The AK-47 is a world renowned rifle known and sought after for it's near mythical reliability. Unfortunately for Canadians the AK-47 and nearly all variants are prohibited from civilian ownership by name, but is there a way for a Canadian to legally own a non-restricted AK?
Enter the Valmet AK-47 rifle, a series of rifles produced on the AK action in Finland that came in a variety of different models. Make no mistake, the Valmet is an AK, not a rifle that is close enough to wet the appetite and satisfy the Canadian desire to have an AK in the gun safe. To be clear there are models of Valmet AK rifles that are prohibited in Canada, but this article focuses on the models that are able to be enjoyed as a non-restricted rifle.
We do have to back up here a bit for our readers in the rest of the world and explain that prohibited rifles in Canada are owned by a select few people relatively speaking, and there is no way to get into the prohibited rifle classification if you aren't already licensed to own one. If you do own prohibited rifles you can't take them out to the range and shoot them, they're safe queens now. Worse yet, your prohibited collection can't be willed down to your family if they don't have a license capable of owning your collection. Where as with non-restricted rifles they require a basic firearms license, can be left to inheritors as with any other property, and can be enjoyed responsibly on crown land and gun ranges. Clear as mud?
The Valmet Hunter is a non-restricted rifle that at first glance looks like a "traditional hunting rifle" in every aspect. With nice wood furniture and smooth lines you could be forgiven for not noticing the fact that it's made on a AK action. There were even top covers produced that allowed for scope mounting that just added further to the "hunting rifle" look. It came in .223 rem, .243, 30-06, and .308 win and typically came with two factory 10 round magazines, although larger capacity magazines were available. The Valmet Hunter, while in itself is a collectible rifle, is as sought after base rifle for conversion in Canada into clones of other AK's such as the Galil (which the Galil is on the prohibited list).
The Valmet M78, which can also come in the rarer model of the M78/83S "Sniper", is a RPK style of rifle that was designed as a support weapon of the Finnish forces. There was no attempt with this model to make it look like anything else for civilian sales such as with the hunter, one look at the base model and it looks like an RPK. The calibers it came in were .223 rem, .308 win, and more rarely for commercial sale in 7.62x39. The 7.62x39 model commands a higher collectors value in Canada as that is of course the "traditional AK" round and the rifle could represent a more true conversion in this caliber. This rifle gained notoriety in the original version of "Red Dawn" as the RPK's that the Wolverines were using, chambered for 7.62x39mm.
The down sides to the Valmet rifles are that they are no longer in production (which could be a good thing for collectors), don't accept most aftermarket AK parts with only a few notable exceptions, and for the most part only feed from their own proprietary magazines (which are expensive collectors items in their own right).
No matter what country you live in if you happen to see one of these rifles for a good price and your wallet can handle it, buy it without hesitation as values are always only going in one direction; up. Valmet AK rifles are no longer in production and are sought after collectors items in the AK collectors world.