AK Mods That Have Worked For Me

 

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My semi-auto AKMS with three rail barrel clamp and Tech Sight rear peep sight.

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These two shots are as the rifle appears now.

I’ve been using AK’s for a long time. I shot my first AK (a “worn out” select fire AKMS) in 1989, and have been a fan ever since. Over the years I have owned a dozen or so AK’s in various versions, and have found them all to be reliable and “combat rifle” accurate (even that first AKMS in the mil was 3 MOA accurate). I have used various mods over the years, and after a conversation with a friend about the most recent mods, I decided to write a post about it.

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First up, the sights. I’ve used AK iron sights for years, and although I never had a problem hitting what I was shooting at, I always wished I had a rear peep like my Valmet M76 had. Well now you can have that option, and your accuracy should increase tremendously. I’ve been using Tech Sights on my AK’s since 2012, and can tell you that they cut my iron sight groups in half. They are durable, and there is no problem with return to zero after field stripping.

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Next up is optics (I didn’t perform any mods to the front sight, it works fine as is). Because I used a Tech Sight on the rear of my Romanian AKM, the standard AK side mount will not fit (sits too far back). I found this modular rail system from RS Products for side mount AKM’s that is very adaptable for situations like mine, and sits very low on the receiver. It’s return to zero is dead on, and the overall system is very robust.The top and bottom that I purchased was the AKR 1913 Pic. Rail and the AK-301M Front Biased Base. Using this mount with a no frills 4x scope (I originally mounted it on my first AKM in the early 90’s with a B-Square mount) the rifle shot 2 MOA, and I had one group that was 1.5 MOA.

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Adjusted all the way in

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Adjusted all the way out

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Here’s a pic of the guts of the folding mechanism.

I am a big fan of an adjustable length of pull when available. I am also a fan of folding stocks for compact storage or use in a vehicle. To that end I decided to get a Magpul Zhukov-S folder from AIM Surplus ( I buy a lot of firearms accessories from them). Here is a pretty good review of this stock and forearms assembly. and I put their field test below. All I can say is that it’s one of the most comfortable folding stocks I ever used (and I’ve use many different types), and it’s 4 position adjustment makes fitting the weapon to the person very easy.

 

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This Handguard is the one you don’t have to modify your rifle for

If you noticed, I said I also purchased the Magpul AKM handguard, and you’re probably asking why I felt the need for this. It wasn’t about having a matching fore end and stock. It was about making that rifle capable of taking my DBAL IR laser, and my Surefire light, their accompanying pressure switches, and an angle grip. I like modularity from rifle to rifle, as much as is possible anyway. With the available rails made by Magpul, once again, it was a no brainer.

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I can switch my DBAL and light from my AR to the AKM and place them in the exact same location for familiarity of use.

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Note the extreme difference in length of these two rifles when stocks are collapsed.

Two more items I have put on my AK’s The first is a charging handle extension, and the second is an M16A1 type flash suppressor. The charging handle extension really helped out with not only grasping the charging handle (bigger and more surface area, but as a “lefty”, having it slung across my back was a pain, because that small charging handle would stick me right in the spine. It negates the pain, but more importantly, it makes it easier to grasp, especially with gloves on. I ended up taking it off of the side folder because it inhibited me being able to charge the rifle with the stock folded, but it is still on the underfolder, and isn’t going anywhere (make sure you locktite the setscrew, or it will vibrate loose).

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As I already mentioned, I put an M16A1 type flash suppressor on the muzzle of both rifles. This was done for two reasons. First, the slant brake that they came with does not inhibit flash at all. Two, I can put a standard M16 blank adapter on those rifles and fire blanks out of them while conducting training.

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Note the ring on the cleaning rod. This is normally (took it off for the pic) lightly safety wired to the barrel. This mod makes grasping and pulling out the cleaning rod easier when the barrel is hot to clear an obstruction. It’s just and old grenade ring, but a heavy key ring would work.

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The AK rifles function fine with either the Red (rifle) or yellow (carbine) M16 blank adapters.

Last but not least, I wanted to review some mag and ammo carry options. I have found that the open top AR mag pouches will hold AK mags. The caveat is that the rear mag retention tab can catch if you don’t pull it straight up and out. Try it, or not, it’s an option. This is not my first choice, but it’s good to know it will work.

