The AK goes USA

The United States are often referred to most likely because the U.S. market for shooting sports weapons is by far the biggest world wide. The first AK variants obtainable in the United States for sports shooters were semi automatic Valmet copies, import already started during the 1970s. As from the beginning of the 1980s the Belgian FNC and the Egyptian Maadi AKM copy became obtainable. Soon after that, other manufacturers introduced their AK style weapons like the Galil series and not to forget the wide collection of Chinese semi automatic AKs desginated as the Type 56s (see upper video). After the assault rifle ban of 1989 importation of the AK and all kinds of derivates became impossible. This led to further modified and sporterized semi automatic assault rifles. A typical feature found on the AK based sporting arms of that period are the thumbhole buttstocks. After a few years several other changes in legislation led to an extended list of banned sporterized weapons. Weapons on that particular list were no longer allowed to be imported into the United States. On this list many Kalashnikov based sporterized weapon were included. After several restrictions regarding sporting arms in 2004 there was the sunset provision.



 With the sunset provision the Federal Assault Weapons Ban expired however it remained impossible to import sporterized assault rifle into the United States. For that reason several small arms manufacturers started production of Kalashnikov based weapons within the U.S. borders. Not only the production of Kalashnikov AK type weapons was started also AK derivatives like the SIG 556. The SIG 556 series is one of the many AK derivatives. 


The U.S. AK manufacturing infrastructure

Due to changing gun legislation during the 1990s it became more difficult for U.S. citizens to obtain a sporterized semi automatic AK legally. This all began with the assault rifle ban of 1989. The assault rifle ban implied that certain semi automatic assault rifles were no longer legally importable into the United States. During the 1990s legislation became more restrictive on importing sporting arms derived from assault weapons in general. However a few legal options still possible became more and more popular even stronger these options became so popular that one could even say that the aforementioned gun law restrictions have led to the establishment of an American AK manufacturing infrastructure. For U.S. citizens it is allowed to build a weapon but only if the weapons are 922(r) compliant.  

Making your own AK out of gun parts is legally possible in the U.S. and it has given a new perspective on the AK namely that the weapon is something like a Mecanno box. This has made the term 'parts kit' rather popular. A parts kit is a set of gun parts ready to assemble a weapon from. The only restriction is that certain parts have to be U.S. made. This gave an impulse the American gun parts industry. There are several U.S. importers who are now importing parts kits from several countries. Gun parts that are U.S. made are receivers and barrels as the receivers and barrels are not allowed to be imported. Not only U.S. citizen were able to assemble a weapon from a parts kit also U.S. manufactures are.  

Most if not all parts kits imported into the United States are from countries in Eastern Europe that once were member states of the Warsaw Pact (watch the video here above). There are several reasons for that. First there are large Cold War stock piles and second the price is acceptable. As said not every gun part was allowed to be imported by which it became necessary to remove or even destroy some of the original gun parts. These parts had to be replaced by American made parts. Apparently this gave such an impulse to the gun parts industry that nowadays a few sporterized Kalashnikov assault rifles are 100% U.S. made (watch the lower video). So the popularity of the weapon in the United States grew rapidly during 15 years of turmoil after the assault rifle ban became effective. The AK is now commonly seen on shooting ranges.  


The Kalashnikov Encyclopaedia covers all pre ban Kalashnikov related sporterized assault rifles.