Letter from Mr. Sierra Re: AK-47 Reliability

Hey Jim,
A gent recently wrote you regarding the reliability of the AK. This is something I can attest to first hand. Kind of a long story so I’ll try to keep it short. My nephew had used one of my Polytech AK’s one weekend he was visiting, cleaned it and gave it back. Let me preface this by saying that I’ve had this particular weapon almost 20 years now and have had no less than 30,000 rounds through it. And yes, the barrel is pretty shot out at this point, accuracy is about 1/3 of what it originally was. Anyway, the next time I used the rifle was for let’s say a defensive rifle shooting competition. This involved engaging targets at varying ranges up to 200 yards under more than a little stress, movement, etc. Right from the start the action of the rifle felt “slow.” I hesitated for a second cause I knew something was wrong with the rifle. I completed that course and was 90% through the next course of fire (about 400 rounds total) when the bolt locked back on the weapon. I went through the normal malfunction drill and the bolt would not move. It was stuck about halfway. I covered the last few targets with pistol fire to complete the course. I disassembled the AK to get the tension to release on the bolt and to figure out what had happened. It seems my nephew got the receiver cover to fit in UNDER the notch on the rear sight assembly (I didn’t know that was even possible!) I mean the notch that the receiver cover is supposed to fit OVER. I found a broken piece of metal jammed next to the bolt carrier in the receiver. Upon further inspection I found HALF OF THE TRIGGER gone (it had broken off). The best I can figure is that the receiver cover forced the bolt carrier down into the receiver and somehow it sheared off part of the trigger. I put the weapon back together (now with HALF a trigger), checked the barrel and proceeded to shoot another couple hundred rounds that day. The trigger held up fine, it’s one of those two leg type triggers. The hammer springs on those weapons are also double wound and designed to function at 90% even with one of the springs broke!

FWIW, I was really stupid at 17 years old. A friend and I used to bury our AKs in mud, sand, two feet of water and pull them up and fire them. This was back when they were $265 for an original Chinese AKS. It truly is a reliable weapon, I’ve seen it first hand. – Mr. Sierra