Conceived in Khandahar, Born in Boonville: CMMG’s MK47 AR Runs AK Magazines

The CMMG Resolute Mk47 is a hybrid of AK and AR. The secret sauce is a 7075-T6 billet aluminum lower which accepts standard AK magazines with an extended ambidextrous paddle magazine catch. The upper uses a carbine-length direct impingement gas system to power a .308-based bolt carrier. Weighing in at 7.2 pounds, this is a handy gun.

The 16.1-inch free-floated barrel is an optimum balance of accuracy and handling. A full-length Picatinny rail runs along the top, ready for iron sights or optics.

Since Vietnam, soldiers and shooters have debated the relative merits of AR and AK. The ergonomics, accuracy, and modularity of the AR vs the reliability of the AK and the superior terminal ballistics of 7.62×39 cartridge. Splitting the difference, there was once a Special Operations Command project which sought to develop an M-4 which would fire 7.62×39 ammunition.

Rare photo of the Mk47’s parents when they first met in Vietnam. Special Forces teams sometimes carried AK-47’s on reconnaissance missions but Project Eldest Son made captured ammunition suspect. Photo from Joe Tavares on Pinterest.

After the attacks of September 11th, 2001, U.S. Special Forces deployed to Afghanistan in a variety of missions with local forces. Working in remote areas with limited support; they found themselves surrounded by friends and enemies using 7.62x39mm rounds and AK-47 magazines.

Army Special Forces teams and Ground Branch Operatives worked with local forces and overcame the Taliban to free Afghanistan with amazing speed. Green Berets continued this work in the years that followed. The logistics of supplying soldiers made the idea of shooting a single caliber of ammunition very attractive.

On a more visceral level, shooting the enemy’s own ammo back at them is deeply fulfilling. The military term is “Battlefield Recovery”. Green Berets learn this in the Q course and it is one of their advantages. Weapons Sergeants are trained to operate light and heavy weapons from around the globe.

An SF A team doesn’t normally get issued heavy weapons like cannons and mortars. Finding guns for your new local friends can be a challenge. Russian and Chinese weapons and ammo were plentiful and a welcome addition to base camp defense.

While free, captured weapons are not always a great option. This Chinese Type 56 was confiscated from a poacher in Mozambique and reportedly still fired. Luckily, most are in much better shape.

I deployed to Afghanistan in 2004 and saw a variety of captured weapons pressed into service, Ak-47s, as well as rocket launchers, 14.5mm anti-aircraft cannons, and 12.7mm heavy machineguns, were used by our teams and the local defense forces they trained.

SOCOM’s Requirement

United States Special Operations Command issued a request for small arms manufacturers to develop an M4-type rifle capable of using 7.62x39mm ammunition. The original idea was to create an upper that could be dropped on to existing M4 carbines with a special magazine to feed AK ammunition. There are many commercial gun designs that work like this.

AK magazines are rugged and have a dependable design. I have a couple of slab side magazines which date from the 1950s which still run reliably after decades of carry with no maintenance. (Don’t worry, they have a loving forever home now).

Feeding system design is the most important aspect for reliability. My weapons sergeant always said the 85% of all malfunctions are caused by the magazine. Small variations in magazine dimensions can have enormous impact on reliability and function.

The magazine is the most complex part of the AK. The sophisticated bending and welding produces an elegantly designed magazine with a smooth feed path. While the AK has received many modifications and upgrades, the only change to the magazine is in reinforcing ribs.

To feed 7.62×39 ammo, the AK mag is sharply curved with high feed lips close to the chamber center-line. To fit in an AR magazine well, the magazine had to be re-designed and reliable magazines for conversion uppers are hard to find.

It was quickly realized that to be practical, this new SOCOM rifle needed to use AK magazines. To enable the use of battlefield pick-up magazines, the upper and lower receiver, bolt carrier and firing pin had to be longer. This reduced parts interchangeability.

Three companies submitted designs for the SOCOM solicitation: Lewis Machine & Tool, Robinson Armament, and Knight’s Armament (KAC). The KAC SR-47 was ultimately chosen. 

