Kickstarter Khyber Pass AK-47 Build

Remember this VICE Guide To Travel on the gun markets of Pakistan?

University of California San Diego student, and Master of Fine Arts (MFA) candidate Christopher Head wants to build his own as a thesis project.

Cool idea and all, and I hate shitting on pro-gun efforts but I believe the project falls extremely short in the following areas:

This project seems more like a learning experience that he wants funded, rather than an actual useful thesis project.

Making everything including the bolt, barrel, springs, etc… (if that is in fact what he wants to do) is a lofty goal which I don’t think can be accomplished in a short amount of time, by someone without prior experience with this type of thing.

If he’s not planning on constructing absolutely everything from scratch, then the description on Kickstarter should be revised.  Assembling an AK from parts, even if he stamps or mills the reciever is nothing new.

Project costs include specialized tool purchases, tool rental, shop costs, supervision costs, gallery costs including printing, mounting, and pedestals, performance costs including range rental, ammunition, and equipment rentals. Art is expensive!

Not really sure how this qualifies as “art”.  Is anything art if you mount it in a fancy way?  I suppose so.

If you need a bunch of specialized tools, what good are the Do It Yourself instructions to anyone that doesn’t have thousands of dollars to invest in a build?  I was under the impression that Khyber Pass firearms were made mainly by hand using  basic tools.  Around the 5 minute mark in the video you can see files, hammers, hacksaws etc..

I think he would have more luck if he can revise the pledges to have a lower dollar value one that includes the instruction set.  I’d throw in a dollar or two to support the effort if I got the plans in the end.  Not a chance I’d pay $25 though, which is currently what the lowest pledge that includes an instruction set is.

Pledge #1 – $10 for 1 piece of spent brass from the test fire.  Damn I need to start calling myself an artist.

Maybe he will clear up some of the questions I have, and possibly take my suggestion of lowering the pledge value.  From a design point of view I’d love to see him succeed on this, if what he is trying to do is truly build 100% of the rifle from scratch.  As an art project, I still wish him luck because it definitely takes some balls to do such a project at a California University of all places.

Check out the project on Kickstarter – HERE

Thoughts?

Hat tip: Michael M

19 COMMENTS

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ozwald February 23, 2012 at 06:18 am

ugh he used the word “zine” and put it in quotes. whatever support i was gonna throw behind this project i’m gonna give to wounded warriors instead.

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ENDO-Mike February 23, 2012 at 11:36 am

I agree, that’s a dealbreaker.

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spencer wade February 23, 2012 at 09:20 am

many sons and many guns. lol
dumbasses

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Jwhite February 23, 2012 at 01:22 pm

$4000… Wow.. thats a lot of money. I can hop in on a CalGuns AK build party for $600-$700 and have a fully functional AK-47 by end of day. Includes rental, drills, press, a couple beers, and a build kit.

I wan to start a kickstarter project. ‘Help me build a precision Rem700 for under $2000″ $8 gets you a piece of brass, plans, and links/resources description and contact info to build your own.

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032125 February 23, 2012 at 02:32 pm

While we’re on the subject, if you’ve never watch any of the Vice guides to travel, they are fucking epic. Liberia, North Korea, etc. That guy Shane Smith has balls of solid rock. At one point in Liberia, he narrowly escapes a riot in a Liberian brothel after a clearly deranges prostitute loses her shit. As the car is speeding away down totally unlit streets full of people (no power grid in Liberia) he gets a call from General Buttnaked (the cannibal) who is sitting in Shane’s hotel room waiting tell his story. Every story is a fucking eye opener.

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BBJones February 23, 2012 at 02:48 pm

And the project was just cancelled.

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DaveJ February 23, 2012 at 03:07 pm

LOL! ENDO-Mike used to just get YouTube videos shut down by posting them. Now it seems he can crush kickstarter dreams too and get them shut down. The post is spot on with the assessment of how it was flawed.

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Church February 23, 2012 at 02:59 pm

Mike, your summary is perfect, this guy is an idiot.

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Josh February 23, 2012 at 05:37 pm

Is this another example of some dumbass sense of entitlement? Guy wants to build a gun, so he’s going to try to call it an art project and get other people to pay for it? Please. I think it’s hilarious it’s now cancelled, although I was kind of looking forward to keeping an eye on it through the duration until it’s ultimate failure.

