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RPK: maximum AK-47 firepower: part I: in this three-part series, Matthews builds two RPKs from parts kits; a labor-intensive budget-conscious design and a higher-priced build that's easier to assemble.

Throughout the last dozen years I have been writing military gun-build articles for Firearms News, the hobby has seen dramatic changes. In the golden years back in the late 1990s and early 2000s the market was flooded with cheap military surplus parts kits. Excellent condition kits, with intact barrels, could be found at prices that were a fraction of today's cost. AK-47 kits for I $59.95, Sten kits for $29.95, FN/FAL kits for $159.95 and Browning 1919A4 kits for $199 were the norm. This made military arms kit building so popular that it drew unwanted attention from anti-gun politicians. Many rule changes were made to discourage the hobby and make it economically unfeasible. Importation of intact military arms barrels was banned and a new rule generically known as U.S. Compliance (or sometimes called section 922r compliance) was inflicted upon the hobby. This rule mandated that a certain number of U.S.-made parts be used in the building of many semiautomatic military arms that originated outside the USA. This rule required you to throw away perfectly good foreign parts and replace them with pricey U.S. parts. This drove the cost of kit building up to the point where it was almost cheaper to buy a manufactured firearm than to build it yourself. The government also increased restrictions on what could and could not be imported. They restricted where the kits were allowed to be imported from. This drove kit cost to several times their older prices. Today there are only a dozen or so types of kits being imported into the USA. Many of those are too difficult or costly to build. Fortunately there is one kit that can be used to build a gun that is quite pricey as a factory made gun.

The Yugoslavian semi-auto RPK variant of the AK-47 is one of the most expensive AK-47s that is available to hobbyists. This variant features a long, heavy, finned barrel that allows for longer sessions of fire. It also features a bipod at the muzzle to stabilize the gun. Besides the standard 30-round magazines, it was fielded with a 75-round drum for increased firepower. Due to these features and the fact that Yugoslavian AK-47s were extremely well made, the prices for this AK variant are very high. These guns sold for just a few hundred dollars when imported 20 years ago. Today, one in poor condition can sell for $650 or more. I have seen excellent condition Yugo RPKs priced at $1,200-51,500.

With the cost of a Yugo RPK so high, the idea of building one from a parts kit just may be economically feasible. I have several AKs in my collection but not the RPK version so I decided that I might want to build one (or two!). I also thought it might make an interesting Firearms News article. As usual, I had conflicting thoughts on this project. On one hand I liked the idea of building one as cheaply as possible. On the other hand if money was no object, I liked the idea of using some more expensive parts and adding some interesting optional features. I couldn't decide which route to take, so I decided to build it both ways. I really couldn't justify the cost of building two expensive guns. I decided to build the project both ways and then after deciding which one I liked best I would put that one into my collection and then use the other one as trading stock for some other future collection addition.

Shopping

Now that I had decided to build two guns, it was time to get on the Internet and max out my credit card. I would start by sourcing parts for the more expensive version. While this build will be known as the expensive version, I still will be searching out the best prices for parts to keep project cost as low as possible. I will tell readers where I got my parts and what I paid at the time I built this project (early 2016).

The first thing I would need is a Yugoslavian RPK parts kit. Hungarian kits are available but as far as I could find those kits are equal in quality but far more expensive. I could only find Yugo RPK kits from four sources. The best prices were found at Numrich Gun Parts Corporation (gunpartscorp.com) and Apex Gun Parts (apexgunparts.com). I decided to use the offering from Numrich for my higher priced build. This was listed on their website as Yugoslavian M72 (RPK) Parts Kit w/mag, part #1475600. This kit was priced at $449.95 and was listed as being in excellent condition. I have been buying parts kits for the last 30 years and it is hard to find excellent condition military surplus gun kits. I felt the price was acceptable for a kit in this shape.

