Category Archives: Furniture

Used to blog about AK furniture

Why Does the Color of Grips and Handguards From Ronin’s Grips Fade And What To Do About It?

I’ve had guys ask why the color of my grips or handguards seem to fade with time. The short answer is that it has to do with the liquid wax finish oxidizing and not the plastic – the color is actually in the plastic. You see, we sand every grip and handguard to get rid of mold imperfections and then we blast each with abrasive media (currently it’s Black Beauty or Black Magic depending in the store I go to) and that turns the plastic almost white as you can see in the photo above. We blast the surface to create a very sure grip when you grab hold – your hand doesn’t slide easily. The polished finish we used to do resulted in a surface that is slick when wet due to sweat, water, blood, etc.

So, the blasting abrades the surface and messes up the colors being reflected back to your eyes. To solve this problem, I tried a ton of different oils and waxes and the best was Atsko Sno-Seal. It really brought out the color and it did not fade – or at least I never saw it fade. The problem is that Sno-Seal is a paste wax and I have carpal tunnel. Rubbing it into grips and handguards every day over and over was killing by wrists so I had to stop it.

This pushed me back to the drawing board and this time I looked at liquid waxes. Some of them really smelled as the liquids evaporated and the best option I could find find was the various butcher’s block finishes that combine mineral oil and a wax – often a bee’s wax. This stuff goes on like a dream but does fade with time. There’s nothing wrong with the color – it’s just the finish oxidizing and drying out.

What to do about the fading?

As mentioned above, the finish I apply will fade. The good news is that the owner with a number of options and I’ll shorten it down to the four I recommend:

  1. Buy Sno-Seal and apply it. This stuff is awesome for boots and I actually had it for my boots when I tested it. It’s my #1 recommendation and what I do for furniture I make for myself.
  2. Shoe polish holds up really well and you can nudge the colors/hues one direction or another depending on the color of the wax. This goes on pretty easy and seems to last. Just buff it well so you don’t get any color on your hand. I’ve had very good luck with Kiwi products.
  3. Any fine wax for boots, leather, wood or preservation ought to work. Just follow the directions. Absolutely do not use super thick floor wax or it will be a disaster as one customer found out.
  4. Put another coat of butcher’s block conditioner on it. Easy to apply but it will not last.
Atsko Sno-Seal is my #1 choice. Kiwi shoe polish works great. Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner is what I use in production and is also what fades with time.

How to Apply Sno-Seal

My first recommendation to customers is always Sno-Seal. It takes just a little it to polish a grip or handguard plus you can use it to waterproof your boots.

I did this corner at room temperature and you can tell it takes a bit more effort to rub it in and buff it off.

You can either warm it up on your hand and then rub it in or you can use a heat source to warm up the grip or handguard just a bit – meaning warm to the touch not hot – and it goes on even easier. When I did the M72 hanguard set shown, for example, it was warm after about a minute and 20 seconds in our microwave. You rub the wax in and buff it off – done.

Hello Mr. Microwave! You can optionally warm your piece of furniture up with a microwave, oven turned on at 150F or less, hair dryer, etc. You want it to be warm, not hot. If you can’t pick it up, it’s way too hot. The plastic will not begin to deflect until around 250F and there’s no way you can pick that up hence the rule of thumb. [Click here if you want to read about a heat test we did]
So here’s the finished handguard set after I buffed off the remaining wax.

Again, if you ask me what I do for my own grips and handguards, it’s Sno-Seal and I rarely use extra heat – usually just I just warm it up with my hands and rub it in. Sno-Seal lasts the best of anything I have found.

I hope this helps you out.


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Photos of Rick’s Polish AKM-Beryl Transitional Rifle

Rick sent me these cool photos of his new build and I had to share them. He also gave me some details as well.

The rifle has a “Polish FB Radom barrel, trunion, and optic rail. Childers polish cg1 receiver. To stay with the polish theme, I found an unissued polish soviet era laminate stock. I was originally going to use a bakelite grip. But, since this is a hard use rifle. I wanted something more robust. But correct for the polish theme. Your grip delivered and then some. So here are some pictures of my polish AKM-Beryl transitional rifle. At least I call it that for lack of a better term. “

Yes sir Rick – that is definitely one slick build!


