Before you modifying or consider an AK-47 upgrade, consider a few words of advice:
Whatever aftermarket AK-47 part part you acquire, be aware that it may not always fit.
Welcome to the AK universe.
Among the spectrum of Kalashnikov variants, there is no universal, Mil-Spec standard. From an American perspective this may seem odd, but it can be understood by considering the rifle’s genesis.
Though the Soviets demanded that Warsaw Pact constituents adopt the AK-47 as their military rifle, they allowed members to purchase them from either the Soviet Union or license and manufacture their own AK rifles. (Czechs were exempt for many reasons and instead of the AK fielded their own homegrown assault rifle, the Samopal vz. 58.)
The Soviets weren’t concerned about parts interchangeability with variants of different origins. They only required that the rifles all be of the same design and that they use the same magazines, the same standard 7.62×39 cartridges and the same manual of arms. Thus a Romanian soldier should be able to pick up and use an AK made in Hungary, East Germany, Russia, Bulgaria, etc., with equal facility.
The AK platform, in effect, became “Balkanized.” Every country (including many outside the old Soviet Bloc) produced its own slight variation on the theme. Whether
Serbian or Israeli, the specs, such as the thickness of the receiver, type of stock, etc., might be slightly different.
With this in mind, Jim Fuller, founder of Rifle Dynamics, once quipped that gunsmithing an AK is more akin to “blacksmithing.” What he meant was that building an AK always entailed modifying parts to make them fit. That may mean taking sandpaper, a file or even a dremel to the parts in question.
So why should the buyer be aware of this?
Although the average user will mostly likely not build an AK from the ground up, chances are he or she will add aftermarket parts. For that reason, it’s good to be cognizant of Fuller’s admonition.
The rule of thumb is that any part you add to your rifle may entail slight modification. This video from UltiMAK which illustrates how to install an Arsenal lower handguard in conjunction with their M1-B optic mount depicts typical modifications demanded when adding third party parts.
For someone who needs accessories, tactical handguards offer a place to mount optics, grips, lights and other items.
There are several features that differentiate the Krebs UFM system from other products.
First off is its KeyMod configuration. By definition KeyMod handguards are light because the fat is trimmed. Constructed with 6065 T6 aluminum, there are no Picatinny rails bulging out. The beauty of KeyMod is that you add weight only when necessary. If you need to affix a vertical grip or a light, simply slap your own rail and cinch it down exactly where you want it.
Installation of the UFM is not difficult. Krebs provides a set of aluminum angle irons that allow you to clamp down a fixture on the barrel without destroying the finish. Key to the set up process is squaring the handguard’s clamp (done easily with a level) with the receiver to ensure that the unit fits perfectly.
Installation takes about 30 minutes. The kit consists of Allen wrenches, bolts, a barrel clamp to secure the handguard and a couple of small angle irons that don’t quite look like they belong. (The instructions explain all.)
The ergonomics of this handguard are noteworthy. Unlike a conventional handguard/quad rail, which has all the comfort of a pineapple, the Krebs UFM is sleek, thin and quite comfortable to grip. It’s as if the handguard is an extension of the receiver.
It also doesn’t get hot when you are putting multiple rounds through it. When I put it through its paces, it never got warm enough to be uncomfortable.
One additional attribute: It’s also the only KeyMod rail that can be field-stripped. The upper rail section is easily removed by pinching two springs, pulling the upper section rearward, then up and off the rifle.
The price is $269.99. You can get handguards from other manufacturers such as Midwest Industries for less but they are not in the same class. In my opinion, Krebs Custom sets the standard.
Tdi-Arms, out of Israel, makes handguard/rail products for the AK used by the IDF. Of particular interest is its X47 Universal AK Rail system, a modular set up that can be used in several ways. This entails a lower handguard, a lower and upper handguard, or as a lower and extended optics mount. Products are available from Circle10AK.
UltiMAK has a comprehensive line of highly regarded AK products. They design and manufacture lightweight rail systems for Russian, Bulgarian, Chinese, Romanian, Serbian and other variants as well as Krinkovs, pistols and shotguns. They also sell gear such as optics and stock kits.
Taking the Minimalist Approach—a Lesson Learned
When it comes to adding handguards and other accessories, less can be more. Like many first-time AK buyers, when I got my rifle I started adding third-party parts and went overboard on the “tacticool.” This included items such as a full-length handguard, optics, fore grips, scope mounts and the like. Before I knew it, I was drowning in paraphernalia.
The lesson was that adding some of these components may make sense in some circumstances, such as home defense, but you need to be wary of “mission creep”. Loading up your rifle with gewgaws has its practical limits. For example, if you’re going to be proficient at shooting offhand, shouldering a 10-pound rifle gets old very quickly.
(My epiphany is hardly original. One of Larry Vickers’ maxims is “seriously resist the urge to over-accessorize the gun”.)
Given my own experience, I’ve become a proponent of minimalism.
Custom builders such as Rifle Dynamics, Krebs Custom, Definitive Arms and others strive to keep the weight down by using a combination of polymer furniture (often from Arsenal) and in some instances, even chopping the barrel two inches.
Jim Fuller of Rifle Dynamics takes the weight reduction process a step further by employing the Bolton Gas Block, a proprietary product manufactured by Venom Tactical.
This cleverly designed product is the latest incarnation of a technology used by the Israeli Galil, the Finnish Valmet RK62 and other rifles, combines both the front sight and gas block into a single assembly. The system allows you to remove the stock front sight block, which diminishes weight on the front end of the AK47/74 and makes handling the rifle easier. (According to Lenny Bolton, the founder of the company, these gas blocks have been proven reliable in combat conditions).
By placing the front sight atop the gas block, the barrel length can be shortened. Jim Fuller has integrated this system on many of his high end rifles. He says that with the proprietary gas block and a shortened barrel, he can take off as much as a pound from the front end. It doesn’t sound like a lot but in practice it’s very significant.
Lenny Bolton states that the shorter sight radius on his gas block/front sight provides faster target engagement. While losing a few inches of sight radius might concern some people, he says that it’s not an issue if you’re going to engage a target under 300 yards. The front sight is adjustable for windage with a simple screwdriver.
Bolton has sold thousands of the $99 gas blocks. However, he suggests that people without extensive experience should let a gunsmith install the part. If you’re interested in researching how to do it, this article in Rifleshooter.com will illustrate how.
If you’re going to use an optic on your minimalist rifle, there are ways to keep the weight down. Jim Fuller of Rifle Dynamics employs the UltiMAK M1-B optic mount on some of his AKs. This $98 product integrates both the handguard and the gas tube in its design which ends up adding less than an ounce to the rifle.
