Best 7.62×39 Rifle: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide & Reviews 2019

Are you looking for the best 7.62x39 rifles on the market today?

The 7.62x39 rifle round was born in World War II when the Soviets were inspired by the Sturmgewehr 43/44 assault rifle and its novel 8mm short round.  The Soviets quickly designed their own short rifle round in the same diameter as their 7.62mm rounds the 7.62m43 round developed within a year and began the search for a rifle to fire the round.  While Mikhael Kalashnikov, the designer of the world famous AK47, participated in the weapons tests, the 1945 selection went to the rifle submitted by Sergei Simonov: the SKS rifle .

While the SKS was a widespread design, it was not a select fire rifle, it was not an “assault” rifle like the Sturmgewehr.  In 1946, the Soviets held a second round of weapons tests and the Kalashnikov design won out and was adopted the following year as the automatic Kalashnikov rifle model 1947.  The rest, is mostly history.

The 7.62x39 round has spent the majority of its almost seventy years as a specifically military round used in all corners of the world as the AK was used as hard currency to client states.  In recent years, its ballistics have been explored as a sporting round; not only for target shooting but also for hunting.  With the proper bullet style, the cartridge has similar ballistics as the .30-30 round, making it a potential for small to medium game including deer.  To get around the ban on self loading rifles used for hunting in many jurisdictions, several companies have begun making bolt action rifles chambered for this round. 

 Yet it is proving well nigh impossible for the cartridge to shed its military roots and numerous military style rifles have adopted the cartridge.  This is probably for two reasons: 1) it was designed and has proven to work under extreme environmental conditions.  The Russians do not waste time on things that fail.  2) It is everywhere.  From a logistician’s point of view, the cartridge’s universality alone is worth making new rifles that will use what is available.

Top 10 Best 7.62x39 Rifles for the money

Windham Weapons SRC

Windham Weapons SRC

Since the 7.62x39 round became widely available to American markets there have been efforts to match the increased knockdown potential of the cartridge with the accuracy of the AR platform.  Windham offers what is seen as the most common effort: their SRC is an M4 style carbine with a 7.62 upper and specially designed magazines.  This offers all the benefits of an AR rifle: gas impingement system, chrome lined barrel, easy and light handling characteristics with an adjustable stock for different sized shooters and scenarios; with the punch of an AK. 

The down side is that the 7.62x39 round has a uniquely sloped body that requires a continually curved magazine (see AK).  The traditional AR magazine well is straight.  This often causes the 7.62 cartridge to be pointing below the chamber when it comes to feeding and, in some rifles especially as they get dirty, causes jams.  This does not mean the rifle is flawed, only that some tinkering and the use of cartridges that are self-lubricating like brass or nickel will typically function better than the more common steel cased ammo.


CZECH SMALL ARMS - VZ.58

CZECH SMALL ARMS - VZ.58

The VZ looks like an AK, it shoots the same ammo as an AK.  It even has the iconic, curved magazine as the AK.  But it is not an AK.  Using different magazines is just one way the Czechs maintained their individuality in the Warsaw Pact.  Another was in designing a military rifle that was better in many regards.  The machined receiver provided a more stable platform.  The VZ58 was the Czech response to conforming to Warsaw Pact logistics.  The country’s original intermediate rifle caliber was the 7.62x45, yet the different caliber would cause problems in a full on conflict with the west.  However, the Czechs had a tendency to rely on weapons of their own design, which often as not were of better quality and finish.  Where the AK was designed to be virtually disposable, the 58 has a stronger construction and machining.

 Czech Small Arms imports several Czech models in semi automatic.  The 58 rifle is available in either wood tone or black colored plastic.  As a sporting rifle, it is still a tool for conscript soldiers, but for military collectors, it offers enough design and historical differences to make it a worthwhile investment.  Rifles in this batch come with two (2) of the proprietary magazines.

