Thursday, 29 November 2012

Stripping an AK47



Following on from “Guns, guns, guns” I thought I’d share with you these few photographs.

The Armoury as remarked before has a lot of different guns including the iconic AK47, - probably not the most difficult one to have got hold of. I walked past it at first and didn’t realise what it was as it didn’t have the magazine in place. Shows what I know about firearms.

Anyway the curator went off and found a magazine and we were soon passing it round because doesn’t everyone want to hold an AK47 at some time in their life. From the photos in the paper and the pictures on the news don’t you sometimes wonder if you’re the only person in the world who hasn’t got one tucked away somewhere.*

Having passed it round Tom showed me how to take it apart. It is as easy to take apart as its reputation. There’s a button just above the stock that you press in and it slides apart. The firing mechanism is very simple and safe so even for an amateur and butter-fingers like myself it comes apart quite easily but without the danger that it’ll simply fall apart in combat.


Stage 1,  - removing the magazine
Stages 2-4 - all the pieces removed and laid out

And back together again.

After that Tom handed me an SA-80. The merits or otherwise of this weapon have been hotly debated. Personally as a left hander I’m not a fan. I have shown myself unable to shoot straight left handed so with a weapon that makes me fire from the wrong side or get hot metal stuck up my nose my effectiveness woul;d be reduced even more. (For those of you interested in the political correctness debate and discrimination I think I should point out here that left-handers are the last hidden minority that is routinely discriminated against without anyone complaining).


Taking the SA80 apart was much more involved and isn’t something you could do in a hurry if you aren’t properly trained or maybe even at all if you have below average manual dexterity. Eventually between us I took out about one piece and Tom did the rest, and here it is laid out for inspection.




On the other hand I am a fan of the optical site on the SA80, and it is a nice size and weight to cart about. With the sling attached it fits snuggly under the armpit and doesn’t hang down far enough to trip anybody up. As was remarked, compared to the SLR it is a positively unobtrusive and manageable weapon.

What I didn’t realise (again, shows what I know) is that it suffers from the light-weight bullet syndrome. I think that it fires a 5.56mm round, compared to the 7.62mm in the SLR (equivalent to the .303 in the Lee-Enfield). When you consider that the Martini-Henry fired a .45 round this is quite a reduction in weight of shot and comes with a commensurate lack of stopping power and accuracy at longer ranges.
Good job our lads aren’t firing at Zulus and Dervishes any more.

*Whenever I see parts of the world where the AK47 is this year’s de rigeur fashion accessory I am reminded of a comment by an economist at UBS when asked what to invest in should the Euro look like it was going to collapse. His reply was “Buy precious metals, - and that includes guns & tinned food”.

11 comments:

  1. I'm no weapons expert, but I do know that the light weight bullet argument was also deployed in the late 1800s to denigrate the effectiveness of the "light" .303 round. That argument was pretty convincingly put to bed after Omdurman.

    I suspect the nostalgia of those from the the I-want-to-see-daylight-shining-through-a-hole-in-my-target school for a proper .303in or 7.62mm round, in preference to the girly 5.56mm, is in a similar vein.

    Just my 2d :-)

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    1. The British Army has started to issue rifles that fire a larger bullet from a longer barrel to provide units with the ability to engage tougher targets at longer range.

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  2. Believe me, the SA80 (L85A2) may fire 5.56mm, but the round's design, which incorporates a steel penetrator on the bullet's tip ensures it has the same penetration as the SLR's 7.62mm round, without the recoil. True, it will never have the 'punch' of the larger round, but it is a proven battle winner and highly accurate ;) Sorry to sound like a knowledgeable prig, but having spent the last 28 years in the Army, I have had the pleasure of using both extensively (although my first-time affection for the SLR never dies) :D

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    1. Monty,

      No questioning your knowledge (thanks for sharing) and the effectiveness of the SA80 in the hands of the modern army. The issue over size of rounds was discussed by two more knowledgeable people than me at the time, and the penetration/recoil issue wasn't the problem (if there is one). I just found it interesting that there is an identified need for a limited number of "higher impact" weapons.

      I note your comment on the SLR as well, - an iconic weapon also. Everyone of my age had that black plastic one that fired the silver plastic bullets and had a detachable bayonet.

      And a barrel that broke off too easily.

      Trebian

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  3. I wonder if the difference between today's light bullet, and yesterdays light bullet (and I've read the accounts of the problems at the time) is muzzle velocity?? If yesterdays light bullet stopped when it hit someone, whereas today's just caries on to hit potentially a second casualty, then the discussion back in the time might have been very different.... apocryphal perhaps - and you have some knowledgeable folks commenting here to set me straight - but I think I read somewhere that an SA80 bullet will go through a brick wall??

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    1. The issue is not what it goes through, but whether the target stops.

      There are reports in Blackhawk Down of Delta force using a high penetration smaller calibre weapon (can't recall what, - I'm at work not in my study) and the target just kept on coming despite the bullet going through it. They swiched to a weapon that knocked people down in such a way that they didn't get up again.

      Any how, I'm just reporting what I was told by the custodian of the armoury.

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  4. I remember the plastic SLR, I'm sure it was made by Airfix along with a Thompson SMG (no drum mag though) ;)

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    1. Thought it was Airfix, but didn't say as I wasn't sure. However my "Boy's Book of Airfix" tells me it was sold as the "F N Rifle" with flexible safety bayonet and adustable sling.

      Never had the Airfix tommy gun. Had a copy made in green plastic.

      Trebian

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  5. Dear Graham,

    The problem with the SLR was that any claim to accuracy after zeroing vanished once it was taken apart for cleaning, as it pivoted halfway down the barrel. It mattered little what weight the bullet was if you couldn't land it somewhere close to your target. Also, any soldier not built like Schwarzenegger disliked the weapon's ferocious recoil, which did nothing to improve accuracy either.

    Those are my recollections, anyway.

    Kind regards, Chris

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    1. I don't think I was arguing about the relative accuracy of the SLR v the SA80. As I said above we were told that the British Army is reintroducing a limited number of rifles with a heavier bullet to engage targets at over 400 yard.

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  6. The myth of the man stopper bullet is rather effectively discredited by Duane Thomas in his book The Truth About Handguns, which talks about the difference between hand gun and rifle bullets, but that the main issue is missing the target. Since missing the target is the main reason bullets are less than effective at stopping people. :-)

    However, let me put it this way. If you get shot in the hand with a 9mm, 5.56, or 7.63 you are having a bad day. If the bullet hits a main blood vessel or organ then you are having a really bad day, as a sucking chest wound is natures way of telling you to slow down. :-)

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