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CMMG’S MK47 Mutant offers performance and versatility for the mindful prepper

 

› BARREL LENGTH: 16.1 inches
› BARREL TAPER: Medium taper
› RATE OF TWIST: 1:10
› MUZZLE: SV muzzle brake, threaded 5/8 -24
› HANDGUARD: CMMG RKM15
› GRIP: Magpul MOE Pistol Grip
› RECEIVERS: Billet 7075-T6 AL
› TRIGGER: Geissele Automatics SSA
› WEIGHT: 7.2 pounds (unloaded)
› LENGTH: 33.5 inches (stock collapsed)
› MSRP: $,1849 (with V-brake, Geissele SSA and Magpul furniture)

ASG-1604-CMMG-35The year was 1993, and the summer sun was beating down on the black pavement with a vengeance. I had moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, and picked up a job in car sales. With the Speedway down the road, Charlotte was car country; it was gun country, as well. People loved their cars, and I loved making money off those people. I started pulling in money, hand over fist. It was the first job that provided me with lots of disposable income, rather than just making enough to get by, and I bought quite a few firearms that year.

I wet my feet in the 7.62x39mm world by buying my first SKS and a Maadi AK-47 that year and played around with them a bit. Maybe it was the snob in me or just the eccentricities of these weapons that put me off, but I never really developed an affinity for those two rifle styles.

However, that’s changed in the last several years as a result of quality offerings coming to the market now with various improvements, such as better trigger pulls, more rail options and so forth. Even so, I still hadn’t jumped into the AK life again, but it was getting tempting.

Then, along came CMMG. The folks there decided to introduce a new product with a twist: the Mk47 Mutant. It’s a rifle built on an AR platform but fires 7.62x39mm ammunition and accepts standard AK-47 magazines. It’s pretty much the best of both worlds.

I recently received one for review. It was time to see if I could get back into the 7.62x39mm world again.

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AN OVERVIEW

When I speak of “the best of both worlds,” it’s in terms of familiarity with operating controls on the AR-16, better ergonomics, being easier to accessorize and, hopefully, better accuracy because of tighter tolerances in the build quality.

The advantages of the AK-47 mostly stem from the fact that it’s the most widely sold and recognized military rifle in the world. It is the standard-bearer for simplicity and ultimate reliability. With those achievements comes a glut of surplus products that ultimately benefit the consumer.

First is the availability of a wide assortment of inexpensive 7.62x39mm ammunition from which to choose and test for the best performance out of a given rifle. Even today, the average consumer can go online and buy 1,000 rounds of quality 7.62×39 ammo for less than $250. That’s a steal in my opinion, especially for those of us with a penchant for storing up extra supplies.

Speaking of supplies, another great advantage of having an AK system are the copious amounts of magazines still on the market, especially the cheaper, surplus magazines. There are magazines in the U.S. market from all over the world, and you can choose from magazines in the $6 to $7 range (more on this later), or you can go for the very best (at least in old-world standards) and pay $50 to $100 for the top-end, new-production magazines such as the Circle 10 and Bakelite Soviet magazines.

Of course, Magpul makes its own AK magazines, which are in the $16 to $27 range, and the new Gen 3 series includes a steel-reinforced front spine and locking lug on the back spine of the magazine. These magazines have already drawn a big following because of their performance and price.

The last big advantage of the 7.62x39mm round over the standard 5.56x45mm (.223) round is the fact that it’s in the .30-caliber range, is more of an intermediate combat round and delivers more energy than the 5.56 x 45mm alternative—and at longer distances, as well.

A CLOSER LOOK

CMMG spent a lot of energy making the fusion of the AK-47 and AR-15 work like a dream machine for shooting. The sample I received for review is the company’s top-ofthe- line Mutant model with the SV muzzle brake, a Magpul MOE stock, MOE pistol grip and Geissele SSA trigger.

The top-tier Mk47 Mutant comes with Geissele’s SSA trigger that offers a phenomenally crisp and light pull at just 4.25 pounds.

The top-tier Mk47 Mutant comes with Geissele’s SSA trigger that offers a phenomenally crisp and light pull at just 4.25 pounds.

After trying a couple of different rifles with the Geissele SSA trigger, I can promise that it’s worth the extra money. The one installed in the MK47 Mutant for this review broke like a thin glass rod with no trigger creep, at just 4.25 pounds. That’s an outstanding trigger for a combat weapon. (Of course, if you’re feeling froggy, Geissele offers its SSA-E, which has a break point of just 3.5 pounds. Personally, I’d leave that to the target rifles.)

Instead of modifying a regular AR to work with the 7.62x39mm round, CMMG worked backward from its Mk3 platform (.30-caliber series), designing a midsized receiver, along with a robust, midsized bolt that would stand up to the wear of 7.62x39mm ammunition. This was an excellent decision, because the Mk3 platform is designed to work with .308 ammunition, which has a good deal more pressure than the standard AK round. This provides a good safety buffer for standard 7.62x39mm loads.

