Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Converting Your AK-47 to be 922(r) Compliant

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If you are in possession of a "POST-BAN" AK-47 rifle and want to bring it up to "no-ban" status, this article will take you through the steps to outfit you with a legal, "pre-ban" appearing rifle. Or, to explain the term pre-ban a bit further, an AK as was imported in fair numbers prior to the 1989 gun ban, with an original style fixed or side folder buttstock, a pistol grip, bayonet lugs, removable flash hider or muzzle brake, and hi- capacity "banana" magazine (subject to various state laws).

The rifle you have in your hands to convert is undoubtedly an import and is probably going to have a "thumbhole" stock, no bayonet lugs, no flash hider, and whatever device is on the muzzle is welded, pinned, or silver-soldered permanently. You may or may not be able to legally insert a 30 round high capacity magazine in your state or local area.

There are many of these imported rifles out there just waiting to be given some TLC by their owners.

This article is going to cover the stamped receiver model since these are the most common. Milled receivers are converted in a very similar manner, except they need a buttstock specially made for milled receivers. A few notes on milled receivers are tossed in along the way.

You should have at least some mechanical aptitude to begin this conversion. Some may be able to sail right through to the end. Others may hit a snag at one or two points along the way and need some help. Some may get involved and find that they have bitten off more than they want to chew. Hopefully, you are like Clint Eastwood in a line from one of the "Dirt Harry" movies, "A man has got to know his limitations!" Enough said.

In this article, we refer to "semi-automatic assault rifles (SAW)" and "assault weapons ban (AWB)" because that's how the 1994 gun ban defined the semi-auto AK-47s as well as other types of semi-auto rifles. We certainly do not consider the semi-auto AK-47 an assault rifle as that term would define a rifle capable of fully automatic fire. In other words, we really know better, so don't be alarmed into thinking we have been programmed by the anti-gun crowd.

Why Do This?

This is a good question to think about before you start. You will be spending several hundred dollars to accomplish the conversion. You will be spending a considerable amount of time taking it apart and working on it. You may be asking yourself if this is way too much time and money to invest on a silly old "post-ban" AK-47.

To help you come to a consensus here, you should go online and examine how much $$$ pre-ban and no-ban AKs are selling for these days. The prices will surprise you. If you own a post-ban AK that you paid $200 to $250 for years ago, and you add $350 to it for the conversion, you still have a good solid investment as no-ban rifles are easily selling for $750 to $1,000, depending on the specifics. Pre-ban rifles are easily $1000 and up. Even the rather crude Romanian WASR no-bans are going for $500 at retail gun shops.

Imported AKs are quickly drying up as people are snatching them up and the BATFE continues to restrict the import of even partial parts kits. If you have an interesting AK that was assembled in the original country as a complete firearm such as an Egyptian Maadi, it is worth the money and effort just to say you own one, as these have always been considered the most authentic and closest to the Soviet AK-47s. Plus, it was assembled by the original Maadi AK factory team, not by some minimum wage worker for some large gun importer and distributor. This, if for no other reason, makes your post ban Maadi worth more than you think. The same holds true for the complete post-ban imported Bulgarian AK rifles.

Like many of us, if you get into a financial bind, the toys are sold off first. If you have increased the value, desirability, and appeal of your toy, you will not only sell it quicker, but sell it for more than you have invested. There are not too many "investments" you can do this with. It's having your cake and eating it too.

And of course, in the conversion process, you can assemble the AK you have dreamed of having, custom tailored to your specifications.

Do you have any good excuses for not starting right now?

Title 18 U.S.C. (922r) Discussion

No discussion on converting your AK from one status to another would be complete without a description of what "922r" means, both as a law and what you are going to be required to do to stay legal with your firearm.

Yes, you can convert it legally, but you need to jump through a few legal "hoops" in the process. This part may help you understand the need to do what we are going to do later in the article.

