Sunday, January 29, 2012

Military Arms' Bumpski video

I would agree after handling both stocks (granted fired neither), the Bumpski is higher quality and you can use whatever grips you would like on it. If I get a bump fire stock, it will be the Bumpski.

Gunwebsites' M10-762 Video

The M10-762 interest has resulted in a lot of hits here. This video is with the importer, Colorado Guns (although IO Inc is importing their own version). They do point out it is not a WASR, however I think that is a little bit of splitting a hair on one point. It looks to use the same base receiver that WASR does, however Colorado Guns does CNC out the mag well to double stack which should be an improvement over Century's methods. Also being a smaller shop they should have good attention to detail. Happy to see they will offer the Hogue forend on it, I like the one that I have on my Draco Carbine. I need to get some more trigger time on it though to see how the heat shield does before I post a full review. The news that a wire folder will be available plus some extra folders to buy for aftermarket is good to hear as well.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

TSD Combat Systems AKs and the World of AK Value

Gabe Suarez has started a new gunsmithing company called TSD Combat Systems. They got their start putting mini red dots onto Glocks and other pistols. Of course, since it is a Suarez ran company, AKs weren't far behind. The first ones are just now starting to get to their owners. Overall, I think it has some very interesting additions that shows a large shift for Suarez's doctrine. They look more "tactical" and similar to a Krebs' rifle, while in the past Suarez has been a more traditional AK setup with some modern accouterments.

Here are the accessories that mark a change:
1. M4 style stock with a riser. Suarez originally was not a big fan of these unless you had a specific need like really long arms or a couple with a large size difference used the same rifle. The previous though process was that a Warsaw Pact length stock was more of a one size fits all solution and the large majority of AKs out there have that length. Also the traditional AK stock were seen as more robust. Now, the M4 styles are added for better overall accuracy, a reoccurring theme with the TSD AKs. The Magpul MOE with a riser allows for better cheekweld and length of pull for more accurate shooting. In the past, Suarez focused on good enough "minute of man" accuracy with the reasoning being most people don't really need that much accuracy or range.

2. Tabbed Safety. These where not encouraged since they changed the manual of arms from a standard AK to something more individualized. Some of the models have these pictured on them, but not listed in the parts changes. I think this is more Suarez accomdating the changes in tastes than a major shift, but in the past he and Sonny Puzikas were not big supporters of them. Like a lot of other people, Matt over at Jerking the Trigger, really likes them I used to use one up until a picture of one of my AKs with one was used in Puzikas excellent DVD, Beyond the Firearm 2. Puzikas was mentioning how you needed to be careful not to hit the tab while trying to run the bolt from underneath the receiver, while somewhat showing my rifle as an example of what not to do. So now I personally look at them as training wheels and was nearing that conclusion before that rifle cameo. I'm totally comfortable sweeping off the safety right handed with my index and middle fingers. While it does slightly break firing grip, works with all AKs, even the tabbed ones. There isn't really any useful speed difference between the safety types, just personal comfort.

3. Texas Weapon Systems Dogleg Rail.
These without a doubt are bringing a new capability to AKs. Krebs, the Polish on the Beryl, and others have created similar rails but they have all been wanting in either the price or overall stability until the TWS rail system. The main way this differs is that you can now use a centerline and low mounted optic that before only side mounts did only moderately well. While I like side rail mounts, they do have a lot of issues like weight and position in relation to bore/cheek weld. This new accessory allows for the shooter to get accuracy the AK is capable of getting with good ammo and sighting systems are combined.

4. Optics all but required.
Optics bring a lot to any modern rifle platform. Red Dots will be fast at CQB ranges but yet still add some performance at long ranges. The new AK ACOG or a nice 1-4x scope brings a much more long range capable AK. These magnified optics will allow easier 500m+ hits. However in the past Suarez doctrine, the irons were sufficient for CQB due to the "caveman EoTech" method, were best at medium distance, and could still be used to effect well past the normal range civilians would probably ever need (I am a big believer in slightly widening your rear sights to about .080", I think Fuller does slightly wider). Back then, a red dot would be a good investment upgrade down the road especially for those with older eyes.

