We spoke last week with Chris Chivers of the New York Times about his new book titled “The Gun,” which chronicles the history and legacy of the AK-47 assault rifle.

So it was somewhat ironic when, during a scan of Australian SOF pics for our post on their government’s embrace of MultiCam, the Kit Up! IMINT team spotted an operator armed with what many readers feel is the world’s best all-round assault rifle ever. We’ve done forensics on literally hundreds of images over the last five years and never before have we run across a pic of a special operator carrying an AK-47 unless it was within the context of a training mission for indigenous troops.

The interesting thing here is that the Aussie commando’s AK is totally tricked out with the latest Picatinny rail-equipped forearm, combat sites and vertical grips. I remember back in ’08 during the Military.com embed to Iraq when I covered some training with Iraqi SWAT near Tikrit. I didn’t even recognize the weapon one of the Iraqi SWAT bubbas was carrying with all the modern whistles and bells it had. The only things that made me recognize it as an AK were the muzzle and the magazine.

So cool deal for the Aussie door kicker carrying the AK on combat missions. We’re surprised to see it, but understand his motivation for sure…

{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Guest November 22, 2010 at 8:44 am

SOF forces on the battlefield use the AK to avoid tracking of firefights and movement with the enemy. Very easy to distinguish 5.56 M-4 shells from 7.62 AK-47 shells

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Mooddog November 22, 2010 at 9:27 am

The fact that is so rare to find a phote of spec ops carrying a AK, should tell you that it is rare. It looks like this operator is in desert-open terrain. Seems like the AKs lack of range and accuracy would put him at a disadvantage.

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JUNIOR November 22, 2010 at 7:59 pm

SPEC OPT USE WHAT THEY WANT TO USE BEEN THAT WAY SINCE NAM ONLY MAKES SENSE.
WHY EVERYONE TALKING ABOUT SOMETHING THAT DOESN'T MATTER EQUIP YOURSELF TO GET JOB DONE AND MAKE IT BACK BOTTOM LINE! IT IS WHAT IT IS.

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Guest November 22, 2010 at 11:46 am

#corrections "combat sights"

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James November 22, 2010 at 12:32 pm

I saw an AK tricked out w/ all the modern bells and whistles in the Bayji SWAT, which just so happens to be just north of Tikrit, I wonder if that was the same place…lol

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Russ November 22, 2010 at 1:13 pm

If they like the AK so much, why wouldn't they use a Valmet or one of the higher quality Eastern Bloc units? I just can't imagine carrying some ratty POS they found on a dead Taliban turd. It may go bang every time but I just don't know…

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Sgt Jmack November 22, 2010 at 2:50 pm

notice that the other guy in the pic is using/carying something that looks like an M-4.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I say there is more to this story than we know. Are they really using this weapon, or simply moving it from one place to another? Dothey have any pix of this guy using the weapon on the battlefield?

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Monster November 22, 2010 at 4:05 pm

I would guess he IS using it since his pouches have AK

magazines in them.

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Guest 1 November 22, 2010 at 5:16 pm

I like the AK but i am atill a AR lover first. I will say the AR has its shortcomings and so does the AK, but both can be fixed to a degree. Maybe not for military personal ,unfortunatley, but there are ways. Also many companies have taken the original designs of both weapon platforms and fixed many of the shortcomings.

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Guest 1 November 22, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Also the mag pouches those AK mags are riding in seem to be made for M4/M16 mags not AK. Look how high the tops of the pouches are.

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Glen November 22, 2010 at 8:26 pm

Hey that ain't no 74 and Aussies have the ultimate SOF heritage and yes I'd say he is carrying that weapon "live" Australian Special Forces are really "Special" not toy boy gear freaks!!

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Stefan S. November 22, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Aussies would be speaking Japanese if it wasn't for the US. As one who objects with your "toy boy gear freaks". Seems that CAG and the SEALS would object to your comment concerning a country with abarely an adequate national defense that has benefitted from their "Big Brother" keeping them safe. Yeah I mean the USA! So Glen…..Piss of mate!

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MarkM November 23, 2010 at 3:57 am

Back on topic: hundreds of photos get scanned, the primary weapon ISN'T the AK, but when one is spotted, make headlines with it?

Please note all the trick out parts are whaaat? M4 based. Why does such a great gun need any improvement? Because it gets none from the source countries. They continue to make weapons designed in the ergonomic vacuum that existed 50 years ago for the western world.

