AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash
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    AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    In trying to sort the who's who of all the parts in the Tula mismatch thread, it seems that the call of whether the upper parts are Izhmash or Tula is based off this photo:


    In that the Tula has an offset serial number and one tab at the RSB instead of two. Is that the totality of the call? Is it based on this one photo? The reason I ask is that in looking through the serial numbers, I am not finding the same code series listed in Mcnee's running list of Izhmash codes.

    For example:

    We know that the following are Tula numbers because of the trunion stamp:
    1968 MA9950
    1968 MB2999
    1968 MB3823
    1968 MB3923
    1968 MB3934
    1968 MB9012
    1968 MB9012
    1968 MM1719
    1968 MM3492
    1968 MM3492
    1968 MN6618
    1968 MO2306
    1968 MO4836
    1968 MP1246
    1968 MP459
    1968 MP63
    1968 MP6478
    1968 MT2287
    1968 MT7141
    1968 MX4953
    1968 MX5741
    1968 M?1948
    1968 M?5153
    1968 M?8380
    1968 M?7484
    1968 M?7484
    1968 ??7367
    1968 ??1157
    1968 ??4074
    1968 ??6281
    1968 ??5786


    I personally have these two which have a center stamp and two tabs:
    ??6263
    ??7426

    Blanco_Diablo reports that his MP5870 looks like the Izhmash gas tube too.

    Looking at McNee's Izhmash list there are no M_xxxx codes. So I am seeing a ton of repeating patterns in the Tula codes that have no corresponding similarities at Izhmash was has me guessing whether this is a good way to tell the two apart, or if these rifles were finished/reworked at another plant. Given the low miles on these, I would assume they weren't redone but...
    Tula AKM exchange
    1968 MP1246 1970 ??6632 1970 HA4670 1972 ??7751 1973 ?E9438 1973 AK746 1975 273105
    ??6263 ??7426 ??4841 MP5613 ??4894 KT4912 278616

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    The one on the right that has what you refer to as two tabs and an offset serial number is a Tula one.

    Even though it may look look like it in the pictures, it does not have two tabs.
    That entire rear flange that is spot welded to the gas tube itself is a one piece cast unit where as the one on the left is a two piece, half cast, half stamped part. If you look close at the Izzy one, you can see the part that retains the rear of the handguard is stamped and formed heavy gage sheet metal attached to a cast rear flange spot welded to the stamped heavy gage gas tube.

    Serial numbers are the key.
    The font used on the Tula tubes are distinctive Tula while most of the Izzy style tubes show the Izzy style font.
    In my opinion, Tula did not make a lot of spares. At least not as many as Izzy did because you see a lot of replacement gas tubes and top covers in these kits and most use the Izzy style font.

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    Quote Originally Posted by PolishRon
    The one on the right that has what you refer to as two tabs and an offset serial number is a Tula one.

    Even though it may look look like it in the pictures, it does not have two tabs.
    That entire rear flange that is spot welded to the gas tube itself is a one piece cast unit where as the one on the left is a two piece, half cast, half stamped part. If you look close at the Izzy one, you can see the part that retains the rear of the handguard is stamped and formed heavy gage sheet metal attached to a cast rear flange spot welded to the stamped heavy gage gas tube.

    Serial numbers are the key.
    The font used on the Tula tubes are distinctive Tula while most of the Izzy style tubes show the Izzy style font.
    In my opinion, Tula did not make a lot of spares. At least not as many as Izzy did because you see a lot of replacement gas tubes and top covers in these kits and most use the Izzy style font.
    I agree with you on the rear flange. I didn't say Tula had two tabs, I said one. My issue is serial number wise, what are showing up on Izzy looking tubes match the code series of the Tula trunions (IE the entire M_xxxx series in 1968).

