The Author with his trusty AK wile on security operations in Iraq
If you are a contractor, it won’t be long until you have in your hands one of the most infamous rifles ever to spring forth from the dark recesses of human ingenuity. THE AK-47.
When it comes to assault rifles, there are few competitors with a more basic design. The AK and its modernized form the AKM are bound to be pointed in your direction sooner or later if you’re working the Red Zone.
It’s best to get acquainted with this system early on, and master its manual of arms. You WILL be seeing a lot of this rifle when wandering the contract circuit or 3rd world. This rifle and its millions of unlicensed reproductions litter most of the battlefields around the globe.
You know the story, you’ve seen it in the hands of every photo op of a bad guy with a flag being waved in the air, or in the hands of some jungle bound insurgent waiting to snatch the life from the unwary, and now it resides in the armories of every private military company as well.
Now, you’ll notice a curious difference between AKs fielded by contractors and those being run in stock form by crazy militants, dedicated insurgents, and Chechen vest bombers. A Contractor’s AK will invariably have modifications courtesy of any number of aftermarket accessory companies that are intended to enhance not only the cool factor but utility of the rifle.
A tricked out AK used by a friend of the author
Contractors are suckers for aftermarket products to ‘enhance’ their weapons systems. While on the other hand, an insurgent or ‘loyal’ host nation counterpart will tend to make modifications going in the other direction sometimes removing or cutting the buttstock off, or using the rifle with no rear sight fixed in place or the front sight pin completely missing. For them, it’s business as usual.
Any way you cut it, professionals and amateurs, wanna-be’s and gonna-be’s have all fielded this rifle.
For me, I like my working AKs to stick to their more original forms. I do like the wire stock models over the under-folder models, and do find that most solid wood buttstocks feel a bit short in length for me even with body armor on. However, I make do with what’s issued more often than not.
Wire stock and under-folder AK's
When it comes to AK sights, I stick to the iron ones and have avoided the temptation to throw a red dot on one thus far. Folks really have begun to shy away from a system that works every time in lieu of pretty optics. There’s still a place for iron sights (always will be) and I would suggest spending enough time with them to keep proficient.
Also, finding N type batteries to run your favorite dot in third world shit holes can be a project all by itself. In my opinion, time and finances can be better spent on the range with iron sights. Put the red dots down long enough to master your gun fighting skills without them.
As for the 7.62x39MM round the AK/AKM are chambered for? I give it the thumbs up. For use inside its intended ranges, it does the job. You just can’t go wrong with .30cal in my mind. It is not the greatest answer to the caliber controversy, but it seems to draw blood and rend flesh in a manner that’s fitting and satisfactory to most its users.
Below are some of my favorite AK photos I have taken over the past couple of years
an American Security Contractor with his ak
Ak toting Iraqi army guys at a checkpoint in 06'
The author and his buddy in Iraq with gold and silver plated ak’s
Nepali Security Contractor roof gunner with an AK (Iraq)
A night shot of one of my buddies with his AK, also in Iraq
An Iraqi national guard soldier with AK during a sandstorm
James G. Goofing off with his AK on his Compound in Baghdad 2003
Nepali trunk monkey with his AK
~Bubba G Editor at Large
Bubba G. is an active protective professional presently performing contract duties in the Middle East and has well over 15 years of military, high risk contracting, international training and martial arts experience.