Thursday, October 4, 2012

RS Regulate BM-1 Light mount out now

Now at Aim Surplus, should be available at Brownells any day now too!  I got to play with this some in the beta phase and must say it rocks and is just what RS Regulate does, a solid, simple upgrade that works.  Just like the AK platform!  I'll be getting one for review and if as good as the beta version, I already anticipated it being a permanent part of my gear on standard barrel diameter AKs.  My busy part of the year is kind of winding down and I will have more time to post reviews, like on it and some other products I have waiting to be given some range attention. 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Damage Industries' V2 AK Handguard


You may remember they did a first generation of this railed handguard that was mostly available at Tactical Response.   I really liked the side rails up on the gas tube along with the pretty smooth and slim lower handguard.  This one will be even better since it has the movable side rails and should be lighter.  In general, Damage Industries doing some amazing stuff for other platforms, and already have some neat AK stuff like high quality US made springs and a flash hider I hope to review when I finally get a chance to do some night shooting with a collection of AK muzzle devices. 

Release from Damage Industries:
"Here's a sneak peek at the Damage Industries modular forearm rail assembly for the AK-47 platform.















Retail $159.95

Add-ons (not pictured) will include 7-slot accessory rail, 7-slot accessory rail with Quick-Detach socket, and cantilever optic rail that will not block use of standard fixed sights.

Variations will be available for RPK's, Yugoslavian AK-47's, and short-barreled Draco's and Krink's

Available hardcoat annodized in black, FDE, OD green and hard brown.

Shipping soon, so follow us for more details!"

They also have some more pictures up on their Facebook page.  Shows the rails down on the lower handguard as well.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

RS Regulate begining production on their barrel mount

Over at their Facebook page, RS Regulate has announced that they are starting the first production run of the BM-1 barrel mount.  Right now it will be for standard AK barrel diameters (.590"), but I believe there will be follow on mounts for other barrel diameters (like RPKs and MAK90s).  I had a chance to check one out in the beta testing, and like the rest of RS Regulate's products, it is simple, rugged, and effective.  Just like the AK itself!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Yugo PAP M92PV 7.62x39 Pistol starting to trickle in

So far I've only seen this in an email announcement at one retailer that already sold out, but it could be a very interesting Draco competitor/replacement if it makes it into the country in bigger numbers. Also it would make a very nice M92 conversion project for an SBR. Has the hinged upper dust cover like a Krinkov/Suchka/M92. I don't know if it has an underfolder trunnion like a Draco-C and if the muzzle has a shroud over the threads which could be 26mm if it is true to the M92, but if it does it would be a easy project.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

K-Var new slab side magazine with metal feed lip reinforcements

Just saw that K-Var now has a metal feed lip reinforced version of the Bulgarian slab side 7.62x39 AK magazine.

Sorry for the slow posting around here lately.  I am working on a few things like reviews of the Mission First Tactical grip and handguard, MD Arms Molot grip, and CNC Warrior Night Brake to name a few.  I'll post them up as soon as i get a chance to get out to the range again, my schedule just has allowed it.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Military Arms Channel Beryl Archer Review



I agree, a little disappointing that it doesn't come with the trademark Beryl features of the folding stock and top rail, but looks to be overall a great quality AK with 1" groups.  As Sturmgewehre points out, for a lot of people the quality won't be worth $1300 without some more Beryl features.  Also too bad they went with the slower twist barrel so it won't shoot 62 grain and up as well.  Why did they even notch the safety at point?  While I understand the tabbed safety thing, I don't really have a problem with chamber flagging the rifle if I need to instead of holding it open.  That is all a notched safety on an AK is good for unless you are getting ridiculously fancy with Yugo hold open followers and slapping up the safety before pulling the mag.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Butler Creek AK LULA Loader/Unloader

I had always looked at these a somewhat unnecessary luxury since AK magazines are generally not hard to load.  I had heard they were great in general so I recently splurged and got one.  If you have AK magazines, treat yourself to one!!! (and probably another kind of magazines you own as well since they make multiple models). So far they have worked with every kind and caliber of AK magazines that I have thrown at it, from US Palm AK30s to Circle 10 5.56x45.  They make loading quick and painless, and they make unloading amazingly fast and much easier!  As I said, loading AK magazines isn't that hard, but this makes it child's play. I could definitely pop one of these on a mag at the range and give it to a new shooter and they would be able to to load without any problems, which is why I'll be getting another so I can have a buddy load quickly too.  Overall it is a pretty ingenious design, the lever even collapses into the body for easier storage.  I also plan on getting their large and small pistol magazine LULAs now.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Polish Beryl Archer now available at Atlantic Firearms

The new high end 5.56x45 Polish Beryl Archer imported by IO Inc. is now at Atlantic Firearms. It claims 1" groups at 100 yards.  There is an interesting tabbed and bolt hold notch on the safety, not to mention an unique handstop on the lower handguard.  It is listing at $1299.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fleeting Survival's Strike Industries AK Rail review

Nice review here.  They too found it a solid, lightweight solution.  One issue they did come across that didn't surprise me but I didn't have was that the gas tube lever couldn't be thrown.  I think on the Draco carbine that I reviewed it on had a looser lever and I was able to get it thrown.  I really hope SI comes out with a optic specific one.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Arsenal's SLR-106UR 5.56 Pistol at retailers

Noticed an emails that the SLR-106UR 5.56 Pistol is starting to make it to retailers.  If that's your cup of tea or are looking for a good SBR project base, it could be a good option.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Strike Industries PARA and Dura Grip

Strike Industries has came out with another interesting product for vertical foregrips (VFG).  This time it isn't just AK oriented but has a major selling point to tactical AK owners.  Using an traditional VFG on an AK is problematic since it can block the rock in magazine loading process.  Strike Industries' new PARA (Pyramid Angled Rail Adapter) will angle back any standard VFG to 17 degrees, which is about the same grip angle as a Glock.  This improves the ergonomics of a standard VFG.  All of our grips on pistols and rifles are angled, but yet few foregrips are as well.  The other times I've played around with VFGs, I've never liked their perpendicular angle.  While VFG use isn't quite in vogue as it used to be, I do personally like angled VFGs if you are going to use them as an actual grip and not just as a large handstop.

While this feature is great for AK owners that want to put a short VFG out far on the a railed handguard, the PARA can also allow a new tactical twist on a AK classic, the Romanian pistol grip handguard (often referred to as a certain part of a donkey's anatomy): 


















(Thanks mikeplan14 of INGO for the photo!)


With the PARA you can angle a VFG forward like the Romanian grip and still have room to rock in a magazine:




I coupled the PARA with a Strike Industries Dura Grip.  They make quite a combo, both are solid, high quality aluminum just like their AK mount. Also like the mount, the PARA and Dura Grip have robust black anodizing. As you can see, I was able to mount the PARA pretty far back with the full length Dura Grip and still have enough room to rock in this 5.56x45mm magazine.  More curved 7.62x39 magazines may require a little further forward placement, but it will still be further back than a regular VFG of this length.  If you like the Romanian pistol grip handguard but want something a little more modern, this is definitely the way to go. It will allow the most rearward positioning of a AK VFG and I think still feels more comfortable than a perpendicular VFG.  For comparison, knives will often sweep somewhat forward in their handles, which is an ergonomics feature that obviously works in a lot of cases but is rarely used in firearms.  In the end, the swept forward PARA still feels like the traditional Romianan handguard, but gives you the modern capability and looks.

This combo is pretty versatile.  If you are one that likes to mount VFGs as far forward as possible, you can take advantage of the PARA's improved ergonomics if you use a "stubby" VFG.  This is probably my personal favorite PARA configuration just because I like the more similar feeling between the foregrip and the pistol grip.  The nice thing about the Duragrip is that it has a screw off extension that allows it to be a stubby VFG as well.  This does take the water resistant compartment capacity down to 2 CR123 batteries instead of 3 though.


The Dura Grip is built like a tank and is great quality.  However, due to it's clamping groove cut in the top of the grip, it isn't waterproof, although the bottom cap is O-ring sealed.  If you require that or a light tape switch cutout and want to stay with SI, there is also Strike Industries' Dura Grip Pro version

One other interesting thing I was able to do with the PARA is add a handstop to it.  This made it very similar in profile and feel to Magpul's Angled Foregrips.




