Richard Saunders: An Experts View

All of our reviews are based upon Richard Saunders opinions. Richard has been shooting air rifles for nearly forty years. Today he hunts and carries out pest control on more than a thousand acres spread across different locations in the south of England. He is a regular contributor to Airgun Shooter magazine, writing mainly hunting features and product reviews, as well The Airgun Show on YouTube.

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Spring Powered Air Rifle
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Who should buy this rifle and why

If you’re looking for a gun for fun the Crosman AK-1 could be just what you’re looking for. Relying on Co2 cartridges for its power and a smooth bore barrel, this rifle has no aspirations for hunting and pest control – it’s simply not powerful or accurate enough.

Instead, the Crosman AK-1 is all about sending tin cans flying and putting a smile on your face. Whilst the US and other markets get to enjoy a fully automatic version, UK laws permit semi-automatic operation only. That might sound like a bit of a downer, but to be honest, fully automatic versions unleash all 28 BB shots in seconds and you’ll spend more time filling up the magazine and changing the Co2 cartridges. Limited to how fast you can pull the trigger, semi-auto mode is plenty fast enough and means you can enjoy each shot.

Stock and main features

Externally the AK-1 is made almost externally from high quality and durable polymer and alloy. However, tipping the scales at just under 3.2 kilos, the rifle not only feels reassuringly solid, but clearly has plenty of metal components under the skin.

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The telescopic stock locks into five different positions and folds back at the push of a button.

Thanks to a telescopic stock, it measures just 800mm at its shortest. Pushing a pivot switch on the underside of the butt gives you a further 75mm. The length of pull – the distance between the end of the butt and the trigger – is 290 to 365mm, making the AK-1 ideal for youngsters and smaller shooters as well. Pressing another button folds the stock and although this makes transport easier, there’s no lock up facility when folded and I suspect most people will keep the rifle fully extended.

The steeply raked pistol grip has panels of moulded chequering and, like the rest of the rifle, is ambidextrous. Immediately above it is the button to release the folding stock. The trigger is nicely curved and comfortable on the finger. It has two stages but, in all honesty, this rifle is not about punching tight groups in paper targets and you’ll be pulling it too quickly to care. A pivot catch in front of the trigger guard releases the magazine.

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A metal shot selector toggles between safe, semi-auto and the defunct full auto modes.

To the right, the ‘shot selector’ mimics that on AK assault rifles. In the fully up position, the metal leaver makes the AK-1 safe. Fully down engages semi-automatic mode and in between is the defunct fully automatic function.

Pulling a short lever forward of the shot selector cocks the rifle once you’ve inserted the magazine and are ready for the fun to begin. The blow back design gives it an authentic back and forward movement with each shot.

On top, a couple of Picatinny rails run almost the full length of the rifle. There are yet more rails underneath and either side of the forend to accept accessories such as a bipod or torch. The AK-1 comes with a pair of open sights. The foresight is a fixed raised post however, the rear sight can be adjusted for elevation only by pinching both sides of a cross-bolt and moving it forward to raise the aiming notch. In all honesty though, you’ll find yourself making adjustments instinctively based on the stream of BBs.

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With a fully loaded magazine inserted, pull back the cocking lever.

Loading the magazine and installing Co2

The AK-1 uses two 12g Co2 cartridges that are installed in the curved AK-style magazine. A supplied tool is used to tighten a couple of screws that result in the cartridges being pieced and sealed off. To avoid any Co2 being wasted, I found it best to turn the tool just far enough to engage the cartridges then giving it a quick final turn to puncture and seal them. Co2 is affected by temperature – the warmer it is, the more shots you can expect. On a moderately warm spring day, I managed between three and four full magazines per pair of cartridges.

The curved magazine has a reassuringly solid feel about it. To fill it with 28 .177 BBs, you must first compress a spring by pulling down a small lug, tucking it into a notch to lock it in place. BBs are then inserted into a loading aperture. You can either load BBs individually by hand, from the spout that many containers have or from a provided speed-loader. Don’t worry about counting out 28 BBs because when full and the spring is released from the notch any excess will fall out into your hand.

Place the full magazine with the curve facing away from you into the port forward of the trigger and give it a light tap to make sure it is properly seated. All you need to do then is pull back the cocking lever, take off the safety and let fly.

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Insert two Co2 cartridges and use the tool provided to pierce them.

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BBs can be loaded by hand, direct from the container or with a provided speed loader.

Safety

All the usual safety protocols that come with shooting apply to the Crosman AK-1. In addition, given the propensity for BBs to ricochet, it’s advisable to wear a pair of safety glasses.

Accuracy and performance

If you’re looking for single hole groups, this rifle is not for you, but you probably don’t need me to tell you that. And don’t be tempted to think you can use the AK-1 to deal with a problem rat under the garden shed. It’s not accurate enough and, at around 350 feet per second, its not powerful enough either. The natural prey for this rifle is tin cans and you’ll want plenty of them.

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The Crosman AK-1’s natural environment – surrounded by tin cans.

Summary

With a UK recommend retail price of £330, the Crosman AK-1 is aimed squarely at those who want a great looking rifle to shoot tin cans and other plinking targets in the garden. The quality of finish, robust design and semi-auto action add up to a compelling package for which grins come free.