Mini Draco AK47 SBR Review

| February 17, 2014 | 25 Comments

Until very very recently, my primary rifle platform of choice was the AK47. I still love it, but I think that building a short AR pistol with a folding stock is better than dealing with the hassle and legalities of an SBR.

Anyway, about three and a half years ago I started my AK47 short barrel rifle build.

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I bought this Mini Draco in November of 2011. It was $439 before shipping and transfer fee. They don’t import Mini Dracos any more, and you can find them on Gun Broker for $1500 – $2000 as of this writing. That price is absolutely batshit insane, but there are two things that made the Mini Draco extremely desirable for an SBR project:

  1. It has a 7.5″ barrel, which is shorter than the 8.2″ barrel traditionally associated with the AK-74U “Krinkov” rifle.
  2. It featured an AK-104 style front sight / gas block directly after the gas tube.

These two attributes would help me shorten the final length of the rifle significantly, and help me achieve my purpose:

A firearm small enough to be taken almost anywhere like a pistol, but with the stability and firepower of a rifle.

I created a firearms trust. I tried to get it done locally to save some money, but most of the lawyers I found were too scared to take the job on, and the ones that were willing wanted to see an example trust first. If I had an example trust, why the fuck did I need their help?

I wound up going with GunTrust Lawyer, and I don’t regret it. They now offer a significantly less expensive version; at the time their $600 premium service was their only solution.

After the trust got squared away I submitted my paperwork — and my money. I waited about 10 months for the ATF to give me the all clear, and my stamp arrived in the mail.

In the meantime, I removed the wooden “hot dog” foregrip and replaced it with the extremely sturdy Midwest Industries railed handguard specifically made for the Mini Draco. The handguard is entirely overbuilt for my purposes; I just wanted a way to mount an optic and MI was the only game in town that I trusted. I don’t regret my purchase, but holy shit is it heavy for what I need it for.

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The next thing I did was get rid of the stock AK-47 grip and replace it with the one from US Palm. The grip fit my hand better, and I planned on using the storage compartment to store a copy of my NFA stamp and paperwork.

I started buying components for the stock, and ran into availability problems with the ACE folding stock adapter. More delays.

I finally got all of the components and my paperwork. I used a drill press to make two holes in the back of the Mini Draco’s rear trunnion. I wanted the stock to fold to the left so that I could still run the bolt without deploying the stock. This meant mounting the ACE “upside down” and hinted at my difficulties with the adapter in the years to come.

At last, I was finished:

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I bought and tried various other things on my SBR, including a vertical foregrip and where I kept my light, sling mount, etc. I also tried Primary Arms’ low profile holographic sight but removed it due to reliability and battery life reasons.

I have carried my AK47 SBR to work almost every day for the last 14 months. As shown above, I load a 20-round metal “tanker” magazine when the rifle is in my bag. I keep the safety off, but the rifle does not have a round in the chamber. Unlike pistols, there is nothing protecting the trigger. While I don’t keep anything else in the same compartment that houses the rifle, I want to make sure everything is as safe as possible.

The AK weighs 8.5 pounds loaded and with the following accessories:

  • US Palm AK47 grip
  • Primary Arms MD-07 red dot sight optic
  • Midwest Industries railed handguard
  • Picatinny rail-mounted sling mount
  • Inexpensive (and cheap, but durable) 190 lumens Nebo 5569 light
  • An empty, mil-spec buffer tube
  • Ace folding stock adapter
  • MagPul MOE adjustable stock (with recoil pad / end plate removed)

Most of the time my AK lives in an open padded laptop sleeve inside of a hiking backpack.

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Depending on my environment and my work assignment, I also carry it in a laptop bag made by Samsonite:

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How does it shoot?

Pretty damn well, at the distances I expect to engage: 150 yards or less.

Here’s a basic passthrough drill shooting half-sized targets at up to 90 yards:

If you’re interested about the build and more discussion check out this video:

About the Author:

Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd is a regular guy and works to make Web sites and mobile apps easier for people to use. He spends his free time attending fight-focused firearm, knife, and combatives training, motorcycling, writing, and playing games. His daily carry is a Glock 19 pistol and an AR15 .300 Blackout pistol in a backpack.
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25 Comments on "Mini Draco AK47 SBR Review"

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  1. Sean says:

    Mr. Shepherd,

    I was curious about your experience w/the plastic stopper in the mini draco to avoid bolt/piston over travel. My concern with this piece is that it will degrade over time & render the draco inoperable. I’m assuming you’ve put a couple hundred if not thousands of rounds down range with the mini…if so have you seen any degradation to this part? Id appreciate any input you have on the matter.

    Thank You Very Much!

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there! That was a popular concern when the Mini came out. I have not seen any wear on the buffer, nor have I read our heard of credible accounts of it failing.

      Please let me know if you have more questions!

  2. Jake says:

    Great post man, I’m looking into doing the same thing and came across this via Google. I was hesitant about using a mini Draco but damn yours ended up nice. Ordering one soon.

  3. Ted says:

    What is the overall length of the gun with the stock extended?

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      25″ with the stock unfolded and buttstock fully collapsed. 28″ fully extended. It’s an AR style stock with a six position buffer tube.