Controls were kept in the usual location, the M4 pistol grip and stock were used. A free-float Obermeyer barrel with a custom Knight manufactured suppressor gave great accuracy. The quad Picatinny rail handguard allowed the direct attachment of sights and lights which are so key to night fighting.  

The SR-47, carried by a giant rabbit as depicted in Japanese anime. This is the only combat image we have.
Image courtesy of Motofumi Kobayashi /ANIMA・BLAST

If you have not seen the animated short based comic written by Motofumi Kobayashi, you can enjoy it below. Please forgive the odd name, I am sure it lost something in translation from Japanese.

Only seven SR-47 rifles were made. Six went to USSOCOM and one was retained in the Knight’s Armament museum. Special Forces conducted tests with captured guns and tried various rail and sight combinations. Ultimately, the abundance of thousands of free captured AK’s overcame the advantages of the SR-47 and the program ended.

The Mk47

CMMG took up where SOCOM left off. Their improved hybrid (formerly known as the Mutant) isn’t just another 7.62×39 mm upper receiver pinned on an AR lower. This is a completely new gun with a unique lower receiver, lacking a magazine well but sporting a new ambidextrous, paddle-style magazine release.

CMMG Mk47 Mutant launch video.

Instead of using a milled out 5.56 bolt face to accept the 7.62×39 round, CMMG uses a .308 bolt face to provide added strength. CMMG’s mid-sized receivers are a hybrid AR platform, more like an AR10 than an AR15. The unique lower looks like an FN-FAL. The whole design is over-engineered and sturdy enough for duty use.

The MK47 has a unique bolt carrier group specifically designed for 7.62X39
.308 BCG on left, Mk47 BCG center and .223 BCG right.

The Mk47 uses an AR-pattern rotating bolt with a carbine-length, direct-impingement gas system. Disassembly is exactly the same as an AR but when you get inside, you see a larger bolt carrier and buffer specifically designed for 7.62×39.

The Mk47 bolt carrier group (BCG) weighs 17.2 oz. A .223 AR BCG weighs 11.6 oz and the BCG from a .308 AR weighs 19.4 oz. The special Mk47 marked buffer weighed in at 3.9 oz, a tenth of an ounce heavier than an AR carbine H-buffer.

The upper receiver goes on and comes off with two captured pins in the lower receiver. An AR trigger completes the lower.

The AK-47 piston system has advantages, but it has a sharp violent operating cycle which increases felt recoil that can hinder fast follow up shots. Ken Elmore (famous AR instructor) rightly claims that the AR’s often criticized direct-impingement gas system is a big improvement. “Jet engines don’t need pistons and neither does an AR.”

The ergonomics are pure AR and there are some key shared parts. The pistol grip, trigger, safety selector, and charging handle are all where you expect them to be in an AR.

CMMG’s free-float handguard has a full-length Picatinny top rail for optics with M-LOK slots along the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. The M-LOK system allows users to attach a variety of accessories to the handguard without the weight and sharp edges of unused rail sections.

The Mk47’s 16.1-inch, 4140 chrome-moly steel barrel has a 1:10-inch twist rate. This medium-taper barrel is topped with a carbine length direct gas impingement system locked in place by setscrews. It is salt bath nitrided inside and out for durability,

A CMMG SV Muzzle Brake comes standard. The barrel is threaded to a standard 5/8-24 thread pitch, which means you can equip it with any similarly threaded .308 muzzle device.

The trigger assembly, handguard, grip, buffer tube assembly, buttstock, and gas system are fully compatible with standard AR’s allowing shooters to use their favorite up-grade parts.

MK47 Resolute 300 TECH SPECS:

CALIBER: 7.62×39mm

BARREL: 16.1″Medium Taper 1:10 twist,

MUZZLE: CMMG SV Brake, threaded 5/8-24

GAS PORT LOCATION: Carbine Length

RECEIVER: Billet 7075-T6 AL Mid Size upper, Billet 7075-T6 AL Lower

HANDGUARD: CMMG RML15 M-Lok handguard

FINISH: Cerakote Receivers and Hand Guard

CHARGING HANDLE: CMMG Oversized Ambi

PISTOL GRIP: Magpul MOE

BUTT STOCK: CMMG RipStock with 6 Position Enhanced Receiver Extension and Ambi Sling Plate

TRIGGER: Geissele Automatics SSA 2-Stage

SAFETY SELECTOR: CMMG Ambidextrous

Magazine Release: Ambidextrous Extended Paddle

WEIGHT: 7 lbs 4oz (unloaded)

LENGTH: 33.3″ (stock collapsed)

The RESOLUTE lineup is available in three tiers. RESOLUTE 100, RESOLUTE 200, and RESOLUTE 300. You pick the level of performance you want.