Lyle Keeney of UltiMAK says that a lightweight red dot atop the rail brings a great deal more “shootability” to a rifle without adding significant weight. It’s still a “minimalist” setup, he insists and is mandatory if you shoot at moving targets, in low light, or at targets of opportunity (requiring fast targeting on short notice).
You can get a wide variety of lightweight polymer handguard sets from K-Var. Their typical upper handguard is simply a U-shaped section of plastic which covers the gas tube. (Note that the gas tube must have a bracket to retain it). If your gas tube doesn’t have one, you can buy an entire assembly (upper handguard plus gas tube) for about $45. Keep in mind that there’s no rail atop this system so if you want to add an optic at a later date, you’ll need to pick up a side mount.
The second part of the equation is the lower handguard. K-VAR sells a variety of them from $23-75. All have a stainless steel heat shield. To add it, simply slip the rear end into the receiver and cinch down the opposite side with a special retainer ring or bracket.
There are two styles of retainers.
To keep a traditional look, you can purchase the standard-issue retainer ring from K-VAR for $30. It’s very solid and has a lever, similar to that on the rear sight block, to keep the lower handguard firmly affixed to the barrel. The only caveat is that with this particular setup you’ll have to remove the gas block and the front sight block from the rifle in order to install it. Removing both these parts takes special tools and is best left to a gunsmith.
If you want to keep your rifle as close to original as possible, this is the best way to go.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of removing the above-mentioned parts, there’s a second style of retainer ring which consists of two pieces.
There are at least three small companies that make these parts. One of the manufacturers, DPH Arms, has a set screw in the center of their retainer ring to help keep it from shifting. It also has shims so that the same unit can be used on a standard AK or taken off so that the retainer can be used on the larger diameter VEPR barrel.
Generally, adding the retainer shouldn’t take any modifications to the handguard. However, Brian Smithwick of Dinzag Arms (which also manufactures retainers) suggests you create a small bulge on the heat shield with a pair of needle nose pliers if you have an AK-74. This protuberance will position the handguard off the barrel and underpin the fit to prevent the AK-74 handguard from sliding up at the front end of the retainer plate.
To install the retainer from Saiga-AK, one must add a notch or divot on the barrel keep the bracket in place.
I didn’t want to adulterate my barrel, nor remove the gas and front site blocks so I decided to go the DPH Arms route. If you are a stickler for detail, professional builders suggest that you use the original equipment retainer from Arsenal but if you don’t have the tools to remove the parts, the two-part brackets will do the trick. The DPH product retails for $44.99 and worked fine.
Both brackets feature a sling mount loop and a hole that secures the end of the cleaning rod. UltiMAK founder Lyle Keeney suggests that if you have a cleaning rod mounted below the barrel you consider removing it to reduced weight. If you need to clean your rifle in the field you can take a bore snake with you.
There’s third type of aluminum retainer available but I would not recommend it. It’s very easy to strip the threads on this item. You’ll want to make sure and purchase a retainer manufactured from steel.
Although the polymer handguards from Arsenal (or similar units made by other manufacturers), are great at keeping the weight down, a KeyMod handguard system is also an option if you feel it’s absolutely necessary to add other accessories, such as a light or a grip to your rifle.
KeyMod handguards, such as the AK-UFM model for AKM rifles manufactured by Krebs Custom, are made from aircraft aluminum and they are really light. At 6.6 ounces (including the Picatinny rail) it definitely falls into the “minimalist” camp.
Another weight saving measure is to change out your buttstock if you’re using a collapsible, AR 15-style system. There are a number of lightweight units available including the Rogers Super-Stoc, the Mission First Tactical “Minimalist” model and the CTR from Magpul. In this chapter (see section below) I’ve reviewed these products and other options that are both comfortable, and lightweight.
The lesson is to think twice before you buying add-ons, such as a full-blown tactical handguard/rail system. If you can eschew adding stuff that you don’t really need, or replace your existing gear with something lighter, by all means do so.
With AKs less is always more.
Short discourse on cheek weld
In this chapter we will examine a host of buttstocks, so I thought it important to first discuss the concept of cheek weld.
Cheek weld is fundamentally the position your head is on the rifle when lining up the sights for a shot.
An ideal cheek weld is the single spot or location you return to every time you position your cheek on the buttstock. In order to become a consistent shooter, you’ll want to replicate this action. A proper cheek weld will ensure that you get on your target quickly and accurately.
The correct cheek weld will by definition be comfortable. It has to feel right and it won’t be the same for every shooter.
Your cheek weld will depend on your anatomy as well as the shape of the buttstock, its length, and all the other elements that go into ergonomics.
Some buttstocks will simply feel more comfortable than others.
Like Cinderella trying on her slippers, it is incumbent upon you to evaluate a number of stocks to determine which one will work best for you. You’ll also want to make sure that if you’re planning to buy a folding, triangle-type stock, you test it out before you acquire it.
Another advantage of a proper cheek weld is the capacity to quickly recover from recoil. If you’re shooting a gun with some kick, you’ll want to be “anchored,” albeit ergonomically, to the rifle, so as to be rapidly back on target.
The key is that you find the gear that’s comfortable and allows you to use the sights on your gun. This can sometimes be a tricky proposition with an AK, especially when using optics.
Using optics with a side mount can change the geometry because the device will usually be mounted higher than iron sights. Thus, in order to use the optic, you may have to reposition your cheek weld.
This is not something that you necessarily want to do in a radical manner.
In other words, you want the stock to rest on your cheek—not your chin. Putting your chin on the gun is at the minimum uncomfortable or, in the worst case, a painful experience, if the recoil whacks you in an unforgiving manner.
If using the optic necessitates moving your cheek weld to an uncomfortable positon, the solution might be to find a buttstock that will have an adjustable cheek rest that can be elevated. These will allow you to see through the optic without changing your basic position.
AR-15 Buttstocks for the AK
Adding an AR 15-style buttstock to an AK is a popular exercise for AK users.
When selecting a buttstock, there are two main points to consider: comfort and weight.
With this in mind, we looked at five different popular options that we think will work splendidly with your AK.
It’s become de rigueur for Magpul to be everybody’s go-to furniture. When it comes to AKs, the CTR (compact/type restricted) buttstock is a very popular option. No wonder. It’s very solid and looks good. There’s no irritating wobble that less well-engineered stocks exhibit, and it provides a good cheek weld.
The A-frame design will help you avoid snags, and the release latch, which is shielded, is a great feature. I had no accidental release-latch encounters and the friction lock ensured a rattle-free experience.
The CTR Mil-Spec model I reviewed comes with a removable 0.30-inch rubber butt pad. CTR has a larger butt pad available, if that’s what you need, but I don’t think this will be a problem, even with a 7.62x39mm AK.
