7.62×39 rifles are some of the most popular in the entire world. That’s because they’re the primary type of AK-47, itself arguably the most successful rifle in human history. These guns are close competitors with 5.56×45 NATO firearms, packing more of a punch up close in exchange for slightly less accuracy at a distance.
Today, let’s break down the best 7.62×39 rifles on the market and ensure you pick up a perfect weapon for your needs.
In This Article:
Comparison of the Best 7.62x39 Rifles
Below is my list of the best 7.62×39 rifles for 2021. I list the best choices in terms of value, performance, design, and cost.
Click on the name to head to the product page, read reviews and check prices or skip ahead to the list of rifles.
7.62x39 Rifle Reviews
This 7.62×39 rifle is the evolution of the standard AK-47 platform. Every part is made with Palmetto State’s precision manufacturing processes, giving the Palmetto State PSAK-47 rifle an impressive level of fit and finish and – especially when paired with the hammer-forged barrel.
The barrel is even treated with extra nitride to ensure better accuracy and durability over the long term.
The 1 mm receiver is made of hardened steel and comes with a mil-spec style trigger, ensuring a crisp pull every time. A Magpul polymer handguard and grip make it an extremely comfortable rifle to use, with the stock is made of similar materials for user comfort and greater stability.
It comes with a 30-round magazine, much larger than the standard AK magazines, plus a side scope mount for tactical simulations or fun at the target shooting range.
The rifle can capably serve as a valuable urban combat weapon because of all these elements.
- All parts are precision machined
- Very high-quality grip, stock, barrel
- Comes with a very crisp trigger pull
- Polymer furniture looks good & durable
- Good magazine capacity
- Only side-mounted scopes are an option
2. Best AR Platform: Lead Star Arms
This AR-15-style rifle is chambered for 7.62×39 cartridges with a special upper receiver. Thus, you can enjoy the versatility and phenomenal performance of the AR-15 platform with the close quarter’s functionality and stopping power of these popular cartridges.
The Lead Star Arms Grunt comes with a 16-inch barrel for added accuracy at a distance, and everything is coated with a black nitride finish to check the durability box. We also really like that the upper receiver is fully machined from aircraft-grade aluminum for even better performance and some weight savings.
A beveled mag well on the lower receiver allows you to change your magazine quickly and easily.
Even the grip is well-designed. It has a rubberized finish over the mold to help you control the weapon, even in wet or slippery conditions. Its minimalist stock keeps weight down and provides the six-position of adjustability for added shooter comfort and control, something a standard AK build can’t provide.
The top, too, is impressively engineered with four Picatinny slots to let you attach a variety of accessories like optics or backup sights.
All in all, it’s a high-quality piece of equipment that is well worth the asking price.
- Very lightweight at 6.4 pounds
- Excellent finishes across the surface
- Comes with accessories and attachments for more
- Excellent mag capacity of 30 rounds
- Good barrel length
3. Best Bolt Action: CZ-USA
Here’s an excellent example of a bolt action 7.62×39 rifle. The CZ 527 Bolt Action comes designed with an American pattern wooden stock for added rigidity and shoulder comfort. The hammer-forged barrel is exceptionally well-balanced and ensures accuracy at distances of up to 300 yards, making this a perfect bolt action rifle for small to medium game hunting.
Furthermore, this rifle features a single set trigger, plus a 16mm dovetail that will let you mount rings so you can add your optic of choice. A recessed target crown at the muzzle and decent capacity, at five cartridges per magazine, ensure that you’ll have a great time in the field with this rifle.
A blued finish for the barrel and a brown finish for the stock add a little bit of extra durability to round out its features.
- Very durable and functional outdoors
- Has excellent set up for additional optics
- Stock is comfortable and well-designed
- Barrel is excellent and good length
- Some optics won’t fit, like certain wider scopes
4. Best Multi-Function: Ruger Mini 30
The Ruger Mini 30 is a 7.62×39 rifle that comes with a flash hider built onto its muzzle. If you’re already a fan of these attachments, you’ll be able to save a little money by picking them both up at the same time.
This smaller-than-average rifle has a relatively overall short length of 36.75 inches, making it perfect for close-quarters or hunting situations. Furthermore, you can purchase this rifle with a collapsible stock if you prefer this added versatility for a slightly higher asking price.
