Welcome to another edition of TFB’s Field Strip series, in which we’ll look at the simplistic field strip AK rifles and pistols adhere to. Mikhail Kalashnikov‘s AK47 has become one of the most recognizable and iconic rifles and fielded by many nations, freedom fighters, terrorists, as well as firearms enthusiasts. There have been numerous variations on the AK platform since its adoption by the Soviet Union more than 70 years ago, some of which were dependant on which Warsaw Pact country it originated from. According to Wikipedia, more than 100 million rifles based on Kalashnikov’s design have been produced, and around 90 countries have adopted them in some form or another.
The Kalashnikov rifle is designed with easy maintenance in mind and is probably one of the simplest to field strip, which is a breath of fresh air compared to some of the .22LR pistols we’ve covered on TFB’s Field Strip Series. Even though the AK rifles and pistols were designed for simple disassembly and cleaning, they’re also known for running without any cleaning and can often be seen in a completely rusted state as wielded by pirates.
BEFORE YOU FIELD STRIP ANY WEAPON, REMEMBER the four rules of gun safety:
- All guns are always loaded.
- Never let the muzzle cover anything you are not willing to destroy.
- Keep your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.
- Be sure of your target and what is beyond it
TFB FIELD STRIP: HOW TO FIELD STRIP AK RIFLES AND PISTOLS
Step 1. Remove the magazine and pull the charging handle back to ensure that there’s no ammunition in the AK variant. The field strip process for the Kalashnikov rifles starts with the receiver’s top cover. Find what looks like a square button on the back of the receiver cover. Push the button towards the muzzle and lift the receiver cover off of the rifle.
Step 2. With the top cover removed, the cover retainer button is revealed as the recoil spring guide. Push the recoil spring guide towards the muzzle until it clears its base, then lift up and pull the guide and recoil spring assembly to the rear and out of the bolt carrier.
Step 3. Pull the bolt carrier and gas piston all the way to the rear of the receiver. There are two relief cuts (highlighted in yellow) in the top rail of the receiver from which the back of the bolt carrier assembly can be lifted up and out. Once the bolt carrier assembly has been removed, the bolt can be removed from the carrier.
Step 4. The last step to field strip AK rifles and pistols is to remove the gas tube. This step isn’t always a must, unless you’re shooting corrosive ammunition. However, most ammunition for the AK platforms on the market today are non-corrosive. To remove the gas tube, look to the right side of the rear sight. The lever to free the gas tube needs to be moved up, which may or may not be loose. I’ve found pliers helpful by grabbing onto the tab of the lever that protrudes to the side.
This ends the process to field strip AK rifles and pistols for most variants. Reassemble in reverse order. Feel free to check out more field strips from our series HERE. This TFB TV video is for the VZ58, which is markedly different from the AK disassembly and is not even considered an AK despite its outward appearance. I also recommend the detailed SVD field strip for your viewing pleasure as well.