A week later the kit was on my doorstep. The parts were packed in a heavy grease-covered poly bag. The parts inside were covered with a thick coating of soft grease. At this point I should tell new kit builders that grease is your best friend when it comes to surplus parts. Yes, it is messy and hard to remove, but the grease protects the metal underneath. Surplus parts may sit in warehouses for decades and they need the protection from the environment. Bare blued steel parts that are exposed to poor environmental conditions can simply rust away in a few years if not protected with some form of preservative. When I wiped away the grease I found that the metal underneath was really in excellent condition just as advertised. Other than the damage caused by the BATFE-mandated cutting of the receiver, the parts looked to be almost new. Apparently these kits were made from unissued or lightly used guns. When the barrel parts were cut off the barrel, the cut was made far enough away to prevent damaging the parts. The receiver parts were also preserved in good condition. Whoever did the demilling did a very good job of salvaging the usable parts. Some kits I have had over the years looked to have been cut up by drunken monkeys so I was very pleased to have such a nice kit.

To meet legality requirements set forth by the BATFE (see sidebar article on the legal issues of kit building), this project would need a certain number of U.S.-made parts. The first part I needed was a U.S.-made barrel. There were only a few places on the Web that had Yugo RPK barrels and most of them were barrels made by Green Mountain Rifle Barrel Company (www.gmriflebarrel. com). Rather than order through a middleman, I went direct to the source. There I found barrel #AK47-2GM listed as a heavy 21.3-inch finned Yugo format RPK bar rel that was priced at $241.95. This barrel was completely finished with parkerizing and was chrome lined just like original military barrels. The Green Mountain barrel looked to be of excellent quality, which was no surprise because Green Mountain has a reputation for great barrels. Just a note to readers who may see a less expensive lightweight RPK barrel listed on the Green Mountain website: This barrel is profiled differently than a heavy barrel and will not fit the barrel attachments found on the heavy barrel version of the RPK.

For more U.S.-made parts I turned to gunsmithing supplier Brownells of Montezuma, Iowa (www.browenells. com). You may not associate Brownells with AK parts but they have a pretty good selection of AK parts and accessories. They are also one of the best gun-related companies in the country. They sponsor untold numbers of shooting events, TV shows and many other gun-related events. They do a lot of good for the gun collecting hobby besides offering decent products at reasonable prices. I have been buying stuff from Brownells long before I ever thought of writing gunsmithing articles. Now that I have gushed about Brownell's, let's get to what I ordered from them.

I ordered a Tapco Razor AK muzzle brake (#100-006650, $24.99) just because it looked cool. Many hobbyists replace the fire control group in the AK to meet the U.S. parts count. The most popular US AK-47 FCG is the Tapco G2 Double Hook trigger Group (#100-002-494, $29.99). Another U.S. part was a Tapco stainless steel gas piston (#100-004-549, $14.99). Depending on the final configuration of the gun, I might not need this part but because it is cheap I figured I would order one anyway. If not used on this project, it could be used on the cheaper project. Magpul, the company that makes what is considered to be the best polymer AR-15 magazine, is now making 30-round AK-47 magazines (Brownells #100041-188, $13.25). While this magazine will add three U.S. parts, I do not recommend using U.S. magazines to meet compliance. If you are counting on a magazine to make the gun legal, you run the risk of your gun being illegal if you happen to use an imported magazine instead. I recommend that you use other parts to meet compliance requirements I was never a fan of polymer magazines until I tried the Magpul magazines.

One less-than-desirable feature of the AK is the way the fire control group is secured in the receiver. There's a spring wire retainer is called a shepherds hook, and it's difficult to install. There are several brands of retainers that are much easier to install than the original. I chose the Tapco retaining plate (#100-004-718, $5.99). I also ordered a part that did not count as U.S. part but is desirable anyway. Because this gun will see a lot of extended firing, I ordered a Buffer Technologies recoil buffer (#071-110-004, $13.99). This piece fits between the rear of the bolt carrier and the receiver to cushion impacts during cycling of the action. One last item I ordered was not a typical AK-47 part. I ordered a Magpul AR-15 Mil-spec ACS Buttstock (#100-003-527, $85.45). The reason I needed an AR-15 stock for my AK-47 project will be revealed later.

