by Rob Kay
Editor’s note: Many thanks to Luke Williams, industry analyst and owner of Circle 10 AK who contributed to this story.
Those of you who follow our regular columns know that we cover the AK space with great regularity. SHOT is no different. The upshot (pardon the pun) is that 2015 should be a banner year for AK enthusiasts. In large part because of the ban on Russian guns, the trend seems to be for more domestic production of AK rifles. Century Arms announced production of domestically manufactured AKs months ago but other players are getting into the act.
RWC, the importer of the AK 47 is (as rumored last year) going to set up production of the iconic rifles in the US under the Kalashnikov USA brand. Kalashnikov USA is 100% owned by RWC Group and the press release stated that the US firm has no affiliation with Concern Kalashnikov which manufactures the rifles in Russia. Until the ban in July of last year, RWC was sourcing its guns from this company. Given that there is no relationship between the two companies (except presumably some kind of licensing agreement to use the name “Kalashnikov”) one would know how Kalashnikov USA is going to manufacture an authentic AK without the Russian “IP” and hardware such as tools, dies and other manufacturing equipment. One news source stated that RWC is negotiating with several different states to set up the plant. Judging from what we see in the social media, AK enthusiasts are very excited about buying US-made rifles. Deliveries will commence sometime during the second quarter of this year. On Target’s editorial team will continue to track this story which has piqued the interest of the entire AK community.
Similar news from Radom (according to Rob Ski from AKOU) the famous Polish arms manufacturer, which is also going to be opening a facility in this country. According to Rob, they will be building military spec Beryls with cold hammer forged barrels.
Palmetto State Armory which produces high quality, reasonably priced AR 15s has also jumped into the fray with their new PSAK47 AK47 rifle. The rifle is manufactured from US-made parts sans the furniture. More details to come.
Last year industry powerhouse Magpul rolled a few new items for the AK including a new magazine. This year Magpul is coming out with a “Gen 2″steel-reinforced AK PMAG but should be out this summer.
At this year’s SHOT they have surprised everyone with with two lines of stocks, and handguards exclusively for the AK.
Although the number of AKs are minuscule compared to the AR space, Magpul sees the writing on the wall–the AK is a market worth getting into in a serious way.
They produced a clever little video www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er_eVvdGnKk, sans many details about their new products dubbed the “Zhukov“-S AK folding stock and handguard and an MOE style stock and handguard. I suspect they will be popular with the AK set. Magpul is sort of the IBM of the gun industry. It’s safe, well made and well, sort of institutional. The same axiom that people used to say about Big Blue back in its heyday applies to Magpul–“nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”.
No details on pricing. The products are scheduled for release sometime later this quarter.
Century International (now going by Century Arms) and importer of Zastava firearms from Serbia will be offering their new enhanced AK enhanced trigger group called the RAK-1. The RAK-1 uses a double hook design with a relief cut that allows it to be used in receivers designed to only accept single hook triggers just give the operator the option to have the strength and control of a double hook in firearms originally designed to accept only single hook triggers.
The disconnector has also been optimized to eliminate trigger slap and folding of the engagement surface seen on many other trigger groups during high round count tests. MSRP is $34.99 and should be shipping in about 3 weeks.
Another intriguing product coming out is in the M10X by M&M Industries, the importer of the M10 from Romania. This is a 100% US made AK hybrid. The features include fully floated nitrated barrel, ambidextrous charging handle and safety Galil-style, aluminum extruded handguard / top cover with full length mil spec and anodized pic rail, fully integrated upper receiver, proprietary recoil reducing compensator, and hinged lower receiver similar in concept to the Russian PPS 43.
There will be two models offer the elite and standard. Elite has a machined upper receiver, machined bolt carrier, fully nitrated finish, Magpul grips, Magpul M-lok rail, Magpul stock. The standard is a casted upper receiver, casted bolt carrier, phosphate finish, Hogue grip, Phoenix Tec field series stock.
The MSRP for the elite is $1,195. MSRP for the standard is $900. Luke Williams of Circle 10 AK said he’s “really excited about this weapon and believe it has great potential.” Release date anywhere from 1 to 3 months and we cannot wait to get a sample for testing.
