I see several AK47 kits for sale on the gun auction sites. Are these the real deal? What are the gotchas and negatives? For an inexperienced gun assembler, to get some help building the gun, is a kit a feasible way to go? Thoughts, please?
A good deal if you can find a build party. That is how I built my(now traded) AK47. Good group of guys with a shop and all the tools. This was back when the original barrels came with it. Now if they include the US made barrels, I believe there is more work that needs to be done, plus they come in the white. I was able to build a Romy G in the style of a polish underfolder for around $250 Hard to get a deal like that now.
The negative is they are way overpriced compared to last year. Those $500 Romy G kits were $100 not long ago. If you have a build party though, still cheaper than a new one.
In case you don't know, you have to spend a few hundred more on a new receiver and the other required 922r parts.
You'll need a 20-ton shop press to do most of the building, which is $140 if you can find it on sale. If you intend on building your own receiver, tack on another $400 in bending jigs, rivet jigs, and practice flats. If you don't have the luck of buying a kit with its original barrel.... Tack on another $150 in materials to fit/finish the (sub-par quality) barrel yourself, plus the hours of work of trying to get the head-spacing right to work with the rest of the build.
And if you bend your own flat, you're going to have to have a good quality welder of some kind to weld the rails in place, along with a drill press/angle grinder to finish and mold the finer parts of the finished receiver if necessary. Finally, once you've got the receiver and barrel finished (or paid the out-of-pocket expense to hire someone to do it for you) and you've got everything more or less ready to go, you have to figure out a way (there are several, and all of them are hard for a first-timer) to heat-treat several crucial parts of the receiver so that it won't literally fall apart on you after your first magazine.
The result is a rifle of comparable quality to a WASR-10 which, unless you're really handy, MIGHT be good for a 3" circle at 25 yards, with some considerable work to fix any FTF/FTE problems that might arise from an improperly drilled gas port. It's going to cost you over to $1,000 to get all the tooling and equipment to build your first AK of either kind, and probably more since the ATF has made it a lot harder to get good quality import kits (which are going for $500 themselves as someone mentioned already).