Palmetto State Armory Spiker AK-47 Rifle in 7.62x39mm – Firearms News

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The Viet Cong where stealthy from experience. If this photo was in black and white, it would appear to be over 50 years old thanks to the authenticity the PSA Spiker brings. (Photo by Oleg Volk) 


The Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker rifle is a splendid facsimile of the AK-47 used by the VC and NVA during the Vietnam War. Featuring a few technical nods to modern production techniques, the AK-47 Spiker nonetheless captures that groovy 1960’s vibe beautifully. With superlative execution and plenty of nice retro touches, the AK-47 Spiker is the easiest way to add a vintage Combloc gun to your personal collection without breaking the bank in the process. ‘Twas a Dark and Stormy Night…

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The Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker rifle is a relatively inexpensive addition to any Vietnam-vintage gun collection.

Lam Trinh sat motionless in the jungle underbrush. He was wet, miserable, and terrified. Surreal white light from parachute flares cut through the dank fetid foliage like a strobe. He squatted on his haunches clutching his brand new Chicom Type 56 assault rifle pondering the very real probability that he was about to die. Lam grew up in a hamlet outside Lac Giao. Along the way he heard a passionate speech from a North Vietnamese agent and, in a fit of patriotic furor, signed on with the Viet Cong. After generations of subjugation by the Chinese, the French, the Japanese, the French again, and now the Americans, Lam planned to help throw out the invaders once and for all. That sounded great back in base camp. However, now facing one hundred meters of open space between the tree line and the wire perimeter of the American firebase, Lam was wishing he had just stayed home.

He had only been issued his weapon some two weeks earlier. Previously he had carried an antique Russian M44 bolt-action carbine. However, in early 1968. his commanders wanted VC forces armed with advanced small arms for this critical offensive. His Chicom Type 56 AK-47 had been issued new in cosmoline. Lam had four 30-round magazines that came with the rifle. Up until this very evening, he had fired a grand total of fifteen rounds through the weapon. When he had queried his instructors about this they had explained that he would have ample opportunity to learn how to fire his rifle in combat.


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The Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker rifle is a relatively inexpensive addition to any Vietnam-vintage gun collection.

When the time was right, the company commander blew his bugle. Lam and his comrades leapt up as one and charged across the cleared field leading to the American firebase. Once he got within fifty meters he slipped the selector of his rifle down to the middle position, raised the weapon to his shoulder, and triggered a long burst, sweeping back and forth to spray rounds across the American fighting positions. Lam twisted the empty magazine out of his rifle and replaced it with a spare from his chest pouch. He cycled the charging handle as he had been trained and looked up just in time to see a blinding flash. The thick cloud of flechettes from an American 105mm howitzer used in direct fire mode shredded him from scalp to soles.

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The Viet Cong where stealthy from experience. If this photo was in black and white, it would appear to be over 50 years old thanks to the authenticity the PSA Spiker brings. (Photo by Oleg Volk)

The battle went on all night. Dozens perished on both sides in this tragic little footnote to the overarching offensive that eventually came to be known as Tet. The following day, troops from the 9th Infantry Division pushed out to do a body count. PFC Delbert Hawkins came across what was left of Lam and was surprised to find that his AK rifle had survived intact. He duly counted Lam’s corpse in the tally and slipped the weapon over his shoulder before retrieving the associated magazines, one of which was run through with steel flechettes. This he dropped into his cargo pocket as a souvenir. PFC Hawkins kept the gun for two weeks before trading it to a transient REMF for a case of Carling Black Label beer. That supply sergeant eventually lost the weapon in a poker game to a warrant officer aviator.

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The Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker rifle is built around a stamped AKM receiver but includes lots of sweet Vietnam-era details.