Overall, the PARA is a neat little piece that gives you a lot more flexibility in mounting foregrips to your AK.  While I know not everyone likes VFGs on AKs, if you are in this crowd, I definitely recommend the PARA.  One other use Strike Industries suggests but I didn't get to try is using it to angle down a light for trail navigation or search and rescue work.  The PARA weights just 1.3 ounces and has a screw-on clamp that doesn't require sliding it all the way down the rail to position it.  It lists for $30.

The Dura Grip is a excellent quality VFG that weights in at 3 ounces in stubby configuration and 4 full size.  Note that the Dura Grip does require you to slide it in place and then screw in the cross-bolt.  So if you do have anything else on the rail you would have to remove it before installation (or get even better, mount it to a PARA first).  Its list price is $40.95.


Disclaimer:  Strike Industries provided the PARA free of charge and the Dura Grip at cost.  The more is see from them, the more I am excited to see what they are bringing out. I do feel they offer great quality gear at good prices and wouldn't partner with them if I didn't. Hopefully they will extend their AK line soon!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Panteao Productions' Jim Fuller AK Armorer's Bench Review


Out of the gates, I have to say a great video!  It is just over 3 hours in length without the included extras.  The extras do have some great info as well, but these are the Pro Tips that will probably be available on Panteao's You Tube page eventually.

Like the Travis Haley Adaptive Kalash video, it has Panteao's excellent production quality, which is great for the detail close up shots.  However, I did find myself wishing that there was a full HD digital download or Blu-ray available.  I ordered the DVD instead of viewing it through Panteo's streaming HD monthly subscription.  While Panteao's subscription service is a great deal, I did have to cut back on it a couple of months ago.  Plus, I really like to have a DVD or digital copy for those times I don't have an internet connection.  While this DVD is well done and more than sufficient quality, this is one time on an instructional DVD I thought HD would be a plus due to the small parts and detail close ups being just that little bit more crisper.  Honestly, on most DVDs as long as good information gets across, I'm happy with relatively low production quality.  However, Panteao is definitely starting to change my standards.

The DVD starts with the typical safety rules, introduction of Jim Fuller, and history of the AK.  Then it moves into basic field stripping and more detailed bolt disassembly.  Fuller next explains the fire control group in detail with a very neat color coded cutaway of the mechanism.  For those of you that are new to the AK platform, it will help your understanding of the fire control group immensely!  After showing the trigger group workings, the different U.S. group options are discussed along with modifications to improve the trigger pull (but not the overall weight, which for most groups is light enough for the purpose).  Before moving to the outside of the rifle, cleaning is discussed.

The DVD then moves to the exterior for awhile.  Changing of furniture is covered, along with some of the options out there.  Sight adjustment and replacement sights are detailed as well. The Magna-matic sight tool is featured too as a great adjustment method and particularly so for stuck sights.  While the Magna-tool is an excellent option, it doesn't fit some of gas/front sight combo blocks like the Draco and AK-104 style.  Minor gripe for only a few AK users, but if you have one of these with a stuck Draco sight drum like I did, a wrench socket can support a Kroil soaked front sight block while using punch will do the trick.  While not covered in the DVD, I believe though I did learn the socket method from a Fuller post on a message board.

Next, muzzle devices are then talked about where Fuller recommends different types flash hiders and brakes, especially the AK Battlecomp, of which Fuller's Rifle Dynamics is the exclusive distributor.  The typical 14x1 LH and 24x1 RH threadings on AKs shown.  Booster usage for short barrel rifles is explained too.  He also shows how to check that the threads are concentric to avoid bullet strikes.

After muzzle devices, Fuller of the details the cycle of operation first from the gas system side.  Fuller shows why piston wobble is actually recommended.  Then feeding, the bolt carrier cycle, and ejection is modeled with dummy rounds and the previous chapter on the fire control group is referenced.  Fuller also credits the AK's tapered rounds for part of its feeding and ejecting reliability.  While not that big of deal, I do wish there was a little more detail here.  Discussing how the bolt is camming and locking up would have been nice.  That can somewhat be shown through the magazine well, there probably isn't a really good way to show bolt without some kind cutaway.  Another minor thing that could have been nice is pointing out the ejector and how to check it.

At this point the DVD is about 2 hours in and now definitely takes a shift to more advanced techniques.  Some of the fixes after this require a hydraulic press with tooling and jigs being highly recommended.  Often the ones that require the press are really just guidelines of how it is done since there is no press in the video's work area.  If you have enough hydraulic press experience you could probably pull off what Fuller discusses but for a beginner who bought a press to do some serious AK work, it wouldn't cut it.  However, Fuller does mention that there are plans do do more advanced videos of these things in the future.

Trigger guard and magazine latch replacement is the first one of these that would need a press and jig.  However, even for someone like me who probably won't do something like this it was still cool to see and helped my overall understanding of AK construction.  Also the AK-Builder jigs featured are mechanically  interesting to me as well.  Almost makes me wish the days of parts kits weren't pretty much over so I would finally build an AK from a flat.  

The next topic of barrel removal is another one that requires a press.  It was definitely interesting to get an idea of what it would take to change out an AK barrel, but again unless you have a press and some general experience, it was more academic.

Fuller then moves forward and shows how to check the front sight, gas block and rear sight for alignment and then fixing cant.  However, Fuller makes a point that needs to be reiterated: not all canted sights are a bad thing, sometimes it is for a slightly bent barrel.  Canted sights don't scare me that much, and this video shows how to fix them if they need to be.  In my opinion, I would only absolutely fix front sights if I ran out of windage adjustment before point of aim/point of impact matched up.  I would consider fixing cant if I used so much windage to zero that the sight was close to one of the sight ears. But if the front sight is canted and the post is somewhat close to center I leave the sight alone!

Mag well and latch adjustment is addressed next.  Overall, great advice to help you with a misfeeding AK.  Another nice part of the video is safety fitting.  Fuller goes through multiple methods to loosen up the safety and make it easier to move.

The DVD closes out with sight mounting options, 922r compliance which then leads into Fuller's take on the modern AK.  The Ultimak, US Palm (Midwest Industries), and Texas Weapons Systems mounts are recommended, with Ultimak installation and tips being demonstrated.

As seems to be their standards, Pantaeo and Jim Fuller have an made excellent effort.  While not perfect, I cannot think of a better single source for basic AK technical information.  It will be interesting to see what else will come out of this relationship in the future.  This was so exhaustive of the basics, the only way I see for them to go from here is really AK building (of which the heydays have unfortunately passed) and true AK gunsmithing. It covers nearly everything needed at an Armorer "kitchen table" level.  Every serious AK owner needs a copy! 

Monday, May 21, 2012

CTD Blog's AK stuck case in class

Mike at Cheaper Than Dirt's blog has a good article about the experience he had at a class went to a couple of weeks ago.  He is normally an AR shooter classes but decided to run his homebuilt AK for a class.  He has some great observations of checking gear, going to classes to test gear, and the platform in general.  With ARs failing around him mostly due to the muddy conditions, he finally had stuck case in his Romanian kit AK. There were a couple of ARs that made it through the case malfunction free.

My Monday morning quarterbacking points.  One is that you need the jag or the brush buttstock tool kit to make the cleaning rod long enough!  I always either have it in the stock or in a pocket when I have a folding stock.  Second, have a broken case remover as well in case you tear of the case head which can happen too. If you do things right you can often squeeze those removers in the buttstock kit. Third, do you know all the amazing things that little kit can do to an AK?  Jim Fuller's Armorer's videos describe a lot of things they can do as does the Romanian AK reference site (review coming soon on Panteao's Fuller Armorer DVD)  Fourth, I wonder if he would have been using gear more designed for AKs like a US Palm chest rig or even their MOLLE shingles if this could have been avoided.  He had to switch mags with the rounds up to avoid the mag latches from dragging, which then exposed the magazines to the mud.  I don't know if the mud on the top rounds then junked up the chamber enough to cause it or it was enough build up of lacquer and polymer in the chamber to make it stick.  (UPDATE:  Mike replied to my comment saying that he thinks that they used the same magazines over and over without retaining them, just dropping them to the mud is what got everything so dirty, says the cleaning afterwards was "epic")  Lastly, make sure you do give the chamber a good brushing from time to time to help prevent these malfunctions!

Hat tip to Say Uncle for linking it!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Tapco Smooth Side 7.62x39 magazines at retailers now

I'm starting to see Tapco's new magazine, a smooth side version for those that don't like their aggressive texture but still like their magazines overall.  Definitely has a more traditional look.











