by Robert Kay
Over the last several years Jim Fuller has established himself as one of the most sought after AK gunsmiths. His Las Vegas-based company, Rifle Dynamics, was founded in 2007 with the purpose of providing “fighting weapons and training for the fighting professionals”. In addition to offering gunsmithing and training, Rifle Dynamics sells a line of custom AKs and in-house designed parts.
Fuller also offers do it yourself AK-building classes both in his Las Vegas shop and at venues around the nation. He’s featured in a number of excellent YouTube videos that range from how to buy an AK to gunsmithing tips.
In this second of a two-part series, Jim talks about his favorite third party parts which will add luster and dependability to your rifle.
Q: You guys build AKs. How would you differentiate your products from what Marc Krebs or what the other guys are building?
A: I would say the main thing is we are shooters first, not gunsmiths first. We design and build our products from a trained and well-practiced shooters perspective. Our guns are designed to be light weight and fast handling–built for carrying long, extended hours and again, heavy use. Our custom front end (which many are starting to copy now) greatly improves handling by moving the center of gravity back about 4”, you almost have to handle it to see what I mean. It’s hard to explain.
Q: Let’s look at third party parts for the AK platform. We can start with handguards. Any recommendations, either in metal or polymer—or both?
A: I have always been a fan of the standard Russian/Bulgarian Poly handguards with heat shield and metal reinforcement. They work well. Most of the aftermarket poly stuff with no metal reinforcement should not be considered for a fighting rifle. It will fail. The problem with metal is heat, the AK runs hotter than most guns and metal handguards can be a problem depending on how they are mounted to the gun. Rails are a different story.
Q: I note that you sell the US Palm grip. Any others you recommend?
A: I also like the Izhmash/Tula/Molot grips. The new Magpul is a quality grip–just not the angle I personally like.
Q: How about a collapsible stock? Any brands you recommend that might be particularly ergonomically “correct” and comfortable?
A: When putting a collapsible stock on an AK it really comes down to what feels best for the shooter. On our 702 and 502 models we use a milspec tube with the Bravo Company B-5 stock it is very popular.
Q: How about a folding stock?
A: We have tried most all of them but the best we have found are the standard AK 100type folders, they lock up the best and have a proper cheek weld. Some of the ACE products work well but don’t compare to the original triangle or solid folder.
Q: Do you prefer the standard AK sights or a peep site option? If so have you tried any of the products out there from Krebs, Sight-Tech or others?
A: We have been doing our modified rear sights for seven years which consist of widening the notch and rounding off the corners, we have sold thousands of them too many happy customers. The aperture sights are not effective in the standard rear sight position for them to be effective they need to be close to the shooters eye. Trying to get a sight picture through the aperture away from the eye takes longer than the stock sight with the small notch.
Q: How about rail mounts for a red dot?
A: We have found the Ultimak upper rail to be the best option for a red dot based on the height and ability to hold zero. The US Palm Rails, Damage Industry as well as others have solid mounts but none set as low as the Ultimak.
Q: What about other mounting options for a red dot?
A: As mentioned above we like US Palm, Krebs, Damage industries they are all solid
Q: How about a trigger group?
A: We use a modified (Tapco) G-2 in all of our guns.
Q: What about a sling?
A: I prefer a single point for training or a 2 point for basic use.
Q: Did we forget anything? Any other products that you might recommend?
A: One thing I would like to point out is the AK is finally coming into its own popularity here in the US. This of course is growing the AK industry and driving all of us to make better products/guns/designs ect. With this growth also comes a lot of junk cluttering the market so when you see the newest AK, accessory, whatever do your research and buy wisely. Be sure to check our new YouTube channel for videos and product reviews on other stuff important to the AK industry.
Q: Can you tell me a bit about what’s entailed in a class? Sounds like you purchase a pile of parts and then assemble it. What all is involved?
The build classes have been huge for us, We do this mainly to establish a standard for building these properly. There are so many misconceptions and frankly very bad info on the internet of how building an AK is done. We have seen the failed attemptsof people who buy a parts kit and receiver and going on info that is wrong, incomplete or not the right info for the gun they are trying to build and it can be a disaster. In this class we provide all parts, tools and info to properly build an in spec AK which is your gun when it’s all done.
There is no better way to know your gun as well as you will after finishing this class. We have taken the guess work out of building.We show you proper methods construction, proper tooling to use and the right aftermarket and 922R parts. Many who have taken this class have gone on to privately build themselves a nice collection, some are starting there own companies and some are or work for existing AK builders who just want to check their skills. There are still spaces available in some of the classes this year and we are starting to book classes for 2015.
Q: Can someone with average mechanical skills build a rifle?
A: Yes we guide them through the entire process.
Q : In building a quality rifle is it more about how you put them together? Or are the quality of the parts pretty much standard?
A: It is all about how the gun is built. While it is 40’s technology most in the US do not understand the eastern block technology and design principles, that’s why we have so many shitty AK’s being built in this country. Parts are an issue depending on country of orign, not all countries built to the same spec. We generally try to stick with Bulgarian or Russian parts
Q: Where do you source the parts from?
A: Many distributors–who ever has the best selection.
Author’s Note: For those interested in building their own AK and would like to find out about attending a class check out Rifle Dynamic’s class schedule.
Photos courtesy of Rifle Dynamics.
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