Category Archives: Poland

What To Do When Your AK’s Barrel Is Too Big For Your Front Trunnion?

A few years ago, I bought a 1969 Polish Radom Circle 11 AKM kit from Arms of America. It has laminate furniture, matching parts and they populated a new Polish Chrome Hammer Forged (CHF) barrel with the front, gas and rear sight blocks. Furthermore, it was headspaced. I double checked that before I pushed out the barrel pin and then the barrel – that’s where things got interesting.

Pressing Out The Barrel

I have a 30 ton H-style hydraulic press with a 20 ton air-over-hydraulic bottle. The thing is a brute and have used it many, many times over the years on gun and car projects. There are a few things you learn over the years – 20 tons is 40,000 pounds and is a serious amount of pressure – steel parts can bend, break or even shatter under those loads. You learn to go slow, watch carefully feel the pump and listen. I also learned long ago to use the air to move the ram quickly but always do the real work by hand for those very reasons – I’ve bent the crap out of stuff in years past because you can’t tell what is going on.

I wear a full face shield when working with a press. I’m not joking when I say things can go bad fast when there is a lot of pressure. When you push out a barrel, you just don’t expect a ton of pressure from a new kit – at least I don’t. I’ve had some real hairy barrel pins and barrels in years past when dealing with surplus… but not on a new kit with a populated barrel … not until now.

Pressing Out the Barrel

As you can guess, the barrel did not press out easily. I had to apply a boatload pressure – way more than average. So much that I put a 3/4″ piece of plywood between me and the trunnion/barrel assembly. I was also checking and double-checking that my barrel press tool squarely on just the barrel and not a part of the trunnion – guys I was nervous.

I reached the point where I knew I was squarely on the barrel and something had to give. I was whacking on the press trying to shock the barrel out and I kept upping the pressure – pump, whack, pump, whack… Finally the barrel came free like a gun shot. Guys- do you remember the old Romy kits where the pins and barrels sometimes felt like you were taking your life into your own hands? That’s what this felt like.

I actually inspected the front trunnion very carefully looking for cracks. I then inspected the chamber end of the barrel – nice and smooth – remarkably smooth. No signs of galling. Ditto on the inside of the trunnion. I suspect that someone was using some kind of press system that included a barrel support and slammed that new barrel in using a level of force I couldn’t do without damaging parts. I noted to myself that reassembly was probably going to be just as colorful.

Building The Kit

Nothing new about building the kit – I had fun. In the below photo, the front trunnion and rivets are just sitting there. I was mocking things up and they are not actually set. I installed the trigger guard taking care to orient the selector stop properly and using a rubber band to keep the assembly together as I used my press and an AK-Builder trigger guard rivet jig to do the job.

The rubber band keeps the receiver down on the trigger guard jig so the rivet, selector stop and trigger guard all stay in place while you move around. The AK-Builder jig really does a nice job.
Here, everything is drilled and seems good to go.

So let’s get back to the main point of this blog post and why you are probably reading this – what do you do when the interference fit is too tight and the barrel will not go into the trunnion all the way.

Life Got Colorful Trying to Press The Barrel Back In

Yeah, that tight fit came back to haunt me. I tried polishing the trunnion and applying non-seize. Usually this works for me but when I went to press the barrel back in, it would not go. I saw the barrel begin to deflect in the press and immediately stopped. Let me explain what I mean by deflect – a material will bend so much and spring back into place. When I saw the barrel begin to deflect, I immediately stopped – it was taking way too much pressure and I was risking bending the barrel permanently. It was time to press the barrel back out and rethink the situation.

Here’s my barrel and my receiver. I double-checked the barrel to make sure I did not bend it – I got lucky. I always get worried if I see the barrel start to deflect/bend — they don’t always return to true.