So if you like Tapco but not the look of their mags, this might be a good option for you.  If you don't watch out for these magazines since you might have to do a double take to separate them from surplus magazines.  They look more traditional for sure, I just wonder why they went with the more 5.45x39 style front ribs (granted 7.62x39 Polish Radom and rare AK-103 mags have them too).  The floorplate area is still a little bulky as well.  Available colors are orange "bakelite," flat dark earth, and black (it looks like Tapco may have dropped olive drab from there AK products).  MSRP is $15

One thing about there description gets me, "Designed in the spirit of the original Bulgarian steel magazine for use with the AK-47."  LOL, again looks more like a Polish Radom mag.  If anything the AK-103 style is more like the original Russian steel magazine with its lengthwise ribs.  Honestly though, I have given Tapco mags a little more of a chance now. I bought a few for range use in 5.45x39 due to the current shortage and to have for a reference.  I also have a single 7.62x39 one that I got in a package deal.  I do think for a lot of people, they can make sense for cheap range use as surplus mags start to dry up on the retail market, but they still aren't up to the standard of ((10))  <(how the cool AK kids are typing Circle 10 these days) waffles or East German bakelite, my current 5.45x39 magazines.  Also cruising the for sale section of various gun message boards can net you a lot of good surplus mag deals.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Mystery railed upper handguard


I came across this railed aluminum upper handguard from a personal sale on my state gun boards.  The previous owner said he picked it up at a gun show, which honestly I don't get to that often. It looks vaguely familiar but I can't place it and my Google-Fu is weak on this one.  Maybe I last saw it at a gun show, but even then there is normally some one selling it on the internet.  Anybody know who makes/sells it?

Besides for sheer curiosity, the thing that drew me to it is that it allows you to place a light offset just forward of the lower handguard, the ideal place for a light in my book. Normally this would take something like a Midwest Industries Extended rail system with offset mount, the Thorntail mount, or jury rig a bolt-on mount onto the gas block like USAFMiller did in this video (note: I do not like the mount he used since it goes past the gas block, it but there are a few others that might work if they aren't too cheap). I haven't seen something like this since the Critical Dimensions/Damage Industries railed gas tube and lower handguard.

Overall, it reminds me vaguely of Knight's Armament with the hole shape and the cutouts at the ends of the rails for their style of covers.  It weighs in at 6 ounces and seems to be of good quality, although I don't have tons of railed handguard experience.  It twists on just like a normal upper handguard and has a retainer spring.  Without it bolting onto a lower handguard or around the barrel, I wouldn't mount an optic on it and that much rail space is a lot of overkill for just one light.  I don't know if in the time being I'll keep it or go back to playing with crappy bolt-on mounts on the gas block. But hopefully RS Regulate will eventually save me from my on ridiculousness with their light mount.

End of rail cutouts for Knight's rail covers



Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Fleeting Survival's review of the Bonesteel/CNC Warrior Folding Stock Hinge

In part 5 of his AK saga, Fleeting Survival has up a review of the Bonesteel/CNC Warrior M4 stock side folding mechanism.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

CNC Warrior and Bonesteel Arms folding M4 stock hinge

Bonesteel Arms and CNC Warrior are starting to sell their side folding mechanism that looks very similar to the TSD Combat Systems'.  It is available with or without the mil-spec buffer tube.  You have to provide the stock.  Of course putting an M4 style stock on an AK is one of the worst things you can do for an AK purist, but if you like the adjustable length of pull and other things it provides this looks to be a really good option.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Atlantic Firearms has a couple of cool new products

These have been available for a little while, finally got a chance to post about them.

First up is the HellPup Pistol, this is an extension of IO Inc's HellHound series, which is very similar to M+M's M10 series.  Their Pistol is basically a Draco pistol with a railed plastic handguard and Phantom style flashhider.  One other unique feature is a rail on the back of the receiver.  This would  make a picatinny sling attach point very easy to add now.  In the past you had to drill and tap a sling stud in or a sling plate.  I generally don't like sling attachment plates on my rifle AKs but my Draco pistol does have a Parallax Tactical VM-1, which I do think is very solid.

In general, there is a big debate about pistol AKs and if they are useful or not.  I keep mine around somewhat as a toy but also a practical reason is here in Indiana it is the only way I could dear hunt with an AK (haven't yet, but want to).  However, Draco pistols have been very spotty on their importation lately so while the HellPup lists more than a standard Draco does at $650, it still might be a good option if you are looking to get an AK pistol or base for a SBR project.

Another cool product that isn't exactly an AK, but too cool to not drool over in my book is a DSA tacticool Semi-Auto RPD.  At $2500 it is far out of my price range, but still very unique.  Atlantic Firearms always some of the widest ranges of products.

TSD Spartan Kalashnikov

TSD has announced their Spartan Kalashnikov.  It is somewhat a first in the AK world in that it has a low, level, nearly complete top rail due to the TWS Top Cover and TWS Handguards.  While that is exactly what the handguards were designed to do, it is interesting to see an AK finally with both components. Someone has probably combined these two already on an individual basis but it is the first rifle being sold this way.  It could allow some interesting combinations not easily done before, like red dot magnifiers and night vision monoculars. Base rifle is a Saiga and the folding stock is a Polish Beryl. An AAC flash hider is used, which is permanently attached for some reason, maybe lack of plunger pin.  List price is $1500.

US Palm new products in May

US Palm's Facebook page is reporting that their new products will be release in May.  While their quad stacks were in a prototype stage at SHOT, their plan was to release them around next month so they may be hitting shelves then.  The Breakdown AK maybe ready then too, but they were having problems with the folding stock.  They were featuring a couple of new nylon gear at Facebook.  One is a EDC backpack that will be available in different sizes, the most exciting to me is a pack that interfaces with the Attack Rack.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Strike Industries AK Rail Range Report

I finally was able to get out to the range with the Strike Industries AK Rail.  It performed great!  While sighting it in, I wasn't really understanding the distances from the bullseye that my spotter was calling.  I was just happily firing away and he finally says "I don't know what more you want to accomplish, that looks great" followed by "for an AK" (he's a bullpup guy). Throwing out called flyers, I had about a 10 round 3 inch group at 40 yards off not the world's best rest.  I'm sure I could tighten things up some with a better rest and smaller strings, but it was evident that the mount was not limiting the accuracy at all.  In snap shooting, the Primary Arms Micro Dot was quick and not too high.  The mount itself is rock solid.  The only way I could see this mount having issues is if the set screws started to work out but that didn't and shouldn't happen with the Locite.

I think the steadiness of this mount compared to the Midwest Industries and even LaRue rear sight mounts is that it has two points of contact on the rear sight block that are on either side of the connection point.  This makes more of a bridge effect that reduces the chances of the mount shifting vertically.  Both of those other mounts do not have a true point of contact forward of the rear sight pin holes.  Like a loose plank flipping up as you walk on one end of it, only having that single point of contact gives a fulcrum point of the rear sight pinholes and the other mounts tend to bounce up under recoil.  I now have a Midwest Industries rear sight mount that I hope to directly compare to if Strike Industries do produce one for the Micro Dots as they have eluded.  While normally Midwest makes some great stuff, their rear sight mount has undergone one redesign and some people still have issues.  If Strike Industries keeps the same basic design of having 2 contact points forwards and aft of the sight pin holes, I believe future optic specific mounts will be winners.

One of the other interesting things this mount features is the backup rear sight channel.  It was effective enough for backup use, although it definitely had a limited FOV with the optic on. Still, it would work in a pinch of the red dot going down.  I did find that removing the optic changed the point of impact vertically even though the mount did not shift at all.  This was due to without the Micro Dot on the rail you can see more of the front sight in the rear channel and you basically end up using two different points of aim.

At $45, it is a great low profile way to mount that won't break the bank.  The Strike Industries AK Rail is a perfect fit for my Draco carbine that doesn't have a side rail or a factory Ultimak option, both of which would be more expensive options if available.  It's closest competitor price-wise would be a side mount like the BP-02, which requires a side rail, doesn't have the option of still being able to use irons with it, and actually sits at about the same height.  If you require the QD feature like a side rail, you can always get a QD base on your optic.  The height of the Strike Industries rail is still lower than most side mounts/optics like the MTK-03, Kobra, and the PSO/POSP.  To go lower you would need to go for something like an Ultimak gas tube, Midwest Industries railed handguard, or RS Regulate side mount.  While all of these are great options, they will set you back more than the Strike Industries'.  That's also not mentioning the two other similar competitors of the Scoutscope and Samson mounts that seem overpriced now compared to this new mount.    Overall, this is a excellent entry into the AK market for Strike Industries and I look forward to their new product line!