ARSENAL - SAM7SF 84

ARSENAL - SAM7SF 84

Arsenal’s SAM7 approaches the AR/AK bridge from the other end: making the AK with upgraded, premium components.  They begin with new Bulgarian parts kits but add a Steyr made chrome lined barrel and positive reset trigger.  The Soviet style scope mount is included for use with a receiver mounted system instead of mounting to the cover, the rear sight or the top handguard: all of which can migrate while firing.  The stock is also made slightly longer: many shooters have found that standard mil spec AK’s are made just a little short in the length of pull (LOP).

 The AK was designed from the start to be cheap and disposable, but that does not mean it has to be a Dixie cup gun.  With proper machining and attention to details along with premium components, reliability and durability are merged into a quality battle rifle that many find difficult to beat.  They are offered in usually three variants: the 84 with black polymer furniture; the 84P with plum colored polymer stock; and the 84R with an aluminum quad stock for additional options mounting.  All come with the AK74 style muzzle brake and accept all “standard” (no matter what country manufactured them) AK 47 magazines.

Century Arms International - RED ARMY RAS47

Century Arms International - RED ARMY RAS47

100% made in the US, the Russian Army Standard (RAS) 47 meets all the standard criterion of a semi automatic only capable AKM that can be legally owned in the US.  Chrome barreled and stamped receivers, this offers the feel of general issue, albeit with a few modern upgrades.  Again, the left side scope mount on the receiver is present for add ons.  The selector/dust cover has a factory made bolt hold open to make it range safe.  It has an enhanced RAK-1 enhanced trigger group that offers a clean break instead of a squishy trigger.  Another upgrade is the T shaped mag release that is better for slapping with a second mag in the quick style swaps seen on Youtube.  And of course, there is the new “common” poly pistol grip with finger grooves which, depending on hand size, may or may not be ergonomic.  The standard furniture and slanted muzzle brake offer aftermarket add ons to suit individual tastes.

 Century Arms has brought in mil surplus rifles and parts kits for decades, they know what these rifles offer and, more importantly, what American shooters are interested in when it comes to an AK.

IWI - Galil ACE SAR

IWI - Galil ACE SAR Rifle

Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI) builds what the Israelis want in their guns.  First and foremost, like the Russians, they want it to work.  Second, they want it to be accurate: they do not waste time on massed formations of infantry and swarm tactics that characterized the Warsaw Pact doctrine.  Third, there needs to be a compromise between economically made and well-constructed.  The original Galil merged several features of the AK and the AR platforms, but the new Ace rifle goes in a direction all its own.

The 7.62x39 Ace operates off of standard AK magazines rather than a proprietary mag, making it capable of feeding off of battle field pick ups or plentiful (and cheap) mil surplus mags.  A full-length rail, folding stock with adjustable length and comb height, ergonomic furniture and a left hand bolt handle, tri rails  on the forearm and tritium night sights: the Ace is a battle rifle that corrects the shortcomings of everything before it.  The milled receiver offers less torque while firing seen too often in stamped steel receivers.


M&M - M10X ZHUKOV

M&M - M10X ZHUKOV

The International Defense Rifle represents a complete melding of NATO and Warsaw doctrines.  What this means is the modularity and technological innovations of the West are applied to the rugged simplicity and dependability of the East.  The stated result is a surprising ability to achieve MOA accuracy out of a 7.62x39 battle rifle.  The MX10 is completely ambidextrous with a full length Picatinny rai and mounting points all along the free floating hand rail.  The milled receiver again offers greater strength and consistent follow up shots.  This is a rifle designed to deliver all the best of the AK and AR platforms while not really being a true hybrid: it is something all its own.  It is billed as a rifle that offers the shooter to build a truly customized battle rifle.

 M+M is a relatively new company, but the shooting public is eagerly looking forward to reports coming in on this new rifle.