So, what this confirmed for me was the someone slammed this thing together – hard. An AK barrel is press fit into the trunnion. To do this, the barrel is a tad bigger than the hole made for it in the trunnion by about 0.0010-.0026″ (0 .025-0.065mm) according to Robert Forbus who is a true machinist and has shared a ton with the AK community – click here for his page). At the tighter end (around 0.002″) it is getting hard, if not outright impossible, for someone to press the barrel into the front trunnion without the proper specialized barrel press equipment that supports the barrel. I have a big press but nothing to properly support the barrel in these high-pressure situations. It would likely warp like a wet noodle if I just kept adding pressure.

I don’t own a machine shop but I am a redneck with a shop. I needed to open up the barrel channel in the trunnion and opted to use an OEM brand brake hone. Why? Because I’ve used these small bore hones in the past for other things and was pretty sure it would work for this too.

I also need to point out that I have no way to accurately measure the barrel or the trunnion so I figured I would remove a bit and try to install the barrel, remove a bit and try, over and over until it went in. The next picture shows my OEM hone (and the Lisle is virtually identical):

This is an OEM Tool brand brake hone and the Lisle unit looks virtually identical.

Take a look at the above picture – by tightening the knurled nut at the base of the spring, you can apply more and more pressure to the 220-grit stones at the end of the arms. (The Lisle tool’s stones are 240 grit purely FYI – not a big difference.) I just used the basic pressure and did not increase it. Life lesson for me years ago – it’s easier to take more material off than it is to put it back on.

I applied cutting oil to the trunnion liberally and then slid the hone in and out with my drill on slow speed. I would do this for a bit, clean stuff, and then tested how far the barrel goes into the trunnion by hand and then keep removing more. This is not the time or place to get impatient.

By the way, OEM makes fine 400 grit stones that you can swap into place and use to polish the interior further if you . I got the job done with the 220 grit stones and silver Permatex anti-seize compound. If I ad the 400 grit stones handy at the time, I would have done so but I did not. Also, be sure to clean out the grit/dust before you try to reinsert your barrel.

My one action photo and it was blurry! You get the idea. Keep it lubed with the cutting oil and keep moving the unit in and out so you are polishing the whole barrel channel.

This is a down and dirty “git ‘er done” approach and will make machinists cringe. I go slow and test — I would push the barrel in, test and the press it back out if need be. [Click here to see how to make a barrel backout tool].

*IF* you see a bur or squished rivet protruding in the trunnion, then carefully grind that down with a Dremel and polish with the hone. Don’t try to do it all with the hone or you will be removing material elsewhere that you may need – the arms are spring loaded and independent so they will go where ever they can. This is a pro and con.

After a couple of tries, the barrel went all the way in with the press. To be safe, I confirmed the head space using real Manson brand 7.62×39 gages (use real gages folks and treat them well – don’t go cheap). The barrel headspaced just fine so I pressed in the pin and finished the rifle up.

Bottom line, a brake hone can help you carefully remove steel from the front trunnion and get a tight fitting barrel to go in. It worked wonders on this 1969 cold warrior that is now ready to go to the range.

The 1969 Polish AKM rebuilt and ready for the range!
The rifle is wearing one of our Polish Tantal/AKM grips as a 922r compliance part – we make them by hand here in Michigan from a glass fiber reinforced polymer.

Click here to learn more and order one of our Polish Tantal/AKM grips.


One of our fire control group retaining plates. that fits all AKMs and rifles that use standard AKM fire control groups.

It also has an ALG fire control group – they are awesome triggers – and one of our fire control group retaining plates. Click here for our fire control group retaining plates.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


October 2018 Tour of the Polish Fabryka Broni “ŁUCZNIK” Radom Arsenal Production Facility

This amazing video has four parts. First is a private tour of the FB “Łucznik” Radom factory and you will note the extensive automation, cleanliness and attention to detail. The second part is a media group touring the facility and the third is a montage of military groups shooting Beryls and different weapons.

You get to see a variety of weapons including the Mod.96 Beryl, Mod.96 Mini-Beryl, PM-06 and PM-98 submachine guns, the MSBS GROT and more.