This Loach pilot, in turn, lost it to a Captain in Military Intelligence who shipped the rifle home to his parents’ house in Delaware. By November of 1968, the Intelligence officer was separated from the military. He saw a notice displayed in his local post office describing the 30-day amnesty mandated by the 1968 Gun Control Act and sent in the forms. His son eventually inherited the weapon but had little interest. On the advice of a friend he put the gun up for auction where it sold for nearly $50,000. The vet’s son gave silent thanks to his dad and used the money as a down payment on a house.


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Grasping for History

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The Viet Cong (left) were generally local indigenous insur- gents who battled US and allied troops across South Vietnam. (Public domain) American troops typically cut back the jungle around our firebases to make them easier to defend. (Public domain) American firebases in Vietnam were typically remote outposts that were often re- supplied by air. They saw some of the bitterest combat of the war. (Public domain)

There are exactly two ways to add a legit Vietnam-correct AK-47 to your personal collection. The first is to spring for an original vet-bringback transferable machinegun that was amnesty registered in 1968. The last example I could find went for a cool $48,000 at auction several years ago. That was, believe it or not, a bargain. They seemed to average in the mid-$50k range even seven or eight years ago. Suffice to say, we normal folk will not be buying one of those anytime soon. The other is to haunt the online auctions in search of a semi-auto Polytech AK47/S Legend rifles imported before President George “No New Gun Laws” Bush banned importation in 1989.

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This amnesty-registered Russian AK-47 sold at auction in 2018 for nearly $75,000. It was a gift from Israeli Major General Yitzhak Rabin to American General Earle Wheeler. (Rock Island Auction photo)

The AK47/S Legend was imported for a short time starting back in 1988, before President George H. W. Bush banned importation in 1989. While stamped receiver Chicom Kalashnikovs sold everywhere for around $325 new in the box along with cleaning gear, three magazines, a sling, and a bayonet, the AK47/S Legend was rare even back then and more expensive. That’s much worse now. All of the AK47/S Legend rifles came from the same Factory Number 386 in Long Yan, Fu Jian Province, in Southern China. These rifles can be authenticated by the number “386” in a circle that is stamped into the left side of the receiver. A quick perusal of GunBroker.com shows several new-in-box (NIB) examples in play for a cool $4,000 apiece. These guns are so collectible that they really don’t have much practical utility. Nobody in their right mind is going to take a $4,000 rifle out to the range and really open her up. [EDITOR’S NOTE: Speak for yourself Dabbs!] So, what’s a guy to do who might have an itch to own a vintage Vietnam-era AK rifle? Look no further than Palmetto State Armory.



Technical Details

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The Polytech AK47/S Legend was a legit semiauto version of the same rifle used in Vietnam made in the same factory. However, many were not imported thanks to President George H. W. Bush, and they are stupid expensive as a result.

If you’ve lived in our quirky little world for more than a week or two and haven’t yet discovered Palmetto State Armory (PSA), then you have my pity. PSA is one-stop shopping for a simply bewildering array of reasonably-priced guns, gun parts, and accessories. Whether you want to build it from scratch or get into a turn-key rifle or pistol, PSA can hook you up. They also offer the swag and ammo to keep your sparkly new smoke pole happy and well-fed. Amongst a wide variety of offerings, they also have some really cool retro guns. Gleaming among them is the Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker.

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The Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker is one of several superb Vietnam-era retro rifles offered by Palmetto State Armory.

The Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker is a curious hybrid. Built around the US-made stamped-steel receiver of the AKM, the AK-47 Spiker features Norinco-style Vietnam-era furniture along with the distinctive folding cruciform bayonet that was frequently found on rifles encountered by US forces fighting in Southeast Asia. While the AK-47 Spiker would not satisfy the die-hard purist gun snob, it is hugely cheaper than a vintage original, is rugged enough for both work and play, and looks and feels like the real deal in dim light. Let’s dive deep into the details.

Origin Story

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The Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker rifle is built around a stamped AKM receiver but includes lots of sweet Vietnam-era details.

Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov was the 17th of 19 children born in 1919 to Russian peasant parents. At some point, like many others of his era, Mikhail’s dad ran afoul of Stalin. As a result, young Mikhail spent his youth in the frozen wastes of Tomsk Oblast in Siberia exiled along with his family. In his youth, Mikhail wanted to be a poet. He never made it past seventh grade, but Kalashnikov did nonetheless ultimately produce six books of poetry. Young Mikhail used his father’s rifle to hunt to help keep his family from starving. Back then, particularly in places like Russia, folks actually starved to death with tragic regularity. (Kalashnikov remained a compulsive hunter well into the 1990’s.) There is something innately dysfunctional about the Russian worldview.


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The most striking attribute of the AK-47 Spiker is its folding cruciform bayonet. This is a perfect rendition of the sort used on original Vietnam-era Chicom Kalashnikovs. The AK-47 Spiker is built on a 1950’s-vintage pressed steel AKM receiver.

This seems to date back centuries. Here you have a kid who was forced to grow up in squalor because of a corrupt and cruel dictator. However, when Mother Russia was threatened, Kalashnikov and about a zillion other maniacal Bolsheviks trudged off to fight the Nazis underequipped and miserably led but nonetheless shockingly motivated. Despite the fact that his country had tormented him and his family his entire life, Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov stepped into the gap to fight and die if necessary to protect his homeland. By the time the shooting stopped, the Nazis had slaughtered 15% of the total Russian population. I suppose that’s enough to warp anybody’s worldview.

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Mikhail Kalashnikov, shown here on the right alongside Gene Stoner, is a folk hero in Russia today.

Legend has it that Kalashnikov served as a tank commander in a T34 and was badly wounded fighting the Germans during the Battle of Bryansk in 1941. (Curiously, Bryansk is an industrial town in Russia today that has been struck repeatedly by Ukrainian drones in the ongoing war thereabouts.) Despite having had no formal mechanical training, Kalashnikov nonetheless enjoyed a gift for mechanical things. While recovering from his wounds, he purportedly commiserated with his wounded Infantry counterparts over the poor performance of their small arms. Kalashnikov subsequently designed a new assault rifle that was destined to change the world. This radical new infantry rifle was chambered for the revolutionary M43 7.62x39mm intermediate cartridge.

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The Kalashnikov rifle bears an uncanny similarity to the wartime German MP43 (bottom). It is tough to believe that the AK was not inspired by this iconic Nazi weapon.

In the Soviet Union at the outset of the Cold War, military weapons were the result of highly regulated competitions wherein design bureaus would pit their prototypes against those of other teams. The winners went on to glory and fame. Kalashnikov himself ended his career as a General in the Red Army. The losers retreated back to their workshops to try again. The Russians claim that Kalashnikov’s rifle was not actually inspired by the German MP43. However, that is pretty tough to believe. The overwhelming probability is that both the AK rifle and the M43 cartridge were indeed sparked by this revolutionary German system. Kalashnikov first submitted an entry for the semiautomatic rifle trials but lost out to the Simonov SKS carbine. His subsequent offering for a lightweight automatic rifle did indeed change the world, however. The resulting Avtomat Kalashnikova rifle weighed 10.5 pounds and fed from a 30-round box magazine. It was first accepted into the Red Army inventory in 1949.

Nitnoids

We’re glossing over a lot of details. The evolution of the Kalashnikov rifle has been a convoluted thing. The very earliest versions designated the Type 1 were actually crafted around a stamped steel receiver. From the very outset, Kalashnikov had intended his gun to be easy to build in vast quantities. However, in practice these earliest versions would not stand up to hard field use. Those first stamped receivers were just too flimsy. The definitive early AK was subsequently redesigned around a heavy milled receiver cut from a big chunk of forged steel that was laborious to produce.

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On top we have an original Chicom Type 56 forged receiver variant of the storied AK. The AK-47 Spiker from Palmetto State Armory is on bottom. The differences between the two receivers are obvious if you look for them.