See part one of this review- First Impressions

Disclaimer:  This mount was provided free of charge from Strike Industries for this review.  I hope to keep working with them to give more information about their new products.




RS Regulate new colors for mounts

RS Regulates' Facebook Page has pictures of their new color options for their mounts.  They also have a poll up for limited edition colors, which right now Arsenal Tan is winning. Since OD will be a standard color option, Plum is my vote.  But I could see that being hard to pull of, it is such a chameleon color depending on the light.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Panteao's AK Armorer's Bench with Jim Fuller pre-order

Last weekend I posted on Suarez closing out their Fuller AK Armorer DVD.  Panteao's now has a pre-order page up for Jim Fuller's AK Armorer's Bench DVD/streaming download.  Of course, like Haley's Adaptive Kalash, it is clear from the trailer that it will have Panteao's excellent production values.  Their subscription service is also a good deal if you want to watch a bunch of their videos, just note it takes an email to cancel it.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

MD Arms Double Stack Saiga Shotgun mags at The Firearm Blog

The Firearm Blog has a post about the MD Arms double stack Saiga shotgun magazines.  As pointed out over there double stacking rimmed shotgun rounds is no easy feat.  No word that I've seen on their quad stack rifle magazines.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Colorado Guns Facebook Pictures of New Tan M10s

I like OD more personally, but still a good look.

In other news, I started a rudimentary Facebook page for this place.  I'm not the worlds biggest Facebook poster so don't expect tons of content but you'll be able to see the places I like and hopefully I can interact as more with AK companies and other blogs (like Matt doing some nice updates this place and me not even realizing it).  Also I noticed this week and a definite uptick in traffic from Facebook where somebody must have linked me.  Anybody want to share that with me here or there?

OST Closing Out Kalashnikov Armorer with Jim Fuller

Suarez's One Source tactical is closing out Kalashnikov Armorer with Jim Fuller.  Get 'em while you still can!  While it is a smoking hot deal on a great DVD from a great AK gunsmith, it does mark the end of Suarez's relationship with Fuller's Rifle Dynamics.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Strike Industries AK Rail First Impressions

A couple weeks ago I did a post in reply to The Firearms Blog's announcement of the Strike Industries AK Rail.  After getting in contact with them, Strike Industries was gracious enough to send one to review.

Despite seeing it and other similar mounts pictured before, when it arrived I was a little surprised by how lightweight and compact it was.  My first thought that it was something that would in fit well on a minimalistic AK. The package includes the rail, 3 set screws, one cross screw with nut, and installation guide.  The rail seems to be of high quality aluminum and good black anodizing.  The guide is in a small booklet and well done for the part of the getting the rail on.  However, it is a little lacking on how to get the AK rear off and if you should remove the rear sight leaf spring. Other similar mounts differ on if to keep this spring in or not, and according to Strike Industries, this mount works best if you remove the leaf spring. 

To remove an AK rear you should use some object like a screwdriver to push down on the leaf spring in the gap between the sight and the muzzle end of the rear sight block.  Setting the elevation of the sight all the way forward can help with the removal.  As enough pressure is applied you can pull the sight out with your other hand or even pop it out with the right pressure/tool.  Then pull the leaf out towards the muzzle.  On this particular rifle my spring was a little tough to pull out, I needed to get it high enough to clear the bevels inside the rear sight block.

Once you get it out the install becomes very straight forward and as described by the booklet.  The cross screw goes horizontally through the mount and the holes in the rear sight block.  Use a 2mm hex wrench for this screw and 1.5mm for the set screws. One nice touch is that the cross screw's hole is threaded which will allow the sight to be adjusted for windage.  However, adjust this screw first, once the set screws are tightened the mount is solidly in place.  Sometimes mounts like these can have problems with tilting forward or back, but since the set screws are on both sides of the fulcrum (the cross screw), this seems to make it much more stable.
  
By adjusting the set screws you also have some ability to change elevation, but they should be adjusted on both sides so that the mount does not freely move up or down.  As always, don't overtighten and use threadlocker, there are many mounts that have been trashed by overtighting! 



 I plan on using a Primary Arms detachable base Micro Red Dot Aimpoint clone with this mount.  While it definitely is not as good as the Aimpoint, it does have a solid reputation that should allow me to give this mount an honest test out at the range. Also, Strike Industries has eluded to adding other similar optic specific mounts to their product line.  I'm hoping they will come out with an Aimpoint Micro speicifc one that should let me use this optic as well.

Some of the comments on this rail have been that results in a high mount.  Honestly, many AK mounts have this problem, especially most of the imported side rail mounts.  Through my dry practice and measurements, the rail actually has a quite usable cheek weld and still sits lower than many side rail/mount combos. Yes, it is still higher than an Ultimak railed gas tube or a TWS Dogleg, but the Strike Industries rail is less than half their prices and debatably requires less changes to the rifle than the other two.

For my measurements, I used the line between the receiver and the front trunnion.  I found that this gives a nice solid line that allows for easy and consistent measurements.  The standard AK rear sight at Battlefield Zero sits at about 1.7", while the Strike Industries mount only sits just .2" higher at 1.9".  Mounting the Primary Arms Micro put the bottom of the rear lens at about 2.2" high.  When compared to my Romanian M10-545 side rail with one of the lowest Eastern European mounts out there, the BP-02 side mount, the Strike Industries rail is actually a slightly lower height.  It has another advantage over the BP-02 as well in that the iron sights can still be used.

Strike Industries put a channel through the rail and added two dots that can be painted in to give a basic rear sight picture.  Although the channel is wider than standard rear sights and has a limited field of view with the optic mounted, it seems to be usable and I feel it will serve well in the backup sights role.  I'll definitely be doing some tests of the rear sight both with and without the optic at the range.


























For the price, the Strike Industries AK Rail looks to be a simple yet effective method to mount a small red dot.  It is also an interesting entry into the AK market for the company.  I look forward to getting some range time in with the rail and Strike Industries new AK line of products as well!  Part 2 to follow as soon as I can get out to the range. (Here it is!)

Disclaimer:  This mount was provided free of charge from Strike Industries for this review.  I hope to keep working with them to give more information about their new products.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fleeting Survival's M10 Conclusion and Start of the Arsenal

The rest of the story on the lemon M10-545 and start of the Arsenal Saiga saga.  Again, Atlantic comes through on the customer service side!

I see it both ways in this case.  My M10 has been fine and would recommend it to those that want a more budget minded gun that could save you money in the long run due to the upgrades like the Hogue grip and RPK rear sights.  However, well done Saigas are almost always going to be great!  If it wasn't for the interest shown in the M10 by the visits to this site series, as a more "seasoned" (or maybe snob) AK owner I may not have tried it out and stayed a little more higher end.  Now I'm glad I did give the M10-545 a chance.  It is a decent rifle out of the box for me and will be much better with a few little DIY tweaks.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Russia Joining the WTO Could Loosen Imports

The Firearm Blog has an excellent write up from a reader that explains how Russia joining the World Trade Organization will void other trade agreements with the U.S. which currently puts heavy stipulations on imports, which is why partly Saigas have to be imported like they are.  If this changes, which would still take over 3 years, we could see a big change in the surplus market again.  I'm not sure though how much the ammunition market would shake up though.  If Russia has a lot of steel core M43 7.62x39, that won't be able to be imported due to it being classified by the BATFE as "armor piercing pistol ammunition" from the first 7.62x39 pistols in the 90's.  Also Russian 5.45x39 is already imported, I don't know if like the writer mentions there that the Russian ammunition comes from Ukraine first now or not.  Also 5.45x39 versions after 7N6 I believe are already banned due to them being classified as armor piercing (but still not pistol, which is why 7N6 can be imported and no one should make 5.45x39 pistols).   However surplus ammunition like 7.62x54R, non steel core 7.62x39 (direct surplus 8M3 anybody?), and 9x18 could be imported and maybe another source of 5.45x39 could be added.  Saiga's may still be imported the way they are mostly due to 922R, but Russian parts kits may become more available as well.  The biggest change would come in the parts and accessories market.  These could flow a lot more freely.