Short Background

In 1989, President George H W Bush took steps to stop the import of 43 types of semi- automatic firearms which were considered to have "no sporting purpose" according to the language of the Gun Control Act of 1968. This stopped all the evil "black" rifles from coming in such as the AK-47(series), Uzi, FAL, FNC, HK-91, Daewoo (series), and many, many other cool rifles, just because George Bush thought they should be banned. Be informed, this ban did not start in Congress, but was created by the BATF at the behest of the Office of the President of the United States through the recommendation of "Drug Czar" Bill Bennet.

This was the beginning of the term "pre-ban" rifle. Pre-ban rifle refers to any semi- automatic rifle (on the ban list) with all the "evil" features (such as the AK-47 series) and imported into the US prior to President Bush's intervention on March 14, 1989. They are still legal to own and sell and are "grandfathered" as far as the law goes.

A few imported rifles were caught up in the ban process. Mitchell Arms had about 3,500 Yugoslavian AK-47s of several varieties and calibers waiting in Customs where they remained for about 5 years before being released for sale. Even though technically considered to be post-ban rifles, they are now highly sought after AK's (known as the Yugo M-90), and are perfect candidates for the 922r conversion.

Five years later, Bill Clinton signed Congressional anti-gun legislation (Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, also referred to as the Assault Weapons Ban (AWB)) in Sept of 1994, which defined an "assault rifle" for the first time. We will cover the legal definition of this later in the article. The bill also limited civilian sales of magazines of more than 10 rounds capacity. Pre-ban high-capacity mags were still legal to own and sell. This bill furthered the import restrictions and even determined what configuration of semi-automatic rifle assembled from imported parts could be legally built within the USA. This ban was to be sun-setted in 2004, which it was, after much discussion in Congress to extend the ban permanently. The purpose of this ban was to emasculate the firearms industry's ability of making any politically incorrect firearms. However, they did not take into account the cleverness of red-blooded, Second Amendment loving, American gun manufacturers. The AWB did more to stimulate the firearms industry than the anti-gun people ever could have imagined. Sales of firearms and ammunition of all sorts went through the roof as citizens flocked to gun shows and dealers as a reflection of their distrust of the Government. And rightly so. After all, why should you trust a government that would take your firearms?

At the start of the Clinton Gun Ban, AK clones that passed the criteria "for sporting purposes" were allowed to be imported. These were pretty ugly to AK lovers, to name one group. Other "black" rifles suffered the same ugliness. The wording of the bill under Title 27 U.S.C., made it illegal to import or assemble a pre-ban configuration AK with even a plain buttstock, as it would necessitate having a pistol grip to function, the pistol grip being the clincher. That's because the language of the bill legally defined an assault rifle as a semi-automatic rifle having the capability to accept a detachable magazine and at least two of these "evil" features: folding or telescoping stock, bayonet lugs, threaded muzzle, flash hider, pistol grip, and grenade launcher. As a result, a typical AK-47 clone was imported with a large, ugly thumbhole buttstock, no bayonet lugs, no threaded muzzle, or if it did, the muzzle attachment was welded on, but no flash hiders what-so- ever were allowed, and 5 or 10 round magazine.

As time passed, things improved as manufacturers started producing AK's using US made parts to bring the appearance back to something resembling the original configuration. This was allowed by the language of Title 18 USC, Part 922r, which stated that no more than 10 imported parts could be used to build an AK style rifle with at least some of the evil features. The BATF originally wanted just 2 imported parts as the maximum, but Congress upped the ante and settled on 10 imported parts as the maximum which greatly decreased the US made parts that must be substituted in the build. In other words, the required US made parts dropped from 14 to 6 in the final bill. Apart from this small victory, it was a very confusing time to deal in AK's.

After Sept 14, 2004, things came back to normal in that high capacity mags were legal to sell to civilians and evil features such as folding stocks, flash hiders, and bayonet lugs were again legal. In retrospect, the 10 year AWB was a waste of time. It did nothing to reduce crime and only hindered US Citizens from owning their favorite weapons in original form. Both the 1989 and 1994 gun bans pushed the price of firearms and magazines up in the process. In 1989, after Bush's ban was announced, the price of an AK-47 NIB import increased from $350 to $550 overnight. Through the years, all black rifles continued to increase in price as more and more restrictions were implemented, supplies shrank, and demand grew. Simple economics. Now, that same $550 NIB AK-47 will bring $1,200 and perhaps more. A recent, high quality, brand new, US made AK clone will cost $750 and up.