What a dipshit this guy must be. You know how they say you only have one chance to make a first impression? Did anyone pay attention to the picture he posted of himself on his kickstarter page? If the project idea weren’t bad enough, I could never give money to someone who thought a picture of himself trying to look suave, and holding a cigarette was the best impression to make, when in reality, he looks more like a guy required to go door to door and explain to the neighbors that he just got out of jail for touching little boys in the “special places.”

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Josh February 23, 2012 at 05:44 pm

Awww, my phony html tag didn’t show up. I guess I shouldn’t have put it in brackets (it’ll probably show up in the emails to people that are subscribed to this post).

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Frank February 23, 2012 at 07:33 pm

6:02 I think that’s an artillery Luger.

I’m sure there are a lot of nice old pistols in Pakistan. I wish we could get them over here to the USA.

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Ernest Young February 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

Wow, i would love to go there and fire some guns and look at the way they do all that.

however, I’m white as hell and would probably be killed as soon as I got there.

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Alex February 27, 2012 at 01:43 am
ENDO-Mike February 27, 2012 at 01:45 am

Yea he emailed me about the new one earlier today, and I came to the realization that the project is a bigger pile of shit then I originally even thought it was.

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Robert February 28, 2012 at 08:48 pm

I realize that discussing art, specifically what is and isn’t art, on the internet might be a bit futile but I have a lot of respect for you Mike, so I’ll put in a good effort here. The Encyclopedic definition of art is “the use of skill and imagination in the creation of aesthetic objects, environments, or experiences that can be shared with others.” A good workable definition of art is that it’s anything that is created to share a story or to create an emotional or cognitive response in the audience.

What Christopher Head is doing here is best categorized as conceptual art. I think you guys are getting wrapped up around the wrong thing here. The process of building an AK as an untrained civilian is the art piece. The AK is not an art piece. The AK doesn’t even need to be present at the show. The process is the art piece. The process of an MA student building an AK (especially in CA) will cause the audience (especially the art crowd in the college scene in CA) to experience some pretty intense emotional and cognitive responses. That is how many people define art. You can take a very dramatic picture that could cause the audience to experience the same responses, but Christopher is choosing to explore the process of building the rifle in order to bring them out.

And yes, art is expensive. In his cost breakdowns he’s pretty clear that the AK is the least of his costs. If this was just an excuse to get a free AK, he could have skipped all of the presentation costs and just asked for the parts and tools to be covered. And he probably could have skipped the years of university to get to an MFA level.

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ENDO-Mike February 29, 2012 at 02:53 pm

Thanks Robert.

The process of building an AK as an untrained civilian is the art piece

Is it though? The definition you quoted said “skill and imagination” , i’ll agree building a rifle takes skill, but it hardly takes imagination. If he would have said he was going to paint the rifle with scenes from past wars and conflicts the AK has been used in then i’d say it satisfies your definition.

I still don’t see how this qualifies as a masters thesis project.

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Robert February 29, 2012 at 05:33 pm

Mike, I see your point. I agree that the element of skill is satisfied, but I think you’re still looking at the project from the wrong perspective. I agree that building an AK takes little imagination. But the imagination is being exercised in how the build process is presented to the audience. The artist here is presenting the build as a proof of concept, that a person with limited skill and experience can construct a firearm that could be used in a modern conflict. The real test of skill and imagination will be how well he can present the build process in a way that causes the audience to experience emotion (for many of them it will probably be discomfort, fear or even disgust at the sight of a functional firearm being built by “an ordinary civilian”) and a cognitive response (probably shock that it’s possible, shock that it’s legal in America and hopefully a re-examination of why they thought that way).

That’s the artful part of conceptual art – presenting your project in a way that elicits a strong response in the audience. In your example, if he painted the AK then the project would be just another painting on an “unusual” medium and it could be easy for the audience to dismiss the project as a clumsy attempt to use the shock value of an AK to draw attention to the subject of the painted scenes. In this case, the artist is using the build process to force the audience to confront their preconceived notions about firearms, their place in modern politics, the government’s monopoly on force and the average civilian’s ability to challenge that monopoly. The skill and imagination he employs in the presentation of that project will really define how valid the project is. As a concept, I think it’s very strong and has a lot of potential but it’s up to him to carry it off.

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ENDO-Mike February 29, 2012 at 05:39 pm

When you explain it that way I “get” it more now. I think this line says it best:

The skill and imagination he employs in the presentation of that project will really define how valid the project is.

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Robert February 29, 2012 at 06:38 pm

I’m glad it helped. I’m interested to see how it goes.

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