Two former Rangers wanted to combine the best parts of the AK-47 and the AR-15. This is what they created


Perhaps a Ranger has finally settled the debate between AK-47 fans and AR-15 fans.

2nd Ranger Battalion veterans Joe Stenzel and Jared Potter met while serving in the military. During their deployments to Afghanistan, Stenzel noticed the shortcomings of each platform.

After leaving the military, Stenzel decided that addressing these shortcomings could be the best post-military career for both of them, and it could help create manufacturing jobs in the United States.

The result is an improved version of the AK-47 rifle, the AK-21. It is the first AK aluminum platform to hit the market, and it is as reliable in the field as the AK, but it has the user-friendly features and buildability of the AR-15 family.

As some aspects of the rifle are still patent pending, Stenzel Industries has only released CAD images of the weapon. (Stenzel Industries)

“There has always been a debate about the best performing weapon,” said Potter, now CEO of Stenzel Industries. “But we realized there were things about the AK that could be improved.”

The AK rifle isn’t as ergonomic as the AR family, and it’s not as easy to modify, Potter said. During their deployments to Afghanistan, he and Stenzel saw a huge need for a weapon with these ergonomic and modular features while using AK magazines.

Stenzel Industries’ AK-21 can do this, Potter said.

“What we’ve created is such a modular, compact, and fast platform as an AR-15, but if you find yourself in a situation where you need to grab an enemy magazine, you can do it.” , did he declare. noted.

Jared Potter while deployed to Afghanistan. (Courtesy of Jared Potter)

To maintain the reliability of the AK model, it was necessary to retool the methods of constructing a model. Potter said producing an AK model is very laborious, estimating that it takes around 40 hours to produce a single weapon. But this process guarantees the famous reliability of the weapon.

“There’s really nothing you can improve on AR other than part crafting,” Potter said. “Make them cheaper to manufacture or make higher quality parts. Joe cut it down to the basics and built our platform around it.

Joe Stenzel, founder of Stenzel Industries and creator of the AK-21, designed the rifle parts to be easier and cheaper to manufacture. AK-21 parts do not require a gun-specific machine shop, which means they can manufacture the parts anywhere in the country.

Joe Stenzel while deployed to Afghanistan. (Courtesy of Jared Potter)

“With our design, it’s a simple milling of the aluminum, which is easier on machines and tooling,” Potter said. “With the simplicity with which we made the design, we can also do large quantities. Making it from aluminum reduces the cost and weight carried by a soldier, while reducing waste and the time spent producing it.

The AK-21 includes features designed and incorporated by the Army Ranger in combat:

  • Billet Aluminum Receiver: The world’s first billet aluminum AK receiver offers a lighter design and cost-effective manufacturing.
  • Short Stroke Piston System: This keeps the rupture zone and platform internals noticeably cleaner than the traditional AK.
  • Last Turn Lock Hold Function: Similar to the AR-15, after ejecting the last turn from the magazine, the lock will lock at the back and stay locked open until the lock is released.
  • Ambidextrous Lock Release: Like some AR-15s, the AK-21 features a lock release on both sides of the platform, allowing the weapon to be returned to service more quickly.
  • Non-alternative charging handle on the left side: The charging handle on the correct side of the platform.
  • Ambidextrous Fire Selector: The AK-21 uses an SAW249 style fire / safety selector.
  • Ambidextrous magazine output.
  • Multi-caliber interchangeability: the design allows the use of multiple calibers by changing the breech and barrel.

Potter knows from experience that AR and AK platforms are excellent weapon systems, but the military and other federal agencies will need a reliable, ergonomic weapon that can fire 7.62 today. and in the future.

The Stenzel Industries AK-21 is being manufactured in Elk River, Minnesota, and will be available in the civilian market. The retail price of one of these rifles will be $ 3,999 and will be available for pre-order in late 2021.

To find out more about “America’s AK”, visit the Stenzel Industries website or his Facebook page.

– Blake Stilwell can be contacted at [email protected] It can also be found on Twitter @blakestilwell Where on Facebook.

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