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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Soviet AK-47 type 3, all Russian parts, Bulgarian receiver, 1953 dated Russian sling. 1976 Soviet Makarov, no import marks.





The latest, complete Russian (all parts) imported AK-74M, 5.45x39mm. This is the current Russian armed forces AK, in use since 1991.





Mid 1960s Izhevsk AKMS. Hungarian donor receiver, all Russian parts





1982 AKS-74U Russian kit, Bulgarian 8.3" AKS-74U barrel, US receiver. 8.3" bbl. means this is an SBR





I bought my 1st AK in 1993 after Clinton was elected.​
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
My first AK was a Norinco 7.62 stamped receiver rifle. That's the one I bought after Clinton was elected.
I do have one AK in 5.56x45mm. It's a Romanian CUR 3 donor rifle made into a Russian AK-101 clone. The AK-101 was marketed by the Russians to try to sell to countries with M-16 rifles at the end of their service lives. It looks exactly like the AK-74M above except the magazine has less curve or arc to it. Ted Marshall did the build. He's the best AK gunsmith in the US, bar none. My AK-101 is a super accurate rifle for an AK with a 1/8 ROT twist chrome lined barrel. Using M-855 ball ammo or US commercial ammo it surprises a lot of people when I let them try it.
 

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The AKSU......... I hate your guts. You have one and I don't.

May I ask where you got the rifle carying case? It doesn't look like the usual Russian "Mobility bag".

My first AK was a Bulgarian SLR-96. I was at the range one day and on the way home I heard Bill Clinton raving about assault rifles. I stopped off at the gun shop to see what all the raving was about and bought the SLR. They only had two AK's, a Yuogo stamped and the SLR milled. Luck of the draw i bought the Bulgarian, which turns out was possibly the best milled AK ever imported.

After I started having shoulder problems, even the 7.62 hurt to shoot and I'd been reading up on the 5.45x39. So, I sold the SLR and bought a Ohio Rapid Fire AK-74 buit from a new, unfired Bulgarian de-milled kit built on a Arsenal-Global Trades stamped receiver.
I replaced the Pisswood butt stock with a Ironwood Designs laminated stock, and gave the wood a dark AK-74 Russian Red finish.
It shoots great, and the tumbling 5.45x39 7N6-PS bullet really does perform.

The AK-74 after the new stock




A more true color shot of the wood finish.


 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
DFW "May I ask where you got the rifle carying case? It doesn't look like the usual Russian "Mobility bag".

I've had these drop cases and lots of others for so many years I can't remember where I got any of them. I'll think about it. Here's my email address. [email protected]
Drop me an email and I'll see if I can locate any of this era of drop cases, magazine pouches, slings. etc.
This color canvas is generally from the Afghan/Soviet War era. There were many factories supplying the military and many different shades of dull green or tan cases, pouches, and slings made. Collecting the correct parts for realistic Soviet era AKs is a lot easier now than it was in the mid 90s. Some of the real Soviet parts were almost impossible to find back then.

DFW "My first AK was a Bulgarian SLR-96"

The Bulgarian receiver for my AK-47 type 3 build was sold just as a receiver, new. It was stamped 100SL instead of the SLR-96 on complete rifles. The Bulgarians still make milled AK-47s while the Russian stopped making them about 1959 at the latest. If anybody aside from the Russians know how to make a quality milled AK-47 receiver, it's the Bulgars. Your assessment was correct as usual. The SLR-96 is an excellent quality AK platform. The rest of my build is a demilled Russian kit including a super condition Russian chromed lined barrel. The kit was what AK people call a PLO kit. They are simply Soviet AK-47 and AKM rifles that the I.D.F. took from the PLO and Hezbollah. After 20-30 years they got tired of warehousing the rifles. They sold them to importers for the US market and chopped them up according to ATFE and Dept. of State rules. Again, this is an old kit. A friend of mine worked for Omega in Tucson many years ago . He picked through the best parts and kits and this is what he sent me. I reparked and painted it. Now, there are a lot of imported PLO/IDF confiscated Russian kits around but they are not longer allowed to import the original barrels. I just love the government
:rolleyes:

I have a very early(circa 1976 AK-74 rifle similar to your O.R.F. AK-74 rifle. Except mine has mostly Soviet parts on it. I'll post some pictures tomorrow if I can find them.
Yours looks like a fun shooter. And, they are fun to shoot in 5.45x39. The recoil is slightly less than the 5.56x45 round. I use surplus Russian ball ammo - 7N6. Great stuff!
 