Here’s the Video


Please note that all images are extracts from the video and remain the property of their respective owner(s),


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Polish Armed Forces – How Strong Are They?

Being interested in AK weapons also leads me to an interest in the militaries that used them.  AKs are in military use in 106 countries and the USSR licensed production to 30 countries including East Germany, Hungary, Iran, Iraq, Poland, and Yugoslavia just to name a few.  Interestingly enough, there have been some licensing issues but that is a topic for another day.

One of the high quality producers of small arms is Poland.  In my opinion, their AKs and other small arms are very well made.  When I started to research about their Beryl series, I was surprised to find out that Poland has been very pragmatic with their weapons and are leveraging designs from Eastern and Western countries.

A Polish soldier with a kbs wz. 1996C Beryl.
Polish soldiers with kbs wz. 1996A Beryls.  I’m pretty sure these are A-series rifles because with the B, they introduced a fixed front grip that is integral with the lower handguard.
Another soldier with a kbs wz.1996C series Beryl. 
The Poles use the Russian Hind-D gunship and plans to modernize them.  This is one of my favorite helicopters so I had to include the photo.

A young man assembled the below video about the Armed Fores of the Republic of Poland as part of his Facts Without Borders broadcast series and found it very interesting.  He has assembled some excellent footage and commentary about the Polish military including aspects you may not have considered.  You ought to consider subscribing to his channel on Youtube also.

Here’s the video


Please note that all photos were extracted from the photo and remain the property of their respective owner(s).


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Very cool Military Motivational Video – The Devil Inside You

I like military tribute videos.  This video has a catchy song and the real neat thing is that it is in high-definition (HD) video.  It has footage of men and women from a lot of different militaries and branches including:  Austria, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Russia and Sweden – probably more that I didn’t catch.

You’ll also get a chance to see quite a collection of ships, helicopters, uniforms, small arms, bases and what not – all in high def.  Very cool.  Here are some examples of the many cool videos they assembled:

Seriously, this is a cool video and a chance for a lot of folks to see other men and women serving their countries.  At 1:41, I got a kick out of the Russian operator wearing an “Infidel Strong” morale patch.

Here’s the 2017 video:


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WBP Rogów Videos How They Demil a Circle 11 Underfolder AK — Pretty cool but sad too

Wytwornia Broni Jacek Popinski (WBP) is a privately owned firearm manufacturer located in Rogów, Poland.  Some folks assume it is the old government Radom armory with a different name but it is not.

In the US, we know about WBP because of the efforts of Arms of America (AoA) to import high quality Polish AK kits and, recently, firearms.  I ordered my first kit from AoA a tad over a year ago and ordered a number of other things from them including a demilled Radom kit that I want to build this Winter.

In usual form, I was surfing around and found this video that WBP had posted showing them demilling a Circle 11 underfolder.  Part of me is always sad to see one of these fine guns being cut up just to enable importation into the US but another part of me is also happy because at least this way we get to enjoy them.

This is a brief video and I was pretty intrigued towards the end watching how they remove the blocks from the barrel and drilled out the rivets.  Having demilled a lot of kits in the past, I’ve always found the rivets to be tedious.

Here’s the brief video that’s just under 10 minutes and I hope you enjoy it:


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Please note that all images were extracted from the video and remain the property of their respective owner(s).


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Very Cool AK Assembly Video From WBP Rogów – Tons of Tooling Shown

This past Spring I built a Polish Beryl inspired rifle from a WBP kit imported by Arms of America and was very impressed by the quality.  I was surfing around on Youtube and ran into this really cool video posted by WBP Rogow showing how they build an AK.  I found all the specialized tooling fascinating and was also a bit surprised by the amount of hand fitting – they are putting some craftsmanship into those rifles.

So, I would highly recommend you watch this video if you are considering buying one of the imported Polish WBP rifles or pistols, one of their kits or you are just interested in how AKs are built in general.

