Gun Review: 21st Tec TEC-47 AR-10

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The venerable AR-15 platform rifle can seemingly do anything and chamber any cartridge…as long as it’s intermediate. Well, mostly intermediate. AR-15s in the 7.62×39 have always been an interesting conundrum. Some work perfectly well while others will have problems from day one. Those problems include light primer strikes, weak bolts, and weird magazines. Yet, those striving to use the 7.62×39 in an AR platform design haven’t given up, and the latest to make an attempt is 21st TEC with their TEC-47.

The TEC-47 has no relation to the TEC-9 of old. The TEC-47 rifle aims to solve some of the problems that come from using the AK round in an AR rifle. First, it uses AK magazines, but that’s not really new. CMMG and PSA have both produced AR-based rifles that use AK magazines. CMMG just released the Dissident in 7.62×39 which looks promising. What TEC-47 does differently is it ditches the AR-15 platform in favor of the AR-10.

This results in a heavier rifle, but it also yields a more standardized platform. The CMMG and PSA rifles aren’t quite AR-15s and they aren’t AR-10s either. The TEC-47 gives us AK magazines, with mostly AR ergonomics. We get a big beefy bolt, which stands in contrast to the somewhat puny BCGs in most AR-15s in the old x39. Everything is bigger and more substantial, which results in an 8.5-pound rifle.

Breaking Down the TEC-47

The TEC-47 comes with one Magpul P-MAG and a few M-LOK rails to attach to your handguard. The rifle sports a 16-inch barrel that’s surrounded by a 15-inch M-LOK rail. An adjustable gas block from Superlative allows you to tune the rifle for suppressed and unsuppressed use.

A steel pin greets the front locking lug of the AK magazine. It’s thick and beefy, looks difficult to break, but also provides a smooth up and in design. The rifle uses an AK-like magazine release in the form of a paddle in front of the trigger guard that’s absolutely massive and fully ambidextrous. The rest of the ergonomics are AR-like, but you don’t get a last-round bolt hold-open option.

The TEC-47 uses a specialized bolt designed for the AK round and magazine. It’s big and uses a real 7.62 extractor design. You won’t need to worry about extractor breakage as you would with an x39 AR-15.

Thrall provides the stock and pistol grip. The end result gives us a substantial, well-put-together rifle. Its billet receivers are attractive and different from your stock forged stuff. The rifle doesn’t come with sights, so I tossed on a Primary Arms optic with the .300 BLK/7.62x39mm reticle on board.

Getting a Feel for the TEC-47

The TEC-47’s ergonomics aren’t much different than any other AR. A long, thin handguard gives you plenty of space to grip the rifle. The stock has six positions, and gives a solid cheek weld. There are a ton of sling attachment positions as well. The pistol grip is fine…it’s a pistol grip.

The safety is just like any other AR, which means it’s 100 times better than any AK’s safety even on its best day. The magazine release works, but poses an interesting issue. First, I had to get past my own built-in reach-for-an-AR-button instinct. That will probably take you some time at first. Once I got past that, I realized my trigger finger just wasn’t long enough to easily press that paddle release.

The longer receiver creates a few issues with reach when dropping a magazine. To use my trigger finger, I had to stretch it quite far. It was much easier to do an AK-type reload when the magazine was removed by the support hand and then replaced by the support hand.

Do you remember the cool-guy, Call of Duty AK reload where you use the full magazine to remove the empty magazine? You can’t do that with the TEC-47. Sadly, there just isn’t enough room.

The TEC-47 gets a little hefty with an LPVO mounted and a loaded magazine in place, but it’s not terrible. The balance helps with a good bit of the weight being rearward. It’s heavier than you’d want an intermediate rifle to be. That longer AK magazine makes the prone a higher position and makes zeroing interesting. I really need a 20-round AK mag for this bad boy.