MSRP: The Mk47 Resolute 100 is $1449.95; the loaded 300 model is $1,999.95

All CMMG products come with CMMG’s Lifetime Quality Guarantee

No iron sights are included, so I mounted 45 degree offset XS back up sights. Xpress Threat Interdiction Sights provide pistol sights on the side of your carbine that is designed for quick acquisition in CQB situations. You can use them without removing your optic or flipping them up.

XS’ Xpress Threat Interdiction Sights. These sights are not pictured in a proper sight alignment, that was as low as I could get the camera and stay in focus.

Optika6 1-6×24 Red Dot FFP

To bring out the best in the Mk47, I decided to mount a Meopta 1-6×24 Optika6 scope with a Warne mount. The Optika6 is optimized for fast-paced medium-range competition and hunting. This is a great set up for the 7.62×39 cartridge providing quick hits from zero to 300 yards and beyond.

The 1X provides a no magnification setting perfect for the red dot and fast reflexive shooting. 6x allows you to see detail on more distant targets to identify threats or prey.

Meopta has been producing high-end European optics in the Czech Republic for over 85 years. The Optika 6 is priced for entry-level shooters seeking better performance than the Amazon optics of questionable origin. They have many options allowing you to get the features you want.

I went with a first focal plane, illuminated red dot, MOA adjustment, K Dot German-style reticle. A red dot lets me shoot fast up close and magnification lets me evaluate at longer range. Let’s unpack this a little bit.

CMMG Mk47 with Optika6 scope on Warne mount. Note the extended charging handle.
Photo by Mark Miller.

The RD Illuminated Reticle System features a highly defined red dot at the center of the reticle. The illumination control has six reticle intensity settings that accommodate conditions from extreme low-light to bright daylight conditions. Intermediate off positions between every setting allows the user to find their preferred illumination setting quickly. 

The windage/elevation turrets provide a tactile “click” when you adjust them. You can feel the adjustments. The adjustment knobs are marked very clearly. There is a push-pull lock which prevents unintentional movement and a quick easy zero lock system which allows a precise return to zero.

Magnification is adjusted by rotating the sleeve or with the optional quick-zoom lever, included with scope. Parallax focus adjustment is on the left side, adjacent to and along the same axis as the illumination knob. Parallax adjusts from 10 yards to infinity.

The scope adjustment knobs are calibrated in minute of angle. The Optika 6 has click adjustments in .5 MOA. Each click of windage or elevation move impact 1/2 inch at 100 yards.

The proprietary ion-assisted anti-reflective and scratch-resistant lens coatings on the Optika6 are the best in the industry. These coatings eliminate glare and reflections while delivering incredibly bright images. The coatings also protect the lens from abrasion on external surfaces.

The 30 mm aircraft-grade aluminum main tube is virtually impervious to scratching or marring because of the ELOX anodized hard coating. The non-capped, target turrets have a rubberized surface for protection and a non-slippery grip.

Operation

Loading the Mk47 is familiar to all AK shooters, rock and lock. The shooter hooks a protrusion at the forward edge of the magazine into a slot in the receiver then rocks the magazine back and up where it locks into position with a satisfying metallic click.

An ambidextrous extended charging handle allows you to cycle the bolt from either side. With a little practice, loading AK magazines is smooth. Magazine changes are aided by the Mk47’s over-sized, bilateral, paddle magazine release.

The Mk47’s controls are familiar to AR shooters like us, so it took no time getting comfortable with its operation. Like the AK, the Mk47 does not feature last round bolt hold open. It does have a bolt catch, so you can lock the bolt back.

You can get magazine followers that will hold the bolt back after the last round, but the bolt goes forward when the magazine is removed. I prefer this to not knowing I am empty until the hammer drops on an empty chamber.