Most of the AK upgrades on the market are tech pirated over from the M4, having been developed and proved decades ago. The most telling are the ones we can't see in the photo – does it have a left side charging handle, is there a newer safety fitted for shooting thumb operation, is the rear cover actually solid enough to mount optics?

Look at a properly outfitted AK , you find users putting the controls where they are easier to use while shooting. It's the major advantage the AR had from day one. Argue reliability of the modern versions all you want, what good is it when the operator has to struggle with controls that don't readily fall to hand? In battle, don't split seconds count, or is someone selling something?

I get the same fanboy legendary talk from Chevy owners, all too ready to spout what they have been told over a beer, but never actually experienced: the design ain't all that great, or why are there so many cheap bandaids to make it better? Same for the AK.

After a $1000 of upgrade, it gets as good as a gun already built that way. No, I don't see how that makes the $400 ones better. It points out what's wrong even more.

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Riceball November 23, 2010 at 6:49 am

I agree, it's no simple battlefield pick up or something he confiscated from a weapon's stash unless the Taliban have taken to tricking out their AKs these days. That thing has optics and flashlight mounted on it and sports a bungie sling and looking at the wonkiness of his mag pouch it looks like he has AK mags stuck in them and all that says to me that it's his.

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Riceball November 23, 2010 at 6:50 am

That's at the expense of range and accuracy.

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JoeLittleBear November 23, 2010 at 8:04 am

First time I ever saw the AK close up…..I was at Ft Bragg, NC AIT ( Viet Nam era ) Instructor took an AK, loaded a magazine into it……..threw it into a mud puddle,……stomped on it,….and ran his 151 ( Bronco ) over it…….Got out…pried the Ak out of the mud puddle……sloshed it in the water…….shook the mud off it……..and fired it…. several rounds…..on full auto…… Then he faces the group and says,,,,, "That's what we are up against ! "……….. I said, " Sarge, ……is it too late to get my M-14 back ?"……… " Yes , it is……trooper….." he says……." Can you get me one of those ???? " I asked………….. " Yeah, you can take it off your first enemy kill….." he says.. O.K……maybe Mikial K did plagerize it from the German MP-44…….but it's like a Timex…….it can take a lickin' and keep on tickin '……"

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sblocal87 November 23, 2010 at 8:45 am

Please correct me if I am wrong, but it appears that the magazine on the AK is plastic, which is characteristic of the AK-74 that fires the 5.45 mm shell, not the AK-47. Of all the AKs that I have seen first hand in both Iraq and Afghanistan they were all AK-47s with the characteristic metal magazine, not the plastic one.

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Tony November 23, 2010 at 9:18 am

these bakelite mags come in both 5.45 and 7.62.

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John Osinaga Miller November 23, 2010 at 10:01 am

I got one now an Rumanion AK47. It shoots everytime I pull the trigger. The only thing I changed was a new sling AK/SKS type and above action sight with 6X scope and one side rail for a light or anything else. It is light shoots well and is good out ot 300MM. My brother shot it and friends in Law Enforcement. I am one a former marine vietnam and cold war. Swat team member, special operations Army National Guard, Narc etc. My AR-15 Here in California the communist state. I have a bullet button to push on both arm before I can use. them. The AK-47 was better in dirt than AR-15 and M-16. AAR-15 and M-16 shoot better at longer distances. I like both. But if I was in a dirty place I would chose AK-47. everything is Chrome lined. Simple thought Are goverment should use. The commies figured this out years ago. We are becoming to TECH-TIED down. We carry too much junk 60-70 pounds.

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Caleb November 23, 2010 at 10:14 am

I have a WASR 10/63 chambered in 7.62×39 that looks damn close to what that one in the pic does. HEre is a list of the upgrades I made to it, UTG quad rail, KAC forearm grip, Bushnell TRS-25 red dot, US-Palm battle grip, and I plan on getting a TAPCO folding stock because I hate the wooden one on it now. I made these improvements to improve on the flaws I saw and not just to make it look cool, and it actually handles ALOT better than when I first bought it.

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Spc.Poole November 23, 2010 at 11:33 am

I did not feel like reading every post but that is not an AK-47 it is more likely to be a AK-74 by the look of the plastic mag.

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j h November 23, 2010 at 2:43 pm

It's too curved for a 74. It's a 7.62 mag.

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A.lentz November 23, 2010 at 2:00 pm

it's a gps unit.

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AJMBLAZER November 23, 2010 at 4:55 pm

There are plastic/polymer 7.62 AK mags.

