While reassembling the gun, Babb shows us a trick of how to use the cleaning rod as a slave pin to hold the wire spring down while the second of the three pins is reinserted. As the last student gets his AK top cover snapped on, Babb assumes the role of a drill instructor.
“Everyone got their gun back together? Good. Now take ’em apart again!”
The sound of bolts moving, springs sliding, metallic parts pinging, shlack-clacking apart reverberates.
“Got ’em apart? Put ’em back!”
“Do it again!”
“Put ’em back!”
“Do it again!”
We learn through the mother of all skill builders—repetition, repetition, repetition. After the fifth or sixth rep, the guns are coming apart and going back together with a fluidity born of familiarity.
We learn that the “P” on the rear sight, below the “1,” is the battle zero. We are shown why the AK doesn’t have timing issues because the bolt rotates a full 30 degrees before unlocking, giving the just-fired cartridge case time to relax in the chamber. We also see how the gun has a floating firing pin so you don’t get accidental strikes.
We watch a video of an AK firing in full-automatic in super-slow motion with the top cover removed. Don’t try this at home! The bolt is bouncing around, the piston is flexing wildly, and the recoil spring jumps like it’s been goosed.
“You see that? The AK is a sloppy gun. It’s supposed to be a sloppy gun. That’s why it works,” Babb points out.
Now we move to AK variants in a slide show. Matt points out that the AKM is a stamped-receiver gun. “The ‘M’ in any Russian designation means ‘modernized.’ So you have the AKM, PKM, and others,” Matt tells us. We see slides of East German variants with distinctive, side-folding stocks; Hungarian variants with an infinity symbol for full-automatic; Chinese Type 56s; a North Korean Type 68 and an Iraqi Tabuk. Babb says the best of them all is the Yugoslav variant known as the Zastava AK for the plant where it’s made.
He flicks the lights back on and surveys the room with that same secretly sadistic smile. We know what’s coming.
“Take ’em apart!”