by Rob Kay
As part of our annual Christmas tradition, we like to recommend “stocking stuffers” that will enhance your AK without breaking the bank. This year we’ve chosen items from folks like Rifle Dyanamics, Krebs Custom, Blackhawk, Stormwerkz and Bonesteel.
First in line is Krebs K-VAR AK 74 Style Muzzle Brake. This heavy duty, tank-style muzzle brake is modeled on the traditional Russian style model for the AK-74. (See photo above).
Essentially three ports towards the rear of the unit direct gasses upward and to the right to compensate for muzzle rise. In addition, the front of the brake has two distinct slots which are vented in a way to direct gasses backward, thus pushing the rifle forward and reducing recoil.
The upshot is that you get a product that helps keep the rifle on target for faster and more accurate follow-up shots. Some say this product is so effective that a 7.62×39 mm rifle feels more like a 5.56×45 mm.
Price is $65 for both the the 7.62 model and 5.45 models from Krebs Custom.
Seeing is believing with the Krebs Custom AK Pattern 4 Prong Flash Suppressor. Co-developed by the Krebs team and with help from the omnipresent video blogger Mrgunsngear, this is a terrific product. Resembling a prong or a trident, it weighs in at a mere 3 oz and is about 2.5” in lenght. These specs are significant. First off AKs are heavy enough as it is out of the box. You don’t want some bulbous extension messing with the balance of your rifle and making it heavier than necessary. Available in 24 and 14 mm with a sturdy parkerized finish this unit will provide years of service. Price for the Gen 2 models is $69.95 for the 14 mm model and $74.95 for the 24 mm version at Circle 10. Luke at Circle 10 is selling the Gen 1 Krebs 4 prong as a clearance item. Price is only $35.00. He has both the 14 and 24mm versions.
Another product that I really like is the Blackhawk Dieter CQD Sling. Blackhawk has an impeccable reputation when it comes to designing gear for the tactical shooter and this product is no exception. After having used it for over a year, I can flat out say it’s by far the most comfortable sling I’ve ever owned.
It wasn’t intended for an AK but it sure works great on one. It utilizes bungee cord on both ends of the sling which really helps to stabilize the rifle. Constructed with 1.25” T-13 webbing, which is wider and more comfortable than standard fare. This sling is designed to either carry your rifle over the shoulder in a muzzle-up carry or muzzle down carry. The Blackhawk Dieter CQD Sling also differs from the standard models because it uses “HK style” gated snaphooks. The spring loaded snaphook is made with heavy gauge metal and although it does take some dexterity to attach or remove, it’s very, very secure.
The sling was designed for Blackhawk by Duane Dieter, who founded the CQD (Close Quarters Defense) training organization. Dieter has trained special operations teams such as the Navy SEALs, Special Boat Teams, Army Special Forces, Army Rangers, and many other orgs. Price on Amazon is $62.
Josh Miller, founder of Superior, Wisconsin based Stormwerkz makes a nify little AR 15 stock folding mechanism that you may well consider if you’re interested in making your rifle a folder. At first glance it looks to be a clone of Ace. It looks similar but Miller reckons that his product is a notable improvement over the Ace product. The main difference, he notes, is the design of the wedge. The StormWerkz features a symmetrically sided wedge which Miller says will allow the locking mechanism to wear evenly and last longer. We thought the folder worked quite well–both functionally and aesthetically. It was easy to use and locked up tight at full length. It also locks up when folded. The stock was quite rigid and short of using it to hammer down rail road spikes, should be quite durable. It’s available from his website for $75.
Chris Bonesteel, founder of Bonesteel Arms, is probably best known for his folding mechanisms. These include both Galil type stocks as well as folders that are integrated with an M4 collapsible stock.
The appealing thing about the Bonesteel systems, such as the Bonesteel M4 stock for the VEPR, is that they are “plug and play”. They combine a folding mechanism with a milspec extension tube and a slanted adapter that fits into the back of the receiver. Just bolt the whole enchilada to the back of the tang (and add the pistol grip) and you’re ready to rock
The milspec tube is pinned onto the folding mechanism and it’s exceedingly light–12.5 oz (just the hardware) and 19.5 oz or thereabouts with a buttstock attached. Any weight savings is a blessing and it doesn’t hurt that the Bonesteel folder is machined from aircraft aluminum. Fit and finish on this item are superb–it has a shiny black anodized look that blends in perfectly with the VEPR color scheme.
We found the stock was really easy to manipulate without feeling like you were going to damage the hinge if you somehow tweaked it the wrong way. It tucks to right and folds closely to the rifle. Chris includes a Q/D sling swivel which also comes in handy. Price is $149 for the VEPR and AK models.
A stocking stuffer that will please anyone planning to add an M-4 type fixed stock to an AK should consider the Rifle Dynamics AK to M4 adapter. Essentially it allows you to easily bolt on an AR stock assembly to the back of an AK receiver. This system will work with most variants but will not fit a rifle with a milled receiver, a Chinese rifle (Norinco MAK 90, NHM-91, Polytech, B West) nor the PSL, Zephyr or Yugo.
The AR style collapsible, fixed stock offers an almost infinite latitude for “operators” of every physical description. With one click a 6’4” shooter will be able to use the same rifle as someone 5’4”. Second, and no less important, is the issue of utilizing optics on an AK.
We installed the original, “Gen 1” version of the product. There’s a slight difference between it and the Gen 2. The Gen 2 system has the stock at a slightly lower angle. He did this because some users suggested that the angle of the Gen 1 was so high, they couldn’t use the iron sights efficiently. (As a Gen 1 user I haven’t found this to be an issue.)
Adding the adapter essentially means adding four bolts. However there is a technique to getting it to fit perfectly. (Jim demonstrates this in his video which I recommend looking prior to installation). The end result is both aesthetically pleasing and very robust. Price is $65 on Brownells .
Being the urbane guys we are, as part of this Christmas series, we thought we’d move beyond the comfort zone of gun gear and segue into the tactical apparel world. If the list of clothing manufacturers on this year’s Shot Show exhibitors list is any indication, sales are hot. And for good reason. Tactical clothing is becoming hip. Even though tactical apparel is an outgrowth of military-designed clothing, designers must adjust to the sensibilities of the civilian space.
It has to work in the field first and by definition must be durable.
Kitanica has taken this process to the next level by designing apparel that is both sturdy and stylish—an item you can comfortably (and not self-consciously) wear outside of work.
Such is the case with their LWV Short Sleeve Shirt which comes in basic black and looks cool enough to wear to a cocktail party. Made with a combination of light, but sturdy polycotton ripstop, it provides “breathability” (as their website says) which in Hawaii is not some abstract concept. The LWV does that and offers the wearer a full range of motion.
And….you actually may even smell better under duress wearing this shirt.
The material has an antimicrobial moisture component in the mesh underneath the armpit. I will take it with me to French Polynesia for an upcoming assignment on Moorea and perhaps find out how well the antimicrobial formula does its job.
I don’t expect the vahines to say “tres chic” but I do expect that the shirt will stand up to the rigors of the rain forests, the atolls and whatever other environments I encounter. Price is $112.
Photos courtesy of On Target staff.
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Rob Kay writes about firearms for Hawaii Reporter and is the author of How to Buy an AK-47.
Read more of Rob’s articles on OnTargetHawaii.com