The other thing to keep in mind though is that regulations could still be added back in or bureaucratic rulings come down that it isn't acceptable to be imported. A similar example to that is the M1 Carbines that the current U.S. State Department won't allow to be given back to the U.S. by South Korea.  I generally don't get too political here, but want to say this is one example of how an anti-Second Amendment administration can still limit rights from the Executive branch even without control of Congress.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Tale of the Lemon M10-545

Over at Fleeting Survival, a new blog I'm checking out partly due to his experience with the M10-545, he has an post up about his M10-545 which was apparently a lemon.  Sounds like he had a bad magazine latch that caused misfeeds.  However, the rest of the experience is exactly why I am proud to say I'm an Atlantic Firearms customer.  He emailed Atlantic on a Friday evening, got an email response that night and a phone call the next day to start working through the issues.  They will take care of you!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

M10-22 and AKT98 Side by Side Comparison

Again, sorry for my crappy photography. Top: M10-22 Bottom: AKT98

Top: M10-22 Bottom: AKT98, looks like the previous owner of my AKT98 profiled the hammer some.


 For the rest of the pictures the M10-22 parts are left, AKT98 are right.






Wednesday, March 7, 2012

M10-22 is WASR22 Platform

As I mentioned in Part 2 of the M10-545 review, I have a M10-22.  As far as I can tell comparing it to my AKT98, this is a WASR22/AKT98 platform rifle.  Just wanted to post it here because I let the cat out of the bag over at TheAKForums' excellent WASR22 board.

Rear Sight Rails

Steve at The Firearm Blog has a post up about Strike Industries's rear sight rail.  These are similar to the Iron Dot style mounts that Midwest Industries and Attero Arms currently produce, but they differ in that they have a more universal Weaver/Picatinny rail and do not co-witness.  If you are interested, Strike Industries looks to be the most affordable.  However, Samson makes one with an under rail tunnel for the rear sight that usable with the optic on but it is pricey.  The Scout Scopes mount is lower and also offers a rear sight for use when the optic is removed.  Polytech also makes/made one that is available at a few places but I'm not sure of it's current production status due to the Chinese import ban here.  It looks not to have a rear sight option.

M10-545 Review Part 2: Range Report

Link to Part 1: First Impressions

I was able to shoot just under 300 rounds down the M10-545 this weekend.  I planned to do some more but conditions were less than ideal: 25mph gusty winds at almost a direct crosswind, 30 degrees Fahrenheit, and occasional light snow with already muddy ground.

Cycling as expected was fine, despite the front sight cant.  The windage on the RPK rear came in handy as a quick fix instead of the somewhat of a guessing game that you have to do adjust the front sight for windage.  I did need to lower the front sight a lot.  Sighting in at 25m, I was able to get some of my best AK iron sight groups, I had several under 1" with 3-4 rounds touching.   I wasn't able to get much paper target shooting done at 100m like I wanted to, but I did get to send about half a magazine at my 8" round steel target and was able to hit with no problems at all.  The gas piston, despite looking like it has a proper gap to develop wobble, hasn't yet. The piston seems to be cycling against the gas block only slightly, resulting in very small wear line on part of the piston.  But this is not anything I would call excessive, especially since I can't see any marks in the gas block and the bolt carrier isn't binding.  While I'm not really worried about this wear, fixing the front sight cant or developing piston wobble would remove this altogether.

All of my "Bulgarian" sanitized (probably Russian) mags worked fine.  My Circle 10 surplus magazine worked fine, but my Circle 21 will not fit.  This looks to be due to it hitting the cross support behind the magazine well as shown in this thread at AR15.com.  While it isn't related to the fit issue, the Circle 21 is my least reliable magazine in my AK74, it caused at least 4 misfeeds this trip so I'm not too heart broken it won't work.  I'd just have to be careful with my future magazine selection for the M10-545. Also my Tapco magazine would not fit until I did some file work partly on the back but mostly on the side tabs on the back of the magazine close to the rear lug.  The ProMag fit and fed fine but I'm still hesitant use it for anything other than range work.

While I would still like to see it at night, the flash hider was noticeably more effective eliminating flash than the 74 brake on the Bulgarian rifle.  As to be expected though, all three shooters observed less muzzle flip with the brake.  Colorado Guns assures me that the Flash hider is NOT soldered on like some of us think.  They just torque it down really tight since there is no plunger pin.  I have been able to remove it from my M10-22 but not the M10-545 yet.  They recommend a screwdriver through two of the ports as the best way to put it

I had a light on the railed handguard and it did fine with that.  Partly due to the lack of 2 screws in the handguard I didn't want to test a red dot on it.  However, it does look like these screws are pretty standard because I found a couple from an old scope ring that fit the day after I went to the range.




The balance difference was noticeable as well as all three shooters said the M10 felt a little "handier" than the AK74.  Everyone also liked the Hogue grip.  The rail covers held on fine but there wasn't a bunch of intense drills either. The AR shooter felt more at home with the covers on as well since the handguard feels very close to an AR with them.  Heat was not an issue with the handguards, but then again it was cold out and we had gloves on.

While I was hoping to get a longer range session in, at least I am now much more confident in recommending this rifle as a good entry level AK.  I do believe it is a step up from a WASR with the included accessories like the RPK sight and Hogue grip and more attention to details like the magazine well.  I would bet the M10-762 is a good rifle as well.  Part 3 will follow eventually when I get this rifle trimmed out the way I want it.

Again, thanks to Atlantic Firearms for selling me this rifle at a discount!  Check them out, they are excellent!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

AK74 Magazines and the Future AK Market

While I have noticed it lately, actually trying to locate more 5.45x39 AK74 magazines for the M10-545 has brought it into focus.  Surplus 5.45x39 magazines are at least in an import lull right now.  There may be another wave of them coming in soon, but I think there could be a limit that we are hitting now.  In general, much of the AK surplus is starting to dry up.  There will always be a lot of stuff out there due to the shear numbers of AKs but the good stuff is starting to dry up and the market will eventually have to change to more U.S. made items.

You can already see this in the numbers of AKs Arsenal has imported to K-Var recently, with popular models not being as available.  Granted they have always ebbed and flowed but the ebbs are getting longer.  Another example is Triangle or Polymer side folders.  These have sharply risen in prices as availability has gone down.  Parts kits that were once plentiful are now drying up and the ATF change on kit's barrel policy have overall made them less attractive as well.  Even ComBloc metal 7.62x39 magazines are getting spotty at retailers. The U.S. made aftermarket will be there to pick up the slack, but the price point for the same amount of quality will go up.

Going back to the specific issue of AK74 magazines, hopefully US Palm or even Suarez's TSD will get on board.  For a long time, high-end U.S. made AK74 magazines have been seen as economically soft products due to the problem of a more niche market and the availability of cheap, high quality surplus magazines.  But it seems that may have finally shifted now since the surplus magazines are not in stock at most retailers.  US Palm has a great AK30 magazine that hopefully could be easily redesigned for 5.45x39.  TSD is a potential too since it has an AR15 magazine that might be adapted.  K-Var does import new production Bulgarian magazines but again this seems to be never imported in large enough numbers. Maybe even MD Arms will finally bring their Quad Stack to market and be in 5.45x39 as well.  Tapco's magazine may be a good option if you are okay with going down a notch from surplus quality.  I know their magazine design and Tapco in general has a lot of fans and detractors, but no matter what your opinion of the company, you can't deny that Tapco magazines are at least slightly lower quality due to their lack of metal reinforced lugs/feedlips/floorplate rails.  Hold on, it is going to get interesting!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

M10-545 Review Part 1: First Impressions

I plan on this being a 3 part review series.  I wanted to get some information up ASAP for those considering these rifles.  This will cover my first impressions.  Unfortunately, it doesn't look like I can get out to shoot until this weekend, so the range report is going to have to wait.  After that, I want to do another shorter post on how I'm going to personalize the rifle.  Also please bear with my sub-par photos, I'm still trying to get back the quality I used to be able to achieve in my magazine writing, but it is going to take more practice, time, and equipment.

Ordering:  I ordered my M10-545 from Atlantic Firearms.  They were professional and helpful through the whole process!  They definitely are a premier AK retailer.  Their knowledge of AKs was quite evident through my conversations with them.  Their product selection and shipping was great as well.


Packaging:  I have a minor gripe here.  The flash hider cut into the shipping foam in the factory box and foam went all over the rifle and in the flash hider.  Again minor, but it needed some cleaning to get off the small foam pieces, some of which partially obstructed the bore.  Atlantic added another box over the M+M/Colorado Guns factory one for shipping.  Besides the rifle and the magazine, the only accessories included where the manual and rail covers.


Receiver: The receiver is typical Romanian.  It has a decent Parkerized finish.  Even though the Parkerizing has flaws in places, it is better than my first WASR10/63.  Saigas' finishes typically look better but isn't as durable as the Parkerizing.



