The AK-47 and its variants are probably the most ubiquitous firearms in the world. They have been made everywhere from the armories of Russia and the former Soviet Union to the tiny workshops of Peshawar, Pakistan. There have been multiple books written about them and how they changed the face of war.
They have the reputation of working in all climates and in all regions of the world. They are not considered finicky as compared to the American M16/AR15.
Given all this, why are their magazines so damn finicky?
I just got a couple of orders of AK-47 and AK-74 magazines delivered in the past few weeks. They included magazines made by Magpul, by KCI in South Korea, and by AC-Unity in Bosnia. My AK-47 is a FEG AMD-65 imported by Tennessee Gun and my AK-74 is Bulgarian variant also imported (and assembled) by TGI.
The results so far is that the Magpul AK-47 magazines fit and lock into place. Their AK-74 magazines have required quite a bit of sanding and finagling to fit and lock.
The metal “tanker” 20-round KCI magazines are working just fine.
Don’t even get me started on the AC-Unity AK-47 mags from Bosnia. Despite having metal tabs, I have yet to get one that will lock into place without pounding. Likewise, they won’t drop without a good hard slam from the heel of my hand. They are going to take some work just to make them into range magazines.
In the past, the actual milsurp ComBloc mags seem to have worked OK. The Tapco ones were a bit of hit and miss. ProMag is to be avoided at all costs.
Contrast this with my experience with AR magazines.
I have used mil-surp, Colt, Magpul, D&H, the Israeli eLander and Orlites, C-Products, Lancers, and others that I can’t even remember. They all work. They lock into place and they drop out when the mag release is pushed. I think I even got Thermolds to work.
These have fitted in lowers made by Aero-Precision, Anderson, CavArms, Essential Arms, and probably others than I have around here.
The only explanation I can think of to explain this is that milspec means something when talking about ARs and not a damn thing when talking about AKs.