Are you considering putting together your own AR-15 in 7.62x39mm? If so, you’ll be glad to hear that you have come to the right place.
Best Overall Pick: PSA Gen 2 KS-47 Carbine Length Upper Receiver
The PSA Gen 2 KS-47 Carbine Length Upper Receiver is our choice for a 7.62x39mm upper receiver. It’s lightweight, durable, and built out of high quality 7075 aluminum with a nice nitride finish for excellent rust resistance.
Best Classic Looking Pick: PSA KS-47 Classic Upper Receiver
If you want a 7.62x39mm that mimics the look of the M4A1 like is used by the United States military, you’ll want to check out the Palmetto State Armory KS-47 Classic Upper Receiver. This upper receiver is built out of high quality aluminum with a steel 4140 barrel. Take note that the hand guard, being of the classic design, will not accept accessories as readily as an M-LOK hand guard.
Best Pistol Pick: PSA Gen 2 KS-47 Pistol Length Upper Receiver
If you’re looking to put together a pistol length 7.62x39mm AR, take a look at the PSA Gen 2 KS-47 Pistol Length Upper Receiver. Built out of high quality 7075 T6 aluminum with a nice nitride finish, this upper includes a high quality free floating M-LOK hand guard to add accessories and aid in accuracy. The short 8.5 inch barrel length is also an ideal length for a home defense option since it will be more maneuverable in tight conditions.
The 7.62x39mm is a round more commonly associated with the AK platform, but the truth is that it can be chambered in certain AR rifles as well. What’s more, is that the 7.62x39mm round offers many advantages over the 5.56.
If you are putting together your own 7.62x39mm AR, one of the most critical pieces that you will need to complete your rifle is the upper receiver. In this guide, we’ll cover the benefits of the 7.62x39mm round for an AR platform, the top qualities to look for in an upper receiver, and then our choices for the top three best 7.62x39mm AR upper receivers for 2020.
Why Go With The 7.62x39mm For An AR-15?
First, we need to answer this question: why even go with the 7.62x39mm round for the AR-15? After all, the 7.62x39mm round is normally associated with the AK series of rifles. But the truth is that the 7.62x39mm round can be equally as effective out of an AR as it can be out of an AK.
The 7.62x39mm was first developed at the end of World War II, and the first weapon chambered for it was the SKS. Two years later, it was used for the AK-47, which became the standard issue Soviet rifle and the most widely available automatic rifle in the world.
The AR-15 was originally chambered in 5.56x45mm NATO, which remains its most common round to this day. If anything, the 7.62x39mm in the AR is a more recent development.
The 7.62x39mm is a larger round than the 5.56, with weights ranging from 122 to 150 grains on average. Ballistically, it is very similar to the .30-30 Winchester. It can load to a larger powder charge than the 5.56 can, which means that it is going to deliver more energy into its target, but at the expense of it being a little bit slower.
As with the .30-30, the 7.62x39mm is highly effective out to ranges of about 300 yards, but its energy decreases substantially beyond that range. Nonetheless, within a range of 300 yards or so, the round is devastatingly effective and offers more power than a 5.56.
If you’re going to be hunting medium sized game within three hundred yards or so, the 7.62x39mm is a more effective round than 5.56 because it delivers more energy into the target. Game such as deer, boar, pronghorn, and antelope can all be safely taken with the 7.62x39mm within these ranges. The 5.56 can be used on these types of game as well, but it’s simply not as possible since it carries less energy.
This means if you want to use an AR-15 for hunting, and assuming that you’re going to be shooting within moderate distances, the 7.62x39mm round can be a great choice. And while you could argue that you might as well use the AK-47 for the 7.62x39mm round, the truth is that the AR-15 is a more accurate platform (in general), as you can read in our AR-15 vs AK-47 comparison.
Furthermore, you may just prefer the ergonomics of the AR-15 over that of the AK-47. If this is the case, and if you want a 7.62x39mm rifle in your arsenal, the AR should be a more appealing choice for you.
In short, a 7.62x39mm AR-15 is a generally better choice than the 5.56 AR-15 for hunting within moderate ranges. If you plan on building your own 7.62x39mm AR-15, you’ll need to invest in an upper receiver. In the next sections, we will discuss the components that make up an upper receiver and what to look for in one.
