Saturday, January 18, 2014

US PALM AK Battle Grip (AKBG)

Following is a quick overview on installing a US PALM AKBG.

As always, safety is your #1 priority, so clear your firearm before starting. Remove the magazine (if one is inserted), retract the charging handle, inspect the chamber, release the charging handle, allowing the BCG to go forward into battery.

Once your firearm is cleared, with the safety off, pull the trigger (allowing the hammer to go forward to hold the BCG in place), pop the dust cover off, remove the recoil spring, and, as mentioned, the hammer will hold the BCG in place while you replace your old PG with the AKBG. If you choose to, you can remove your BCG as well, your decision. Next, remove the pistol grip that you would like to replace. For this, usually all you will need is a flathead screwdriver. Set the PG screw and old pistol grip aside, but leave the threaded pistol grip block loosely in place in the receiver. Your block may not be loose, but all the Romys and Saigas I own have loose blocks, either way, it will be retained for use for the installation of the AKBG.

You will need a 3/16 long arm hex key wrench and blue Loctite (if you wish to apply some) to complete the installation.

[1] Assemble the screw set

The AKBG kit comes with 4 parts in two sections; the screw set and the pistol grip. To set up the screw set for installation; take the socket head cap screw, slide the spring lock washer (looks like a ring that is split & offset) on, and then slide the Belleville washer on with the teeth facing the spring lock washer. Place the screw set on the end of the long arm 3/16 hex key wrench.

[2] Install the AKBG

Open the storage compartment plug at the base of the AKBG grip and guide the screw set that is positioned on the end of the hex wrench through the grip and out of the top of the grip. Let go of the grip.

With the setup balanced in your primary hand, pick up the AK with your free hand. With your secondary hand on the AK, you will locate the threaded pistol grip block and hold it in position by lightly pushing it down with your index finger, wrapping your other fingers around the exterior of the receiver.

Bring the AKBG setup to the bottom of the receiver and position the top of the screw up against the threaded pistol grip block protruding from the base of the receiver behind the trigger guard. Slowly rotate the screw set with the hex wrench until it grabs. Once it grabs, tighten it up. However, at this point you may also want to apply some blue Loctite to the block on the interior of the receiver, I didn't, but you can if you choose to. Continue tightening, take your time & don't rush it. I am using a long arm hex wrench and once I reach the limited amount of torque that I can attain with my fingers, I take a rag, wrap it around the end of the wrench, and give it one more solid rotation. Refrain from over tightening, it is not necessary. 

Once installation is complete; reinsert the recoil spring to the BCG, reseat the dustcover, charge the firearm, and dry fire to function check. Place the safety on.

[3] The completed view... with my hand in the way

Final notes. I have tried several popular brands, but sold them off after using the AKBG.  AKBGs are on most of my AKs. Why? Because you will always have your hand on the pistol grip when operating your firearm and it helps when it's a damn comfortable grip. The AKBG fills my hand perfectly, allowing for full control and leverage over my platform. The rear of the AKBG flows up into the receiver allowing for the shooter to obtain a high, firm pistol grip, essentially the same control you would want with a handgun. Functionally, the foundation of efficient trigger control is in the grip. The AKBG is simple and effective in design, being narrow at the top, while filling out at the bottom. I currently do not use the storage compartment for anything, but once I throw an optic on this firearm I will use it to store backup batteries (in a Zipolock bag).

And lastly, I'm in CA and that fugly thing on the trigger guard is a Solar Tactical Gen II bullet button, not some tactical mag release design from SHOT Show 2014. Besides going featureless, the Solar Tac Gen II AK bullet button is the the best option for Californians. You can find cheap imitation versions of it on Amazon, but what sets it apart is the crossbar screw that prevents the BB from walking out while in use/firing.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

SA Inc. M1A Upgrades

I recently got a SA Inc. M1A Standard and there are a couple of cost effective mods one can perform to accurize the platform without sending it to a gunsmith; shimming the gas system and replacing the spring guide. I ordered the Sadlak NM Spring Guide directly from Sadlak and purchased the shims from the PX on M14 Forum. On this post I'm just going to cover installing the spring guide, a very simple process that you can do without the use of any M14/M1A service tools. 

As always, safety is your #1 priority, so clear your firearm before starting. Remove the magazine (if one is inserted), retract the charging handle, inspect the chamber, release the charging handle allowing it to go forward into battery, engage the safety.

[1] Release the trigger assembly.