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Converting the PSA AK-V To Look Like A Russian Vityaz-SN PP-19-01

Thanks to the US government restricting the imports of firearms from the Kalashnikov Concern in Russia, I pretty much gave up on my hopes of owning a Civilian Vityaz clone – or at least one from Russia.

In case you don’t know the submachine gun I am referring to, the Vityaz-SN PP-19-01 is a 9x19mm submachine gun that is basically a scaled back AK-74M that uses a blowback operating method vs. gas, It was designed in 2004 and in production from 2008 to the present day.

Vityaz SN submachine gun.
Photo obtained from Wikipedia and used under Creative Commons license.
Vityaz-SN wiith Zenit stock and rails.
Photo obtained from Wikipedia and used under Creative Commons license.

At any rate, I got excited when PSA released their AK-V and then fixed the initial bugs that surfaced – I respect a firm that listens to customers, acknowledges the problems and fixes them. I purposefully held off buying the AK-V initially but once word started spreading of the improved model, I bought one and wrote series of blog posts:

Here’s my AK-V with the first set of changes – the more rigid SBA4 brace, one of my quick takedown pins and a Vorte Crossfire Red Dot on top of an American Defense quick release mount.

Click here to go to the Palmetto State Armory AK-V homepage. This is a great place to see all the models and accessories that they are now offering.

Well, I thought I was done – the AK-V didn’t look like a Vityaz-SN with the Magpul grip and handguard plus the SBA4 brace but it was very comfortable to shoot and the furniture was solid. I was fine until Paul Popov posted photos of his converted AK-V in the Facebook AK-47 Group using the new CNC Warrior side folding brace and it look far more like a Vityaz – yeah, I had to change.

Getting ready to swap out parts. Note, the is an Izhmash handguard and I wound up using a K-VAR US handguard set that I will explain more below.

The conversion is really straight forward – change the the brace, the handguard and the grip. While I do plan on changing out the muzzle device at some point, I’ve not done so yet – just FYI,

Always make sure your firearm is unloaded and safe before you work on it. Check that chamber one more time.

The CNC Warrior Brace

Chris Bonesteel, of Bonesteel Arms, and CNC Warrior have been working together for years turning out high quality Galil-style folding stocks. I did not know they had created a brace design until Paul posted his photos and I immediately ordered one. Why would I jump? Simply put, the team turns out excellently executed designs and no, they did not pay me to say that. It just happens that I’ve known both groups for a long time – the US AK parts maker community started out small way back when.

Here’s the link so you can take a look. The AK-V uses a stamped AK style trunnion and then you can choose either a left or right side folding model. They were out of stock of a left folder so I bought a ride-side folding model. It looks like the AK-V will still operate folded but I haven’t tried it yet.

You can see it is very well designed and made. The rear is rigid and contoured to conform with the side of the arm when strapped on. That is the Velcro strap on the rear.
This shows the lock up side of the mechanism. The whole folder assembly is an aircraft aluminum alloy. Note the quick release swivel socket just forward of the lock area.
The screws that go into the trunnion are 10-32×3/8″ and there is a small nut in a slot for the front srew to give some adjustment. Keep an eye on that during installation or it may slide out.
The rear of the brace is solid. It secures to the side of the arm vs. over the top. It’s a great example of thinking outside the box.

Now, to change out the existing SBA3 brace or, in my case, an SBA-4 brace, you will need to first remove the stock by pulling up on the adjustment latch and sliding the stock to the rear. You need to pull the latch so it can clear the groove’s walls it is captured in.

Depending on how you are viewing the adjustment latch, you need to pull it out of the way for the brace to slide off the buffer tube / receiver extension. Given the viewing angle of this photo, I would pull the latch (in the yelow circle) down.
You are pulling that latch pin out of it’s normal position so it can clear the rear of the retention pin groove you see here that runs the length of the tube.
You are going to need a tool to get a firm grip on the castle nut to turn it off the staking that PSA does. You could use a combo wrench with the three contact points or a Magpul wrench. The Magpul wrench rocks, You can get a solid hold and remove staked nuts easily – even heavily staked nuts. I do NOT recommend the single point spanners like you see at the left end of the top combo wrench.

