he ATI AT47 rifle marries the high quality of the Yugoslavian Zastava AKM with an American made milled receiver and barrel.
By Christopher R. Bartocci
The legendary AK-series rifle has its own following in the U.S. with many variations available. Due to the large demand, companies supply in several ways. Some import complete rifles such as Century Arms with the WASR Romanian AKs, others import Russian Saiga rifles and convert them to the traditional AK look. Companies like Krebs Custom manufacture rails and mounts to make the AK more modernized and have the ability to take modern optics and flashlights/lasers. Due to ATF regulation 922(r), if you wish to have an AK it must have a certain number of American made components to allow it to be assembled in its proper configuration; so there are manufacturers making American made stock sets, trigger groups, magazines and piston rods.
Another way of selling these rifles is to have American made receivers built up with foreign parts kits. Many different variations of parts kits come into the country including Russian, Bulgarian, Romanian, Yugoslavian and East German. The parts kits are assembled on the American made receiver along with the proper number of American made parts and American made barrels are used. This is what American Tactical Imports (ATI) has done. The condition of the barrels in the parts kits can be anywhere from decent to completely shot out and corroded.
At the 2013 SHOT Show, ATI introduced their new AT47 rifle to the industry. ATI has procured milled AK receivers from two different manufacturers in Rochester, New York. The receivers are very well made and being they are milled they do not have to deal with the complex issues of riveting. The receiver is parkarized to a dull grey finish. These receivers will permit the rifle to be refitted with a new barrel when the old one wears out; unlike the stamped receivers which are basically throw away. You would not want to replace the barrel on a stamped receiver.
The receiver is built off of Yugoslavian parts kits that contain everything but the barrel and receiver. Yugoslavian Zastava AKs are known for being some of the finest made AK-type rifles in the world. (Zastava is located in Serbia, which was a former Yugoslav country, and the M70 type rifle is referred to generally as “Yugoslav” although that is no longer a country). They also have a very unique and distinctive look to them. The trigger components in the kits cannot be used due to them being selective fire so American made trigger groups are used. Currently, all AT47 rifles use the under folding stock that the receivers are designed for. As of this writing, ATI is only offering folding stock versions of the rifle. The parts that come in the kit are all refinished to put them to a new looking component. The black polymer pistol grip is quite distinctive as well.
The 1:10 inch twist barrel is manufactured in the USA and is made specifically for the Yugoslavian parts kit. The 16.3 inch barrel has 4 lands and groove with right twist, which is the same as the Yugoslavian barrel. Like all other Yugoslavian rifles, the barrel is not chrome plated. This is a curiosity as Yugoslavia is the only country this author knows that did not chrome the bore and chambers of their service rifles. The gas block is very unique on the Yugoslavian rifles/AT47 in that it has a folding grenade launcher sight on it. Grenade launching blanks are available in 7.62x39mm caliber, so with the proper base the rifle can be used to launch projectiles. Also attached to the gas block is a bayonet lug and a sling mount. The front sight base is also rather unique in that it has the early AK47/49 profile and adjusts the same for elevation and windage as any other AK-type rifle. What is unique is the flip up sight that folds into the rear of the front sight base, which normally would have a night sight placed on it. The AT47 does not have that as that cannot be imported into the U.S. due to it being a hazardous material. The rifles can be seen with two different muzzle devices depending on what comes with the individual parts kit. First is the basic thread protector, which has no mechanical affect of the rifle performance. The second is the AKM style slanted compensator. What this does is direct gas from the muzzle blast up and to the right to keep the muzzle down when firing. The benefits with this are mostly seen when firing the rifle on automatic but there is still a good benefit when firing in semiautomatic.
The sample AT47 has very nice wood handguards that fit well into the American made receiver. The gas tube attached to the upper handguard has gas vents on the tube itself like the original AK-47/49 rather than on the gas block such as the AKM’s. The folding stock is a stamped stock and is parkarized. The receiver cover is the smooth early AK-47/49 type. Another unique Yugoslavian feature is the rear recoil spring guide is locked into place so the cover can never come off accidentally. In order to remove the receiver cover, the button on the top rear on the left side of the receiver must be pushed in before the rear recoil spring guide can be pushed in to release the cover.
The parts kits are imported by ATI and so far have had no interruption with the importation of the parts kits. This is always the concern in the back of one’s mind when they gear up for production of rifles made with foreign parts kits. More and more companies are starting to manufacture AK components here in the U.S. Those parts are generally much more expensive but made to a much higher quality standard than were in the former Warsaw Pact countries. Then the receivers and barrels are procured. All the parts in the parts kit are inspected for serviceability and the ones to be used to build the AT47 are refinished to look new. The AT47 is then assembled by ATI in their facility in Summerville, South Carolina. This includes pinning of the barrel. Every rifle is test fired prior to shipping. It should be noted that as of this writing ATI has moved its operation to Summerville, South Carolina. The political climate, including the New York State “SAFE Act” have forced many in the firearms, defense and training industry out of the state due to their profession. The law has banned all of the equipment used by people in these trades. ATI will be creating over 200 jobs in South Carolina and that state has welcomed ATI with open arms and made it perfectly evident that ATI is wanted in that state.
ATI ships every rifle with a Tapco 30-round polymer magazine. This is a robust polymer magazine but of course the rifle will use any standard AK-type magazine in 5, 10, 30, 30, 40 and 75- and 100-round drums. The rifle was tested with the Tapco, Russian, East German and Bulgarian magazines. The ammunition used was Russian Wolf 7.62x39mm 124 grain soft point ammunition. As one would expect from an AK-type rifle, there were no malfunctions of any sort. The range distance was limited so all firing was done at 25 yards.
The fit and finish of the T&E rifle is superb. There was no scarring or marring of any of the finish of the rifle. The wood is in excellent shape. The receiver is very well made with little to no tool marks on it to be seen. Certainly by looking at it, you would never guess it was not a brand new rifle let alone made of parts from a kit. The components have been refinished prior to assembly of the rifle to give the rifle that new out of box look. This is necessary due to many of the parts kits rifles are well used rifles showing finish wear. After inspection of the parts they will go to refinishing. The bolt carrier/piston rod assembly and bolt are shiny stainless steel and look as god as new. This rifle has the newly added “shepherd’s crook” and hammer pin stop to increase the performance of the rifle. All AT47s fully comply with ATF 922(r) in regards to importation and proper number of American made components. This year ATI has manufactured more than 1,000+ of the AT47 and has had
With the move to South Carolina completed at the time of this writing, production will be will begin on AK-production in-house to meet the demand for the AT47. The AT47 is the marrying with the high quality Yugoslavian Zastava AK components with an American made barrel and milled receiver making for an extremely high quality durable and long lasting rifle. The rifle is not cheap with a MSRP of $949.95; however this is not a cheap stamped AK. This is a high quality milled receiver of the highest quality Yugoslavian components. The Zastavas have always been considered the “Cadillac” of AK’s and they compete with Finland’s Valmet for the title.
ATI is a quickly growing company. With the move to Summerville, South Carolina the industry can expect many great things from them. As of this writing, ATI manufactures AT15 (M4-type), AT74 (AK-47-Type) and M1911-type pistols. There is a heavy demand so production is high. ATI has plenty of new ideas to offer different configurations of the AT15 and AT47. With a very progressive management team partnered with a friendly state, ATI will surely bring many new products to the market.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V19N4 (May 2015)|
and was posted online on March 20, 2015