The barrel of the sample MK47 Mutant is 16 inches long and incorporates CMMG’s SV brake, as opposed to its standard A2 flash hider. It is a medium-taper barrel with a 1:10-inch twist. The total length of the rifle (stock collapsed) is 33.5 inches, and the weight (unloaded) is 7.2 pounds.

The receiver is built of 7075-T6 aluminum, and the rifle is equipped with the RKM15 Keymod handguard for attaching whatever accessories you’d like, but the open space has a rounded profile for user comfort. The MK47 Mutant is a direct-gas-impingement system, as are standard ARs; additionally, the rifle is shipped with one PMag AK magazine to help the user get started. When everything is combined with the Magpul furniture, the user has a great host of features every bit as customizable as a standard AR rifle.

One slight difference, however, is the location of the magazine release. In order to work with AK-47 style magazines, a paddle release is located just forward of the trigger guard. It’s wide enough for ambidextrous use and long enough to be pressed forward with a full magazine to release the empty one for a quicker reload. This, itself, is indicative of the amount of attention to detail CMMG paid when designing this hybrid rifle.

An unusual feature on an AR-platform rifle is the paddle-style magazine release in front of the trigger guard. This makes it possible to use all styles of AK magazines and is easily activated by either the left or the right hand.

An unusual feature on an AR-platform rifle is the paddle-style magazine release in front of the trigger guard. This makes it possible to use all styles of AK magazines and is easily activated by either the left or the right hand.

TIME TO GET SHOOTING

Of course, the fun part is always getting to the range and “having at it” by slinging lead at various targets. Not being an AK enthusiast, I was armed with the rifle as it was shipped, along with a good supply of Federal Premium’s 123-grain Power-Shok softpoint rounds—an excellent deer hunting round for dedicated AK fans.

I called a shooting buddy, and he was up for helping me give the MK47 Mutant a workout that day. But little did I realize that I wasn’t quite prepared for all eventualities. Sometimes, you just make certain assumptions and start kicking your own butt in the field when something doesn’t go according to plan.

Our arrival at the range was the first of multiple outings with the Mutant. When we got our gear out of the vehicles, we loaded up the Magpul magazine for the first time and went to town.

Well, we started toward “town.” The first magazine was loaded with 20 rounds of the Power-Shok ammunition; at round number 12, there was a failure to feed. We shrugged it off as a break-in issue—until it jammed two rounds later … and three rounds after that.

That’s when my heart started pounding and my stomach churned a little bit. Still believing everything needed to be broken in, we tried another magazine—with pretty much the same results. Dang it! We weren’t 15 minutes in, and we had an issue.

Even worse, I had no alternate magazines, because I don’t have any AKs of my own. I know, I know. What self-respecting gun lover doesn’t have a few AK mags laying around? (I sold mine back in the days right after the 1994 crime bill, when high-capacity magazines were getting scarce and commanded a higher price than usual.)

On the other hand, my shooting buddy is an AK freak. Even so, he didn’t think of bringing any extra magazines with him. ammunition. He would bring several different AK magazines. Then, we would sort out where the problem lay. Yes, hindsight is, indeed, 20/20.

The next time we got together, things went much differently. Before I left, I spent a little extra time making sure the rifle was properly lubed, and I had with me some common 7.62×39 ammunition that avid AK shooters tend to buy. When my friend pulled up and retrieved his gear, I saw that he had an assortment of AK So, we made plans for a return trip to the range after I got a couple of other types of magazines, as well. I remember thinking that we were definitely going to figure out the issue.

SECOND TIME’S A CHARM

It didn’t take us long to solve the problem. We shot the newly acquired ammunition through several different magazines, including metal surplus magazines from various countries, and there wasn’t a single hiccup. Even though the MK47 was supplied with a Magpul AK magazine, my buddy also brought a new, in-the-package Magpul, and we also gave that one a try. There were no jams or failures of any kind with that particular magazine, either. We even shot a couple of magazines’ worth of rounds from a $5 Korean AK magazine, and the MK47 was still begging for more.

Just to satisfy my curiosity, we loaded up the original Magpul magazine we’d tried the first time, and after about the eighth round, the rifle jammed again. So, there it was. It wasn’t an issue with the rifle, the ammunition or even lubrication. It was just simply a faulty magazine. Hey, it can happen.

I’ve never had a single issue with any of my own PMags, and although Magpul is known for its stellar quality, it makes millions of them, and an occasional lemon can pop out. This was just the exception that proved the rule. Case in point: The new PMag we tried ran just as flawlessly as all the other magazines. I was relieved, since that’s a very easy fix. Chuck the faulty mag, and you’re back in business; you’re only out between $13 and $16.

We spent the rest of our range time obliterating targets and seeing what kind of accuracy we could squeeze from the MK47 Mutant while shooting offhand. We had to shoot this way, because everything was wet from snow and rain, including the table and chairs.

The Vortex Optics SPARC II red-dot sight is an excellent choice for quick target acquisition with its 2 MOA red dot and parallax-free field of view.

The Vortex Optics SPARC II red-dot sight is an excellent choice for quick target acquisition with its 2 MOA red dot and parallax-free field of view.

