Surplus Gun Nuts

Part 1 - How To Build Your Own AK47

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10
Part 11
Part 12

Planning Your Build

I hear people say "I've built a couple AR15 rifles, but how do I go about building an AK47?" First of all, you didn't build anything. You assembled an AR15 from a kit. It didn't take any specail tooling or skill. Making an AK47 from an 80% receiver and a military surplus parts kit is going to take some work to get all the parts to fit together correctly. But don't be mistaken, building an AK47 isn't necissarily harder.

What parts will I need?

At the very minimum you'll need:

  • Parts kit
  • Receiver
  • Six 922(r) US complaince parts
  • Barrel

What tools will I need?

At the very minimum you'll need:

  • Hydrolic press
  • Drill
  • Hammer and punch set
  • Rivetting jigs

For an 80% receiver build you'll also need:

  • Flat bending jig
  • Spot welder
  • Propane torch

Receivers: Buy or Build?

Legally, the receiver is the firearm. Receivers are subject to all firearms laws, with regulations on things like sales across state lines, ownership by felons, shipping regulations, and so on. The rest of the rifle is just parts in the eyes of the law. For example, you cannot sell a receiver to someone in another state without using an FFL, but you can ship a barrel to anyone in another state.

So the first thing you're going to need to decide is if you are going to build your own receiver (80%) or buy one pre-made (100%). Buying a 100% receiver will cost between 60$-100$ plus shipping and FFL transfer fees. Making your own receiver will cost around 300$. The 80% AK receiver flats run about 15$-20$, however the jig needed to bend them will cost upward of 150$. In addition you'll need a spot welder to complete the project. Many people will get a group of friends together and split the cost of a jig and spot welder, so they more people you have making rifles or the more you plan on making for yourself, the more cost effective making your own becomes.

Wait, you mean I can make my own receiver? Is that legal?

Anyone who can walk into a gunshop and legally buy a firearm can also legally make their own. Provided the following:

  • You can legally own a firearm.
  • You are not building the receiver(s) or rifle(s) with the intent of reselling them.
  • All state and local laws permit you to build your own.
  • The receiver you are building is semi-automatic only (no machineguns).
  • For rifle builds only, the barrel is 16" or longer and the overall length is more than 27".
  • For pistols builds only, the receiver cannot accept a buttstock of any kind and there can be no vertical foregrip.

For more information on laws regarding rifle builds, pistol builds, and Short Barreled Rifles (SBR) check out the legal page.

Here's more info from the BATFE website:

For your information, per provisions of the Gun Control Act (GCA) of 1968, 18 U.S.C. Chapter 44, an unlicensed individual may make a "firearm" as defined in the GCA for his own personal use, but not for sale or distribution.

The GCA, 18 U.S.C. § 921(a)(3), defines the term "firearm" to include the following:

… (A) any weapon (including a starter gun) which will or is designed to or may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive: (B) the frame or receiver of any such weapon; (C) any firearm muffler or silencer; or (D) any destructive device.\

What else should I know about making my own 80% receiver?

Making your own receiver involves taking a reciever flat, bending it into the proper U shape, spot welding the rails in place, and heat treating everything for durability. Again, anyone that can legally posess a firearm can do this, provided their state and local laws permit it.

What about compliance parts and 922(r)?

Anyone building a surplus rifle from a foreign parts kit is subject to import laws, specifically 18 U.S.C. § 922(r) and C.F.R. § 478.39.

Direct from BATFE website:

GCA, 18 U.S.C. § 922(r), specifically states the following:

It shall be unlawful for any person to assemble from imported parts any semiautomatic rifle or any shotgun which is identical to any rifle or shotgun prohibited from importation under the…[GCA]…Section 925(d)(3).as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes …\


27 C.F.R. § 478.39 states:

1. (a) No person shall assemble a semiautomatic rifle or any shotgun using more than 10 of the imported parts listed in paragraph (c) of this section if the assembled firearm is prohibited from importation under section 925(d)(3) as not being particularly suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes …

(c) For purposes of this section, the term imported parts [tabulated below] are:

  1. (1) Frames, receivers, receiver castings, forgings, or castings.
  2. (2) Barrels.
  3. (3) Barrel extensions.
  4. (4) Mounting blocks (trunnions).
  5. (5) Muzzle attachments.
  6. (6) Bolts.
  7. (7) Bolt carriers.
  8. (8) Operating rods.
  9. (9) Gas pistons.
  10. (10) Trigger housings.
  11. (11) Triggers.
  12. (12) Hammers.
  13. (13) Sears.
  14. (14) Disconnectors.
  15. (15) Buttstocks.
  16. (16) Pistol grips.
  17. (17) Forearms, handguards.
  18. (18) Magazine bodies.
  19. (19) Followers.
  20. (20) Floor plates.\

Thats a lot of info, but what its saying is that you're rifle must have at least 10 US made parts for your rifle to be compliant. US parts available for the AK47 variant are highlighted in bold.

You're automatically using a US made receiver, so you only need 5 more parts. The most commonly replaced are the trigger, hammer, disconnector, barrel, and either the pistol grip or muzzle attachment. A US made magazine will count as 3 parts, but I do not recomment using them for 922(r) because then you can't use foreign surplus magazines and drums in your rifle, which are far better quality than US made magazines and available at lower prices.

Where can I find more legal information?

On the legal page I've included links to further reading as well as snippets from the BATFE and federal laws. However, I am not a lawyer and nothing on this website is intended as legal advice.

Great! Now what?

Now that you've got some background info on building your own AK47 pattern rifle, I suggest browsing the rest of the tutorial to make sure you know what's involved and that you have the tools you'll need. But for now, lets move on to parts kits and assembly!

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