I will likely not need more U.S.-made parts to meet legal concerns but I ordered several other U.S.-made items for this project. The wood on my kit was in very good shape but I wanted a different type of stock. I wanted a buttstock that roughly replicated the appearance of the "club foot" RPK stock found on the Hungarian RPK. I also wanted it in polymer rather than wood. I ordered an AKM Tactical stock set (#AK470500, $19.95) from Firearms News advertiser Royal Tiger Imports. This is a great looking stock set, however it is made for a standard AK-47. The Yugo AK stock features a slightly different shape and mounting method. The Picatinny lower handguard will not fit the Yugo RPK because the length is different, but the buttstock can be used if I replace the Yugo RPK rear trunnion with a standard AK rear trunnion. I bought a Euro-format fixed stock rear trunnion from Clearview Investments for only $18. It will need to be modified slightly to fit a Yugo receiver. While the lower handguard won't fit the Yugo, the upper polymer handguard from the polymer stock set will. Because my eyes are 61 years old, I will likely be using optics on this gun so I ordered a machined scope rail from Royal Tiger while ordering the stock. This machined steel rail (#IOIN0102, $34.95) will be attached to the receiver and allow several scope mounts to be utilized. The last item I ordered from Royal Tiger was their Vertical grip (#IOIN0120, $14.95). This is a picatinny mount grip that I will modify to fit this RPK.

In order to attach my optic of choice I needed a scope mount. I ordered one from AK-Builder.com. This is the type that attaches to a military side rail. The heavy duty scope mount (#E3-31, $39.95) is a quick-detach type that seems to be the favored style for an AK-47 since just about all the ones I looked at were of this type. The other item I ordered from AK-Builder I had already ordered from Brownells; another recoil buffer. This version was supposedly much softer than a standard buffer and offered greater cushioning during cycling. I wanted to see if this red buffer (#D1-61, $8.95) would work any better than a normal buffer.

At this point I had most of the parts I would need to build my higher priced version except for one thing, a U.S.-made receiver. Builders have two options for a sheet metal RPK receiver: buy one or make one. An AK receiver is simply a "U" shaped piece of formed sheet metal that houses sub-assemblies such as the trunnions and fire control group. This makes them relatively inexpensive. It also makes them simple enough that a hobbyist can make their own if they have the tools and skills. For the high-priced project I decided to utilize a manufactured receiver and save the self-made option for the economy project. An Internet search will inform readers that there are a dozen or more sources for standard sheet metal AK receivers of various types. While there are a lot of options for a standard receiver the options for a RPK variant are few. The Yugoslavian RPK utilizes what is known as a bulged trunnion receiver that is 1.5mm (.062") thick. A quick search indicated that there were only two sources for this type of receiver. Nodak-Spud (www.nodakspud.com) and Childers Guns (www.childersguns.com) were the only sources I could find during a brief search. Nodak was out of stock for this item and I was told they would not have more until midyear. I then checked the Childers Guns website and found that they did have them in stock--sort of. Each Childers receiver is made to order so there would be a 2-4 week delay before I would see the receiver. Childers offered 1.5mm Yugo style receivers in several formats including the RPK version. Their basic 4140 chrome-moly steel M72 RPK Yugo receiver (#F1CGY0) was listed at a reasonable $92. Childers offers several additional options on this receiver. You can get the receiver with various markings such as custom serial numbers, selector markings, and other text and numbers to display whatever information you choose. You can also get the receiver with or without trunnion rivet holes. I prefer to drill my own rivet holes for best possible alignment.

For those readers unfamiliar with AK receivers, I should mention a couple things about what you get when you buy a "complete" AK receiver. In this case the word complete is not all that accurate of description. What you get is a piece of metal that is formed in the shape of a tapered "U" or "C". It features several holes for pins and rivets, plus it will have cutouts for the magazine and trigger. The upper rails are formed from the sides of the receiver. The lower rails are small pieces of folded sheet steel spot welded into the sides of the formed receiver. The bolt's locking lugs are formed in the front trunnion and the rear of the receiver will be the rear trunnion. Both of these parts came in your parts kit and will need to be installed by you. Compared to a milled AK receiver that has these features formed into the receiver, the sheet metal version can look pretty Spartan. Once assembled with rivets, the receiver looks pretty crude and primitive. Rest assured however, that this crude and primitive appearance is misleading. Sheet metal AKs are some of the most durable and reliable military arms ever made. This is borne out by the fact that since 1947 in excess of 1020 million (exact Com Bloc production numbers are unknown) AKs have been produced.

