Suppressed AK: You Know You Want One
So, you want to suppress your AK? Sounds like a plan. But before you start, make sure you DO have a plan. Like everything else in Kalashnikov Land, there ain’t no one size fits all approach. Papa Kalash’s rifles are notoriously individualistic. Be aware of that fact before you start and adapt your plan to fit your rifle.
The Russians shipped AKs all over the world and many different countries produce their own versions. Kalashnikov purposely designed the rifle with loose tolerances to aid reliability. Those tolerances also allow some wiggle room for less sophisticated manufacturing processes, meaning that some AK parts often require “adjustment” to fit in different models. Just try putting a stock gas tube in different rifles. Chances are it won’t fit any of them right out of the box. Ask me how I know.
So, depending on your rifle’s specs, you may have to do a little work. Let’s take a look at what that work may or may not entail.
Manage Your Expectations
Suppressing your AK is probably worth doing, but you’ll have to approach it differently than an AR-15 and understand that your results probably won’t be as good. We’ll cover most of that below, but one thing to understand is that you can’t quiet the Kalashnikov’s reciprocating bolt carrier, which is fairly loud in its own right.
That distinct yet satisfying (to me) “clack” will always be there. Hollywood quiet is mostly a myth, but a suppressed Kalash won’t even approach that standard.
The standard Kalashnikov chamberings are 7.62×39 and 5.45×39. The Russians never made any real effort to produce subsonic versions of those rounds, and, despite their general abundance, subsonic options are limited. And I know 5.45×39 is less than abundant right now.
Anyway, even though the suppressor will help, you’ll likely get a supersonic “crack” when the bullet leaves the muzzle. Some companies are producing subsonic ammo for AKs, but it ain’t cheap, relative to normal Kalash ammo. There are, however, newer AKs available in 5.56 that may offer more flexibility ammo-wise.
Adjustable Gas System
Another helpful item would be an adjustable gas system. Kalashnikovs are purposely over-gassed to aid reliability. The standard automatic gas system routes expanding gas from each shot back through the gas tube, driving the piston to cycle the action. Extra gas is vented away, creating a loud “bang” as the hot gas meets the cooler outside air.
But an adjustable gas system allows the shooter to set the internal pressure more accurately, reducing the vented gas and mitigating the ensuing noise. The KNS Adjustable Gas Piston would be a good choice here.
Getting the Right Fit
The most common American thread pitches are 1/2×28 and 5/8×24. Now, you can find American made AKs like that, but imported rifles will be different. The most common AK thread pitch is 14x1LH, especially on 7.62×39 rifles, with 24×1.5 being a popular choice for 5.45×39 guns. You may also run across Romanian 22mm pitches or Yugoslavian 26mm.
You have a couple of options here. First, you can have a gunsmith re-thread your barrel. This is the best option, but you will likely have to send your gun off to get the work done by a reputable shop. Second, you can find an adapter. This is less expensive but comes with its own set of problems.
Using an adapter forces you to stack tolerances, which is never ideal. Each part has its own dimensions and will never match up precisely like a single piece. This increases your chance of a baffle strike, which will likely ruin your suppressor. But, if you want to suppress your AK, you may not have a choice.
Another issue with an adapter is that Kalashnikov barrels don’t have a shoulder on which to index. The Russians used the front sight block. Using an adapter makes that a bad idea, especially since AK sights are notoriously “individual.” Russian muzzle devices are often wider than necessary to account for that.
But suppressors are much more precise. Even the slightest bad angle can lead to a baffle strike. Any adapter you use must be indexed to the muzzle, not the front sight to mitigate that risk.
As noted, Kalashnikov rifles are not the same across the board. Even some bores don’t match the barrel exactly, meaning you must test for that before using your suppressed AK for real. This is easily accomplished by testing it with a rod.
Place a light near the chamber so you can see through the barrel from the muzzle with the suppressor attached. Run a rod or dowel from the muzzle all the way to the bolt face. If you hit no obstructions and can see clearance all around, you’re all set. If the rod touches ANY PART of the suppressor, your current setup is a no-go and you’re likely primed for a baffle strike.
The problem could be your barrel, your adapter, or both. But do not fire your rifle unless you can fix the situation.
Extra Parts Wear
Suppressed Kalashnikovs send extra gas back through the barrel and the action. It’s a feature. If you shoot a suppressed AK, you’ll catch it right in the face. That extra gas also creates additional wear on your rifle’s parts as it increases the action’s speed.
AKs are certainly rugged, but they can and do degrade like any other firearm. It’s just physics. Adding a heavier recoil spring can mitigate that extra wear and help with the added recoil from the extra gas.
Well, that’s up to you. But since this is the SilencerCo Blog, we’ll give you some options. For a 7.62×39 rifle, the Omega 300, Chimera 300, or even the Omega 36M would all be good choices. But personally, we would take a hard look at the Hybrid 46 or the Hybrid 46M because of the extra room to handle all that gas.
If, however, you have a 5.45×39 or even a 5.56 AK, you’d probably prefer one of the 300 models or the Saker ASR. In fact, SilencerCo teamed with Rifle Dynamics in 2016 to produce a very limited edition Saker-equipped AK in 5.45×39. That would be a sweet rig indeed.
Fun with Kalashnikovs
We’ve said elsewhere that the Kalash is our favorite fun gun. Our Saiga rifle has a name, and you never know what accessory she’ll be wearing next. Ammo is relatively abundant and cheap, she goes bang when we pull the trigger, and we don’t worry about knocking her around a little. The rifle, that is.
We train with her some, because why wouldn’t we, but she’s mostly just for fun days of blowing stuff up. She’s that fun girl you hang out with on the weekends because she can drink and cuss and carry on right along with you and your friends. A suppressor just adds one more element to that fun.
Yeah, “rifle is fine” and all that, but seriously, what’s not to like about a suppressed AK, even if it does require a little work? Now, go forth and tame that wild Russian beast.