stamp mill

Ultra Basic AK Visual ID Guide

The following is a very basic AK visual identification guide. Impress your friends!!! Woo the ladies!!! Make the ghost of Mikhail Kalashnikov smile. 

*I am by no means an expert, just a dude who loves my WASR, and AKs in general. If anybody sees any incorrect info, feel free to correct me.
Images taken from Google….except for my glorious WASR, she is mine.*

Milled vs Stamped
A milled gun is machined from a solid chunk of metal. A stamped gun is made from a sheet of metal that has been folded to shape. We ain’t here to argue which is better, just to visually ID them. *side note: the original AK-47 was a milled gun. Later, they were stamped, as is the AK-74 now, this is called an AKM* 

As seen by this pic from the AK Operators Union page, a milled gun will exhibit these rectangular lightening cuts at at the mag well, and no rivets. 
A stamped gun will typically have these dimples on the mag well, as well as rivets. 
But there’s always oddballs… 

This is a pic of my WASR. The WASR, WASR-10, WASR 10/63, ZEE MIGHTEE WASSAHR, etc, is a Romanian variant of the AKM and is a stamped rifle. However, because these are imported into the country with narrow mag wells to accept single stack mags ( importing companies like Century open up the mag wells to accept standard 30rd mags), we do not see the characteristic mag well dimples of a typical AKM. 

The Yugoslavian NPAP and OPAP. 
Again with the oddballs… 

The Yugo variant of a stamped AK is the NPAP. The milled Yugo is the OPAP (which I believe are no longer imported as of a few months ago, correct me if I’m wrong). The main difference between a Yugo and almost every other AK out there, is the longer, 3 vent hole handguard. (We’re just going over visual differences here, but the trunnions are slightly different as well. AKM furniture will not fit a Yugo). 

Finally, Chinese AKs.

These are pics of an AKM front sight post (top) and a Chinese(bottom) front sight post. The Chinese model will have a fully hooded front sight. 

Bonus: VZ58

This is NOT an AK….completely different rifle. Shares no parts at all, not even magazines. It uses the 7.62x39 cartridge, but that’s where similarities end. The VZ is milled, striker fired, and uses a short stroke gas piston.

Hopefully I was able to educate some folks. Again, this was meant as a very basic, quick visual ID guide. I ain’t an expert and I was bored. 

Given how my “Ring Of Fire” Post is taking off like a Ba 249 “Natter”, let’s do a double feature with another classic cheap gun. 

This is a TEC-DC9, specifically this is the version used by spree killer and absolute edgy teen idol Dylan Klebold in the infamous 1999 Columbine School massacre. And now we’re gonna see how a weapon intended for police and military sales became one of the firearm world’s twist of fate and one of the most iconic criminal guns.

The story begins with two men, George Kellgren and Carlos Garcia. Kellgren was a designer who worked for Husqvarna and Interdynamic AB and designed the TEC-9′s beginning, the MP-9. With milled and stamped steel components, horrible folding stock, foregrip and selector switch killed it on the absurdly tight Swedish market, so Interdynamic moved to Miami, Florida. Kellgren leaves to work with Grendel and founded Kel-Tec, explains a lot of Kel-Tec’s quality problems while Garcia tweaked the MP-9 and began selling it as the KG-9.

The first alarm bell rang and that was that the KG-9 was a semi-auto pistol with an open bolt. For those who don’t know, that meant that any illegal gunsmith could simply fiddle with the sear and make it a full-auto machine pistol, and that they did. KG-9′s were bought in spades, set to full auto and matched the MAC-10′s ludicrous 1,000 RPM in a caliber easily obtained with a number of magazine sizes from tiny 10 rounders to ridiculous 50 round stick mags.

In 1982, the ATF ordered Intratec to revise the design to a closed bolt system, and they did and renamed the gun the KG-99. At this time, Interdynamic changed names to the now infamously tainted Intratec, and the kingpin was born. The KG-99 was modified with better sights and dubbed, the TEC-9.

From 1985 to 1990, the TEC-9 was made, with a number of version with long and short barrels, satin nickel or black finishes, a slew of magazine sizes and muzzle extensions and suppressors for every need. The TEC-9 became common with Jamaican and Cuban gangs across Florida for it’s size, large magazine capacity and it’s similar look to the full-auto MP-9. And with the rise of modern crime dramas and gangster rap, they immortalized the TEC-9 as a powerful gat with stopping power. 

And with a large magazine and the rise of the spree killer came it’s usage in mass shootings. On January 27, 1989, 6 people were killed in the Cleveland Elementary School shooting, committed by drifter Patrick Purdy. With this, California passed the Robert-Roos Assault Weapon Control Act of 1989, banning a lot of guns more on name than actual criminal usage and the TEC-9 was one of them.

Intratec circumvented this by making the TEC-DC9, DC standing for Designed For California. With the only difference being a change in sling attachment point, the TEC-DC9 lasted until 1994. When it and the original TEC-9 were named in the now famously bad Assault Weapons Ban of 1994. Intratec continued with the AB-10, similar looking to the TEC-9 “mini” but with no thread for a muzzle cover or suppressor as those were too “threatening” for 90′s politicians.

And here comes the big two nails in the Intratec coffin, the Columbine shooting and the 101 California Street shooting. 101 was on July 1st of 1993 when 55-year-old failed entrepreneur Gian Luigi Ferry walked through the 34th floor of law firm Pettit & Martin and after being told to seek legal council with a firm in the Midwest, walked into an elevator, donned ear protection and drew out 2 TEC-DC9 pistols as well as a Norinco made 1911 copy. He then shot 8 people at the firm and then himself. This attack prompted the Crime Bill of 1994 and the AWB.

Columbine High School in 1999 is devastated when two student, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shoot 13 students before killing themselves. In their arsenal included a Hi-Point 995 Carbine, sawn off Savage 67F pump shotgun and 311R double barreled shotgun, around 99 pipe bombs and one TEC-DC9, that was famously captured in a CCTV image in the hands of Klebold following their shooting of the school’s cafeteria. This shooting devastated the nation, and whether it was news reports, documentaries made by fat waste of space or countless leaflets, the TEC-9 shows up.

With publicity due to these shootings, Intratec attempted to diversify with a number of other designs, such as the Glock style compact CAT-9 pistol, TEC-22 and TEC-38. But the media frenzy grabbed Intratec and soon every politician was claiming the CAT-9 was “a cross between an assault weapon and a saturday night special” over a tiny compact pistol. Typical politician bravado, Intratec folded in 2001 from infamy and a ton of lawsuits from the Clinton administration.

And that ends the tale of the TEC-9, from police SMG to gangland paradise to media sensation, whether it’s at a gunshow’s pistol rack, a Dominican drug runner’s gun of choice, a video game bullet hose or in a Biggie Smalls song, the TEC-9 will remain a gangster’s piece.



Chinese AK variant that was imported into the U.S by Norinco and Polytech. They were originally brought in as standard semi-auto AK’s but later models were made into sporting configurations to meet ban requirements. There are also two types of receivers you’ll encounter with MAK-90′s, not counting milled versus stamped. MAK-90′s will have either a regular straight cut rear receiver or an angled receiver. (GRH)