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What's the ranking of the various AK-47's? The only thing I can deduce is that Romanians are the bottom and Chinese Norinco's are at the top. I can probably only afford a Romanian. Are they worth buying? Which models are the best for the money? Where can I find a best to worst ranking?
 

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What's the ranking of the various AK-47's? The only thing I can deduce is that Romanians are the bottom and Chinese Norinco's are at the top. I can probably only afford a Romanian. Are they worth buying? Which models are the best for the money? Where can I find a best to worst ranking?
Arsenal is the best, unless you want a real vintage Soviet Russian or other vintage AK.
 

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Malysh:
Thanks, but I have a carry bag, just not like that one.
Thanks for the extra pictures of the AKSU....Now I REALLY hate you.

Adowns:

Remember that the AK rifle was designed to do two things:

1. Fire each and EVERY time the trigger is pulled.
2. Hit a man in the chest at 300 meters or less.

All of them will do at least that unless flatly defective.

With that said, the range runs from the bottom which is the Romanian WASR rifles, to the top which are the Arsenal, Inc converted Russian Saiga rifles.
About in the middle are the Bulgarian stamped rifles now being imported.

Standard calibers are the 7.62x39 and the 5.45x39.
The 7.62 would make a better hunting caliber since it's about comparable to the old 30-30 Winchester.
Commercial ammo is plentiful, military surplus is getting hard to come by.
The 5.45x39 is a very high velocity, flat shooting round that's been reported to be very effective on small Georgia deer and on coyotes. Commercial ammo is available but somewhat limited as to types.
The huge advantage to the 5.45 is the availability of CHEAP military surplus corrosive ammo.
You can buy 1080 round sealed cans of 7N6-PS tumbling "poison" bullet ammo for about $140 per can. That's CHEAP.
All you have to do is flush the rifle out with hot water as soon as you're through shooting, then clean as normal with bore solvent.
This round is longer ranged and more accurate then the 7.62 and has much less recoil and muzzle blast. As-is the surplus ammo is an excellent anti-personnel defense round.

For a good look at what's available, check out Atlantic Firearms. They sell the mid to top grades. The WASR's are sold by Century Arms International and AIM.
Atlantic Firearms | AR15 & AK47 Rifles | Mags | Accessories | Survival Gear

A good buy is the Romanian WASR.
These are built in Romania from a mix of military parts and parts not quite able to pass military specifications, but fine in a non-military rifle. Some parts may be used, refinished military parts. All are good to go.
The rifles are built as single column magazine rifles and once inside the US the importer opens up the magazine opening to accept double stack mags.
There is some history of these rifles having canted sights and overly wobbly magazines from poor conversion work.
The canted sights can be fixed by the owner or the rifle can be returned for repair by the importer.
Wobbly magazines are not too common and a non-issue.
These rifles can be greatly improved by finishing the wood and applying a better coat of paint. A little work and the rifle looks much better.
The great majority make excellent shooters, and have chrome lined barrels.
They come in 7.62x39 and in 5.45x39.

The mid range are rifles like the Bulgarian made stamped receiver rifles. Kalashnikov himself once said that the best non-Russian AK's were made in Bulgaria.
These are sold by importers like AIM and CAI.

The top of the line are the Arsenal, Inc converted rifles.
The Russian Izhevsk rifle factory is where Kalashnikov worked and where the AK military weapons are still made.
They make a sporting version called the Saiga.
Izhevsk makes Arsenal a special barreled action version with no trigger assembly. These are imported into the US where Arsenal converts them to full military type AK-74 rifles.
These have military spec stamped receivers and chrome lined barrels and gas blocks.
These come in 7.62x39 and in 5.45x39 rifles, and with various colors of synthetic stocks and hand guards, and in a variety of folding stock versions.
These are as close as we'll ever see to a full-auto Russian AK rifle.
Quality is very high and accuracy is very good. Price usually runs from $800 up over $1,000 depending on the options but these are "legacy" rifles that will last a lifetime and be passed on.