5. Rear Peep backup sight.
The TWS rail allows a peep sight to be positioned where it should be. I've tried a Mojo rear peep for an AK. But since it replaced the normal rear sight leaf, it never felt right for me, as I sure the Krebs would have felt wrong as well (even if you want to try these, stay away from the Williams). It doesn't bring the added accuracy of a true rear aperture and doesn't bring all the speed a ghost ring does if it is wider. This is a change in Suarez's doctrine since for a long time he advocated the traditional rear being good enough for intended use, and there is the system commonality between the vast majority of AKs along with practically all pistols. Due to the increase accuracy requirements, a peep seems the way to go for TSD's AKs besides for the CQB version. However, I am still mostly a post and notch guy. Ever since my Red Ryder BB gun, it has been the primary sighting method (and honestly just a few years later I was shooting AKs). I can use peep systems just fine if I need to, but right now I only own 1 firearm with an aperture rear. For guys like me, Texas Weapon Systems is developing a notch rear backup sight which makes it more attractive. If you prefer a peep, this is a good option while allowing an easy optics upgrade later and also makes the Tech Sight AK sight almost obsolete.

6. Railed Aluminum Handguards
The railed handguard does bring the extra capability in quickly and easily mounting picatinny accessories. This is a good thing as long as you don't go crazy trying to fill every piece of "rail estate" with the next greatest accessory. Almost all of my AKs have a small piece of rail to mount a light. Besides for the personal aesthetic issue of changing the traditional look, railed handguards only downsides are the extra length of used rails that must be covered so they don't act like cheese graters when it contacts skin. Most of the newer handguard systems only weigh slightly more than a normal handguard, or in the case of the Midwest Industries X models offer an extended handguard for a just a few extra ounces of weight. Suarez still is a believer in the bare minimum bolted onto your rifle, it is that handguards like this offer the most options. Honestly, I do think these are a nice upgrade as long as you keep it simple still. I have added my own small single rail sections to traditional handguards and also have used the Hogue, CAA, and ATI handguards that have some rail options. I am waiting for Primary Arms to get the new Midwest Industries AK-SS along with a micro red dot. For me, this handguard should be the best of both worlds. With the small, re-positionable rail sections, I won't have to use rail covers since I can put rails only were I want them and have even less weight. Other than the lack of traditional look, I think this will be the sweet spot for my personal requirements.

Overall, the TSD AKs seem like a customized Mustang (follow me through this car analogy, I think a lot of people will relate, but honestly I'm not a big car guy). For a long time Mustangs have been the more affordable, entry level American sports car. You can spend a lot of money to get Corvette or Viper performance in your Mustang especially by getting the Roush or Shelby upgrade shops to do it for you. At that point of the upgrades you could have potentially spent the same or more on one of the other cars but it is your personal devotion to the Mustang that keeps you improving it. For a lot of people, a traditionally restored or just slightly modified Mustang is enough for them. Not to mention in "normal" driving often the high end performance upgrades have minimal valve besides for a little extra fun from stop light to stop light.

The TSD AKs (and Krebs) are that custom performance shop upgrades that bring a new level of performance to the platform. However, often by the time you have spent the money you could have gotten an nice AR or even a next generation carbine like the SCAR, ACR, or XCR that bring a new level of blending of the to platforms together with gas piston system and AR ergonomics. Personally, I think that level of money it might be hard not to buy one of those three newer rifle platforms, just like if I had the money for either I might go for a Lamborghini instead of the tricked out '70s muscle car.

You can also do the DIY upgrades to your personal tastes to improve where you think the specific aspects of your AK, much like the home garage car mods. While not always as nice as a custom rifle, it will make noticeable changes in speed and/or accuracy. Then for the next level there are the Rifle Dynamics of the world that will do an amazing traditional or custom AKs.

There will still be a lot of purist out there that want their AKs traditional, and I get that too. From the moment I saw it in person, I fell in love with Plum furniture, even though I originally though I would hate it looking at it in photos and by name (a fruit color on my rifle?). I will also always a sweet spot for a '79 Ford Mustang even though it was one of the worst stock performance years of the model. It was my first car, and the performance was still enough for me to get to where I needed to go while having a certain aesthetic.