If placing the firearm upside-down on a table (as pictured) be sure to protect your rear sight; note the setting on your elevation drum, rotate it until it bottoms out, and then place the rifle upside-down on the working surface. You can also place a block of wood in front of the rear sight under the stripper clip guide (as pictured below) to keep the weight off the rear sight. With a solid hold, move the trigger guard backwards and up, rotating the trigger guard forward, which releases the trigger assembly.

The trigger assembly is relatively difficult to remove on my M1A, you really have to muscle it. DO NOT attempt to pry the parts with a screwdriver (although I have) or anything of the like, that's when you start making a bad situation worse. If you are having a tough time releasing the trigger guard, take a sock and thread it between the back of the trigger and the trigger guard. Take the rifle, turn it vertically, buttstock on the table or take a seat and put the buttstock on your knee, then firmly pull the trigger guard back with the aid of the sock. Do not jerk it or yank on it... insert joke. Once you pop the trigger guard out with the sock, remove the sock, and rotate the trigger guard forward by hand. 

If you do have a USGI M14 combination tool, the movement is the same, back & up. You will insert the tool (not too deep as to avoid hitting the trigger) into the hole at the rear of the trigger guard. Pictured below is a USGI M14 combination tool.

[2] Remove the trigger assembly.

Once the trigger assembly has been released, remove it by lifting it straight up and out of the stock. It should take minimal force to do this.

[3] Separate the stock from the upper assembly.

Once the trigger group is removed, the stock will easily separate from the barrel/upper receiver assembly. Hold the two sections and pivot out from the front of the firearm at the front band (stock retaining plate) and the stock ferrule. Set the stock aside and place the upper assembly on your workbench upside-down.

[4] Disengage the connector lock.

Locate the connector lock pin (circled). Moving the connector pin will disengage the connector lock, allowing you to release and switch out the spring guide. I used a small flat head strew driver to move the connector pin. You will have to push the spring guide back to allow for easy movement, but be aware, you have a fully compressed op-rod spring under pressure! The op-rod spring and spring guide should remain in position once the connector lock is disengaged, but exercise caution, possibly holding it in position.

[5] Release the spring guide and op-rod spring.

If you haven't already, grasp the spring guide and op-rod spring firmly, move it slightly back and out of position and, while still maintaining a firm grip, bring it up and forward, thus allowing the spring to fully expand without sending it flying across the room.

[6] Replace the spring guide.

The existing spring guide can now be replaced with the Sadlak NM spring guide.

Pictured above is the Sadlak NM spring guide (top) and the KMT spring guide (bottom) that came with my SA Inc. M1A Standard. The difference in volume and construction is obvious.

To reassemble, follow steps in reverse.

Final notes. Shimming the gas system is a little more time consuming, but it isn't complicated, you just need the right tools and patience. Furthermore, I'm probably not going to get around to posting how it's done because Tony Ben already created an excellent post on M14 Forum about the upgrade. I'm not sure if this is a sign of what to look for, but out the box it was apparent that my SA Inc. M1A Standard had a lot of slop in the forend of the stock by the gas system. After installing the shims, it removed all play in that area. Is this an easily identifiable characteristic of what to look for when considering shimming the gas system, maybe, but I'm by no means an expert on the platform, just pointing out my personal experience and noting a feature change. Sending a few rounds downrange will ultimately be an indication of the effectiveness of this modification. One could easily invest a lot more in accurizing an M1A, like sending it out to a reputable gunsmith for a trigger job or switching out parts with USGI components, unitize the gas system, but at this point I'm saving up for some good glass and 7.62 NATO. And I honestly don't mind the trigger on my M1A... so far, that is. Lastly, as the saying goes, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" and I'm a firm believer in this, so if your M1A is GTG, I say leave her alone and keep shooting.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Installing the Magpul MOE® Fixed Carbine Stock

For $50 shipped, I decided to try the Magpul MOE® Fixed Carbine Stock (Mil-Spec). Installation is very simple and the only tool you'll need is a flat head screwdriver.

As always, safety is your #1 priority, so remove your magazine (if one is inserted), retract your charging handle, clearing the action, visually inspect the chamber, release the bolt forward, and place the firearm on safe. The lower pictured has no upper on it, so we're GTG on the safety check. 

[1] Select and install mounting bracket.

Unboxed, the kit comes with three parts total. The first section is made up of two mounting brackets that mount up snug to the lower, over the buffer tube/receiver extension. Functionally, if your lower uses a receiver end plate sling system, like the Magpul ASAP, the mounting bracket on the right in section one would be installed. If your lower uses a standard end plate (as pictured) the mounting bracket selected for installation would be based on visual preference. I opted for the mounting bracket on the left for a clean, solid look that mounted flush to the rear of the lower. Remove your current stock and slide on the mounting bracket you have selected.