Listings from eBay

PSA does not mess around – that is a solid stake and mine had two of them. In case you are wondering why, AR rifles use stakes to prevent the castle nut from shooting loose due to recoil and vibrations.
You don’t exactly remove the stake – you turn the castle nut by pushing the staked material out of the way. This is why I like the Magpul wrench – it supports the nut all the way around and sits squarely in the grooves of the nut. It will overcome stakes all day long – lefty loosey and righty tighty 🙂 So back off the nut and then unscrew the extension tube and remove it.
All three of these allen head screws need to be removed. All three have thread locker on them so heat the screw up with a small torch to soften the thread locker. If you do not you risk stripping the allen socket and that happened to me regardless on the rear. If you strip one, an old trick is to use a light hammer and tap in a Torx bit into the hole and then it will usually get enough of a hold that you can remove the screw. Now, if you do strip the rear one, there is an important additional step – hold a big hammer, in my case a forging hammer – against the bottom of the tang when you tap the Torx bit in. The bigger hammer and its inertia will support the rear tang and lessen the odds of you bending or breaking the rear tang. You will not re-use any of these screws.

I didn’t get a photo of the next two steps but to remove the M4 adapter, I used a wood dowl and hammer to give the unit a few taps from the inside and it came right out. I was surprised by PSA’s use of a two-piece rear trunnion. It’s innovative and makes sense. If you ever built an AKM and then used the Ace universal modular stock adapter that did not require cutting the rear tang, you may recall that block is huge as a result. I used it because I didn’t want to permanently cut the rear tang off.

By creating this two piece unit, PSA can effectively have rear trunnion that can either accomodate a folder or modular block without the tang in the way or simply insert the tang and then use a fixed-stock style screw arrangement.

To install the CNC Warrior brace, I simply tapped it into the receiver. I did make sure the front retaining nut did not slide out of its slot during the process. Once the stock was fully seated, I checked the install of the supplied screws and I could not reach the captured nut. So, I ran down to Ace Hardware and bought a few different lengths of #10-32 allen head screws. I used 3/8″ long for rear screw and 9/16ths” for the front. I’ve not seen others mention they needed a longer screw in front but that is what worked for me. It seemed to tighten down fully – if it had not,I would either have tried a shorter screw or ground down the tip just a tad.

After I published this post, Paul Popov pointed out to me that he examined the two screws that came with the brace and noticed the heads had different tapers. The one for the front has more of a taper/slightly smaller head that allows it to indeed get down far enough for front screw. So, take a look at your screws and see if this helps.

Note: I coated the screws with Blue Medium Loc-Tite just to be sure and then tightened them down. It’s very important you use your favorite thread locker here – Vibratite, Loc-Tite, etc. Because the block is aluminum, I would not use anything stronger than a medium-strength locker.

Keep an eye on that nut when installing your brace. It can easily slide right out of the slot. If you lose it, it’s simply a #10-32 nut. After installing the brace, I wiggled the weapon around to move the nut where I could see it and used a small allen wrench to slide the nut into position before inserting the screw.
You can see the innovative two-part rear trunnion and the new allen screws.

That’s it for the brace. It was actually really easy and trying to take the photos took longer than the actual work.

Ronin’s Grips Izhmash Molot Grip

The Vityaz-SN uses Izhmash’s copy of the Molot grip – what I like to call the Molot Gen 2. In my honest opinion, the Izhmash copy is a better design, The original had a weaker nose, was slightly smaller and did not have as big of a tail between the web of the thumb and the receiver. For all these reasons, I’ve always liked the Izhmash grip more and made myself one for this build. [Click here to to go our product page from the Molot Gen 2]

We make all of our grips by hand for each order. This is our “Molot Gen 2” that I made for my AK-V to Vityaz-SN clone project. Click here for the product page.

Installing the grip is the same as every other AK. I didn’t take photos but you can google and find a ton of videos and instructions with photos.