When it comes down to, the vast majority of our civilian rifles are only used for range shooting. In the rare case they might be used for self defense, it would be at a close enough range with a small number of assailants where most of these upgrades wouldn't matter. However if you are going into a war zone, things change and more of the TSD upgrades could become a necessity. Just like you might need an armored Humvee to get to work in Afghanistan, all you really need to get to work everyday in America is a basic vehicle that reliably runs and hauls a few passengers or cargo. Just like leaving the road for the track at different levels of racing, if you are using your AK in competition, you need to tailor it to the level you are competing in. Indy Car Drivers need Indy Cars, open division 3 gunners need race guns (but ARs dominate this division anyway).

For most of us though, as unabashedly capitalist Suarez says, "the America I know was not formed on needs, but rather on wants." Figure out where your personal value level is. For me, even a basic good quality AK is enough and has its own draw, however I do have a few extra add-ons more for personal fulfillment that would make the more useful in a dire emergency. That said, I do think there is a certain level of pay-to-play if you have any expectations of an AK being a self defense tool. Screw builds on poorly heat treated receivers, crooked gas blocks, wobble free pistons (yes it is suppose to move some), and ProMag magazines loaded with Eygptian surplus ammo should not apply to that job. The TSD line shows Suarez's shift from value of good enough AKs to top end performance that will rival many accurcized ARs and even the next gen carbines. The question is if you will shift too.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

TWS has new railed handguards

Texas Wapons Systems, makers of the excellent AK dust cover rail mount, has a new handguard system in the works and it seems that it will be part of Gabe Suarez's TSD line. Looks good but pricey, I'm personally going for the new Midwest Industries handguard with an micro red dot top. Also, I'm working on a lengthy opinion piece on the TSD AKs and how they mark a shift for Suarez.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Travis Haley Adaptive Kalash Review

I just watched Travis Haley's Adaptive Kalash with Panteao Productions online streaming subscription service.

As to be expected, the production values are high. Better than what I've seen in Suarez's or Puzikas's videos. But of course these are instructional videos, so content in my opinion still regins supreme.

Let me tell you for just over 2 hours, Haley does some excellent instruction on the AK platform and actually surprised me a lot. I'll admit I was pretty biased coming into this thinking it was going to be all high speed with a focus on accessories. I think that maybe watching Haley's video on the Battlecomp and FSC47 and seeing some of the gun acrobatics Haley and Costa can do running an AR made me expect something different. Honestly, everything I saw was thought out and had a good basis of theory and body mechanics. It was also not about running the rifle as fast as you can, as cool as you can. I must admit this misconception might root in that when it comes to rifles, I have mostly watched AK-centric DVDs and haven't gotten a chance to watch a Magpul DVD.

Haley first goes into some basic background on the AK, Then his overall AK philosophy that seems to be open to running an AK in a traditional or more modern sense. He prefers to be "Adaptive" in his methods, to basically use what works and not be too tied to doctrine. I like this perspective. He mentions despite having the AK been used against him and seen the damage it produces on the human level even to friend, he still respects the platform for being what it is.

Like most gun videos, then four rules are covered, which while necessary and fundamental, is still done in a professional and informative matter.

The next portion I really like. He explains the levels of AK that are on the market. Overall, it is good information for someone looking to buy a first or second AK. However, while he talks about AKs remanufactured on U.S. receivers, he doesn't mention the WASR phenomena of a rifle being imported as a fully built single stack non-922r firearm that is then converted. While he is holding WASR10/63 (the HD is nice enough to read the markings), Haley discusses mag well issues that are usually due to Century's conversion issues instead of it being caused by U.S. receiver makers, which usually do better jobs with mag wells. Definitely a minor gripe, especially since he goes on to explain higher quality imported rifles, but since WASRs tend to be the main entry level AK I feel like it needs the clarification at least here. But other than that, this section is great, it explains some of the finer points like stamped vs. milled receivers and 45 vs. 90 degree gas blocks. Rifle Dynamics makes his custom rifle that he uses for the video, which many people consider to be the best AK shop around.

