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Complete Guide: Taking Apart and Cleaning the AK-47

In this complete guide, you will learn the step-by-step process of taking apart and cleaning the AK-47 (and its variants used in the U.S.). With a combination of a video tutorial and detailed instructions, you will gain a thorough understanding of how to properly maintain these firearms. Furthermore, we will provide a brief historical background for each variant, further enhancing your knowledge and appreciation for the AK-47. Stay tuned to acquire valuable insights and skills in maintaining this iconic firearm.

Complete Guide: Taking Apart and Cleaning the AK-47

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Overview of the AK-47

The AK-47 is a widely known assault rifle that was developed in the Soviet Union by Mikhail Kalashnikov. It was designed during the late 1940s and early 1950s as a replacement for the aging Mosin-Nagant rifles that were used by the Red Army. The AK-47 went on to become one of the most successful and iconic firearms in history, with millions of units produced and used by military forces around the world.

Design and Development of the AK-47

The design and development of the AK-47 started in 1945 when Mikhail Kalashnikov, a former tank mechanic, submitted his prototype for a new rifle to the Soviet Union’s small arms committee. The committee was looking for a rifle that could be mass-produced, reliable, and easy to use, even by inexperienced soldiers.

Kalashnikov’s design was chosen over several other submissions, and the AK-47 (Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947) was officially adopted by the Soviet military in 1949. The rifle featured a gas-operated, rotating bolt system, which made it highly reliable and easy to maintain. It also had an innovative curved magazine that could hold 30 rounds of ammunition.

Introduction of the AK-47 in the U.S.

The AK-47 was first introduced to the United States in the 1960s when it was captured by American soldiers during the Vietnam War. This marked the beginning of American interest in the rifle, and it soon gained popularity among civilians as well. However, due to import restrictions and trade embargoes, the availability of AK-47s in the U.S. was limited.

Variants of the AK-47 used in the U.S.

To circumvent import restrictions, American manufacturers began producing their own versions of the AK-47, known as AK-47 variants or clones. These firearms are essentially copies of the original AK-47 design, but they may feature slight modifications or improvements to comply with U.S. gun laws.

Some popular variants of the AK-47 used in the U.S. include the AK-47 WASR-10, AK-47 Century Arms C39, and AK-47 Palmetto State Armory PSAK-47. These rifles offer a similar design and functionality to the original AK-47, allowing enthusiasts and shooters in the U.S. to experience the iconic firearm.

Importance of Cleaning the AK-47

Cleaning your AK-47 regularly is crucial to ensure its safety, reliability, and overall performance. Neglecting to clean your firearm can lead to malfunctions, accuracy issues, and potential safety hazards. By following a proper cleaning routine, you can maintain the longevity and effectiveness of your AK-47.

Ensuring Safety and Reliability

Cleaning your AK-47 helps remove dirt, debris, and fouling that can accumulate during shooting. Dirty or fouled components can cause malfunctions, such as failure to feed, extract, or eject rounds properly. Regular cleaning and lubrication can prevent these issues and ensure that your rifle functions reliably when you need it most.

Maintaining Accuracy and Performance

Accurate shooting is essential, whether you are using your AK-47 for target practice or in a self-defense scenario. A clean barrel is essential for maintaining accuracy. Fouling and carbon build-up can affect bullet trajectory and accuracy over time. Regular cleaning helps remove these build-ups, ensuring consistent and reliable performance from your rifle.

Necessary Tools and Materials

Before diving into the cleaning process, it’s important to gather all the necessary tools and materials. Having the right equipment ensures that you can clean your AK-47 thoroughly and effectively.

Cleaning Kit for AK-47

A cleaning kit specifically designed for the AK-47 is essential. This kit typically includes a cleaning rod, bore brushes, patch holder, patches, and a chamber brush. It is specifically designed to fit the dimensions of the AK-47 and provides the necessary tools to clean various components of the rifle.

Cleaning Solvent

A good quality cleaning solvent is essential for breaking down carbon buildup, removing fouling, and dissolving any residues that may have accumulated on various parts of your AK-47. There are various commercially available cleaning solvents specifically formulated for firearms, and it is recommended to use one that suits your preferences.

Brushes and Patches

Bore brushes and patches are used to clean the barrel of your AK-47. Bore brushes come in various sizes and materials, such as bronze or nylon, and are used with a cleaning rod to scrub the inside of the barrel. Patches are used to apply cleaning solvent and remove any debris.


Proper lubrication is essential for smooth operation and longevity of your AK-47. A high-quality gun oil or lubricant should be used on various moving parts such as the bolt carrier group, trigger assembly, and other contact points. This helps reduce friction and prevents premature wear and tear.