What Is Included In An AR-15 Upper Receiver?
The upper receiver is the upper component of your AR-15. It consists of the metal housing, the hand guard, barrel, forward assist, rail system, ejection port, and the bolt carrier group. When a complete upper receiver is merged with a complete lower receiver, you can create a fully functional AR-15.
As you can imagine, finding a high quality upper receiver is vitally important when putting together any AR-15. But it helps to know what specific parts are included in your upper receiver, and that’s what we’re going to discuss in this section. Remember that besides buying a complete upper receiver, you can instead purchase the individual components and then put together your own upper receiver by yourself.
Upper Receiver Body
This is the body that houses the charging handle and the bolt carrier group, and also includes the ejection port, forward assist, and the dust cover. The fore end, hand guard, and barrel are all attached to the upper receiver body.
The barrel is arguably the most important element of your upper receiver because it’s what affects accuracy and overall shooting performance the most. It’s vitally important that your barrel come with a twist rate that is suitable for your round of choice, in this case the 7.62x39mm. The ideal twist rate for the 7.62x39mm is the 1:10 rate, which means that the bullet will travel ten inches down the barrel before it completes a full rotation.
There are four primary categories of barrel lengths for the AR-15: pistol length (under 16 inches), carbine length (16 inches), mid length (18.5 inches), and rifle length (20 inches and above).
Gas Tube and Gas Block
The gas tube runs over the barrel of your AR-15 but underneath the hand guard. When you fire the rifle, gases cover down the gas tube and into bolt carrier group located in the body of the upper receiver. This allows the action of the rifle to cycle back, so a spent shell casing gets ejected and a new round gets lowered.
As with the barrel lengths, gas tube length is divided into the pistol, carbine, mid-length, and rifle categories. However, the category of gas tube does not need to match the category of barrel. For instance, it is possible to use a mid-length gas tube in conjunction with a carbine length barrel.
The gas block, meanwhile, is located on the barrel and within the hand guard. It’s designed to allow gas to travel from firing the bullet in the barrel to the gas tube via a port.
Bolt Carrier Group
The bolt carrier group consists of the bolt carrier body, the firing pin, cam pin, bolt pin, gas key, and the extractor. It is responsible for loading a new round from the magazine into the rifle and ensuring that the weapon fires correctly by striking the primer of a round with the firing pin.
The charging handle, located on the rear of the upper receiver, pulls the bolt carrier group to the rear in order to clear a malfunction or to insert a new round from the magazine into the chamber.
The forward assist is designed to close the bolt all the way in order to chamber a round in the event of certain malfunctions. Not all upper receivers come with a forward assist, but most do.
The dust cover is a piece that covers the ejection port of your rifle when the rifle is not firing. The purpose behind it is to keep debris and gunk out of the chamber of the rifle when not in use. As with the forward assist, most upper receivers do not come with a dust cover, but most do.
The hand guard shrouds the barrel and gas tube and provides a surface for your non-shooting hand to grip onto. Most hand guards come with a rail system so you can add accessories such as slings, lights, lasers, optics, bipods, and so on. The length of your hand guard should match the length of your barrel; in other words, a carbine length barrel necessitates using a carbine length hand guard.
Buyer’s Guide For The Best 7.62x39mm AR-15 Uppers
These are the most important factors to consider when looking for a new upper receiver for your 7.62x39mm AR-15:
Complete or Stripped?
When choosing a new upper receiver for your AR-15, you will always need to decide between a complete or a stripped model.
A complete upper receiver is exactly that: it’s fully complete, assembled, and ready to go. Combine it with a complete lower receiver and you are good to go.
A stripped upper receiver, on the other hand, comes with certain parts installed or no parts installed at all. Either way, it’s not ready to combine with a complete lower receiver to create a complete rifle. Depending on the stripped upper receiver that you choose, there are additional items that you will need to purchase and install.
A complete upper receiver is the best choice if you want the process of building an AR-15 to be as easy and seamless as possible. A stripped upper receiver is better if you want to customize your rifle to make it truly your own.
Make sure that your upper receiver is built out of durable materials and has a high quality finish to protect it from rust and corrosion. Many upper receivers will come with a 7075 aluminum build for the body with a steel barrel, along with both a nitride or hard coat anodized finish. Aluminum in particular is a good choice because it is both durable and lightweight.
