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  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!