  1. Remove the dust cover, recoil spring assembly and bolt carrier [that last one is optional] to get easy access to the back of the receiver where the grip nut is located.
  2. Remove the existing Magpul grip. Squeeze the tab to remove the bottom and expose the screw. Use either a large blade screw driver or an Allen wrench to remove the screw.
  3. Make sure the grip nut is in the receiver and angled backwards.
  4. I use one hand to reach in and hold the grip nut in place. I then flip the gun upside down, put the grip on, insert the screw and wiggle it around until it catches the thread.
  5. The grip should sit square all the way around. If it does not, then use a file or sandpaper to make it flat. Go slow, take your time and test over and over – don’t try and do everything at once or you may take off too much.
  6. I tighten the screw down firmly but I don’t use a thread locker and I also do not go crazy torquing it down either.
  7. Re-assemble the weapon and function test it.

K-VAR US Handguard Set

The Vityaz-SN uses the same handguards as the AK-74M and they will also fit AKM-pattern handguards as well. I’ve used K-VAR’s US-made furniture many times so I went to their website and they had both their US handguards and original Izhmash furniture. I thought it was a neat opportunity to see the differences first hand so I did a blog post with tons of photos showing the small differences between the two – click here to read it.

The top set is a real Russian Izhmash set and the bottom is a K-VAR US-made set.

My first thought was to use the Izhmash set but I found I needed to remove just a tad bit of material off the metal nose for it to lock up fully into the retainer. I didn’t want to modify the real Russian lower so I opted to use the K-Var US lower and modify it as needed.

When it comes to fitting a new handguard to a rifle, you want the lower to lock in firmly and not be loose but you don’t want to impossibly tight where you break the cam arm lever off trying to tap it down.

If I were to make a broad generalization, I find that if I need to trim a brand new lower to fit a rifle, I usually need to shorten the handguard. Maybe it’s just my luck but usually that is what I would find with new lowers. If it was a surplus lower from another rifle then all bets were off because there was no telling how it was trimmed to fit.

Again, tons of photos and videos on the Internet but here are the basic installation steps:

  1. Remove the dust cover
  2. Remove the recoil spring assembly
  3. Remove the bolt carrier assembly
  4. Swing the gas tube locking lever up and remove the gas tube assembly
  5. Flip the cam lever on the lower handguard retainer to unlock the lower.
  6. Slide the lower forward and down to remove it.
  7. Reverse this to install the new one. Fit the lower if needed. It took 2-3 test fittings before my lower would go on because I removed such a small amount each time.
  8. To remove the gas tube cover, I like to secure the forged part of the gas tube in a vise so you can twist the gas tube cover 180 degrees and remove it. Never, never clamp the circular end of the tube – it is so then that it will probably bend/crush.
  9. Installing the gas tube cover is the reverse. Note, I did not need to trim my gas tube cover – it went on. If you need to, take off a little with sand paper or a file and test – repeat until it fits.
  10. Reassemble the weapon and function test it.
That is the lower handguard locking lever. It is attached to a cam that pushes the handguard backwards and locks everything into place. It rotates 180 degrees opposite from what is shown to unlock the handguard. This photo shows it locked. I like it to be snug enough that I need to use a small hammer to tap it into place. There is such a thing as the handguard being so long that the lever can’t go back into position so be careful and take the time to fit the handguard. In rare cases, the handguard can be shorter and the cam is on the wrong side of the groove so know what you are dealing with before you go modifying parts.

The Results

I really like how the converted AK-V looks and how it feels. I really think PSA did a great job with the design and build and heartily recommend the AK-V.

Click on any of the thumbnails below to open the full size photo and enter the slide show:


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Comparing Original Russian Izhmash and Arsenal’s US-Made AK Handguards

In 1991, the Russian Izmash factory started producing AK-74M rifles with a uniquely styled glass fiber reinforced polyamide stock and handguard that we see today on newer weapons.

The Bulgarians followed suit as they licensed the designs from the Russians. I’m not sure how closely the Bulgarians copied the design but now we can see there are some minor differences.