If your goal is to find a reasonably priced, comfortable, well-constructed buttstock, then it’s hard to argue against considering a CTR, which weighs in at 252 grams.
The manufacturer’s suggested retail price is around $80, and you can get it on sale for as low as $60. Not a bad deal. As they used to say, “No one ever got fired buying IBM.” You could say the same about Magpul.
The Rogers Super-Stoc may not be as popular as other brands, but that shouldn’t stop you from giving it consideration. It’s strong, lightweight, and sports a patented “Cam-Lock” system that is designed to remove excessive play, which is all too often found on collapsible stocks.
It has a removable recoil pad, sling loop, quick detach sling swivel mount and quick release lever, which unlocks the Cam-Lock and indexing pin with one motion.
It’s also got an innovative one-size-fits-all feature — it will accommodate both Mil-Spec and commercial buffer tubes. You’d think other manufacturers might have figured this one out. But you’d be wrong.
Rogers has hit upon a product that occupies a sweet spot in the buttstock spectrum. It’s a good-quality offering that’s going to appeal to competitive shooters and range rats while occupying an affordable niche at $75.
When I first took the stock out of the box, the first word to jump into my mind was “minimalist.” It reminded me of a fish skeleton. Not an ounce of fat on this baby.
It’s comfortable, though, and the butt pad provides for an ergonomic fit on the shoulder.
The tolerance on the buffer tube is super snug. Even if the Cam-Lock is not cinched down, it’s tight. The Cam-Lock on the Super-Stoc is reminiscent of the CTR design, which also has a front-locking lever. However, the Super-Stoc is engineered differently and, perhaps, even better.
The CTR utilizes a front-locking lever that secures the quick release lever. However, the Super-Stoc’s front Cam-Lock lever serves as an additional point of contact to lock down the stock to the rifle, making the connection even stronger.
I also liked the Cam-Lock lever’s ambidextrous capabilities. It comes stock on the right-hand side but, if you want to reverse sides, it’s easy to swap out.
It’s also very durable, performing admirably in a “Military Times” review called “Buttstock Bashfest.”
The only thing it doesn’t have is as much real estate as some of the others for cheek-weld purposes, but there’s certainly enough to make it work.
This product is used by Colt on some of its government-issue rifles.
At 186 grams, it’s tied for No. 1, as least heavy.
Vltor EMOD A5
Vltor makes excellent products and its EMod “A5” Combo Kit is no exception. It consists of a receiver extension, A5 mid-length buffer (standard weight), M16A2/A5 Action Spring, receiver end lock, and receiver end-lock nut plate.
I wanted a comfortable piece of furniture for precision shooting that could provide an ergonomically correct cheek weld for around $200. Having compartments that could secure ear plugs, batteries and the like was cool, but the paramount goal was comfort and utility.
The stock bears a striking similarity to the Lewis Machine Tool (LMT) SOPMOD model (and the B5 System’s clone). Vltor says that the A5 kit is perfect for piston style rifle systems, and it worked well with the AK, which is, indeed, a piston system.
The Vltor website provides a description of the specs that include a longer receiver extension with seven adjustment points and a specially weighted buffer utilizing the M16A2 action spring. I could only find five adjustment positions. (Where did the other two go?)
The EMod is approximately ¾-inch longer than a standard M4 carbine stock. It’s designed it for big people, with long arms in mind.
To move the stock up and down the tube, you need to depress a flat operation paddle with your fingertips. It’s not that sexy or convenient, especially if the tube refuses to budge. I like the friction lock on the Magpul and Rogers stocks much better—they are simply easier to operate.
The good news is that with these tight tolerances, there isn’t a lot of wobble, especially if the stock is slid all the way.
That said, there is a teeny bit of wobble in a fully extended position—more than on the Magpul and Rogers stocks we tested.
The cheek weld is great on this — equivalent to the SOPMOD model from LMT.
The bottom line is, I liked the stock. It’s expensive but has the benefit of extra real estate to place your cheek as well as two tubes for batteries and a tiny, flip-open storage box (suitable for earplugs) and a steel strike plate at the bottom. It was the heaviest, at 391 grams, of all the ones we tested. Price for the buttstock (as opposed to the kit) is $95.
Mission First Tactical Battlelink Minimalist Stock
The Battlelink Minimalist Stock caught my eye because of its light weight and innovative design.
The “Shepard’s Hook” is eye-catching and works quite well with an AK.
At about 185 gr (with the 8 feet of braided paracord) it’s lighter than the Magpul CTR – roughly equivalent to the “super” light Roger’s Super-Stoc.
Mounting it was a bit of task. The spring-loaded pin that frees up the stock to slip in the buffer tube is short and quite stiff. Using your fingers is brutal. Instead, you’ll need a channel lock or the butt end of a spoon to shift the pin far enough to slip the tube in. Once in, there’s no rotation or slippage and no need for a lock, as on the CTR, because the tolerances are so darn close.
The model I acquired, known as the BMSMILNRAT- BMS, has braided paracord strung from the tip of the buttstock to the base. The whole effect reminds me of those triangles we had to deal with in geometry class.
For the record, the woven paracord is officially called a “NEMO Rapid Assault Team Strap or NRAT Strap.”
I must say it looks pretty cool. The strap slightly obstructs the QD mount, but applying a little elbow grease will allow you access.
Mission First Tactical succeeded in building a distinctive, light, aesthetically pleasing product. I was concerned that the Shepard’s Hook would catch on my clothing, but, to date, I’ve yet to catch it on anything.
The top side of the stock has lot of real estate — even more than the Magpul CTR. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the difficulty of putting it on and removing it from the tube. If you’re not planning on swapping it out a great deal, this won’t be an issue.
I suspect you’ll see more of these on AKs as time goes by. MSRP is $84.99 — or $60 without the braided paracord.
Military-issue gear is by definition, pretty cool. It’s been vetted and battle-tested.
The LMT SOPMOD is no exception. LMT, according to its website, “is the sole provider of the SOPMOD Buttstock to the U.S. Special Ops Command, U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps and other government agencies and bureaus.”
I decided to look at this buttstock because one of its clones, the B5 Systems SOPMOD, is popular with some of the top AK builders. It occurred to me that it would be better to look at the real deal—the original that the emulations are modeled after.
The stock has a very substantial feel about it. It’s made as one piece, and built like a tank. It has a great cheek weld and two watertight battery-access storage tubes that will keep the interior dry up to 66 feet. (Let’s hope you don’t put yourself in that position!) There’s a substantial rubber butt plate that reduces felt recoil and offers a no-slip surface against clothing, web gear and body armor.
