How much does an AK-47 cost?
September 14, 2004 12:57 PM   Subscribe

How much should I expect to pay for an AK-47?

Now that it is legal to buy one, my housemates and I have decided that we are willing to spend a certain amount of money to purchase an assault rifle. I've been looking for information online all morning, but apparently the web has not caught up with the new laws. I'm finding a lot of sites made by fans of the Kalashnikov, but nothing to do with pricing. I would like to know what the going rate is before I just go down to the gun shop and plop down whatever they happen to be asking. No one likes to be gouged!

Serious answers appreciated.
posted by Hildago to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Depends where you are. I hear that they can be bought in the bazaars of Kabul for chickenfeed.
posted by dmt at 1:03 PM on September 14, 2004

Seattle, WA.
posted by Hildago at 1:05 PM on September 14, 2004

Are you sure the AK-47 was even covered by the assault weapons ban? I heard on NPR this morning that in fact it was not. I suggest picking up the phone and calling a gun dealer.

(The NPR debunking reminded me that Jon Stewart did a gag the other night about how happy he was that he was finally going to be able to collect the set - he's already got AKs 1-46. Surely his material is fact-checked??? ;) )
posted by luser at 1:07 PM on September 14, 2004

It was entirely legal, possible, and fairly cheap, to pick up an AK even during the ban. They were made in lots of variations, including some that had none of the banned features -- and even those that did have, say, a bayonet mount were mostly (all? Not an AK expert, and my gun-fanatic friend is offline, atm) pre-ban, and thus legal to sell.

As for what you can expect to pay, it depends on age, condition, and country of origin. Pretty much every country in the Red Bloc made an AK of some sort or another, of varying qualities and in varying quality. Your best bet is to go to a good gun forum like The High Road and do some research there, then check out a comprehensive dealer site like GunBroker.

So, in short: Any thought that you previously couldn't own an AK is only due to yet more media hysteria about the passing of the ban. Do your research and shop around.
posted by jammer at 1:20 PM on September 14, 2004

Couldn't you be forced to destroy it/hand it in if/when the ban is reinstated? It'd kinda make it a waste of money, because I think this is a ban that'll be back soon enough.
posted by wackybrit at 1:21 PM on September 14, 2004

Er... of varying qualities, and varying in [i]quantity[/i]
posted by jammer at 1:23 PM on September 14, 2004

As I understand it you can't buy an "AK-47" like they pack everywhere else in the world, because it is select fire to full auto. Which wasn't ever legal, you can get an AK- alike (like the chinese knockoff SKS) or . The last time I saw prices which was years ago, they could be had for as low as 60 to 90 bucks per if you took at least five, but that was for someone with an FFL (a federal firearms license). I bet you could get one for about a hundred bucks though. Perhaps there is a civilian model of the AK, like the actual AK brand from Russia (like the AR-15 is for the M-16) that is not select fire to full auto. Depends of the laws of your state more than anything, but them suckers is cheap.
posted by Divine_Wino at 1:24 PM on September 14, 2004

wackybrit: Highly unlikely. First, as I've said, AKs were completely accessable before, anyway. Second, even were another ban to come around, existing banned weapons would almost certainly be grandfathered, as they were with the recently deceased ban. Third, in today's political climate, the thought that any law which would require the confiscation and destruction of existing firearms is laughable.
posted by jammer at 1:26 PM on September 14, 2004

Only certain semi-automatic weapons were freed from the ban. No automatic weapons are available legally in the US as far as I know. But there are semi-automatic versions of the AK-47.
posted by jacobsee at 1:29 PM on September 14, 2004

As I understand it you can't buy an "AK-47" like they pack everywhere else in the world, because it is select fire to full auto.

You are mostly correct there, yes. And I apologize for perhaps misconstruing what Hildago wanted to do. I spend enough time around gun owners that I don't automatically think of 'AK-47' as 'scary Russian machine gun'.

It was only the semi-automatic ones that could be easily purchased, and that is still the case. However, both during and now after the ban, you can own a full auto AK-47. It's a Class III controlled weapon, and requires getting special permission from the ATF, paying a hefty annual tax, and getting your background checked so anally that they'll know about the first time you masturbated by the time they're done. And then you still may not get it.

If, if you're clean, determined, rich, and fortunate enough, yes, you can own an honest-to-good Kabul streetsweeper. Don't expect it to be easy, though, and don't think it's because of the ban passing.

