These internet Assault Weapons discussion boards invariably attract newbies or gun-owners with a little bit of warped enthusiasm who just can't get it out of their heads how neat it would be to convert their AK to full auto.
In discussions with people I meet, who are invariably new to guns, I keep hearing how easy it is to convert your AK to full auto by filing on this or that part.
I'm tired of it.
To manufacture an AK as a semi auto weapon, a different fire control group is used; a different bolt carrier is used; and the receiver is machined slightly differently. You as a civilian cannot legally find any way on earth to convert your lawfully-purchased semi-auto AK to full auto. Period. End of Story. I won't go into the laws here, but suffice it to say that if it wasn't already what is called a "fully transferable" full auto AK, dutifully registered as such by the Federal Government, then you can't own it. Deal with it.
Now, let's say you're one of those adventurous people who likes to go tell people that all you have to do is file down the disconnector so it won't grab the hammer and you have "instant full-auto".
Here's why that's not wise:
1. It's illegal. You will be decades older by the time you get out of Federal Prison for doing it. There is no parole in Federal Prison. Twenty Years is twenty years. I'm not saying that's the sentence you'll get, buy you understand my point. Firing more than one round with one pull of the trigger may be fun, but it's not worth being married to a guy covered with tattoos for several years.
2. It's dangerous. I deal a lot with gunsmiths; I read a lot of engineering literature on firearms. I understand how firearms work and don't work. I have repaired my own personally-owned AK's. I know what breaks them and what fixes them. Over the last ten years, I have also rubbed elbows with enough gunsmiths who have had to "fix" home hobbyists' misguided projects that I know enough not to EVER want to convert a semi-auto AK to full auto.
The AK-47 action is not "timed" . We all know about revolvers, and how they are "timed" so that the round is not fired until the cylinder has locked on a fresh chamber, and the chamber is lined up properly.
A full-auto AK-47 has an extra lever just forward of the hammer that holds the hammer back until the bolt is fully closed and locked. It also prevents the hammer from falling unless the round is fully seated in the chamber. This is to prevent the gun from firing "out of battery", and possibly blowing pieces of the firearm into your face. Because the AK action is not "timed", the hammer could very well fall too soon without this lever holding the hammer back until tripped by the bolt carrier.
This is why a full-auto AK has different parts: it requires a special hammer and a special bolt carrier to interact with this trip lever.
When an AK is manufactured in semi-auto only, the little lug on the bolt carrier that trips any full-auto lever is machined off. Plus, the hammer on a semi-auto only AK is machined not to allow that little trip lever to fit under the front of it; not to mention the fact that the receiver does not have the extra hole required for that trip lever to be installed.
Sometimes, manufacturers of semi-auto only AK's also machine off a little tab on the rear of the disconnector, and the corresponding tab on the safety lever that pushes the disconnector out of the way so it doesn't grab the hammer on a full-auto gun.
So, you, as the home gunsmith about to take his life in his hands, decides to "file" down something to make the gun full auto.
Assuming that when you file down the disconnector, the gun doesn't just stop firing at all as the hammer follows the bolt carrier into battery, you have just created a bomb patiently waiting to blow your face off.
Since the AK action is not "timed", your little file job has created a situation where there is NOTHING to prevent that round from firing as soon as the bolt face touches it. The hammer falls with the bolt carrier, and so will detonate the primer as soon as it can, whether the round is chambered and the bolt is closed or not. So instead of that full auto AK you always wanted, you now have one that will eventually kill or injure you or bystanders the first time it fires a round out of battery.
That is why you don't want to illegally convert your semi-auto AK to full auto.
On a similar subject, those of you who read the above carefully realize that there is nothing to prevent a semi-auto AK from firing out of battery either. This is technically true, but the tolerances of the AK-47 are loose enough that I have literally never heard of an AK firing out of battery (I'm not saying it's never happened--just that I've never heard of it).
The lack of "timing" is not an issue, since "timing" only applies to full-auto fire. The disconnector will hold the hammer on a semi-auto AK until you let go of it, and it is humanly impossible to let go of the disconnector faster than the action can cycle. So this is not a problem.
The one worry might be that if your AK gets so full of crud that the bolt won't close properly, then you might have a problem with firing out of battery, but I have literally fired hundreds of rounds through AK's without cleaning them, and I've never had a problem. Suffice it to say; clean your weapon occasionally, and if you drop it in goop so that the bolt lugs might be gunked up enough to prevent the bolt from closing, then your gun needs a thorough cleaning before you try to fire it again. Otherwise, don't worry about it.