “Serbia” the quality has suffered. But even then it still is better than most.

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  9. Long time fan of the AK series. It is a fine weapon and does exactly what it was designed for. Glad to finally see some positive on the weapon over the last few years. It’s about time. Great article. Keep up the great work.

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  10. Dude, an AK for the Well ” trunk monkey ” shit on that give me a PKM please.

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  11. If I could only own one gun it would be an AK hands down

    ~James G

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  12. Can someone articulate what differentiates the AK from the AKM? It was stated that the AKM is the “modernized” version. In what way, please?

    shukran

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  13. Hey Bubba,
    The pic of you and the other guy with the gold and silver aks, where was that? Taji?

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  14. I love the AK. Never had the pleasure of firing a “real” one (i.e. one that still runs in fullauto and hasn’t had a bunch of parts replaced to meet silly import restrictions)

    I think it’s a great weapon when used within it’s capabilities (most anything >400 yards) and that most of it’s detractors have no idea what the hell they are talking about half the time. I do kinda wish it was easier to shoot prone with one, but that’s about my only complaint really.

    Can someone articulate what differentiates the AK from the AKM? It was stated that the AKM is the “modernized” version. In what way, please? shukran  (Quote This Comment)

    If I’m not mistaken:

    AK-47 would really only refer to the original model rifle in the AK family made in Russia in 1947, had a milled receiver and a few other differences.

    Some time after that they started cutting a few corners to speed up the process of getting thousands produced and came up with the stamped receiver that we are used to seeing on all AK’s today.

    That, and the multitude of other copies of it made all over the unfree world would be considered the AKM family.

    If I’m off on that one of these high speed guys on here will correct me ;)

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    1. Are 20 round mags available around your way?

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  15. Dude, an AK for the Well ” trunk monkey ” shit on that give me a PKM please.  

    If you look just to the left, you’ll see that our friendly ‘Trunk Monkey’s’ primary weapons system is the MAG-58; you can see the muzzle of the GPMG poking out.

    I can attest that this fine warrior had the skills and judgment to expertly put both weapons systems to use.

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  16. Hey Bubba,
    The pic of you and the other guy with the gold and silver aks, where was that? Taji?  

    It sure was at Taji…

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  17. ultimak gas tube rail,T1 micro and a light. Thats all you need.

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  18. If you look just to the left, you’ll see that our friendly ‘Trunk Monkey’s’ primary weapons system is the MAG-58; you can see the muzzle of the GPMG poking out.I can attest that this fine warrior had the skills and judgment to expertly put both weapons systems to use.  (Quote This Comment)

    Yep, i see them. Great picture, and i have no doubt that he knows how to use them.

    And yes James, since you put it that way and i had to choose only one, it would be an AK.

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  19. ultimak gas tube rail,T1 micro and a light. Thats all you need.  

    Roger that, That’s how mine is set up. Hahah.

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  20. Can someone articulate what differentiates the AK from the AKM?It was stated that the AKM is the “modernized” version.In what way, please?shukran  

    The AK has a milled receiver and the AKM is a stamped receiver…

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  21. The AK-47 was originally stamped, then within a couple years, due to heat treating and warping problems in Soviet factories that had little experience stamping, the gun was redesigned with an overweight milled receiver that was better suited to their WW2 and pre-WW2 factory tooling. Stamping was not just a matter of cutting corners in the sense of reduced funcitonality, as it follows in the pattern of several highly successful Nazi arms, including the StG 44, MG 42, and MP 40.

    By around 1960, the Soviets perfected their stamping/heat treating and had designed a lightened version of their original design for mass production called the AKM, which weighed almost 2 lbs less than the original milled and stamped designs at no cost to functionality. The AKM is the most populous and battle-proven of the AK designs, if not all modern assault and battle rifles. The AK-74 and AK-100 rifles represent only slight modifications to the original AKM design and the majority of parts can be interchanged.

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  22. Of course the Israeli Galil and South African R4/R5 are variations on the theme that have worked very well for years….
    The R4 was widely used in the “bush war” and the R5 is a shortened barrel version that was issued to our “parabats” and some SF units. Strangely enough the Airforce were also issued them, and I got to use one in 1985 when they were first issued.

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  23. No much can beat the AK…….we make em’ everyday.

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  24. Do you guys run into any VZ-58′s out their ?

    What do you guys think of the VZ-58 ?

    Are their any contractors useing it right now oversea’s

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  25. Do you guys run into any VZ-58′s out their ?What do you guys think of the VZ-58 ?
    Are their any contractors useing it right now oversea’s  

    I’m trying to decided between the VZ-58 and AK right now as well. The Ak proves a little short for me with standard stock, the VZ is more pointable, quicker on target acquisition and lighter to hump across the terrain. The AK is world famous for its rugged durability, and parts are ubiquitous.
    I need a carbine that will go bang ALWAYS when I pull the trigger and put a man down at <300m. The .30 round gets flack, but I don't see any of the 175 million AK/AKknockoff owners in the world complaining about it.

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  26. I couldn’t help but notice that there wasn’t a single non-folding stock in any of the pictures you showed (well, except the plastic one, but he wasn’t a contractor). Is there any particular reason for this? Like, is it just more practical, or are there simply more folders than non-folders?

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  27. Hi Jimmy,

    Long time reader. Wondering what stock adapter your friend uses on his “tacticool” AK? What is that section right at the rear of the receiver? Thanks!

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  28. I was in ‘Stan in ’05-’06 and when my battalion did our relief in place (RIP) with the outgoing battalion. The guy I did a turn over with was trying to get a 1954 model, milled receiver out with him…lucky for me he had ‘no joy’ and I inherited it for the duration of my deployment. Being milled it was a tad heavy but hands down it was a war horse compared to models I came across that were 30+ years newer but stamped.

    My issued rifle was a M4 but as part of my kit going outside the wire I had an AK mag filled and on my LBE.

    If SHTF a Glock and AK will rule the day!
    See you on the other side!
    B

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