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Best 7.62×39 AR-15 Uppers & Complete Rifles

Want to combine the accuracy of an AR-15 with the power of an AK-47’s 7.62×39 round?

Why not just put a 7.62×39 upper on your AR?

PSA KS47 with Vortex
PSA KS47 with Vortex

Let’s start off with why 7.62×39 is awesome, then dive into the best uppers and complete rifles out there.

Table of Contents


Why You Want (Or Need) a 7.62x39mm Upper in Your Life

7.62×39 is still one of the most popular cartridges around the world, as evidenced by the fact that you can pick up a box at the corner store no matter which hemisphere you’re in.

Popular 7.62x39 Ammo
Popular 7.62×39 Ammo

It was originally designed by the Soviet Union in the latter months of WWII.

The Soviets wanted an intermediate cartridge that could function in a multi-purpose capacity. What they got was a solid little round that would be on par with the 5.56×45 NATO rounds the West would use much later.

3 Upgraded AK-47s
3 Upgraded AK-47s

The new cartridge would go on to achieve wide acclaim for its success in close quarters combat thanks to its relatively large bullet size. Most 7.62x39mm bullets are 122 or 125gr, with some 150gr stuff available if you’re willing to really look for it.

5.56 vs 7.62x39mm
5.56 vs 7.62x39mm

This puts it nearly on par with the modern .300 Blackout round, and indeed the 300BLK was designed to mimic the performance of the 7.62x39mm round in a lot of ways, but in a package that could be chambered by the AR-15 with minimal adjustment.

Of course, most AR’s are 5.56×45, so when looking at swapping to a 7.62×39 upper, that’s the comparison we’re looking at…

7.62×39 vs 5.56×45: By the Numbers

 7.62x39mm5.56x45mm NATO
Bullet Diameter:.312”.224”
Case Length:1.524”1.760”
Max Pressure:45,010psi55,114psi
Average Muzzle Velocity:~2400fps~3000fps
Bullet Weight:120-125gr55-77gr

What Does This All Mean?

So, here’s the takeaway from the bare-bones look at the specs.

  • 7.62×39 bullets are bigger
  • 5.56×45 bullets are faster
  • The cartridges are overall about the same size
  • The 7.62×39 can load a bigger powder charge, but the 5.56×45 can be loaded to higher pressure.

So, what’s that actually mean?

Well, from a practical standpoint, the 7.62×39 round is going to carry more energy into its target inside 300 meters or so. But outside of that, energy falls off and the heavy round drops quickly.

The 5.56 meanwhile is not as good on the stopping power front at close ranges. Having a lighter bullet it moves quite a bit faster, however, so after about 300 yards or so, you’ll get more energy out of it than the 7.62×39, and certainly more accurate.

Let’s break that down further.

If you’re hunting anything up to medium game inside of 300 yards, you’ll want the 7.62×39.

It carries more energy and is plenty accurate at those ranges. If you’re going after smaller game, or are looking to make shots at 400+ yards, the extra accuracy, and velocity of the 5.56×45 is going to be fine.

No need to invest in a new upper if that’s the case.

Unless you want to be a little more flexible and take advantage of the super cheap 7.62×39 ammo that is…

Now, if you’re looking for something with a little more close-up power, or you just want something else to add to the collection, you might want to snag a new 7.62×39 upper for your rifle, or just build a 7.62×39 rifle from the ground up.

If that sounds like something you want to do, here’s what we recommend for your new East-Meets-West rifle!

Best 7.62×39 AR-15 Uppers & Rifles

1. Palmetto State Armory PA47 16″ 7.62X39 Complete Upper

If you’re looking for a firearm that’s basic, but functional, PSA has probably got you covered no matter what you’re looking for.

They’ve certainly got you covered if you’re looking for an A2-style upper in 7.62×39.

Best Budget 7.62x39 AR-15 Upper
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

The barrel is a 16” chrome moly vanadium piece with a 1:10 twist, and it’s set up for a carbine-length gas system. The barrel has a combination front sight base/gas block, and is covered by standard handguards and capped off with an A2-style flash hider.