Then there's the sporting Saiga.
These are military spec stamped receivers and chrome lined barrels, but with a trigger unit moved back in the receiver and a sporting type butt stock. The barrels aren't threaded and the hand guards are non-military type.
Most of these use a special non-military type magazine and will require some modifications to accept military type.
These look a little odd, but under the sporting configuration is a military spec rifle.
Some people convert these to military configuration by moving the trigger group forward, plugging the holes, mounting a military stock and pistol grips, and some even go so far as to convert the barrel to a threaded type and military hand guards.
These are a best buy if you want an inexpensive genuine Russian rifle and can live with the odd look and having to buy special non-military magazines.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
What's the ranking of the various AK-47's? The only thing I can deduce is that Romanians are the bottom and Chinese Norinco's are at the top. I can probably only afford a Romanian. Are they worth buying? Which models are the best for the money? Where can I find a best to worst ranking?
I wouldn't say Chinese AKs are the best but they are good. They are assembled well, have good barrels and shoot fine. The thing I like best about Chinese AKs is their trigger pull is even and smooth as silk. The only critcism I have of them is that they are blued over steel. I'm a European pattern AK guy. I prefer parkerized steel with paint over the top. The Chinese blued rifles need extra care. I've seen them start to rust without much prodding.
One of the top quality AK rifles imported to the US were from my old friend Mike Kassnar from K.B.I. Mike and I ran around together when we were young single guys in Harrisburg. We had some wild times:cool: He imported the FEG Hungarian AKM & AKMS rifles. From fit and assembly to quality materials and accuracy (for an AKMS), the Hungarian rifles were up in the top three. Not pictured is my fixed stock AKM. The donor rifle was a pre ban FEG that Mike still had at the office that he sold to me. The donor rifle in my AKMS pictures above started as a pre ban folding stock FEG AKMS. They are perfect for a mid 1960s Soviet AKM or AKMS build. All the furniture, bolt carrier, receiver cover, selector, rear sight leaf, front sight tower, folding stock, etc. are Soviet parts I acquired over time to make the rifle into a neat Soviet clone. The fact that I kept the factory barrel and receiver provides me with quite an accurate AK rifle. Made in one of the best AK factories of the Cold War era.

Another terrific AK rifle are the Eqyptian Maadis that were imported to the US in the late 1980s and early 1990s. As a side note, Egyptian Maadis were used in the movie Red Dawn. The movie the rifles, some semi auto and some full auto, all internally converted to fire blanks, were the property of Stembridge Rentals, a huge provider of firearms for the movies for decades. They were later sold to Dan Shea of Long Mountain Outfitters who sold them at retail. I missed out on those! The early import Maadis were also excellent quality and like the Hungarians, identical to Soviet AKMs except for the furniture. Later Maadi imports were cobbled together quite often with Chinese AK replacement parts and are lousy, ill fitted AKs. The same thing happened with the Romanian rifles. The early Romanian AKM and AK-74 and Maadi rifles did not have a sleep over at Century Arms (or or other questionable importers) and don't have soft and inferior lockworks with incorrect geometry, and other ill fitting parts on them. They were excellent rifles. The very early AK-74 1976 Soviet reproduction rifle I mentioned was made from an early Romanian import AK-74. Even today, the early Romanian AK-74 rifle has the receiver closest to an early Soviet AK-74 receiver. Later and current Romanian AK imports have suffered at the hands of the US companies that make them US compliant.

For a person like me, who has a strong interest in Soviet AKs, nothing beats having the AK-74M like in the first set of pictures. It was an Arsenal import but it's 98% Russian including the receiver and the barrel. You just can't get any better that the orginal. DFW described the specifics of the Arsenal import Izhevsk factory AK-74 in his usual commendable way and left nothing out that I can add.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Here's an excellent forum to visit if you want to learn about AKs. There are sub forums for every different variant of AK ever made, including North Korean and Cuban AKs.
I've been a member since it was founded. But, I have a lot more posts on the Colt Forum :)

The AK Forum L.L.C. - Index page
 

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dfariswheel and Malysh,

Thanks for the very complete and informative replies to my questions. It's obvious you put lot of time into your posts and I appreciate it. I know other readers will also benefit from your knowledge. Now it's on to GunBroker for some price research.

Alan
 

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Great Thread guys.

I traded my Polish Tantal in order to buy my Colt 6720 R. A trade I am not sad that I made. I was sad at what I got for that Tantal.

That Tantal would hold it's own out to 100 yards against my Bushmaster 20" Heavy. To be fair, it did not have the original barrel, Thanks to our Goverment and their import rules. That would be Bush, not Obama. Century Arms had key holeing problems with the 1st batch of Tantals. I got the 2nd batch and was "hinted" by Century ( I called them) that my ex tantal had a Green Mountain barrel. 1/9 twist.

I still have almost 1500 rds. of 5.45 if anyone is near NH.

