To continue more of the .22LR AK theme lately of this semi-defunct blog, today I received my Croatian Grizzly Defense Industries (no website) AK .22LR conversion kit from Centerfire Systems (currently sold out). This seems to be the same conversion kit that was shown and SHOT Show 2019 as covered by The Firearm Blog. That article also does a great job of explaining why it is only for stamped AKs in 7.62x39. I did contact Armamentos at the listed website and filled out their contact page when I saw the TFB article but never received a reply. These are definitely different than the Ciener .22 AK conversions that he no longer has in production. Also note that this conversion kit claims standard, not high velocity, .22LR.
First unfired impressions are that it looks maybe even better than Romanian standards on the AKT98/WASR22/RAK-22. It isn't super hard to install as long as you push down on the hammer. I was hoping the barrel insert would be past the gas port to possibly prevent fouling, but it is definitely shorter. However, it may be just short enough not to cause lead "misting" like that I see inside the blast chamber of a .22 suppressor. Clean up will be one of my questions along with ejected cases getting stuck under the dust cover (common WASR22 platform issue), but right now the bigger issue is with the magazines. The magazines are robust with a BHO follower. However, similar to my Chiappa RAK-22 with the Black Dog Machine WASR22 magazines, the magazine doesn't latch all the way in on my recent Romanian build with Nodak Spud NDS-3 receiver. When I get more time tonight I will update this post with some other AK fitting tests.
UPDATE: Mag latch is only an issue with one rifle, doesn't seem totbe a fault of the conversion kit. It fits my M92 built off a Morrissey underfolder receiver and Yugo mag latch, another rifle built off an Romanian parts kit, and a MAK-90. The instructions say that other than Yugo or Romanian AKs may need "minor gunsmithing," but it at least installed in the MAK-90 easily.
One other observation, the bolt handle is located much further back than even the WASR22. When uusingit for training and not just plinking I think I will still try to index where the normal bolt handle is and move back to catch it. Not the best solution but otherwise it is potentially a better training tool than the WASR22 if you have AKs that are setup multiple ways.
In the aftermath of US Palm going under, XTech Tactical has been working with the molders for US Palm's plastic parts. The molders were told that they couldn't sell their thousands of excess US Palm magazines by what now appears to be Century Arms, so XTech Tactical and the molding company redesigned the magazines with improvements: a removable floorplate, improved texture, and metal reinforced feed lips (and had to destroy the old magazines in impressive fashion). Today word came from social media accounts and Soldier Systems that Century Arms since they now own the rights to the US Palm brand is attempting a Glock style trade dress suit against XTech. This isn't due to any patents or other intellectual property, just that the product has the same "distinctive" look to what is now their brand.
XTech Tactical is also about to release their US Palm style grips with storage doors (which the originals are often bringing $100+ prices). Honestly, I was waiting for these grips to come out before I placed my order of Mag47 magazines since I have a decent number of original US Palm AK30s. When word came of the suit, I ordered some magazines from XTech. While I am somewhat worried about another small company having the same issues of US Palm, I still feel we need to support AK companies that support us with great products. Century Arms certainly is the 800 pound gorilla in the room and can make the US Palm brand last if they really want to, but they have always had issues with customer service and overall quality, which was my first worry when I heard they officially had restarted the brand. They are apparently still months from coming to market with their US Palm products.
Right now, XTech is actually on the market with their products and is very much customer focused. I put a note of support and my Instagram account name (MattCFII) since they have been very active answering my questions in comments there. Within minutes, I had a DM saying thanks for the order. The magazines themselves have been getting excellent reviews, like from RobSki at AKOU. I can't wait to get mine!
Saw your comment and email Tony, making a new post to add pictures. Again, problem is that they won't fully seat enough to let the mag latch to come forward.
When I ordered the RAK-22, I also ordered two Blackdog Machine magazines. I was going to order more but chickened out at the last mibute concerned about them fitting. BDM is quite clear to call if you aren't sure about a magazine, but they answer my first call and since I'm always paranoid about getting things when in stock I figured I'd take the gamble on just 2. I've since called and told them that they don't fit out of the box but it looks like they will after some file/Dremel work. I used the first 2 magazines as the experiment, but now I'm confident enough they can be made to work, so I ordered 5 more (plus another extractor, even though I still have a TurboThis spare too).
I have tried changing the front lug and front top of the magazine, but it had feeding issues. So the rear lug changes seem to be the best for feeding, but you have to remove a lot of material and you will be sacrificing lug strength, which is why I tried the other way too. So far I have not been able to get either magazine to seat without pushing the magazine latch forward, but I think I will be able to when I do a little more work. I'm still in the testing phase and have 5 more magazines to do, so I'll keep you posted. If anybody out there has a RAK-22 and a factory metal or plastic 10 round magazines, please try them in the RAK-22 too.
Since I also have my posts of the AKT-98 and M10-22 parts comparison, I'm making a post with the Chiappa RAK-22. Overall, glad to see another AKT-98/WASR22/RPK22/M10-22 platform rifle. It has nice wood. On the downside, the gas block and the rear sight block are roughly cast metal, but this should be perfectly fine on a .22LR. It is still better than a Mossberg Blaze 47, GSG AK-47, or Armscor AK-22 in my opinion. Biggest downside right now is that Black Dog Machine magazines will not fully seat with the rear mag latch not going forward but this doesn't seem to be just due to the rear mag lug. Exploratory Dremel surgery is happening on the mags! This post is mostly so I can post a link at forums for the pictures, but if please post even a simple comment if you are an old reader and would still read things here.
Sad to say my favorite AK grips, chest rig, and second favorite magazine company is closing up shop according to their Facebook:
They had suspended operations in April with hope to restart but it is now officially over.
They claim it is a special deal with Tula to bring back this "retro" load. My understanding of the rumors is that 8M3 has never stopped being produced in Russia but import of it has been questionable since Wolf ended their relationship with Ulyanovsk. No matter if it is really "retro" or not SGammo can definitely be thanked for bringing it back in! They claim to have an exclusive deal with Tula/Uly through 2017.
As for me, I'm coming back to the AK as my primary platform after 3 years of learning the AR. I do believe if you are an American you should be able to to run an AR and happy for the experience and to have a few of them in the safe, but l am also happy to be back to the AK as my primary. I have added another child, a son, since my last post, plus have worked a second jobs selling guns and other things so I have been busy. We'll see what the future brings for me and this blog but hopefully some more intermittent posting. I'm happy to see where the AK community is at these days with all the options out there and guys like Tim at MAC and Robski at AKOU. But it also seems like the quality of rifles has gone down as US production has became more of the market, which honestly doesn't surprise much. Since I'm currently looking at the options for a plain Jane beater AK, and that part market seems dicer than ever. We could complain about the details for the WASR-10 and others, but at least they would run. Hopefully Cugir will start back up their US production line.