  4. Ted says:

    Have you seen the new Magpul stocks that don’t require a buffer tube? I was thinking that might be the way to go on a new build. What are your thoughts?

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      I sure have. I’d like to try one, but that would require a traditional rear trunnion instead of the flat “pistol” one. Due to my less-than-stellar handiwork I may have the rear trunnion replaced anyway, which would make it easy to install the MagPul stock.

  5. Terrance says:

    Any updates or changes to this rifle? I really like the idea and execution but wonder could it be done a little lighter?

  6. Dave says:

    Hey, Short Barrel Shepherd, I’m considering putting together an AK pistol-based SBR, similar to yours.

    But I have a question about the optic. Because the AK gas system vents through the foregrip, just rearward of the front sight post, is accumulation of powder residue on your optic ever an issue?

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there! Good question. I have never had this problem, with several thousand rounds fired.

      I don’t know if a different AK pistol, optic, or optic position would yield different results.

  7. Ed says:

    Hi SBS. What samsonite laptop bag are you using? I have an AR pistol with the lawtactical folding adapter and the OAL is right at about 21″, but with the thickness of the folder and the sights, it is hard to find a bag that will hold it without unseemly bulges. I’ve got a National Guard Backpack that works and a pilots briefcase, but I’d like to find something a bit smaller. I purchased a Fuel sling bag that was listed as 23″, but it really doesn’t fit. Any ideas? Thanks, Ed

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      Hi there!

      It’s a discontinued Black Label laptop shoulder bag.

      It is 16″ across, but has enough flexibility to easily swallow the Mini Draco with the stock folded.

      I don’t think you’ll be able to find a laptop bag that will discreetly hold a 21″ firearm, even on the diagonal. If it does fit, there will be pressure from the lowest point (probably the muzzle) and it may print more than if the firearm was completely horizontal.

      Have you considered a messenger bag, such as one from Timbuk 2?

  8. Caedo says:

    Heh, this is similar to what I wanted to make for the same purpose. Mini Draco, SLR handguard, Surefire X300 flashlight, Sabrewerks KOP with micro Aimpoint, Krebs safety, Magpul AK+ grip, 4.5mm folding rear trunnion, and JMac adaptor + Magpul MOE stock. Still can’t figure out a muzzle device. (Is like a short flash hider, maybe A2 style would be best.)

  9. AK Potato says:

    Hi Mr. Shepherd! Just got a mini draco here in Cali! Wanting to do folding pistol brace, kak wave actually. But was wondering, which ACE folding adaptor did you go with. Can you suggest any youtube install videos? First gun, and ready to learn/start making it my own. Cant have SBR’s here in CA 🙁 but ever since I saw you article been looking! Found a guy moving to Arizona, so he unloaded his Mini Draco at a great price! $499 with a half case of wolf and 10rd mags!

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  10. 804Gunner says:

    Hey SBS,
    What’s your opinion on the PAP M92 vs the Mini Draco? I’ve always wanted a Mini, but grew skeptical when reading about the plastic stopper and the “mixed bag” of parts. I’ve seen people hype the PAP as a true military weapon, while the Mini is made of spare parts, etc. The Mini is appealing due to the chrome lined barrel and the shorter size; however, the PAP is beautiful and seems to get good reviews. Seeing as you have both, I’d love to hear your opinions on it.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      I’ve put over 5000 rounds through my Mini Draco since I’ve owned it, and the plastic buffer has held up just fine. I am more concerned about the longevity of my folding stock adapter than I am about the rest of the firearm. In regards to the PAP M92, it is also a fine firearm and has held up to many training sessions.

      Both are sound purchases ; the decision comes down to what you want out of it. The M92 is indeed longer, but if your plans are to keep it at home or in a vehicle than the Mini’s smaller size is meaningless. However, I carried mine daily for over a year and the M92 is long enough that I would have had to use different bags that would not have blended in as easily.

  11. Travis says:

    I was just curious as to your opinion on the Standard Draco pistol vs the M92. As well as the Mini Draco vs the Standard Draco pistol. I know the overall is 21.5 for the Draco and 19 for the M92 for OAL. Barrel on the M92 is 10in vs 12.25 on the Draco. My concerns are do you see accuracy suffering with a barrel so short as the 7.75in barrel which is barely longer than the barrel on my G20.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      No, but I don’t shoot these farther than 150 yards anyway. I know some who take their ARs and AKs to 400 – 500 yards, but that’s not what I built my vSBRs for.

      [edit]
      Furthermore, I feel like a “short range” vSBR / PDW I carry with me every day is better than a “mid-range” SBR that stays home or in a vehicle because it’s too big for EDC. Your usage / design may differ, but that’s why these got built.

  12. Toos says:

    Great review. I love my Mini-Draco and wish I has bought two when they were out there at a decent price. The only comment I wanted to add is USMACHINEGUN has a folding brace that makes this outstanding gun even better. I wish the Mini’s were back in stock again.

    • Short Barrel Shepherd Short Barrel Shepherd says:

      I agree. I have one on my PAP M92 and really like it. When funds open up I will buy one for the Mini Draco.

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