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The Wassenaar Arrangement Semiautomatic Rifles (more commonly referred to as the WASR-series rifles) are export-oriented, semi-automatic versions of the Pistol Mitralieră model 1963/1965 (PM md. 63), itself the Romanian variant of the Avtomat Kalashnikova Modernizirovanniy (AKM) series of Kalashnikov rifles originally manufactured in Russia. The WASR-series rifles take their name from the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement, a multilateral export control regime (MECR), the purpose of which is to monitor and limit the proliferation of certain conventional weapons and dual-use technologies.
WASR-series rifles are manufactured with stamped sheet metal receivers that were originally intended for single-stack magazines. Featuring hard chrome-lined barrels, side-mount scope rail and wooden stocks, WASR-series rifles are commonly imported to the United States by Century International Arms.
At the Century International Arms factory, the rifles are modified to conform with certain United States firearms regulations — in particular Title 18, Chapter 44, Section 922(r) of the United States Code, which deals with unlawful acts related to firearms. For example, the magazine wells are typically widened to accept standard AK double-stack column box magazines. Other common modifications include installation of upgraded gas pistons, fire control groups (i.e. trigger), pistol grips, and plastic folding or collapsible stocks manufactured by TAPCO of Georgia.
Older WASR-series rifles commonly caused trigger slap, which is caused by the bolt slamming backward into the trigger assembly and causing significant pain to the shooter's trigger finger. Beginning in 2007, Century International Arms has installed the TAPCO Intrafuse AK G2 trigger group, virtually eliminating the trigger slap problem. Rifles with this trigger group will have "TAPCO USA G2" stamped on the left side of the trigger. Some of these rifles may exhibit canted front sight blocks and gas tubes.
WASR-10 and variants
The WASR-10 is a post-ban version of the AKM rifle in 7.62×39mm caliber. Factory-original rifles only support single-stack, low-capacity magazines (10-rounds), but are frequently modified by Century Arms to accept double-stack, standard-capacity magazines (thirty rounds or more). Pistol grip and thumbhole stocks are both commonly found.
After the sunset of the 1994 assault weapons ban, importers were able to legally equip WASR-10s with compensators, bayonet lugs, and folding stocks, thus making the GP WASR-10 (with GP standing for general purpose). The machining burrs on the magazine will cause some magazines to fit tightly if the burrs are not removed. This can easily be accomplished with any standard rotary tool, such as a Dremel. Some advantages of this rifle are the reliability and availability of aftermarket parts.
The WASR-22 fires the .22 long rifle cartridge. They are designed as trainers or starter AKs. They usually ship with two 10-round magazines. There are reports of jams caused by the smaller shell casing lodging in the receiver cover and blocking the action. Most people switch the top cover with a military one or adjust the extractor spring tension under the bolt assembly.
This commercial export version of the WASR is chambered in 5.56×45mm NATO (which can also safely fire the .223 Remington round). It usually comes in the same configuration as the WASR-2. These have known problems with jamming or failure to feed. This may be due to low quality magazines, or their followers. The WASR-3 was originally supplied with surplus 5.45×39mm AK-74 magazines, which do not reliably feed the 5.56/.223 cartridge. People have used Weiger magazines with some success. Century Arms eventually began including Romanian copies of the reliable Weiger magazine with these rifles. Some switch the follower of an AK-74 magazine with one from Robinson arms. Israeli Galil steel magazines are also known to work without modification in the WASR-3. Some owners have also modified the rifle to accept Bulgarian Circle-10 5.56 magazines, or Polish Beryl 5.56 magazines. These sometimes require some material to be removed from the receiver center support bar.