Category Archives: AK & Related Rifles

Used to discuss AK-47, AK-74, and related rifles

Video: How to Field Strip an AK Rifle

To me, the AK family of rifles are some of the easiest designs on the planet to field strip … but I have done it hundreds of times.  For a newcomer, how to take the rifle apart can be daunting.  I took a few minutes and assembled some of my favorite videos and online resources / manuals to help clarify matters:

AK manuals that are online:

YouTube Videos:

Now Brownell’s did some videos on Youtube also but they split them into separate parts:

Part 1 – Disassembly:

Part 4 – Reassembly


We will have a future post about cleaning and maintenance so keep an eye out for it.

Video: Tales of the Gun – AK-47, The Kalashnikov, FULL EPISODE

In case you missed the original Tales of the Gun episode on the AK-47 when it aired in 2010, here it is. This is a very well done episode that goes into the history of the design and how it served in battle.   Fans of the Kalashnikov will definitely want to watch this.

By the way, what I like about this particular Youtube video is that the quality is pretty good and it is the whole episode vs. being chopped up.

How To Remove an AK Gas Tube Cover

Hi folks,

It’s cool having a blog because I can elaborate on questions that people have asked me.  A recurring one is how to remove the upper handguard cover, also known as the “gas tube” cover on AK rifles.  Every military AK I have seen uses two half circle metal retainers to hold the half moon shaped gas tube cover.  Sometimes they cover comes off super easy and other times you need mechanical assistance.  Here is the basic process – hold the gas tube with one hand, grab the cover with the other, turn the cover 180 degrees so it is facing the opposite way and then pull it out of the retainers.

Now, sometimes the wood or plastic has really stuck/doesn’t want to budge.  Do the following:

  1. Place the forged end of the gas tube in a vise with either soft jaws to pieces of leather to protect the forging.  Absolutely do not put the circular end into the vise or you will crush it.
  2. Close the jaws just enough to hold  the assembly in place.
  3. Either firmly by hand or with a strap wrench, rotate the cover 180 degrees so it is face the opposite direction.  Note – you can turn it either way as these are just semi-circles and you may find it turns easier to the left or to the right.
  4. If you are applying force and are getting nervous that it still will not turn, you have some issue with one surface sticking to the other.  You have two approaches you can try: 1) use a heat gun and warm up the metal retainers from their ends.  Sometimes the varnish, BLO, urethane or partially melted plastic is sticking and heat can soften it after which it turns much easier.  2) Just brute force it and if it snaps then replace it.  I have never had to resort to this.
  5. The new cover goes on the reverse.  If you are using a wood cover, or our polymer cover, don’t forget to install the retaining clip first to limit cover movement.  Some plastic gas tube covers do not use this but our gas tube covers do just to be clear.

Here are some videos that others have recorded to help further just in case:

The method I just outlined is very similar to what this fellow does:

Here are two more for additional perspectives:

AK Fire Control Plates Greatly Simplify Installation and Removal of the Trigger and Hammer Pins

A lot of guys, myself included, have run into retaining wires for the trigger and hammer pins in an AK and had a heck of a time removing or installing them depending on the design.  I can’t tell you how many I have had challenges with over the years for one reason or another.  I decimated the stock Zastava wire in my M77 the other day but I can explain that one – I now rather despise the wires and just pull them out with pliers with no plan of reusing them.  Thus, I bent the heck out of the wire just yanking it out.

There is a solution to the retaining wire problem – or at least, my problem with retaining wires.  About two years ago, I stopped using wires altogether and moved to the use of “plates” which are pieces of spring steel or sheet metal that simply go nose first onto the hammer, you then rotate the plate down and it engages the trigger pin and then finally the hole portion winds up aligned with the safety/selector lever hole.  What this does is the plate locks up the two pins and then the selector lever locks the plate in place.  They are incredibly simple to install and remove if you are doing work with the fire control group.

In terms of plates, there are basically two styles you will find.  One originated with RSA and I have used these for a few years now. I only have had one problem – during installation one part of the hammer pin portion snapped right off.  I called RSA and they promptly replace the plate.  Kudos to them for good customer service.

A relatively newer style is from Tapco but I haven’t used it yet myself though I do have one on order for my Vepr 12 to try out. It does the same thing but has a small tab.  I have big fingers and am wondering if this will make installation and removal any easier and let me point out that the RSA is a breeze to install and remove.


Where to Find RS Regulate Mounts

DSC_0087 DSC_0089 DSC_0091  DSC_0095


I’ve had a number of guys ask me about where they can buy RS Regulate mounts.  They have a dealer list:  They also are looking for dealers as well in case some of you guys may be interested.

I’m still very impressed and actually just ordered a second one for my Vepr IV.  Now that I have a blog, there will be more details in the near future as I am still debating what optic to put on The Vepr IV.  I have a Primary Arms 1-4 and a Leupold Rifleman just sitting here that I may put to use.  I haven’t quite made up my mind yet.