He mentions as he explains levels of modifications that he likes traditional AKs. It is surprising to me because you think of Haley and Costa and how much new accessories they have brought the the AR platform through Magpul. He goes on to describe more modern enhancements and why he likes them as well. As he discusses ammo choices and corrosive salts removal, he dunks a 74 directly in a pond. While it is a perfectly viable method, there is just something fun about seeing him do it.

The thing I have the most problem with is his side by side magazine reloads. Basically, you put the fresh magazine on the side of the gun as you pull/knock out the old one. I first tried this years ago when I read the Magpul (the accessory by the company of the same name) pamphlet on how to use them and mentioned side by side reloading. For me on the tactical reload, the finger tip hold on the old mag seems easy to fumble especially as you pull it down the length of the just loaded new magazine. Also getting that grip on the old magazine can be even more in the fingertips if you have a side rail, not to mention a mount on that rail. Yes, I agree it is the most movement efficient way to load an AK, but I am going to have to give it more practice before I truly believe it's not going to result in a lot of fumbled magazines.

However, I like that he doesn't espouse just one method to charge the AK, and he talks about all three of the main ways and says "Never be absolute on how you... ...charge an AK." The "Iraqi method" of holding the bolt back on reload is covered as well and he discusses the pros and the major con of it, and shows a way that can make it more viable. The new school way of upper body rifle positioning is covered well.

The zeroing portion is very good. Marksmanship fundamentals with a modern twist is shown. Not only does Haley talk about AK sight adjustment, but he also discusses zeroing distance and the effected holdovers for both 7.62x39 and 5.45x39.

Malfunctions are covered with relatively simple techniques. Haley includes discussion on the extreme bad luck malfunction where a case gets stuck behind the bolt in the fire control group.

He shows drills to balance speed and accuracy. I think these will help any shooter become better. It also brings a little more light on the method to the madness of his Battlecomp/FSC47 video. Basic movement into positions is also shown.

The transitions chapter discusses why he is not a believer in the over-the-head, through-the-sling transition method. However, he does mention that if you truly do it on an empty/malfunctioned rifle it is not all bad if you must stick to the authentic Russian way. Then Haley talks about sling selection and positioning. He also gets extra ComBloc points if it really is what I think is a CZ-82 as a sidearm.

He closes out the video with a little instruction on long range shooting, showing how effective AK in both 7.62x39 and 5.45x39 can be at 500m.

So while I started a little jaded, I am putting my money where my mouth is, I will be buying this on DVD as well (now in stock at Panteao and Brownells). However, on a side note the subscription feature at Panteao is nice. For just under $18, I now have a month to stream not only all of Haley's new videos, but other big names like Louis Awerbuck, Paul Howe, and Massad Ayoob.

If I was still only recommending just one AK DVD, I would probably say Beyond the Firearm 2 for the massive amount of material it covers from a man with an amazing depth of AK experience. Also, the videos from Suarez and Puzikas will give you more information on movement and positions. But Travis Haley's Adaptive Kalash is a great effort belongs in your library as well due to the fresh look it brings, excellent information, and high production values. I am very impressed by it. In general, all of these DVDs will give you a wide spectrum of ways to run your AK while also helping you decide who to train with and get ready for classes. My real world recommendation would be for you start with the one that most interests you but quickly branch out and get as many as you can.

US Palm Folding Stock No Show at SHOT

US Palm had mentioned on their Facebook page they also had a folding stock coming and that it might be at SHOT. It was not and rumor has it that it is due to still going through patent process.

Friday, January 20, 2012

5.45x39 NOT IN PISTOLS!!!

Saw some posts over at Youtube complaining that the new Arsenal pistol is in .223 and not 5.45x39. Just wanted to remind everybody that we in the U.S. don't want 5.45 pistols for as long as the 7N6 surplus can be imported. The steel core 7.62x39 was banned from importation due to the ATF ruling it as a handgun armor piercing ammo when the OA-93 7.62x39 pistols were made. It just happened to be the about the same time in 1994 when the Chinese imports were shut off, and that was who was importing most of the steel core anyway.

.223/5.56 has an exemption in the law for it to never be considered handgun ammo, that's why you can still buy M855 based ammo.

