The AK 47 My Weapon of Choice


„The Zastava M-70 is an assault rifle developed and produced in Yugoslavia, nowadays Kragujevac, Serbia by Zastava Arms company. The design of the M-70 was based on modified Soviet AK-47 and AKM assault rifles and it became the standard issue weapon in the Yugoslav People’s Army in 1970. The M-70 is an air-cooled, magazine-fed, selective fire rifle. This weapon is also available as a modern sporting rifle in the US without select fire capabilities.“

This above sounds like someone is trying to say something interesting, but he failed in that. It is simply dry facts about something that meant lot for us in those times, thing that saved many lives, and took many too.

Of course nobody calls it M70, type A, B or whatever type there was. Not too many people call it AK, few call it Kalashnikov, or simply shorter and more familiar name:“Kalash“. Like we were talking about kids nickname or your favourite uncles name.

Favourite name was „gipsy woman“ or „gipsy lady“.

In the beginning of the war, all kind of weapons were in use. Some of those artefacts were used more to instil fear in enemy then to harm someone.

So in one period it was normal to see guy with his grandpa hunting rifle, two belts of bullets for bird hunting on his waist, and even green hat on his head with bird feather on it.

He was looking more like he is going to some party with barbecue and lot of alcohol where he is going to sing a lot and fire few bullets in the air while singing songs than like someone who is shooting people.

And of course all kinds of weapons were pouring in through illegal channels. Most of that was simply junk that some warlords from some other country were trying to get rid of in country where war just started and everyone wants some kind of weapon.

Whenever someone asks me did I see some weapon or use it in war, I said yea, I saw and did. But most were bad weapons.

So you could see lot of weapons that were „strange“ to this region. Some of those items fell apart after first hundred of rounds. Sometimes killing the newborn warrior who finally had this first weapon.

Also there were events where some grandpas digged out old German MP gun, taken some 45 years ago from German soldiers and carefully hidden somewhere under meters of earth because „you know we live in Balkan and you never know“.

So in one period it was confused mix of all kind of small weapons usually too old and in very bad shape and used by people who are not so familiar with weapons. Accidents happened daily.

It was like some futuristic computer game where you could see fighter jets bombing area and at the same time guy with 100 years old rifle trying to shoot that plane.
But pretty soon after that, after the army barracks were taken, and I guess better warlords jumped in on the trade, „gipsy woman“ took over.

For ordinary folks it was rifle that somehow was easy to get into, it was easy to use, and easy to handle. Some of the reasons why AK 47 has become so popular everywhere in the world.

Most of the folks did not take care of it too much. I mean even if it was cleaned it was not cleaned in proper way and with proper equipment. And yes it was mistreated, dirty, left in dust or rain, kicked, fell on ground many times and thrown away when we were jumping for cover.

Do not misunderstand me, it was not something that created instant warriors, but it was the perfect rifle for that time and people who used it.

There were mant accidents and stupid events, like a guy who had adrenaline rush and forgot that he needed to switch safety so he tried and tried to shoot, but nothing. At the end he beat the other man with rifle like he was holding a baseball bat and not a rifle, luckily the other guy was confused more than him so this worked.

People made lots of mistakes in that time. Knowledge about weapons and knowledge about fighting was very low, so that was another reason why folks loved that rifle. Easy to handle and easy to kill.

Real event from that time was that after one group broke in military storage they took cases with rifles, but nobody touched guided anti tank missiles. At that moment nobody had a clue how they worked. Too heavy to carry and rifles had real value. Another urban legend is that some folks tried to fire one of the rockets but they failed to understand how to operate the small joystick so they blew themselves and their buddies up.

Later I lay my hands and used for some time „other“ favourite weapon that folks like compare with popularity of AK. My first impression was „oh man, this is so nice, easy and cute“ but again, maybe I am stubborn, I prefferer AK.

It is about me only maybe, it is simply a heavy duty tool for me. Tool that is reliable and can make you being violent more effective.

There are endless discussion which one is better, and endless list of arguments, and many people spend more time reading weapon magazines than preparing or learning new skills for survival. Again I keep saying it is not about which one is better.

It is which one is better for you, for your region, your size, your knowledge but like with all survival equipment make sure it is weapon that can take a beating. Just like with camping equipment today there are very light tents that are very high tech but they are not good for real survival scenarios when we talk about maybe months of use.