As expected, there are quick-detach sling swivel mounts on either side. Installing the stock was easy and the fit was quite tight. No wobble in the least. The stock looks cool and is ergonomically correct. I can understand why they make clones of this.
If you ditch the storage tubes, which I suggest, you dock another 50 grams, bringing the weight to a very respectable 307 grams. At $200 it’s expensive, but the genuine article.
Stock adapters and folding stocks
You may decide that a fixed stock is not comfortable, in which case you should consider an AR-style collapsible stock. There are a slew of options ranging from collapsible systems to folders and combinations thereof. In this section we’ll look at some products that will help transform your rifle.
The AR-style collapsible stock offers an almost infinite latitude for operators of every physical description. With one click, a 6-foot, 4-inch shooter will be able to use the same rifle just as easily as someone who is 5’4.” It also comes in handy for those who need to adjust for body armor, heavy clothing, etc.
Second, the geometry of the AR buttstock provides a slightly elevated cheek weld compared to a standard AK. This affords more comfort and a sight picture that works both with the stock iron sights and, if you so choose, optics.
This cheek rise is extremely important to AK users says Justin McMillion of JMAC Customs, whose West Virginia-based company designs adapters for Arsenal 104 rifles and other variants. His adapter provides a 3/8-inch rise which allows users to better utilize iron sights. (The product also allows for a QD sling mount to be added).
In addition to JMAC Customs, adapters that will accommodate AR-style collapsible stocks are available from Vltor, Rifle Dynamics, CANIS Design Group, DPH Arms, and other manufacturers. R&R Targets makes one specifically for a Saiga shotgun.
Rifle Dynamics AK to M-4 Stock Adapter
An M4 or AR-15-style collapsible buttstock has become very popular with AK owners. Enter the Rifle Dynamics AK to M-4 system designed by Jim Fuller.
Not only is a collapsible stock more comfortable to use, it’s also better suited for shooters who want to utilize optics.
Here’s why: The original AK was designed for use exclusively with iron sights. Adding an optic to an AK was secondary and, hence, was never engineered to have the proper ergonomics to support “glass.”
As alluded to above, often an optic placed on side rail mount, or on a rail atop the receiver or dust cover, isn’t always ergonomic. The optic almost always sits too high or the stock simply sits too low to afford a cheek weld that provides a comfortable way to get a proper sight picture.
The operator has to compensate by moving up his or her cheek weld, which can be both uncomfortable and impractical. The Rifle Dynamics system rectifies this issue by changing the geometry of the stock so that it sits higher, thus giving your cheek a vertical boost.
Gen 1 and Gen 2
Gen 1 and Gen 2 Rifle Dynamics has two versions of its adapter. We installed the original “Gen 1” version of the product.
We were told the Gen 2 system places the stock at a slightly lower angle than Gen 1.
Jim Fuller, the man behind Rifle Dynamics, told me he did this because some users suggested that the angle of the Gen 1 was such that they couldn’t use the iron sights efficiently, though as a Gen 1 user I haven’t found this an issue.
Installing the RD System
Adding the adapter essentially means adding four bolts. However, there is a technique to getting it to fit perfectly. The real trick is making sure that you align the adapter squarely to the back of the receiver.
Part of the install process will entail adding Loctite to the bolt threads, so it will have to be done in an efficient manner. The end result is both aesthetically pleasing and very robust.
The adapter bolts right over the tang, so no modifications of the gun are necessary.
Utilizing the tang makes the assembly extremely strong. Additionally, any sling adapter that fits on the AR buffer tube should work with this set up.
Shooting my Saiga, after mounting the adapter, felt ergonomically correct. It was comfortable to use and an improvement over the collapsible buttstock that came with the rifle. I was able to use both the iron sights and a red dot with ease.
Installing the Right “Folder”
AKs with folding stocks (folders) are very much in vogue.
Why would someone need a folder?
If you’re a professional who jumps out of airplanes or does contracting work that necessitates concealability and compactness, then you really must have one. If you’re not someone who fits this description, but a folder saves you storage space and looks cool, then it may also be an attractive option.
Side folders are available in several options that include a standard polymer buttstock on a hinge (from Arsenal) or as triangular or wire-style stocks.
In addition to side folders (both left and right), there are also “underfolders,” which, as the description implies, fold downward into a compact package. This design was originally used by paratroopers and other elite military units. The triangular folders and underfolders don’t provide a lot of cheek weld and in my experience are not comfortable. They are not recommended for the novice.Some of the more popular side folders combine the features of a collapsible stock and, of course, the folding element. These are both aesthetically appealing and quite comfortable to use.
Likewise, one can also acquire an excellent folding adapter that accommodates a collapsible stock from a firm called StormWerkz.
Mako Group, an Israeli company, makes folding stocks as well as a combination folder-collapsible buttstock but I have found their customer service lacking.
(Note that before you add the folder, you’ll need an adapter that bolts to the back of the receiver, usually on the tang).
If you don’t want to mess with adding a separate folding mechanism and you simply want to attach a complete, folding, collapsible stock, Magpul’s new Zhukov-S is a good bet. It works both with the AK-47 and AK-74. With a 5-position pull adjustment, it’s sturdy, well-designed and available in five colors. Price is $99.95.
StormWerkz and Bonesteel/CNC folders
StormWerkz features a symmetrically sided wedge that the inventor, Josh Miller, says will allow the locking mechanism to wear evenly and last longer. It’s available from his website for $75.
Installing the StormWerkz folder is easy. Simply torque down two 10/32 5/8-inch bolts that come with the device and cinch it down to the adapter with some Loctite. The result is a folder that is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.
It was simple to use and locked up tight at full length. It also locks up when folded. The stock was quite rigid and, short of using it to hammer down railroad spikes, should be quite durable.
Keep in mind: to complete the job you’ll need an AR-15 buffer tube, castle nut and endplate. Price for the StormWerkz folder is $75.
The Bonesteel product line includes items designed for a variety of platforms, including the AR-15, AK /VEPR, Galil, PSL, Saiga and vz. 58. The folding mechanisms are integrated with Galil type stocks or with an M4 collapsible stock.
The appealing thing about the Bonesteel/CNC product for the VEPR is that it’s plug-and-play. Just bolt the whole enchilada to the back of the tang, add the pistol grip, and you’re ready to rock.
The Mil-Spec tube is machined from aircraft aluminum and pinned onto the folding mechanism — and it’s exceedingly light, just 12.5 ounces for just the hardware and 19.5 ounces or thereabouts with a buttstock attached.
Fit and finish on this item are superb — it has a shiny black anodized look that blends in perfectly with the VEPR color scheme.
The stock has six positions that will adjust to just about anyone, which is, after all, why you want a collapsible stock
If you really need to get up close and personal, you can bring the stock almost flush with the tang. It also has a memory-stop feature that allows for an instant extension to where ever you want to set it.