What started me down this path was the desire to convert my Palmetto State Armory AK-V to look more like a Russian Vityaz. The Vityaz uses the bulged handguard like you see on the AK-74M, AK-100 series and what not. So, I hopped on the www.kvar.com website to see what they had and they surprisingly had both the Arsenal US-made handguard set and a real Izhmash set. I jumped and bought one of each of both sets. Note, the AK-V uses the same handguards as either the AKM or AK-74M so you have a ton of options.

For me it was really interesting to set the two very similar handguard sets down side by side and note all the minor differences. So, I took a ton of photos and decided to create a photo gallery so you can see them for yourself.

The most noteworthy differences:

  • The Izhmash set is slightly more grey and the Arsenal is a richer black
  • The Izhmash’s surface finish is duller and the Arsenal is slightly more reflective.
  • The bottom rear of the Izhmash lower is more angular and the Arsenal is more rounded
  • The Izhmash set has more mold markings such as the “2-2” on the gas tube cover.
  • The Arsenal lower has “US” marked on the outside rear

In case you are wondering what I used on my AK-V, it was the K-Var set. I had to trim a very tiny amount (0.015-.030″) off the metal nose of the lower to get it to fit and I didn’t want to modify a real Izhmash set that might have collector’s value some day.

Below are thumbnails and you can click on one and see a bigger photo and any comments/labels on each:


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Rick’s R4 Forgery

I always love it when folks send me photos of their firearms using our parts. Rick sent in these cool photos of what he calls his “R4 Forgery” and it is using one of our Galil grips.

Very cool Rick!


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Add Length of Pull to a Yugo M70, M72 or M76 Wood Buttstock WIth A Limbsaver Recoil Pad

Normally, I like the length of the Yugo M70 and M72 buttstocks. They’re shorter than many Western fixed stock designs but I’ve just grown accustomed to the length of pull (LOP). Recently, I had Two Rivers Arms build me a M76 designated marksman’s rifle (DMR) and found the stock to be a tad shorter than what I wanted to get in position behind the big Vortex Hog Hunter scope I had bought for it.

Two Rivers Arms custom built Yugo M76 rifle with a RS!Regulate scope mount and Vortex Hog Hunter scope. The UTG rings have been replaced with an American Defense mount and the cheek piece will be replaced but you can get an idea that this is a big rifle and a big optic.

I realized that to make the LOP longer, I had two options. My normal route with an AK is to install a stock adapter and either go to some form of modular stock. In the case of the M76, I really wanted to stick with the original wood. The brought be to my second option – to add a recoil pad.

There are a ton of recoil pads on the market but as far as I know, nobody makes a direct replacement recoil pad for the Yugo military rifles other than me and my pad is a copy of the original. This gives you two options also – either cut the stock and install a “grind to fit” pad that would ruin the original stock or to go with a slip on pad.

Slip on recoil pads are designed to fit a certain range of buttstock sizes based on the height and width. They may not be the best looking of options but they get the job done and don’t require any modifications to the underlying stock — plus for folks who don’t like messing with tools – they can be slid on and off usually very easily.

End of Buttstock Size for Yugo M70B1, M72B1, and M76 Rifles

Zastava made the Yugo rifles but is now in Serbia and makes both commercial and military rifles. The dimensions I am about to give so you can get the proper pad only apply to he military rifles. If you have a Zastava N-PAP for example, your stock is much smaller and I don’t know the dimensions.

If you do have a military sized Yugo M70B1, M72B1 or M76 then the following should sizes should be approximately right:

  • Top to bottom of the buttstock overall: 4.48″ so just under 4-1/2″
  • Left to right at the widest point: 1.29″ so just under 1-1/3″

So that means a slip on buttpad needs to accomodate those dimensions and will slide right over the original recoil pad as well.

Limbsaver by Sims Vibration Labs

Years ago, I happened across Limbsaver recoil pads and started using them more than Pachmayr, which is another leading brand. I’ve had very good luck with Limbsaver so they were my go-to when it came to the M76.

They have a new Air-Tech series that adds 1″ to the LOP and is also remarkably spongy to absorb the recoil. The M76 really doesn’t have a ton of recoil so my decision was more based on the 1″ LOP.