The rifle is designed with a side ejection system. This allows you to combine the rifle with a quality top-mounted optic without having to worry about uncontrolled cartridge ejection. A recoil buffer built into the rifle offers even more protection and enhances stability for more accurate follow-on shots.
- Compact and easy to use
- Has a collapsible and comfortable black synthetic stock
- Lightweight at 6.7 pounds
- Comes with a flash suppressor
- Collapsible stock models not always available
5. Most Classic:Riley Defense
This classic AK-47 model is a laminate version that has a special wooden stock and handguards, which is immediately evocative of AK-47s in their prime. The Riley Defense RAK-47 also comes with a plastic Bakelite grip that keeps the overall price of the rifle reasonable without compromising durability.
The rifle is constructed from forged components, including the bolt and carrier, plus a heat-treated, mil-spec stamped receiver treated with nitrite for durability. It comes with an extended magazine release to allow for fast mag swaps, plus a cleaning rod for long-term maintenance.
A machined side rail for mounting a scope will allow you to slide your favorite optic in a place without too much trouble. A fun feature of this AK is the safety selector arm has a notch which will act as a bolt hold-open, so if you need to lock the bolt in place it’ll hold the charging handle rearward making for easy access.
Finally, its excellent magazine capacity of 30 rounds and nitride finish over the barrel firmly set this rifle in place as a quality 7.62×39 firearm for target shooting or home defence applications.
- Good magazine capacity
- Comes with a cleaning rod
- Very easy to swap magazines
- Fairly durable without being too pricey
- No top-mounted scope functionality
Important 7.62x39 Rifle Features
You can find 7.62×39 rifles in semi-auto or bolt-action varieties. Semi-automatic rifles are often favored by target shooters, home defense users, and more performance-minded shooters as they offer solid control and many configuration options. Many long rifles of this type (often AR platforms) are also easy to combine with popular optics and accessories.
On the flip side, bolt-action 7.62×39 rifles are great for hunting and long-range shooting. They can offer very high-quality component fit and finishes – often costing much more than AR-style rifles – but if you’re shooting for distance they are hard to beat.
1. Capacity & Fit With Use
Capacity dictates how many cartridges you can fire before needing to reload. Larger capacity rifles are often accompanied by longer and heavier magazines.
Hunters are usually fine with capacities of 6 cartridges or even less. More capacity can be fun and offers peace of mind when it comes to home defense, but is not necessary for hunting and is mostly fun for target practice or wilderness shooting.
2. Build Materials
Different 7.62×39 rifles will be made with a variety of materials, which can impact their durability. For instance, some rifles come with wooden stocks that have an heirloom-quality aesthetic, but may not be as durable – and will almost certainly be much heavier than – synthetic polymers or composite stocks.
Consider the materials that the barrel, receivers, and other parts are made of as well. Chrome-lined metal, stainless steel, and similar materials are all great for ensuring that your 7.62×39 rifle lasts for a long time to come.
3. Stock Configuration
The stock you choose for a 7.62×39 rifle can impact its stability and your comfort shooting it – which ultimately can affect accuracy. Some long rifles offer pistol grips or foldable stocks for improved close-quarters maneuverability or storing the weapon in a smaller space. Fixed stocks are often made from a single, solid piece of material, which provide more rigidity – and are usually better with high recoil weapons such as those using the 7.62×39 cartridge.
Why Choose a 7.62x39 Over a 5.56 NATO Rifle?
The 7.62×39 – a cartridge originally designed by the Soviet Union – has a western counterpart in the 5.56×45 NATO cartridge. The question is simple – why go with a 7.62×39 over a classic AR 15 that already uses the capable 5.56 NATO?
Here’s a breakdown of the key differences that can affect performance between guns chambered for either type of cartridge:
- 7.62×39 bullets have a larger diameter and lower velocity than a 5.56 NATO round, which means more felt recoil & increased bullet drop beyond 200 yards
- 7.62×39 cartridges have much larger powder charges, resulting in more kinetic energy and destructive capability, especially within 100 yards
This essentially translates to the 7.62×39 providing more stopping power than the 5.56 even beyond 500 yards. The 5.56 NATO rounds are flatter shooting and more accurate especially when shooting at distances beyond 100 yards.