Added RS Regulate Mount and Vortex HS-T Scope to the Zastava M77

I installed the RS!Regulate AK-310 base and AKR top rail in preparation for the new beautiful Vortex HS-T 4-16x44mm scope the folks at Vortex helped me select.

The RS!Regulate system is genuinely impressive. By installing the bottom rail, you then have options about the front to back location of the AKR rail as well as left to right. If you wanted to, you could install a shim if you needed even more vertical adjustment on one end or the other to compensate for a poorly placed side mount on the rifle.

The only hangup installing the AR-310 base was a poorly formed rivet with a protruding portion of the head that the base was hanging up on. I ground that portion flush and then used Brownells’ Oxpho blue to touch it up. When steel is freshly ground, I apply the Oxpho cold bluing liquid with a Q-tip and the steel instantly turns black. I let it sit for about 30 seconds and then wipe it off and apply oil.

The AK-310 base slides on like any other ComBlock side mount but it has a very nice cam lever and an adjustable bolt on the bottom to get the cam lever nice and secure. Once I got rid of the protruding rivet, it slid right on and then I adjusted to bolt until it was nice and snug when I flipped the lever.

The AKR looks like a reverse picatinny rail on the bottom and interlocks with the rail top of the AK-310. I had to move the AKR all the way to the front to compensate for the M77’s rear mounted rail. The AKR is held to the AK-310 by 4 screws in grooves. The beauty of this is that you can really dial in the centering of the scope. I was able to get the AKR exactly centered over the M77. Now, once you have it located, they give you two staking pins to drill and install to permanently locate AKR. I have held off doing that I may need to move it around some but went ahead and applied blue Loc-tite on the screws.


With the rail centered and ready to go, I turned my attention to the HS-T scope from Vortex. This is one heck of a nice scope. I opted for the MilDot reticle and a 44mm objective to ensure I cleared the rear sight leaf. In hindsight, I could have gone with a 50mm objective as there was plenty of clearance.  I own a Vortex Sparc II red dot and liked it.  This is my first actual Vortex rifle scope and I am very impressed.

I used 30mm medium rings to mount the Vortex. They are extremely beefy tactical rings from UTG. You may laugh but I have had very good luck with their rings. The only shortcoming this time is that they were so long (from front to back) that I ate up some precious real estate for sliding the scope forward. It all worked out in the end but for awhile I wasn’t sure if I could get the eye relief right but I did.

There was some give and take as I moved the scope rings and the AKR around. The photo above shows the AKR sitting in the last groove.  I wound up actually having it overhang by one by the time it was all set.

So, the scope lines up beautifully with the 1″ cheek riser on my Ace skeleton stock. I have heard that the Vortex scopes have good optics but that is an understatement – you have to look through one to realize how good it is – very bright and clear. Couple that with arguably one of the best no questions asked warranties in the industry and now you know why I bought it. I did a ton of research before doing so as well.

Now, the Yugo M77 is complete. It has our traditional front handguard set plus our custom Bulgy ARM-9 grip that I really like.

Only one more thing to do now … find the time to take this hammer shooting with multiple brands and loads of good ammo to stretch its legs.

In the very near future, I will swap out the medium rings for a low offset AR mount so I can get the scope closer to the center of the bore plus move the scope just a bit more forward and that will be a post for another day.

One final comment, Ace Riflestocks emailed me the other day and their modular Zastava adapter is back in stock.  If you are looking for one, I would recommend checking them out as well as Desert Fox.

If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements.  EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.  Doing so will help us fund continued development of the blog.

The scope is listed below and here are the rings:

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Vortex Optics Viper HS-T 4-16×44 SFP Riflescope VMR-1 MRAD

Features: The Viper HS-T 4-16×44 is one of multiple configurations in the Viper HS-T (Hunting & Shooting Tactical) line. VMR-1 Reticle (MRAD) is perfect for accurate holds at extended ranges., Incorporating our premium, fully multi-coated, extra-low dispersion lenses brings excellent resolution and color fidelity. The XR coatings provide enhanced light gathering capability while Armortek coating protects the lenses., The exposed target-style turrets are constructed for precise and repeatable finger-adjustable clicks. A CRS Zero Stop allows for reliable return to zero capability after dialing temporary elevation corrections., A 4x zoom provides magnification versatility while the side focus parallax adjustment provides optimal image focus and parallax removal. The fast focus eyepiece allows the shooter to properly adjust the reticle to your eye., The one-piece tube is o-ring sealed and argon purged to ensure waterproof and fogproof performance. The Viper HS-T is a versatile yet simple riflescope that is at home in a hunting, target shooting, or tactical application.