This rifle was christened the Type 2 but was only produced in limited quantities until 1957. The Russians then tweaked the Type 2 to make it slightly easier to produce. This was the definitive forged receiver variant. American collectors call those particular Kalashnikovs the Type 3 AK-47. The Soviets likely referred to them as the AK-49, but it is tough to be certain. The Russians never were real chatty about their weapons development programs. The forged receiver required 105 separate milling steps to complete. However, the end result still remained relatively lightweight and all but indestructible.

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On top we have an original Chicom Type 56 forged receiver variant of the storied AK. The AK-47 Spiker from Pal- metto State Armory is on bottom. The differences between the two receivers are obvious if you look for them.

What most of us would call an AK-47 today was actually an AKM. First adopted by the USSR in 1959, the improved AKM finally sported that stamped steel receiver Comrade Kalashnikov always coveted. This version was reinforced with rivets and was just as rugged as the previous expensive forged sort at a fraction of the cost. Finally, having broken the code on producing a robust, low-cost, reliable everyman’s rifle, the Communist bloc got busy. The general consensus is that there are at least 100 million copies in circulation made in dozens of countries. The real number might even be twice that.

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The forged AK always has a long lightening groove milled into both sides of the receiver. It also has the rear sling swivel attached to the receiver rather than the stock.

This makes the AK rifle the most-produced firearm in human history. The war in Vietnam ended up being a tragically massive proxy fight between freedom and communism. Why we ultimately lost was entirely a function of lousy political leadership and poor support back home rather than a lack of military prowess. However, the North Vietnamese Army forces as well as Viet Cong irregulars were supplied by Combloc nations around the world. I have personally seen vet bringback rifles that had been produced in the Soviet Union, North Korea, and Red China. Most of those guns encountered by US forces came from China.

Mechanical Details

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The American-made AK-47 Spiker is indeed a beautifully executed AK.

Original milled receiver AKs can be distinguished at a glance by several distinctive characteristics. The receivers all sport long shallow lightening rooves along each side just above the magazine. The forearm is flat on the sides, and the buttstock mounts differently from that of the subsequent AKM. Additionally, the rear sling swivel is on the toe of the stock on the AKM. It is mounted on the left side of the receiver at the rear on the AK-47. The old AK-47’s also come with a flat thread protector over the muzzle. The later AKM sports a distinctive slanted muzzle brake. The AKM has a ribbed top cover, where that of the earlier AK-47 is smooth. The AKM forearm sports characteristic bulges on each side. The full auto version of the AKM also has an internal anti-bounce device not typically found in the earlier guns. The Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker is built around a standard AKM stamped receiver. This helps keep costs down. Like all PSA AK’s, the Spiker is made entirely of domestically-produced parts. While it is a Russian design, this is an American-made gun.

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The buttstock is the AKM sort with the sling swivel on the toe (top right). The oversized AK-47-style pistol grip used on the Spiker is actually more comfortable than the skinnier version on the later AKM. The flat muzzle nut is a quick way to discern older AK rifles from the newer AKM sort. The AK-47 Spiker appropriately sports the flat version. I certainly wouldn’t want to use it for real, but the cruciform bayonet does look cool.

The Spiker features an AK-47-style flat muzzle nut along with Chicom-style furniture. This means a slab-sided forearm and a cool checkered blocky wood pistol grip. The Spiker can be had with either Chinese blonde hardwood or dark red Russian furniture. The top cover is smooth like that of the original AK’s. The spike bayonet is permanently mounted underneath the barrel. When stowed it rides in a groove cut in the bottom of the forearm. To deploy it, one simply gives the blade a tug backwards against spring pressure and pivots the assembly through 180 degrees underneath the rifle. Once facing forward, the blade will settle into its retaining notch readily. The barbarians among us can just give the bayonet a quick snatch, and it will snap in place of its own accord.

