by Rob Kay
For those who want to add third party rails or handguards to their AKs, there are two basic choices. You can take the polymer route or go aluminum alloy. “Plastic” has the advantage of being inexpensive and strong. You’re probably not going to save any weight with polymer, but for most people’s needs it’s perfectly adequate.
If you opt for the latter, your choices diminish. There are a few middle of the road products from companies such as Midwest Industries or Carolina Shooters Supply or, you can pay top dollar for better quality from manufacturers such as Krebs Custom or Zenit.
Then there’s Chaos.
This family-owned, Evansville, Indiana shop was founded in 2007, by master machinist Cameron Hadley. He makes top quality rails and handguards strictly for AK platform rifles and shotguns. Hadley told me he named his company after a product he was working on, a tank-style shotgun muzzle brake that he was going to call “Chaos”. He reckoned Chaos fit better as a moniker for the company so he adopted it.
The company is gradually getting attention from the AK community and deservedly so.
Mr. Hadley has designed what he calls the Titan Quad Rail System for AK 47/74. The design, which took about three years to develop, is distinctive because it’s what he terms “fully field-strippable”. You don’t need any tools to remove the top half of the handguard (which exposes the gas tube) or the rear rail which is mounted over the dust cover.
(For the purposes of this article, we’re only going to look at the handguard. We’ll save the rear rail for another story).
The Titan Quad Rail is a substantial item, machined from 6061 aircraft grade aluminum alloy. It weighs in at 9oz which is in line with the competition. Cost for the handguard is $156.95–slightly under what you’d pay for an analogous system from Krebs but more than something from Midwest Industries.
Hadley’s experience as a machinist is evident in the quality of his work.
Installing the handguard
Installing the handguard is not difficult. The first thing to understand about the design is that the bottom and top half are coupled together with pins that run laterally along a set of rails. The pins that slide back and forth are manipulated by locking tabs.
Note also that the four screws on the bottom side of the handguard have nothing to do with fastening it to the receiver. These are actually “tuning screws” that adjust the tension on the “pull” pins and ensure that the top rail is secured to the bottom half. The manufacturer strongly suggests that you don’t touch these four screws, as they are factory-adjusted. (We learned the hard way).
To affix the Titan Quad Rail to the rifle first remove the bolt and then the gas tube. Move the tabs forward and slide the bottom end of the handguard into the front of the receiver. Once in, you can attach the bracket on the front end of the handguard.
If your rifle has a cleaning rod, you’re going to have to dispense with it. It won’t fit in the Chaos scheme of things. Chaos founder Cameron Hadley reckons that the value of being able to field strip a rifle with no tools will override the need to hang on to the cleaning rod.
After you’ve completed attaching the front bracket, which involves tightening three Allen head screws, there are two “barrel screws” at the bottom of the handguard that must be snugged down on the barrel.
At this point you can put the bolt and gas tube back on. Then place the top half of the handguard atop the rifle. It will fit securely in the slot. Then lock down the top half by depressing the tabs and sliding the pins forward, towards the muzzle.
The result is a very, very solid fitting handguard that’s easily disassembled.
The only issue we had was making the mistake of using the stock bracket from the Saiga to assemble the unit instead of the bracket from Chaos. By mistake, the Chaos bracket was not included in the package so we assumed the stock one would work. We were able to attach the handguard but it caused the top half of the system to be out of alignment and one of the pins would not operate. We explained the problem to Chaos’ customer support (aka Cam Hadley) who sent the missing bracket along. Once the correct part was added, both pins worked like a charm.
We were very impressed with this system. It’s well crafted, fairly priced and works as designed. It takes a little bit of getting used to the tabs as a take down for the top half of the handguard but we loved its simplicity.
The Titan System hasn’t seen years of service but for all practical purposes it looks and feels to be very rugged. Industry friends of ours have been using it for a while and haven’t had any problems to date.
We’ll keep you posted how it works for us.
So what’s in the Chaos pipeline?
Although currently the company manufactures AK parts, Cam Hadley told me that he intends go into weapon manufacturing and produce a tactical 12 gauge shotgun he has dubbed the Chaos WOC 12. It should be ready for SHOT 2016.
Mr. Hadley will continue to produce rail systems. On the drawing board is a keymod handguard for the AK. It won’t be field-strippable but it will no doubt be light. I would keep an eye out for any of his new products.
Making order out of chaos seems to be this company’s specialty.
Photos courtesy of On Target staff.
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