Going Live

One of the big reasons why a lot of folks want to shoot 7.62×39 from an AR is the accuracy component. AKs aren’t as inaccurate as the internet would have you believe, but adding optics is tricky, and their pretty much irons suck. A modern AR is mechanically more accurate, and adding an LPVO makes it even easier to shoot straight. With a zeroed 1-6X LPVO, I stepped back to 100 yards and shot for groups.

My best group hovered around 1.5 MOA with steel-cased ammo. I don’t have any super good 7.62×39, and that number could shrink with better ammo. That said, I’m willing to bet the steel case stuff is what most of us will be shoot through this rifle, so it felt like a fair comparison.

If you’re already an AK guy, the two-stage trigger of the TEC-47 will feel familiar but impressive. The first stage is short and sweet. It meets a slight wall and then breaks very cleanly.

Zeroing and grouping are boring, but what’s not is blasting away at a range full of steel targets of various sizes. At 100 yards, I practiced changing positions and engaging different sized gongs and an IPSC steel target. Add a timer, and it ups the ante and increases the fun.

Going from large to small makes you switch gears, and seeing a little gong nearly double over its support was a blast. The TEC-47 isn’t just accurate and easy to shoot on the bench, it’s well suited for more practical shooting.

Ka-Chunking Along

The TEC-47 has a very soft recoil impulse. It’s almost addictively soft and sweet. The weight of the rifle and a properly gassed system make it soft-shooting and low-recoiling. On a reduced-sized IPSC target at 100 yards, the chevron of my Primary Arms scope didn’t rise completely off the gong.

Fast and accurate follow-up shots weren’t a problem at all. The TEC-47 is nice to shoot, and the recoil is considerably lower than a standard AK. Not that the AK is particularly rough, but the TEC-47 is downright pleasant.

On the reliability front, I tried to find a diverse selection of steel-cased loads. My local gun store was able to dust off some Red Army Standard, some Barnaul soft point, Barnaul Standard 123 grain, and even some old Tula. Most of my shooting was done with Wolf steel case ammo.

In terms of reliability, the only ammo that gave me issues was the Barnaul. It failed to extract and eject four times in the one twenty-round box I could find. I had to tap-rack-bang it out.

The Barnaul soft points worked great. The Century Arms ammo was fine and so did the Tula and Wolf. Even the other boxes of Barnaul’s standard ammo were fine. That one box of Barnaul ammo just didn’t work well in the TEC-47 for whatever reason and was the only ammo to give the TEC-47 any issues. I wish I had thought to tweak the gas system, but alas, it only occurred to me after I had expended all of that ammo.

The New Joint

If you’re looking at shooting the old 7.62x39mm through an AR platform rifle, the TEC-47 gets it done. Good accuracy, high-quality components, and a novel AR-10 design make it a winner. The fact that it’s cheaper than the other AK-magazines-in-AR-platform rifles also helps. If you stay away from Barnaul ammo, it’s a real winner.

Specifications: 21st TEC TEC-47 Rifle

Barrel Length: 16 Inches
Overall Length: 35-39 Inches
Weight: 8.5 LBs
Caliber: 7.62x39mm
MSRP: $1,399

Ratings (out of Five Stars)

Accuracy * * * *
It won’t win any precision rifle championships, but it brings AR accuracy to the AK round. Plus it’s soft shooting, which helps make it fast and accurate.

Ergonomics * * * *
Outside of the weight, I have no real complaints. It’s a bit hefty for an intermediate cartridge. That magazine release is a bit far forward, but with some practice, two-handed reloads are perfectly intuitive.

Reliability * * * *
I’m hesitant about this section. The rifle was reliable with every ammo type other than the Barnaul. One box of Barnauls gave it some trouble. Is that ammo-related? It’s tough to say. I can’t give it five stars, but I’d say it’s pretty reliable with 99.99% of the ammo I tested.

Overall * * * * ½
The TEC-47 brings new life to an old and often clumsily executed idea. The AK round in an AR isn’t always a seamless transition, but the TEC-47 does it well. If the 5.56 round isn’t for you and .308 is still a little too pricey, then the .30 Russian will get it done in an ergonomic and solid platform at a price that’s tough to beat.

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