AK Essentials Series–Safety Levers from Krebs Custom and a Tango Down Fore Grip

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by Rob Kay

Krebs Custom Safety Levers


In the AK universe, Marc Krebs has been synonymous with innovation. He makes a number of custom parts for AK variants but perhaps the one item he’s most famous for is his version of the humble safety lever. His work is a wonderful definition of industrial design, the purpose of which is to improve ergonomics, functionality, and usability of a product.

His products are a great enhancement of the original part because they help the shooter perform a simple but extremely important task–take full control of the operation of the safety lever. The secret is allowing continuous finger contact throughout the entire range of motion.

The upshot is that it makes your AK more user friendly.

The extended shelf on the lever is ergonomically “correct” and easy to operate. You can flip the safety with your trigger finger while keeping the shooting hand firmly around the pistol grip. The location and shape of the lever, a distinct curve, allows the finger to instantly return to the trigger in one fell swoop. You’re not going to be distracted or lose your sight picture even when using an optic.

Another innovation not immediately noticeable to the novice is a bolt hold-open (aka BHO) slot on the lever. The BHO catch allows the operator to easily keep the bolt open so that the range officer can easily observe whether there’s a round in the chamber.

New Mk VII “Ambi Enhanced Safety” is designed for left and right-handed shooters. Righties  can manipulate the lever with their index finger and lefties (as illustrated) do so with their thumb.

For years the standard replacement for the stock safety was his Mk VI series ($59) which he designed for machined/milled receivers, the Saiga and stamped receivers.

The newest addition to the Krebs line is the Mk VII “Ambi Enhanced Safety” ($65.00) made for both left and right-handed shooters. Right-handed shooters can manipulate the safety with their index finger and lefties can do so with their thumb. The safety will work with AKs, with both stamped and machined receivers.

Quality and finish are first class on all models. The coating is a durable, smooth matte.

The good news is that you don’t have to pay a gunsmith to swap out your safely. Even if you’re a rank amateur, they are easy to install.

Simply remove the recoil spring and rotate old safety towards you. At a certain point it will pop out of the hole in the receiver. Put the new one exactly where the old one was and rotate in the opposite direction (down).  Recoil spring goes in as does the dust cover.  Bingo you’re done. This video does a good job showing you how.

The caveat is if you install a custom trigger, such as the Red Star Arms system, you’re going to have to do some grinding on the safety with dremel. However, that’s the exception. If you have a Tapco trigger (which seems to come on the majority of AK rifles these days) you shouldn’t have to modify the safety.

Both Red Star Arms and Krebs Custom make first class retainer plates.

If you do indeed plan to acquire a new selector switch check to see if you have the Shepards Hook style retainer pin. If so I’d highly suggest you replace with either a Krebs Trigger Pin Retainer Plate or a similar product from Red Star Arms, called the Red Star Arms FCG Pin Retaining Plate.

Why add one of these plates?

In short, they make disassembling an AK fire control group soooo much easier than farting around with the old fashioned Shepards Hook set up. Thus, anytime you’re going to clean or take apart the AK trigger system you’ll be happy you got rid of this archaic relic from the 1940s. 

Tango Down Vertical Grip

While on the subject of Krebs Custom products, we can’t help but segue into another very well designed accessory from Tango Down, a name you don’t normally associate with the AK space. They are a high end, specialty manufacturer of tactical gear such as magazines, bipods, sling mounts and the like for the AR platform. However, they also make a very usable, stubby vertical fore grip called the Battle Grip Model BGV-Mk46K that can be easily added to an AK.

This product (which is available in three colors–black, tan and green) happens to be sold on the Krebs Custom website for around $60. We figured that if it had been vetted by Mr. Krebs, it was plenty good enough for us to consider. Indeed, we added it to VEPR and it worked splendidly. Unlike less expensive products which are attached to a 1913 rail system with screws, the Tango Down grip uses a “Dual Locking Bar Mount” system.

Tango down
The Tango Down Vertical Fore Grip (Stubby) BGV-MK46K is mounted with powerful spring loaded clamps. It’s pictured here on a Krebs VEPR handguard.

The mount is essentially spring-loaded so you’ll need a bit of elbow grease to move the tiny levers or better yet, use their “Grip Chips” a tiny tool kind of like a shoehorn, which can be inserted into each side of the grips to hold down the locking bars, making the adjustment a breeze.

They work like this: You depress the two locking bars and then line up the grip with the rail. Once on the rail you can move the grip forward or backward to your desired location. When you have the grip where you want it, remove the two “chips” and the locking bars will engage the rail.

Once on, they are really, solidly on. The grip is hollow and has a cap on the end so that you can also use it as a storage compartment. Unlike some of the fore grips on the market which have a rather rough exterior, the BGV-Mk46K is smooth so it’s easy on the web of your hand when holding the rifle.

I really like it.

Photos courtesy of  On Target staff.

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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