This is how it works: Each position has a threaded hole behind it for a cap screw to set a preset stop. Thus, if you never go beyond the No. 4 position, you won’t be fumbling around trying to find the right spot.
I found the stock easy to manipulate without feeling like I was going to damage the hinge, if I somehow tweaked it the wrong way. It tucks to the right and folds closely to the rifle. Also included is a quick-detach (Q/D) sling swivel, which comes in handy.
It’s perfect for someone who wants to go the folder route without having to buy an extra adapter and the other associated parts.
If you add up all the components of the StormWerkz/Krebs combo above, you’ll pay $100 for the Krebs adapter and an additional $75 for the folder. That’s not counting an additional $40 for the tube, castle nut and endplate.
Contrast that with the total for the Bonesteel/CNC folder, which runs about $149.
If you do plan to purchase a side folder, consider which side the stock and hinge combination employ. A folder that folds to the right can interfere with the charging handle, and a left-sided unit may interfere with a side optic mount.
The AK rifle has a well-deserved reputation for reliability. Making sure the weapon would fire upon demand under trying battlefield conditions, first time and every time, was one of the primary goals of the engineering team responsible for the design, development, and production of the AK-47. However, any rifle (or any machine for that matter) is only as reliable as its least dependable part. In the case of self-loading rifles, the device responsible for feeding ammunition to the breech mechanism is critical.
That part is called a magazine — not a clip, which in technical firearm terms is something different.
If the magazine assembly is faulty or poorly designed, the rifle cannot be relied upon to feed ammunition properly.
At the range or local plinking area, feeding malfunctions can be frustrating and lead to potentially dangerous conditions within the rifle. In a self-defense situation, they can cost you everything.
There’s a vast array of magazines available for the AK today. Capacities range from two- or three-round box magazines meant for hunting, to drums that will hold 75 rounds or more. Originally made from steel, they also can be found with bodies made entirely from synthetics (various types of plastic) or a mixture of synthetics plus steel reinforcing at critical points, such as the front and rear locking lugs and the feed lips.
Regardless of body type, all magazines are supplied with springs made of steel. Nobody to date has managed to come up with a strong, durable, reliable spring made of polymer.
By far the most ubiquitous AK magazines worldwide are the familiar, curved banana-type designed by the Soviets and issued to Warsaw Pact forces as standard military equipment. Each standard AK magazine holds 30 rounds of ammunition. Originally mass-produced by various manufacturers in Eastern Europe, the classic 30-round AK box magazine is robustly built of steel, almost bullet-proof and, like the AK itself, relentlessly reliable.
They are also heavy, anywhere from 11 to 14 ounces empty, depending on the maker. By way of comparison, a standard 30-round aluminum M16 magazine weighs in at about 4 ounces, empty. A steel AK magazine loaded with 30 rounds of military ball ammunition weighs close to 2 pounds, which is quite a load of ballast to add to your AK for casual shooting offhand.
By far the best are military surplus magazines. They were built with reliability and durability in mind, and for use under the most adverse conditions imaginable. You can find them from a variety of suppliers, in any condition, from old rust-buckets with dents and sometimes even bullet holes, to unissued as-new condition. Surplus military magazines in good condition are probably your safest bet, and come in steel and synthetic versions.
A tip: If you’re buying surplus, avoid magazines with dents. They can cause feeding problems. Rusty magazines are not desirable unless you like do-it-yourself cleanup and repair projects, assuming the rust is just a mild surface feature. Avoid magazines with deep pits or extensive damage inside and out.
Loading an AK-47 magazine. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
Steel magazines can be found in many capacities, not just the 30-round variety. One of our personal favorites is the Hungarian 20-round steel magazine, though they are not easy to locate. Commercial five- and 10-round steel magazines are out there as well, but can likewise be difficult to find and are considerably more expensive than the ex-military 30-rounders.
Synthetic magazines have become increasingly common over the years, to the point where in the U.S. they are now at least as readily available as steel. Made by a variety of manufactures from a wide array of different types of plastic, they are lighter than steel, will not rust or dent, and can be had in a range of colors. Some of the best include the military surplus Soviet Bakelite-style, and Bulgarian “Circle 10” polymer magazines, both of which feature steel reinforcing at critical points.
The Circle 10, which I’ve had a chance to use, is utterly reliable and has almost no play or wobble once inserted in the magazine well. This brand is easily recognized by their logo, the number 10 stamped inside a circle and the magazine’s waffle-patterned body. Priced at around $45, they are not cheap but it’s a question of getting what you pay for.
Steel reinforcing is especially desirable in magazines that will see a lot of heavy use or will be employed for self-defense, because the steel helps ensure that the critical parts will be less prone to failure due to wear and physical abuse.
Synthetic magazines are also commonly encountered without steel reinforcing elements, but most regard such as only suitable for casual range or plinking use.
I have used such magazines as supplied by U.S. companies Tapco, U.S. Palm, Pro-Mag and Magpul, and all performed well.
Every nation that builds AKs also builds magazines exclusively for their rifles. Generally, any military-surplus magazine in 7.62×39 or 5.45×39 will work in any standard AK of the corresponding caliber. But as we have seen with other AK parts, there can be exceptions. You may well have to experiment a bit to find out if a particular type of magazine is acceptable to your AK and its unique pedigree.
Choosing a magazine
A candidate AK magazine should be tested for fit. Make sure that both the rifle and the magazine are unloaded, and that the rifle is on safe with the muzzle pointed in a safe direction. The magazine should slide in to the magazine well on the rifle with a firm feel. The front lug should engage the front of the magazine well easily.
Rocking the magazine back into place, there should be a solid click as the rear magazine latch on the rifle engages the magazine locking tab on the rear of the magazine. There should be no or very little wobble of the magazine from side to side, and none from front to back.There will be some slight variation in fit for magazines of the same model and manufacturer, but it will be slight.
If several examples of the same type of empty magazine won’t lock firmly into place as described, you’d better try another make of magazine for your AK.
Once you’ve determined that they fit, take your candidate magazines to the range with your rifle. Nothing will substitute for running each of the magazines in the rifle in live fire to make sure everything operates correctly and reliably.
If you do any research on the subject, you will find a wide range of opinion as to which magazines you should absolutely avoid purchasing. Yes, there are some real lemons out there. Some of them are even made by companies that manage to produce perfectly acceptable military magazines for other types of rifles, so be careful.
For example, many of the steel magazines made in South Korea are widely regarded as cheaply made and unreliable. Avoiding them might be a good idea.
Others report that they have had trouble with some makes of U.S. polymer magazines.