The AirTech slip on pad comes in four sizes:

  • “Small” fits stocks measuring 4-1/2 x 1-1/2 inches to 4-13/16 x 1-5/8 inches
  • “Small/Medium” fits stocks measuring 4-5/8 x 1-9/16 inches to 5-1/8 x 1-3/4 inches
  • “Medium” fits stocks measuring 4-13/16 x 1-5/8 inches to 5-1/8″ x 1-3/4 inches
  • “Large” fits stocks measuring 5-1/8 x 1-3/4 inches to 5-3/8 x 1-7/8 inches

Given those dimensions, I opted to buy the “small” size and it fit beautifully.

The small-sized pad slid right on and fits nice and snug.

I actually wish they had a pad that added about 1/2-3/4″ of pull as that would be perfect. The end result is just a tad longer than what I would dial in with an adjustable Magpul PRS stock but it definitely feels better when I start lining up behind the scope. It’s staying on the rifle!


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Polish Build Runs Like a Top

I will do a more In-Depth series of posts about building this rifle later. It is a Polish WBP kit l at the heart from arms of America with a Polish cold hammer-forged Barrel. The internals are installed in a Childers Guns receiver. The trigger is from ALG and I absolutely love it. I kid you not, this is now the only trigger I will use because it is so good.

The muzzle brake is a JMAC RRD-4C and boy does it eliminate muzzle climb. It made the rifle very controllable even during rapid fire.

The optic is a vortex Crossfire. The furniture is original polish Beryl with one of our US made 922r Beryl grips.

In the following video, this is my buddy Niko doing the shooting and while he is tall and wiry you can tell that the full-power Golden Eagle hundred and twenty four grain FMJ 7.62 x39 round is not moving him much at all.

The build turned out to be extremely reliable and accurate. Like I said I will post more details later but I’m thrilled with the results and had to jump the gun and share this!


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Check Out Jeff’s Cool M72B1 Built by Two Rivers Arms With Our Handguard Set

Check out Jeff’s cool Yugoslavian M72B1.  It was built by Two Rivers Arms and he used our custom Yugo M72B1 handguard set.  Our handguards are made from a special temperature resistant glass reinforced urethane, don’t require the ferrule, and enable a sure grip.

If you are interested, click here to learn more about our custom all polymer Handguards.


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Our New Polish Beryl Gen 2 Grip Model

The karabinek szturmowy wzór 1996 Beryl rifle is manufactured by the Łucznik Arms Factory in Radom, Poland and is the successor to the Tantal.  The first versions of the rifle had a rather typical AKM style grip.

With the kbs wz. 1996C Beryl variant, an ergonomic grip appeared that looked very similar to what the Israelis developed for their Galil Ultra.

So, after doing some digging, I tracked down a brand new copy of that ergonomic grip and made our version.  Note, I am simply calling it the second generation or gen 2.  That’s my naming and not the Pole’s.

You can see this is like our other grips – it is cast as a solid block and then a hole is drilled for a grip screw.  It is sized to fit a normal 100mm long screw like you find with most AKM grips.  “US” is cast into the back.  If you look at the throat, this ought to fit most rifles but some final fitting/fine tuning may be needed.  I have not tried putting this on a Yugo with their unique grip nut strap.

The original has grooves on the back but we will need to sand there so these ridges/lines on the backstrap will not be there.  We will sand and blast the grip so it evens out with the surrounding surfaces.

Here is the grip mounted on a Romy G AKM.  No fitting was needed – it went right on.

I wear size XL gloves and the top where the web of my hand from the index to the thumb would sit is just a tad small for me.  The grooves and thumb shelf are very comfortable and could be used with either hand.  For me, I prefer the Russian AK-12 grip or the Bulgarian ARM-9 grip.  I’d recommend this for folks who wear Medium to Large to sized gloves.  If you wear XL or bigger, you may find this a tad small at the top but it is very doable.  I hope to build a Beryl later this year and still plan to use this grip for myself.  I also left it on the Romy for further testing.  I think folks will like this grip regardless of whether they are building a Polish rifle or one from another country.

Click here to go to our online store if you are interested in learning more and/or buying one.

Please note the opening photos of the Beryl rifle are from Wikipedia.  They have a nice basic introduction to the Beryl if you’d like to learn more.  I always recommend the great firearm books also:


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