GSG AK-47 .22 rimfire
Tim Finley tests the new GSG .22 rimfire version of the AK-47 under competition conditions
I have owned a German Sport Guns (GSG) GSG-5 semi auto rifle for almost a year now, it is modelled on the iconic Heckler and Koch MP-5. Followings its success the firm moved on to another world famous firearm, the ubiquitous AK-47.
It was with great excitement that I travelled to York Guns the UK distributor for GSG products to pick up a GSG-AK-47 for review. Making their .22 semi auto guns resemble so-called “real” firearms was a very shrewd move.
For the Russian gun they managed to get the approval of Mr Kalashnikov himself. Mikhail only gave his consent due to the fact that the rifle has been made as a target/sporting gun in .22 rimfire calibre. Stuart at York Guns gave me a wooden stocked rifle to take for the review, along with a dedicated scope mounting system and two magazines.
Having actually shot a real AK-47 I was more than keen to see what a pseudo .22 rimfire version would shoot like. The GSG-5 I own shoots well, but not having shot a real H&K MP-5 I have nothing to compare it to. To begin with both the GSG guns use the same bolt and bolt carrying system, the two are of course worlds apart in almost every other respect.
The dimensions of the German version match the real AK-47 and a quick glance in the box was enough to confirm to me it did indeed look like the real McCoy. The woodwork has been kept plain looking to match a real AK, and there is a fake gas tube along the top of the action. The .22 barrel sits inside a shroud which has the foresight attached to it. The safety on the gun is on the right hand side and - you guessed it folks - looks just like the huge lever on the real gun. On the real one when it is in the safe - the highest position - it covers up the ejection port. A hook on the front of the lever is used to hold the bolt in the open position on the cocking arm of the bolt. If the bolt is closed and the safety applied the rifle cannot be cocked, as the safety lever prevents the bolt coming back far enough to cock the action. The rear stock has to be fitted to the gun via two screws before the rifle is ready to use.
In practice I found the operation of the rifle familiar and very easy. The magazine for the rifle is made out of polymers, as is the GSG-5 magazine. Yet it does differ, as the AK takes 24 rounds compared to the 20 (or 22 at a push) of the GSG-5. I did try to squeeze 25 rounds into the mag but two dozen is the most it will take.
The mag is inserted into the gun just as in the real AK; there is a large lip on the front of the mag with which you hook it into the magazine well in the action, then pull back and up to click the mag firmly into place. To remove the magazine there is a large lever in front of the trigger guard, grip the mag and operate the lever with your thumb at the same time. Push forward and down and the mag comes cleanly out of the rifle. I like the fact that they have made the magazine 68mm wide to make it look like it holds 7.62*43mm rounds even when it holds the diminutive .22 LR rimfire rounds. To have made the magazine dimensions just to take rimfire rounds would have made the finished rifle look very odd and not like an AK-47 at all, which sort of defeats the object of the exercise. Using a big magazine and keeping the Kalashnikov insertion system does make mag changes very quick, as I was to find out later.
GSG as always supply a very comprehensive instruction manual and a tool kit, consisting of a multi headed screwdriver, which includes a tool to adjust the height of the foresight element. Also a curved brush to clean the barrel chamber. The 47 can be bought with either a plastic stock or - as on the test rifle - wooden furniture, as well as a range of tactical hand guard systems and optical sight mounting systems.
The Tactical sight rail model I was given is deemed to be the best one. It clamps onto the left hand side of the action via two Allen screws and the top Picatinny type rail is 127mm long, allowing all types of sight to be fitted. I wanted to test the rifle’s accuracy at 50m so needed to fit some sort of optical sight to do this - open post and notch sights are not really ideal for accuracy testing. I then fitted a Simmons Whitetail 1.5-5*20 with JSR Weaver mounts.
Off the bench and mini rifle competition
With CCI subsonic rounds I shot a 35mm centre to centre ten shot group off a bench at 50m. Due to the large curved magazine hanging down below the bottom of the action it is not an easy rifle to bench rest. However it is not a bench rest target rifle and the group size was not unexpected and not disappointing.