Be informed that there are pending Congressional bills as late as June 2008, i.e., House Resolution 6257, that would renew the AWB permanently. You might want to get your AK-47 922r'd before they do another ban. If the Congress Critters get it passed, it will undoubtedly be much more severe than the last one.

Title 18 (922r) and Title 27 Laws


"Title 18 U.S.C., Chapter 44, Section 922 (r) 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."

This statute was actually put in place about 1990, but got little notice. With the 1994 ban, it got big press when the BATF began putting manufacturers on strict compliance notice. The same notice holds true for individuals doing their own conversion work.

The 922r language presented a list of 20 parts that applied to ALL semi-automatic assault rifles (not just the AK-47 series) made from imported parts sets or kits. For the AK-47, 16 parts apply. The following is a list of those parts, also referred to as "compliance parts."

1. Barrel
2. Receiver
3. Front and Rear Trunions (Applies to stamped receivers only)
4. Bolt Carrier
5. Bolt
6. Gas Piston
7. Buttstock
8. Pistol Grip
9. Upper and Lower Handguards (Both count as 1 part)
10. Muzzle Device
11. Hammer
12. Trigger
13. Disconnector
14. Magazine Body
15. Magazine Follower
16. Magazine Floorplate

You may choose replacement parts from the list as desired. The point being that a maximum of 10 imported parts from this list may be used to build an AK rifle. The bottom line is that you must use 6 US made parts from the above list to assemble a stamped steel AK and 5 US made parts for a milled receiver. Since you are not looking to do a total rebuild of your AK, you will likely choose the smaller parts. But, if you ever wanted to do a complete build from a parts set, you would be able to replace all the parts on the list with US made parts save the bolt carrier, bolt, trunions, and possibly the barrel. US made barrels are available for several AK builds, but not all.

Title 27 U.S.C.

For historical purposes, Title 27, Part 478.11, defines the meaning of a semi-automatic assault weapon (S.A.W.). It was sun-setted with the AWB as of Sept 14, 2004. But, we will list the language as it appeared to demonstrate what we labored under for those long 10 years. A semi-automatic assault weapon is:

(b) A semiautomatic rifle that has an ability to accept a detachable magazine and has at least 2 of the following features:

(1) A folding or telescoping stock,
(2) A pistol grip that protrudes conspicuously beneath the action of the weapon,
(3) A bayonet mount,
(4) A flash suppressor or threaded barrel designed to accommodate a flash suppressor,
(5) A grenade launcher.

During the period 1994 - 2004, if you built a rifle with most of these features you would have been in violation of the Title 27 definition of a S.A.W. Thank goodness we have passed Sept 14, 2004 and can do away with this list of banned features. But, you still need to be in 922r compliance with no more than 10 imported parts used for the build. It is sort of complicated, but not overwhelming. We will get through it.

Where to start?

Let's say you have a post-ban Egyptian Maadi stamped steel receiver AK-47. It has the thumbhole buttstock, no lugs, welded muzzle nut, and is ugly as heck! The good news is that it may have the very desirable laminated handguards. If these don't suit your taste, save them as they sell quickly to guys that want them. Since you are in possession of an assembled rifle, there is no need to consider changing out the receiver and barrel, that's just counter productive, and would actually lessen the value of the completed project. But, you do need 6 US made parts to make this into something recognizable as a "no-ban" AK-47.

Fire Control Group

The most practical course for any 922r rifle conversion is to install a US made fire control group (FCG). This consists of a hammer, trigger, and disconnector. Very simple to remove the old parts and install the new ones. This gives you three US made parts! When you install these, you are half-way there!

You may choose to use a single or double hook FCG. The double hook set is usually used for milled receivers, but will fit a stamped receiver with little effort. The area around the trigger slot in the receiver may need to be opened up with a small file for the double hook trigger to fit. The single hook trigger will fit with no modification. The advantage of the double hook trigger is a more positive grip on the hammer and smoother trigger let-off.