The upper itself is forged 7075-T6 aluminum and then finished with a hard anodized coating to keep it free of scratches and rust.

I’d call this upper the way to go if you’re looking for a basic 7.62×39 upper that is more about function than form. It’s finished well and machined precisely, don’t get me wrong, but unless you want to build an A2 clone in 7.62×39 for some reason, it’s pretty plain Jane and doesn’t really offer you much in the way of customization options by default.

And that’s perfectly fine. A whitetail (or a home invader) isn’t going to care what the gun looks like, or how many flashlights and laser sights you’ve got hanging off it. The upper is as accurate as anything I’ve ever shot in 7.62×39, and I’d say it’s more than adequate for anything from hunting to plinking, to long-term storage for the end of days.

2. Palmetto State Armory AR47 16″ MID-LENGTH 7.62X39

What if “adequate” doesn’t quite get the job done though? Would if you need those flashlights, lasers, foregrips, PEQ boxes, and coffee grinders? What if you just plain hate the A2 stylings the upper above?

Well, PSA has still got you covered.

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Their AR-47 16” is an M-LOK railed version of the PA47, and it’s perfect if you’re looking for a bit of an upgrade over the base model.

You still have the 1:10 twist rifling, but with a mid-length gas system and a low-profile gas block to accommodate the free-floating, 13.5” inch PSA lightened M-Lok rail.  You have M-lok cuts at the 3, 6, and 9, positions and a full-length rail up top, all ready and waiting for whatever accessories, grips, and optics your heart desires. The rail also features QD mounts for a sling if you so desire.

Personally, I think a nice 1-6x like the Vortex Strike Eagle would look rather nice up there and would be perfect for the 7.62×39’s range, or maybe a good red dot and a flashlight for a home defense setup.

Whatever you want to build, the PSA AR47 upper gives you the means to bring your vision to life. I love the customization options, and PSA has put some serious thought into this upper, from manufacturing to distribution.

3. Radical Firearms 7.62×39 16″ HBAR Radical Upper Receiver

If you’re looking for something a little different that’s maybe a step up from the PSA stuff, the Radical Firearms HBAR upper may be the way to go. The HBAR-profile barrel is fitted with M4 feed ramps, and is rifled at a faster 1:8 twist to get more accuracy out of heavier bullets.

It comes with a flat-top Keymod rail that will do just as well as the M-Lok stuff when it comes to supporting your favorite attachments and optics.

You can read my full review of another Radical upper here if you want to know more about fit and finish.

Radical Upper and Aero Bolt
Author’s 5.56 NATO Radical Upper (BCG and Charging Handle not included.)

But in general you get what you pay for, and what you’re getting here is a competently designed and manufactured upper that manages to come in at an affordable price by skipping some of the bells and whistles like weight-saving measures and monolithic construction.

The big advantage it has over the PSA uppers is the piston-drive gas system that runs a heck of a lot cleaner than the direct impingement PSA system.  

This is especially important if you’re shooting dirty surplus ammo. Cheap as that stuff is, it can foul a gun up quickly and though that may not matter so much to an AK, it certainly will to an AR.

However, this upper doesn’t come with a BCG or charging handle – so take that into account when you budget it. You’ll want to get a dedicated 7.62×39 BCG and any standard AR-15 charging handle.

4. CMMG MK47 Mutant

If you’re looking for a complete rifle option, the Mutant has you covered – but it isn’t cheap.

at Brownells

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Using the AR standard Direct Impingement gas system and using standard AK magazines, the Mutant truly is just a combination of an AK-47 and AR-15.

Best of all it is made to CMMG’s exacting standards for quality. While the 7.62x39mm round is not a marksman cartridge, you can count on the CMMG rifle that fires it to be as close as can be to giving you maximum precision.

5. Faxon ARAK-21

Another complete upper option that comes in a piston flavor…complete with gas adjustment so you’re ready for whatever kind of ammo you might be shooting.

Faxon ARAK-21
Faxon ARAK-21

It’s built almost completely different from a standard AR-15 upper so not that many parts are interchangeable.  BUT…it does work on a regular lower.