By the way, Arms of America is a great firm to deal with.  I built the following AK from a WBP barreled kit from them with a cold hammer forged Polish barrel.  The reliability and accuracy are excellent.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


Please note that all images were extracted from the video and remain the property of their respective owner(s).


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Assembling A Beryl-ish AK From A WBP Kit – Part 8 – Installing the Furniture, Muzzle Brake, Red Dot Optic and Test Firing

So here we are at the end. All that was left was to install the buttstock, handguards, muzzle brake, optic and test fire the rifle.

Beryl Furniture

The Poles evolved the Beryl furniture over the years so I went with a particular handguard from Robert RTG that I liked, buttstock from Arms of America and one of our grips.

The lower handguard is what you would find on a kbs wz. 1996A Beryl. The upper is one I had in a box and pretty flimsy. I ordered a genuine Polish upper that I will install after I refinish the rifle.

The upper and lower go on the same as any AKM. I really like the lower – that lip you see makes for a very natural handstop.

Now the buttstock definitely caught my eye. The Poles went through some different models. The first model I see with this collapsing stock is the kbs wz. 1996C Beryl. What I like is that it connects to the receiver the same as any other AK stock so I can change if I ever want to. On the con side, it rattles. I prefer telescoping stocks that are solid. It’s not the end of the world and I’ll live with it to have the unique buttstock.

The grip is our second generation Beryl model. The earlier model Beryls I saw had an AKM-ish looking grip. The first model I have seen with this type of grip is the kbs wz. 1996C Beryl.

Click here if you would like to order one.

The Muzzle Brake

The Beryls were originally chambered in 5.56 NATO and have a unique brake. This rifle is in 7.62×39 so I had to take a departure and go with another brake. Justin McMillion of JMAC Customs makes some very cool effective brakes and ordered his RRD-4C “slim” brake. It looks and functions great.

Note – the Arms of America kit does not come with a cleaning rod so I ordered a Polish AKM rod from them and that is what you see in the photos.

Vortex Crossfire Optic

To round things out, I went with a Vortex Crossfire red dot. I had a few reasons for doing this:

  • Vortex optics are solid
  • The red dot is only 2 MOA whereas some are 4 and can obscure a small target
  • It can sit right down on the rail and be closer to the bore than some red dots

I removed the riser, used some blue medium Loc-Tite on the screws to hold low-rise plate in place and installed it on the rifle.

I used a laser boresighter to sight in the Crossfire plus I lubricated everything and took it to the range with by buddy Niko.

Range Results

The rifle ran superbly. I did find that I need to tune the mag catch a bit to work with steel magazines. It works just fine with the WBP polymer mags you see in the photos and they have a noticeably thinner tab than my steel mags.

A fellow asked me how well the RRD-4C brake works and this video is of Niko shooting at targets – you can see how little the 7.62×39 Golden Tiger ammo is recoiling.

As it stands right this minute, I think this is both my most accurate AK and reliability has been exceptional. So, I still need to parkerize it and finish it but that needs to wait as I have a few other projects I want to line up and do them all at once.

Here’s how the rifle looks right now:


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon. With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated. Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Assembling A Beryl-ish AK From A WBP Kit – Part 7 – Installing the Fire Control Group and the Optics Rail

With the 7.62×39 Polish Beryl inspired rifle otherwise complete, it was time to install the fire control group, optics rail and the furniture.  This post will focus on these elements.

The Fire Control Group (FCG)

For some time now I have heard how good the ALG triggers are.  I have grown very accustomed to Tapco G2 triggers over the years and know how to tune them but reports were coming in about their not being in accordance with Russian design specifications so this prompted me to try the ALG AK Trigger with Lightning Bow (AKT-EL).

The trigger comes with a spring booster if you want a heavier pull but I wanted the lighter pull.  Wow – this trigger blew me away.  It installed the same as any other AK trigger.