The next step is thinking about how to fix your weapon. Again just like a good tent can be fixed with normal stuff, you should be able to fix your weapon if you have to.

Today situation is different than 20 years ago, world is getting smaller, it is easier to get your hands on weapons that you like and at least promise to make you so much more dangerous for enemies. That’s better, we all can see or try many different types or weapon, we can actually feel how it works before we obtain it at shooting ranges.

Think about your weapon not in perfect time and surroundings, try to imagine yourself in your worst moments of your life. You are cold, hungry, in pain or fear, when your kid is home sick without medication and you feel like some very heavy weight is pressing down on you from all the pressure. Standing up to this sort of challenge is what makes survival hard and lets strong people survive. So it will not be weapon only and if you choose your weapon make sure it is something that you can still operate in the worst mental, physical and maybe also natural conditions. At times when you are almost too exhausted to walk but you know you have to.

What is your go to weapon for SHTF and why? Please share in comments or on our community forum.

34 responses to “The AK 47 My Weapon of Choice”

  1. Zulu Cowboy says:

    Interesting topic. And a great weapon! I’m a big fan of both the AK variant, and the SKS. Recently picked up a Yugo underfolder, M70-AB2; and took it to the range recently. I understand what you mean about this rifle being a “work horse” weapon, for combat. I was hesitant at first, to get one…because it doesn’t have a chrome-lined barrel. But I don’t intend to be shooting much corrosive ammunition, so it’s really not that big of a deal. How did you clean your rifle, during the war Selco? Did you have to improvise a bit?

    • Selco says:

      Most of the time it was improvisation, maybe few times it was cleaned on proper way with “military” oil.In other cases it was cleaned with whatever was available, sometimes just rags. Oil from cars in small amounts were used too. It worked. I believe another reason why it worked was because they were already in perfect condition thanks to “conservation” in military storage.
      It is not miracle rifle, but it can take lot of abuse.

  2. Hornet says:

    I love my AK. I took off the wood stock and to make it lighter,and added polymer. I added a vertical grip, and a Leupold CQBSS 1.1-8X.

  3. RandallW says:

    If I could only take 2 firearms, I would take my WASR AK-47 and my Glock 26. My AK is durable and reliable. I don’t enjoy cleaning guns like some guys. I just want something that works. I also prefer the AK because of the harder hitting round. My Glock is a go-to gun for the same reasons. Plus it can take those 33 round mags.

  4. j.r. guerra in s. tx. says:

    Thank you for your perspective Selco. I’m a fan of the AK too, but as a ‘seasoned citizen’, think it would be heavy to carry everywhere you go. I would at least consider a bolt action carbine taking the same round as the AK for a walk about rifle, just for common ammunition. CZ and (I think) Ruger still manufacture carbines for this cartridge.

    The AK gains much attention, some afraid of the owner, others who want to possess it for themselves. In the West, it has been portrayed as the weapon of the gangbanger – drug dealer – bad guy (Good guys use ARs after all :^). Most non gun owners do not recognize that in parts of the country, YOU are the police and having that sort of firepower is needed for peace of mind.

    Thank you again.

  5. CowboyUp says:

    HK91G3. Extremely rugged, well made, very accurate and reliable. The .308/7.62×51 is a better round for the big open long range high desert or high mountain country of Wyoming. This is big predator country as well. A 5.56 is only going to piss off a Grizzly! Hunting Elk, Moose or Mule Deer require a larger round as well. Extreme cold has no effect on the G3 either. This battle rifle handles, carries and aims well. Parts and add-ons are relatively cheap from German military surplus. Magazines are about $3.00. The rifles though have become very pricy.

  6. Daniel says:

    I really like the AK but did not get where I live so I cope with FAL

  7. Chris McCowan says:

    My favorite is by far an AK rifle/carbine. I currently have a Zastava M92 which I have paired up with a SIG 229 pistol. Both are very reliable, easy to handle, and relatively maintenance free if cared for. I also own the AR15/M16 type rifle, which is also a good rifle, but not able to take near as much abuse, though more accurate. Accuracy and penetration at combat ranges, the AK is more than sufficient, and reliability….well, it goes bang every time I pull the trigger..period. Great article. 🙂

  8. jack says:

    My weapon of choice is the shotgun! Ammo can be found everywhere, and you can shoot in the dark and be sure to hit the mark. There are many different kinds of ammo for EVERY situation. The problem w/ak’s and ar-15’s is the bullets are made to go thru armor. Thet go right thru people and you can hit someone multiple times and they still keep shooting at you…. They have a decent range that most gunfights are going to be fought at…