In the end, as with most things, you are best served by reading the various reviews and opinions and drawing your own conclusions.
And always do your own tests with a new magazine before you trust your well-being to it.
For our critical applications, we prefer to stick to magazines made by the same manufacturer as the rifle. It’s the safest bet.
The standard trigger system (aka fire control group) that you’ll find on most AKs is the G2 model from Tapco. It’s a decent trigger and, with some modifications can be an excellent trigger. The modifications entail smoothing out a few rough edges on the hammer. If you’re interested in researching this, there are number of videos on this subject. R&R Targets has developed a good trigger based on the Tapco.
A better option is to purchase the AKT trigger system from ALG, a subsidiary of Geissele, a company renowned for excellent AR 15 (and other rifle) triggers . It’s priced under $50. I have this on my own rifle and love it. Krebs Custom also has an excellent trigger modified from the Geissele.
Instead of taking a file or sandpaper to the trigger, another option is to swap out the fire control group. There are some good videos that will show you, step by step, how to do so. Changing out your FCG is not an inordinately difficult task for someone who has a modicum of mechanical skills and common sense.
Why would you want to replace a decent trigger in the first place?
Some folks, especially those who have owned rifles or 1911 pistols with good triggers are simply fussy. Or they may want their AK to have a quick reset for rapid fire.
There are any number of reasons but it comes down to an individual’s specific needs or desires.
Unlike some trigger sets for the AR, most AK triggers are not adjustable. One exception is the model from Red Star Arms, which can be adjusted as a one or two-stage affair.
A company called CMC Triggers has a new drop-in style model specifically for the AK. It’s the first decent modular trigger for the AK that I’ve tested.
The only word of caution, and this goes for installing any third-party part in an AK, is be certain that the trigger you acquire will work precisely with your AK.
I installed a Red Star Arms trigger on a VEPR and eventually got it working, but it was a real chore to do so, meaning we had to take dremel and do quite a bit of grinding on the safety. This is not something for the beginner.
The Joys of Trigger Slap
Another reason to install a new trigger is if after you purchase your gun you experience “trigger slap.”
Trigger slap is a common occurrence in AKs. You’ll certainly know it when you feel it.
Trigger slap is the stinging sensation of the trigger springing back or “slapping” the shooter’s trigger finger during firing.
It’s a sharp, unambiguous jolt that can occur with every shot or intermittently, sometimes favoring a particular type of ammunition. It’s often misdiagnosed as an ammo problem.
It can be mitigated by changing out the trigger, or you can have a gunsmith or someone very familiar with an AK fire-control group fix it.
It’s caused, says AK maven Rick Davis, when there’s insufficient clearance between the hammer, trigger and the disconnector. When this happens, the force of the resetting hammer is transferred into the trigger through the disconnector, causing the trigger to abruptly “slap” forward.
“If there’s too much material on the rear disconnector pad, it will lack adequate clearance between the bolt carrier, disconnector and trigger. This results in a chain collision between the bolt carrier, disconnector and the trigger. The energy is then transferred into the shooter’s finger, producing the ‘slap’ sensation.
He says this can be corrected by removing just enough material on the rear of the disconnector near the spring well. Remove only enough to allow proper clearance, no more.
Lyle Keeney, founder of UltiMAK, has a slightly different take on the matter. Says Keeney:
“The only cause I’ve seen was that the camming angles between the hammer and the disconnector were such that the disconnector was being accelerated backward so violently that no amount of clearance would solve the slap. Only by reshaping the camming angles between hammer and disconnector, providing a more gentle rearward motion of the disconnector, was the slap eliminated entirely.”
Keeney states that it’s easy to check for adequate (disconnector-to-trigger) clearance by holding the trigger all the way back as you slowly pull the carrier back to cock the piece, or simply cock the hammer by manipulating it directly with the carrier removed.
If the trigger is not forced forward at all while cocking the disconnector over the hammer, you probably have enough clearance, and should therefore look elsewhere to solve the slap issue.
As alluded to above, if you’re not experienced, correcting trigger slap may not be a task you want to attempt.
However, smoothing out a gritty trigger is do-able, if you’re not aggressive about removing too much metal.
There are a number of videos that will show you how to smooth out the action by applying a little sandpaper or emery cloth. Graham Baates does a nice job with this video.
Safety lever Replacement
The humble safety lever is usually not high on the customization list for neophytes, but it should be.
I suggest you consider swapping out your stock safety lever for a Krebs Custom model. The Krebs products are an enhancement of the original part because they help the shooter perform a simple but extremely important task —taking full control of the operation of the safety lever. The design allows for continuous finger contact throughout the entire range of motion.
The extended shelf on the lever is ergonomically correct and easy to operate. You can flip the safety with your trigger finger while keeping the shooting hand firmly around the pistol grip.
The location and shape of the lever, a distinct curve, allows the finger to instantly return to the trigger in one fell swoop.
You’re not going to be distracted or lose your sight-picture, even when using an optic.
Another innovation not immediately noticeable to the novice is a bolt hold-open (aka BHO) slot on the lever. The BHO catch allows the operator to easily keep the bolt open so that the range officer can observe whether there’s a round in the chamber.
For years the standard replacement for the stock safety was his Mk VI series ($59), which Krebs designed for Russian-pattern milled and stamped receivers.
The newest addition to the Krebs line is the Mk VII “Ambi Enhanced Safety” ($65.00) made for both left- and right-handed shooters.
Right-handed shooters can manipulate the safety with their index finger and lefties can do so with their thumb.
Quality and finish are first-class on all models. The coating is a durable, smooth matte. The good news is that you don’t have to pay a gunsmith to swap out your safely. Even if you’re a rank amateur, they are easy to install. Simply remove the recoil spring and rotate the old safety toward you. At a certain point, it will pop out of the hole in the receiver. Put the new one exactly where the old one was and rotate in the opposite direction (down). The recoil spring goes in, as does the dust cover. Bingo, you’re done.
In addition to the Krebs Custom series, I’ve heard good things about the R&R Targets safety. The caveat is that it’s not a drop-in. Your gunsmith will have to do some tweaking.
Muzzle brakes and flash hiders
Generally, AK-47 barrel muzzles are threaded with a 14mm x 1mm, left-hand pattern to accept a muzzle device such as a muzzle brake, a compensator or a flash hider.
Beginning with the AK-74, manufacturers went to the front-sight base (FSB) threading instead of barrel threading. The threads are 24mm.It’s important to know the differences between these devices.
A brake uses the escaping gasses to pull the rifle away from you, lessening the recoil.
Brakes can usually be identified by their walls or baffles running nearly perpendicular to the barrel. These walls trap the gasses, and the resulting impact is the pull that lessens the force of the rifle coming back into your shoulder.