I would recommend something to them and to you though – make a quick slave pin or capture pin that you can use to assemble the trigger assembly outside of the rifle, lower it in and then press it out of the way when you install the actual pin.  In my opinion, ALG should supply one with their trigger but you can make one from an old trigger pin, an old drill shank, whatever.

I didn’t even polish the FCG and just inserted it as-is.  Seriously, I will never go back to Tapco.  These ALGs are wickedly good.

I do not like the original shepherd hook wire for securing the FCG pins and instead now use our American made properly dimensioned AK fire control retainer plate.  Click here for the page in our store.

In the next photos you can see the giant over-sized selector lever.  It drives me nuts and will either get ground down or replace by a standard AKM lever.  It’s totally up to you but I will not buy the extended mag release and selector lever again – they just are not my preference.

Our New Second Generation Polish Beryl Grip

At this point I installed one of our new Polish Beryl grips as well. They Beryl uses the typical grip nut that uses a 6mm diameter 1.0mm pitch grip screw.

Click here if you want to order one of our grips.

The Optics Rail

The Beryl was the first AK-platform that I know of that had an integral optics rail that ran from the rear sight block (RSB) to the rear trunnion.  It did not need the traditional AKM side mount optics rail.

Now the WBP kit I bought had a Weaver rail and they have since moved to the Picatinny standard – just FYI.  I believe my rail is known as the POPC III.

 

I really did not know what to expect when I ordered the kit and was blown away by how the Poles did this.  The rail is solid steel and built like a tank.  It attaches to the RSB via two small grooves that are machined into the back just below the rear sight leaf.

It then locks onto a cylindrical protrusion on the rear trunnion.

This did take some minor fitting.  I sanded off a bit from the front edge of the rail and rounded the cylinder just a tiny bit to help the above pictured hole slide into place.  I went slow and test fit over and over.  This thing locks up incredibly solid – literally zero play.

All that is left now is the furniture and the test firing.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.


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Assembling A Beryl-ish AK From A WBP Kit – Part 6 – Reinstalling the Barrel and Pin with IR Air Hammer

At this point we are getting into the home stretch. Once the barrelled kits dried up, virgin barrels required a fair amount of work to install the blocks. Personally, I never really enjoyed doing the blocks so now that completed barrel assemblies are available again, I’ll happily leave that work to someone else.

One quick comment on the WBP kit – I really like the crest on the rear sight block (RSB).  I didn’t expect it and it is so cool.

There are many methods to install a barrel – I have used two – my 20 ton press with an AK-Builder barrel jig and my IR air hammer.  Of the two, I mainly use the air hammer now and that is what I will document in this post.  Note, the AK-builder jig works just fine – I have found the IR 117 air hammer to be faster as I don’t have to do as much set up work.

You don’t have to use the same IR as me but I would recommend you get either a bigger air hammer like mine or at least a 4x air riveter.  An integral regulator in the gun helps with control.

Three Critical Tips Before You Begin

#1 – If you are new to air hammers, practice before you work on your rifle.  They jump around and you need to get a feel for how how control them.

#2 – Mr air hammer is not your friend.  Wear eye protection and do not get skin anywhere near punches, etc.  They can pinch the hell out of your skin.  I’ve had my fair share of blood blisters and cuts from not paying attention or being in a rush over the years.

#3 – DO NOT hammer right on your muzzle.  The crown, or end of the barrel where the bullet exits, is the last thing to touch the bullet.  If you somehow deform the crown you will negatively impact accuracy and you also risk your threads.  Use protection 🙂  I’ll detail that below – I use an old cut down muzzle brake as a protective cap.

Installing the Barrel

To install a barrel, I first install an old slant brake that I ground flat to protect the threads.  I have not used a muzzle nut because they do not seem to offer much protection to the front of the muzzle – they are mainly designed to protect the threads.  With the ground down slant brake, there is a plenty of material in front of the muzzle to protect it.  

You can see how it has mushroomed over time but that’s fine.  I’ve used it a ton and if I ever have a problem, I’ll chuck it and make another.

