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Smarter to Build, Convert, or just buy???

Discussion in 'The Kalashnikov Klub' started by Masterson, Feb 28, 2010.


  1. Masterson

    Masterson
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    The idea of building a AK variant sounds fun, but looks like I missed the bus when it comes to cheap parts kits. (These are the best examples that I can find) IE:

    http://www.centerfiresystems.com/kit-rom-uf-b.aspx

    OR

    https://www.apexgunparts.com/product_info.php/products_id/1322

    And

    https://www.apexgunparts.com/product_info.php/cPath/57/products_id/1320

    Either kit is minus a stamped receiver, and the blood, sweat, tears, and beers that would go into building them.

    For about the same price, at least I guess, as person can get a Saiga Carbine from Classic Arms ($339.99) and do a high cap/pistol grip conversion and end up with a much higher quaility rifle. Russian parts, and a new rifle.

    OR

    From talking to other people in the local area, I can hussle a couple of local gun shops and walk out the door with a WASR-10, for around $400 and not have to worry about fixing/making/building anything. Not to say the quaility would be higher, just to say it would be a easily avenue to take.

    I think it would be easy to say "build your own", but I can't find any of the >$150 kits that all the other threads were talking about over two years ago. Those are long gone, and if they are being sold, are marked up another $100. A Saiga would be fun, but after doing a conversion, it seems they start to hit some of the prices of other AK's/AKM's on the market.

    If you were in the position to either build/convert/buy from scratch starting today, what would you do? Any sort of feedback is welcomed.
     

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  2. peaceful_guy

    peaceful_guy
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    My understanding is that parts kits are no longer as good an idea as they were five or so years ago. I started acquiring AKs (nota bene the plural - this is your destiny) two years ago and moved past the parts kits option immediately. Don't remember the exact reasons. Maybe it was the amount of work involved with no money saved.

    I got both the Saiga carbine and 12 gauge at classic arms and they sit snugly in my safe, awaiting conversion/reversion, once I set up my vice and get a dremel tool and decent drill and then order all the replacement parts. Which at this juncture considering my minimal free time will probably happen after Barack Obama is voted out of office; and therefore ....

    BUY YOURSELF A DAMN AK! Just do it. Get one that is ready to shoot and start shooting, and then when the thrill subsides take the logical appropriate step which is scouting out your next AK.

    I have a WASR 10/63, gotten for a little higher than the price point you are referencing once shipping and transfer fees are counted in. And it is GREAT. Fun to shoot, easy to clean, solid enough that I expect it will be working generations hence.

    Also, since you are shopping classic arms, check out the Yugo underfolders for a little more. Another seriously excellent gun at a great price. Others will probably chime in with other suggestions - but from my research that may be one of the best deals on the Web right now. As a matter of fiduciary responsibility, I had to get two of those, considering the prospect of imminent inflation .... I love the Yugo.

    But if I was in your shoes, I would go down to the gun shop and buy the WASR off the shelf (after physically checking it out). It is a good price and a good place to start with AKs.
     

    #2 peaceful_guy, Mar 1, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  3. RWBlue

    RWBlue
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    Mr. CISSP, CISA
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    Buy your first AK.
    Building requires skills, time and tools. If you do it right, it saves you a little $$. IF you screw up, it will cost you more $$$$.


    IF you live in CA, then you will have to build.
     
  4. Under8ted

    Under8ted
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    I would say buy. RWBlue is correct. It is very easy to F* it up not to mention required tools such as a press.

    my $.02.
     
    #4 Under8ted, Mar 1, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  5. toshbar

    toshbar
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    Timber Baron

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    I bought a WASR first and then I bought a Saiga from Classic and converted it. If I were you, I'd get the Saiga and convert.

    I can give you my build details of you want, but for just under $800, I got:
    Saiga 5.45x39, converted it to pistol grip, side folding Romanian wire stock, Scope/scope mount/rings, bipod, four AK-74 magazines, and 2160 rounds of Russian 5.45, and all of that stuff shipped to me(and the gun transfered).
     
    #5 toshbar, Mar 1, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  6. Masterson

    Masterson
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    Thank you for all your responses.

    I think I will keep a look out for a WASR at the local gun shops. Buying the first rifle, and having a complete working weapon, sounds smart. If nothing else, a reference rifle for any other builds.

    I will start looking at quality/prices of the Yugo underfolders as well. I am not really in the market for a pistol/underfolder, but it wouldn't be the first time I bought something I didn't need. :)

    The Saiga conversion still sounds fun, but, I think It would be a process. That is to say, buy the weapon, and then when money allows start amassing the parts later on. Toshbar, where did you purchase your conversion parts from?
     
  7. toshbar

    toshbar
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    Timber Baron

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    http://dpharms.com/ out of Burlington, NC.

    It's really easy. It took me a week to decide which way I wanted to go with the build. That was the hardest part, deciding what look/function I was after. The actual fabrication part of the conversion is easy. 10 min with a grinder/dremel and a punch and hammer, smooth the trigger guard up on a bench grinder and bolt everything in.
     
  8. Sully:vz-58

    Sully:vz-58
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    Saiga and convert. Centerfire systems has their 7.62x39 Saigas for $315 shipped right now.
     
  9. Nicoroshi

    Nicoroshi
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    Not entirely correct.

    I agree with the first part of your statement.
    Requires skills, time, and tools.
    Will save you a little bit of money.
    If you mess up it will cost you more.


    You did however forget to mention a few important parts of building.

    No paper trail (technically that rifle doesn't exist as far as the government is concerned).
    A sense of pride (nothing like shooting a rifle you built from a pile of parts).

