As the AK has become more popular and common in the tactical arena as well as among civilian sport shooters there are a number of companies that are stepping up to the plate and providing easy-to-install, off-the-shelf solutions to a number of the inherent issues with the controls and ergonomics of the platform.
US Palm has built a rock-solid reputation for reliably delivering AK enhancements that are simple, but go directly to the core of some of the shortcomings of the AK platform. Most notably, their Enhanced Safety, Battle Grip, 30rd Polymer Mag and Rail Kit provide a suite of simple upgrades that deliver immediate improvements in the AK’s handling and performance.
I had the chance to get my hands on a Parabellum Armament enhanced AK at the SHOT Show’s Media Day at the Range this year.
Parabellum are best known for their AK Adaptive Rail System (AKARS) which provides a solid, top cover integrated rail with a built-in back-up sight as well. The AKARS allows to mount any M1913 rail compatible optic as your primary sighting solution above the receiver – without losing your zero when you need to field-strip the weapon.
The new kid on the block for Parabellum is the Gen.3 Rachet Charging System (RCS III) designed by Dublin AK Systems. As you can see in the photo below, the RCS III unit replaces the AK’s standard gas tube and gives you an HK-style left-side-mounted, non-reciprocating, folding charging handle with a bolt-hold-open notch at the rear. This is certainly the best version of the RCS yet, and it functions flawlessy. Of course it takes a bit of practice to get used to the charging handle being in this location on an AK-type weapon, and some people will be critical of the fact that it changes the controls of the gun and that you’ll need to develop new muscle memory. However, once you’ve become familiar with the set-up I think you’ll see that its a definite improvement. My only critique of it is that the charging handle itself is a bit on the slim and thin side – especially when you have to grab it fold it open while wearing gloves – one of the reasons why the AK is so peasant-proof is that the controls are easy for sausage fingers to grab.
Texas AK Designs
I didn’t get a chance to get my hands on any of Texas AK Designs’ stuff at the SHOT Show, but they’ve been showing some sneak peaks of some pretty cool new stuff on their Facebook page recently. Look out for the official announcements of the final products soon. Their stuff very deliberately sets out to blur the lines between the AR and AK platforms to create a brave new cross-bred hybrid species.
First we get a sneak peak at their B.A.S.T.A.R.D. System semi-permanent grip and magwell adapter. The system bolts on to the bottom of a .223 caliber AK lower receiver and replaces the existing mag release and trigger guard, and provides a new pistol grip base. The new part there-by enables you to use the readily available AR type magazines and pistol grips, and can also be used in conjunction with their L.R.B.H.O. (Last Round Bolt Hold Open) Device to complete the conversion.
Next we get a peak at their new AR-stock adapter, that – as the name implies – adapts the AK platform to accept your favorite AR type stock
Transformation complete, you will soon have the reliability of the AK combined with the accessibility of AR mags, grips, stocks and familiarity.
Yes, that’s right, MagPul – the empire that was built on accessorizing the M4 / AR15 family of weapons has now turned it attention to the AK. Although they only announced an MOE AK grip at the SHOT Show, I suspect that they’ll be rolling out other products in the not-too-distant future as well. This will be something to keep an eye on.
Snake Hound Machine
If you’re looking for the ultimate, hand-built, super-model AK, then look no further than Snake Hound Machine.
Owen Martin doesn’t just accessorize the AK, he totally transforms it from a peasant’s tool into a precision instrument. Want a recent example? Check out this beauty below – the SHM VEPR 308 SASS.