Few debates have been waged more vigorously than that of the superiority of the AR vs. AK rifle platform. Each side of the argument has staked its position, and both have dug in like defenders of the earth preparing for a last stand against an alien invasion.
The reality is both platforms have proved to be excellent performers when playing to their strong points, yet neither can be universally declared the best combat rifle for all missions and in all environments. And so, the battle between the two tribes rages on.
One wonders what would happen if a company created a modern mashup of the two rifles. Could a new champ be made from the best parts of the two contenders? That’s the exact question CMMG seeks to answer with the Mk47 Mutant rifle. This review will evaluate whether the company hit the mark.
Mutant or Frankenstein’s Monster?
Regardless of your preferred science fiction metaphor, the Mk47 clearly draws design inspiration from the bodies of existing AK and AR rifles. At first glance, the casual shooter might simply assume this was another AR-15; certainly the charging handle, stock, pistol grip and rail all look the part.
But the large curved AK magazine sticking out of a seriously cut down mag well will make even an inexperienced enthusiast take a second look. At that point, you will likely see the paddle magazine release and begin to wonder what kind of sorcery you may be looking upon.
While terms like mutant can conjure up images of a disgusting slime beast crawling from a radioactive pit, the Mk47 is anything but. The fit and finish on my evaluation gun were top notch, both looking and feeling exceptional. This is not some patchwork assembly of parts to make a forlorn monster like in a 1930’s Boris Karloff matinee. Rather, each part appears to be carefully selected to provide the top performance modern shooters demand.
The heart of any rifle is the receiver. For the Mk47, CMMG designed a mid-size receiver that is based on the company’s .308 Win Mk3 platform. Both the upper and lower are machined from 7075-T6 aluminum.
Paired with the new receiver design is a heavy duty bolt. The bolt is based on the .308 bolt that is used in the Mk3 platform. The bolt length has been reduced to 8”, but it retains all of the thickness and durability of the Mk3 bolt. Like the standard AR-15, the Mk47 is a direct impingement gun.
Variations on a Theme
At its introduction, the Mk47 Mutant shipped in three different configurations: the T, AKM and AKM2. All three rifles have free floated 16.1” barrels and a CMMG RKM15 KeyMod handguard. The barrels are a medium profile configuration with a 1:10” twist rate.
Base model Mk47 T rifles ship with an A2-style pistol grip and muzzle device, single stage trigger and A4-style 6-position adjustable buttstock. The Mk47 AKM is the model I received for testing. This rifle is functionally the same as the model T, but with a CMMG SV muzzle brake, Magpul CTR buttstock and Magpul MOE pistol grip. The top of the line AKM2 replaces the single stage trigger with a Geissele SSA Two-Stage trigger.
None of the rifles ship with sights, iron or otherwise. However, the entire top of the rifle is festooned with Picatinny rail, so adding one is a dead simple process. I added both iron sights and glass while at the range.
CMMG ships the Mutant with a single Magpul AK-type 30-round PMAG. The rifle should also work with any standard AK magazine. Although I’ve always had good luck with military surplus magazines, there is the possibility that some milsurp mags are made too far outside of the normal dimensions to work properly. Quality AK mags – both new and surplus – are readily available.
CMMG backs the Mk47 Mutant with a lifetime guarantee that protects against material and workmanship defects. You never buy a rifle expecting to need the warranty, but it’s better to have a good one should anything ever go wrong.
Since the initial introduction of the Mk47, the platform has evolved to include pistol and short-barrel rifle (SBR) options. The SBR Mk47 “K” ships with the same furniture as my evaluation rifle, but chops the barrel length down to 10” and matches a 9” KeyMod rail to it. While an NFA tax stamp will be required to transfer this rifle, the clear upside is the ability to better maneuver it in tight spaces.
Dropping half-a-foot from the overall length makes this rifle an even more attractive car and home defense gun. Additionally, the handguard is specifically designed to work with sound suppressors. With a short barrel and a can, this could be an exceptional CQB rifle for someone wanting to run the 7.62×39 cartridge.