    We only have 1 example of an Izzy trunion with any M_xxxx series numbers (1969):
    IZHEVSK AKM
    Year Serial
    1960 ??5783
    1960 ??4050
    1960 ??7962
    1960 ??9068
    1960 ??5732
    1960 ??4410
    1960 ??7951
    1960 ??9394
    1960 ??4233
    1960 ??7094
    1961 ??5964
    1961 ??4411
    1961 ??2356
    1961 ??8664
    1961 ??8412
    1961 ??4890
    1961 ??5490
    1962 ??4725
    1962 ??8765
    1962 ??507
    1963 ??5847
    1963 ??8985
    1963 ??9791
    1963 ??2518
    1963 ??2227
    1963 ??2767
    1964 ??1839
    1964 ??4721
    1964 ??8633
    1964 ??6229
    1965 ??1681
    1965 ??6568
    1966 ??3302
    1966 ??8385
    1966 ??4469
    1968 ??980
    1968 ??8155
    1968 ??3930
    1969 ?? 2155
    1969 ??497
    1969 ??3363
    1969 ??8411
    1969 ??7381
    1969 ??2844
    1969 ??5634
    1969 ??8603
    1969 ??2155
    1969 ??7356
    1970 ??3534
    1970 ??1445
    1970 ??82
    1970 ??6897
    1970 ??9323
    1970 ??6751
    1970 ??1746
    1970 ??1954
    1970 ??4198
    1970 ??4950
    1971 ??7142
    1971 ??1205
    1972 ?4444
    1972 ??1701
    1973 ??6267
    1973 171613
    1973 225868
    1973 296955
    1973 690850
    1973 760115
    1974 882322
    1975 148344
    1975 647148
    1975 248225
    1975 608102
    1975 673850
    1976 450815
    1977 331703
    1977 967980

    Vs this many in the Tula count:
    1968 M8(or B?)2999
    1968 MA2352
    1968 MA4599
    1968 MA9950
    1968 MB2999
    1968 MB3823
    1968 MB3923
    1968 MB3934
    1968 MB9012
    1968 MB9012
    1968 MM1719
    1968 MM3492
    1968 MM3492
    1968 MN6618
    1968 MO2306
    1968 MO4836
    1968 MP1246
    1968 MP459
    1968 MP63
    1968 MP6478
    1968 MT2287
    1968 MT7141
    1968 MX4953
    1968 MX5741
    1968 M?1948
    1968 M?5153
    1968 M?8380
    1968 M?7484
    1968 M?7484
    1968 ??7367
    1968 ??1157
    1968 ??4074
    1968 ??6281
    1968 ??5786

    Of course we are only sampling what number have been sent in, of kits that made it to the US (and any photos of oversees guns) and its entirely possible that the Tula ones that ended up in Bulgaria were from a production lot that all were produced at the same time.

    There are soo many Izzy upper parts with Tula trunions that I wonder where all the Tula parts went (or all the missing Izzy trunions). I guess only the folks that chopped them up would know.
    Tula AKM exchange
    1968 MP1246 1970 ??6632 1970 HA4670 1972 ??7751 1973 ?E9438 1973 AK746 1975 273105
    ??6263 ??7426 ??4841 MP5613 ??4894 KT4912 278616

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    I have a couple Tula AKM gas tubes and the location of the serial number is not consistent. Even though the font is distinctively Tula.


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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    Awesome, thank you very much. When did you get these? Looks like:
    TJBender 1969 TM264

    might have a matching trunion
    Tula AKM exchange
    1968 MP1246 1970 ??6632 1970 HA4670 1972 ??7751 1973 ?E9438 1973 AK746 1975 273105
    ??6263 ??7426 ??4841 MP5613 ??4894 KT4912 278616

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    This is what I am working with:



    The Tula paint is glossier and seems to come off easier from the photos I have seen of others bolt carriers.
    Tula AKM exchange
    1968 MP1246 1970 ??6632 1970 HA4670 1972 ??7751 1973 ?E9438 1973 AK746 1975 273105
    ??6263 ??7426 ??4841 MP5613 ??4894 KT4912 278616

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    I appreciate the way you have analyzed this, great job! It's also admirable you have went back and taken a closer look at exactly why certain features are considered Tula or Izhmash. Peer review and reconfirmation through personal research is a healthy component of the research process. The data, however, has to be put into proper reference through careful inspection because many of these parts are sadly replacement and/or remarked recycled items. For instance, the three top covers in the bottom image have been restamped at some refurb facility someplace. Keep in mind that even if the serial number on a removable part matches, this does not mean the part is original or from the same factory as the rifle. Each part must be judged by it's own merits.
    "...a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist!"
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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    Tantal, as always the voice of reason. I find it so interesting we finally have many Russian serials in the US now. When I look at the known Izzy numbers, they are all over the place. The Tula's are orderly and seem to follow a general pattern. What I was seeing made me think that these upper Izzy parts were connected to a Tula trunion at some point. In another thread, I'm trying to get more people who bought the Tula mismatched kits to show what kind of gas tube they have.

