When the AR and AK pistols were introduced, many of us thought, “Well hey, they are rifles. How can they be pistols?” My friend Darrel points out that many of my generation are used to the shockwave-type shotguns being illegal, and the same goes for the SBR. The AR and AK pistol are different breeds.
While there are legalities that must be observed and respected, the modern self-loading pistol in a rifle caliber has much to recommend it. They are not for everyone—unless you have the opportunity to fire one. You may just find a surprisingly versatile, fun gun that solves a lot of problems in personal defense.
AR-type pistols use a pistol-type buffer tube. Some do not allow the fitting of a pistol brace, but most do. The AR pistol isn’t a short-barrel rifle and doesn’t require reams of paperwork, but be careful of the requirements.
In size, weight, and handling, the AR pistol is similar to the SBR. (By the way, the ATF isn’t the boogeyman some make it out to be. There are rules and laws, and those running afoul of these laws have done so at their peril. Respect the law. The ATF works hard and does its best, and it does not make the laws.)
The AR pistol uses a barrel of 7 to 11 inches or so. That is an easy piece to maneuver. It is easy to store and transport as well. However, the AR-15 pistol also demands a short gas system. The system may be overgassed; they are also loud and recoil more. Just the same, it is entirely possible to build a reliable and useful AR-type pistol.
For my money, for the same mission, the AK pistol from Arsenal is the better choice. I am a longtime AR rifle fan. I owned but one AK until quite recently. That old rifle is gone now, and I own an Arsenal AK and an Arsenal AK pistol.
I have looked hard at the likely uses for the type in personal defense and home defense. I think the AK pistol is an excellent choice for many reasons. First, dangerous felons are increasingly more heavily armed. They are also more willing, it seems, to shoot it out with the police. They set the date for their attack. Some are well prepared. Some of us prepare as we realize the reality of the situation.
Others disarm and hope this will convince the adversary to leave them alone. Good luck to them; their future doesn’t look bright. Others adopt the Swiss and Israeli method. They are constantly well armed, and this is in place to deter attacks.
With the Swiss it has worked well, and they have not engaged in warfare since Napoleon’s time. With the Israelis their preparedness has worked equally well, as they have survived. Others who realize they are in danger go into panic mode and attempt to obtain anything they can. This may be a $200 pistol or a $100 shotgun. While they may serve, neither the best choice.
These folks are like the ostrich with its nose in the sand until the smell of their own tail feathers burning alerts them. They cluck, flutter, and whirl about. Some fight; some find another place to bury their nose in the sand. If they survive, they have done well. Some will tell them that losing a few tail feathers or even their young is better than putting up a fight. To the rest of us, this idea is met with a certain measure of disgust.
The AK pistol is an interesting firearm both historically and functionally. Some firearms are developed due to a real need and embraced en masse. Others beat on the front door for years and gain little recognition. I think the AK pistol fills a niche that others realized existed but that was not easily filled, and perhaps never adequately filled. The AK pistol is used in a place we may have used the shoulder-stocked pistol, which was developed as early as the American Civil War.
The European pistol-caliber carbine, submachine gun, short-range rifle, and SBR are all attempts to fill the need for a powerful portable, reliable defensive weapon. While rifles are offensive weapons in warfare, at least when rockets, mortars, and grenade launchers are unavailable, the handgun is a purely a defensive firearm.
But once the action begins and you are attacked by a gang or a takeover robbery, the pistol may limit your response to taking cover and performing a defensive action. An AK-type pistol may allow the defender to go on the offensive. Light cover and multiple threats may be addressed. You have sufficient easily replenished ammunition reserve to put up a good counterattack.
The AK pistol offers a considerable reserve of ammunition. Grabbing the AK and going into action, you have a 30-round reserve in the waffle-pattern magazine. I sometimes deploy the AK pistol with a 10-round magazine simply because it is easy to store, especially in the truck. My studies and personal experience indicate that sustainability of fire, keeping in action through multiple reloads, is less important than the initial action. A number of rapidly delivered shots is most important. The AK pistol will achieve this.
Just as some folks have drowned in a creek of an average 3-foot depth, and I like to be prepared for something that isn’t the average. The 7.62x39mm cartridge loses less muzzle velocity in the 10.5-inch barrel Arsenal pistol, proportionately, than AR pistols. The 7.62x39mm is an efficient cartridge.
It is often pointed out that the 7.62x39mm with FMJ loads offers poor wound ballistics. Most loads are intended simply to be sold cheaply. Some loads were designed to break apart at the cannelure, resulting in greater damage. I think this is a hollow argument. After all, 9mm ball ammunition is similarly ineffective and should not be deployed for personal defense. The 9mm JHP loads are another matter. By the same token there are modern 7.62x39mm loads that offers excellent wound ballistics.
A pistol caliber cannot compare with the damage done by a load such as the 7.62x39mm Wolf 122-grain HP. The Hornady 123-grain SST also offers excellent wound potential. Use the FMJ loading for training and the expanding bullets for personal defense.
You will be using a lot of the FMJ loads to master the AK pistol. I can fire a good 1911 or SIG P229 9mm more accurately than the AK pistol at 25 and 50 yards. But then I have a lot of time in with the pistol. And I am not comparing the pistol to an AK pistol with a support brace.
I think that the AK pistol may be compared to a shotgun. At close range, the shotgun fires a pattern and isn’t useful (with buckshot) past 25 yards. The same is true of the AK and AR pistols. They offer a heavier blow than a combat pistol, are as reliable as their rifle primogenitors if properly manufactured, and offer excellent accuracy if fired from a solid braced position.
Firing them offhand is awkward, as the AK pistol is barrel heavy. But it can be learned. The pistol points surprisingly well when braced against the ribs with the firing-hand elbow. You have got to give the piece a chance and have an open mind. It isn’t for everyone.
Just the same for those willing to consider the possibilities and master them, they offer excellent utility in combat.
Do you own an Arsenal Inc AK? How would, or do, you use an AK pistol? Share your thoughts on AK pistols and favorite builds in the comment section.
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