The gases escaping to the sides, and sometimes slightly toward the rear of the rifle, carry heat, force and noise with them, making brakes less than ideal for shooting in close quarters with teammates, family or even solid objects that you don’t want blasted with hot air.
This also explains why it can seem that one rifle is louder than another, despite being the same caliber or model.
A compensator uses the same principles to push the muzzle downward, compensating for the tendency to rise.
Compensators are easily identified by having vents on the top and fewer vents or no vents on the bottom.
As the gases rush out of the barrel, they slam into the “floor” of the brake and are redirected upward.
Compensators will have less percussion than a brake, but along with those gasses rushing upwards is an accompanying flash.
Flash-hiders are fashioned with the intent to divide the escaping gasses and minimize their combustion signature — the flash that you sometimes see after firing.
The most effective flash-hiders divide the gases and redirect them in as many directions as possible around the muzzle.
Flash-hiders are useful when trying to keep your position concealed or in home-defense situations, when the objective should be to not blind yourself with the first shot.
The drawback here is that those gasses have a tendency to kick up dust, making prone shots irritating at the least and prone follow-ups difficult to dangerous in some situations.
If the wind is not in your favor, the concealed flash does you no good because now your opponent sees a much longer-lasting puff of dust!
So, if they all have drawbacks, which one is best?
The answer depends on your use of the rifle. For the average plinker or even competitive shooter, flash is not an issue, though it can be temporarily blinding in low light.
For most shooters of any physical bulk, the recoil of most popular AK calibers also isn’t a problem.
For most of us, however, compensation is the priority, followed by braking.
There are oodles of brakes on the market—too many to be reviewed in this book but we did have a chance to look at a few high-end models — the Venom Tactical Antidote ($195) and the new RRD-4 (aka Recoil Reduction Device) at $93 from JMAC Customs. Both are configured with side baffles.
We liked this configuration for one main reason.
Muzzle devices with ports on the top and below can result in what Justin McMillion, founder of JMAC Customs, calls “cheek slap”. This is when downward pressure is applied to the front of the rifle and like a fulcrum, the buttstock rises and smacks your cheek, especially at higher rates of fire. This makes it difficult to retain your sight picture and can intensify felt recoil.
You’re simply not going to get a lot of muzzle rise with these two brakes because the gasses are expended sideways. If you’re going to be doing a lot of rapid fire you’ll be able to avoid the “cheek slap” syndrome with these two devices. I found both very effective at maintaining barrel stability.
In addition to keeping the barrel steady, both these items do a good job of keeping the flash down as well.
From the shooter’s perspective, both aren’t particularly noisy but with the gasses spitting out sideways, I wouldn’t want to be the in the position next to either of these.
They are extremely well finished and light, with the Antidote weighing in at 3.4 ounces and the RRD-4 at 3.5 ounces. At 2.6 inches, the Antidote is only a tenth of an inch longer than the RRD-4.
I could certainly feel the difference between these high end brakes from lesser ones and I suspect most people would also be able to do so. Are they worth the price for the average shooter? Probably not, but the Antidote and other high-end muzzle devices are not meant for the typical shooter. You’ll find the Antidote on $2000 semi-custom guns produced by Jim Fuller where some owners will wring every ounce of performance out of their rifles. In particular I thought the RRD-4 to be effective and a good value, even at $93, if you put a lot rounds through your rifle.
Of course, when considering what brake to purchase you need to focus on your requirements. If you’re not going to be doing a lot of rapid fire shooting, chances are you’re not going to need an expensive muzzle device to stabilize the barrel. Likewise, if you know that you’re going to mostly shoot off the bench (as is the case with most people I see at the range) then a heavier brake, which may not be as expensive as the higher-end models, is quite acceptable.
Two other models I’ve looked at, the K-VAR AK-74 style brake from Krebs Custom and the Jet brake available from Circle 10 AK, are both of excellent quality and less pricey than the high end merchandise.
High End vs. Bargain Brakes
With all the verbiage I’ve devoted to pricey muzzle devices, one may legitimately ask if it’s worth spending the extra money for these products.
One of my sources for this the book, Graham Baates, decided to test the effectiveness of inexpensive brakes and compare them with the costlier models.
He took nine commonly available muzzle devices advertised as brakes to a local range and fired them all from the same position, with a fixed camera on one side and a grid on the opposite side.
He then took freeze-frame shots of the moment before the shot and the moment of highest rise and deepest recoil after the shot. He then measured the depth and height of travel and used the Pythagorean Theorem to measure the total distance traveled.
This is far more than the average consumer needs to do, but it did give him a chance to observe the behavior of different muzzle brakes.
His conclusion was that the inexpensive brakes, ranging from $10 to $40, are a bargain. Here’s a video of his tests which included devices mostly from Carolina Shooters Supply.
Baates, a competitive shooter, said he uses a $20 brake on his AK simply because the potential increase in performance for a more expensive models don’t outweigh the cost difference.
Removing a Muzzle Brake
Unless the barrel threads are caked with carbon and gunk, muzzle brakes are fairly easy to remove. Just keep the rifle stationary and depress the tiny spring-loaded detent with a punch or something similar as you remove the brake.
They are usually left-handed threads, so be certain you know which direction to turn.
When purchasing your rifle, you may want to be certain you’re able to swap out the existing brake, if for some reason you’re interested in an upgrade. Although the standard specs for the thread are 14mm x 1mm LH (left-handed), it doesn’t mean that your third-party brake or flash-hider will necessarily fit your existing thread.
(Note that the muzzle devices on the AK-74s are threaded to 24mm and are right-handed. The exception to this is the Yugo Krinkov which has 26mm left-handed threads.)
According to Kevin Stender, customer service manager at Tapco, the largest manufacturer of muzzle brakes in the U.S., “AK barrels are notorious for having ‘in spec’ barrel threads that don’t match up with ‘in spec’ muzzle brakes.
Acceptable tolerances on threads,” he said, “could allow for the barrel’s threads to be on the tight side and the muzzle brake on the loose side, or vice versa.”
To make them fit, Stender suggests taking a 14mm x 1mm LH die and run it over the barrel’s threads.
“This”, he said, “will shave a little metal off but leave it exactly how it’s supposed to be.”
Denny Butts, founder of CNC Warrior, which manufactures muzzle brakes as well as barrel-threading and cutting tools, concurs with Stender.
Butts said that many older guns with foreign-made, Arsenal barrels have threads that are smaller than spec. Thus, muzzle devices that are made to spec are usually very loose-fitting on these particular guns. Therefore, most AK muzzle-device manufacturers run their threads slightly below spec to make them fit better.