Safety Equipment

When cleaning your AK-47 or any firearm, it is important to prioritize safety. Wear eye protection to prevent any cleaning solvents or debris from getting into your eyes. Additionally, consider using gloves to protect your hands from potentially harmful cleaning chemicals.

Step-by-Step Guide on Disassembling the AK-47

To clean your AK-47 thoroughly, you will need to disassemble certain components of the rifle. Follow these steps to ensure a safe and proper disassembly:

Clearing and Unloading the Rifle

Before starting the disassembly process, ensure that the rifle is completely unloaded. Remove the magazine and visually inspect the chamber to ensure no ammunition is present. Always treat the firearm as if it were loaded and follow safe firearms handling practices.

Field Stripping the AK-47

Field stripping the AK-47 involves separating the rifle into its major components, making it easier to clean. Start by pressing the button located on the rear of the receiver cover, then lift up and remove the cover. Next, pull the recoil spring assembly out from the rear of the receiver while being mindful of its tension. Finally, remove the bolt carrier group by sliding it out towards the rear of the receiver.

Removing the Dust Cover and Recoil Spring Assembly

Once the bolt carrier group is removed, take off the dust cover by sliding it forward and lifting it off. Remove the recoil spring assembly from the rear of the receiver by pulling it outwards.

Taking Apart the Bolt Carrier Group

To disassemble the bolt carrier group, push the retaining lever located at the rear end of the carrier sideways and rotate it upwards. This will release the firing pin retaining pin. Once released, the firing pin and its spring can be removed from the rear of the carrier. Afterward, the bolt can be separated from the carrier by rotating it counterclockwise.

Removing the Gas Piston and Removing the Piston from the Bolt Carrier

To remove the gas piston, simply push it towards the front of the gas block until it is clear of the carrier and slide it out. Next, rotate the bolt carrier so that the gas tube protrudes from the carrier and pull the piston out.

Disassembling the Trigger Assembly

To disassemble the trigger assembly, first, remove the pistol grip by unscrewing the grip screw located at the bottom of the grip. Once the grip is removed, the trigger and hammer pins can be pushed out using a drift punch or similar tool. With the pins removed, the trigger group can be lifted out.

Separating the Stock and Receiver

To separate the stock from the receiver, locate the rear tang on the receiver and pull the stock slightly downwards while simultaneously pushing it towards the rear of the rifle. The stock should detach, allowing you to clean both the stock and receiver individually.

Complete Guide: Taking Apart and Cleaning the AK-47

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Thorough Cleaning of AK-47 Components

Now that your AK-47 is disassembled, it’s time to clean each component thoroughly. This section will give you a step-by-step guide on cleaning the essential parts of your rifle.

Cleaning the Barrel

Start by attaching a bore brush to the cleaning rod and applying a liberal amount of cleaning solvent to the brush. Insert the rod into the chamber end of the barrel and push it through until the brush emerges from the muzzle. Move the brush back and forth several times to scrub the inside of the barrel. After scrubbing the bore, remove the bore brush and attach a cleaning patch to the rod. Soak the patch in cleaning solvent and run it through the barrel several times to remove any excess carbon or fouling. Repeat this process until the patch comes out clean.

Cleaning the Bolt Carrier Group

The bolt carrier group consists of several components that require thorough cleaning. Start by wiping down the bolt carrier with a clean cloth or brush to remove any loose dirt or debris. Pay close attention to the bolt face and gas piston recess. Next, dip a brush into cleaning solvent and scrub the bolt, firing pin, and all other surfaces of the bolt carrier group. Be sure to remove any carbon buildup or fouling. Once clean, wipe away any excess solvent and apply a light coat of lubricant to all surfaces.

Cleaning the Gas Piston

The gas piston is subject to carbon buildup due to the gas system of the AK-47. Dip a brush into cleaning solvent and scrub the gas piston thoroughly, concentrating on the carbon buildup. After scrubbing, wipe away any excess solvent and apply a light coat of lubricant.

Cleaning the Trigger Assembly

The trigger assembly should be cleaned and inspected for any dirt, debris, or excess lubricant. Use a brush or cloth to wipe down all components, paying special attention to the trigger, hammer, and sear surfaces. Remove any carbon buildup or fouling with cleaning solvent, then wipe away any excess solvent. Apply a light coat of lubricant to all moving parts.

Cleaning the Stock and Receiver

The stock and receiver of your AK-47 can accumulate dirt, debris, or other contaminants. Wipe down both components using a clean cloth or brush to remove any loose dirt. For more stubborn dirt or grime, use a cloth or brush soaked in cleaning solvent. Once clean, wipe away any excess solvent and apply a light coat of lubricant to all metal surfaces.