If 5.45x39 pistols made it into production the ATF would have to make the ruling again and while they could go either way, I think there is a stronger chance that they would make a similar ruling as they did with 7.62x39 steel core. Note that all it took was a medium sized firearm company, Olympic Arms, make around 6 prototype pistols, not even production, in 7.62x39 to move to the ban in 1994.

Eventually the 7N6 will dry up and I believe that the improved versions of 5.45 like 7N22 are already banned from import due to wider ban on more "armor piercing" ammo that is produced after 1996 IIRC. So while we can still get the 7N6 please refrain from the 5.45 pistols?

Military Arms Channel US Palm Breakdown AK video

Looks like for SHOT Show this place has became Military Arms Channel's second HQ. Glad to see Sturmgewehre give us some great AK coverage at SHOW just like he does the rest of the year. Maybe I'll get out there next year and I won't have to piggyback off of his videos!

Military Arms' Arsenal SLR-106UR 5.56 Pistol video

I noticed this on K-Var's website last weekend. Basically building off the Draco trend out there, they have produced a 5.56mm Krinkov/Suchka based pistol. Glad they brought it in as 5.56 and not 5.45 which could result in a 5.45x39 surplus ammo ban like steel core 7.62x39 was when the first AK pistols were made. It would be an easy SBR conversion with a Ace folder, like Dracos. Getting a traditional metal triangle folder or AK-100 polymer folder will be tough due to the receiver.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Military Arms Channel's Midwest Industries New Rail video

Must get to SHOT next year...

It will take the optic specific upper handguards. It will also allow for multiple attachment points for sling swivel studs. Have to buy one now...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Military Arm Channel's US Palm Quad Stack video

The 45 quad is definitely the length of a double 30 and the 30 quad is the length of a double 20:

Again, I'm still trying to decide the 50% increase in ammo worth the issues and costs.

AK with Zombie Chainsaw masterkey

Jay G. over at MArooned has this ridiculously awesome AK with chainsaw from SHOT.

US Palm Quad Stacks at SHOT

Gunwebsites has a close up of the US Palm Quad stacks:

EDIT to add:
Interesting that US Palm as two capacities coming out, a 30 and 45, the one pictured in my first post on them seems to be the 30 and will be around $80 and the 45 one wasn't pictured but from the video looks to be about the same length as a 30 rounder at about $100 (I wish he would have put the AK30 right up next to the prototypes so I could tell for sure). Also the US Palm rep mentioned "metal feed lips" which would be completely new for US Palm.

Honestly, the smaller one at 45 was more exciting. At about only 10 more compared to a similar size 20 round double stack metal mag, or only 15 more for one at a double stack 30, it is definitely an improvement but will the bulk be worth it if it is only 50% more ammo when there are plenty of 40 rounder double stacks out there for cheap and you will have to potentially change your pouch setups?

The short one I think will definitely have a niche for a those that run foregrips closer to the mag well (like AMD-65s) because they will give more rock in room.

US Palm Breakdown AK video from SHOT

WOW!!! Gunwebsites again at the US Palm booth. I noticed in one of the Quad Stack pictures floating around that the rear sight block was out of wack on one of the guns they were showing it in. I thought in passing that maybe it was a parts gun they used for T&E, now I realize that it was a teaser pic for their new breakdown AK! Very cool, to my knowledge nobody else has done a break down AK (now I'm sure there could be some out there, but this is new to me!)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Travis Haley's Adaptive Kalash

Magpul co-founder and former CEO, Travis Haley's new AK instructional DVD, Adaptive Kalash, seems to be off pre-order and closer to being available (although it is still out of sotck at Brownells). For those of you that like his and Costa's Magpul stuff, it will probably be a must see. It is on my list of things to checkout and will probably have some great stuff, but I must admit if I was going recommend only one AK instructional DVD to buy, it would be Sonny Puzikas' Beyond the Firearm 2. For the price you get almost 3 hours of great basic to advanced AK work. After that, the Suarez series of AK DVDs are great too. But it will be fun to see Haley's take on the AK for sure since he comes from a totally different background.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Midwest Industries Modular Handguard

Midwest Industries has a new handguard coming out. It is apparently named AK-SS, maybe for Smooth Side? This one is aluminum like there current ones, but has detachable rails, almost like a Aluminmum AK version of Magpul's MOE AR handguards. They are also offering it in the "X" version which extends out the handguard past the handguard retainer. This allows for a much further forward grip which is popular with a lot of new school shooters, like Chris Costa and many 3 gun competitors. Also, the option to mount things that far forward is a plus for those that run foregrips on their AKs since it will get the grip out of the way of rocking in the magazine.