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Both types of pouch will hold standard AK steel mags, or Magpul polymer. These are both Condor pouches. Note the mag retention tab on the spine of the center mag.

One type that I have used for eight years now is the Condor pouches made to take multiple types of mags. These pouches will carry two M14 type mags, Three AR type mags, and two AK type mags. Retention is with velcro and a snap, but I have never had a problem with them retaining any mag placed in them.

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The last mag carrier I’ll discuss is the lowly chi-com three mag rig. I have used one of these for 27 years, and it’s still holding up. It will hold three AK 30’s (Magpuls won’t fit), or six AR 30’s. It is low profile, and is as simple as it gets.

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I only use one type of bandoleer to carry extra ammo for my AK’s, and that’s the old chi-com type. It will hold a basic load (210 rounds) on stripper clips, and is a Hell of a lot more durable than anything we have used in our military (of course it’s also slightly heavier). The far right pocket (as you’re looking at it from the front) will hold three stripper clips instead of two, so that’s how you get the 210 rounds in a ten pocket bandoleer.

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One advantage of the underfolder over a side folder with a scope, is that it will fit in my M60 barrel bag. Honestly, with the level of accuracy and comfort those mods give me on the side folder, it’s a fair trade off, and I’ll take it.

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Hope this discussion was helpful. Remember, these are my mods based on what I felt I needed and how I use my rifles. You mileage may vary.

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

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19 thoughts on “AK Mods That Have Worked For Me

  1. Good article. The AKs I own for serious use have Ultimaks and Romanian Wire folder stocks. Hideous but functional and most important, durable. Additionally, if you happen to have a gunsmith with a large lathe, re-pinning the flash hider by the gas block and cutting the barrel to 14.5in (also known as the AK-103K and earlier the AMD-65 configuration) will make a faster and more handy package.

    One other thing concerning accuracy misconceptions and the Kalashnikov is that many AKs available in the US out of the box are fitted with slant brakes. What’s worse is that many aren’t even tight- the threading on each country of origin (Romanian, Hungarian, Yugo, etc.) is slightly different in the space between the FSB and the bottom of the the threads leaving a gap and sometimes play in the brake, seriously affecting accuracy. The best thing to do with it is take it off and toss it if you’re seeking a working gun. The most economical and effective one I know of is the Type 81 that Tapco makes. It’s very effective at controlling muzzle rise and mitigating flash at night, and it’s pretty cheap. It’s similar to the A2-style Birdcage you’re running, but with smaller slots.

    • I dislike the German wire more than the underfolder. I had a galil style left side folder for a long time on my B-West AK, and I like it, but to be able to mount the scope rail and keep it in place, I had to go right side, and the Magpul seemed like the best around and comfortable to shoot as well. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I run a Russian “plywood and steel” AK with a Chinese chest rig. It is made of some kind of coated/ waterproofed Kevlar like fabric printed in Asian woodland / Large print ERDL cammo. It has Velcro and snaps instead of the old wood toggles. Other than that they look like the old “56” pattern chest rig. Its far and away better than my old “Nam” pattern canvas. The old seven pocket M16 bandoleer will take 14 SKS strippers and a guide cutting the weight of your reload/ reserve in half . I like the KISS of the AK so other than the vertical gas block mine is just “Kalash” with no plastic add ons , lights, optics (WTF? Its a 300 meter carbine)

    • I like durability, hence the chicom stripper clip bandoleer as opposed to the cheesecloth US version. Concerning the scope on a survival rifle, why not? It’s not just a combat rifle, and might have to double as a hunting gun. As to the light, if available, why wouldn’t you put a light on a rifle, kind of a no brainer on a combat long gun. The point of rails is that those items are easy to put on and take off when needed, and you don’t have to deal with a semi permanent mounting situation. It’s about options. Considering the wooden AK stocks I’ve seen broken, I’m more than happy to find a more durable alternative.