You must do some disassembly to get the old parts out. Remove the dust cover, main spring, and bolt carrier, and lay them aside. Next, find the "shepherd's hook" that holds the front and rear axis pins in place. It usually pulls out the front through the magazine well. Once that is removed, tap the trigger axis pin to the left and work it out completely. This will free up the trigger and disconnector. Set these aside in a baggie, but save the disconnector spring to use later. Remove the hammer axis pin in a similar manner. The hammer is wrapped in a fairly powerful spring that usually holds it in place due to the long arms that get tangled in the receiver. You will experience this when you try to take it out. Study how it is placed in there because you will have to reinstall it correctly, later. Pull the hammer and spring out. Put the hammer in the baggie and save the spring. Take the new hammer, install the spring on both "ears" and reinstall it in the receiver. This may take a few minutes for your first time. If you get it wrong, you will figure it out as it will only work in one configuration.

Next, get some heavy grease such as Hoppe's gun grease or even Vaseline and dip one end of the disconnector spring in it. This will keep the spring from falling out during the assembly process. Put the disconnector spring in the disconnector spring hole (greased end first), position the disconnector in the trigger, and then line the trigger and disconnector up so that the axis pin will go straight through. This isn't as hard as it sounds, but may take some trial and error. Once both axis pins are in place, reinstall the shepherd's hook to retain them under fire. You cannot skip this step or give it short shrift. It MUST be firmly in place or the first time out you will get a massive jam when the axis pin cones out and the hammer jumps out of place. One shortcut to eliminate the problems in replacing the shepherd's hook is to go to your local auto supply store. Take your axis pins with you. Ask them to let you look at their E-Clips that are widely used for assembling throttle and carburetor linkages and the like. Find two that fit and use those instead of the shepherd's hook. They work. Next, reinstall the bolt carrier and bolt as well as the main spring and dust cover. See that everything functions smoothly back and forth. The trigger should hold the hammer solidly and release smoothly. In fact, you may find the new trigger is quite a bit better than the original. With those parts installed, we go to the next step. Editor's Comment: there are several good FCG sets available. TAPCO and K-VAR are two good brands.

Stock Set

We need three more US made parts. A US made stock set will give us three parts. There are many such parts available on the market today. You can choose wood or synthetic stocks or furniture, as it is called in the firearms world. Do you want to have a folding buttstock? Time to decide. You can do that, but you may have to substitute another US made part as most of the good folders are East German. There are US made folders that will work just fine, however, they install on the receiver in a non-original manner.

Do you want an original Soviet or Polish laminated stock set? That is possible and permissible. Just be sure to use no more than 10 imported parts in your conversion.

We are going to install a US made synthetic stock set for our Maadi. A number of sets are available. Standard length buttstocks and buttstocks 1-1/4 inch longer are available depending on how you want to setup your AK. Choice of color is up to you.

First we need to remove the thumbhole stock. The pistol grip screw is removed with a slot screw driver and is pretty straight forward. At the rear of the receiver there is a tang with at least two wood screws. One is visible outside the receiver and one or maybe two screws are under the dust cover. Remove all the screws. All that is left is to pull the stock off which may be on there pretty snugly. Whatever it takes to get it off without damaging the receiver is OK.

Before assembling the new buttstock, also remove the handguards. With the dust cover off, remove the main spring, bolt carrier, and gas tube. Under the gas tube is a short lever that needs to be lifted and swung forward. Once it is forward, move the collet forward also. The lower guard will then drop out. The upper hand guard is a bit trickier, but is easily dealt with once you know the secret. Take a large wood-working clamp with wood jaws, or put in a large vice with padded jaws, and twist the wooden hand guard out 180 degrees. This will come out for sure, but may be stuck in there pretty good. Keep at it until you have it off. While still in the vise, reinstall the new upper handguard in an opposite manner. The lower handguard installs just the opposite of removal. It may take a tap with a brass hammer to get the collet back into position. Brass hammers will not damage steel as the brass yields first, but don't get carried away with the pounding.

