by Rob Kay
In our last story we did a Q&A with Nick Bauer, the founder of Beeville Armory. Nick spared no detail in his description of how to construct a custom (traditional-style) AK from a kit and how his builds differ from the mass produced guns.

When we originally spoke to Nick we wanted to review a rifle that had the look and feel of a classic Warsaw Pact style AK. Building these happens to be a specialty of Beeville. We knew it wasn’t going to be an exact replica of a pre-ban model but our goal was to come up with something as reasonably close to “authentic” as possible.

What he had on hand was a Polish parts kit. The Poles, along with the Russians and Bulgarians, have some of the better quality kits and Nick chose this one for that very reason. Except for the sidemount for an optic, this was “standard issue” a plain Jane AK with wooden furniture.

The rifle was sent to Brian Takaba of X-Ring Security up in Waipahu who we feel is one of the best gunsmiths on Oahu. Upon unboxing it he immediately commented on the quality of the finish and the fit–particularly how cleanly the rivets were placed. He also liked the quality of the bolt and the furniture on the rifle which he noted correctly, came from a Romanian gun. It had a beautiful sheen and you could still smell the fresh shellac.

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Testing out the Beeville AK build at Koko Head range. It comes with a Magpul magazine .

The next step was to bring this baby to the range and of course sight in the gun. Nick had already roughly sighted it in at his shop which saved quite a bit of time. All we had to do was tweak the height of the front post. In short order, we were able to get approximately 1 ½” groups at 100 yards which is exceptionally good from an AK, especially considering we were just using just iron sights. With a scope we reckon we could get even tighter groups.

Functionality was excellent.

In other words, the rifle cycled perfectly every time with both Silver Bear and Tula ammo. Brian of X-Ring, was a bit concerned about the bolt’s tendency to stick when manually pulling it back but this never occured when firing the gun. Nick insisted that this was a temporary condition which would cease after the gun was broken in.

The main thing to get used to on this classic rifle was the stubby Warsaw-Pact stock. That however, was just a matter of time. Once the rifle was sighted it in, it was deadly accurate with the nitride barrel that Beeville had installed. We could consistently hit a 12” gong offhand at around 115 yards. What really helped in this regard was how light the gun was. You’d think with all that furniture it would feel heavy but without rails or the other gegaws you have on “tactical” AKs, it was both manageable and well balanced.

The only disappointment was that we were hoping our Primary Arms optic placed on an RS Regulate mount would “co-witness” with the rifle but the geometry did not make it possible. This is not surprising since all AKs seem to vary in terms of specs.

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Front connection point is a combination molded Universal Wire Loop and a push button attachment. Loop itself uses a heat resistant, non-marring, nylon coated stainless steel cable .

What we particularly liked was Beeville’s trigger job which was completed a Tapco G2, which is found on most AK builds. The action was crisp and light (about 3 lbs) with a short reset. This was as nice a trigger as you’ll find on an AK. The only caveat is that the reset is so short you can find yourself popping off several rounds, almost in a select fire sequence. It’s a little startling until you get used to the trigger. I would classify it more as a trigger for the advanced shooter, rather than the neophyte.

Price for this package is $1300 which includes the rail mount, a gun case and a Magpul MOE 30 round magazine. Expensive, yes, but you’re not going to get a better classic AK.

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Blue Force Limited Edition AK Sling 

The Beeville AK presented an opportunity to try out the brand new Limited Edition AK Sling from Blue Force Gearan item we’ve been wanting to look at for a long time. Designed by the legendary Larry Vickers, what differentiates this sling from any other designed for the AK is a pull tab which allows you to make adjustments on the fly. This option is handy at the range but if you’re in the field and need to attend to business quickly and without distraction, it’s crucial.

While the pull tab is a modern innovation, this sling has elements of the old and new. For example, the coyote brown colored nylon strap hearkens back to the old Soviet days. In addition, the “hardware” (which is super durable polymer), matches the famous “plum” coloring of the old fashioned Soviet furniture. The apocryphal story is that the Russians actually wanted black furniture but the factory didn’t get their dye quite right. (There are other variations on this theme so believe what you like).

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Pull the tab and you can instantly adjust the sling. Smart engineering from the Vicker’s and Blue Force brain trust.

The newer version or V2 edition of the sling takes the Soviet design to the next step. Emblazoned on the strap is a cold war era style label complete with inspector’s proof stamp. The V2 also has a select premium leather pull tab whereas the one we have is nylon.  (I guess Mikhail Kalashnikov is smiling up in heaven somewhere in appreciation).

These stylistic nuances give the strap a sort of retro aesthetic but this is very much a 21st century sling. Starting with the hardware, the front connection point consists of a molded Universal Wire Loop, with an option for a push button attachment. The loop itself utilizes a heat resistant, non-marring, nylon coated stainless steel cable which can easily be hitched to the sling attachment.

We liked this sling a lot and were expecting to see a high quality product from Blue Force Gear.  We reviewed an AR sling a few years ago with the similar pull tab typical of the Vicker’s system, and it worked splendidly. The new AK sling was similarly comfortable and easily adjustable.

The Limited Edition AK Sling V2 has a leather pull tab and a faux Soviet stamp visible on the backside of the strap.

The genesis of the Vicker’s sling line up came about after a chance meeting with Ashley Burnsed, a Savannah Georgia native, and the founder of Blue Force Gear. Vickers was looking for a manufacturing partner to help him create his “dream sling” and quite coincidentally meet Burnsed in a tactical course he was giving. He was impressed with Blue Force Gear’s products and shortly after, Vickers says the two “put their heads together” and designed their first joint product, the Vickers Combat Applications Sling (aka VCAS).

The latest product of this union, the Limited Edition AK Sling, is a winner.

Price for the AK sling (we tested) goes for $49. Limited Editon “V2” model is $65.

Photos courtesy of On Target Staff . (Bottom shot from Blue Force).
Questions?  Comments?  Contact us at ontargethawaii@gmail.com
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

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