If you consider the build of firearms today, the vast majority are the one size fits all or happy medium concept. Military battle rifle design is to fit the body size of the “average soldier”. Whether we are discussing the M-16, AK-47, or G3, these rifles sizes are based on “average”. That concept has worked very well in practice.
“One size fits all” was once considered the perfect solution for manufacturers who wanted to minimize their number of SKUs (Shop Keeper Units). Rather than stock numerous varieties of a product, you come up with a happy medium or “one size fits all”.
Americans, however, are quite fond of personalizing their property. Whether we are discussing cars, trucks, motorcycles or firearms; we love to put our own special touches on them. Some of these modifications are purely cosmetic. Custom camouflage finishes and engraving simply add a unique flavor to the gear; it makes it our own.
It is no secret that a multi-million dollar accessory industry revolves around the AR-15 rifle and its numerous clones. But what about the AK-47 and the many rifles built on the original Kalashnikov design?
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Most all AK style rifles are fully functional and ready to go out of the box. They get built to the one size fits most specification. Can they improve upon the stock on the AK rifle?
Function and Reliability
First and foremost, function or reliability is paramount. If the gun is running reliably, don’t mess with anything that would alter that fact. If your gun is not feeding or cycling properly take it to a gunsmith and work on that issue before you worry about add-ons.
For this review I had three AK-style firearms from Century International Arms; a WASR rifle, a C39 pistol and a C39 Micro pistol all chambered in 7.62x39mm. The fodder for the testing would be the new “Copper Jacketed” 7.62×39 from the Red Army Standard brand. The WASR rifle is an import gun and the C39 guns are 100 percent made in the USA by Century.
All three of the test subjects have been reliable shooters. They feed and cycle ammunition reliably. However, there were a few practical modifications that I thought would be appropriate. For this task I turned to the Brownell’s online catalog.
The pistol grips that arrived on the Century guns were perfectly functional, but a bit small for my hands. Not to worry, swapping out a grip on an AK requires only a few turns of a flat-head screwdriver or Allen wrench. For this review I decided to try a replacement AK grip from MagPul and those from US Palm.
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While shopping for grips I accidentally discovered a very cool accessory called the Echo 93 single point sling adapter. This product is a metal plate with an angled loop. You simply remove the AK pistol grip, drop in the adapter and re-install the grip. You can now use a single-point sling with your AK. Genius!
Mags and Sling
Speaking of US Palm, in addition to their AK pistol grips, I picked up a few of their AK magazines. The US Palm AK mags have a polymer body but they are reinforced with steel in all the right places. The locking tab on the magazine is metal so it will not wear out like other all plastic models.
For the C39 pistol, I found that the SLC sling from Galco was just the ticket. The SLC nylon sling has an HK clip on one end and a large stitched loop on the other. This set up makes the sling tremendously useful and universal. I was able to loop the back end of the sling around the SB47 stabilizer on the pistol and clip the front of the sling to the loop that Century installs on the forward left side of the gun.
The last modifications would be made up front, on the business end. Any 7.62x39mm firearm is going to produce a decent felt recoil and muzzle flash. Both the rifle and pistols arrived with either a slant brake (rifle) or basic birdcage type brake (pistols). These work, but there is room for improvement. All three guns come machined with the Russian metric muzzle threads; 14x1mm left hand.
Onto the WASR rifle, I installed a RAZR muzzle brake from Tapco. The rifle has a spring-loaded detent pin so there is no tools needed to remove the slant brake and install the new model. For the C39 Micro pistol I removed the birdcage version and installed a new muzzle device from Midwest Industries. Unless you add a suppressor to it, any AK pistol is going to be a serious “boom-stick”, but a good muzzle device helps.
I was extremely pleased by the Tapco RAZR muzzle brake on the WASR rifle. The RAZR price ia in the twenty-five dollar range and I now believe well worth every penny. The felt recoil from the 7.62x39mm rifle is tame because of the new brake and I was able to drive it hard and fast.
The modifications made to the test guns were relatively modest. Total investment for all three guns would run you a couple hundred dollars. Quality magazines, a practical way to attach a sling, and a recoil-taming muzzle brake are certainly not extravagant and they absolutely add to the handling characteristics of the firearms. Century Arms machines the receivers of the C39 guns and bevels the magazine wells. They are a joy to load and reload, even with the slightly thicker polymer magazines.
If you are in the market for guns and ammunition of the Kalashnikov variety, Century Arms is a good place to start. For practical accessories to add on to those gun, the Brownell’s website is a valuable resource.
What accessories have you put on your hardware? Let us know in a comment below!
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