Practical Tactical

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The AK-47 Spiker is so simple a child could use it, and many have.

All Kalashnikov rifles are simple to run, and the PSA Spiker AK-47 rifle is no exception. Soldiers, religious fanatics, run-of-the-mill lunatics, and even children manage the manual of arms just fine. Russian school kids have competitions in their classrooms to see who is fastest in stripping and reassembling Comrade Kalashnikov’s rifle. You can find videos of these competitions online. Locking the magazine in place when sweaty, rushed, and terrified is an acquired skill, but everything else is legit stupid-proof. The ranch gate safety on the right side has been much maligned, but it still nonetheless works just fine. Up is safe, and down is fire. On the military guns, the middle position is rock and roll. The charging handle is a rigid component of the bolt carrier.

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Everybody hates on the AK selector, but it works great.

That way you can take a boot to it in the unlikely event it ever gets sticky. Left-handed people must reach across the receiver to get to this appendage, but they should be used to being discriminated against by now. To load the weapon, hook the nose of a magazine in the front of the magazine well and pivot it backward until it locks in place. This is incrementally more tedious than the same chore in an AR. However, the resulting mechanical advantage makes it way easier to seat a full magazine against a closed bolt. As there is no way to lock the bolt to the rear, this becomes important. You then point the weapon at something you dislike, put the safety on fire, jack the bolt, and go to town. There is no last round bolt hold open on a traditional AK. To recharge the weapon just swap magazines, manually cycle the bolt, and continue the mission.

Cool-Guy Stuff

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At 100 meters off of a rest this was a pretty typical group. However, I have 57 years on my eyeballs, and those iron sights are pretty small.

The Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker is a superbly-executed, reasonably-priced addition to your Vietnam-era retro gun collection. It is rugged enough to use for home defense or competition, yet brings with it all that cool 1960’s ambience that seems to be so popular these days. It is in the little things like the Chinese selector markings and stainless steel bolt and bolt carrier where the gun really shines. If you are a billionaire, by all means, zip out and snatch up an original vet-bringback Vietnam-era AK-47 of your own. I am legit happy for you. However, if you are like the rest of us and actually have to scrape for your gun money, the Soviet Arms AK-47 Spiker from Palmetto State Armory will get you into a gun that will pass for the original without just crushing the budget. Rugged, reliable, and retro-cool, the AK-47 Spiker is Vietnam groovy without the exorbitant price.

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Everybody hates on the AK selector, but it works great. At 25 meters over open sights off of a sandbag rest the AK-47 Spiker produces acceptable combat accuracy.

Editor’s Note: The following statement is published at the request of Palmetto State Armory: The PSA Spiker rifle pays tribute to firearms of past eras and is intended to give firearm enthusiasts the opportunity to add a replica piece of history to their firearm collection at an affordable price. These firearms are intended only for shooting sports, hunting, and helping individuals legally protect themselves and their loved ones. These firearms are not actual military firearms and are not intended for unnecessary or excessive force, vigilantism, illegal acts of aggression, or self-harm. For more information about responsible firearm ownership, please visit our “Shoot Responsibly” page at PalmettoStateArmory.com

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The bolt and bolt carrier on the Spiker are cut from stainless steel and polished, where the originals were hard-chromed. Both assemblies look about the same, even up close.

PSA Soviet Arms Spiker AK-47 Rifle Specs

  • Type: Gas-operated, rotating bolt
  • Caliber: 7.62x39mm
  • Barrel Length: 16 in. 
  • Overall Length: 35 in. 
  • Weight: 7.5 lbs.
  • Capacity: 30 rds. 
  • Finish: Cerakote
  • Sights: Front post, sliding tangent rear
  • Furniture: “Norinco”-style redwood stock
  • MSRP: $1,009.99
  • Contact: Palmetto State Armory 

If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at [email protected].



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