Ruger Mini 30

Ruger Mini 30

Ruger introduced the Mini 14 in 1967 as a compact version of the M14 battle rifle but in .223 Remington.  In 1987 the rifle was introduced in the 7.62x39 cartridge because the caliber started being imported in great quantities at low prices.  The caliber was also being billed for sporting purposes.  The Ruger Minis have all the traits that Ruger is famous for: rugged reliability and durability and this coupled with the operating features of the M1 and M14 rifles.  While offering some of the longest sight radiuses, the Rugers were not know for their accuracy over long distances, however.  That is not a major concern with the 30’s caliber, however, as that cartridge typically has difficulty maintaining accuracy outside of 300 yards anyway.  The 7.62 was not designed for precision, it was designed to knock things down when it hits and to be put out in quantities to ensure a hit.

 Many shooters like the Mini for its durability and traditional lines.  It is not a competition rifle by any means, but from a service point of view its merging with the 7.62x39 round makes a lot of sense: both are meant for work and to operate under adverse conditions.

CMMG MK47 Mutant

CMMG MK47 Mutant

When it comes to a complete hybrid between AR and AK platforms, CMMG has managed to merge the accuracy and performance of the AR with the one thing that makes the AK operate flawlessly: the magazine.  With the constant curvature that the 7.62x39 cartridge requires, each round is pointed directly towards the chamber instead of below the breech.  CMMG began making AR rifles and components in 2002 and has since become one of the primary providers of both while pioneering its own designs in alternative calibers.  The Mutant is the only one with the squared section of the magazine well removed so the rifle will accept AK magazines.  This, along with the company’s proprietary bolt, are designed to feed mil spec and commercial ammunition with equal efficiency and dependability.  AR users looking for the knock down capability of the AK round are hard pressed to find a better set up that promises to work better than any other hybrid on the market.  Free floating keymod rail and the ability to accept AR platform furniture upgrades offers the perfect mix between Western military options and Eastern military functionality.


Ruger American

Ruger American

With the growing popular consideration of the AK round for hunting – it does have similar ballistics to a .30-30, the application of the bullet into a widely acceptable hunting platform, a bolt action rifle, has been increasingly explored.  Ruger has put its American model rifle to almost every popular cartridge in the western world, the 7.62x39 is no exception.  The proven design with Marksman adjustable trigger (3-5 lbs) with the threaded coldhammer forged barrel is fed using Ruger’s even more established Mini-3 magazine: no need to worry about a proprietary mag when it has been around for decades and after markets are available.  The American is also reported to feed and function just fine with mil surplus steel cased ammunition, maintaining Ruger’s reputation for taking a beating and giving out as good as it gets.

Ruger's American Ranch rifle features an ergonomic, lightweight composite stock that blends a classic look with modern forend contouring grip serrations. The Marksman Adjustable Trigger offers a crisp release with a pull weight that is adjustable between 3-5 lbs. Its bolt also utilizes a full diameter bolt body and dual cocking cams for smooth, easy cycling from the shoulder. The threaded barrel is cold hammer-forged, resulting in ultra-precise rifling that provides exceptional accuracy, longevity and easy cleaning. Its rotary magazine fits flush with the stock and offers the smooth feed that has become the hallmark of Ruger rotary magazines. This model is chambered in 7.62x39mm and has a 16.12" barrel.


CZ 527

CZ 527

The CZ 527 is a Mauser designed rifle from Ceska Zbrojovka for sale on American markets in multiple calibers that includes the 7.62x39.  The carbine style stock is made of an attractive Turkish style walnut and fed from a detachable box magazine.  It is a fetching yet handy little bush rifle capable of firing steal cased surplus ammunition as well as the new commercial brass cased ammunition.  This is a welcomed compromise of the CZ line which typically higher prices at market being offered in a caliber that is comparatively rock bottom priced.

CZ has been in the arms making business since the end of the 19th century and has a proud tradition of making quality firearms that are the equal, if not superior of any of the old name European or US gunmakers in quality and dependability of performance.  The only drawback to the rifle are the proprietary magazines (limited to five rounds) and scope rings; the exclusivity of which usually demands a premium in pricing.  The plus side is that mil surplus AK food is still available at comparatively lower pricing.

What is the best 7.62x39 Rifle for YOU?

