Dispelling an AK myth

The “proof” that a 7.62×39 pencil was not used

Shane Johnson shooting the SAM7SF

I recently had a range experience that dispelled one of the greatest urban legends of the firearms world. That the 7.62x.39 AK 47 is incapable of the accuracy level of the AR-15…. or much of anything else. While that may be true in most cases, I just found that to be a myth. After much experimentation down the AK47 path, I settled on what I believe is the finest AK pattern rifle ever made. This is the Arsenal SAM7SF.

I was given an in-depth run down of the SAM7SF rifle by Vartan Barsoumian (Arsenal CEO) at the Arsenal facility in Las Vegas prior to its release. I was floored. After selling a couple of my other AK’s to fund the SAM7SF I finally got one for my personal use. I mounted an Aimpoint Comp M3 on it using an RS Regulate AK-300 mount. I also used and RS Regulate BM-1 mount attached to the barrel to mount a Surefire X300 Ultra and a simple two-point sling with a Blue Force gear adaptor for the front sling position. It is simple. Solid gun, high quality red dot sight and a high quality light and a simple sling. I use Arsenal Circle 10 magazines that are regarded as the highest quality AK magazines ever made. I took this rifle with me on a recent military contract where I was working exclusively on AK pattern weapons for OPFOR operations. I spent a lot of time on dry manipulations, but was never able to do a live sight in.
When I arrived home I went to the Sportsman Shooting Center in Grapevine, Texas to utilize their 100-yard indoor tunnel to sight this rifle in along with a BCM AR that I would be using for a LE demo (I am a LE Pro Staff member for Aimpoint). I got the SAM7 SF loaded up with my favorite 7.62×39 load, Hornady’s outstanding 123 gr. SST. I started out shooting some solid groups while getting a good zero. These all hovered in the 2-inch range. The shooting center utilizes the same type of computer equipment that is used in the Olympics for scoring targets. You can’t cheat the system, and it doesn’t lie. An employee and not the shooter independently operate the system. Once I was close on the bull, I started to really focus to try to get the best zero possible. The next three rounds went into .054 inches. Yes, .54 inches at 100 yards. I stopped that group while I was ahead as it was a mind bender. I had the employee record and print it. I fired the next two rounds just to get an idea of what that group would have been and it would have opened up to just under an inch. What is remarkable is that this was shot by a guy with a bad astigmatism where the red dot looks like an asterisk, and I cannot actually see the bull at 100 yards, and included the first round loaded from the magazine that is often in a different spot with many semi-auto’s. It also shatters the myth about not being able to shoot a group with a 2 MOA red dot (which I already knew as I shot a .076 inch group on the same system with a Steyr AUG and a Comp M4). To say I was stunned was an understatement. I knew that the all forged and milled parts used in the SAM7SF combined with a cold hammer forged barrel was giving some impressive groups, but .054 is beyond anyone’s expectations. I guess mine REALLY likes the Hornady 123 gr. SST that I have decided is the only thing that will be going through it (I have other AK’s to shoot garbage through).
The rest of the session continued with solid groupings right around 2-3 MOA that was mostly due to me, and my eye issues. I let the Shane Johnson, the employee at the Sportsman Shooting Center, fire the last 5 shot group of the day. He had not shot an AK before. The first round was a bit of a flyer that I attributed to getting to know the trigger. The next round moved back to the zero point, and then…two rounds that the computer recorded as (literally, no b.s.) in the same hole. The last round was very close to the two rounds in the same hole grouping. Total group size was again about 2 inches; however, minus the first shot, this would have been easily under an inch. Not bad for the first 5 rounds ever shot out of an AK, especially with a 2 MOA red dot. I only wish I still had young eyes and a trigger finger without arthritis!
Overall, I think the “Internet” was wrong. I read lots of snarky posts about Arsenal calling the SAM7SF a “Game Changer”. Well, if a sub minute capable AK is not a game changer, I don’t know what is. I have one of Arsenal’s scope mounts enroute so that I can mount an actually “scope” on this thing and see what it will do with a magnified optic. Having a 7.62×39 that could function as a DMR, as well as being a car crusher close quarters rifle, has all sorts of win in it.

This entry was posted in Long Guns, Review by Darryl Bolke. Bookmark the permalink.

About Darryl Bolke

Darryl Bolke is a retired SoCal police officer who spent 17 years assigned to SWAT as a firearms instructor and primary instructor on all firearm systems. Darryl also authored and created a program for L/E edged weapons use and issue knives for all officers, and assisted in the design of several knives. Darryl has worked several years on various private sector investigation and protection details, is a Pro Staffer for L/E with Aimpoint, and is the co-owner of Hardwired Tactical Shooting (HiTS).

23 thoughts on “Dispelling an AK myth

  1. Great article D! I’ve never understood how people can run the cheapest, filthiest ammo they can get their hands on through a rifle and then declare a rifle inaccurate. I’d love to get my hands on a SAM7SF. The AK100 series is nice but left side folders are wrong.

  2. So, I am assuming that a report on the accuracy of an AK-47 will be forthcoming as a follow up to this review of the Arsenal SAM7SF.