Now, install the buttstock. It goes in about the same as the old one, except it does not use the pistol grip screw to keep it in place like the thumbhole stock. The synthetic stock may need some minor fitting with a small file, sandpaper, or Dremel tool. Don't get carried away with removing material as you want it to go in snugly, but not to the point of deforming the receiver. You want it to fit around the rear tang and end of the receiver with no gaps. Take your time to get this to fit properly and you will be proud of your accomplishment.

All that is left is to install the pistol grip. The grip screw that you took off earlier should be fine to re-use. If not, you may need to buy a longer unit. Also, a bit of fitting may be needed on the grip to match the angle that the grip screw goes in so as to get a snug fit. The pistol grip should also go up against the trigger guard very tightly to get the proper relationship on the trigger when shooting. These are usually minor fitments.

You now have at least six US made parts for your Maadi and you are now legal for that configuration. If you later want to go with a side folder, and you use an East German crutch stock, you will need to add another US made part to be legal. One other part you can use for this contingency is a US made muzzle device. This leaves you covered for future changes. The rule is, if you add one imported part, then you need to replace an imported part with a US made part somewhere else, always having no more than 10 imported parts on the rifle, from the 922r list, of course.

While we are on the subject, a brief word or two about installing a folder. It is going to install in the rear trunion just like the synthetic buttstock. The only difference is that it may require the use a metal working file instead of sandpaper to get it fitted snugly into the trunion. Remove any metal from the folder, not the receiver. Some touch up with cold blue solution may be needed before you do the final installation to keep the bare steel parts from rusting. A good coating of Hoppe's Gun Grease is also good to apply over the re-blue.

Gas Piston

If you want to retain one of the FCG parts, handguards, or other compliance parts for whatever reason, you may opt to install a US made gas piston. This is a fairly easy operation to perform, but is a bit more work than replacing the FCG and stock set. The thread pattern for virtually all gas pistons are the same size and pitch. So take heart in knowing that the one you buy will fit your import. In at least one instance, the gas piston you are replacing will need to be a bit longer than the ones available so be aware of this before you change out the gas piston on the Mitchell Arms M90 Yugoslavian .308 M77 counter sniper model. This piston is 1/4 inch longer than standard. You would have to find a shop to make one for you on a special order basis.

With the bolt carrier out and bolt removed, you need to look at the bolt carrier just behind the gas piston to see if you can find the pin that is holding it in place. You may need to take a piece of emery cloth and give the area a sanding like buffing your shoes to get the pin to stand out. Once you have found the pin, take a small drill bit and drill the mushroomed head out. Then, take a drift and start to tap it out the other side. This may take a bit of force so be careful not to damage the bolt carrier in the process. It is best to brace the carrier on a nylon gunsmith anvil available from Brownell's.

Before removing the piston, take an overall measurement of the distance from the end of the bolt carrier to the end of the gas piston. This will be needed when you reinstall the new unit. Once the pin is out, unscrew the old gas piston completely out of the bolt carrier and place it in the baggie with the FCG parts. Once you have the piston out, take the time to clean up the inside of the bolt carrier, especially the threaded area. Aerosol brake cleaner or Gun Scrubber is a good tool for this job. Take the new piston and thread into the bolt carrier. Be sure to apply the measurement of the old unit and make the new piston the same length. Once installed, your piston should have some wobble to it to allow it to float in the gas tube. If it is completely rigid, you may have some troubles with the action jamming or short stroking.

Next, you need to re-pin the piston in place. There are two methods to use here. One is to drill the piston with a 1/8 inch drill bit and install a 1/8 inch steel roll-pin. This is perhaps the easiest method. Trim the roll-pin to fit inside the bolt carrier after it is installed as you don't want it standing proud to snag on anything. However, this method will not appeal to the purist as the hole will be seen on the bolt carrier upon pulling the bolt back. Not a big deal for most of us, however. The second method involves either making or buying a replacement pin to rivet into position like the original. You will still need to drill the new gas piston to accept whatever size pin you have selected to use. This pin should be a soft steel to facilitate the forming of a mushroom head; don't try to use an old drill bit as it will shatter wildly. Mushrooming the head can be accomplished using a steel mini-anvil and steel ball-peen hammer. Don't worry about anything standing proud of the bolt carrier when you are done as that is easily removed with a small file, and can be polished with some emery cloth. In fact, when you are done, take the emery cloth and polish the entire forward part of the bolt carrier in a shoe-shine manner to give an overall uniform appearance. If you choose this method, it should be almost impossible to tell where you did the work.