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2337102 November 23, 2010 at 7:52 pm

are you idiots so fricken blind that you haven't read history to know that the AK is the superior weapon in unconventional warfare?

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carg November 23, 2010 at 9:55 pm

I suppose something involving Afghans. On a compound raid, an AK might be preferred over a cqbr or M4
http://www.defence.gov.au/op/afghanistan/gallery/

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mac November 24, 2010 at 12:40 am

AMD-65 with plastic 7.62mm magazine.

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crackedlenses November 24, 2010 at 5:43 am

That would explain why our specops who get to choose whatever gun they want are rarely seen carrying them in theatre, even though they could get the latest version and trick it out however they wanted……

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Saix November 24, 2010 at 9:46 am

This is not an AK-47 and AK-74, this is a automatic rifle Kalashnikov modernized (AKM)

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Eddie November 28, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Thank you. There hasnt been an AK-47 made since 53. Its either a -74 or less likely a AK-103.

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Dev November 24, 2010 at 12:19 pm

Correction, if it wasn't the mighty choccos that stopped them at Kokoda, then later the yanks.

I appreciate their help, but please don't overemphasise it.

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Andy Law November 27, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Probably a Garmin Foretrex 401 GPS unit on his right wrist in its coyote tan cordura protective cover.

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sammy sands November 27, 2010 at 5:39 pm

wow!!!! so many experts!!!!

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jrm45 November 27, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Hey Specialist, thank you for service! The big tip-off that it's an AK-47 is the lack of the type=specific AK-74 muzzle-brake/compensator. The weapon in this pic has the old-school slant brake. Thanks again for being a sheepdog! jrm45

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carg November 27, 2010 at 9:49 pm

By 'unconventional warfare', you mean militiamen shooting and terrorizing civilians, then YES.

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Eddie November 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Guys unless I'm mistaken those are AK-74s. Check out the mags. and barrel diameter. Besides there hasnt been an AK-47 made since 1953.

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Willie November 28, 2010 at 6:06 pm

YOU MAY WISH TO CHECK YOUR CAPS LOCK KEY, IT APPEARS TO BE STUCK

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Guest November 30, 2010 at 4:21 am

http://www.defence.gov.au/media/download/2010/Nov
Two Special Operations Task Group (SOTG) soldiers make their way from Camp Russell to the airfield at Multi National Base Tarin Kowt before an operation in Kandahar province. http://www.defence.gov.au/media/download/2010/Nov

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tribulationtime December 4, 2010 at 8:40 am

thanks!!! For calling support fire or navigation only?. (Am i asking too much? sorry).

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Mike February 8, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Not really that much of an expense. The 47 does what it's meant to do, that being to hit a man-sized target at 200-300m and kill them. The 74, besides using a completely different cartridge, also offers even greater range/accuracy over the 47, and still combines the ruggedness/reliability of the AK platform. That being said, you have two different military philosophies driving each platform. The M16/M4 expects a more professional, trained, and well-equipped soldier. The AK expects to be wielded by hastily assembled "peasant" armies who need something easy and reliable. IMHO

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Deepy April 6, 2011 at 1:05 am

plus the guy has AK mag pouches on his vest. definitely an AK operator.

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Vault Boy July 8, 2011 at 5:04 am

On his right wrist? It's a RobCo Pip-Boy 3000! ;-)

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Skysoldier173 July 8, 2011 at 6:53 am

This is not the 7.62 version. It looks like an AK-74, with that "poison bullet" ? Or is it an AKM w/ all the toys? The mag is long and reminds me of the 74.

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Dezz October 5, 2011 at 1:27 pm

Just so you know the Japanese never ever planned to invade Australia. Any military history buff worth a pinch of salt knows that! And i don't think the USA came to the Pacific to save us aussies more to take back there own colony of the Phillipines which the USA should have never let fall into Japanese hands to begin with. The yanks also a had score to settle after pearl harbour. Get your facts straight.

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rike December 18, 2011 at 5:35 am

This is an AKM not an AK47. Not all that much difference but when speaking about it..

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rike December 18, 2011 at 5:40 am

The gas tube says it is an AKM or an AK47
The Front sight tells you it is an AKM
The curvature of the mags tells you it is 7.62 mag..
The musselbreake says it is an AKM

Add it upp and you have a AKM or an AKMS..

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max October 26, 2012 at 4:37 am

Definitely an AKM/AKMS 7.62×39

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