Interview with Chris Horn

Horns Custom Rifles “How to build an AK47”
– A Licensed US AK47 manufacturer explains how it’s done

I met Chris Horn at a Gun Show in Mesa, AZ in June 2005. I knew Chris’ work through JoeKen ads in Shotgun News. And I had also seen and inspected some of his AK47 pistols and rifles on display by JoeKen at a Phoenix Gun Show in 2004. His work was unique, felt solid and I assumed they would be great fun to shoot.

Knowing his work, it was a pleasure to meet and talk AK building with ‘the man’ himself. This was one of the first gunshows that Chris had attended himself and he brought some of his his FN/FALs, AMD-65s, AK pistols, US built trigger groups, receivers and more. The FN/FALs were already sold by the time we walked by his tables. It was late on Sunday and the traffic from buyers was slow so I was able to get answers from Chris on some basic questions I had about AK building.

I met Chris Horn at a Gun Show in Mesa, AZ in June 2005. I knew Chris’ work through JoeKen ads in Shotgun News. And I had also seen and inspected some of his AK47 pistols and rifles on display by JoeKen at a Phoenix Gun Show in 2004. His work was unique, felt soild and I assumed they would be great fun to shoot.
Chris Horn
Knowing his work, it was a pleasure to meet and talk AK building with ‘the man’ himself. This was one of the first gunshows that Chris had attended himself and he brought some of his his FN/FALs, AMD-65s, AK pistols, US built trigger groups, receivers and more. The FN/FALs were already sold by the time we walked by his tables. It was late on Sunday and the traffic from buyers was slow so I was able to get answers from Chris on some basic questions I had about AK building.
Chris also builds FAL rifles
along with many other styles
Chris offered to let us visit his machine shop and see how he crafts his AK-47s from flat sheet metal and parts into fine quality and good shooting rifles. I jumped at the offer and a week or so later a group of us found ourselves headed down Horn Road to his home and workshop.
Chris Horn of Horn’s Custom Rifles in Flagstaff, AZ builds custom AK-47 projects for many outlets across the country and direct sales to FFLs. He has built many thousands of AK rifles and pistols in the past years and his shop is laid out with professional scale machine tools and jigs designed by Chris to make his receivers and assembled rifles one at a time, or by the dozen for larger orders. He lives on an impressive 40 acres 20 minutes outside Flagstaff. His home and workshop are ‘off the grid’ using solar power and a generator to power the machines in the shop. In addition to a fully equipped shop there are plenty of areas set up for shooting and it was difficult to limit our ‘test firing’ to the 500 rounds we brought.

Chris Horn of Horn’s Custom Rifles in Flagstaff, AZ builds custom AK-47 projects for many outlets across the country and direct sales to FFLs. He has built many thousands of AK rifles and pistols in the past years and his shop is laid out with professional scale machine tools and jigs designed by Chris to make his receivers and assembled rifles one at a time, or by the dozen for larger orders. He lives on an impressive 40 arces 20 minutes outside Flagstaff. His home and workshop are ‘off the grid’ using solar power and a generator to power the machines in the shop. In addition to a fully equiped shop there are plenty of areas set up for shooting and it was difficult to limit our ‘test firing’ to the 500 rounds we brought.
The workshop outside Flagstaff, AZ

We started the day with a hot cup of coffee, then walked out to the shop. As we helped moved a dozen or so AK-47 rifles ready for delivery off a table Chris explained how he had started as a precision bolt action manufacturer and customizations before turning his attention to the assembly of FN/FAL rifles and AK-47 style rifles from the many reasonably priced parts kits available. We looked at a rifle Chris had finished for varmint & predator shooting (a necessity in cattle country). He starts with high quality parts and reinforces and changes portions to fit the custom bullets requested by clients. Although Chris still devotes time to these custom builds their space on the workbench is dwarfed by the tools and stations set up for production of AK47 receivers and parts kit breakdown and assembly.