Cameron Hadley, founder of Evansville, Indiana-based Chaos will be producing a full flat top rail for the AK, due out early to mid-2015. Dubbed the Chaos Apollo Rail, it’s a keymod design and looks similar to the Krebs VEPR rail. The good news is that it weighs in at only 17 oz. It’s designed to fit a wide range of AK 47, AK 74, Saiga 308, Saiga 7.62, 5.62, .223, 5.45. and VEPR rifles. Price point will be around $240-260. Hadley said the rail requires a small modification—you need to cut the sling ring off the front lower hand guard retaining bracket.
One of my favorite companies on the SHOT watch is Chesterfield, Michigan-based RS Regulate. Owned and operated by the iconoclastic Scot Hoskisson, the company manufactures a modular style AK mount, which are arguably the best on the market. His success didn’t happen overnight. After several years and any number of iterations, Hoskisson came up with a system that consists of a lower portion that is clamped down securely to the side rail by means of a titanium lock and an optic-specific upper section that bolts onto the lower. The idea was to make all upper and lowers cross compatible so that you could come up with a plug and play option for virtually every variant as well as a variety of popular optics such as Aimpoint, Trijicon, Bushnell and others.
His newest development, which he is announcing at SHOT, is a series of scope mounts that specifically for the popular O-PAP and N-PAP “Yugo” rifles built in Serbia by Zastava. Scot has come up with two different “lowers” — the AK 306 (which has a front bias like his current model 301) and a full length model called AK 307. With these new mounts any Yugo gun owner can use any scope supported by the RS Regulate series ranging from the ACOG to more affordable optics from Primary Arms and other manufacturers.
Hoskisson has also created a new barrel accessory mount called the BM-2 that will work with the Yugo guns. This allows O-PAP or N-PAP owners to install a laser or a flashlight on the fore end of the rifle. (The mount has the same function as his popular BM-1 barrel accessory mount which works with AKM pattern barrels).
Finally, he’s introducing a prototype mounting system designed to work with optics that Wolf Performance Ammunition will be importing from Russia.
Marc Krebs, is the founder of Krebs Custom and arguably the most influential AK designer in the business.
Making an appearance at Industry Day at the Range this year, he spoke glowingly about the final touches on his “speed loading” system for the AK.
In his estimation this configuration provides the ultimate in AK ergonomics. This set up includes a left-handed op handle, extended mag button, mag ejection spring, index finger safety. The combination of these tweaks or “sum of the parts” says Krebs, allows the operator to run the gun completely without taking your hand off the pistol grip. This means reloading in a rapidly and economically.
Another major product for Krebs is a four-prong flash hider with 24 x 1 ½ threads on the exterior for suppressor use. The prongs, says Marc, will virtually eliminate the flash. For those who don’t care for the prongs, because they worry about getting snagged, he’s added a sleeve to rectify this issue. Krebs also has a muzzle brake that will slip over this assembly that only adds 1.5 inches to the gun. To cap off this platform, he’s got a sound suppressor in the works.
Other new products include a new gas block with high front sight for use on a receiver type sight (as featured on the Krebs Custom KV-13), a shorty buttstock and a dust cover for Galil.
New AK Triggers are always of interest. There are a couple of new products to keep an eye on.
One of the more prolific trigger manufacturers, Geissele, introduced two new AK triggers at this year’s SHOT. The ALG Defense AK trigger (at left) manufactured by Geissele will come in two models–a “standard” trigger priced in the neighborhood of $50 and an enhanced version at around $75.
The triggers were received with great enthusiasm at the Industry Day at the Range and I have no doubt will be of interest to the AK crowd. Geissele has a huge following in the AR world and with their marketing prowess will no doubt give the rest of the third party trigger producers a run for their money.
Finally, perhaps the most interesting technology to hit the AK space was from a little known company called Tac-Con USA which has come up with the first (at least the first I’ve heard of) drop-in trigger for a AK-47. Dubbed the “Raptor” it retails at $349.00. Ouch. It ain’t cheap but if it works and is as easy to install as an AR drop-in, I’m sure there will be interest in this product. Stay tuned.
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Rob Kay writes about firearms for Hawaii Reporter and is the author of How to Buy an AK-47.