    The purported “myth” in the title has yet to be dispelled, unless the AK-47 was built to the same specs as the Arsenal rifle. This should have just been a range report of the SAM7SF.

    • Amen to this. I love MSW articles because they are usually free of the sensationalist crap. The recent post on 1 quick trick to improve shooting even maked jest at the baited types of article to which I refer as crap. The fact is- this article addresses 1 new rifle which cannot be compared to the volume of AKs widely known to be 4 moa guns at best that when heated up can become 16 moa guns. An honest scientific test of a sampling of AK’s accuracy would be insightful.

      • To be fair, we’d have to pick on mass produced non-free floated 16 inch carbine AR-15s to do an accurate comparison instead of putting them up against Ar-15s with Geisslie triggers and free floated Krieger barrels…

  3. Is the .054″ measurement correct? Looking at the piece of paper – it looks like .54″.

    • You’re correct. I was typing reading off the paper. I honestly have not mastered proofing my submissions to the format used here. Yes, it is .54.

      Some are being quite picky, but that is fine. Note “AK pattern” in the initial paragraph. The fact is simple this 7.62×39 rifle is essentially a MOA capable gun with Hornady SST-period. That is with a dude with bad eyes and a 2 MOA red dot. Not impressive…….fine, you guys are super awesome. Your $600 AR is a .5 MOA gun all day…..WOW please do a write up. I read a lot on the net that the SAM7SF being a “game-changer” as a big let down and it wasn’t any different….blah, blah, blah.

      Sean….No, it is not an actual “AK47”. Neither are the AR’s of today an M16 of the 60’s. My point was sort of like the AR platform in that we have made huge gains in these systems and the “legends” of the past of AR reliability and AK inaccuracy are no longer gospel and are being disproven. Essentially, I had a chance to shoot this thing in an environment with no cheating or fudging, and it performed at a level I have never seen before. If sub MOA capable 7.62×39 AK pattern out of the box stock production guns have been falling from the sky like leaves in the fall and I missed it…….well, “my bad”. I just have never heard of them before this.

  4. At over $1200, I would hope it would be accurate.

    Including the scope, I built my AR for less than half of that, and it will shoot sub-MOA groups all day long with anything you put in the magazine. If I do my part, and with my handloads, it will reliably put 5 rounds in less than 1/2″at 100 yards.

  5. I don’t think you’ve dispelled a myth–you’ve found one AK manufacturer who can build high quality parts and bias the tolerances to produce a reasonably accurate AK. (Although, to really test the accuracy you should be shooting 10-shot groups; 3-shot groups, or excluding flyers, games the statistic.) Compare that with the AR platform, where’s it rare to find an inaccurate AR these days. Compare the price of the Arsenal AK with major manufacturer ARs and you’ll find the ARs to be the same price or less. And, no, I’m not busting on the AK–it’s design has certain advantages and disadvantages relative to other designs. But as someone recently said, a Jeep will never be a Ferrari.

  6. The ammo and AK you selected were not typical and this test doesn’t mean a whole lot.

    How about selecting a run of the mill AK, under $600 with the ammo people normally use for it? Russian spam cans of ammo.

    To be fair, take a sub $700 AR in carbine length and steel cased ammo and a 1/9 twist and do a comparison. Change out the buffer and spring, if you must, to get it to cycle properly.

    Then do the comparison. Hell, do a comparison with the same AK/AR with good ammo after a cleaning. The results will be informative.

    I would HAPPILY take an AK or AR for defense or any other purpose.

    Ain’t nothing wrong with a properly working AK.

  7. Impressive! The Hornady 123 gr SST is one of my favorite 7.62×39 mm loads.

  8. To piggy back on some others who commented, that ain’t an AK-47. Grab some ammo out of Terry’s cache before EOD blows it, pick up his AK that his grandpappy picked up in 1983 from a Russian and hasn’t cleaned since, and then tell me how accurate it is. The Kalashnikov pattern weapons American forces will encounter are not going to yield .054″ groups.

  9. Sorry, you didn’t dispell anything. You had a good day the range with an AK, that’s all. Tell you what, turn on your TV and count the AR15/M16 type rifles you see in the news. Even terrorists are started to use them. It’s not an urban legion, it’s well documented. If you like AKs good for you. But beatin this dead house will just make you out to be fool. AKs are too curde and are unsuitable for modern combat, end of story.

    • Funny, I am actually a huge AR and AUG loving guy who had nothing but disdain for the AK platform for many years. So, liking AK’s is sort of new to me. I have zero use for the 5.45×39 guns, but the 7.62×39 guns do several things really well that I like. They eat cars and cover far more efficiently than the 5.56 guns and do it with a rifle that works well, folds in half, and runs in compact packages. The point here is that the SAM7SF, RS Regulate mounts with good optics, and high quality ammunition will deliver a carbine that is not “too crude and unsuitable for modern combat”, especially if that combat involves use of cover.
      I am not giving up my AUG’s or AR’s by any stretch as my primary rifles, BUT, I have found a very viable platform that has corrected many of the AK negatives of past generations.