The magazine well has a very straight and clean cut.  This is important because these rifles, both the M10-545 and M10-762, are imported into the United States as single stack rifles to avoid 922r and then M+M widens the magazine wells for the double stack and adds the US parts. On the M10 these cuts are done with CNC machining and looks to have much better results than the Centruy rifles.  While there isn't as wide of range of 5.45 magazines, all of mine fit without issue in the M10-545.  There are a much wider range of 7.62x39 magazines, so I can't 100% speculate that all magazines will fit in the M10-762, however if the CNC cuts are the right size they should have a much better chance.  My WASR10/63 had to be dremeled out to fit my Circle 10 magazines due to the bad cuts.
EDIT:  I received my Tapco magazine yesterday and was surprised to see that it would not latch fully.  Went back through my magazine which are mainly "Bulgarian" ones that most people believe are actually sanitized Russian.  They had a layer of black paint but after that was removed most are plum with definite grind marks where the identification markings would be. These fit fine, as does my true Bulgarian Circle 10 surplus (not waffle) did, albeit tight at first.  My single Circle 21 surplus, however, is worse than the Tapco and doesn't come as close to latching.  This thread over at AR15.com has a post of someone else with magazine issues and mini review as well.  More on this after I get to shoot it tomorrow.

The receiver also has two shims inside the magazine well to make up for the lack of dimples that are usually present on AK receivers to prevent some magazine wobble.  I am a believer that a little side to side wobble is a good thing, and the M10-545 has that.  It is a relatively clean receiver with not much cosmoline in the nooks and crannies.  The standard Romanian side rail is firmly attached as well. Overall, it looks to be a good receiver with no major flaws.


Barrel:  The barrel is chrome lined.  I'll take M+Ms word for it that it is hammer forged and made in Romania.  That alone was part of the reason why I wanted this rifle in 5.45x39.  Currently, my other 5.45 is a Century Bulgarian parts gun built with a U.S. Nodak receiver and a U.S. made barrel.  While the Nodak U.S. receiver is great, the U.S. barrel is non-chromed lined so it takes extra attention when shooting surplus 7N6.  Also the U.S. barrel is softer steel so I expect it to shoot out quicker (mine has no keyholing issues that some have reported off and on since the first batch of Century Tantals that had 5.56 barrel diameters with 5.45 chambers).  The barrel on the M10-545 should be long lasting and accurate.

Threading on the barrel is 14x1mm LH, the typical AK threading, which is unlike a lot of 5.45x39 rifles that use the larger 24mm front sight block threads.  For a rifle that already is breaking the norm from traditional AK standards, I think this is good thing.  Although lot of people like the effective 24mm 5.45 brake, there are far more 14x1mm LH devices out there.

The muzzle device is now different on the M10 series.  It is somewhat similar to the Tapco Razr that they had on the original rifle.  However, rumor has it that these where having problems with the longer prongs, so M+M sourced their own design.  It has four shorter prongs and more circular ports than the Tapco.  I prefer the looks of the shorter prongs more than the Razr's.  Like the barrel, the range session will be the true test for it.  These unfortunately do not seem to be marked in anyway: M+M does claim that they are U.S. made. The flash hider is quite firmly screwed on, I even asked Colorado Guns if it was soldered.  Apparently it is just torqued on really well (remember though if you take it off, righty loosey on these reversed threads).




Sights: As advertised, the M10 does have windage adjustable RPK style rear sight.  This gives the user the opportunity to adjust from zero for wind conditions on any given day which is very hard with normal AK sights. While the rear sight is a definite plus, the unfortunately front sight/gas block is canted.  This could be a bigger issue than a standard AK since the front sight is also the gas block.  Normally canted front sights don't bother me if I can shoot to point of aim or fix the cant myself, which can easily be done. Front sight cant is common in some AKs and happens in other rifles like AR15s.  But since this one is also the gas block, we will have to wait and see at the range if the sight is canted off far enough to interfere with the gas port and cause cycling issues (I bet that it will run fine, but I can't be for sure yet).  It looks to be boresighted though since the front sight is inline with the rear and not centered in the full circle hood.  At least the RPK rear allows for a choice of which sight to set for windage.  If the function is fine, I will have the additional option of adjusting the rear sight for the cant and centering the front sight post which results in a clearer sight picture that a lot of people prefer.





Controls and Internals:  The safety, magazine release, and bolt handle are standard AK. The gas piston is tight on the bolt carrier instead of having the traditional looseness which is a design feature of Kalashnikovs.  Often times though the piston will shoot into a little bit of a wiggle after a few hundred rounds or so.  The wobble will be desirable because it will allow the piston to line up better into the canted gas block if the port is open enough.  The bolt/bolt carrier run smooth enough and it doesn't bind on the gas block which is a good sign for function overall.  However, there is some oil that collects where the piston is contacting the gas block slightly.  I'll watch this area for excessive wear until the piston wobble develops or I fix the front sight cant.  The bolt and bolt carrier have matching serial numbers to the rifle's receiver.  Like most 5.45x39 rifles there is a bullet guide that is riveted to the front trunnion to assist in feeding.  The trigger and rest of the fire control group is a Tapco G2, which is a good option and counts as 3 U.S. parts. A Tapco retainer plate is included as well for quick detail disassembly and better service life than most wire retainers.  I currrently use either Krebs' plates or Chinese style L wire retainers now and so it will be interesting see how the Tapco plate does compared to them.





Furniture:  The M10 starts with a Tapco buttstock.  This is an epitome of what Tapco usually does, it is a middle of the road quality, U.S. made product.  While solid with a sling swivel, its metal buttplate does not have a trapdoor for the standard AK cleaning/tool kit like K-Var or surplus.  Yes, a K-Var or even surplus stock would be a little better quality, but for a lot of users the Tapco stock will be adequate and is an improvement over some other options (plus there is no buttstock kit included).

While the Tapco stock is somewhat average, the Hogue grip is excellent!  As a self-declared US Palm fanboy, it is hard for me to say that the Hogue grip might be becoming my favorite AK grip or at least on par with the US Palm grip, check out the AK Grips Guide for more info on the two.  One minor detail is that if you want to use the storage space in the grip you will have to order the grip door from Hogue or another retailer.  But it is still a great choice of grip for this rifle.

The M10s more tactical look is largely due to its aluminum railed handguard.  This looks to be a direct copy of the UTG/Leapers handguard but without part of the top rail that goes over the gas tube (which a lot of people don't like aesthetically anyway).  It would not surprise me if M+M uses the same Chinese OEM supplier that UTG/Leapers does for their handguard.  However, M+M went the extra mile and has "M+M" engraved on the handguard and the molded into the rubber rail covers. While one of the lower end aluminum rail systems out there, this design has a lot of proponents.  I have handled these before, but this will be my first range experience with them so I'll wait for actual live fire before I comment more on there functionality.  One bad issue us that my handguard is actually missing two screws.  It looks like maybe the builders only put on two corners to secure it and then forgot to other two.  After calling Colorado Guns about it (without mention of a review), they apologized and told me they would send the screws out to me immediately.  Hopefully the screws will be here before the range session.

Another new option on the M10 series is the Romanian wire folder stock.  This stock has been my favorite option for a drop in folding stock for standard AKs (metal triangle AK74 and polymer AK100 maybe better but require a receiver and trunnion that will take them).  I am happy to see these being offered as an option and after the range session of the as delivered M10, I will be switching out to a wire folder that I already have.


Magazine: Included is a single ProMag 5.45x39 30 round magazine.  These magazines are the cheapest 5.45x39 option available for AKs and their feel reflect hat.  I would guess that the body is ABS plastic, as is the floorplate.  My current opinion is that even the non-metal lined Tapco magazines are better. However, I will give the ProMag a chance along with a Tapco 5.45x39 magazine and my current surplus mags for comparison at the range.  While the ProMag magazine is 3 U.S. parts for 922r, M+M went the extra mile and didn't count them.  This means that out of the box you have no problems using Combloc surplus magazines, which you will need a few anyway since only one magazine was included.



Final Thoughts: The M10-545 looks to be a good entry level AK.  It has some noticeable upgrades from it competitors like WASRs or DIY Saiga conversions.  I would be somewhat surprised if the front sight cant does effect functioning, but there is a chance, as is a lot of problems that could pop up at the range. So I'm reserving an all out recommendation until I get some rounds down it.