Now that I had all the parts ordered for the higher priced project, it was time to order supplies for the economy project. While the RPK kit I ordered from Numrich Gun Parts Corp. was in absolutely great condition, it was rather pricey at $449. It was well worth the price, but I needed to cut costs on this build. My cost cutting quest led me to the APEX Gun Parts website (www.apexgunparts.com). Apex had several variations of the Yugo RPK. They had both milled receiver versions and sheet metal receiver versions. The one that got my attention was listed as Yugoslavian M72 (RPK) Parts Set, Matching, Good with light rust, SKU#4197, $306.79. Just as with the Numrich kit, it contained all the parts to a RPK except for the barrel and receiver. Considering that this kit was $150 cheaper than the other kit, I figured I could live with a little light rust. I placed an order for the kit and waited to see if the advertised condition was accurate of if I would get a pile of rusty junk. I have bought a lot of kits over the years and some sellers really over rate their products.

A week later my "light rust" kit showed up. As I examined the parts I found that the kit had been advertised correctly. In fact it was in better condition than I expected. There were several small areas of light surface rust but no deep pitted areas of heavy rust. The rust spots were light enough that they would be easily removed during abrasive blasting that will be done before I applied a new finish. The apparent reason for the light rust was pretty obvious. Unlike the great condition Numrich kit that was covered with grease, this kit was dry as a bone. Also, this kit had seen a fair amount of service over its lifetime. Mechanical condition was good and completely usable but the metal finish was heavily worn. The wood condition was well used with a lot of gouges, scratches and imbedded dirt. The buttstock also featured some extensive trench art. Apparently some soldier was bored and decided to fill his time by carving a design deep into the buttstock. Some people like this kind of embellishment and say it adds character but I am not a fan of crude pocketknife artwork. I will likely replace this stock set with the left over great condition wood from the other kit or buy a polymer stock set for this project also. Overall I felt the kit was worth the $306 price.

Since this project was going to be a budget build, I decided to use a manufactured frame flat. I have flat bending tooling so using a flat would greatly reduce project cost. For those readers wanting to know how to make this fixture, for only $15 a full write up is available in the Shotgun News Treasury #14 that is available at www.firearmsnews.com.

In the AK-47 building community there is one brand of frame flat held in the highest regard, the ones offered by AK-Builder.com (www.ak-builder.com). They offer several types of frame flats, and I chose the version specifically made for the Yugo RPK. This flat is 1.5mm (.062") 4130 steel and features the bulged trunnion found on Yugo AKs. To save a few dollars I ordered a cosmetic defect version for only $18 each. The reason for the defect pricing was that there was a deep scratch in the metal. When received I did not find the scratches to be all that bad. Other than the scratches the AK-Builder flat looked to be a great product. All holes and cut outs be well done and accurately located. AK-Builder has a great reputation and this flat is an example of why. I was very happy with the product.

I normally use bulk fractional rivets on my AK builds that only cost a few cents apiece but this time I decided to try some real AK rivets. These are sized specifically for AK builds rather than being overly long and larger in diameter. These rivet sets are available from AK Builder for $9 per set. The last item I got from AK-Builder was an AK-47 Phantom flash suppressor (#A3-61, $24.50). These flash suppressors work well and have that sinister look that goes well with military arms.