We brought some cheap Romanian kits with us to assemble with Chris’ help. After clearing the final assembly table, we each opened our kits and check out the parts. Chris explained the tips & tricks of disassembling the torch cut parts kits like we had. Using his tools this was a simple process, but one that anyone with a grinder and a vice could do.

Chris then explained how to fold, rivet and assemble the receiver from a flat blank. We talked about the brands he uses and his own manufactured receivers. While we worked Chris talked about the laws covering rifle assembly and the amount of US parts we’d need to have installed to meet legal requirements.

We brought some cheap Romanian kits with us to assemble with Chris’ help. After clearing the final assembly table, we each opened our kits and check out the parts. Chris explained the tips & tricks of disassembling the torch cut parts kits like we had. Using his tools this was a simple process, but one that anyone with a grinder and a vice could do.
Before the build
Soon we were installing the US trigger groups and Chris explained to us the advantages and disadvantages of the various trigger groups made in the US. Before we knew it Kim (Chris’ wife) had arrived with pizza and we took a break while the tanks of blueing salts heated to 200+ degrees for our final step in assembly.

After dinner we headed to the sandblasting booth and stripped out newly assembled rifles down to white metal. Now I’ll take a moment to address the fact that these are not going to be historically accurate rifles or collectors items. These are our first attempts to build AK-47s from just parts and the opportunity to add a permanent uniform professional finish to our rifles outweighed any idea of keeping their original finish for us. These rifles will be shooters, for shooting apples and cans. We applied the chemical process to darken the metal and wrapped our rifles in plastic bags and headed south towards home.

Chris stands behind his rifles for life. No fine print, he’s proud of the quality of his work and is willing to stand behind it with a lifetime warrenty. If there is a problem with your gun send it to him, or bring it by your self and it will be fixed to your satisfaction.
Rifle assembled at Horn’s Custom Rifles in Flagstaff, AZ

The next day we cleaned and assembled our new rifles and they look pretty darn good. We learned so much from Chris and we are eager to build our next rifles, we’re looking at parts kits and counting pennies.

I met Chris Horn at a Gun Show in Mesa, AZ in June 2005. I knew Chris’ work through JoeKen ads in Shotgun News. And I had also seen and inspected some of his AK47 pistols and rifles on display by JoeKen at a Phoenix Gun Show in 2004. His work was unique, felt soild and I assumed they would be great fun to shoot.
AK47 Rifles assembled at Horn’s Custom Rifles in Flagstaff, AZ

Spending a day with Chris at his workshop was educational and entertaining. His knowledge of the AK-47 is impressive and his stories of the ups and downs of small business ownership made me realize no types of business are immune to the problems of “he said – she said”. Chris has had to deal with some hits in his reputation but he stands true to his offer to guarantee his rifles, pistols and receivers for life. In fact, he had a few guns on a side table that were being worked on at no charge for customers.

Chris stands behind his rifles for life. No fine print, he’s proud of the quality of his work and is willing to stand behind it with a lifetime warranty. If there is a problem with your gun send it to him, or bring it by your self and it will be fixed to your satisfaction.

We have shot our rifles a few times more and after hundreds of rounds they are still tight and shoot straight. Many thanks to Chris and Kim Horn for their hospitality and education on a subject we both enjoy. I can highly recommend Chris to assemble your parts kit into a quality rifle and his pre built rifles, they are top quality and look great.

Written by Pete, Head Editor AK-47.us
6-2005

Update 8-2005

Since our first vist to Chris’ workshop we’ve visited a few more times, bult new AK47s with his help and fixed some of our broken rifles. Chris has continued to impress us with his friendly professional attitude and his willingness to share his vast knowledge of the AK-47 rifle. Chris has parts and tools to make just about any legal modification to an AK style rifle he has been busy with rifles coming in for repairs and modifications all the while finding time to build dozens of AK47s. Along with his staff of builders Chris continues to impress us with the quality and quantity of AKs he builds.

He is a sponsor of our website, don’t forget that, but he would get the same review even if he wasn’t. We continue to endorse his work and services and we’re proud to be sponsored by such a decent and fair busisness man