My best guess is that it came out of a Romanian G kit years ago.  I have a bunch of oddball parts like this that got replaced by US parts for the sake of 922r compliance.  You can use any slant brake you want – just grind the slant off so you have a flat surface to hammer on.

I thread the converted brake / muzzle protector all the way back on the barrel to engage all the threads possible and back it right against the front sight block (FSB).  The idea is that you want the threads to take the impact and not the muzzle.

To start the installation, I push the barrel assembly into the trunnion and tap it with a big ball pein hammer.  I keep sighting down the rear sight block (RSB) making sure it is true.  At the point, you can use a rubber mallet or other non-marring mallet to tap the RSB and angle the barrel slightly one way or the other to course correct.  It is really, really important to get the alignment right at the start.  You will not be able to adjust it once you get very far in.  If it turns out you have alignment problem later, I would recommend driving the barrel assembly out and starting over.

To do the actual driving, I use the IR 117 with the brass peening hammer attachment.  I put the brass hammer face right on the converted slant brake and drive it in.  I keep checking the barrel pin hole to make sure I stop just short of the final location and that it is aligned.  If the surfaces are not aligned, I would drive the barrel back out and start over.  In this next photo, you can see I stopped just short of where I need to be.

Now this particular kit was a headspaced Polish WBP kit and I had checked headspace before I removed the barrel.  If I needed to set the headspace, I would start checking it somewhere around here.

At this point, I drive the barrel in the rest of the way by tapping the end with a big ballpein hammer – or any BFH will do 🙂  It really doesn’t take a ton of energy.  You want to tap and test over and over.  Don’t get impatient and try and drive it in all at once or you risk overshooting where you want to be.  If you do overshoot, it’s going to take some time and you need to make that longer barrel backout tool and either use your press or your air tool (I’d use my IR 117) and push it back out just enough to then fine tune the location.

Do not use headspace gauges as barrel stops.  You may know this but just in case you don’t – gauges are precision instruments and you only install them to test the headspace and *not* as a way to stop travel.  I’ve heard of guys doing that and, for a change, I wasn’t one of them 🙂

Assuming you checked and confirmed the headspace before you began, where to stop is easy.  Once the channel is clear and you have one nice continous path from one side of the trunnion to the other it is time to reinstall the pin.

Installing the barrel pin

With I do is start the pin with a big ball pein hammer and then drive it in the rest of the way with an old rivet set that I use just for this purpose.  Years ago I bought a ton of used 0.401 shank rivet sets and rivet tools off eBay for a very reasonable price.  I use one that covers the pin nicely and drive it right in and let me tell you, it goes in fast.  You can stop short and drive it in the test of the way by hand if you want.  I tend to just drive it right into place with the air tool.

By the way, I’ve accumulated a number of rivet tools and bucking bars over the years.  Here’s a quicksnap shot of my toolbox:

That’s it – done.  I hope this helps you out!  In the next post we will go over the unique Beryl optics rail and installing the furniture.

By the way, here are used rivet tools currently on eBay.  Be sure the shank size matches your air hammer or air riveter (all of mine are 0.401″ for example)

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If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.



Assembling a Beryl-ish AK From a WBP Kit – Part 5 – Riveting In The Trunnions

As I mentioned in an earlier post, riveting the trunnions to the sheet metal receiver is the proven method. As such, I’ll use rivets in this build but there is a fun thing to point out – there are tons and tons of ways to do the rivets. I’ve known guys who:

  • Would fashion some type of bucking bar and hammer the rivets directly not really caring what they looked like
  • Modified hand punches by cutting then down and drilling or milling an inverted dome into the end to create their own rivet sets for use with a hammer
  • Modified the jaws of 24″ Harbor Freight bolt cutters to make rivet squishers
  • Bought pneumatic rivet squishers like they use in the aerospace industry
  • Purchased purpose built rivet tools from makers such as AK-Builder

I got into building rather late in the game in 2006. Fortunately for me, guys had worked out the building methods so I could learn from others. I also decided to buy the AK-Builder rivet jig that I still use today. It works great for setting the front and rear trunnion rivets. I do plan on trying the bolt cutter method some day and will just buy one of the pre-built jaw sets for the front trunnion rivets. I’m curious mainly for reducing the set up time.