  9. Chuck B. says:

    AK and Glock 19, and why I chose them.
    There are “better” guns available for different purposes and/or situations, but if I only had two guns it would be these. Other than .22LR, the 9×19 and 7.62×39 are the cheapest ammo available on the market, so stocking up and practice are both affordable *at the same time,* which is important. Five thousand rounds are worthless if you don’t know how to use them, but hundreds of hours of training is also useless if you have no ammo. I regularly find both rounds available for $200 to $240 per thousand for range ammo (FMJ), little over than half of most other “serious” calibers. The .308 round is a more powerful round, but is it really worth the difference in weight and cost? For some few, yes, but for most people in most places, the 7.62×39 is quite enough. Even top snipers rarely shoot more than a couple hundred yards; the long shots garner so much attention because they’re relatively rare.
    The AK is my “Go-To” rifle of choice; there are magazines of all sizes (5, 10, 20, 30, 40 rnd) available plus 75-rnd drums, pouches, chest rigs, drum carriers, broken-shell extractors, slings, sight tools, replacement stocks, and more available on dozens of websites, and they all are mix-and-match interchangeable IF you stick with an original pattern AKM rifle. I have wood furniture, but the folding stock bolts right on in about three minutes if I need compactness.
    My second choice if I couldn’t have my AK is my SKS – with Stripper-Clips, I can load it almost as fast as changing AK mags, chest-rigs for it are cheap (I think I paid ~ $6-8 for unissued/brand new Chines surplus 10-pocket/200 rounds), stripper clips are more compact and lighter than magazines so you can carry about twice the ammo, and since the receiver is machined from solid billet instead of stamped from sheet-metal and spot-welded, it has much greater accuracy potential at range, while still being a dedicated military weapon. Broken-shell extractors, field cleaning kits, sight tools,and many other AK accessories are the same, as of course is the ammo.
    As far as pistol calibers, with few exceptions they are all engineered to give similar results: 12 to 18 inches of penetration in calibrated ballistic gelatin. Even the most experienced doctors and coroners cannot tell the difference in wounds between a 9×19, .38spcl, .44, .40, or .45acp; they generally have to retrieve the slug and measure it to determine the caliber if they don’t have the gun. Knowing that, I chose the one that gives me the most rounds in my hand if things get excited. The Glock 19 carries two less rounds than the G17, but the seemingly marginal difference in size is surprising in fact – I can carry the G19 under a loose T-shirt here in Texas in the summer, but I have to wear a shirt or jacket for the G17. I gladly forfeit two rounds for that much comfort. Also, the G19 will use the G17 and G18 magazines, so if I ever have to reload I’ll have even more rounds than I started with!
    I used to carry a 1911 with two spare mags (22 rounds total), but the G19 with one spare G17 gives me 33 rounds for even less weight. It was an easy decision.
    Chuck B.

  10. Hillbilly says:

    Hey Cowboy, I’v never taken “Big Game” and round here mostly 400lb black garbage bears and the deer around here a .223 works fine but a .270 is prime. Anyway I was just wondering how a .308 works on an elk or a mulie?

  11. herbertwest says:

    My ’emergency’ weapon is a glock 17, always on me, plus one in my vehicle, one at home, and one at work, all secured and with 3 17 rd mags each and two 33 rd mags. I practice regularly, almost always have 2 additional mags on me, and if a rifle is needed, I can use either an M4, an Ak, an FAL, AR10 , PTR, HK, whatever is available about the area. I can make shots out to 50 yds consistantly with it as well, plus the 33rd mags are a definite plus if required whatever circumstances may dictate.

  12. Cyril says:


    My first reply here, so first thank you Selco for your articles and time you give for them! A lot of them opened my eyes about a lot of things and I’m greateful you share it.

    About rifles my favorite is my Sig 550. I used the standard version in the army, had always with me in every weather conditions and was badly carried in the tank, where it “eaten” a lot of dust and mud. The gas tube can be rusty when not greased but it can’t make the rifle jam. If really it starts to jam, it’s full of mud or calamine and in this moment you shoot a bolt-action rifle. For clean it you need a T-shirt and you can use the sling to rub the sh** off.

    Remember, it’s simply an AK with AR rounds.

