For all intents and purposes, an AK is a pretty easy gun to learn to operate. Chris Baker, from Lucky Gunner, says as much on his Shooting 101 video about the AK. If you’re new to shooting, or recently purchased an AK, you might find yourself needing a little guidance or a refresher on the basics like safely loading, unloading, aiming, and firing an AK-type rifle.
According to Chris, the AK is simple and straightforward to operate, but people might need some help to get started the right way. He stresses that there are different methods for what he does in the video and different people have different techniques, but he wants to show the basics of holding and operating the firearm safely.
Chris states that the word safe is a relative word. Anything with firearms is inherently dangerous and anytime we touch firearms we are dealing with life-or-death decisions. We can reduce the risk by following the four rules for safe gun handling:
- Treat all guns the same way you would treat a loaded gun.
- Always keep the gun pointed in a safe direction.
- Keep your finger away from the trigger until you’re ready to shoot. Anytime you are not actively shooting the firearm, your finger needs to be straight and glued to the side of the receiver.
- Know what you are shooting at, what is behind it, and around it.
In handling an AK, or any gun really, the first thing you’re going to do is to unload and clear the weapon.
How to Clear an AK
- Pick it up with your dominant hand and tuck the stock up in your armpit for support.
- Remove the magazine by pressing the release paddle and pulling the magazine forward and down.
- Set the mag aside, take the gun off safe, and open the action (the action won’t open if the safety is on).
- Pull the charging handle to the rear. If there is a round in the chamber it will eject.
- Hold the action open (there is no hold-open feature on an AK) and visually inspect the chamber is clear.
- Slowly ride the handle forward back into place.
- Put the safety back on.
How to Load an AK
- Put the rifle down with the barrel facing in a safe direction.
- Load the magazine by holding it in your non-dominant hand and insert the rounds one at a time into the magazine. A standard magazine will hold 30 rounds. You won’t be able to overload the magazine.
- Insert the magazine into the AK, which can be tricky if you aren’t familiar with it. There is a lip in front of the mag that needs to be inserted first before it will go in.
- Angle the magazine so that the bottom is facing the same way as the muzzle and rotate the mag back and up into place.
- Give the magazine a little tug to make sure that it is locked into place.
- While the gun is loaded, it won’t fire yet. Pick the gun back up with the stock into your armpit.
- Move the safety to the fire position and pull the charging handle sharply to the rear and let it go, letting it ride its own way forward.
At this point, if you pulled the trigger, the AK would fire. Chris is fast to point out that you don’t ever want to just rely on the safety function of the rifle. You need to follow the four rules he laid out earlier in the video. He reiterates that you need to keep the weapon pointed in a safe direction and your finger away from the trigger.
How to Fire an AK
- You need to get your body into the proper stance, also known as the athletic stance. You achieve this with your dominant foot slightly behind the support side with your shoulders squared to the target, bending forward at the waist, and slightly bending your dominant knee while keeping your dominant hand is high up on the grip as you can.
- Place the stock of the weapon in the hollow of your shoulder, near the edge of the pectoral muscle, with your elbow pointed towards the ground with your non-dominant hand on the handguard and not the magazine.
- Pivot the gun towards the ground in front of the target putting you in a low-ready position. This is the position you will default to when you aren’t ready to shoot.
- When you are ready to shoot, you will rotate the gun up to your eye level and disengage the safety with your dominant hand. Some people may want to change out the safety paddle for a larger aftermarket option.
- As you raise the gun, get your cheek as firmly against the buttstock as is comfortable. You can move your face towards the gun to get into the line-of-sight position. You do not want to lean your head to one side to get into sight position.
- Line your fixed sights on the weapon with the target. The notch and the top of the front post should be even. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to hold truly still in a standing position.
- With the weapon to your shoulder and the sights all lined up with the safety off, you can move your finger to the trigger and pull it to the rear with steady and even pressure.
- After the shot is fired, the bolt will go to the rear of the weapon, the spent shell casing will eject from the port and a new round will be loaded into the chamber.
When you are finished shooting, or you are out of ammunition, you will:
- Remove your finger from the trigger
- Re-engage the safety
- Go back to the low-ready body position.
Watch it for yourself!