Click here to go to the AK-Builder jig page.

Rivet Selection

The AKMs are assembled using soft steel rivets that deform under pressure. No heat is needed. The sizes can vary depending on the type of build you are doing. The easiest way to get the rivets of the right type, size and length is to buy them from AK-Builder.com. They take all the guess work out of it and it makes for an easy way to go plus they give you a discount if you bought their jig. Hint: Buy two packages for a given build. For an AKM, you have 13 rivets and you can readily sort out what goes where:

  • The shortest rivet goes to the rear for the trigger guard strap. This makes sense because you are just riveting two pieces of sheet metal together.
  • You will then notice 10 rivets of the same size but two will be different – they will be what are called “swell neck” rivets and are intended for the rear lower front trunnion rivet positions that are countersunk. Four of the rivets that are flat under the dome will be used for the front trigger guard and four will be used for the foreward two positions on each side of the front trunnion.
  • The last two are the longest and thickest – they go to the rear trunnion.

The following photo shows the two types of rivets you will use on the front trunnion. The top is the swell neck rivet that is used for the rear two countersunk holes on the front trunnon. The bottom one is a normal rivet and is what is used for the four front rivets to secure the selector stop and front trigger guard strap to the receiver as well as for front-most four (two on each side) rivets:

This next photo shows one of the swell neck rivets next to the counter sunk hole it will go in. They require a couple of extra steps to install in terms of crushing the receiver material into the recessed area first before setting the rivet and I’ll explain your options to do that later:

Last comment, you can buy rivets in bulk if you want to. McMaster has some and firms like Hanson Rivet have a huge variety. You basically need to know the dome type and diameter. You get rivets longer than you need and trim them using the formula that the rivet must stick out 1.5 x diameter to form properly. If it is too long you will have problems also. So, you measure the depth you need and then add that to the overall length.

AK-Builder now also sells their rivets in bulk if you are interested – click here.

If you were building from a receiver flat or a tube without a center support, you could consider that as a rivet too but you need to buy that separate as it usually comes with the center support tube it passes through as a set.

This post will be mainly me giving you an overview of what to do and tips based on my experience. AK-Builder has a nice set of instructions you can review by clicking here.

Setting the Front Rivets

In a previous post, I explained how I start with the trigger guard. Next up then is to install the front trunnion rivets.

The AK-Builder rivet jig basically uses an arm to transfer downward force from the press to the rivet to squish it. The domed part of the rivet is held by a small cup and two pieces of thick high density rubber help you stabilize the receiver assembly during the operation. In the next photo you can see the parts plus that I have a 5/32″ drill to help keep everything aligned during squishing.

Now for some tips:

  1. Make sure the arm is as short as you can make it. The longer it is, the more likely it will bend. Note AK-Builder sells replacement arms and I am on #3.
  2. Make sure the little set screw anvil is out far enough to squish the rivet down far enough. These will deform over time and replacements are available from AK-Builder – there are replacement parts for everything from them except for the main body which is built like a tank anyways.
  3. Use the little blue rubber blocks to adequately support the receiver. You want the arm to push down straight. The domed rivet to be sitting squarely in the above cup and to be pushing straight down on the rivet. The little blocks can help support stuff so you can focus on alignment.
  4. When you are positioning the trunnion, make sure the arm isn’t going to press on part of the trunnion.
  5. If you have an air-over hydraulic press, only use the air to run the ram down to the jig. You will not hear a difference before stuff bends. By hand, it is nice and slow and you have time to hear, feel and adjust. I turned an arm into a deformed banana right after I got my air-over-hydraulic jack/bottle. They are a great time saver but know when to switch to the hand pump for the fine work.
  6. It does not take a ton of force to squish a rivet. If your rivet is not squishing make sure the arm is not sitting on part of the trunnion, that the set screw is down far enough and that the bottle’s release valve isn’t partly open.
  7. The last two rivets I do are the countersunk rear lower rivets on the front trunnion. For the countersunk holes that use the swell neck rivet, you can either use the conical stubby press tool from AK-Builder after drilling an 1/8″ starter hole and then 5/32″ as a final step to prepare for the rivet. Important: The little tool is sitting on the base of the jig and you are pushing the receiver down on it. I’m not a fan of this because I can’t see what is going on. Your second option is to do what I do – drill the 5/32″ hole, use a 1/4″ ball bearing and a C-Clamp (on the same side reaching in through the mag well) to push the receiver material into the countersink. This really adds strength and I would recommend you take the time to do this. After you have squished the material in, drill with the 5/32″ bit again to clean up any material blocking the hole.
  8. Last tip – when you are doing the counter sunk holes, do not use the long rear punch – that is just for the rear. The reason for this is that the rear trunnion is solid and you can safely do that. However, with the front trunnion – the counter sunk rivet holes are not connected by solid steel and, instead, the mag well is there. You need to pick a method wherein the trunnion is supported or you risk either bending or breaking the rear “ear” of the trunnion.

Note – you will only see replacement parts for your jig if you bought it direct from AK-Builder and are logged in. I bought mine ages ago and Lonnie had to look up my order and manually turn on the part of the website for me to order parts so just FYI.

The following photo shows me reaching in with the arm and squishing a rivet – the goal height is to squish the rivet body low enough that you can press the barrel back in and it not hit a rivet:

If all goes well, your rivets will look like the following or even better:

I am happy with rivets where the dome is firmly against the receiver. If I mess up, I will drill out the rivet and do it again. Note – The center support rivet was done by Childers and I cleaned that up a bit with my rear rivet set up of the AK-Builder jig.

Setting The Rear Rivets

Next up is to squish the rear rivets. This requires more careful positioning and also support. I have messed up a fair number of rear rivets over the years due to one of those things being wrong. The first thing to do is to remove the arm and install the rear trunnion rivet “bridge”. You will still use the little cup to cradle the rivet head and the rubber strips to help with positioning.

In this next photo you can see the jig set up for the rear rivet. In hindsight, I should not have taken this example photo yet because you first need to use the countersink tool at the bottom to press the receiver material into all four holes and then chase the holes with the drill press to clear any receiver material out of the way before you can install the rivet.

Here is an important tip, after you press the receiver material in, have cleaned up the holes and are getting ready to do a rivet, do some careful alignment and work holding. The piece of metal with a U-shaped cut out goes between the large screw body in the middle and the receiver. Bring that main screw down by hand because you next use the alignment tool – a punch with a hole in the middle to make sure the rivet forming tool (the one with a recessed dome in it) will come down square on the tool. Once it is aligned, use a wrench to bring the main body of the jig firmly down on that metal with the U-shaped slot and make sure nothing moves. Double-check it again with the alignment tool and ensure the rivet head is still squarely in the cup. In my experience you need to use a wrench to bring the body down – it requires more than being hand tight but not so much that you are deforming stuff. The words to think of are “securely aligned”.

Now, use the punch / rivet set with the inverted dome to form the rivet head as you apply pressure from the press. When the tool gets even with the surface of the receiver, stop. If you keep going you will mar the receiver and leave some portion of a telltale dent around the receiver.

Done!

ī

And with that, you should be done and ready to reinstall the barrel.


If you find this post useful, please either buy something using one of the links to eBay and Amazon.  With Amazon, if you click on one of our links and then buy something else – even unrelated stuff like clothes, electronics and groceries – we get credit and it would be hugely appreciated.  Doing something like the above will help us fund continued development of the blog.



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Soviet, Russian bayonet scabbard with Izhevsk Logo

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