On Target Review: AK Accouterments from Blackhawk! and Otis

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by Rob Kay

When you get into a new platform, as I have with the AK, you inevitably start acquiring the accouterments—the necessary gear to complete the package. For example, if you buy an AK or two, you’re going to need the accessories to clean, transport, aim, etc your rifle(s).


The main pitfall?

It’s easy to get carried away with stuff that you think you need vs. what’s really important. (Sure it would be cool to have a $1000 Trijicon scope…but do you really need it?)

In this piece I’d like to suggest some items that I’ve found indispensable if not requisite.

Blackhawk! Weapon Transport Case

Obviously you’re going to need a case to get your rifle from point A to point B. I did a lot of research in this department and couldn’t find any cases dedicated to the AK. I wondered, does it really matter if you use a bag that is designed for an AR or for that matter, even a discarded tennis racket case?

Maybe not, but I wanted something that would fit my profile. It had to be durable, and if possible, capable to transport two rifles at the same time.

The strap is sturdy, as is the entire case. You’re not going to get shoddy merchandise from Blackhawk!

My choice ended up being the Blackhawk! Weapon Transport Case. It’s not really designed for an AK but it may well be the best you can find.

It comes from a company with a really cool story that produces very durable products. It was founded in 1993 by former Navy SEAL, Mike Noell.

Noell is no longer associated with the firm, but his story is instructive.

It goes something like this:  In 1990, he was short-roped down from a helicopter in Iraq and nearly lost his life when one of the shoulder straps on his backpack, which was brimming with sixty pounds of equipment, busted and the ensuing loss of balance yanked him backwards. The fall landed him within inches of a “Bouncing Betty”.

Fortunately he didn’t get blown up and vowed that if he survived his tour, he’d build a better backpack. Survive he did and after leaving the service, he founded Blackhawk! in his garage. His mission was to design gear that could take a beating. Word got around to the SEALs and other operators and eventually, the general public. The company was acquired  in 2010 by Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK), which provides specialized ammunition and equipment for the military, law enforcement, and outdoor recreational markets.

Even though the company is no longer owned by the founder, it’s DNA is clearly still part of the equation. Blackhawk! makes very sturdy stuff. I’ve used their Long Gun Sniper Drag Bag and abused it to no end. It has held together quite well.

There’s a big fat pouch along the side where you can stow your mags, cleaning gear and even a handgun or two.

The transport bag is extremely rugged.

It’s constructed from 1000 denier nylon and .375” closed-cell foam. It has a padded, removable divider for side-by-side weapon storage and a fully padded outer pocket with universal holster for pistol and accessories. I use the outer pocket for magazines, scope mounts, scopes and the like. I like the large pouch better than the typical AR bag which has the small pockets for AR style mags.

Those pockets don’t work for the AK magazines.

I also like the bag’s dimensions – it’s 41” long, a perfect size for an AK. The only thing I wish it had (that the Blackhawk Drag Bag has) are straps to secure the rifle inside the bag. Hint: maybe the manufacturer would consider that for the next iteration.

It’s more expensive ($140) than the average bag but you have the option of transporting two guns, and it’s really well made. The lesson here is something that might have come out of the mouths of your parents:  You get what you pay for.

Otis 7.62 Ripcord

The ripcord is stiff and dense enough to slide right down the barrel. It’s easy to pull through and get the residue out of a warm gun.

One thing you always need to do with any gun: Clean it.

I’ve been using the Ripcord for other rifles for over a year and I really love this product so I picked up one that would fit a 30 cal rifle.

It’s become a regular part of my post range, quickie barrel clean up exercise. Essentially you want to clean the barrel while it’s still warm—before  the evil carbon residues start hardening and your job becomes more difficult the next day.

The ripcord is the latest evolution of the bore snake and I think it’s much better than the old fashioned kind.

The Otis product differs from the standard bore snake in a number of ways.

First off, it’s manufactured from Nomex fibers braided over a molded rubberized core/cable combination. Nomex is a product invented by DuPont, first used for flight suits and later as standard fare for people who need flame resistant garb to protect them from burns such as firemen, racecar drivers, etc. This material is not going to melt in a red hot barrel—if you ever get the notion to clean one!

The Ripcord has 8-32 threaded ends so you can screw in accessories such as jags, brushes or the “T-bar” as pictured above to assist in the cleaning process.

The Ripcord has 8-32 threaded ends so you can screw in accessories such as jags, brushes or the “T-bar” as pictured above to assist in the cleaning process.

The Ripcord is quite rigid compared to the old-style bore snake. Consequently, it’s much easier to insert down a barrel than a standard bore snake which has to be “gravity fed” by tilting the gun downwards. With the ripcord you essentially push/slide it–breech-to-muzzle. When the tip emerges from the end of the barrel you can pull it through. Otis says the core has a “helix shape, which helps engage the rifling throughout the length of the barrel.

The Ripcord retails for $14.99. In addition to being available in 308/7.62mm you can get it for  .22/.223, 9mm, .45 caliber and other sizes. Don’t leave home without one.

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