The KCI USA 75 round drum loads from the back so you are not fighting spring tension. When you are ready to shoot, just wind it up. The weight is substantial but located in the center of the gun, it is balanced.

The Mk47 is powered by a carbine-length direct impingement gas system smoothing out the action. Felt recoil is stronger than .223, but significantly less than a 7.62X39 AK. The SV muzzle brake does an amazing job making follow up shots a snap.

The Mk47 will accept all manner of polymer and steel AK magazines, including drums. 

I pulled out my footlocker of military surplus magazines and stacked up new commercial mags and drums from KCI USA, Magpul, and X-Tech. From the antique slab side Russian to KCI USA 75 round drums and 20 rounders, the MK47 feeds with tedious consistency showing no favorites. Several of my AKs are picky about polymer magazines, not so the Mk47.

Accuracy

I engaged a multitude of paper and steel targets from 15 to 200 yards while on the move and in a variety of shooting positions. At 50 yards, standing, I consistently held 4-inch groups with ease.

From a supported position, the Mk47 will shoot 2 MOA with steel-cased commercial ammunition. I am sure that match grade ammo would shoot even better. A great trigger, free-float handguard, and quality barrel all do their part to make the Mk47 quite accurate.

This 200 yard group was the best of the day.

The Geissele Automatics SSA 2-Stage trigger has a 3.5 lb pull with a very clean break and short reset. Repeated shots on target were made easier and, more notably, quicker due to the trigger.

This 200-yard group was the best of the day. All of the groups were fired with a 1-6X scope with a pretty big dot in the center of the crosshairs. This is a set up for speed, not precision. 

The value of the Mk47 is not extreme precision with hand loads. It is the ability to take available and affordable steel case ammo and provide acceptable performance. Townsend Whelen wisely said that “Only accurate rifles are interesting.” The Mk47 is plenty interesting.

Reliably

The Mk47 fed, fired and ejected with 100 percent reliability throughout my shooting using a variety of brass and steel-cased ammo of diverse quality. I dug into the dark recesses of my range shed and asked my buddies to come up with odd 7.62X39 loads.

From steel cased Wolf rounds to Yugoslavian military surplus, the gun cycled everything I loaded. In over 700 rounds of mixed ammunition, the only failures were three rusty Chinese rounds with hard primers. They all shot on the second or third try.

Even the worst rounds provided acceptable accuracy to hit 200-yard steel targets with the authority of great terminal ballistics. Wolf Military Classic shoots a 124-grain, bi-metal bullet. Many Com Bloc surplus rounds use similar projectiles. Know your ammo, best not to shoot these at steel targets.

From steel cased Wolf Military Classic rounds to Yugoslavian military surplus and some rusty Chinese stuff, the gun cycled everything I ran through it. All of it shot well enough to hit the plate at 200 yards.

The AK is famous for reliability. Credit for this usually goes to generous internal tolerances that allow for filth and wear to keep running. A less recognized factor in the AK’s legendary reliability is the smooth taper of the 7.62×39 mm cartridge and the curved magazine.

The 5.56X45 on the left and 7.62X39 on the right. The smooth taper of the AK round makes loading smoother and more reliable.

Many modern cartridge designs employ a sharp shoulder to trade taper for propellant capacity. The 7.62X39’s slick geometry feeds and ejects with minimal friction.

While 30-round AK magazines can be used as a monopod for support in the prone, they can interfere with shooting from a rest and assuming some other positions. They also add substantial weight. “Tanker” 20-round magazine has been around for a while, but KCI USA has made them affordable and available. This is my go-to magazine for most purposes.

GroveTec sling and sling mounts fit in perfectly with the Mk47.

All practical guns need a sling. I went with the GrovTec adjustable tactical sling. For a sling attachment, I put a GrovTec QD adapter on the buffer tube and added an M-LOK QD mount on the handguard. This allows using a single-point sling as well.

TLR-2 delivers an overpowering beam with an extensive range, wide peripheral coverage, and selectable strobe mode.

Any gun used around the house should have a light. Why not an aiming laser too? The 1000-lumen Streamlight TLR-2 HL-G mounts onto the front of the Mk47 with the help of a GrovTec M-LOK rail section.