The next thing to do is to reassemble the bolt carrier and check for smooth operation. It should be just as smooth as before you changed the piston out. If you feel a drag, inspect the parts until you find the source. If the piston drags anywhere in the gas tube, it is probably because you did not clean the threads in the bolt carrier of trash and burrs enough to allow the piston to float. Or if you used the original pin method, you did not drill a large enough hole for the pin in the gas piston to allow the piston to float. That is why the steel roll pin method works the best; it will allow the piston to float and is easily taken apart for whatever reason.

Bayonet Lugs

Bayonet lugs are not required except for completing the look of the original AK. Yet, many AK lovers want to be able to install their matching bayonet while they display it in their homes. Nothing wrong with that. We will proceed down that avenue. There may be a problem doing this depending on which post-ban AK you have.

If you have a model with the underside of the gas block completely smoothed off, then you are facing a bigger challenge than one with the stub for the cleaning rod to pass through, still intact. In the first case, either decide to forgo the lugs or face the challenge of replacing the gas block itself. This is not a small operation and requires a press of some sort, preferably hydraulic. You would have to first remove the front sight tower to get to the gas block. It is not recommended to go this far with your 922r conversion, for obvious reasons. You could possibly create a T-shaped unit with cleaning rod hole in the center to weld or solder in place, but that would be up to the more mechanically gifted out there.

A similar situation exists for those that have the cleaning rod stub still on the gas block. You will have to make or buy some "ears" to either solder or weld in place to serve as the bayonet lugs. This is a much easier task than the above situation and hopefully the one you are facing. Of course, if you want to forgo this operation, that is up to you. At least you will still have the cleaning rod which gives the original look to the AK. Bayonet lugs, either missing or present, are not usually noticed until closer inspection.

Muzzle Device

Adding a muzzle device such as a flash hider or slant brake is not too difficult to do. Hopefully, you have an AK with the threaded muzzle, but with some device tack-welded in place. If not, you will have to go a slightly different, but easier route.

With threads present, go about the task of removing the welded muzzle nut. It is best to take a Dremel tool with synthetic cutoff wheel and carefully go at the task of cutting off the nut. Be sure to wear your eye protection before starting. Of course, you want to remove the nut without damaging the front sight tower or the threads. You can cut through the welds piecemeal to get the nut off. This will leave you with a bit of Swiss pattern file work to remove the last bit of weld from the tower, but it is not too hard to accomplish. Take your time. Clean the FST to be square and clean looking. Test fit the new slant brake or flash hider to see if it threads all the way up to the FST without kinking.

One last thing for this operation. You must also make or buy a pin and small spring to serve as the retainer for the new muzzle device. The pin can be easily made from a worn- out drill bit "upper end" of appropriate size. The spring can usually be found in a common mechanical pen or pencil. The hole for the pin and spring is almost always present to begin with. If not, you will have to determine where it should be and drill it out. This is a bit more involved, so if the hole is not there, you may want to skip this operation or secure the slant brake with a small set screw out of view on the under side.

Any muzzle device you want to add, short of a sound suppressor is now legal to install.

For those with no threads on the muzzle, your easiest route is to fit a slant brake with a small hole drilled in the bottom side to accept a set screw. Line up the brake to be a bit on the bias or 45 degree slant and mark through the set screw hole on the barrel with a marking pen. Take your drill and put a very shallow hole in the barrel for the set screw to hold to. Use loctite on the set screw. This method of attachment will be almost unnoticeable on the final job. You might also find a muzzle attachment made especially for non-threaded barrels which will usually be a much tighter fit. Keep in mind, however, if you use an AK-74 style brake on a non-threaded barrel, it must have the small hole in the barrel for the set screw to catch on, otherwise it will shoot off after a few rounds. Been there, done that.