That 74u is on my wish list!
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Here's a few recent pictures of the early AK-74 reproduction rifle. The pictures are poor due to too much light reflection (my error) but they are kind of interesting.
This rifle tries to emulate the earliest issue AK-74, which saw some early use in Afghanistan before the rifle received small improvements. It was in use from 1976-1977. Although the rifle was adopted in 1974 it took fully two years to be introduced into service. The production was only about 250,00 in this pattern with serial numbers still in the AKM serial number group.
The receiver and barrel, as mentioned before, are from a pre ban donor CUR Romanian AK-74 semi auto rifle, made at the state factory in Cugir, Romania. This is the most accurate donor receiver for an early Russian AK-74 rifle.
The furniture, receiver cover, bolt carrier, selector lever, rear sight, pistol grip, magazines, bayonet, and muzzle brake are all Soviet. I refinished the rifle in a matching early 70s style black paint over parkerizing. I am very proud of the muzzle brake. It's the earliest of 4 Soviet AK-74 ones, called a halfmoon brake by the western collectors due to the pattern of the gas baffles. I looked for 13 years before I was able to find one. Later Soviet AK-74 muzzle brakes are common and easy to find in the US. I also located another very rare part, a first pattern AK-74 front sight tower, so I'll be taking the current one off to put an original on it soon.Of interest on these 1976-1977 early AK-74s is the 45 degree gas block, which was replaced with a 90 degree gas block starting in 1978. All current Russian AK rifles use the 90 degree gas block whether they are AK-74Ms (5.45x39), AK-103s (7.62x39) or AK-101s (5.56x45). They also use the current muzzle brake as shown in the 2nd set of pictures with the black furniture with the side folding stock. The thick ribbed rubber butt plate used on this gun stock and shown in these pictures was replaced by a thinner ribbed steel buttplate in 1978, too.






 

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For those interested in the finer details of AK rifles, there's an excellent site that has detailed pictures of rifles, good pictures of the various colors of wood used, and a very good section on the development of the parts of the AK-74 rifle.
This famously known as Tantal's site:

Avtomats in Action!

Subsection on colors and types of AK wood. If you want to finish a stock to look Soviet, these do a good job of showing the range from light Orange, to Red Orange, to Dark Red Orange, to Red Brown.. Upon hearing "Russian Red" too many people stain the wood an actual Red which is incorrect. Also remember that photos tend ot make the wood look Redder than it is:

Russian Wood Furniture Products Section

Subsection on the developement of the AK-74. Down the page it shows detailed close up photos of the individual parts:

Russian AK-74 Variants XVII
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
For those interested in the finer details of AK rifles, there's an excellent site that has detailed pictures of rifles, good pictures of the various colors of wood used, and a very good section on the development of the parts of the AK-74 rifle.
This famously known as Tantal's site:

Avtomats in Action!

Subsection on colors and types of AK wood. If you want to finish a stock to look Soviet, these do a good job of showing the range from light Orange, to Red Orange, to Dark Red Orange, to Red Brown.. Upon hearing "Russian Red" too many people stain the wood an actual Red which is incorrect. Also remember that photos tend ot make the wood look Redder than it is:

Russian Wood Furniture Products Section

Subsection on the developement of the AK-74. Down the page it shows detailed close up photos of the individual parts:

Russian AK-74 Variants XVII
:D Doug F. aka Tantal is a close friend of mine, matter of fact he emailed me he's going to call tonight. My early AK-74 is on that website in the projects section, old 35mm pictures. I wrote the text for the original AKS-74 full auto rifle in the projects section. The rifle belonged to a close friend who lived in Geneva, Switzerland, Andrea DiBernardo. Unfortunately, he passed away about 5 years ago. I co-wrote and helped compile a share of the data in the early Russian AK-74 Variants section. The '09 one (current edition 17.0) was compiled by Tantal and Ekie only and uses new data and data we collected in the previous versions unless we found it was incorrect. Doug gives me credit somewhere in the introduction. I was busy in '08 & '09 chasing original AR-10 rifles ;)

I had no idea DFW was interested in AKs!

The finish on original Soviet laminated buttstocks is garnet shellac. For years their was confusion about what the Soviets used on the laminated wood. It has been put to rest.
 

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Malysh:

I'd like your take on several AK questions I've never gotten a satisfactory answer to:

1. Orange magazines????
Why did the Soviets and later most other countries color synthetic magazines Orange?
Even thought the color is a dull dirty Orange, it's not the most low key color. Certainly the East Germans could have colored them another color if they wanted to, but they still made them in dirty Orange.

