AK Exhibits Page 17
1986 Soviet AKS-74, Izhevsk Arsenal
TEXT: Ekie


Once again we return to Kosovo and the Ukrainian military units of the MNB (E) contingent (see page 15). The subject of this pictorial is a Soviet-manufactured 1986 AKS-74 assembled at the Izhevsk state arsenal. Our Kosovo contact, S. Hood, was kind enough to track down this example and acquire the permission of the owner to inspect and photogragh it for our study. We owe him more than we can repay. Ekie has also contributed his valuable time and skilled eye to make notations and provide the insightful text for this article. I know it will be very useful to Kalashnikov enthusiasts, collectors, and future project builders.

FIG. 2: Detail of receiver, left side showing trunnion markings

This is a 1986 AKS74 manufactured by IZHMASH in Izhevsk Russia. From what can be observed without breaking the rifle down this particular example is all matching and factory original. This is the first 1986 example I have gotten the chance to study detailed photographs of. At the time that I write this a 1985 example has yet to be examined and reported by a 74 small arms enthusiasts. It is assumed that 1985 production is the same as 1986, save the use of an earlier brake. During this time frame IZHMASH rifles had polyamide furniture with plum or maroon coloration, rather then the earlier laminated wood furniture. The object stuffed in the skeleton butt stock is a field dressing.

Fig 2:

Front trunnion is marked with arsenal code, year of manufacture, and serial number. In this case IZHMASH, 1986, and 4220206. There are no known examples of a Tula manufactured AK/S74. Comparison of serial numbers has revealed that the AKS74 and the AK74 had separate serial number ranges and that their serial numbers run consecutively over the years. This is in contrast to the AKM and the AK47 which used a Cyrillic prefix, and numbers that started over at different intervals. The year date code changed from four digits two in 1980. Note the last three of the serial number on the top cover.

Fig 3 and 3 B:

In this detail of the front sight base and muzzle brake we can see that the brake is the two-piece weld together type. This brake is quite similar to the earlier brake as shown on the exhibit pages detailing the 1984 and 83 IZHMASH AK/S74 rifles. Unlike the earlier brake this one has a gradual tapered collar thread collar. Most probably 1986 was the first year for this brake, in that plum rifles have been observed with the earlier brake. This particular brake was dropped from production in about 1989 when it was replaced with the current production type with a longer thread collar.

The front sight base is the same type as used since about 1978 until the current brake/front sight base was brought into production in about 1989. Note the method of attachment of this base, no cross pins, it is “punch pressed” on. This attachment procedure for the front sight base, gas block, and rear sight base was adopted in about 1985 and continues to this day. While the “punch pressed” method is now predominate, IZHMASH still utilizes cross pins on a limited bases. Clearly seen in this photo on the left side directly in front of the rivet that retains the muzzle brake detent is a round mold mark. Since 1978 all observed IZHMASH front sight bases and gas blocks have this mold mark on the left side, which is in contrast to other manufacturers of the AK74 series. IZHMASH front sight bases are typically marked with a number a dash and another number on the right side, this one 7-3.

Note that the cleaning rod lacks the beveled end found on current production cleaning rods.

Fig 4:

Here is the rear sight leaf, and a clue as to when the current production rear sight leaf was introduced. This is the earlier AKM type sight. It has elevation graduations that extend all the way across. OK Tantal, I cry uncle on this one.

Fig 5 and 5B:

The close up of the left side clearly shows the round mold mark mentioned earlier in the text in reference to Fig 3. Also shown is the heavy bevel on the front of the grenade launcher lug, the same as found on the front of the bayonet lug on the front sight base. These bevels are more pronounced on IZHMASH produced parts then found on Bulgarian Arsenal produced examples. This gas block was introduced in about 1977 and features a 90-degree gas port, and is still in production. One of the few parts that was not changed every few years.

Fig 6:

In this detail of the left side of the receiver we can see the lightly colored parkerized fire control group pins. IZHMASH Parkerizing has lightened in color over the years.

The grip is shiny and was replaced by a matte grip in later years.

The trigger is the solid back cast type, and this would have been one of the first years of production for this component. The left side of the trigger has raised molded in numbers.

Also note the lack of a trigger bump on this side. The left side trigger bump was added to the receiver later in production.

Fig 7:

In this close up of the rear trunnion the earlier butt stock catch is detailed, it was more hollowed out then the current catch. The butt stock hinge is solid rather then partially exposed as found on modern examples. These two production changes occurred in the early 1990’s. With this change the hinge pin diameter was increased.

Note that the butt stock does not have rolled edges. IZHMASH production AKS74 butt stocks lack the rolled edges commonly found on AKSU rifles.

Fig 8:

Detail showing the smooth butt plate and field dressing. Ribbed butt plates are found on AKSU rifles. During the Afghanistan conflict it was not uncommon for soldiers to affix their field dressing to their butt stocks as in this example.

Fig 9:

Good detail showing the early gas tube take down lever, and the cast rear sight base. The cast rear sight base replaced the earlier milled base in 1981. It is easily identified in that the cast base has heavily slopped shoulders.

The take down lever is a carry over AKM part, and was replaced with the current production type in about 1987.

FIG. 10: Detail of receiver, right side

Fig 10:

Right side receiver detail reveals an AKM type selector lever. The selector was replaced with the current production type a few years later. The last three of the serial number are engraved on the selector. Placement of the serial number on the selector has varied in location.

Note the ribs on top of the cover that extend over the top from left to right; they do not extend as far down as they did on earlier covers. This particular cover was in production from 1982 until about 1991.

The mag well dimple has a larger flat in the center then the current type.

Fig 11:

Nice detail clearly showing the slopped shoulders of the cast rear sight base.

Fig 12:

In this shot the rolled edges of the hand guard retainer can be seen. This rolled edge helps retain the lower hand guard in more secure fashion then on the AKM.

Fig 13:

In this close up of the underside of the mag well we can see the ejector, note that is does not have the indentation found on AKM ejectors. The mag catch plate that is riveted on thru the trigger guard does not have the cloverleaf bevel found on later examples.

Fig 14:

Here we have various detail shots from different angles. The front sight post is bent over to the right. Russian soldiers are not allowed to make “field adjustments” to their sights, so who knows how the point of impact and line of sight match up on this rifle. Hopefully the soldier issued this rifle knows.

See our AK-74 Production Variations Study by clicking the link above.

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