Book Review: Kalashnikov Rifles and Their Variations
Kalashnikov Rifles and Their Variations, 3rd Edition, Joe Poyer, North Cape Publications
I read reviews of this book on Amazon before buying this book. One reviewer stated that the author used photos of semiauto as stand-ins for photos of the original full-auto weapons. My first impression was that the reviewer was being unduly picky, and I didn’t pay much attention to that statement.
That reviewer knew what he was talking about.
If you buy this book, do NOT buy it expecting any reasonable accuracy when it comes to photographed weapons.
For instance, on the side of page 11 you will see a semiauto build of a Bulgarian AK-74. It’s easily identifiable by its light-colored wood furniture, its East German pistol grip (Identified as such in Fig. 2-49 on p. 39), and by the fact that it was built using screws (?) instead of rivets. It’s referred to as a Soviet AK-74 in the color page, a Bulgarian (correctly) on page 91, and as a Romanian AKM-86 on page 101. It is also the same rifle used in the assembly/disassembly section in Appendix C.
Also, on the color page you will see an obviously Romanian AK identified as a Soviet AKM.
There are technical errors in his parts descriptions. In Fig. 2-11 on p. 23, he seems to think that the rear flange on the gas tube (2) and the spring clip (3) are one piece. If that were true it’d be impossible to remove the handguard from the gas tube. In Fig. 2-27 on p. 29, he refers to a “Trigger/Sear Pin”. That pin doesn’t hold a sear…. But it DOES hold the trigger and DISCONNECTOR. As it turns out, what he refers to as a ‘sear’ is actually the vestigial tab on the back of the disconnector in a semiauto AK (Fig. 2-23 on p. 32) Another small error is that he lists the position of the full-auto pin (which actually holds a sear) on p. 30.
There are some incorrect ‘facts’ in his text. On page 44, he mentions “a drum magazine holding ninety cartridges”. AK drums have always been available in only two capacities – 75- and 100-rounds. He never mentions the hundred-rounders.
On page 58, he’s talking about the East German MPi-K family of AK’s. He says that the ‘I’ means that the weapon has a fixed wood stock. Not true – “Pi” is the German shortened designation of “Pistole”. While I’m in the East German section, I’d like to point out that the captions fpr Figs. 3-8 and 3-9 are reversed. These captions also contradict what he said about the “I”.
On page 107, he states that the same stripper clip adaptor is used for 7.62mm and 5.45mm clips and magazines. This isn’t mechanically possible.
In fig. 8-5 on p. 136, he shows a crate of Yugoslavian ammunition and says that it’s typical of Soviet/Russian shipping crates. Yugo and Sov crates are considerably different.
In Appendix C, he can’t seem to decide which way to turn the muzzle brake to remove and reinstall it… the directions he gives at the start (appropriate for an AKM) is opposite of what he gives at the finish (appropriate for the AK-74, which he used in the photos).
On page 156, he says “NOTE: Frequent disassembly and reassembly of the trigger/hammer group will wear on the lugs and holes to the point where the hammer/trigger spring tension will not hold them in place against recoil.” According to Step 26, he’s talking about the hammer spring. The hammer spring does nothing to retain the hammer or trigger pins – that job is performed by the retainer spring (or shepherd’s hook). I daresay that if the weapon’s receiver metal is so soft that repeated disassembly would loosen the pins to the extent that the retainer spring could not do its job anymore, that the thing would fall apart after just a few hundred rounds had been fired thru it. Over-disassembly would be the least of the shooter’s worries!
In the Kalashnikov-pattern rifles section, he includes information about GALILs, Valets, SVD’s, etc. I’ll even accept the Vz series as appropriate. This is all well and good, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch to include FAL’s, Daewoos, Ishapore-produced Enfields (!), and Chinese versions of M4’s (!!!) in this area. Similarly, in the Variations of the SVD, he lists Sobol and BI-7-3 Biathlon .22-cal bolt-action rifles!
In conclusion, I was expecting something more along the lines of what Ezell did with “The AK-47 Story”. I wanted more technical information and details. I wanted to learn the differences between, say, a Soviet and Bulgarian AK-74’s. I wanted more information about the Century Series of AKs, and all the author did was mention that they exist. I researched the author before buying the book, and found that he has a most impressive resume when it comes to weapons experience – but it certainly doesn’t show in his book. There is simply no excuse for this poor level of work. It is a waste of money.