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The AR-47 Project Part Duex: The Soviets Strike Back
By George Ross Jr. July 4, 2021

Just how much can you tweak a mil-spec AR-15 lower based rifle to be operated like an AK-47? As it turns out you can get pretty close. There is even an upper out there that would get it even closer, but sadly I don’t think these uppers are a priority in these pressing times in the gun industry. They have been out of stock for a good while now and are a niche item so more waiting is in order on that front. In the meantime this is what I have done with incorporating as much of the 47 as I can into an AR-47 build.

Similarities

Of course both the AK-47 and this AR-47 build both use the same 7.62x39 cartridge that I have now become so found of. Also just like your garden variety AK-47 this AR-47 build does have a reciprocating right side charging handle. The wood furniture from the fine folks at Blackwood Trading Co. does a fine job of bringing more of an AK-47 vibe to the build. That is about all I could get to be apples to apples similar in this build. Things like the safety selector, magazine release, and sights are things that could only be made similar to a certain degree.

Similar to a Certain Degree

The Odin Works Ambidextrous Modular Safety used in this build helped me move the safety selector to the right side of the rifle, have the selector to point toward the barrel of the rifle, and provide a lesser than 90 degree throw. However the way the safety selector throws is opposite on the AR-15 in relation on the AK-47. So when the safety selector is up on this AR-47 build it is ready to fire not safe like an AK-47.

The magazine releases on the AR-15 and the AK-47 are vastly different as well. With AR-15’s the magazine locks itself into the rifle on the left side. This is not so with the AK-47. It’s magazines lock into the gun at the back of the magazine. Making the AK-47’s magazine release inherently ambidextrous. The Troy Ambidextrous Magazine Release was employed in this build to get a close approximation to the AK-47 magazine release experience. It works like this. While holding onto the magazine itself you can use your thumb to depress the magazine release and free the magazine. This can be done with either hand.

The sights were another close but no cigar type of situation. While iron sights are commonly used for both AR-15’s and AK-47’s there is one big difference between the two. The AK-47 has a ramped leaf rear sight while the AR-15 uses A2 sights that are adjustable for windage and elevation as opposed to just the elevation adjustment provided by a ramped leaf sight.

Just Plain Different

The gas system in AK-47’s is a piston based one while AR-15 mil-spec gas system is direct impediment. While there are piston based options for mil-spec lowers out in the world. The only complete upper I know of that is both gas piston based and side charging is Faxon’s ARAK-21 which hopefully gets made again someday.

Just by simply not installing the bolt catch this build could have been more like the AK-47 and not had the ability to hold the bolt open after the last round is fired. Even if I had an AK-47 it would be modified to hold the bolt open after the last round was fired. This is why the bolt catch was installed.

Build Details

The complete parts list below and it is handily linked for your pleasure.

At the Range

Operating this AR-47 is a bit different than your standard AR style rifle, but with the exception of the safety selector and charging handle it still can be used just like a regular AR-15. The 30 round magazine makes for a good rest while sitting at the bench at the range I frequent and had zero failure to feed issues with it. The wooden buttstock was more comfortable shooting than was expected. All this added up to a good time shooting. I’m good with the iron sights at 50, 100, and 200 yards on the silhouettes at the range from the shoulder and off the bench. I have even had others shoot it and they had no problem doing the same.

Conclusion

Building this AR-47 has been a rewarding experience. I learned a good deal and more about the AK-47 than I intended to. While the ammunition shortage is getting better with availability high prices still plague the market. So building guns around the 7.62x39 cartridge remains a good idea and may have always been, but some folks including myself were biased against the cartridge. Had I stuck with my bias I would have never built this pretty wall hanger of a rifle and would have missed out on to much range time. Again I ask. Are you BETTER RED THAN DEAD?

Happy Independence Day! God bless America!