May 2013

CIA Against Sig Sauer: AK-47 Takes On AK-47 ‘Compatible’

A Romanian WASR-10 is irrefutably an AK in roughness, looks, and function. Sig’s 556R is an AK in chambering and not much else. What you buy might depend on how you think the SWHTF.

With all of the political focus on guns, and specifically semiauto AR-style rifles, shooting enthusiasts have been trying to get their hands on products that are durable enough to last through any of the troubles that might be coming. For this task, the AK-47 platform may be the best place to start. Known for durability and reliability, the AK-47 has been tagged “the rifle of the revolution.” If you have ever seen a movie that has bad guys in it, you have probably seen them carrying a AK-47. There are videos all over the internet of people doing crazy things with their AKs, such as shooting them in pools, firing so many rounds through them at a fast enough pace to set the front end on fire, burying them and pulling them out of the ground and firing them, and the list goes on and on.

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We picked out two vastly different AK-style rifles for a head-to-head Gun Tests showdown: The WASR-10 imported by Century International Arms and the 556 Russian (556R) made by Sig Sauer. At first glance, the Century International Arms WASR-10 7.62x39mm, $900 (online pricing from GanderMountain.com), looks like a classic AK design, but it has some refinements American shooters will prefer. The WASR-10 is a post-ban version of the AKM rifle. WASR stands for Wassenaar Arrangement Semiautomatic Rifle. The name comes from a Dutch town where the international agreement on exportation of small arms was born. As manufactured in Romania, the 7.62x39 mm GP WASR-10 accepts single-column 10-round magazines. At the Century International Arms factory, the rifles are modified to conform with Title 18, Chapter 44, Section 922(r) of the United States Code. After arriving in the U.S., the rifles are disassembled, the magazine wells are machined out to accept double-stack magazines, and the requisite number of U.S.-made parts are installed for BATF compliance. With enough domestic parts included to make it “officially” U.S. made, the rifle can have a pistol grip and accept high-capacity magazines. The added U.S. parts are: 1) gas piston, 2) trigger, 3) hammer, 4) disconnector, 5) buttstock, and 6) pistol grip. Some units also have Tapco plastic folding or collapsible stocks. Beginning in 2007, Century International Arms has installed the Tapco Intrafuse AK G2 trigger group to eliminate trigger slap. These rifles come supplied with two 30-round magazines and a bayonet lug.

In contrast, the mostly polymer 556R looks like something out of a science-fiction movie. The Sig 556R is a revised version of the original rifle chambered in 7.62x39mm, most commonly referred to as the Gen 1. While there was never an official recall announced by Sig, the company will stand by the Gen 1 gun and make the corrections needed to get the gun up to par. One of the ways that you know whether you have a Gen 1 or a Gen 2 is that the Gen 2 has a steel-reinforced magazine shelf. One of the Gen 1’s problems was that metal magazines commonly used with AK-47s would wear down this shelf over time and cause the magazine not to sit correctly, or in some cases not even stay seated in the magazine well. Another issue that a lot of users reported were failures to eject. If you compare the size of the ejection port on the Gen 1 next to a Gen 2, you will notice that the Gen 2 has a much wider opening, allowing shells to eject without catching and causing a problem. The final issue on Gen 1s that owners reported were failures to fire. To solve this in the Gen 2s, Sig apparently increased the hammer-spring strength to make sure the harder primers in Russian ammo would ignite.

The good news is this: when Sig fixes a problem, they really fix it. The Sig 556R that we used in this test has all of the modifications already made, and it is just as reliable as every other AK out there, we believe. With its hefty price tag (going for nearly $3000 in some listings early in 2013), we wanted to see if the Sig was worth the money, or if the handy shooter is better off buying a less expensive model like the WASR-10 and making his own adjustments as time and necessity require and money allows. Here’s what we thought of the two rifles compared point by point:

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