This means that, for essentially any sub-100-yard hunting or target shooting activities, the 7.62×39 offers more bang for your buck. When it comes to price per round these two are generally very similar, however, there are many more options in terms of bullet weights, jackets, and bullet designs for the 5.56 rounds. We go deep on 5.56 vs 7.62 if you want to take a dive own that rabbit hole
Types of 7.62x39 Rifles
The 7.62x39mm 57-N (M43) cartridge, first introduced in 1944 for use with the SKS-45 semi-auto carbine, helped make the AK is a simple and effective weapon that improved considerably over submachine guns of the early 1940s and offered up to 500 yards of range for man-sized targets.
The intermediate design of the 7.62×39 cartridge means there’s no singular or “Best” style of firearm for it — it will work in a wide variety of roles. Hunting, sport, target, truck guns, large-format pistols, and combat builds are within reach of the 7.62, all while offering twice the bullet weight of the 5.56mm NATO, which gives it a few advantages and disadvantages depending on your purpose, so start there.
The second task is narrowing your search to 7.62×39 rifles that are compatible with the purpose. Finally, think about the furniture, rail support, barrel length, optics, and receiver type, and consider which options will give you the kind of rifle performance you want in the real world.
Almost certainly the rifle that put the 7.72×39 cartridge on the map, build quality is essential with the AK-47. Its long-stroke gas piston action was constructed initially with, shall we say, “generous” tolerances, and a single piece of sheet metal was all it took to knock out an AK receiver — which was then paired with likewise simple internals. These days, a well-done AK offers superb reliability on par with almost any modern rifle and lasts a lifetime with a little maintenance. You can get pick one up with more traditional wood furniture or all the modern fixings and barrel-lengths in the 14-16″ range. Take a look at products from IO and Century Arms for solid examples of Yankee AKs.
While the AK is the original 7.62 platform, modern AR builders have embraced the cartridge, finding ways to weave it into a more American-style rifle. In addition to 7.62 rifle offerings from brands like PSA, you’ll find hybrids from innovators like Faxon, with their ARAK-21 — which is far from mil-spec standard but pairs a piston-driven AK upper with a very AR-level of rail and furniture orientation.
Shortened down from Mikhail Kalashnikov’s nearly indestructable original, 7.62×39 pistols (or “AK pistols”) embrace this modernized format, creating a formidable (and frankly, fun) firearm. These small, semi-auto guns are available from a number of builders these days — Zastava Arms, Sig Sauer, to Century Arms and Palmetto State Armory– all in in Section 922R compliant builds, with barrels ranging from 12″ to the Mini Draco’s sub-8-inch flamethrower.
Long the landscape of the .30-06s and .308s of the world, there are a quality number of bolt guns chambered in 7.62×36. These may not offer the kinds of capacity of ARs and AKs do, nor the mobility of pistols, but a quality bolt gun will give you the range an equivilently-chambered semi-auto can be a challenge to hit, while providing compliance for harvesting game and other regulated sports.
7.62x39 Rifle Pricing
Like rifles of any caliber, rifles chambered in 7.62×39 are available in a wide price range, and you get what you pay for, which often means the higher the price the more durable and capable the rifle.
- $750-$1,000. A decent entry-level price point for 7.62×39 rifles, you’ll find traditional AKs and bolt-action options from a variety of brands, and American AK builds from Palmetto State, Century Arms and CZ, but few pistol options available.
- Over $1,000: The sweet spot for 7.62×39 rifle and pistols, you’ll find a wider array of rifle configurations and any kind of AK pistol you could want from both American brands and overseas makers such as Zastava.
How we selected these products
When reviewing guns or gear, we get our hands on as many products as possible, but there are times when certain products or categories are a real challenge — be it availability, cost, or simply a lack of resources — we can get stymied going hands-on with all the potential candidates. Rather than present a never-ending list of all the 7.63×39 rifles from every brand under the sun, we selected those which we felt best represent the price points laid out above — giving you a solid representational list to serve as a jumping-off point for your own research (you are going to do you own research, right?)
To avoid disappointment or steering you in the wrong direction, we bolster our own experience with conversations with experts, comb through reviews on retailer sites & sales data, review industry publications, other blogs, and otherwise surface the best information available.
We aim for all thriller, no filler, as they say.
All in all, the Palmetto State PSAK-47 rifle is easily one of the best 7.62×39 rifles on the market, in part because it combines the stopping power of the aforementioned cartridge with updated and modular takes on the AK platform.
We’d recommend it for anyone looking for a quality 7.62×39 rifle that offers a variety of customizable features. It’ll work for hunting, target shooting, or urban combat just the same. Good hunting!
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