Tree stands to Mountain tops, bolt guns to ars, the Viper HST is ideal for a wide range of shooting applications. Blending many of the best features from Vortex’s incredibly popular Viper PST and Viper HS riflescopes, the Viper HST (hunting shooting tactical) riflescope is built on an ultra-strong 30mm one-piece machined aluminum tube to deliver increased windage and elevation travel and optimal adjustment. An advanced optical system highlighted with a 4x zoom range provides magnification versatility. A forgiving eye box with increased eye relief gets shooters on target quickly and easily. Incredibly precise, repeatable and durable tactical windage and elevation turrets built specifically for dialing, along with its hashmark-based reticle, top off this highly versatile riflescope’s long-range performance features.
List Price: $569.00 USD
New From: $569.00 USD In Stock

Converted a Base Zastava M77

I purchased a base Zastava M77 rifle from Bud’s Guns and had the rifle sent to my good friend and FFL, Scott Igert over at To be imported, the rifle was pretty neutered with a thumbhole stock and a tacked on muzzle nut.  We then went to work – the result has our M70 traditional handguard set (the same handguard style is used on the M70 series, M76 and M77 rifles), one of our Bulgy ARM-9 custom grips (my favorite grip hands down right now), Tapco G2 FCG, US Phantom brake, a Desert Fox PK1025 adapter, and an Ace skeleton stock with a 1″ pad.


The original muzzle nut was tack welded on. I removed it with a Dremel and touched up with Oxypho Blue from Brownells.

The original gas tube cover did not use a handguard retainer spring/clip. My gas tube covers really need them to stabilize so I dug around in my parts bin and used one.

The Phantom brake is one I had handy and rather than bother with the detent pin, I used a crush washer.

The FCG retaining wire self destructed as I pulled it out (I hate those things) and replaced it with a plate.

The fixed stock was secured via a long wood screw that went though the integral Yugo grip nut. I was impressed that they did this without harming the 6mm threads in the nut. I just used one of our full length screws and away I went.

Our next post will show the RS Regulate mount and Vortex scope we bought for the rifle.

If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon or click one of the AdNow advertisements.  EBay and Amazon you need to buy something, AdNow pays for each link you visit – no purchase needed.  Doing so will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Best AK Reference Book – AK-47: The Grim Reaper

Folks ask me what is the best reference book to learn more about AK rifles and the variations that are made all over the world. The Grim Reaper book by Frank Iannamico is, hands down, my number one recommendation and I say that based on owning somewhere over a dozen books on the AK rifle.

His first book was very good and with the second he improved the guidance and increased the number of photos. This is definitely a book you will want to add to your library.



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AK-47: The Grim Reaper

By (author): Frank Iannamico

It’s back…but this time with more pages, more information and more photographs. The most definitive study on Kalashnikov pattern rifles to date boasts over 1,100 printed pages covering the AK rifle, as well as its variants manufactured in over 19 countries.
List Price: $69.95 USD
New From: $69.95 USD In Stock
Used from: $95.01 USD In Stock

How does Ronin’s Grips’ polymer handle high heat?

I  regularly get asked about how well our handguards will withstand heat and why we don’t have a heat sink.  I have class III SOTs building with my handguards and haven’t had complaints.  Some of them have told me that heatsinks are over rated and once they are hot then all bets are off.

The Yugo M85/M92 handguards we sell are made from molds cast from the originals, which are very thick and our traditional M70 handguards are the same way. You have to shoot a firearm quite a bit to heat the barrel up and then heat the special high-temp urethane and glass fiber composite all the way through before it will soften.  From a technical specification perspective, the manufacturer says the base urethane, without the glass fiber reinforcement we add, has a technical temperature deflection spec of 257F, meaning it will not deform until past 257F.

To test this, I took one of our black gas tube covers, a digital IR thermometer and the oven we use for curing plastic.


At 70F, our cover was rigid and the East German cover could flex a bit.  I started the oven off at 200 degrees and kept checking every 15 minutes and the East German cover started to soften first. At 250F, the East German cover was very flexible and at 300F I could almost get it to touch its sides together.  Our’s was starting to bend some.


By the time we reached 437F, the East German cover was melting like a stick of butter while our’s was very soft but did not melt.


At 437F, notice how the plastic knife melted when I touched our gas tube cover – it couldn’t penetrate it:


The cover was soft but it then hardened again as it cooled off.  I then sprayed the oxidized looking urethane with WD40 and it brought it back to more of its original color.


Maybe the best answer I can give to folks asking how our handguards have held up – we’ve sold hundreds of the M85/M92 handguards and we haven’t had any complaints that they melted or did not hold up.   If you search on the Internet, I don’t think you will find any reports either.  But with that said, I do have to remind folks that all materials have a limit. If you start dumping drum after drum while bumpfiring or going full auto and the barrel is literally red hot, no handguard is going to survive that without being damaged or even destroyed.  That is the only reason we do not warrant our handguards against high-heat – we know there are limits and we know there are guys who will push past those limits.  For most people, our handguards will work just fine.  I use them myself and have never had a problem with my family and friends at the range doing target shooting.