by Rob Kay
Mission First Tactical is a company that is usually associated with the AR platform. When I visited their booth at the SHOT Show earlier this year there were quite a few items produced for the AK. I had a chance to look at a number of them would like to offer my impressions.
The Battlelink Minimalist Stock caught my eye at SHOT because it conforms with two trends—keeping the weight down and experimenting with new designs, in this case the so-called “Shepard’s Hook”. It’s lighter than the Magpul CTR, which is often used on an AK, and I was curious how Battlelink would compare. (See above photo).
Mounting it was a bit of task. The tiny pin you need to move, in order to slip in the buffer tube, is short and quite stiff. Using your fingers is tough. Instead you’ll need a channel lock or the butt end of a spoon to shift the pin far enough to slip the tube in. Once in, it’s very tight. There’s no rotation or slippage and in fact, there’s no need for a lock (as on the CTR) because the tolerances are so darn close. What I also liked was that there’s a lot of real estate on the cheekweld—in fact more than what the CTR offers.
The model I acquired, known as the BMSMILNRAT- BMS Mil Spec Tube Size with woven on NRAT Strap, has about 8 feet of braided paracord strung from the tip of the butt of the stock to the base. The whole effect reminds me of thosetriangles we had to deal with in geometry class. For the record, the woven paracord is officially called a “NEMO Rapid Assault Team Strap or NRAT Strap”. I must say it looks pretty cool.
I’m told the cord adds only a half an ounce to the system. The strap slightly obstructs the QD mount but applying a little elbow grease will allow you to attach or remove it.
I would say MFT succeeded in building a rather unique, very lightweight and aesthetically pleasing buttstock. I was concerned that the Shepard’s Hook would catch on my clothing but to date, I’ve yet to catch it on anything.
I suspect you’ll see more of these on AKs as time goes by. MSRP is $84.99
The other Mission First item that piqued my interest was their Engage tactical (EPG47) pistol grip. What’s unusual about it is that it precisely mimics the raked angle and ergonomics of an AR 15 pistol grip. It has a saw type geometry which is wider at the base than at the top so that your hand is not so easily going to be dislodged.
The fit on the receiver is excellent and the side fits flush against the trigger guard. The grip is hollow so that you can use it to store “stuff”. It has stippling on the sides, finger grooves on the back and serrations on the front. In short, it feels very familiar to anyone who has spent a good deal of time with an AR. Thus if you’re interested in keeping the feel for the learned AR muscle memory, you’ll like this a lot. MSRP is $30.00 but I’ve seen it for closer to $20.
The truth is, not everyone needs much less can afford a high-end aluminum handguard for $160 or more (which is the price of the Chaos unit). If you’re a range rat or simply need a handguard with rails to slap on accessories such as a vertical fore grip or even a red dot, polymer will do you just fine.
The last MFT item I wanted to check was “Tekko” handguard. Although the tacticool crowd eschews “plastic”, there’s a lot to be said for polymer. It’s very robust and inexpensive. However, it usually will not save you any weight. For example this system weighs 9.7 oz. The popular Chaos rail system is 9 oz.
I was a bit skeptical about MST’s Tekko unit but after using it for about a month, I grew to like it. MST says it’s made from “reinforced, super tough polyamide from DuPont’s Military Plastic Division” and I’ll take their word for it. It comes in two parts like a clamshell. The lower half slots into the front of the receiver and is cinched down on the front by same clamp as your original handguard. The website claims that no gunsmithing is required to install the unit but this was not the case for our new Saiga.
We spent about 20 minutes with a dremel, carefully trimming the slot that was supposed to fit on the lip of the receiver. We had to be very careful not to take out too much plastic or we’d have to throw the whole thing away. We took our time and got it to fit.
Once correct, it was a easy to join the upper part of the handguard, which simply involved screwing in four bolts. The result was a very solid handguard complete with a “quadrail” set up. There are two removable rails on the side, which we liquidated. On the bottom there’s cleverly designed cover that slides off if you need to access the bottom rail. Frankly, it looks and feels better with the cover. Price is $53.76 on Amazon.
Conclusion: All of the MFT products we looked at were well engineered, sturdy and aesthetically pleasing. With the exception of the handrail, none needed “alteration” to make them fit. I would say they represent good value.
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