As for what you can expect to pay for those... I'm not sure. They're rare items, probably quite pricy, and I don't feel like Googling for full-auto AKs while at work.
posted by jammer at 1:32 PM on September 14, 2004

Actually, I was under the impression that a certain small number of full-auto firearms were also legal, grandfathered in somehow. Please sort me out here (not least so I stay Ask MeFi legal) but I distinctly remember ads in my friend's Shotgun News 15-odd years ago for tripod-mounted, water-cooled .30 Browning Somme-style (yeah, I know, those were Vickers, work with me) medium machine guns wherein the text promised that licences for the right bits (receivers?) were available make them ready for the next time you wanted to take it to the Boche.
posted by mojohand at 1:46 PM on September 14, 2004

Whoops. Sorry Jammer - you answered it.. Should have scrolled up on preview
posted by mojohand at 1:49 PM on September 14, 2004

No problem, mojohand. And I'm sorry if I sound a bit short on this issue. If I have to explain to one more person this week that, no, you can't go out and by yourself a machine gun now just because the ban passed, well... I might need to jam popsicle sticks in my eyes, or something.
posted by jammer at 1:56 PM on September 14, 2004

Thanks for the info everybody, especially Jammer.
posted by Hildago at 2:03 PM on September 14, 2004

Well, since this thread has been pretty well answered, may I derail it yet further and ask: was 'receiver' the word I wanted, and if so, what is one in a firearm and why is it the essential component in determining whether a firearm is full or semi automatic?
posted by mojohand at 2:04 PM on September 14, 2004

to answer, as good as i can, the question, my brother picked up a chinese version AK-47 at a pawnbroker (this was DURING the ban) for around $400. and you can buy the 30 round clips as well for around $20 or so. A great place to find accessories is Cheaper Then Dirt .
posted by ShawnString at 2:05 PM on September 14, 2004

Yes, "receiver" is what you were looking for, mojohand. The receiver is essentially the guts of the gun -- it holds the magazine, contains the action that loads new rounds and extracts old ones, and pretty much does all the dirty work.

Replacing the receiver on a gun will let you swap out all the mechanical bits for ones that work in automatic mode. In some cases, this can also be done via "conversion kits", which don't replace the whole receiver, but only a few parts of the action.

IIRC, guns which can be easily converted in this manner are also Class III. Ones which require a full receiver replacement aren't.
posted by jammer at 2:14 PM on September 14, 2004

It's important to note that the ban only pertained to manufacturing certain weapons- you could still by the AK-47 or whatever gun as long as it was made before the ban went into law (assuming you pass the anal background checks if necessary).
posted by jmd82 at 2:55 PM on September 14, 2004

Like this Mojohand? There are a lot of parts kits out there of demilled machineguns that can be purchased and rebuilt as semiautomatic. I've done it myself.

You cannot rebuild these as Class III weapons - that would violate a 1986 ban.
posted by Tenuki at 3:28 PM on September 14, 2004

there's an inteesting comparison of pre and post ban ak47s here.
posted by andrew cooke at 3:34 PM on September 14, 2004

If memory serves, during the ban, AK-47s were around $800-900 and $150 for the SKS with the "stripper" clip and detachable magazine SKSs ran around $450. 30-round magazines were around $20, as previously noted. I'd steer clear of the Chinese knockoffs unless all you want is basically a wallhanging. What really bothered about the ban is that, according to what I saw on the news, illegal full-autos smuggled from China were being sold for a third of the price of a legal semi-auto.

If it were me, I'd think long and hard about the Ruger Mini-14 or Mini-30 (like they used on the A-Team) instead of an AK. I feel that they are a superior rifle. The Mini-14 fires .223 rounds like those used by the American military and the Mini-30 fires the 7.62 caliber used by the AK-47. Both rounds are available in inexpensive plinking varieties. These rifles are also available in stainless steel for marine applications. They sell for around $329 with a ten-round clip and accept the same magazine as the AR-15 and AK-47 respectively. I believe you can buy Min-14s at GI Joes or other sporting goods stores.

I do have a friend who purchased a pre-ban AR-15 during the ban for $50 at a gun show. That's anomalous, however.

For gun shops, the only two I've dealt with in Seattle are Wade's Eastside guns, which has a range and seems to cater to law enforcement and wannabes, and Adventure Sports up in Edmonds or Lynnwood. I prefer adventure sports because they cater a bit more to sportsmen/women as opposed to paranoid gun fondlers. Neither shop seems to cater to the really fringe element in the gun subculture.

If all you want is an inexpensive rifle that looks mean and was previously illegal to import (not sell or possess), Butch's Guns on 99 specializes in mean-looking firearms of questionable quality. I don't shop there and was only in once. They seem to cater to the buyer who wants a gun like the one they saw in a movie.

If there's anything else, email's in my profile.
posted by stet at 4:07 PM on September 14, 2004

In my mind's eye they were water-jacketed Model 1919s, probably not much different than those 1928s. And I'd have sworn the early 90's ads inferred you could - with the proper licenses - get receivers to convert them to full auto, but perhaps I misread the description. It'd make a hell of a home-defense weapon, assuming burglers employed the Schlieffen Plan, but I wasn't seriously in the market.
posted by mojohand at 5:32 PM on September 14, 2004

Getting a machinegun, although difficult, is still possible. Certain dealers specialize, such as Impact.

They've got a couple legal summaries you might find useful, describing how machineguns are legal, under what circumstances they can be purchased, and precisely how to purchase them.

A full-auto Uzi from Impact costs above $6K, for example. Something of historical value like a BAR will run above $20K.
posted by aramaic at 6:41 PM on September 14, 2004

If you don't wanna dick around with the BATF, trying to get that class III license, you can always look into conversion.

The most troubling thing about the end of this ban, though, is how simple a conversion can be.
posted by LimePi at 7:28 PM on September 14, 2004

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