Please feel free to post comments if you don't agree! I want a free exchange of ideas here. Just note if anyone is personally attacking anyone else, that is not acceptable, keep it to "just the facts" as Joe Friday says. Also this place isn't where I'm going to argue with anti-gun people. There are plenty of other firearms politics focused blogs out there like Saysuncle.com and snowflakesinhell.com being two great ones.
This week I want to talk about where I am in the AK Purist versus Tacticooled M4ed AKs. This has came out of a couple of message board posts I've had recently and Gabe Suarez's post lately about modernizing the platform so it is a hot topic over at Warrior Talk right now.
Basically, I'm in between purists keep the AK original and M4ize tacticool it. I am not at this point in my life an AK collector. I have been using the platform now for over half my life and during that time they have been kept as a fun gun but also with the serious purpose of a defensive rifle if needed. Because of that they are not collector's items where I try to get the proper markings, magazine, handguards, etc. Maybe when I get more cash to burn and even then I'm going to have a few go to rifles that are designated for defense. Being a defensive rifle, I have no problems doing reasonable upgrades from standard AKs that I think allow it to perform better if I ever have the unfortunate experience to use it in the "gravest extreme."
So I want good, modern equipment that was designed to keep the AK's strong points and minimizes the weaker points that will continue to improve it. The US Palm AK30s are a example of this in my book. While more expensive than good old Combloc steel, they still are a great value in that they should last longer, be lighter, be more rugged, and require less maintenance than other AK mags. But at the same time I'm not getting rid of my Combloc steel nor my Circle Tens. Quality is it's own quantity, and visa versa.
Unfortunately, quality costs money. But I think you can find a good middle ground here in money spent, especially when compared to the other extreme of hogwild M4 style AK ran rampant. Ironically, purists though tend to come in two groups for opposite reasons, some purists like to spend money making as correct as possible, and others like to save money because entry level AK stuff is cheap. Trust me, I understand saving money, it is part of the reason I'm an AK user. A serviceable AK and mags can be cheap and will get you by, but you can also choose not to be stuck at state of the art, circa 1950.
On the other hand, I don't necessarily want my AK looking like an M4 just for the look. There are two basic reasons for tacticooled AK, and one similar to collector purists. Some people like to spend money to make their rifles look tacticooler. It's still your money guys, if that blows your skirt up, do it. But because that equipment wasn't designed for the AK platform, I don't think it is always the best solution for it.
Just putting it on because it's on M4s doesn't make it work well on an AK. In the long run, you can actually be handicapping your AK. For instance, I dislike M4 stocks and railed handguards on AKs, partly because I've been there, done that. When Kreb's KTR-03 hit the market I was in awe! So in the early 2000s I tried to make my MAK90 as close to it as possible (BTW, if you dig the whole tacticool AKs, Krebs is the ultimate still!). I was thinking "hey, the venerable old girl AK can be just as modern as an AR-15." But I ended up with an extra heavy rifle that was more complex and wasn't as usable as the original configuration.
I think if you are going earmark it as a defensive rifle, there are better options than that for an AK. One example I see is a good folding stock is a better option than a 6 position stock unless you:
A. use body armor off and on (if it is always on, not so much since shorter Warsaw pact stocks work for a lot of people still)
B. you and another person tend to use the same rifle and you have a large difference in LOP needs (wife and husband, parent and child). I really think everybody can use the Warsaw Pact length stocks, but if you really need the longer length after you have tried the standard stock for a decent number of rounds, go for a NATO length fixed or folder.
But to put a collapsible stock on an AK for the to get the compactness of an M4 is ridiculous in my book. If you are trying to get a compact rifle, why not try one of the several great options out there with AK folders, starting with a rifle built with a AK-100 style folding solid stock, or my personal favorite the mostly drop in for stamped rifles East German/Polish/Romanian wire side folder. Don't try to make your AK more compact by adding an useless buffer tube to the rifle! You see some "covert carry" bag/case options out there for an AR and in order for them to get down to non-rifle length with the buffer tube, you need to pull the hinge pin out which the will require the rifle to be reassembled for use. A folded stock AK can fit in a $10 Walmart tennis racket bag and be debatably more covert with a rifle that is usable at short ranges as folded and longer ranges when the stock is unfolded in much shorter amount of time than reassembly of an AR.
I'm not an AK purist nor a Tacticoolist, I'm a realist.
Hehe and I just pissed off the two biggest parts of the AK community at once! Remember, it's still your Ak guys, do what you want with it! If you feel I'm wrong, comment away!