If you want to go even shorter, the company offers the AKS8 model. This gun attaches a Krink-style muzzle device to a threaded 8″ barrel. The rest of the build appears to be the same as the K, so the hand guard extends past the end of the barrel and covers part of the muzzle device. Matched with a suppressor, this would be the shortest quiet rifle package you could put together in the line.
As mentioned, CMMG is also now offering pistol versions of the Mutant. Built from the ground up as handguns, these Mk47 variants are similar to the K and AKS8 rifles in terms of barrel lengths and options.
For the shortest non-NFA package possible, the company offers the AKS13. This rifle has a 13″ barrel with a pinned Krink-style muzzle device to meet the 16″ requirement. It has the CTR stock, MOE pistol grip and 15″ KeyMod handguard.
|Mk47 (AKM version)|
|magazine capacity||30 rounds|
|overall length||33.5" (fully extended)|
|finish||hard coat anodized black|
Like any great sci-fi movie, the real fun begins when the shooting starts. While it is important to go over the gun prior to heading to the range, nothing beats pulling the trigger. It’s only then that you can truly see if the gun is a beast, or just a scientific experiment that should have died in the lab.
Since the Mk47 ships without sights, the first order of business was to install some. For my testing, I added a set of iron sights from XS Sight Systems that uses their famous 24/7 stripe front sight with a tritium insert. I also shot the rifle with a Leupold Mark AR MOD 1 1.5-4x 20 illuminated scope. Neither affected the reliability of the gun, but the Leupold did allow me significantly more precision in my groups at 100 yards.
Reliability of the Mk47 was outstanding. Running the gun with a variety of newly manufactured ammunition resulted in exactly zero malfunctions. From steel cased Wolf Military Classic rounds to the exceptional Winchester PDX Defender loads, the gun cycled everything I ran through it.
Likewise, the grab bag of military surplus magazines I had with me all fit and ran as well as the brand new Magpul model that is included with the rifle. While the operating system is vastly different from the AK, the gun nevertheless ran just as reliably.
More than a year ago, I saw a report at ARFCOM that the Mutant had problems running Hungarian 20 round “tanker” magazines. I did not have any of these on hand to check. However, the CMMG tech support manager advised the rifles have since been updated to run these magazines without any problems.
According to the company, the only magazines that still offer any problems are Tapco, Bulgarian steel and BHO steel. I checked 30 round Tapco magazines with the Mutant and did not have any problems. Unfortunately, I did not have any Bulgarian or BHO to test.
Like an AK-style rifle, the magazine release is a lever located behind the rear of the magazine. Pushing the lever forward will allow you to remove the mag from the well. Fresh magazines are seated by hooking the forward edge of the magazine in the well and then pivoting the mag home.
There are a variety of methods that can be used to increase your speed when changing AK mags, and each method has its strengths and weaknesses. While my training and experience makes me faster with a standard AR-15, I was able to build proficiency and speed quickly with the Mutant. Shooters who already have a high degree of skill with the AK platform will likely take to the Mk47 quickly.
One very valid concern that many people might have at this point is “Won’t steel mags wear out the aluminum receiver?” CMMG worked around that problem by using a steel pivot pin in the magazine well. This means that the vast majority of wear and tear from the steel mags will be on a steel pin.
If you are someone who likes to keep your rifles in pristine condition – stick to the plastic magazines. While steel mags ran great and offered no reliability issues, you can see from the above photo that the rifle did take some scarring from running them. While this is aesthetically displeasing, it had no effect on the reliability of the weapon.
Like a great many AR rifles, the shell deflector also picked up noticeable finish damage. While all of the ammo left its mark, the steel cased Wolf was the worst offender.
best 5 shot group
|Hornady 123 gr SST|
|Winchester 120 gr Defender|
|Wolf 124 gr Military Classic|
Performance measured with a Competition Electronics ProChrono Digital Chronograph at an approximate distance of 15' from the muzzle of the pistol. All measurements are an average of five shots.
Accuracy in my sample rifle was very good. With the Leupold turned up to 4x, I put several five shot strings into sub-1″ groups. More often, group sizes were larger than 1″ – but not much larger. This was on an outdoor range with a light crossing wind.