    I had an AK and loved it, but it’s not common where I live. To stay “local” I would use a Sig 510 or K31 😉

  13. Cowboyup says:

    No problem there. My Dad and Mom both hunted mule deer with .308’s. The big issue is range. At 500 to 600 yards the .308 lacks penetration for Elk. There are better grade bullets available to mitigate that to some extent. This is big open distance country and requires some gun powder and bullet weight to fly far and straight and deliver a kill shot when it arrives. There’s also wind to allow for. Higher elevation and density altitude helps with some of that. Dad used an 06 for Elk and I use a .280 or a 30.06 as well as a 25.06 for deer or antelope. I am real partial to Barnes Triple X bullets. Shoot through an Elk at 400 yards with 100% bullet retention.

  14. Tim Carry says:

    I’m a really big fan of the M92. Nevertheless, at this point I do not have room for another baby 😀

  15. john says:

    I am confused, Selco. You are saying the gypsy lady is the most popular now. Long time ago I thought you said the most popular was sawed-off Yugo Mauser…or whatever you call them where you live. In America we call that rifle the Yugo Mauser. It shoots 8mm Mauser rifle ammo just like the old World War 2 German Mauser. Did you talk about the Yugo Mauser once a long time ago or am I confused with someone else?

    • Selco says:

      No need for confusion. There were few rifles that were there, like AK, PAP… and there was m-48, I believe you talk about that rifle. But most popular, most favorite was Yugo AK (there were also other issue like Romanian type a)
      I saw many other too, especially later, but AK was favorite.

  16. john says:

    The problem with the AK in America is that you can not get one with select fire unless you are very rich. Average people can only get single fire versions. In my opinion, if you are limited to a rifle that only shoots once per trigger pull, you should choose an assault rifle known for accuracy and maybe lots of power in one shot. Accuracy is what you get from the AR15. Lots of power in one shot is what you get from single fire civilian versions of FNFAL, CETME/G3 or an AR10.

  17. Chuck B. says:

    Combat Accuracy is totally different than Shooting Range accuracy. That’s why “Snipers,” “Sharpshooters,” and “Marksmen” are differentiated between; for the vast majority of real combat, 6-inches at 200 yards is more than adequate, and that is about average for the AK. A friend of mine that served as a Marine in the Mid-East said they often left their ARs in the vehicles in favor of the AKs because the .30-caliber would easily punch through many barriers that would stop the 5.56/AR round cold. As far as “Select Fire,” almost all accounts I’ve heard (some first-hand, some second-hand; I don’t pay attention to the apocryphal or “Urban Legend” type tales), very few of the truly Top-Level operators ever use F/A-fire since “semi” gives far better control for every round – which means more rounds on target with fewer rounds (fewer re-loads) fired.
    The AK is one of the easiest of rifles to “Bump-Fire” if anyone wants to lay suppressive fire, but since I personally have to pay for each and every round fired, I really don’t want a “Select-Fire” that can “Mag-Dump” in under 3 seconds. Since I live in classic American “Suburbia,” I really don’t expect to engage in any extended firefights or military-type sieges.

    Chuck B.

  18. john says:

    Accuracy is accuracy. Some rifles are easier to give an accurate follow up shot due to recoil. Some rifles are faster to bring on to target due to weight, ergonomics, and barrel length. The AR out performs the AK in everything I just described.

    Colt’s manufacturing is currently experimenting with a prototype rifle that is said to be modular like an AR and will accept parts and components from both the AR and the SCAR. If it turns out to be what they claim it will be the best assault rifle in the world.

  19. Rob says:

    Selco, what do you think of having a flashlight on your SHTF rifle? I’ve heard that a light, optic, and sling are “must-haves” for an SHTF rifle; from personal experience would you agree or disagree with this?

    • Selco says:

      Sure, why not, but nothing heavy, or “bulky”. And think about how and when to use it, I mean sometimes it is better use to have very small light in your pocket (penlight for example) then to use strong “good” light on your rifle.

      • undeRGRönd says:

        K.I.S.S. Theory

        I have learned much from you, SELCO, and a big one was to always use keep it simple. AND LIGHT WEIGHT!
        I will have provision for a light, but it may not always be mounted 😉

        • Gman23 says:

          If you have a light, it is best to have one with a strobe function because it tends to disorient the threat (enemy). These days with flashlights so small and powerful, there’s no excuse not to have one, especially for CQB (close quarters battles). Which is also a very good reason to have a bull pup shot gun in your arsenal! Of course if you’re not in an urban environment you may not need one.

