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Comparing the Type 2 and Type 3 Russian AK47s

The milled receiver versions of the Russian AK47 produced in the 1950s (known as the Type 2 and Type 3, or T2 & T3) are generally considered to be the finest of the Kalashnikovs. While the main focus here will be the T2 & T3 weapons, the T1 and the AKM will be touched on briefly to provide context. Those seeking more in-depth information can do no better than Kalashnikov, the Arms and the Man, by Edward Clinton Ezell. You can find out more about this book at the bottom of the page.
                          Special thanks to Joe Ancona for his help, without which this site would not exist.
                          Thank you also to Fareed Dhanoya for his help (and photos) on the T2 and T3 gas tubes.

Click on photos to see enlargements.
Link to oil bottle ID site
Oil Bottle identification site.
The Type 1
(1947 - 1949)
The Type 1 went into production in 1947. The T1 receiver had most of the elements seen in modern variants. It had a milled trunnion and butt stock insert, and a stamped body. Unfortunately the technology of the day could not produce a consistent product and a new, more robust milled receiver was designed.
The Type 2
(1949 - 1953-54
The T2 with its newly designed milled receiver went into production in 1949, parallel to the existing T1, still in production. Not wanting to waste parts, it is standard practice for Russian made AK47s to contain parts from both models as it transitioned to a new design. Note the distinctive socketed "boot" connecting the stock to the receiver. Shown above is a Russian mid-production full stock weapon dated 1951.
The Type 3
(1953-54 - 1959)

Further refinements led to the T3, which went into production sometime in 1953 or 1954 and remained in production until about 1959. The weapon shown above is Russian.

At right, a T3 underfold.
Comparison of Type 2 Kalashnikov, top, and the Type 3, bottom.
1. The rear sling swivel moved from the bottom to the left side.
2. The T2 buttstock fits in a tanged socket, or boot, which is attached to the rear of the rear of the receiver via a sliding dovetail joint. On the T3 receiver the tangs are attached directly to the receiver.
3. The one piece buttstock and pistol grip were prone to cracking so the T3 furniture was made from laminated Birch plywood. Shown on the T2 is an early checkered grip.
4. The T2 fire selector has one thumb tab and the T3 has two.
5. The T2 top cover is made from a heavier stock than later models, whereas the T3 is lighter and has a noticeable stamped bottom edge, presumably to strengthen it.
6. The lightening cut is horizontal on the T2 and slanted on the T3.
7. There are raised areas just below the top edge of the T2 receiver - front and rear on the right side and continuous on the left. These were omitted on the T3.
8. On the T2 the front sling loop is on left side of the fore-stock band. On the T3 the loop was moved forward to the gas block.
9. The T2 gas piston rod has fluted lightening cuts. The T3 rod is thinner, and solid.
10. The slab sided magazine used with the T1 and T2 was reinforced with ribs by the time the T3 went into production

The T2 receiver has raised areas along the top edge. There is a block on the right front (at left, red arrow), and a thinner strip at the rear (right, yellow arrow). On the left side of the receiver the raised portion is the thinner type and runs the full length of the receiver.

The T3, below left, has no raised areas.

The top cover is made of thinner stock in the T3 (right, red arrow) and has a compressed edge along the bottom.

The sight block on the T3 has a lightening cut which was not present on the T2, shown at left, blue arrow.

The curved front ramp on the gas block is flat on the T2 and curved outward on the T3.

The crimps on the T2 gas tube are oriented with a valley at the 12 O'clock position.
On the T3 a peak is located at the 12 O'clock position.
Information and photos courtesy of
Fareed Dhanoya

The forestock band is wider on the T2 (red arrows). The front sling loop is located on the forestock band on the T2 and on the gas block on the T3 (blue arrows).

The T2 top cover is made from thicker stock than the T3, as seen in the above photo.
The front of the T3 top cover has a raised area to facilitate a snug fit in the top cover groove of the trunnion, which was not altered in width from one model to the next. Any AK47 top cover will fit on any AK variant.