      • Well my argument with the gun light is that it is useless for anything but house clearing, (something I have NO intent of EVER doing)gives up your position to everyone within a mile if used outdoors. (you can see a guy with a flashlight further away than he can see you) . It just takes away more than it gives me. I have personally broken so many plastic do dads that I did go to what is IMO the best alternative ,plywood. Optics? OK if that works for you . I never considered an AK for hunting. Mine is my “back up” in case all of my 30:06’s go down at the same time, or the NORK’s & Chinese invade and I need to shoot till the barrel melts. My “militia rifle” is a Garand + 160 rounds “at the ready”+ my TA-50 and full “approach load”. I can “GO” in the time it takes to dress and fill the fluids. I realize that this is all IMO and just an academic exercise and “mileage varies” . BUT: to put into perspective how much I value the AK platform. It is the only “assault rifle” I own, and I can have any rifle I want.

        • Ray, I get that, but here’s the thing. I have four rifles that can fill the same roll. Why four? Because they have different primary purposes”, and/or are different popular systems. Two are AR types with a different “primary purpose”, one is the AKM type that you’ve seen here, and one is my M1A Socom. Depending on what roll I’m playing in a group, or what a group I might be helping is using as the standard, that will dictate what I carry. As Bergmann said earlier, “optics rule”, and if you don’t “Optic” when you can, you put yourself behind an unforgiving “8 Ball”. Lights? Also a no-brainer, and one of the reasons is what Bergmann said. I have red or IR lens pop off covers on all my weapons lights. “DBAL red/IR laser? Also a “No-brainer since I have PVS-7 goggles, and accurate shooting in the dark is a force multiplier. The red laser on that DBAL has one function for me. When switching from one rifle to another, I simply line up the red visible laser with the optics reticle, then in the dark, I line up the IR laser with the red one. I don’t have to fire a shot to zero the DBAL on any other rifle. I get the “old school” mentality, and in certain areas I still am, but in regards to things like optics, lights, NOD’s with a mounted IR laser, and thermals (yup, and it’s even more useful than NOD’s for seeing game or bad guys in the dark), I part ways with “Old School”, and go to what I know worked in modern combat for me. Anything that is a “Combat Multiplier” that is available will be considered. After all, it’s my family’s lives that hang in the balance, and their worth it.

    • I use to be a purist too.. Sadly survival has become an arms race.. Optics: Suit up your weapon or your outgunned with irons. Everyone has optics these days and the bet goes to the guy with them over the guy w/ Iron Sights in a match up… Searching an urban dwelling after the hammer drops? Much easier with a light on your weapon then one in your mouth or hand.. just makes sense.. No plastic? I been through about 6 sets of wood on my AK in 8 years of Alaska.. Wont be no UPS delivering and the net will be down so unless you plan on a Somalian shovel shoulder stock or the like or you’re good at twiddling wood, I suggest you get some plastic. Its durable and out preforms woods any day..You get with the times or you get owned..

      Bergmann

  3. My first (and only, so far) AK was a Chi-Com model taken from a cache by the ROK Tiger Division. Somehow it worked it way back to our gun platoon and was given to me by one of my crew chiefs. I didn’t know our “Studies and Observation” guys were “salting” the ammo dumps of the other guys so I would occassionally fire the heck out of it. Had “Nugyen Van Heip, Tuy Hoa” carved in the stock and a few pieces of rice stuck in the hardened oil in the receiver. regards, Alemaster

  4. Those M60 gun barrel bags are a natural for those folding stock AKs, even have a few pockets on outside for carrying some on-board materials in case you don’t have time to grab other items. That ring for the cleaning rod removal is a good idea – consider it heisted. :^) Thank you for the post.

    • Thanks for the reply. I keep a 30 rounder with the rifle in the case, a forty rounder in the long pocket, and two 10 rounders with soft point hunting ammo in the small case with extra parts. My Keltec SU16C also fits in it. I was hoping someone would “heist” it LOL

  5. Just out of curiosity, why are you using (what looks like) a paracord loop for a sling mount around the Zhukov stock instead of one of the supplied QD swivel points?

    Also want to +1 on the Zhukov setup. I built my 3rd AKM rifle recently using their furniture, and it is by far superior to anything else out there that I’ve seen.

    I think the AK-pattern rifles have been falling out of favor even more as of late due to the cratered AR15 prices. In my opinion, everyone should own one of these, or at the very least be very familiar with them. They are pretty much ubiquitous all over the world, but the ergonomics are not something that come naturally.

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