2. Why Plum colored stocks and magazines?
Some people claim it was because the Soviets were unable to make plastic in black and it came out Plum colored. I've always thought this sounded a little bogus.
I once heard that the Soviets thought the Plum color didn't show up on infrared as much, but most other people claim the Soviets were just too incompetent to make black plastic.

3. WHAT was the finish on Soviet laminated AK wood.
Most people claim it's Amber shellac with an Orange stain in it.
Shellac isn't very waterproof and turns white when wet, and it gets soft and melts if it gets hot around the barrel. It also takes some time to dry before further coats can be applied, slowing production.
I've started to suspect the Soviets actually used a lacquer with an Orange or Red Orange stain. The Soviet wood I've seen seemed to be more water proof and didn't get soft or melt on a hot gun.

EDIT: Posted after your post on the finish.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Malysh:

I'd like your take on several AK questions I've never gotten a satisfactory answer to:

1. Orange magazines????
Why did the Soviets and later most other countries color synthetic magazines Orange?
Even thought the color is a dull dirty Orange, it's not the most low key color. Certainly the East Germans could have colored them another color if they wanted to, but they still made them in dirty Orange.

2. Why Plum colored stocks and magazines?
Some people claim it was because the Soviets were unable to make plastic in black and it came out Plum colored. I've always thought this sounded a little bogus.
I once heard that the Soviets thought the Plum color didn't show up on infrared as much, but most other people claim the Soviets were just too incompetent to make black plastic.

3. WHAT was the finish on Soviet laminated AK wood.
Most people claim it's Amber shellac with an Orange stain in it.
Shellac isn't very waterproof and turns white when wet, and it gets soft and melts if it gets hot around the barrel. It also takes some time to dry before further coats can be applied, slowing production.
I've started to suspect the Soviets actually used a lacquer with an Orange or Red Orange stain. The Soviet wood I've seen seemed to be more water proof and didn't get soft or melt on a hot gun.

EDIT: Posted after your post on the finish.
DFW,

1) Frankly, nobody really knows why the early generation Soviet Bakelite magazines and pistol grips were orange. Anything else you read on the internet is just fanciful ideas. We have an organization called the K.C.A. (Kalashnikov Collector's Association). We are a small group of AK collectors numbering about 100. We have a private forum but all of us are founding members of the AK Forum in Feb '06. A few of our members have traveled to Izhevsk Russia and met M.T. Kalashinikov several times, including his 85th birthday celebration. You can be sure Dr. K. was asked every possible question about AKs., including ones in areas of development he wasn't directly involved with :) Doug and I couldn't afford such trips, unfortunately. Even Dr. K doesn't know why the magazines were orange to reddish orange. Their developement was by petro chemists and mag designers, not gun designers. As a matter of fact the original steel "slab side" early AK-47 magazine wasn't from the AK design and development team. It was taken off a rejected assault rifle design during the field tests in the mid 1940s. So was the recoil spring recessing into a tunnel in the back of the bolt carrier. I forget what designers that mag and the bolt carrier originally came from and it'll take weeks looking through my books to find it! Such is the world of firearms design.
The early orange Bakelite magazines were often spray painted black by infantry in Afghanistan and later, at the factory when mags were returned for refurbishing, which was not often done. These mags were predated by the orange Bakelite magazines for the AKM series of rifles and the AKM bayonet handles before the AK-74 was designed.
The DDR AK factories were lackeys and poodles of the Soviets, and did not deviate much in domestic production, as was the same in all the Combloc Warsaw pact AK factories. DDR orange Bakelite magazines don't have a factory logo moulded into the sides, only a mold number. The plastic is move evenly prepared and is muted and boring to look at compared to the wild swirls found in early Russian Bakelite magazines. The Russians ones have either a triangle with an upward pointing arrowhead inside for Izhevsk, or a five pointed star for the Tula factory. Differences are generally minor between the Russian and Warsaw pact AKs, the exception being the Polish Tantal AK-74s which have some very different design features. It's interesting to note that the Poles only deviated to a large degree when the '74 production began. Their AK-47s and AKMs are very similar to the Russian versions except you can spot the difference between Polish and Soviet laminated stocks a mile away. They used some type of oil finish on the laminated plywood furniture instead of shellac.

