Sunday, February 24, 2013


The Kalishikov series of weapons are the most prolific assault rifle in the world; they are present in every single conflict on Earth. The AK is rugged, robust and absolutely utilitarian in nature. It is often stated that the AK can be fabricated in a primitive workshop, but few people can appreciate how this is actually accomplished.

This photo essay of an anonymous Kalishnikov fanatic came to me via the email machine. I don't know who he is or where he operates, but the guy can work metal. Here's how he converted a
shovel into an AK-47 variant, using metal at hand, a few parts and primitive tools.

I saw a lot of improvisation in the former Yugoslavia, but nothing like this. - S.L.

Comrade takes your standard one (each) M1A1 shovel . . .

Start with some basic hacksaw work:

To anneal the shovel and pound it flat enough, fire up the homemade furnace and add some waste motor oil to get to higher temps.

The layer of oxide is completely industructable.

To get rails straight, the trick is to bend them first:

Comrade uses an angle grinder to trim and grind them but the same thing could be achieved with a flat bastard - just take a hundred times longer and a helluva lot more sweat.

Comrade reports: "Receiver came out as straight as Liberace in drag thumbing through gay porn magazines. I do not however discriminate between straight AK receivers and those that chose different orientation."

Next, receiver is bent just like a regular AK receiver from a blank:

Comrade even added Maadi style dimples:

Various holes were cut free hand with plasma torch - same thing could be accomplished with bowdrill, files and a LOT of time:

Comrade fits a trunnion:

A few strips of shovel left after cutting the top rails:

Comrade just eyeballed them to get close enough and sandblasted them for welding onto receiver:

Receiver is a bit thicker than regular AK receiver flats, so spotwelding does not work out too well; Comrade cuts 1/4 inch holes to weld rails through:

Cut out the selector key hole:

Then the rails are welded around and to the receiver:

Looks good.

Now for the barrel: an AK barrel blank ($30), profiled trunnion end, chambered and cut extractor wedge. The chamber is definitely not a precision job. Comrade lobs off the end of the blank to bring overall length to 16.25"

Here are populated AK barrel, virgin AK barrel and Comrade's blank-barrel thingie:

The trunnion is rivetized:

Barrel was hammered in (press is broken) and headspaced:

On a roll, Comrade rivets a scope side mount:

Here is a pic of an AK receiver and Shovel AK receiver. The latter is almost 2.5 times thicker - Comrade reports he tried to pound some dents out of the receiver and the hammer got dented!

For all you AR fan boys, this is what M16 and AK receivers look like after they've been run over by a tank:

You cannot bend this back:

Comrade rivets a whole bunch more sh*t:

Sight block, gas block and front sight were just welded onto the barrel.

Comrade has a supply of used furniture, like this gas tube with "Mihaela" on it and 12 notches.

I don't get it, Mihaela is a Romanian female name and the guy only scored 12 of them.

Gas port drilled after gas block welded in place:

Assembly complete:

Comrade straps on cheap scope with a double rail and since he had a second rail added a cheap laser to go with it. Time to go to the range and put this thing through her paces.

Comrade reports:

The bolt on the scope needed periodic tightening, and the laser took off after about 20 rounds. After 50-60 rounds, the barrel was slightly warm. The height adjustment knob on the scope would sometimes click and sometimes not until it came off; after that it adjusted just fine.

10 round group at 50 yards using 40 year old ammo that came from a spam can, not a handload.


Flea Market Shovel: $2
Romanian sans-barrel AK kit: $200
Barrel blank: $30

Simply incredible . . .



  1. Thus dies the myth of weapons bans. Just ask the Pashto; they've been hand-making weapons for a couple centuries.

  2. And being so much thicker than a standard AK, it will stand up to rough handling very ell