    At the end, it doesn't matter since its a pile of mixed up parts. But if I can get back to building (1) rifle with parts with at least the same series code on it, from the same factory, in the right time period, I feel like I've brought something back to life.

    When I started building about 10 years ago, I was going to build (1) AMD65 I got from Tapco. I didn't care where it was from or the back story. At that time, your website was so intricate and spelled out to period correct parts. The more I built, the less I cared about shooting them. Thanks for being part of that inspiration to make things as "correct" as possible.
    Tula AKM exchange
    1968 MP1246 1970 ??6632 1970 HA4670 1972 ??7751 1973 ?E9438 1973 AK746 1975 273105
    ??6263 ??7426 ??4841 MP5613 ??4894 KT4912 278616

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    Adding to the mystery of how these parts came to be here, what does everyone notice regarding the gas tube and bolt carrier?

    Some may think I am obsessing over a bunch of mismatched parts, but I think there's an interesting story of the life of these rifles before they met chop saws:






    Tula AKM exchange
    1968 MP1246 1970 ??6632 1970 HA4670 1972 ??7751 1973 ?E9438 1973 AK746 1975 273105
    ??6263 ??7426 ??4841 MP5613 ??4894 KT4912 278616

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    I think the key to manufacture is the font used on the serial numbers, easy to see (for the most part) on the bolt carriers.

    Your bottom 4 are all Tula, the font used in the serial numbers on the carriers is typical of the Tula style and the gas tubes are all distinctly Tula.

    The top 3 all have a Izzy style gas tube and of the 3, the first and third have a distinctly Izzy font to the serial numbers on the bolt carrier so it makes sense to assume they are Izzy parts. The middle one ( 6263 ) is interesting. It looks like Tula font on the bolt carrier so I would say that the gas tube is a replacement, serial numbered to match during refurb. If you look close at the number "2", you can see the style of the "2" on the carrier is Tula but looking close at the gas tube, the "2" is in the Izzy style. I would be willing to bet the style of the top cover is Izzy as well (can't tell by the pictures).



    I am under the impression that the majority of spare AKM parts were supplied by Izzy and therefore, found in abundance in refurbished rifles. For all we know, these rifles could have been refurbished at the Izzy factory.

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    double tap, my bad.

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    Thanks so much Ron! I feel like these Izzy parts were on Tula guns, number matching, at some point.

    What I was noticing, if you will see the pictures with Izzy gas tubes, the bolt carrier original number has been ground off, and repunched lower.

    Consistent pattern on my parts:
    Two tab Izzy gas tube = ground down bolt carrier and repunched serial
    One tab Tula gas tube = unmolested bolt carrier

    The tula versions all have the serial numbers in the usual location with no notch where they have been ground down. In the tula spreadsheet, the alpha prefix on the "Izzy" parts match the patterns of the tula trunions. If it was just a simple problem of "crossing the streams" at the demil location, then I would think the Izzy parts would have (all) been ground and restamped.

    So for those rebuilding these guns, I would not be as worried about the arsenal mismatch as at some point, this gun was factory configured mismatched (in our minds). I would still try to make the parts era correct to the trunion.
    Tula AKM exchange
    1968 MP1246 1970 ??6632 1970 HA4670 1972 ??7751 1973 ?E9438 1973 AK746 1975 273105
    ??6263 ??7426 ??4841 MP5613 ??4894 KT4912 278616

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    Guys, great discussion and observations! I only have a couple of things I'd like to say.