A full view of the top covers. The yellow arrow indicates the stamped and hardened edge on the T3 and later top covers, which have a small bulge at the front (red arrow). Aas mentioned before, this is to make up for the thinner material and insure a snug fit in the top cover groove of the trunnion.

The cutout on the front sight is ramped on the T3, at right, red arrow.

Top: Bolt carrier with the fluted gas piston of the T1 & T2.
Bottom: The thinner, solid gas piston of the T3 and later.

The rear sling loop on the T2, left, is located on the underside of the butt stock. On the T3, right, it was moved to the left rear of the receiver.
Four receiver types of the Russian AK47.

Type 1: Stamped shell with a milled trunnion and tanged rear insert. There is a sheet metal base for the two piece wood pistol grip. The trunnion is threaded for the barrel. The safety has only one thumb tab and the detents are round. The front sling loop is located on the forestock band.


Type 2: The receiver is milled from a single piece of forged steel. A large tanged boot connects the stock to the receiver. A small threaded base accepts a long screw which secures a one piece pistol grip. The trunnion is threaded for the barrel. The safety was redesigned but still has only one thumb tab with round detents. The milled lightening cut on the sides is horizontal.

Type 3: The receiver is milled from a single piece of forged steel. The boot has been eliminated in favor of tangs connected directly to the receiver The trunnion is threaded for the barrel. The safety now has two thumb tabs. The safety detents are lozenge shaped. The milled lightening cut on the sides is slanted.


AKM: Stamped receiver body with milled trunnion and rear insert. The trunnion is smooth to accept a press-fit barrel. The safety is redesigned and retains the two thumb tabs. The safety detents are long, thin ovals. Large oval detents in front of the safety stabalize the magazine.

Addendum (later developments of the AK)


(1959 -)
In the mid 1950s developement was underway to solve the warping problem encountered with the initial stamped receiver of the T1. The problem finally solved, in 1959 a stamped receiver AK47 was adopted by the Soviet military as the AKM (the Modernizirovanniy Avtomat Kalashnikova) which was a lighter* weapon and easier to produce. *(6.8 lbs vs the 9.3 lbs of the T3 milled receiver)

Above: Polish version of the AKM, the PMKM. This one was manufactured in 1986 at the Zaklady Metalowe (Metal Works Lucznic) at Radom, Poland.

Above: Chinese Type 56S underfold. Made by Norinco Corporation (North China Industries), it was imported in the mid 1980s by Sile, New York. This is an AKM era weapon, but has milled steel sight and gas blocks, an unribbed and heavier top cover, and underfold legs of heavier stock without the stamped reenforcing ribs. The wood furniture is not laminated, and the lower forestock does not have bulges on the sides.

Hungarian AMMS

Hungarian AMD65

The AK74

The AK74 was introduced in 1974 in response to the United States having adopted the M193 NATO 5.56mm ball cartridge a decade earlier. The AK74 fired the lighter 5.54x39 cartridge, about half the weight of the AK47's 7.62x39 round. It was not until the Soviet-Afganistan War (1978-1988) that the West first got a look at the AK74. The weapon has now been adopted by over two dozen countries.

Romanian AK74, manufactured at the Romethnica Company plant in Bucharest

Bulgarian AKS74 manufactured at the Bulgarian State Weapons Factotry at Kazanlak.

Polish wz.88 "Tantal", manufactured in 1990.

AK47 The Grim Reaper by Frank Iannamico, 868 pages with over 1300 photographs, published by Moose Lake Publishing. Available from the author at his Web site. This book covers some AK47 history, but as this history has been covered in detail in Edward Ezell's book, as well as others, Frank Iannamico has devoted the bulk of his book to the numerous AK variants which have been introduced into the American market over the years. AK47-The Grim Reaper covers AK47 and AK74 models, and accessories including magazines, optical sights, grenade launchers, bayonets, ammunition, and gun maintenance equipment.

Kalashnikov, the Arms and the Man by Dr. Edward Clinton Ezell, 283 pages, published by Collector Grade Publications. Click on the book cover at right to go to their Web site, or HERE to go directly to the page the book is on.

All weapons on this site, with the exception of the Type 1, are from my own collection.

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to Contact Me.