When choosing a rifle that shoots AK food, it is a fair foregone conclusion that one MUST have an AK variant to go along with it.  After all, it is the most prolific caliber in the world out of the most prolific firearm in the world.  Further, no one said that only one 7.62x39 rifle was all anyone was allowed, so an AK rifle is a must.  Of the variants offered here, the RAS47 and SAM7 are the two that come closest to Kalashnikov’s design.  As is stated in the name, the RAS47 is the standard of the type 4 AKM: stamped steel receiver with spot welds and rivet construction, albeit with a strongly argued better trigger system.  It is closest to the as issued variants without the select fire feature.  Additionally, with all the after- market parts floating around these days, it is eminently upgradeable.  Or one can skip to the end and grab the SAM7 with all the upgrades already installed.  If pricing is an issue,  the RAS is short term cheaper and long term representative of what the majority of the world appears to be carrying.

The VZ58 is a well made military rifle that military collectors are highly interested in: while completely different from the AK, it is what the AK would be if the AK was not designed from the start to be ultimately disposable.  That said it still is mostly only interesting to collectors as after market mods and even the magazines are difficult to find where as the AK market support is seconded only by that of the AR.

Of the AR/AK hybrids, the Windham is most like the AR and as a result offers its only detriment: that straight section of the magazine spells cycling issued for all but the most premium of ammunition.  Yet, for AR overs who want the ability to shot AK food, the Windham carbine may be their only choice.  Alternatively, the CMMG Mutant, while not a pretty rifle offers a real world solution to the AK feeding problem: feeding off the magazines that were designed to process the rIt is not going to win any beauty pageants, but it is not supposed to: it is supposed to put .30 caliber rounds down range with the least amount of fuss on an AR style platform.

The M+M and IWI are the offerings that are more AK derivative, but with attention to details that the Kalashnikov could not be bothered with: stronger receivers, better fit and finish and more options and upgrades out of the box.  The M+M has a lot of offerings to commend it and market research awaits more reports with growing eagerness.  The Israelis behind the Galil Ace, however, have little time for battle field R&D.  They adopt working features and demand reliability, or the designs do not last long.  The Ace operates off of the dependable AK mages, this is great for consistent performance and also for battle field pick ups as the majority of Israel’s potential enemies use the AK47: there is a certain pride taken when using the enemy’s own resources against him.

The last semi auto rifle that lends little of its design to the AK or the AR is the Mini-30.  For dependability, the M1/M14 action design has decades of research and development ad Ruger has a market reputation of rugged dependability.  While the Mini may not have the best accuracy out of the box, it is still capable of what the AK is when it comes to man sized targets at 300 yards.  The Mini 30 also has the benefit of offering 5 round magazines standard (in addition 10, 15 and 30 rounders) and does not always come with a pistol grip, making it a semi auto that may skirt past the political definitions (as opposed to actual definition) of a potentially banned “assault rifle” in too many states.

Rounding off with the two bolt actions: these rifles may offer the only opportunity to shoot the AK round in areas that flat out ban self-loading firearms.  If one wishes to hunt with the 7.62x39 cartridge, many jurisdictions ban semi automatic firearms completely for that purpose.  Those reasons alone make them vital choices for many shooters.  Between the Ruger and the CZ, the prettiest is the latter, but for someone to take into the woods and beat up a bit, not to mention be exposed to the elements, pretty may be a detriment.  The Ruger wins out ins readiness to abuse and a slightly lower price tag.  Additionally, mounting optics and getting more magazines (the American uses the Mini 30 mag) will not cost another chunk of change.  That said the CZ will look and feel like a better rifle.  To many shooters, the looks may be of limited concern.  Dependability and after market research make the Ruger a tempting option.  When firing steel cased berdan rifle ammunition, the plastic stocked Ruger seems a more preferable option than the beautiful CZ.  But when it comes to dependability of function, both maintain a comparable track record.

Best 7.62×39 Rifle: Ultimate Buyer’s Guide & Reviews 2019
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