I wasn't sure what stock I wanted on this project but I was sure I didn't want to use the carved up one received in the kit. I ordered another of the I.O. Inc. tactical stock sets from Royal Tiger just in case I wanted that one. I would need a U.S.-made trigger group for this project so while I was on the Royal Tiger website I ordered one of their trigger sets (#AK470029, $24.95). This set comes with a hammer spring and a retaining plate so that was a nice extra. I also ordered another of their vertical grips (#IOIN0120, $14.95). I really liked the looks of this grip when I got one for the other RPK project so I decided to get one for this project also. While on the Royal Tiger site I decided to get a scope mount so I ordered one that was listed as #SCOP0040, Tactical Scope Mount. Price was $34.95. To attach the mount to the receiver I went really cheap and ordered a UTG rail off of Amazon for something like $9.95. Considering what other vendors charge for rails I was wondering just what I would get for under $10. What I received looked good and fit the mount well. There were no instructions for mounting it, but it did come with some screws. To make my U.S. parts count I would be using a Tapco stainless steel gas piston that I had bought from Brownells.

The last item I would need for the budget build was a barrel. I decided to make a huge cost cutting decision here. Instead of ordering another $243 completely finished barrel I was going to drop the barrel cost down to ] $59.95. This was the cost for a Green Mountain Rifle Barrel Company 24"xl.3" diameter 7.62x39mm barrel blank (#SKUAK-Blank-H). The exterior profile of a RPK barrel is very uncomplicated so it would be very easy, but time intensive, to turn one down on my lathe. Any hobbyist with a basic amount of lathe operation skill can make this barrel. There are no threads to cut and the profile is just a series of straight sections sized to fit the barrel fittings. Taking this route will knock about $180 off the cost of a barrel for this project. If you take the barrel blank route, you will need a chambering reamer. A reamer is $100 or more and is available from Brownells. I have rented reamers from online reamer rental companies for about $30.

Getting Started

It was now time to prepare my kits. This requires cleaning and disassembly. If you have a grease covered kit the best way to get all that gooey grease off is to soak it in solvents. I find that common paint thinner works well for this job. All grease needs removed so immersion and scrubbing with a brush is almost mandatory. Simply wiping off with a rag won't get into all the nooks and crannies. Many times I use lacquer thinner or acetone for my solvent but be aware that these are both extremely volatile and flammable.

Once both my kits were cleaned I checked to be sure all the parts I would need were included. Depending on your particular kit you may or may not have some of the original full-auto specific parts such as auto sears, trip levers or rate reducers. There is no legitimate need for these full-auto-only parts in a semi-auto build. For legal reasons, parts should be thrown away immediately. On an AK-type firearm the hammer, trigger and safety/ selector are the same in full-or semi-auto, so those parts can be saved if you are not going to replace them with U.S.-made parts. The only full-auto part you might need to save is the disconnector. This needs to be modified into semi-auto configuration by grinding off the tail on the rear. Reconfigure this part before you ever install it into the gun.

Now comes what can turn out to be the most difficult part of the project; salvaging the parts off the destroyed barrel stubs. The trunnion, front and rear sight bases and the gas block were originally installed by pressing them into place with tons of force. The original fit was what is known as interference fit. This means that the barrel journals were actually larger in diameter than the hole in the parts. The parts were pressed into place with a hydraulic press exerting several tons of force needed to expand the parts as they were pushed onto the barrel. Many times the barrel was up to .005" larger than the hole in the parts. Believe me it takes a lot of force to push a fat part through a smaller hole. That tough steel doesn't like to stretch to fit the parts. At the factory they have fixtures and tools to easily force the parts into place. The hobbyist doesn't have those same tools. Many times it takes more force to remove the parts than it did to install them. It can really test one's patience trying to remove the barrel parts without damaging them. Added to this issue is the fact that once the parts were pressed into place, cross pins were then installed to further retain the parts. These small pins are also tightly pressed into place. I have bent a lot of pin punches trying to drive out cross pins in AKs.

