Half-half. Started as academic, but if it can be put to practical use...
NY still has the AWB on our books. Long story short for everyone who hasn't had to deal with it, a SAW is defined as a semi-auto rifle that has a DETACHABLE magazine and has 2 features.
I first got interested when a friend and I were discussing the differences between an SKS magazine, AK 47, and the ease of removing an SKS magazine to allow a detachable magazine. In NY if you were to remove the magazine of a Yugoslavian SKS you have what NY defines as a SAW. The academic part started when the question of what constitutes a detachable magazine gun when all you need is a pointy rock, bullet, or tap to transform a gun to take detachable magazines.
Practical came when we were in the next state over and saw AK 47's with bayonet lugs and threaded muzzles for cheap prices but were not able to buy because they would not have been able to be brought back in to our state. The other practical use is with AR 15 uppers that seem to all come with bayonet lugs and flash hiders (I know stag arms used to / still has a non bayonet lug'd version). It is my understanding that if the rifles do not have a detachable magazine then the "evil" features is a moot point.
So there's the academic and the practical. I have also home built (NY legal) AK's, but still have cut up kits in reserve that are as-purchased. So finding an answer would settle a long standing question I have had, and allow for increased purchasing options as no one out of state cares (and rightfully so) what NY law says.