2)Likewise, nobody knows for sure why the thermo set plastic 2nd gen. plum mags were that color. They are a different plastic entirely than the orange Bakelite mags are. The latest matte black furniture and magazines are yet another type of plastic. The last time the Russians used the plum furniture on the rifles was about 1989. Early matte black was just starting to be used but didn't come into full usage until the AK-74M was introduced in 1991. The story about the plum furniture not showing up when infrared scoped is B.S., typical of what some of the internet "Mavens" post ;)

3) Re the shellac. Years ago when Russian AK laminated stock sets were rare in the US in any condition, we were in the habit of refinishing beat up examples. Now you can find Russian laminates at good prices in good condition easily. It's become a cottage industry in Russia for small business to export this stuff. Some common and even some rare stuff. For years we collectors experimented with mixtures of Tru Oil with strained Ritt's Dye put in for different tints. We tried lacquers with dyes, etc. etc. Finally we found out it was shellac. Like all governments the Russians always looked to spend less on production. When in doubt, it's a guiding light. I wrongly assessed years ago the Russians used a lacquer on the stocks because it was cheaper than shellac. I found I was wrong, shellac is many times cheaper to buy than it is to produce lacquer. The different tints observed on stocks come from using slightly different shellacs over decades. Many were garnet shellac, some were amber shellacs, different tints in different years on different trees and different diets on the trees from indivudual spawnings of those lac bugs in India and Thailand. The Russians weren't terribly picky about the shade or tint of the stock coating not being uniform as long as it left the factory with a coating. The different lots of shellacs used imparted the different tints. Plus the plywood and glue varied a bit. All these factors imparted a slightly different finish between different rifles. No stain was ever used to tint Soviet laminated furniture. A small amount of liquid dye is possible but doubtful.
The Soviets used shellac because it was cheaper than any other coating.
They weren't concerned that the finish would be almost worn off a training rifle in a few weeks or a few days in actual combat. They didn't worry the stocks might get wet and hasten their deterioration. They held up great in lousy conditions even with the finish worn off and bad weather. And, Russia has more forests that any other country in the world. They have more birch trees for laminate plywood stocks than the rest of the countries combined. Replacement stocks were always available, unlike food for urban residents ;)
Re: the time involved in drying between shellac coats, it's not that long. I've refinshed numerous laminated buttstocks and handguards with shellac. I've used dried shellac buds soaked in denatured alcohol for about a week, and even the canned garnet shellac product at the big box hardware stores is excellent. The shelf life is best at no more than 6 months but I've used stuff I prepared that was about a year old and it was fine. The shellac can be applied French Rub style or with a 1 or 1 1/2 brush. The stocks got 2-4 coats at the most at the factories. The coats are thinly applied and dry very fast. A follow up coat can be done in about 25-30 minutes. Who cared that was a waste of time in a Soviet era factory? At least everybody had a job!
 

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I had no idea DFW was interested in AKs!

My main personal interest and professional business was Colt's, but I've always had a strong interest in military arms, especially what came to be called "assault weapons".
I've owned many Mauser and Lee Enfield rifles, a semi-auto Model A Uzi, several Auto Ordnance Thompson guns, and worked on a lot of military type arms.

For some reason after years of zero interest in the AK, I've gotten a strong interest in them.
As I said, just to stick it in Billy Boy Clinton's eye I bought a Bulgarian SLR-96. The other rifle available in the shop was actually a stamped FEG and I almost bought it instead, because I'd heard it described as the best stamped rifle imported at that time.

The AK is not a rifle really suited to me, due to the poor barrel mounted sights, lousy trigger, inconvenient safety, and the slower magazine reload.
My AR-15 Carbine is better in all regards, but due to crappy reloads and gun show used GI magazines, it's just not reliable enough for me.
This is entirely my fault.

The ORF Bulgarian I bought did have serious problems when I got it which was a shock considering all I'd heard about total reliability of the AK and the flawless SLR.
I think it was the third shot right out of the box that mis-fired, which I put down to the surplus Polish ammo.
This got worse, and then one day the rifle started to mis-feed with rounds feeding UNDER the bullet feed ramp and tearing up the cases.
This astounded me after being assured that you could run over an AK with a bulldozer and let it rust in salt water for a year and it'd still work.
To make a long story short I removed the ORF supplied black poly buffer from the recoil spring and after noticing that the hammer spring seemed a little weak, I re-tensioned it by putting more of a downward curve in the two legs.
Result: not even a hint it might jam since.

With aging and bad eyes and my Match shooting days behind me, about all I can guarantee is that I'll hit you at 100 yards with it, but I WILL still hit you.
I can do better than that with the AR Carbines peep rear sight which works better for bad eyes, but without spending money not really available for good magazines and ammo, the AK will do fine.

So as a shock to some, I ain't about just Colt's.
 
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