On both my kits the cross pins for the gas block and sight bases came out easily with a few taps of an 8-ounce hammer and small pin punch. I did not get as lucky with the 7mm barrel cross pin. This took several heavy hits with a 3-pound ball peen hammer to get it out. I have had some barrel pins that took almost 20 tons to get them to move. I have had some that simply could not be removed because I could not keep from bending the pushing tool. These I had to drill out. While all my cross pins came out with a few hammer hits my luck run out later in the project. Both front sight bases on each kit came off with a few hits of a soft faced hammer. When removing parts, be sure to use soft-faced punches or hammers to prevent mangling the parts. You don't want to damage the parts during the removal process because individual parts are very expensive. When I tried to remove both gas blocks, the problems began. With the barrel stub gripped tightly in a vise, no amount of reasonable force behind an aluminum punch could get the parts to budge. I even actually bent the opening to the gas block a little even though I was using a soft aluminum punch. Attempts to press the gas block off the barrel stub were hampered by the fact that there was little material on the edges of the gas block to support on blocks that could take tons of force without damaging the gas blocks. I ended up having to cut off the entire barrel stub right up to the edge of the gas block and then drilling out the rest of the barrel. Once I had most of the barrel drilled out and only had a thin ring of barrel remaining I could press or tap out the remainder. If you have to drill out the barrel be aware that the steel is pretty tough. It can be cut but you need good sharp tools and you should use plenty of lube during drilling. Also drill in steps, don't try to drill out the barrel all at once.

On the Apex RPK kit, the barrel stub was already pressed out of the trunnion. The rear sight base still needed to be removed and it was on really tight. It took about 8 tons of force in my small press to get the stub out.

The Numrich kit still had a short section of barrel stub remaining in the trunnion along with the sight base on the barrel stub. To make removal of these parts easier, I cut them apart right in front of the trunnion. This also made supporting the parts for pressing with blocks easier. The rear sight base was extremely tight on the Numrich kit. It took all my 12-ton press had to break the sight base loose from the barrel stub. When it came time to remove the barrel stub from the trunnion, it was a good thing I had plenty of area to support the trunnion for pressing. It took almost full tonnage of my 20-ton press to break the stub loose from the trunnion. When stubs are in this tight many times you get a snapping sound almost as loud as a .22 LR going off when it breaks loose.

Once the barrel stubs were pressed out of the trunnions, the remaining sheet metal receiver needed removed from the trunnions. The front trunnion has six rivets that need removed and the rear trunnion has three. On my kits the trigger guard was also still attached to the section of old receiver that was attached to the rear trunnion. To remove the remaining sheet metal you have to grind out the rivets and then punch out whatever remains. I typically use a 4'A-inch grinder to grind off the heads and through almost the entire receiver wall. I then rip off the sheet metal receiver while the trunnion is gripped in a vice. If whatever rivet remains cannot be punched out with a pin punch, they will have to be drilled out. Some rivets swell up so tight when installed that they can't be punched out and the only option is drilling. When drilling out rivets be sure you drill into the rivet only. You don't want to drill into the trunnion and end up with two holes instead of one.

At this point all parts have been obtained from various sources and the old parts have been salvaged from the barrel and receiver. Before the re-assembly process can begin, there are two big jobs that need to be done. A new barrel must be formed from the barrel blank, and a receiver needs formed from a receiver flat. In the next installment we will see just how much work is required to fabricate these parts. This will give readers some time to decide if they would like to give this project a try.

SEMI-AUTO AK-47 BUILDING THE LEGAL WAY

Some readers of my build articles may not be aware of a very important legal issue when it comes to building semi-auto versions of foreign military rifles. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE) has several rules that must be observed to build a legal semi-auto rifle.

The first and most important issue is that the gun must be made in semi-automatic format and not be readily restorable to full-auto configuration. It must not include certain fully automatic specific parts. Approved semi-auto designs or formats vary from one type of gun to another. In the case of the AK-47, certain full auto parts and features must be deleted. You cannot utilize full auto sears, trip levers, rate reducers or full-auto disconnectors. This means there can be no notch in the lower rail for the full-auto trip lever. Nor can the receiver have the infamous third hole that allows the installation of some full auto parts. If one has any of these full auto parts or features in their projects the BATFE can declare your gun as an illegal machine gun no matter if it will fire fully automatic or not. If the gun has the wrong parts or features, the BATFE considers the gun to be "readily restorable to full-auto operation" and it is illegal. Possession of an illegal full-auto firearm is a federal felony that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine. There are registered and legal full auto guns but those cannot be made by today's hobbyist.