I did find the trigger a bit heavy with a long pull through the sears, but if that was a deliberate attempt to match the real AK-47 trigger they have got it spot on. I measured the trigger pull weight at 4.52kg, in the instruction manual it states 2.5kg, testing my own GSG-5 that was indeed 2.5kg. Again we are not dealing with a dedicated target rifle here. I wanted to test the rifle out in a real mini rifle competition, which is what the rifle should be really good at; here the accuracy at 50m and the heavy trigger pull are not a hindrance to doing well at the sport.
For those who do not know what mini rifle is, it is a move and shoot event, shot against the clock. Accuracy and speed are the deciding factors, so do you go slow for a big score, or quick and risk getting a low score because you are not spending enough time on the aim. Our club shoots to IPSC rules (International Practical Shooting Competition). Using their mini rifle cardboard targets, these are coffin shaped with three scoring zones, the inner “A” section which scores 5 points is 50x135mm, the next one or “C” 4 points and is 100x195mm and the outer “D” 2 point ring is 160x260mm.
Being a shooting sport combined with movement, safety is paramount, and we undertake briefings before every event. A range officer accompanies the shooter through all the stages of the shoot and it is a very safe sport. I have never seen an accidental discharge in all the mini rifle events I have seen or shot in. The rifles safety is always applied and the gun pointed to the floor when moving between the designated firing points. It does need a different type of optical sight and I removed the telescopic sight to fit a red dot action style sight.
A problem I have with my own GSG-5 is the sights height above the barrel and the amount I have to aim off when shooting at short ranges, so I chose the Hawke ultra low profile red dot as this lessens the distance from the barrels centreline to the sight. I zeroed the Hawke into 17 yards and checked the amount I needed to aim higher at 10 yards and where the rounds were striking at 25yards.
I did not expect to shoot really well with the AK-47 as I had only put 50 or so rounds through it before the competition, and in mini rifle you really need to be comfortable with your rifle as you have magazine changes, ‘wrong’ shoulder shots and the potential of having to clear a jammed round - all mixed together against the clock. It must be a tribute to the layout of the AK-47 that everything was just so easy from the start. I knew I had scored well on the second stage as I saw my targets with one double tap (two shots on the same target) being one small hole made up of the two shots, these were two shots fired in less than a second. Also I had the fastest time at 81.10 seconds with 102 points, when the scores and times were run through the program which is used for IPSC competitions. It turned out I had won shooting the AK for the very first time. I was impressed, I came 3rd on the first stage of the competition, so must have been in some way getting used to the trigger, the sight and the handling of the gun. The second longer stage, with 6 steel plates at 25m at the start, I won convincingly.
So, what do I think of the new GSG-AK-47? the results of the competition must speak for themselves. It proves you do not need a light match trigger for speed shooting events, in fact I can see too light a trigger being a positive disadvantage as well as not being as safe.
York Guns are going to make an adaptor to screw into the barrel shroud in place of what GSG call a nozzle, this will have an industry standard ½ UNF thread on it, so any rimfire moderator can be fitted. Incidentally, I tested the York Guns moderator made for the GSG-5 and found it very well made and it locates firmly on the barrel, it does add weight and an extra 128mm to the rifle, but as a quick fit solution to fitting a mod on the GSG-5 it is a clever and not very expensive solution at £80.
As a mini rifle gun the GSG series has it all; big magazine capacity and not a lot of jams. The AK never missed a beat and the only jams I have had in a year with my own GSG-5 have been my fault, holding the gun by the magazine or incorrectly pulling the cocking handle at the wrong time. One point to note is that although the guns are marked HV for high velocity .22 rimfire ammunition, I have never used such ammo in my gun or in the AK-47 test. Quality subsonic ammo has worked faultlessly in all my tests.
One GSG-5 shooter at the club found HV ammo jammed more than the good sub’s. I refuse to even try HV in my gun, as long as you keep the gun clean it works, as with most other .22 semi autos. The GSG’s have taken over from the Ruger 10/22 at our club and I see them doing the same at others, I wonder if they are going to make an M16 version… now there’s a thought.
|Manufacturer||German Sport Guns ( GSG)|
|Stock||Wood or Polymer (wood on test)|
|Weight||3.15k (without Magazine)|
|RRP||£564 ( Wood)
£540 ( Polymer)
£38 for spare 24 round mags and £56 for the sight rail
All Prices Are Guides Due to the Changes in US & European Exchange Rates