It’s a little heavy with integral quadrails but if you want to go piston like the AK…the ARAK-21 might be for you.

Best 7.62x39 AR/AK Hybrid
at Faxon

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

6. Palmetto State Armory KS-47

All of the options before were great options, but the best of the batch might be the PSA KS-47.

Delivering a complete rifle for a fraction of the cost that the CMMG runs…the PSA KS-47 is also outstandingly accurate.

PSA KS47 with EOTech
PSA KS47 with EOTech

Shooting roughly 2.5 MOA, the KS-47 delivered perfect function and reliability. Impressive for a gun that runs about the price of most decent standard AR-15s.

Full video review of ours right here!

Another perk is that PSA offers it in several configurations, including a braced pistol version with a 10.5-inch barrel!

The only downside is the lack of last round bolt hold open (thanks AK mags).

If you want a complete rifle option, you can’t go wrong with PSA!

at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

See our full written review for even more details.

What’s your take on the KS47?

Readers' Ratings

2.67/5 (447)

Your Rating?

Parting Shots

If you’re interested in 7.62×39 and you already have an AR-15, you’ll be pleased to know there are some great uppers out there that will allow you to take advantage of this legendary caliber’s benefits without building a whole new gun.

That said, if you want to build a whole new gun in 7.62×39 and don’t want to build an AK, then you can just build a whole AR from the ground up.

Whatever you decide to do, these uppers won’t let you down. They’re as rugged and dependable as the cartridge they fire, and you should be able to find one to meet your needs and your budget, no matter what those may be.

Got another one I should add to the list? Think this whole thing is blasphemous and an insult to both Stoner and Kalashnikov? Or how about check out the Best AR-15s and Best AK-47s?

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22 Leave a Reply

  • Connor Haughton

    "The big advantage it has over the PSA uppers is the piston-drive gas system that runs a heck of a lot cleaner than the direct impingement PSA system."

    This is inaccurate, Radical uppers are DI not piston operated.
    Otherwise mostly helpful info, thank you.

    January 9, 2021 9:21 am
  • Logan Pearson

    In my experience, shooting surplus Russian 7.62x39 ammo in a custom-built AR pattern rifle causes a few issues that necessitate a dedicated lower.

    For one, the Russian primers are harder. If you put an aftermarket trigger group in your lower and it has a pull weight of 3lbs, you are bound to find lots of light primer strikes. Stick with a trigger that's at least 5 lbs, or one like delivers a primer strike heavier than the trigger pull, like the Hyperfire. 9mm AR pattern rifles have this same issue.

    Second, depending on the gas tube length and gas block (adjustable vs non-adjustable) on your upper, you may find the buffer weight that works when paired to your .223/5.56 upper does not work as reliably with the 7.62x39 upper. Don't be surprised if you end up buying a different weight buffer later on.

    If you don't buy a complete factory-made AR47 and you decide to build one yourself, it'll require more tuning than an AR15 would, and for this reason it'll be less compatible with the lower you use on your .223/5.56.

    Don't go too long on the gas tube length, 7.62x39 has a lower chamber pressure than .223/5.56. I think the best bet would be to buy an H2 buffer, carbine-length gas system, and especially an adjustable gas block. An adjustable gas block can prevent you from throwing away components and having to buy new ones later, can help to reduce recoil, and can help reduce wear-and-tear from having an overgassed upper. Furthermore, since Russian ammo is dirtier, having less gas blowing back into the receiver is a plus.

    September 19, 2020 10:55 pm
  • P5ways

    Not seeing that the Radical Arms upper is piston. All say DI.

    I'm looking for an AR upper, piston, in 7.62 but not finding any.

    So much 7.62 ammo available... all uppers sold out!

    August 20, 2020 5:40 pm
    • Chris M

      Check out black rifle arms. They also make what I call an essential enhanced firing pin for 7.62x39.

      June 13, 2021 8:57 pm
  • Dennis

    Is there any way you could comment on the Maxim Defense 7.62x39 PDX, ie. quality reliability?
    They also sell the uppers separately.