Dust Cover and Forward Assist
Any upper receiver that you get should come with a forward assist and dust cover. Not all upper receivers come with these features, and while they are not truly necessary for your rifle, they would still be nice to have. The forward assist is designed to help with reliability by forcing in a round if it gets stuck, while a dust cover ensures that dirt, dust, and debris are kept out of your rifle’s action when it is not being fired.
Again, neither the dust cover or forward assist are truly necessary to ensure your firearm functions well under normal conditions, but they can help significantly in regards to reliability in more inclement environments.
The Best 7.62x39mm AR-15 Uppers
Now that we’ve covered what to look for in an upper receiver for an AR-15 and the merits of the 7.62x39mm round, here are our top three choices for a 7.62x39mm upper receiver:
PSA Gen 2 KS-47 Carbine Length Upper Receiver
The PSA Generation 2 KS-47 Carbine Length Upper Receiver is an excellent choice if you are looking to build a 7.62x39mm AR carbine. This upper receiver is built out of high quality 7075 T6 aluminum. IT features a front sight with a cylindrical hand guard, and it is also fully compatible with most KS-47 lower receivers that are on the market
The barrel to this upper receiver has a 1:10 twist rate, which is optimal for the 7.62x39mm round, and it also features a nitride treated finish for excellent rust and corrosion resistance. The end of the barrel features an A2 flash hider, and the rest of the upper is complete with a forward assist, dust cover, and a charging handle.
All in all, this is an excellent choice for a carbine length 7.62x39mm AR. Fully compatible with other KS-47 lowers, this upper is built out of durable 7075 aluminum with a rust resistant nitride finish to ensure it holds up well over the long term.
- Accepts standard AK-47 magazines
- Nitride coated for excellent rust and corrosion resistance
- Built out of lightweight but durable 7075 aluminum
- Not compatible with mil-spec AR-15 lowers
PSA Gen 2 KS-47 Pistol Length Upper Receiver
Do you want to put together a pistol length 7.62x39mm AR-15? If so, then this is the upper receiver that you need. The PSA KS-47 upper receiver is built out of durable and yet lightweight 7075 aluminum. It features a low profile pistol length gas block. The barrel is 8.5 inches long and heavy profile, which means that it should help keep recoil down for faster follow up shots.
The barrel also features a 1:10 twist rate, which is optimal for the 7.62x39mm. The receiver has a free floating hand guard with M-LOK holes to accept slings, lasers, sights, and so on. The free floating design helps aid in accuracy as well.
Overall, this is one of your best choices for a pistol length 7.62x39mm upper receiver. Besides the high quality 7075 aluminum design and rust resistant nitride finish, the main standout feature is the free floating MLOK hand guard. The short 8.5 inch barrel is also ideal for home defense scenarios.
- Has a pistol length gas system
- Very compact and nimble for home defense scenarios
- Nitride coated for excellent rust and corrosion resistance
- Built out of durable 7075 aluminum
- Not the best choice for long range shooting
PSA KS-47 Classic Upper Receiver
The Palmetto State Armory KS-47 Classic Upper Receiver is your best option if you are looking for an upper receiver that mimics the look of the classic M4 design like is used by the military. The barrel is built out of CMV 4140 steel with a 1:10 twist rate and an A2 compensator at the end.
The entire upper receiver is built out of 7075 aluminum and has been nitride finished for superior durability and rust resistance. A charging handle, forward assist, and dust cover are all included. The hand guard is manufactured out of high quality polymer.
Overall, this is a solid choice if you want an AR-15 in 7.62x39mm that looks like the classic M4A1 design. The 7075 aluminum build and nitride finish help to ensure reliability and durability over the long term.
- Built out of durable and lightweight 7075 aluminum
- Has a nice nitride finish
- Mimics the look of the classic M4A1 like is used by the military
- Hand guard does not permit very many attachment options
And that concludes our list of the top three best 7.62x39mm upper receivers for 2020!
Any one of these upper receiver is a solid option for your AR-15, or alternatively, you can also go with any upper receiver that meets the standards that we outlined in our buyer’s guide section.