[2] Install the stock.

The second section, the stock, is the next step of the installation. Upon closer inspection of the stock, the locking mechanism and mating system is readily visible and self explanatory. The channels pictured line up with the mounting bracket and join up once the stock is slid into position. To install the stock; remove the screw, slide the stock over the receiver extension/buffer tube and mate up the stock with the mounting bracket.

[3] Tighten the stock into position.

The locking mechanism is the screw picture above. Once the stock is in position and mated up with the mounting bracket, reinsert the screw (on the right side of the stock or the opposite side of the nut), and tighten with a flat head screwdriver. It doesn't take much to tighten the two sections into place, so avoid over-tightening.

[4] The completed view. 

Overall length from the rear of the castle nut is approximately 8" (including the butt-pad). That is about the same position as the first locking point of an adjustable stock. 

Final notes. I will probably purchase a Magpul PRS Extended butt-pad to increase my LOP, but I need to take out my AR and run it before I make that decision.  Additionally, though this stock falls under the MOE designation, be aware that the MOE Enhanced butt-pad will not fit this stock. The kit does not include a QD sling mount system, but it does allow for the installation of one on either side of the stock. This will have to be purchased separately and usually goes for $15. Lastly, this stock does not have side mounting slots to accept cheek risers. If you were not using a cheek riser to begin with, that is a non-issue, but might be a consideration for some buyers, like AK operators who wish to use optics.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A crate of 5.45x39mm

One of the firearms depicted in our background image on our site ( is the Arsenal SGL 31, an AK74 variant. The AK74 was developed in the early 70's and was called the Kalashnikov Automatic Rifle Model 1974, thus the "74" designation. The AK74 is chambered in 5.45x39mm and was the (former) USSRs answer to the 5.56x45mm NATO cartridge. Most of the 5.45x39mm currently available in the US is Russian military surplus, commonly referred to as 7N6, and comes in spam cans. Each spam can contains 1,080 rounds of 5.45x39mm. During the best of times, I've seen a spam can go for $100 and during the worst, 2012 for example, post Sandy Hook, close to $250 a spam can! A crate (as shown in the picture) of 7N6 has 2 spam cans, for a total of 2,160 rounds, and should come with spam can openers. Not all available surplus 5.45x39mm is directly from Russia, but most Combloc surplus spam cans are easily identified with the right information. For IDing a spam can:

Top line usually denotes: caliber / bullet type / case type

The second line indicates: Cartridge Lot # / YY of production / Factory # / (space) / powder type / powder lot # over YY of powder mfg. / factory source of powder

The bottom line denotes the amount of cartridges in the container

So what is in the crate pictured?  Ah, come on, what's in the box, what's in the box?!! Here's a very helpful thread on AK Files.

Final notes. 7N6 is corrosive, so the weapon should be cleaned promptly after a shooting session. Boiling hot water flushed over the internals and down gas tube, the bore, through the muzzle is all that's needed. Be sure to remove that muzzle brake and clean off the muzzle and the brake, 7N6 is dirty! Windex or an ammonia solution is not necessary. In fact, ammonia left in the bore can damage and corrode the steel. As stated on Krieger Barrels' website, "Do not leave these chemicals in a bore any longer than 10-15 minutes MAXIMUM! DO NOT EVER use straight ammonia to clean a barrel." I'm not going to argue with a reputable company and will take their word for it. Okay, back to the cleaning. Boiling hot water should evaporate for the most part, but you can use WD-40 (WD stands for "water displacing" & it is not a lubricant) to displace the left over water or use compressed air. Give everything a wipe down and then lube. I use Break-Free CLP and then wipe everything down again, put the firearm away, usually storing it in a silicon sock (you can buy one at Walmart for $4). Edit: Just had a discussion with a friend on this topic, so might as well cover it here & now. Storing your firearm long term in a padded gun bag is debatable, I don't do it (as stated previously, I store them in silicon socks), but some do. My father-in-law stores all of his firearms in padded cases; he diligently cleans & lubes them, then stores them away. His firearms are in perfect conditon. He rarely shoots his Garand and has had it in a bag for years, no signs of rust the last time I saw it. He lives in a very humid area and also runs a humidifier inside his house during the dryer winter months. But whatever you decide to do, don't ever leave a firearm (with a warm/hot barrel) in a sealed padded bag for an extended period of time after returning home from the range as you might discover an unpleasant surprise when you attempt to use the firearm again in a month or so.