It took me a long time to buy my first AK. Put off by stories of inconsistent construction, even among higher-priced brands, I hesitated for years. But in the fall of 2016 I had the opportunity to test a Molot VEPR FM-AK47, and came to find room in my heart, wallet and gun safe for my first AK platform rifle.
The VEPR won me over for several reasons. The first is construction. Its receiver and barrel are milled from thicker metal than most AKs, as it’s modeled on the RPK machine gun design. It’s tough, and less subject to damage from the heat that results from repeated firing. The downside of this is that it comes in at 0.5-1.0 pounds heavier than many AKs. Of the three FM-AK47s in the past several months that I fired, none have shown the construction flaws considered typical for the platform — front sights that aren’t in a plumb line with the barrel, crooked sight rails on the receiver, and out-of-round rivet holes are absent. The FM-AK47s I fired had none of these problems.
Though the manual for the FM-AK says that slightly offset front sight posts are to be expected and should not impact performance, this potential annoyance has been absent on each of the several new ones I’ve handled.
Made In Russia … And America
Another reason I’m a fan of this rifle is pedigree. It is manufactured in a small town in the state of Kirov, Russia. The Molot factory is well-known for its production of military and sporting arms. The FM-AK47 contains eight major components, not including the barrel, manufactured in Russia. In keeping with Statute 18 U.S.C. § 922(r), the 1968 Gun Control Act, certain complete firearms cannot be imported into the States. Thus, the FIME Group (Firearms Importers, Manufacturers, and Exporters) of Las Vegas, Nev., established a relationship with Molot wherein FIME creates and assembles the remaining necessary parts to make the FM-AK47. The rifle represents a genuine international partnership with a company within another country. It gives me the chance to know the world’s most common rifle platform as well as support American manufacturing. Win-win.
The FM-AK47 has earned my affection for what it has — and doesn’t have — in features. The rifle comes with a traditional AK cleaning kit, and the US-made polymer stock has a traditional trapdoor storage for that kit or other whatnots. In a break from tradition, it has no bayonet lug. Good for me, as if it did, I’d have the irresistible urge to install a blade and probably cut myself or my car’s upholstery. It has a sight rail mounted on the receiver (perfectly straight, I might add). It facilitates the rapid installation or removal of optics — a feature I’ve used extensively. Unusual for any AK product is an adjustable rear sight, with traditional meter markings. Should I be without a front sight tool, I can at least dial in elevation from the rear. The FIME Group-manufactured barrel is chrome-lined, another rare find for an AK.
How Does it Shoot?
Small arms designer and AK-47 creator Mikhail Kalashnikov was quoted as saying that, had he pursued his original career path of designing train engines, the machines would still have looked like AKs. The FM-AK stays true to the Kalashnikov vision with its solid black finish, ribbed handguard, no-frills appearance. Although looks can be easily changed, I think it fittingly hearkens the memory of a brilliant engineer.
All that is great, but how does it shoot? The answer: extremely well, for an AK. The rifle easily puts three rounds in a single hole at 25 yards, even with inexpensive ammunition. Some have criticized me for not testing accuracy at 100 yards; with my imperfect vision and no magnifying optic for the gun, I really cannot do it justice. However, I have managed to land all rounds in a torso-sized target from 100 yards in a qualification test, and that’s good enough to be confident that it’s effective at that range.
With the round count currently standing at about 600 through my copy of the FM-AK47, most of that ammo being cheap Tula Ammo, notorious for causing problems, there have been zero issues with firing or feeding. The rifle is inexpensive to run, un-fussy, and a lot of fun. The only issue I’ve had with the rifle is one of the traditional sling loops, made of something that resembles heavy wire more than steel, became bent with use. FIME Group replaced it promptly.
The FM-AK47 is more expensive than most entry-level AKs at $999.99. It’s substantially less than many premium brands, some of which have failed to deliver on expected construction standards. If you’re going to buy one AK in a lifetime, this is one that should last for several.
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