by Robert Kay
Rob Ski is the founder of AK Operators Union Local 47-74, a website and Facebook page devoted to the glory of the AK platform. The content that he produces includes product reviews, training exercises and thoughtful commentary.
Unlike many so-called “Operators” he was actually trained with an AK as part of his military service in Poland.
The membership of his users group reflects his own international background. Participants include operators from the Russian Spetsnaz (Special Forces), West and East SF’s teams, СОБР (Special Rapid Response Unit or SOBR) groups and various military branches from all around the world.
Rob acts as a bridge between the East and West. His commentary is compelling and full of useful information. What’s more, his Operators Union is starting to catch on. His FB page recently acquired its 10,000th follower.
He believes that the AK platform is finally getting its due in this country and predicts that 2014 will be the “Year of the AK”. I think he’s on to something. However, looming in the background is a big question. Will the US put an embargo on Russian imports?
There is a lot of hype on the Internet about the AK. Is there a particular myth or inaccuracy that you would like to dispel?
One of the most irritating me myths, is the myth about AK not being accurate. I think that myth was born mainly because of our experiences in recent wars, where we were facing an enemy who was maintaining their weapons very poorly (if ever). In addition, most of their rifles were never zeroed in correctly and their users had almost no solid marksmanship training. (Thank God for that). I want to assure everyone who bought into this myth that the AK can produce fantastic and consistent results. Granted, you’re not going to use this rifle in bench rest competition, but a well built AK will produce MOA groups similar to those shot from AR build by BCM or any other “top” AR makers.
Another crazy myth is that Russian operators love to use “chin weld” method when aiming through their optics, so we should suck it up and do the same. In reality, Russian operators are often forced to have optics mounts higher because of their Altyn (and other similar) helmets. Because of this style of helmet, optics must be placed higher. But when operating without the helmet, they have to compensate for the extra height which is why the “chin weld” method is used–not because they prefer it.
You seem to have a good relationship with foreign operators in Russia and Serbia who whose the AK. How did that come about?
I had many friends in Europe. Some of them were attending the same training facilities I did with the US Army, but I have also met many new guys through our Facebook page. It is amazing the mixture of international community, united under the banner of respect for AK rifles.
Are the Special Ops guys in Russia or Serbia using any gear that we don’t have or are some using items developed in the US?
It is very hard for us to understand the situation in Eastern Europe and Russia. When it comes to gear the price differences between US and Russia is astonishing. For example, the same Red Dot optic sight is 50% to 300% more expensive in Russia than in the USA. The same goes for every other piece of equipment. And you have to consider the difference in salaries too. That said, well funded units do have access to latest and greatest available gear. Remember that Russia has its own war on terror. We don’t hear much about it in our media, but they fight extremist Muslim terrorists in the Caucasus region on daily basis. So, they will use any kind of equipment that helps them do their job better and to save lives. That’s why we are seeing more and more pictures of Russian operators using modernized AK rifles with lasers, optics and etc. This is not for the show only–this is to make their job easier.
I know that the “cognoscenti” in this country recommended Russian guns above all else. I note that there is a lot less inexpensive gear from Serbia, Romania, Poland, Bulgaria, etc. Is there anything else of decent quality out there that you recommend for an entry level rifle?
I’m biased, I think if you have to have one rifle, it should be a well made AK, preferably with origins from the (Russian) Izhmash factory.
Do you have a particular brand of rifle that you prefer?
I like basic Saiga rifles, because these are made in Izhmash, original AK factory in Russia, and you can easily bring them back to AK shape from their “sporter” version, which is the consequence of US import law (922r).
You’re often asked how your personal gun is configured. Let’s start with handguards.
As of right now I use a Krebs Custom Guns UFM Keymod Rail system. This is a very light and compact replacement for the original hand guards. The rail is well designed, thanks to the Keymod system,–you as the owner can place your own rail sections wherever you need them. This Krebs Rail System also dissipates heat extremely well.
What about pistol grips? Any recommendations?
My favorite pistol grip is made by US Palm – I have large hands and this is no brainer for me, but this is my personal preference and some other users may have different ideas.
How about a collapsible stock? Any brands you recommend?
I like the Magpul CTR — it is not perfect, but does the job for me.
How about a stock adapter?
Rifle Dynamics is a good one. It’s kind of hard to install, but it is very light and places the extension tube higher than other solutions. Thanks to this you don’t need to use cheek riser to achieve better cheek weld
How about a folding stock?
I’m not a big fan of folding stocks, but I do realize that these are very popular. Not my favorite, but so called “paratrooper” stock is a solid piece.
Do you prefer the standard AK sights or a peep site option? If so have you tried any of the products out there such as the Krebs or the Sight-Tech?
This is funny, but I’m almost 40 years old. At this point in my life, my eyes really like to use Red Dots now more than ever, but I still manage to be proficient enough with standard AK iron sights.
How about QD rail mounts for a red dot?
Optic mount (300 series) from RS Regulate – best optic mount for side rail I have ever seen.
What about the Krebs safety lever?
Enhanced Safety lever: Krebs Custom Guns, this is really “must have” upgrade. How about a trigger group? Have you tried the Red Star trigger?
TAPCO G2 trigger, far from being perfect, but it is what it is and you can make it work. I have used Red Star triggers, but I see these more for the designated marksmen rifle than ordinary combat rifle.
Anything else we missed that you’d care to comment on?
The Bolton gas block from Venom Tactical is an interesting upgrade option which allows some weight savings upfront by ditching the standard front post. It is not without the flaws – it is not chrome-lined and I found that in the early product release version the front sight post jiggled loose from the recoil. I had to glue mine with green loctite, but supposedly, the new generation of this product corrected that issue. I will test the new version it in the future.
What about a sling?
Magpul slings from MS line are good – simply because it allows me to quickly switch from 2 point to 1 point and vice versa. It has also quick adjustment system to regulate length of the sling on the fly.
Photos courtesy of Rob Ski (Ak Operators Union, Local 47-74).
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