Disclosure: Atlantic Firearms gave me a discount and T-Shirts when I reached out to them about buying a rifle for a review (the T-Shirts rock and I'll be wearing one or both at the range).  I do feel that they are an excellent retailer whose reputation is well known. The discount will also allow me to get a review in on the M10-22 as well.  If you disagree or agree with that, you are more than welcome to post in the comments your opinions.  In the end, they are a company that I believe in, as do with many other customers in the AK community.  I am proud to say that I am associated with them in this small way.

Part 2: Range Report Here

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Guns and Ammo Complete Book of the AK47 2012

The G&A Complete Book of the AK47 Annual is hitting shelves now.  This is the one gun magazine I'm guaranteed to buy each year (if you don't include the American Rifleman subscription).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kmanator's AK stocks (and other stuff)

This past weekend I discovered Kmanator's stocks at his eBay store, but he has been selling his unique creations on a few AK message boards for awhile now.

These steel stocks may not be the most practical since they can run slightly heavier than a wood version, but they definitely are cool!  The Zombie Battle Axe stock is mean and nasty, and available with several designs like this skull and crossbones and a biohazard symbol. However, the "edge" is really just a bevel for safety (a good choice in my book).  He also has a few cutout stocks that are less apocalyptic, but still make a statement.




For that extra ComBloc statement, these are currently being redesigned to add a star .
He has a lot of great stuff at his eBay store as well, like metal signs and banana hangers shaped like AKs.  Overall, pure fun items; sometimes we get wrapped around the serious aspects and forget that shooting is fun too.  Kmanator's stocks also won't break the bank at just over $40 each.

TSD New Folding Stock

While US Palm is still working on their folding stock, Gabe Suarez just released a picture of his company's new folding stock in this thread that they will be using.   My first thought when I clicked on the thread is that it would be the new US Palm stock, and it may or may not be since Suarez is a little vague (it is not US Palm, see update). It allows M4 style stocks to fold to the left or right depending on the adapter used.  No word on price yet.  ACE does have a similar setup with a "pignose" adapter for their folding mechanism.

UPDATE: Definitely TSDs, the folding mechanism based off the Galil is what is offered, no buffer tube or stock.  Available here for $125

Friday, February 17, 2012

Military Arms Channel AK74 DMR project

Sturmgewehre has a very cool project going on.  He is making a AK74 DMR with a barrel "Straight Jacket" from Teludyne Tech. This barrel cover should increase the barrel rigidity and better heat dissipation.  I first heard about the product awhile ago on a podcast, and I happy to see one finally tested.  It should be a project to watch with 1 MOA or less results expected!  

Sunday, February 12, 2012

M10-762 and 545 in stock at Atlantic Firearms

M10-762 here

M10-545 here

They also have a video of each after the jump.

Also: M10-545 with Wire Folder

Right now if everything works out, I am planning get an M10 of some sorts for review here, the hits on this website due to it makes it hard for me to argue to not review one.

Monday, February 6, 2012

What big review to do next Bleg

I'm hoping you guys can light up the comments a little, please!  I'm on the fence with a couple different options on what big review to do next, each one has a lot of interest to me but has its own cons.  Help me get off the fence, what would you most like to see:

1.  A Review of a M10 rifle, most likely the newly released 5.45x39 version, I'd go for one with a Hogue handguard if available.  The original post the one with the most hits here so I would like to give those finding this place first hand information. However, since I don't get to shoot my centerfire AKs that much, I'll be splitting limited range time with yet another AK means they all end up sitting a little more besides for the new one.   

2.  A review of the Midwest Industries AK-SS handguard with a Primary Arms Micro red dot.  I was all about this rail when it was announced but now I'm not as hot about it now since without the rails it looks like the receiver will have some exposed corners where it meets the handguard.  Minor detail I know, but it just bothers me for some reason. 

3. Comparison of the RS Regulate and Midwest Industries 30mm Side mounts.  Problem with this is that I have a lot of side mounts already and not all my AKs have side rails.

4. Something else (in the same budget range)?  

I would have also listed the US Palm quad stack or a training class.  But the US Palm quad stacks won't be available to later in the year since they are still prototypes and the local training class I want to take is in September and I can't afford to travel to one before then.

I by no means guarantee that I will follow your advice, follow the majority vote, etc., or even do any of these in the long run if "Real Life"(TM) happens, but I would still like to hear what you want.  Thanks!

M10-545 now available

A 5.45x39 M10 is now available at Centerfire Systems.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

AK Grips Guide

The grips for the AK used to be a pretty bland world. Now though, there are a lot of options out there for users that want the either that classic look or more modern ergonomics. Often grips need to be 922r complaint as well for more U.S. made parts count.  Since the AK grip market has exploded recently there are grips for any type AK owner out there from old school transitional to new school tacticool.  Let's start out talking about traditional grips.

Traditional
Century- Many are familiar with this grip because it is what comes with their AK if it was imported by Century Arms. It is normally marked with a "C" towards the top of the grip. It is one of the lowest quality plastic with poor texturing and thinnest widths grips out there. I think part of the reason AK grips get a bad reputation for being thin are these grips. They are noticablly thinner in my hand than any of the other classic grips, if I recall correctly this difference was only a few hundredths of an inch. Unfortunately, I've gotten rid of all my Century grips so I can't give you an exact measurement. Overall, I recommend this be one of the first things you change out even if you like the classic look, there are better options out there. Since it is OEM, you won't find a retail price out there on it, but I would not pay more than $5 for one.

K-Var- As much as I sometimes dislike K-Var for some of their policies and prices, this grip is the winner in the Traditional Grip market if you need 922r parts. It is avalilable in Plum, Black, Flat Dark Earth (FDE) and Olive Drab Green (OD). The bottom of the grip has a metal reinforcement bushing where your grip screw head rests. This alone in my book makes it a great option. The plastic is high quality with a very grippy texturing. It has a wider thickness than the Century grip at .94". Honestly, it is better than most of the surplus grips I have pulled off of AKs. You will also pay a premium of around $15 retail for this grip, but I believe it is worth it in this case.

Tapco- Middle of the road in price and quality option between the Century and K-Var grips. I only have limited experience with this as that I owned one just for a few days to put on a rifle I was selling in order to keep the modern grip I had on it. It does have nicer plastic and features than the Century, but not quite as good as the K-Var. They do have a new Bakelite orange color and is offered in Black, FDE and OD as well. It normally retails around $10.    EDIT: Just got my hands on a Tapco grip again. Good texture and measures the standard grip widith of .92"

Iron Wood Designs- If you must go classic, wood, and 922r compliant with just the grip, then this is almost your only option. However, the buzz on the internet is that Iron Wood Designs grips are high quality and they offer several different grip type options like milled AK, AKM, Yugo, and AMD. I don't have hands on experience, but I can say they have a solid reputation and wouldn't hesitate to order from them if I needed U.S. made wood stocks. These retail around $35-55.

TimberSmith by Tapco- This is the newer 922r compliant wood AK furniture on the block. Again, I have no experience with it (as you can tell I'm not that big into wood), but it seems to be of high quality from most reports. However, it looks to be that these are only available as sets and you can't buy just grips. They are offered in some gorgeous colors, brown and black laminate, Red stain, and American hard wood. The full set of stock, handguards, and grip retail for around $130.

Surplus Grips-  These run the gamut in pricing and quality.  There are collectors grips, typically Russian, that can fetch high prices.  Then there are some pretty low quality plastic and wood ones out there for cheap.  If you aren't a collector, I still recommend the K-Var if you are going plastic.  If you are going for wood and 922r parts count isn't an issue, then a surplus grip is going to be a cheaper option than the U.S. made ones, so that might be the niche for non-collectors with surplus grips.  However, top quality wood still would probably be the Iron Wood Designs grips.  Since we have been talking about thickness, for reference, most post-AKM surplus grips I've measured are around .92", pre-AKM grips are suppose to be thicker.

Note- Usually traditional grips do NOT include grip screws. If you have a traditional grip installed already, you will have a grip screw, but if you are changing out a modern to traditional grip, you may need to relocate your original screw or buy a new one.


Modern
In general the modern grips tend to fill the hand better, have better egronomic features, and offer storage compartments if it uses a non-standard grip screw.