    And as for your last statement.....Well I will let these answer for me.
    http://www.atlanticfirearms.com/storeproduct767.aspx
    http://www.calguns.net/calgunforum/showthread.php?t=170462

    CA is messed up with the need for a bullet button, and limited to 10 round magazines or featureless with pre-ban hi-cap mags but as you can see there are many in CA that are not "Sheep", and have found a way despite the political hurdles, and also companies willing to configure rifles to appease the political machine so they can do business in the lucrative market that is CA.

    I have built 5 thus far without the need for a press or expensive jigs.
    All still firing away. :D
     
    #9 Nicoroshi, Mar 1, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  10. RWBlue

    RWBlue
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    Very cool, I didn't know manufacturers were catering to CA shooters' needs.

    You didn't buy a press or jigs, but you did get/have a welder and grinder. So there is a tools outlay.
     
  11. Nicoroshi

    Nicoroshi
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    Correct, and I agreed with you on that although I have built a few without a grinder, and welder also.


    Pressed flat screw build:
    [​IMG]
    http://firingsquad.us/albums/BLM_Land_Trip_2/Nico_shoots_Mashka_kneeling.mov


    More so IMHO one needs the skills. 'Bubba' with $3000 worth of tools could still mess it up even though there are many good tutorials on 'how to' available on the net.

    To return to the OP's original question for a 'first' AK.

    To break it down some.
    The cost difference between building, and buying right now is minimal at best. Most of the kits with original barrels are built out or pushing $300.
    With 922(r) compliant parts the finished rifle on a 'budget build' is pushing $550-$600 (this includes wood re-finishing supplies, flat, misc parts, and pieces needed to build jigs, etc).
    If the OP has the tools, and mechanical ability to do it I still have a hard time recommending he go that route for a 'first AK'.

    Converting a Saiga would give the OP a Russian made rifle, and with minimal tools, and parts can be easily converted to 'looking' like an AK.

    Buying one already built is easy (even in CA), and there is NO work involved.

    So it boils down to what the OP really wants, and their mechanical ability.

    1. Ready to shoot AK (Buy it ready made...No mechanical ability or tools needed). ~$400-$1000 depending on what they get.
    2. Small project to convert an actual Russian made rifle to the way it was designed to be (buy a Saiga, parts, and convert....minimal tools, and short term project with some satisfaction). After all is said, and done probably ~$450-$550 (this includes DROS, and Fees).
    3. Project gun (buy a number's matching original barrel still attached to kit bucket 'o' parts, and learn to build....tools required, mechanical experience a plus, greater satisfaction). ~$500-$650.

    If I had to recommend a route for someone interested in doing some building/ converting who only has minimal tools/ experience, and who has a budget I say Siaga, and convert.

    Just my thoughts on it.
     
    #11 Nicoroshi, Mar 1, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2010
  12. toshbar

    toshbar
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    Timber Baron

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    could you elaborate on the blue?
    I just added up what it would cost to buy a Saiga from Classic, have it shipped, transfered, and converted to pistol grip/cheap stock set/no frills gun and came up right at $500. This doesn't include any high capacity magazines, or ammo, and keeps the OE foregrip, which I happen to like.
    I agree. I cannot express how satisfying that Saiga conversion was for me.
     
  13. Nicoroshi

    Nicoroshi
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    It depends on what his FFL will charge in fees basically.
    I have had some try to stick me for $75 in addition to the DROS fee.
    I have an FFL buddy that will do the transfer for $70 including DROS fee.

    In CA we have a 10 day waiting period in addition to the form 4473 background check. Some FFL's will charge for storage for this amount of time. Some others are just plain arse-hats, and charge outlandish fees for doing any transfer of an item that you didn't buy from THEM.
    So the variance in my price was to account for that, and also for differences in shipping costs due to location of purchaser, and where they buy their parts for conversion from.
     
  14. toshbar

    toshbar
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    Wow. didn't realize CA was like that. FFL transfer for me was only $25.
     
  15. Duct Tape

    Duct Tape
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    For a first AK, you could get a WASR 10/63 (which as far as I've seen are put together decent and straight), then spend an additional $10-15 on some sandpaper, Minwax stain, and some tung oil finish/poly to finish the unfinished wood and end up with a decent rifle that looks decent on the cheap. Then after you have your conventional looking AK you can always build/reconfigure an evil black tactical-looking AK at your leisure.
     
  16. toshbar

    toshbar
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    That is exactly what I did.
     
  17. Duct Tape

    Duct Tape
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    I really want to reconfigure another Saiga. I gave the one I did to my brother for his birthday so he'd go shooting with me more (to no avail :crying: ). Oh well, at least I got some practice!
     
  18. TedG954

    TedG954
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    I guess I'm swimming against the tide, but I vote for converting a Saiga for your first AK.

    I did one on a snack table while watching TV. It is not hard and you sure learn a lot through the process.

    If you were to have all your components, a Dremil, and some patience, you could do the whole job, start to finish, on a Saturday afternoon.

    Google Saiga Conversion and you'll find all kinds of instructions and videos to take you through the process.

    When you're done, you'll have a rifle YOU put together. There's a bit of pride in that statement. And, the fact that it's a real Russian rifle is a nice plus.

    Don't take the easiest route. Do it yourself. Good luck. You CAN do it.

    :wavey:
     
    #18 TedG954, Mar 3, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2010
  19. my762buzz

    my762buzz
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    A drill, hammer, tap, and a steel file.


    [​IMG]
     
  20. toshbar

    toshbar
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    what kind of foregrips are those?

    I'm thinking about filing the stocker down/possibly slotting it for cooling.