After the steps required to put your AK into 922r shape, you may find that all the handling and fitting leaves you with a bit of a ragged looking rifle as far as appearance. There are several ways to remedy this, even doing it yourself!

It is not required or recommended to refinish the internal parts such as the hammer, trigger, and disconnector. These have clearances that would possibly be altered in the grit- blasting process and would need to be touched up after refinishing. It is just easier to leave them in the shape they are currently in.

With any finish you decide on, don't forget to refinish at least a couple of magazines to match the rifle. If you paint, don't add too much paint to the end that inserts into the magazine well. Otherwise, it will be difficult to install and remove and you will mar the paint in the process.

Paint Finish

If you have access to a grit-blasting cabinet and airbrush, you can easily prepare the metal and apply special paint for a long-lasting finish. First thing is to strip the rifle down to the barest possible condition. You should have just the barrel and receiver with no internal parts remaining. This includes removing the front sight windage and elevation assembly and the rear tangent sight. Be sure to plug and tape the bore on both ends as well as the gas block. After this prep, place the barreled receiver into the blast cabinet and use aluminum oxide as an abrasive. Go over the assembly in a thorough manner, both inside and out. You may want to go light over any markings on the receiver to keep from obliterating them. Blow any remaining grit out of the receiver and go over it with Gun Scrubber to flush it out completely. But, if it is going to be a few days before you plan to paint, add a coating of WD-40 or light oil on the bare parts to keep them from rusting, which they will do in a big hurry. Before paint, go back over the parts with Gun Scrubber to remove the oil. Be sure to let the solvent evaporate and go over the crevices again, as any trapped oil will keep the paint from adhering.

There are several specialized paints designed for gun refinishing. Get one in the color and luster you are happy with and follow the instructions included. Most of these paints can be applied with a standard hobby airbrush such as a Paasche, which is about the best. You will need to reduce or thin the paint to get it to spray and you will also need enough thinner to do a clean-up afterward. Most of the paints will dry quickly, but need about 30 minutes to be able to be handled. It is best to make a few jigs to hold the parts while they are in the drying stage. Rubber surgical gloves are handy to use here so you can hold small parts while you are painting them without getting that nasty paint on you. Keep in mind, it is best to do this paint work outside as the fumes will be very thick, to the point of making breathing quite dangerous. Unless you have a special paint booth with power ventilation, go outside.

Two notes on applying the paint finish. First, lay up a "dust coat" to start with. This will make a sticky surface which will support the following coats without sagging or runs. If you get a run on the bare metal, have a rag with some thinner handy to wipe it off and respray immediately. Runs on top of previous coats may have to be dried completely and lightly sanded before you can proceed with the final paint job. Light coats will lead to quicker drying times and avoid runs and sags. Second, you need to walk the line on getting enough paint on the metal to provide a long wearing finish, but not so much that you will affect the operation of the AK by applying too much paint in critical areas such as the rails that the bolt carrier runs on. Too much paint will tend to crack off, rather than wearing off.

Also, a primer is not generally required when using a specially formulated gun coating since the grit-blasting gives a very good "tooth" for the paint to adhere to. The problem you would face if you did apply a primer is that any nick in the paint would likely expose the gray or green primer. This would not look especially good or authentic. Bare metal exposed, however unfortunate that would be, is still better than seeing primer.

Stencils are available to create a camo job if that is what you like. In fact, complete sets of firearm paints and stencils are available to create camo finishes from Lauer Custom Weaponry. Most of these paints are designed to be baked after painting, but they can be left to air dry if you have the time. Keep in mind that it will take several weeks of non- use to cure in this manner or you will run the risk of marring your paint job. This is by far the easiest finish for the at-home 922r conversion.


Parkerizing is pretty much for the professional finisher. Unless you want to shell out $$$ for the setup required to do this work, it is best to take it to your local gunsmith. However, a park job is one of the nicer finishes to apply. It is the standard finish of military firearms. Expect to pay $100 to $200 or more for this work. Many colors and tints are available to pick from. You may even want to send your parts off to a parkerizing specialty shop such as Arizona Response Systems. These guys deal with the black rifles all the time and have undoubtedly re-parked hundreds of AK's. For an extra fee, they probably would do a turn-key job for you.