Here's the Highlights:
"-No gunsmith install, Installs in minutes with wrenches provided in the kit.
-Modular side rails attach where the operator needs them for mission specific requirements.
-Three rail sections included two short ( 1.5 inches long) and one ( three inches long).
-Each hand guard features five anti rotation sling swivel sockets two on each side and one on the bottom.
-Extremely light weight . AK-SS model is 9.1 oz the AK-SS-X is 11.3 oz three rail sections add 1.6 oz of weight.
-Narrow design 1.730 about the same width as standard wood units.
-Available with optic specific top covers
-Constructed from 6061 aluminum hard coat anodized for a lifetime of service.
-Come in three colors BLACK ,FDE,OD GREEN
-100 percent MADE IN THE USA
-Lifetime warranty
patent pending
The highest quality most versatile AK hand guard on the market.
suggested retail MI-AK-SS $149.95 MI-AK-SS-X $179.95"

Overall, I've liked the concept MI's previous railed handguards, but like a lot of AK guys, I look at all that rail space and see extra weight and rough edges that I need to smooth over with rail covers since I generally only use one small rail to mount a light. The weight of their handguards are just slightly heavier than a normal AK handguard. This one might finally move me to buy one of these, especially if they can couple it with the optic specific top handguard.

RS Regulate to release new Micro Aimpoint side mount

RS Regulate is about to release their new Micro Aimpoint side rail mount to coincide with SHOT. In general, if you like to run a side mount, I think their mounts are the way to go if you are mounting a red dot (and maybe soon a ACOG or some other scope). They are high quality, light weight mounts that are adjustable for bore centerline and will co-witness on most rifles.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

More Bumpski Bumpfire stock info

I saw the Bumpski guys today at the gun show and must say I'm really impressed with their work, especially when compared to the Slidefire AK stock.

I don't know if everybody will think the upgrades will be worth the extra $150 for the Bumpski, but I'm now a believer. I think I'm over my worries of hammer follow causing an OOB, now for me it is mostly a cost issue (ammo and stock). Comparing the two, the Bumpski is much more robust than the Slidefire and allows for use of what ever AK grip you prefer. Like the Slidefire, it allows you to lock out the bumpfire movement, but with three different positions similar to how an M4 stock works. On minor downside, is that both stocks are going to stop you from using your off shoulder if needs be, for now.

New US Palm Quad Stack

Several places, including Matt over at Jerking the Trigger, are reporting the new US Palm Quad stack mags are coming. Facebook pic here. Basically 45 rounders that are shorter than 30 rounders and look to be about as wide as the receiver, but at a MSRP of $99. Should be interesting, more info coming during SHOT Show.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Another Bump fire stock, the Bumpski

Saw it over at Says Uncle. This one is aluminum, but very little other detail besides it lists for $449.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Slide Fire Solutions AK stock

Looks interesting, I'm not a fan of bump fire because it is hard control safely, generally wastes ammo (but it's your money), and my biggest concern is that I have a suspicion that it makes you more prone to having an Out of Battery Detonation causing an ensuing KaBOOM. But Slide Fire Solutions has finally came out with their SSAK-47 stock and Military Arms Channel has a review here:

Overall I think it is interesting and has some merit, more than I initially though it would due to my person dislikes of bump fire. I like how the knob can be turned for both semi and bump fire. It definitely makes bump firing safer, my concerns are still feeding it (I'm poor these days LOL), if you can use the semi function with the other hand because I do a lot of ambidextrous firing drills, and I still am afraid that it can increase the chance of an OOB. It will be going for around $290 so it isn't the cheapest toy for the AK either.