With just a 1X Vortex Sparc II red-dot sight while shooting off hand, we were able to hold fist-sized groups at combat ranges, even with rapid fire. (By the way, these weren’t just five- or 10-round groups. One fist-sized group shot by my friend had 40 rounds through it, with the center actually cut out of it. Not bad for cheap ammunition and shooting rapid-fire off hand.)

THIRD TIME’S A LOCK

After our success on the second outing, I wanted to sit down at the bench on my third day at the range and give Federal Premium’s 123-grain Power-Shok its due by testing it for accuracy and function. After all, I wasn’t about to blow through the Power-Shok with the other ammo we used on day two. It’s a bit more expensive, at around $1.15 per round (street price), but it’s worth the price for taking down medium to large game such as whitetail deer. And before I had the sit-down with the Power-Shok, I made sure to pick up a new PMag magazine.

This fist-sized group consists of two boxes (40 rounds) of 7.62x39mm ammunition fired offhand from the CMMG Mk47 Mutant.

This fist-sized group consists of two boxes (40 rounds) of 7.62x39mm ammunition fired offhand from the CMMG Mk47 Mutant.

The twist to this exercise was that I was still using the 1x SPARC II red-dot sight with a 2 MOA red dot. For a rifle such as this, I would probably keep a red-dot sight on it, because I’m most interested in the defensive aspects of the MK47 Mutant. That being the case, there are times in a survival situation when a red-dot sight is the only thing available when you’re pressed into hunting game.

The target I was shooting at, with a distance of 100 yards, had several bull’s-eyes that were just 1.25 inches in diameter, so the red dot covered up the circle, as well as a good amount of white around the perimeter. That meant the red dot could still move around a bit and the bull’s-eye would still be covered. And, although I had the rifle on a bench rest, it was still going to be tough to keep it in place without having a reference via a normal scope.

These weren’t ideal conditions for testing the ultimate accuracy of a rifle or a particular load, but they did simulate a probable situation a prepper with just one rifle might have in the field when hunting for their supper. And that’s what American Survival Guide is all about—versatility and improvisation.

I shot several three-round groups, and they ranged from a spread a of about 3.75 inches down to about 2.85 inches, with an average group size of about 3.35 inches. At first blush, that doesn’t sound fantastic. But keep in mind that there was no magnification in the optic, and the red-dot was oversized for the bull’s-eye, so it depended on how well I could keep the rifle in the one spot on the sled. That’s a lot of variance to deal with when testing at 100 yards—not to mention less-than-perfect eyesight.

Basically, with the setup I had on the Mutant, I had a minute-of-deer rifle, and I was greatly pleased by the accuracy I could pull out of it under those conditions. I guarantee that with a 9x or 10x hunting scope, sub-MOA groups can be achieved with this rifle and the right ammunition. Also, with the replacement magazine, there wasn’t a single malfunction with the Federal Premium Power-Shok softpoint rounds.

THE WRAP-UP

No, the Mk47 Mutant isn’t brand, spanking new to the market, but sometimes, it’s nice to let the early adopters shake things out and see if any issues arise. In addition, the reason we did this review was not because the Mutant is new (although it’s only been out a year or so) but because of what it offers to those of us with a preparedness mindset.

As a prepper or survivalist, our main objective is to store up enough supplies to help us make it through a crisis without breaking the bank. And while the Mk47 isn’t as inexpensive as a lot of AK variants on the market, it does offer a lot of value because of the performance it brings to the table with the enhanced accuracy of 7.62x39mm rounds. It will outshoot all but the most dedicated shooters in the field.

Further, because of the glut of AR parts and accessories on the market, you can easily and cheaply accessorize and repair (if needed) the Mutant rather than go looking for custom and pricey, jury-rigged solutions to solve problems. The other side of the coin is that with all of the inexpensive 7.62x39mm ammunition and magazines on the market, you can stock up on reserve supplies two to three times faster than with other intermediate, battle-rifle rounds, and you can practice to improve your skills and techniques much more often.

The Vortex Optics Sparc II red-dot sight, mounted on the accessory riser, is a solid performer in the field. It has a 2 MOA circle, which translates to 1 inch at 50 yards and provides quick target acquisition.

The Vortex Optics Sparc II red-dot sight, mounted on the accessory riser, is a solid performer in the field. It has a 2 MOA circle, which translates to 1 inch at 50 yards and provides quick target acquisition.

I never thought I’d find an AK I liked, but that time finally arrived (sort of) with CMMG’s Mk47 Mutant. The hybridization of the two popular platforms offers countless solutions never before possible. It offers fire controls most people love and appreciate while delivering the inexpensive and popular 7.62x39mm round that offers more terminal energy downrange—particularly useful for taking larger game.

Is the Mutant the answer to the meaning of life? No. But, it is the solution to logistical issues that we, as preppers, encounter every day when trying to determine the best bang for our buck. Whether the buck is the dollar in your pocket or the one standing 75 yards away, the Mk47 Mutant’s got your back!

Editors Note: A version of this article first appeared in the March 2016 print issue of American Survival Guide.