    Quote Originally Posted by dyi
    If it was just a simple problem of "crossing the streams" at the demil location, then I would think the Izzy parts would have (all) been ground and restamped.
    It's a matter of the refurb facility, not the demil location. These rifles were refurbed, of course, probably back in the 1980's after being turned in by various Soviet military units (and secondary units) as AK-74's were being issued. Can't say exactly when, of course, but WAY before they were demilled. The only parts that ever got remarked were used parts that were recycled for use on different rifles, or brand new replacement parts that were numbered for the very first time at the refurb location.

    Sadly, it's often difficult to tell original Izzy markings from refurb marks (since they almost always used the same basic font) but a good eye can often tell by checking things that stick out as being refurb markings including crude application of the stamps, odd positioning, or the use of stamps on top covers when they should be hen-scratched as original. Larger than normal letters mixed with smaller numbers is a bad sign, too. Back in the 60's and 70's, the original arms factories never applied alphanumerical stamping quite as poorly as I see on some of these parts from the kits.

    Of course, Tula fonts generally indicate a real Tula stamped part from back in the day, so to speak. In other words I'm not sure if I have ever confirmed a definite replacement and/or remarked part with a true blue Tula font, have you guys? For instance, has anyone ever got one of these late 60's-early 70's parts kits with a top cover that has a Tula font serial number metal stamped onto it? I bet not.

    Quote Originally Posted by dyi
    I was noticing, if you will see the pictures with Izzy gas tubes, the bolt carrier original number has been ground off, and repunched lower. The Tula versions all have the serial numbers in the usual location with no notch where they have been ground down.
    Good observartion, that certainly could be the case for some carriers, depending on the year. However, cast Izhevsk carriers (which came out around '69) have a line there new from the factory, and they always serialized their AKM rifles under that line, up until at least early-mid 1977 when they changed over to serializing them on the right hand side of the carrier shoulder.

    An earlier, all machined carrier may have indeed been scrubbed and remarked just as you have indicated, but you'd likely need to physically inspect each one to see if this was truly the case by checking for font continuity and original machining, both below and above that line. On the other hand, if the carrier is Tula made and marked, that's also pretty easy to determine by a check of the font, font spacing and the way the carrier surface is machined (all smooth). Some of the carriers in your images posted above have that line, but also have perfect looking original factory horizontally milled surface machining above it. That line also seems to extend onto the front face of the left side shoulder, meaning it's a casting line (bear in mind that early cast carrier bodies were way more finish-machined that later ones).

    Anyway, if those showing original machining were indeed renumbered, it must have been right over the location where they were numbered to begin with which would suggest that line was there to begin with and therefore they may have never really been renumbered in the first place. You'll have to be the judge of this, by carefully checking the machining on every one of them for us. Of course, it's entirely possible that it could be a spanking new replacement part they numbered to match the rifle at the refurb location, but I doubt many bolt carriers get replaced with a brand new one.

    Quote Originally Posted by dyi
    I would not be as worried about the arsenal mismatch as at some point, this gun was factory configured mismatched
    At least at the refurb facility, but not when it was brand new. From what I can observe, during the refurbishment phase all they cared about was an overall good and serviceable condition, replacement of missing or broken parts, corrosion prevention (to survive a projected storage period according to regulations), and finally, that the serial numbers on all the parts matched. They most likely also fired the rifle to test it's function and accuracy, and to adjust the sights. In other words, mostly practical stuff, and rightly so. These are the same basic parameters the manuals spell out as being key parts of the minimum military inspection requirements. Anything else was accidental at best, i.e. factory correctness was silently left up to the winds of time and depended almost entirely on what kind of thoughtful care, or conversely, hellish treatment the rifle might have endured before it was ever turned in by the military and sent to an appointed rebuilding center.

    Whatever remains of a certain rifle's originality may or may not be important to a modern day collector, but I find it extremely exciting figuring out the clues on how to tell. You CANNOT look this up in some textbook, anywhere in the world. What is known has been obtained through careful study of private collectors (and not some government think tank). In other words, it's only done through original research, much of it being reported (and peer reviewed) right here on this forum. Good job, guys, keep up the interest!
    "...a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist!"
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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    Thanks so much Tantal. I guess it depends on how you build. I typically build to honor the history of the rifle before I got it. Like not renumbering German kits scrubbed to be used in conflict zones or refinishing my Nepalese Martinis that were stored in a palace for 100 years and got here grubby and dirty.