Both Winchester and Hornady rounds managed groups smaller than 1″ and are loads I would consider for serious work. I’ve seen ballistic testing of both bullet designs, and each impressed me. While the choices for good hunting and personal defense ammunition are more limited for the 7.62×39 than they are for the 5.56 NATO, the Hornady SST and Winchester Defender both get top marks from me.
For defense on a budget, the Wolf Military Classic is not a bad selection at all. I’ve seen ballistic testing on this round as well. It makes nasty wounds in gelatin and has the added benefit of being cheap enough to practice with.
The Mk47 Mutant does not have a bolt hold open. This really isn’t a surprise as the original AK-style rifles do not either. Therefore, CMMG would likely have needed to go with a modified or proprietary magazine to make the system work. Since one of the big selling features of this gun is its ability to run standard (and cheap) AK magazines, the bolt hold open is simply a feature that was not going to be available.
Unloaded and without an optic, the Mk47 weighs about 7.2 pounds. Obviously, adding a red dot like the Trijicon MRO will add some additional weight. A lot of that weight is forward of the magazine well. This creates a rifle that is front end heavy. Whether that is good or bad is up to you.
While the balance point of the gun adds additional stress to the support arm, it does help soak up muzzle rise when shooting. Combining the forward weight with the company’s SV muzzle brake, the recoil and rise were pretty mild.
One thing that really needs to be swapped out on this rifle is the charging handle (CH). The standard sized part really wasn’t making it for me. Running the CH on a standard AR is no big deal. However, with the heavier spring and bolt carrier group on the Mk47, the CH is really undersized due to the need to get a full grip on the latch and wrench it backward.
A larger CH is in order. Fortunately, standard AR-type charging handles will quickly swap into the gun. As I’ve mentioned in other articles, there are a number of good charging handles on the market. One of the standouts is the Bravo Company Gunfighter with either the ambidextrous or large (left side only) latch. Last I looked, they were about $80 and $50 directly from the manufacturer.
What are my takeaways from my time with the Mutant? My primary concern about any firearm is the same: is it reliable? I found the Mutant as reliable as a grisly death scene in an 80’s slasher flick when someone says “I’ll be right back…” With all kinds of magazines and ammunition, the Mk47 feeds, cycles and puts rounds on target. And with good ammunition, that target can be quite small.
Out of the box, the only things I feel need to be added to the gun are a new charging handle and your preferred sighting system.
While some of the old guard in both the AK and AR camps will see the CMMG Mk47 as an act of high heresy, I like the gun quite a bit. I don’t think this rifle will displace either platform, but for niche shooters who want the better ergonomics of the AR with the .30-caliber goodness of the AK, the Mutant has its place.
Until the M41A pulse rifle is available for dispatching some alien horde, I’ll gladly take a Mutant with a case of milsurp mags.
You deserve to know what influences may have swayed my opinion on this article. So, I provide full transparency.
The test and evaluation (T&E) rifle was provided by CMMG specifically for the purposes of writing a review. No promises were made for a “positive” review, nor were any solicited by CMMG or its marketing company, Chevalier Advertising. The gun was returned at the conclusion of the testing period.
CMMG is not an advertiser, nor am I any talks with them to be one. In fact, at the time of this review, there are no gun companies advertising on this site. What few ads there are come from an automated algorithm operated by Google without input from me.
Speaking of Google, neither CMMG nor Chevalier Advertising requested any links. I have no financial interest in CMMG or any other firearms manufacturer. Ditto for Chevalier Advertising.
I earn money on this site through the Amazon affiliate program. If you choose to purchase something from Amazon after following one of the links from this site, I earn a small commission on that sale (typically between 2.5 – 8%). This does not affect your price and it is how I am able to run the site without annoying pop-ups and ads flashing in your face. Literally, this is how I feed my family.
A shorter version article originally appeared in the AR Rifleman annual publication. Although a lot of additional information has been added to this version of the article, the pertinent facts, conclusions and opinions are the same.