Inspecting and Replacing Worn Parts

Regular cleaning provides an opportunity to inspect your AK-47 for any worn or damaged parts. This is especially important for safety and reliability. Here are specific areas to inspect:

Examining the Barrel

Inspect the barrel for signs of wear, rust, or erosion. Look for any bulges or deformities along the length of the barrel. If you notice any of these issues, it is advisable to take your rifle to a professional gunsmith for evaluation or barrel replacement.

Checking the Condition of Bolt Carrier Group

Inspect the bolt carrier group for any signs of excessive wear or damage. Pay attention to the firing pin, extractor, and bolt lugs. Ensure that all components are in good working order and replace any parts that show signs of significant wear.

Inspecting the Gas Piston

Examine the gas piston for signs of wear or damage. Check for any cracks or deformities. If the gas piston is severely worn or damaged, it may need to be replaced to maintain optimal functioning.

Inspecting the Trigger Assembly

Inspect the trigger assembly for any signs of wear, cracking, or damage. Pay close attention to the trigger, hammer, and sear surfaces. Replace any worn or damaged parts to ensure safe and reliable operation.

Inspecting the Stock and Receiver

Inspect the stock and receiver for any cracks, chips, or other signs of damage. Check all attachment points and ensure that the stock is securely fastened to the receiver. Replace any damaged or compromised components to maintain the structural integrity and stability of the firearm.

Complete Guide: Taking Apart and Cleaning the AK-47

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Proper Lubrication and Reassembly

After cleaning and inspecting your AK-47, it is essential to apply lubricant to critical areas to ensure smooth operation. Here are the steps to follow:

Applying Lubricant to Critical Areas

Apply a light coat of lubricant to all moving parts of the bolt carrier group, trigger assembly, and other contact points. Pay close attention to areas where metal parts interact or slide against each other. Be sure not to over-lubricate, as excess oil can attract dirt and cause malfunctions.

Reassembling the AK-47

Reassembly is the reverse process of disassembly. Carefully follow the steps outlined earlier, ensuring that all components are properly aligned and securely fastened. Take your time to ensure a correct and safe reassembly process.

Once reassembled, cycle the action several times to ensure smooth movement and proper function. Perform a functions check to confirm that the trigger, safety, and other controls are operating as intended. If everything is functioning correctly, your AK-47 is ready for use.

Safety Tips for Cleaning the AK-47

When cleaning your AK-47, it is essential to follow safety procedures to prevent accidents or injuries. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind:

Keeping the Firearm Unloaded

Always ensure that your AK-47 is unloaded before starting the cleaning process. Remove the magazine and visually inspect the chamber to verify that no ammunition is present. Treat the firearm as if it were loaded at all times, even when you are certain it is not.

Working in a Well-Ventilated Area

Cleaning solvents and other chemicals can emit fumes that may be hazardous if inhaled in large quantities. To prevent any adverse health effects, work in a well-ventilated area or use a fan to circulate fresh air. If possible, clean your AK-47 outdoors to further minimize exposure to fumes.

Using Protective Gear

When cleaning your AK-47, it is recommended to wear eye protection to prevent any cleaning solvents or debris from getting into your eyes. Additionally, wearing gloves can protect your hands from any potentially harmful cleaning chemicals.

Following Manufacturer’s Instructions

While this guide provides general instructions on how to clean your AK-47, it is always advisable to consult the manufacturer’s instructions for specific guidelines and recommendations. Different AK-47 variants may have slight differences in disassembly, cleaning, and reassembly procedures.

Complete Guide: Taking Apart and Cleaning the AK-47

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Common Mistakes to Avoid

When cleaning your AK-47, there are several common mistakes that you should avoid. These mistakes can affect the safety, reliability, and overall performance of your firearm. Here are a few to keep in mind:

Failure to Properly Clear the Rifle

Always ensure that your AK-47 is completely unloaded before starting the cleaning process. Neglecting to do so can lead to accidental discharges or injuries. Follow safe firearms handling practices and treat the rifle as if it were loaded at all times.

Incorrect Disassembly or Reassembly

Disassembling and reassembling your AK-47 incorrectly can lead to malfunctions or damage to the firearm. Carefully follow the provided steps and consult the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure proper disassembly and reassembly.

Using Incorrect Tools or Cleaning Products

Using the wrong tools or cleaning products can damage your AK-47. Use a cleaning kit specifically designed for the AK-47 to ensure proper fit and functionality of the cleaning tools. Additionally, use high-quality cleaning solvents, lubricants, and other cleaning products that are formulated for firearms.


Properly cleaning and maintaining your AK-47 is essential for its safety, reliability, and overall performance. By following the step-by-step guide outlined in this article, you can ensure that your AK-47 remains in optimal condition for years to come. Remember to always prioritize safety, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and avoid common mistakes. With proper care and maintenance, your AK-47 will continue to be a reliable and effective firearm.

Complete Guide: Taking Apart and Cleaning the AK-47

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