Monday, January 18, 2010
I Love My IO AK-47
The older I get and the more I focus on the news of the world around me and the economic crisis of the last few years, the more I realize that a Made in America label is important to me. I would have scoffed at such a statement years ago, so politically cynical (well, I'm still cynical) and ridiculously punk rock. I may drive a Honda Passport, and my electronics may be manufactured abroad, but god damn if I won't buy US made firearms.
Actually, it's not like I'd raise my eyebrow if I was in the position to afford a Sig 556, nor would I chastise someone recommending I add a Saiga 7.62x39 to my collection. And at the same would love to add both a SPAS-12 and Benelli SuperNova to my growing arsenal as well. And don't get me started on H&K's, the pinnacle of sexiness in an uber expensive German firearm. And an Uzi? Yeah, not a terribly accurate weapon outside of semi-auto firing, but man do t
he Israelis know how to design a good looking submachine gun.
All that aside, buying American made firearms is still rather important to me, as it's a huge industry that employs a large number of people in this country. An industry that is threatened daily not just by a crippled economy, but by advocates of gun control the country over, imposing pacifism and tyranny on the people the constitution is set up to protect in the first place. Bringing to mind famous quotes like "free men do not ask permission to bear arms" as well as "an armed man is a citizen; an unarmed man is a subject", as a Washingtonian I'm personally subjected to new attempts at gun legislation almost daily. But I digress. My point is that when I buy an American firearm, I know I'm not only supporting the domestic economy, but I'm also keeping American gun manufacturers employed.
It also doesn't hurt that American AK-47 manufacturers are nearly as good at their jobs as those employed in the Izhmash plant in Russia, arguably the be all end all of AK-47 weapons experts. Companies like Arsenal, Armory and IO have been established in the states to give the Russians a run for their money when it comes to a quality Kalashnikov.
While Arsenal's tend to come along with a hefty retail price, IO's and Armory's tend to be a bit more affordable for the everyman, though still a sight more than a Century rebuild or some surplus Romanian WASR. My IO set me back just a bit over $600 US, and the MSRP listed on the IO website is at around $745 US. It's equipped with all black synthetic furniture including a Galil style handguard and a tough polymer 30 round magazine. The receiver is stamped, and while it doesn't boast the side mount for optics that a lot of other AK's come equipped with, I generally counter that with the question of why anyone would want to put quality optics on an AK in the first place. If optics are an actual necessity, there are after-market dust covers with see through picatinny rails on which a scope or reflex sight could be mounted, or you could splurge on a Leapers or Tapco handguard with a quad-rail if you really felt you needed to tac out your AK. My point is, optics were not top of mind when I bought by AK-47, and they won't be when I buy my next one, either.
My decision to go with the IO was based on a few things. Money wasn't so much an issue as practicality. While I could have afforded the Sig Sauer 556 (another weapon to employ Kalashnikov mechanics) or a Robinson XCR (more like an AK in functionality than the range favorite AR-15's I see out there) or a sick Bushmaster setup, I settled on the IO because I can:
A) Beat the hell out of it and not fret about the money it set me back.
B) An AK is effortless to operate and anyone can be taught how to responsibly wield the weapon as a defensive tool.
C) While the difference in cost between 5.56 and 7.62x39 is a gap that is closing, the latter is still the cheaper ammunition, which makes the AK much more affordable as a plinker.
D) When and if the shit hits the fan, my AK can be easily maintained with parts scavenged from other AK's regardless of the country of origin with little to no modification.
Contrary to a good deal of the AK's that I have handled in the past, one attribute of the IO is a lack of magazine wobble. While in most cases mag wobble is a common trait of the rifle, it can often lead to failures to feed and unreliable magazine retention. I couldn't begin to count to amount of times I have seen the magazine drop right out of the mag well due to this wobble on rickety old WASR's someone picked up at a shady pawn shop or got overcharged for at a gun show. While this certainly doesn't apply to the majority of AK's out there, it is a problem. Another plus is the simple care gone into aligning the front and rear sights. IO really scores in this department, as I was nailing center mass at both 50 and 100 yards right out of the box with my rifle with no alterations made to the sights. After a little tiny bit of adjustment, I was really able to tighten up my groups. Due to the fact that I insist on shooting using irons only, this is a great benefit.
The action on the IO is exceptionally smooth, and while it does take strength to pull that bolt back, it's burly enough to handle it. The weapon also kicks like a mule, more so than other AK's that I've fired in the past, but it doesn't cause it to lack in accuracy. In fact, it feels almost like the recoil is driven straight back as opposed to back and down as is common with an AK which will cause a great deal of rise to the muzzle when a round is expelled. I'm interested to try assorted muzzle brakes on the rifle, as well, considering that the stock brake is of the typical canted variety and is removable to expose a threaded barrel. Like any AK out there, the IO gets hot, but hey, that's what the handguard is for, right?
So, as the title states I love my IO AK-47. It handles beautifully and is one of the sturdier weapons that I have taken out. It fires reliably, accurately, and for durations that your high-dollar AR-15 cannot even hope to match. While it kicks a good deal, and doesn't come close to the price tag of one of its Arsenal counterparts, it's an exceptionally rugged and well constructed assault/defense weapon. Based on my experience with the gun so far, I would have no hesitation to recommend an IO to someone looking for a quality American made AK-47 that doesn't cost more than $1000 US. And to reiterate, it doesn't hurt that this weapon is made in the states, ensuring a little extra for our troubled economy and weapons manufacturers. I won't necessarily always buy American after this, but I'll always consider it before buying something manufactured somewhere else.