MD Arms Molot- This is a modern U.S. made grip with a bit of Russian authenticity.  It is modeled after the Molot grip with finger grooves added.  The Molot comes on Saiga shotguns at the Izhmash factory. The true Molot grips are rare because Saigas are imported into the U.S. with the sporter stock. This is another grip that I have no personal experience with, however, MD Arms has a good reputation.  It does use a standard grip screw, but due to that there is no storage compartment.  It retails around $12

Arsenal RPK Grip This is a newer style grip made in Bulgaria.  A more classic look, but modern feeling grip.  Arsenal always has good quality and some swear by this grip.  However, it isn't a 922r part.  It uses a standard grip screw.  I don't know why K-Var in the link describes it as for milled receivers only, most AK grips are interchangeable and other retailers that sell it do not have that stipulation on it. Retail $20

ATI Stikeforce and Scorpion - These grips are very similar in shape to the older version Command Arms grip.  While it feels good in the hand and is a 922r part, I wasn't very impressed with the plastic's quality on the Strikeforce so I quickly passed it on.  The Scorpion is an upgraded version with a shock absorbing backstrap and rubberized grip. The Strikeforce uses a standard grip screw.  The Scorpion includes its own grip screws but doesn't have a storage compartment.  In general, ATI doesn't have the best reputation on the internet but I do like their AK handguards if you use a heatshield with it.  The Strikeforce version retails for around $15 and the Scorpion for $25

Command Arms/CAA/EMA Tactical Original AG47, New AG47, and UPG47-   The original AG47 was very similar to the ATI Strikeforce, it is just more solid and with a storage compartment. In general these are always some of the thickest AK grips towards the bottom.  However, it doesn't look to be imported any more and has confusingly been replaced with a new style grip with the same model number.  Personally, I don't like the looks of the new one as much but in general my experience with CAA (TDI) stuff has been about on par with Tapco in quality.  The UPG47 is a customizable grip with interchangable front and back straps.  It looks to be a great option if you want to play around and find exactly what will fit you. While all three have storage compartments, they are all imported from Israel so they are not 922r parts.  The AG47s retail for around $25, the UPG47 $35

Mako Group- This is another Israeli imported grip.  It looks to have some good ergonomics, only one finger groove for the middle finger (for a lot of people the ring/pinky groove are the problem ones) There is some nice checking on the backstrap.  Mako Imports decent stuff, but often a little pricey. This one is about $30.

As you may have noticed, the last two are Israeli importers.  The lines there sometimes get a little blurry and at one point both were importing TDI brand stuff if I remember correctly.  Mako has branched out to another Israel supplier, FAB Defense.  Also to make things even more confusing, the next supplier specifically has TDI products listed on their site with no photos of the products while advertising made in the U.S.A.  I'm attempting to get in contact with them to find out if I can shed so light on the situation.

MFT Engage EPG47 and EPGI47 I just found MFT (Mission First Tactical) Engage while researching this guide.  They are U.S. made grips.  The MFT grips claim to fame is that they mimic the AR15 grip angle right out of the box, so it may be a good option if you are more comfortable it (AR grips can be used used on AKs with modification or a grip adapter).  The EPG47 is a basic model with finger grooves and stippling.  The EPGI47 is the upgraded version that offers removable front and back straps. They both have an unique storage compartment.  While it looks to be on the smaller side, it has foam block that can be cut to your tastes and reduce rattle.  The retail prices are approximately $22 for the EPG47 and $30 for the EPGI47.

Tapco SAW- This is my old stand by.  It is called a SAW grip since it is designed like the FN grip that is put on M249s.  I have used these long enough that I have two different versions of this grip. My oldest has a Galil style safety cut out but current ones do not.  Honestly, over the years, Tapco's grip screw has gotten worse.  They originally had a flathead screw, now they have a shorter metric hex bolt that is really annoying to find the right socket extension to fit all the way up the grip.  Overall quality is good, there are newer grips from other companies that have better.  It has a very spacious storage compartment and the bottom wire retainer latched door stays closed even though sometimes you wonder if it actually will.  I was able to carry an essential parts kit in mine with a FCG/bolt spring set, an extractor, a firing pin, a couple of axis pins, hammer, and optic batteries.  Ergonomically, it fills the hand well while swelling more toward the bottom, has okay texture, and a comfortable angle.  While I think there are now better grips out there, these gave me years of good service and I still have one on my Draco pistol. 922r compliant, it is available in Black, OD, and FDE, and the retail is around $18

Ergo Grips- Ergo used to offer a few AK grips but they are back to offering just their original, which is still a great option.  This grip has a "pencil eraser" feel rubber coating.  The finger grooves are a less aggressive which a lot of people like.  For a long time the Ergo was main other option from the Tapco SAW since it is U.S. made.  If you like a little spongy feel on your grip, this is the way to go.  It has a large grip compartment as well.  Retail prices should be around $25

Hogue- This is one of my current favorites.  Hogue calling these "OverMolded" made me expect that they would have a good amount of spongy feel to them, similar to their "Handall" grip sleeves.  Actually, they have only a slight amount of give in the thin rubber coating around the plastic core.  It still feels great as the texture and natural grip of the rubber makes your hand stay put.  The finger grooves, while on the larger size, fit my hands really well.  The overall grip size is just right for me, not too big not too small.  Like most other modern grips, it has a storage compartment.  It is a good size, although not as large as the Tapco SAW and just a touch smaller than the US Palm.  It can fit 3 CR123 batteries, or in my case 2 CR123s and a broken shell remover.  Hogue offers a grip without a plug though so be aware of that if you want to use the storage area.  The version that includes a plug also has a wire retainer and plastic divider designed to hold AA (2), CR123 (3), and CR2032 (4) batteries in a very organized way.  However, I didn't have much luck with the divider, maybe partly due to the fact I was trying to fit the shell remover place of one of the CR123s.  The plug can be used without the divider and is very secure.  But since the door is held in with just the pressure of the excess rubber at the bottom of the grip, it may come out more easily over time.  Removal of the plug is cleverly accomplished by placing a 7.62x39/.308 or .223 case in the indents on the door.  Hogue also partners with Samson to fit a Field Survivor tool/cleaning kit in the grip cavity.  While a very cool option, it is very expensive especially when compared to the cost of a normal AK buttstock tool kit and boresnake.  The install as easy on these due to a good sized and easy to work with grip screw.  These excellent grips are available in the standard Black, FDE, and OD, but also Hogue has a twist with their "Ghillie" version of these colors that have a little grain effect to them.  MidwayUSA lists that a "Zombie Green" will be offered soon as well. These grips can also be bought in a combo pack with their handguard that will be eventually reviewed here too. The grips without a compartment plug are around $18, with the compartment system are about $24, and with the Samson Field Survivor, $110.

US Palm AKBG- Last, but definitely not least, is the US Palm AKBG (AK Battle Grip).  If you read here regularly, you noticed I am somewhat of a US Palm Fanboy.  Products like this grip make me unashamed to say that. This is the most solid, high quality grip I've tried on the AK.  It has a look that still works well with a traditional aesthetic.  The texture is good, although a little less non-slip than the Hogue's rubber coating.  The storage compartment is only second to the Tapco SAW in size.  I had to remove the hammer from my essential parts kit and the firing pin needs to be positioned just right to fit.  The door is rubber, advertised as water proof, and has a nice pull tab.  While one of the most slim modern grips out there, its curved lines allow it to fill the hand just right.  I would bet this grip works with the widest range of hand sizes.  Another noticeable difference is that it allows your hand sit closer to the receiver than any other grip, giving better control to the rifle.  My only gripe about the US Palm is the grip screw length.  The screw itself is high quality and the washer is the best one I've seen on any grip, but if it was just another 1/4" longer it would be much easier for it to thread into the grip nut with the compression you need to for the washer.  Once you get it on and use it, you quickly forget about pesky screw.  Colors offered are Black, FDE, Brown, and the new Red Bakelite.  The typical retail price for the $30

Hopefully this has laid out most of the now many options you have to change out the grip on your AK.  A few years ago selection was pretty limited, especially if you needed a 922r part.  Today, the biggest problem might be trying to find the one you like best with all the options.  However, variety is still a good thing.  Now, I use several grip styles.  I keep traditional grips on my .22 and 5.45 guns so that I have an extra tactile feedback that the smaller grip equals smaller calibers.  My 7.62x39 guns get the modern, larger grips.  That might just be me over-thinking it, but I like that system.  Plus I get to enjoy some of this selection we have now.  Most days the US Palm is my favorite grip, although I'll pick up the Hogue gripped Draco Carbine and notice how nice it is too.  Sometimes I get nostalgic and remember the quality and looks the K-Var Plum grip adds to my AK74.  If you find that grip that works and you want to stick with it understand completely.  For years, that was the Tapco SAW for me.  But at least you don't have to be stuck just because there are only a few out there.