  20. Chad says:

    I’m a big fan of the AK-47. I’d go with that for my rifle and also a shotgun if possible.

  21. Denise Hemmingway says:

    Currently my go to weapon is a Zastava built M59/ 66A1 SKS. It is a very rugged built rifle and it also shows some signs of recent use and it is possibly not a ‘Garry Trooper’ of a rifle. From its serial number my Gunsmith believes that it may have seen service in the 1990s during the civil wars that followed the breakup of Yugoslavia. I also have a WW-2 era Ordnance field rebuild M-1 Garand that is a government built Frankenstein Gun. It was lent to Greece sometime after the Second World War and later returned to the United States. I got it back in 2004. Currently it is at my gunsmith being rebuilt so that it is safe to use and shoot. Once I have it out of the shop it and my SKS will be tools in the event thing go pear shaped here at home.

  22. iamcurious says:

    My main rifles are the SKS and the IZ-240, an AK74 variant that shoots the 5.45 X 39 round. Both weapons are relatively inexpensive, fire inexpensive rounds, yet are quite up to the purpose of defense. An IZ-240 cost me about $540 delivered, new. The savings on 3000-4000 rounds of ammo over 5.56 X 45, easily pays for the gun. Both guns are quite capable of being used to acquire other weapons in a SHTF situation. BATF said about the SKS: “First class firepower at Saturday night special prices”. They and the AK47 are known to work well and reliably whether they’re wet, dry, hot, cold, clean or dirty. I have every confidence that the AK74 will perform similarly.

  23. freefornow says:

    I am not a vet, so can’t speak to real combat utility, but I own and use a lot of rifles. My presumed go to now is my Tavor. It uses 5.56 (wish it were 7.62) but in a bullpup with very natural feel and compact size. I think it would be very handy for combat in and around buildings and vehicles as would be my probable scenario. Far lighter and easier to carry and shoulder than my AR 10 (with its huge trijicon) and somewhat lighter and easier than my ak and my ar 15 (but every bit as accurate as my AR 15). For the US, mags and ammo are abundant (any ar 15 mag works). Simple to clean (two pins to pull all the innards out). Came with a really nice optic that uses no batteries and gives a fantastic sigh picture (dead to nuts at 200 yds out of the box).

  24. Rob says:

    Selco, thanks so much for your earlier advice on the matter of weapons. Another thing I would like to ask you about is, when did it become acceptable for the average person to carry around “gypsy lady” openly on the street? Did carrying around a weapon make you the target of unwanted attention, or did it get gangs to stay away? How would you know when to openly have a rifle versus to have only a concealed pistol like a Glock or Tokarev on your person?

    • Selco says:

      When it became clear that there is no law anymore, and killings become everyday thing. Yes, sometimes it was smarter to look like nobody, without guns, when it is clearly that you need to look like no threat.
      There were no real rules, just from situation to situation.

  25. Patty Hahne says:

    You make some very good points in this article! There’s a reason that the AK-47 is one of the popular and versatile rifles world wide. You’re definitely not alone in choosing this firearm as your weapon of choice!

  26. Dave says:

    Many advantages to an AK. As far as what to use during SHTF, it depends on where you are and what is happening that you need a rifle for. There are many 100 year old guns that are equal to anything made today. If you need to take someone out from afar, there is no finer bolt gun that a Carl Gustav Swedish Mauser in 6.5X55 cal. For close-in CQB a 65 year old Uzi MP-2 works as well as an M-4 or the newer AK-74. It really comes down to what is available and the skill of the user. A highly skilled shooter with a black powder musket has better odds than a novice wielding a .50 BMG and a Gen 4 NVS. At the risk of continuing the AK vs AR debate I submit this bit of humor. As Selco said, your choices may be severely limited without training and planning.

  27. Rianne says:

    Interesting read. However, i’m from The Netherland and impossible to get these type of guns. So difficult for me, but aldo for everybody else. So no gun-bearing gangs.

    Is it possible you do a blogpost about defense of home while assuming not the intruder, nor homeowner has guns? How will this develop and how can i prepare?

  28. Joe says:

    Selco, Do you have any experience with 5.56 AK rifles? I am American so the 5.56 is much more common then either of the popular Russian rounds and if and or when they try another ammo ban I can at least still pick up .223 rounds. Ive been considering the Arsenal or Wasr in 5.56 but I cant find much reviews on them from reputable sources.

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