  10. With some of my rifles, I no longer try to make a tight group. I feel that if i can keep my shots inside an 8 inch circle at 100 yards with iron sights, then such practical accuracy is sufficient for what i would be using these particular rifle for….SHTF. In a real situation, if I am firing at a bad guy, does it really make a difference if I hit him through the heart, in the lungs or in the gut? As long as they are no longer a threat. Not to say I fire haphazardly……aimed fire is preferred, given time, just for me any torso hit should be sufficient. I do practice seriously with my AR15 NM A2 for competition.

  11. Darryl, thanks for the article. I enjoyed it…..unlike all these keyboard commandos, who, have their AR’s stuffed so far up their a@$ that they cannot appreciate anything that’s different than what they “run”.

  12. I have to agree with most of the other comments. You have sample one AK using one specific round with a “gamed” 3-shot group. Granted, your vision and the choice of optics isn’t the best for testing groups. What would be nice is a 20x scope and a shooter with 20/20 doing a 10 shot group using a variety of ammo. That would give more realistic accuracy data. I have a few AK’s and NONE of them are better than 4 MOA using standard ammo.

    The bottom line is this, you can buy some of the lowest cost (but decent) AR parts out there, assemble them properly and using regular ammo, it would more accurate than 99% of the AK’s available for sale in the US (using regular ammo). Oh, btw, one of my 1990’s Romanian AK’s (a 5.45 that I purchased brand new) with a proper standard capacity dimpled magwell and a factory Romanian barrel (not one of these converted 10-rounders with a 5.56 barrel labeled as 5.45) KEYHOLES using Bulgarian 5.45 at 50 yards…so there’s that.

    • Kind of funny that I am working on an article now that not only discusses that the AK’s are not ALL as in-accurate crude clubs, but will also be addressing the “myth” that they are the most reliable thing ever invented. They are not. The legends of AK’s in a tropical environment being shot reliably for years at time with no maintenance are as bogus as many other “stories” in this industry. A TON of the AK based guns in this country are garbage. While many have given this short write up a “whatever, that isn’t a real AK”…..well, it is about as close as you can get to what is coming off of Bulgarian production lines for actual issue to troops. This is sort of the LE6920 to M4 analogy. Those surplus parts coming to the US and assembled into something that resembles an AK are no different than the gun show AR15 parts build guns. Some run, most don’t (and “run” is not 100 problem free rounds, “run” is totally reliable in a high round count 3-5 day carbine class).

  13. Thanks for your write up, Darryl. Please don’t take offense at everyone’s comments. I think the issue everyone is having with your post is to do with the title being incongruous with the content. If you change the title to something like “Range Report on SAM7SF”, or even a more sensational one like “SAM7SF; best AK in America.” most of the criticism will go away.

    • No offense taken and would be fine with either one of the titles you mentioned. As I said earlier, the fact is that this gun is closer to what a modern production military AK is from the factory that is building military issue guns than the very questionable parts guns being assembled in the US and touted as AK’s.

  14. To me, the myth was that the AK platform/system was just not capable of being accurate, no matter who built it and how, and that was supported by the countless AKs that just couldn’t be accurate.

    This test proves that an AK that is built right can be extremely accurate.

    The same stuff happens with ARS: don’t build them right, don’t feed them properly and it’s not going to be accurate but no one ever said that ARs weren’t inherently accurate, at least that I know of.

    Thanks Darryl, this was an interesting article.

    • Glad somebody got my point. I know for a fact that AR based guns can be 1/2 MOA guns and certainly sub MOA (haven’t seen a $600 1/2 MOA AR, but I will be more than happy to test one if it exists). What I had never seen, nor thought possible was a sub MOA out of the box AK platform. I was surprised and thought I would share that information.

  15. A question came up off line today that I wanted to post on about “groups”. Personal opinion only and not a definition of any sort. I use three shot groups to assess the mechanical accuracy potential of a rifle, especially the semi-auto’s taking the first round off the top of a magazine. For me, it is what a good guy can do with a 5 shot group. Five shot groups tend to be the standard used for expected accuracy, and 10 shots tend to be a very true test of a shooter’s ability. This comes from testing various systems over the last 30 years, with many of those systems being evaluated for law enforcement issue as patrol, SWAT, and sniper usage.

  16. I’m a little late in jumping in but I read the article a little different the majority. I read an AKM pattern rifle manufactured with high quality parts by a respectable company can be very accurate. There are others out there. Again only a single unit, I own a Krebs Custom that will shoot 1″ to 1 1/4″ moa average using an Aimpoint H1 2 moa mounted on a forward rail by UltiMAK. I used this rifle at two day a defensive carbine class last year, it outperformed the majority of AR’s shooting standard combat drills.

    Comparing AKM piston firearms with DI AR’s is really an apples to oranges endeavor keeping firearm forums kicking and yelling. I own both platforms and would not hesitate using either for any practical self defense scenario I may find myself facing.

    Thank you for your article, I have read others praising the Arsenal SAM7SF for quality workmanship and accuracy.

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