    So while I collect, if I take Tula parts and renumber them to my trunion, I feel it is more phony than trying to find the correct serial number (even if its a Izzy refurb). So while these were refurbed in their history, they were refurbed by Russia. And I'm willing to keep that history.

    Don't take me wrong, if I could find an all matching non-refurb I would, but for these Tula AKMs that does not seem to be in our picture. What I was trying to figure out in the number match thread is, when someone says these parts are "Izzy" and therefore wrong, its not entirely true because the part has a Tula style serial number on it (not the font style but the two letter prefix series).

    Your insight on the serial number shifting lower in 73 for Izzy was unknown to me and interesting since my only comparison was a 69 matched kit and a 73 unmatched kit. I will look harder to try to determine which numbers were redone and which were done on blank parts. One of those gas tubes also exhibits a number of only the last three digits and not the full serial as typical on the others. When did the upper handguard clip stop getting painted?

    My eye still cannot differentiate between Izzy and Tula fonts.
    Tula AKM exchange
    1968 MP1246 1970 ??6632 1970 HA4670 1972 ??7751 1973 ?E9438 1973 AK746 1975 273105
    ??6263 ??7426 ??4841 MP5613 ??4894 KT4912 278616

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    Re: AKM production differences: Tula vs Izhmash

    Quote Originally Posted by dyi
    Thanks so much Ron! I feel like these Izzy parts were on Tula guns, number matching, at some point.

    What I was noticing, if you will see the pictures with Izzy gas tubes, the bolt carrier original number has been ground off, and repunched lower.

    Your theory about renumbering a bolt carrier to match a Tula trunnion sounds reasonable at first but I have (in the little experience I have) yet to see an AK carrier that has obviously been renumbered by a Russian refurb facility or arsenal.

    Although I have seen many AK bolt carriers that have been obviously renumbered, they all seem to show up in ex-PLO kits. These renumbered parts in the ex-PLO kits, they don't look like they were re-numbered in Russia. Many of the ex-PLO kits have parts that are not Russian in origin and the method of renumbering suggests it was done at a less than professional facility. All indicators that this renumbering and refurbing was not done in Russia or under Russian control. It's just not typical of what we normally see in Russian refurbished small arms.

    So...

    My first argument against your theory is, from what I have seen, the Russians were big fans of "line outs" rather than scrubbing and renumbering. On parts that are to be reused, the most common practice seems to have been to line out the existing number and remark the part with the new number or in some cases, not to add a new number at all. (as evidenced by the lined out recoil springs on these Tula kits and many parts on other Russian small arms like Mosin and SKS rifles that were refurbed in Russia)

    Another argument against your theory is that some parts were less prone to damage or loss than others and therefore, not needing replacement. Like the bolt carrier for example.
    It's a given that before these Tula rifles were refurbed and transfered to Bulgaria, they were in service in Russia and refurbished there.
    A bolt carrier is not likely to be misplaced from it's rifle, especially in Russian service where discipline is strict and these things are most likely taken very seriously and, I am sure, severe punishment would result if it did somehow happen.
    Also, a bolt carrier is practically indestructible and not likely to be damaged and requiring replacement unlike other parts that we see commonly replaced like a top cover which is easy to dent or a gas tube which is prone to corrosion.

    So the question remains, ho do we account for the large number of bolt and carriers that are showing up in these Tula kits with the non-Tula fonts to their serial numbers?

    Are they replacement parts that have been given a Tula trunnion's serial number at the refurb facility using what we could call a "standard" font set (meaning non-Tula) or are they originally from Izzy rifles and the matching Izzy trunnions have yet to show up?
    Given the reasons I have stated above, I would tend to believe in the latter. That these bolt/carrier sets with Izzy fonts originally belonged to Izzy rifles.
    To believe that the bolts and carriers that have standard, non-Tula fonts to their serial numbers were replacements, I for one, would like to see some proof of that.
    Like for example, a Tula trunnion that has a serial number that matches up to a bolt carrier set that has this Izzy font to it's serial numbers or a even a bolt/carrier set showing this Izzy font but with a matching top cover or gas tube that is obviously Tula made or having the Tula font to the serial numbers on them.

 

 
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