Wood Finish

There are several options for finishing or refinishing your stock set if you go the wood route. Red stain and gloss finish are very popular right now to emulate the Soviet look. But, you may use any color of stain and clear-coat luster that gets your AK juices flowing. Take a look at some of the pics posted online on some of the gun forums for ideas. If you are doing an economy trip and have an ugly, beat-up imported stock set that you have gotten at a cheap price, you may want to consider painting over it. Black is a color that hides the most sins. Of course, you may elect to go with a custom camo job for the entire rifle that will make even the worst condition AK look very interesting. Remember, you may use an original imported stock set as long as you use no more than 10 imported parts overall.

Synthetic Finish

The synthetic stock set will be colored throughout and not need any refinishing for scrapes. However, you may have a black set and wish to change to OD Green or Desert Tan. This is easy to do with the same paints used on the barreled receiver. Camo is an option as with the wood sets, but you may not have to use a base coat, just add the highlight color patterns (tiger stripes perhaps).


Once you have your "pet" AK refinished, take your time in getting it back together. Get a padded bench mat to lay your receiver on while you work such as a foam pad for laying on your automobile fender. These work great and are usually impervious to solvents. A few special tools such as a brass hammer and drift set, steel drifts, and a gunsmith screwdriver set will make your work much more agreeable and less likely to damage parts on the assembly job. Buggered screw heads are the mark of a real gun hack. Of course, that's what most of us really are, but why advertise that fact when a set of screwdrivers are not that expensive and will last many years?

When you are done and have taken your time, most will have no idea that your AK did not come that way from the factory.

Once assembled, work the action several times to be sure it is free to move in the required manner. Also, be sure the bore is completely free of any grit or residue that may have crept in. Check your magazine and make sure that no paint build up in the mag well prevents mag insertion. Same for your mag if you painted it too.

With these checks complete, take it out and shoot your new toy! Be sure to go to the range on a day when you can show it off to lots of people. Hey, after all that work, you deserve a few compliments!


If you don't fully comply with the 922r statute, you can be faced with confiscation of your rifle and a felony change. If convicted, this means Federal Prison time. It ain't worth it folks! Do it right or don't do it at all.

Keep in mind, some states do not allow "assault weapons" under any circumstances. Be absolutely sure you are allowed to own one before converting your "sporting rifle" to 922r configuration.

Most 922r US made compliance parts are marked as such these days, but not all. It may be wise to keep all your receipts in case someone calls your hand on your conversion.

High Capacity Magazines

Some states have laws that do not permit high capacity mags, no matter if your AK is 922r compliant. This may be also true of local areas such as counties, parishes, and cities. You must be aware of these laws before inserting a hi-cap mag into your AK rifle. Some states allow hi-cap mags, but they must all be made prior to the 1989 gun ban. Most of these states place a felony level charge on having an illegal hi-cap magazine, so, the same penalties as described above may apply here, except that you may end up in a state prison. Again, not worth it.


We actually installed 8 US made parts on our Maadi. These are as follows:

1. Hammer

2. Trigger

3. Disconnector

4. Buttstock

5. Pistol Grip

6. Handguards

7. Gas Piston

8. Muzzle Brake

We have 2 more US made parts than is required to meet 922r minimums. However, it hurts nothing to be a few parts over the count. You may want to later change that fixed buttstock to an East German folder. No problem, you would still be 1 US made part "strong."

If you decided to go for the full original Maadi look and use an original Egyptian laminated furniture set (3 imported parts), you would need to resort to using 1 more US made magazine part since there are not any other parts to substitute, practically speaking. That's not too bad as you can load up some Egyptian 30 rounders with US made mag followers (1 US made part) and always have them with that rifle. It's basically mix and match.

Keep in mind that many new products for the AK-47 are popping up every month. Keep an eye on our web pages for the latest gear.


This article is intended to cover the 922r conversion process from start to finish. However, there may be some areas that were not touched upon adequately or at all. Feel free to chat online or call us to ask any questions you may have about this process.

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