Another legal issue concerns barrel length. All rifles must have barrels that are at least 16 inches long. All firearms with buttstocks (with a few exceptions) are classified as rifles and therefore must have barrels 16 inches or longer. If the barrel is even a fraction of an inch under 16" the gun is classified as a short-barreled rifle (SBR). The penalties for possession of an un-registered and untaxed SBR are the same as for machine guns. There are legal means to license, create and possess SBRs but that is beyond the scope of this article.

There is one last legal issue that comes into play when one is building a rifle out of imported parts. To be legal some semi-automatic firearms made with imported parts must contain no more than 10 imported parts out of a list of 20 specified parts. This Yugoslavian RPK is one of the guns affected by this rule. This legal issue is generically referred to as U.S. Compliance or sometimes referred to as Section 922r Compliance. Many years ago, in effort to control how many semi-auto military rifles were being made in the USA, a law was passed that limited the amount of imported parts that could be utilized in the construction of these firearms. This was due to the fact that these types of guns had been banned from importation and assembling them in the USA out of imported parts was not a legal loop hole that the government was going to tolerate. The law states that no more than 10 imported parts off of a list of 20 specified parts can be used to build one of the regulated rifles in the USA. The regulated imported parts are as follows. 1--frames or receivers, 2--barrels, 3--barrel extensions, 4--mounting blocks or trunnions, 5--muzzle attachments, 6--bolts, 7--bolt carriers, 8--operating rods, 9--gas pistons, 10--trigger housings, 11--triggers, 12hammers, 13--sears, 14-disconnectors, 15--buttstocks, 16--pistol grips, 17--forearms or handguards, 18--magazine bodies, 19--magazine followers, 20--magazine floor plates. Note that not all firearms contain all the parts listed here. Imported parts not on this list are not regulated.

It is generally accepted that a semi-auto AK-47 has 16 of these regulated parts. This means that six or more of the regulated parts need to be replaced with U.S. made parts for the gun to be legal. If the gun contains 10 or less of the regulated imported parts the gun is considered to be a legal U.S.-made gun. If the gun contains more than 10 of the regulated parts then it is considered to be an illegal imported gun. While the law places the parts limit at 10, many hobbyists utilize a few fewer than 10 just to be on the safe side. This safety margin protects you if in the future some of the parts would happen to be replaced with imported parts. This safety margin is especially important if you are using U.S.-made magazines to meet the parts count If you have a rifle with eight imported parts and use a U.S.-made magazine, your gun would be legal because it only has eight imported parts from the list. However, if you inserted an imported magazine you would lose three U.S.-made parts and your parts count would go to 11 because the imported magazine contains 3 regulated imported parts. Simply changing magazines would change your classification from legal to illegal.

These rules may seem ridiculous to the average person but we are dealing with the government here and they do not see things the way we do. These are the rules we must go by whether they make sense or not. For more in-depth information on the legal aspects of home gun building, visit the BATFE website at www.atf. gov. You will be amazed (or disgusted) at the number of rules that pertain to our hobby of gun building and collecting. Home building your own guns can be fun, but you have to follow the rules to be legal.

SOURCES

YUGOSLAVIAN M72 RPK PROJECT PARTS

Apex Gun Parts // 3105 N. Stone Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80907, 719-481-2050, www.apexgunparts.com.

Numrich Gun Parts Corp // 226 Williams Ln., P.O. Box 299, West Hurley, NY 12491, 845-679-2417, 866-686-7424, www.e-gunparts.com

AK-Builder // 3625 SW US 40 Hwy., Blue Springs, MO, 64015, 816-229-0804, www.ak-bullder.com

Royal Tiger Imports // 2144 Franklin Dr. NE, Palm Bay, FL, 32905, 407-203-4861, www.royaltigerlmports.com

Brownells // 200 S. Front St., Montezuma, IA, 50171,800-741-0015, www.brownells.com. Childers Guns // 701 Country Club Fid., Fairmont, WV, 26554, 304-290-6857, www.childersguns.com
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Author:Matthews, Steven
Publication:Firearms News
Date:Apr 10, 2016
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