My colleague, RN Price, and I decided to try do a little home-rethreading job on a converted Saiga that had been fitted with a Tapco muzzle brake but wouldn’t accept other 14 x 1mm LH models.
We acquired a $30 die (see above) from CNC Warrior and put the muzzle thread through some re-grooving. It worked like a charm.
After the rethread, we were easily able to affix a Krebs Custom flash-hider and a Jet brake from Circle10 AK.
If you’re at all interested in swapping out a brake from a rifle that you are about to purchase, it’s a good idea to see if the thread on your rifle will accept other models.
You can always ask the dealer if it is willing to let you check before you buy. Of course, if you don’t intend to replace or upgrade your stock muzzle brake, this won’t be an issue.
Be aware that some states or local governments may not allow flash-hiders.
The sling is essential to any AK owner, whether you’re a seasoned tactical shooter or just a visitor to the range.
(If you do visit the range, you’ll see that few people use them. I don’t understand this.)
If I were to think of one item that will improve accuracy and stabilize your shot, this would be it.
There are several varieties available, but my favorite is the two-point sling that offers an excellent combination of carry and comfort both for veteran shooters and beginners.
Depending on how you configure your sling to your rifle, you can carry it in just about any conceivable position, from the low ready to slung over your back.
You can also use it in an over-the-shoulder carry so that your hands are completely free to do other tasks.
There are a plethora of manufacturers, but I really like the two-point BLACKHAWK! Dieter CQD Sling.
Blackhawk has an impeccable reputation when it comes to designing gear for the tactical shooter. The Dieter CQD model sling was designed for BLACKHAWK! by tactical guru Duane Dieter.
The CQD sling is a very sturdy item, constructed with 1.25-inch T-13 webbing, which is wider and more comfortable than standard fare. This item is designed for carrying your rifle either over your shoulder in a muzzle-up carry or muzzle-down carry.
The BLACKHAWK! Dieter CQD Sling differs from standard AK slings because it uses “HK style”, gated snaphooks.
The spring-loaded snaphook is made with heavy-gauge metal, and although it does take some dexterity to attach or remove, it’s very safe.
To secure it to the forward end of your rifle, you’ll need a sling swivel or a wire loop, depending on your rifle’s configuration.
Bottom line: It’s exceedingly comfortable to use.
MSRP is around $44, but you can purchase it for as little as $34.66 on Amazon.com, including shipping.
The new Blue Force Gear Standard AK Sling also is a good bet. Designed by another tactical guru, Larry Vickers, what differentiates this sling from others designed for the AK is a pull tab that allows you to make adjustments on the fly. This option is handy at the range, but if you’re in the field and need to attend to business quickly and without distraction, it’s crucial.
It comes with a loop that utilizes a heat-resistant, non-marring, nylon-coated stainless-steel cable. This is a $25 value alone, so combined with the sling, I think it’s a good deal.
While the pull tab is a modern innovation, this sling has elements of the old and new. For example, the coyote brown-colored nylon strap hearkens back to the old Soviet days.
In addition, the hardware, which is super-durable polymer, matches the famous plum coloring of the old-fashioned Soviet furniture. The apocryphal story is that the Russians actually wanted black furniture, but the factory didn’t get its dye quite right. There are other variations of the story, so believe what you like.
As I’ve been advocating in this book, a great deal has to be said for minimalism and the traditional, military style sling from Arsenal fits this definition. Fit, function, and construction are first class. It’s manufactured from canvas and comes in green with a black, anodized snap hook attachment. I found it easily adjustable and comfortable. If you’re not sure how to attach it, fear not, there’s a video that shows you how. Prices for these slings begin at $10 and go up to about $30 depending on whether the item is imported from Russia or Bulgaria or, whether it’s of nylon or canvas construction. The sling featured in the photo is $17. If you’re not using it with a traditional, wood stock, you may need a swivel sling loop or two to attach it to the rifle.
AK WIKQD Sling Mount
The AK WIKQD sling mount from RazorSix Tactical allows AR-type slings to be adapted to most AK rifles with a quick-detach (QD) system. It’s a very clever design that clamps onto real estate available on the gas block.
According to the company, the mount has been field-tested in combat conditions and has proven to be 100 percent reliable with no failures or accuracy issues. It works on virtually all AK variants, including AKS, AKM, RPK, Israeli and South African Galils.
It does not affect the accuracy or harmonics of the AK. Made from 6061 aluminum, it is anodized black and laser-engraved with the company’s diamond logo. Priced at $40, RazorSix offers a lifetime warranty on the product.
To install it, simply remove the gas tube and nudge the AK WIKQD into position.
I needed to use a screwdriver blade to force the clamp open a bit, which is all it took to slide it into place. You cinch it down with a Philips screw and a little Loctite. There’s a cavity for the QD mount.
I thought the little device worked perfectly. It’s about as forward as you can put a mount, and in my book this was a big plus, because it affords you more muzzle control.
Bolt-Hold-Open (BHO) Magazines
Anyone familiar with the AR platform knows that when you’ve expended your last round, the bolt remains open. It’s always nice to know you’re out of ammo, and for safety’s sake you can visually check whether there’s a round in the chamber.
A standard AK does not have this feature, but you can go to a gunsmith who will be able to engineer a bolt-open solution.
Marc Krebs of Krebs Custom suggests that although A BHO follower is good for range or target work, it’s not optimal in situations where magazine changes must be done quickly.
SGM Tactical, a company out of Knoxville, Tennessee, manufactures bolt-hold-open magazines in .308, 7.62 and 223. It is one of the few companies that makes gear specifically for the VEPR as well as other AKs. I’ve been using its 7.62 BHO mag for about a year with a Saiga, and it works perfectly. Price is $34.95.
Option B is to add a bolt-open-feature to your own magazine by installing a special follower.
A company called WeaponTech offers a drop-in replacement for standard AK47 metal and polymer magazines designed for 7.62×39.
WeaponTech is a venture between the inventor, Dimitri Mikroulis, and Primary Arms. Called the “WeaponTech BHO Follower,” you will need to disassemble your magazine to install it.
To do this, you take off the magazine’s floor plate, remove the spring, take out the original follower and add the new one designed by Dimitri. It’s not difficult — there are a number of videos that will show you how disassemble a magazine.
The main thing to watch out for is the spring inside the magazine. It’s under a lot of tension and it can pop out and impale your eye, if you’re not careful. Safety glasses are a good idea. Anyone who has taken apart a magazine will understand what I mean.
You can get a three-pack for $14.95. I think it’s a great product.
One last point to remember with a BHO magazine:
When you remove the magazine from the rifle, the bolt will snap shut, as it normally would after the firing cycle is complete.
I forgot that once and got a painful reminder as the bolt pinched my finger.