    May 27, 2020 2:46 pm
  • Dennis Henson

    The PSA 762x39 uppers will not work with a regular AR15 lower as per PSA in the description on the uppers page.

    April 22, 2019 11:30 pm
    • Graywulf

      Will this upper work with a 2.23 and 5.56 lower? Same idea as a 300 black out upper to 5.56 lower. Magazine too? What would I need if I bought it?
      Noah R on Apr 24, 2018
      BEST ANSWER: Yes need to buy different magazines. C mag works GREAT

      January 1, 2020 8:44 pm
  • Ted

    What brand is the Magazine in the video and most of the photos?

    April 7, 2019 9:24 am
  • Robert Bosco

    Thank you for such an informative column…

    March 2, 2019 10:03 am
  • Donald Hohman

    Do 7.62x39 mags fit the AR .223 magazine well?

    December 23, 2018 4:52 pm
    • David, PPT Editor

      Yes, just make sure you get AR-15 magazines designed for 7.62x39. I saw a guy show up to the range once with AK magazines because they were the right caliber...he made a long drive and felt very foolish.

      December 23, 2018 6:49 pm
    • Nick the Red beard

      Yes, try c-products for the best ones. 10, 20 & 30 shop around for price and availablelity .ammoseek is your friend. Wear ear protection, the ringing makes you miserable. STruth. Semper Fi

      January 12, 2019 10:51 pm
  • Tyler ME

    I'm pretty dang happy with the basic BCA complete upper (~$180) I fitted to a DPMS lower a couple years ago. It's been reliable and accurate for me right out the gate and to this day. Just shows you dont have to spend a lot to have some fun with this cartridge!

    December 20, 2018 4:58 pm
  • David, PPT Editor

    Thanks for the info! We've tested a gen 2 KS47 and will have a review of it out soon-ish!

    December 17, 2018 12:40 pm
  • Jay Si

    M&M 10x elite

    December 17, 2018 5:57 am
  • Carl Miles

    What hell were you thinking when you wrote this? Did you do your research? You didn’t even mention the PWS uppers and complete rifles as an option for 7.62x39 in a reliable, premium AR platform. They are way better than any of the other guns and uppers you just mentioned and their propietary long stoke piston design is the only one that actually operates just like an AK does. You really need to go back and research the PWS 7.62x39 offerings and then amend this article to accurately reflect what AR options chambered in 7.62x39 are readily available to consumers and what’s superior in terms of quality, function, and reliability or else you sacrifice credibility. Kind of hard to take someone serious when they’ve proven their lack of knowledge on a subject they’re attempting to educate others on. No disrespect meant here, I just feel like constructive feedback can lead to improvement.

    December 16, 2018 11:01 pm
    • Eric Hung

      Thanks Carl! We definitely love PWS (already reviewed their 16" and I'm finishing up their 7"). Will try to get one of their 7.62x39 uppers in hand.

      December 17, 2018 11:48 am
    • Shepherd of Fire

      And get someone to proofread and grammar check your articles. Please, Pew Pew. You are better than this!
      Oh, and Carl, do notice the fin grips and mag lock, they are in California. Kinda hard to to do an honest, full review on new stuff that would apply to all of the Free States when the State has stymied our access to most of the latest and greatest.

      December 17, 2018 1:01 pm
  • Tinnerman

    I really like the Hardened Arms for this. It’s super reliable. The feed ramps are great. Good quality and there staff is awesome and no I don’t work for them I just like there quality.

    December 16, 2018 9:21 pm
  • Mike Bolton

    I bought a 7.62x39 upper from Pro 2A Tactical. It is a Gibbz Non recipricating, left side charging system, I am running it on a Rock River Arms LAR 47 lower. I just had to do minor releaving to the upper, so I can run the AK mags. I love how it runs, and the rifle manipulation is much more natural, and keeps you on target.
    I plan on buying another of their same uppers, and doing a piston conversion, making what I think, the perfect blend of AK/AR rifle.

    December 16, 2018 8:42 pm
  • Russell Smith

    I don’t want to brag but I would like to show you the 7.62x39 I am building.

    December 16, 2018 5:33 pm
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