The ultimate in target engagement enhancement, the light/green laser combo features a fast and tool-less rail clamp for solid mounting on a wide variety of weapons. The daylight visible green laser uses the latest direct drive diode technology for a bright burn even in extreme temperatures. TLR-2 runs for 1.5 hours continuously with both light and laser in operation.

In terms of pure visceral enjoyment, the Mk47 is a joy to shoot and a dead sexy looking rifle. CMMG’s Mk47 merges the ergonomics and modularity of the AR with the best qualities of the AK. It uses common magazines of proven and highly reliable design. The 7.62X39 round is common, feeds easily, provides a practical accuracy, and brutal terminal ballistics. What more can you ask?

For more information visit CMMG website.

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About the author: Mark Miller is a former Customs Agent and a Green Beret who served in Afghanistan and a number of other live fire locations. A student of firearms and shooting, he is an FFL and a SOT. The guiding philosophy of his life is that terrain and situation dictate tactics and the enemy always gets a vote on any plan.

{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Don Cole May 19, 2020, 10:27 am

    This is one of the best written articles i have read on this site. The details were spelled out in clear concise manner and explained in a way this novice can understand.

    I have never owned or fired an AK in any variant and this article has made me want to purchase this MK-47 on the spot. The 300 model is comparable in price to a top of the line SIG MCX or the Daniel Defence weapons with the obvious SHTF benefits of the 7.62×39 cartridge and AK mag support. What else could you want? I am a believer in the fact that EVERY configuration has its own advantages and disadvantages and this one checks most of the boxes on the nice to have list along with the NEED to have list.

    Thank you for publishing this article with the details and expert insight we all need from time to time.

    • Mark Miller May 19, 2020, 11:46 am

      The Mk47 certainly has its charms. If you want to shoot 7.62×39 I can’t name a better choice. Reliable magazines are cheap and available.

  • guido May 18, 2020, 8:17 pm

    Really captivating writeup, Sir.
    I wonder if the SIG 556R had the capability for a tier 1 trigger upgrade if it might have changed many shooters minds about the cartridge as well.
    Just got my Banshee Mk. 10 hot-rodded and running, I’m extremely impressed with CMMG.

    • Mark Miller May 19, 2020, 12:51 am

      Thank you for the kind words. I like the look of the 556R. I agree that AR style upgrades would have helped it.
      I got to shoot the CMMG Mk10, those are some impressive guns. CMMG’s Radial Delayed Blowback System makes the 10mm run great.

  • Mr. Sparkles May 18, 2020, 11:49 am

    Great read. I am surprised when talking about AR style shooting 7.62 x 39 that you made No mention of the MCS from Windham Weaponry. Maybe I am missing something.

    • Mark Miller May 19, 2020, 12:43 am

      I have seen the Multi-Caliber System from Windham Weaponry but I never got to shoot it. It is a very clever design and I would love to write about it. Do you have a hook up over there? Windham, are you reading this? I wish they would update their 9mm set up and make an MP5 and/or a glock magazine well.

  • JCitizen May 18, 2020, 11:12 am

    WhooHaaa! That cat s**t one anime is a gas!!!

    • Mark Miller May 18, 2020, 7:01 pm

      I know, right? I was hesitant to include it in the post but it is such a treat and so little known that I wanted to share. It is the only documented use of the SR-47 in combat.

  • bman940 May 18, 2020, 11:06 am

    Great choice of scope for that rifle. I have been going back and forth for a long time about getting one of your Mutant rifles, this write up may have just sealed the deal! Nice work!

    • Mark Miller May 19, 2020, 12:45 am

      The Optika6 was very clear and sharp. I really enjoyed shooting with it.

  • Sheep Dog May 18, 2020, 8:03 am

    AK, one of my fav weapon systems. 100 million produced, right? Good job CMMG.

  • Eleazar R Escobedo May 18, 2020, 7:14 am

    I have had An Ar in 762×39 and 545×39. Only problem with them was with surplus ammo and harder primers

    • Slim May 18, 2020, 12:31 pm

      did you use a mil spec trigger with mil spec springs or aftermarket trigger and\or springs? Thanks.

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