Tag Archives: AK-47

Changed my Yugo M76 Scope Mount To An American Defense AD-RECON-SL and It’s Rock Solid!!

When I was adding the big Vortex Hog Hunter scope to my M76 with RS!Regulate side mount optics rail, all I had to prototype with were UTG rings. While the UTG rings aren’t too bad, I have stopped using them with centerfire rifles because they have a rounded screw that passes through the Picatinny rail rail slot. It’s rounded shape and only partially filling the slot risks damaging the rail and the zero shifting because the ring(s) can move.

These are the UTG low profile rings. Note how the screw is round and not rectangular? Also, after 30 rounds of 8mm Mauser firing, the rear flip lever rattled loose.

What is really needed is a quality ring or scope mount that uses a bar that properly fits into the Picatinny Rail slots and locks the optic securely and consistently into position. American Defense mounts are that way and they have an excellent locking lever.

I started using American Defense mounts for my Vortex Crossfire Red Dot optics a little over a year ago and was very satisfied with them and very impressed by their quick release lever design. So, when I needed a new mount for my M76 that was strong enough to hold the big Vortex Hog Hunter scope on my M76 and would clear rear sight block but also be close to the bore, the American Defense AD-RECON-SL immediately came to mind.

American Defense AD-RECON-SL

American Defense started with their QD Auto Lock System – the quick release lever system they developed. – and have branched into a variety of offerings from there including scope, bipod, light, laser and other mounts. In short, they are capitalizing on their really rugged QD levers.

So, the first thing I did was to measure the UTG mount from the top of the rail to the optic center, which I used the top of the lower half ring. That measure came to about 0.975″ and I knew any mount I bought had to be at least that or bigger. The front objective was all but touching the gas tube cover with those UTG low rings.

The AD Recon series has a variety of heights and offsets to select from and they publish specs for you to make an informed decision. In my case, because the RS!Regulate side mount already has front-to-back adjustment, I didn’t feel that I needed any offset but I did want to find as low of a scope mount as I could.

In looking at the specs, the AD-RECON-SL seemed to fit the bill. It had no offset and was their lowest mount with a 1.110″ center for scope with a 30mm tube. it was a tad higher but the slightly higher 0.135″ difference really didn’t worry me so I went ahead an ordered one.

Folks, the AD-RECON-SL did not disappoint. It is really a gorgeous piece of engineering. The fitment is excellent and is finished in a black hard coat. Here are some photos:

Here’s the side of the unit with the adjustment nuts. I love the flag on the side.
Here it is with their patented QD levers. The small lever you see in the middle of the bigger lever is the locking mechanism that keeps the unit secure. The moment you flip those rings you know your dealing with quality.
See how American Defense uses bars to lock the mount into the Picatinny rail? This is the way to go. It makes for a very secure and consistent engagement meaning your optic’s zero will not shift and the rail will not get damaged over time under heavy recoil with a simple round screw.
Yeah… that’s the American Defense unit on the left and the little UTG ring on the right. I would have no hesitation recommending the UTG rings for a rimfire or light recoil applications but not for something where there is significant recoil and a heavy optic combined.
Here’s another angle.

But Why Have QD Rings on a RS!Regulate Mount?

I do need to explain this. I can bet that I will need to take the dust cover off for some reason and don’t want to rely on tools. If I am hunting, I may not have any tools with me and need to clear a jam or something. That means I need a way to remove the scope and rail to get access to the dust cover.

The RS!Regulate’s lower rail does have a quick take down lever that solidly clamps on the M76 rail. That is not the issue and may make you wonder I need another quick release system. The challenge is that the Hog Hunter scope has a giant 56mm front objective for gathering as much light as possible in low-light situations such as dusk. It will hit the M76’s rear sight block if pulled straight back when mounted as low as I want. The solution is to use the AD-RECON-SL optic mount to enable me to lift the scope off the RS!Regulate’s top rail and then I can slide the RS!Regulate assembly off. The combination definitely works.

Installation

Taking the mount apart was easy – remove the four screws on each ring. I was pleasantly surprised that they used a precision pin to guide the rings into position and not just the screws. Again, this makes it stronger and more consistent.

Here’s a close up of the base. The middle hole is for the guide pin and the outer holes are for the screws.
Here you can see the four halves of the rings. The half to the top left with the guide pin. Its counterpart is already installed in the back.
An important design aspect to note is that the halves are not symmerical from top to bottom. The side with the pin is a no-brainer – that goes in the base. The other two halves without pins need to have the thinner section at the bottom for the pieces to mate up correctly. You can see in the top left half that the bottom part with the alignment pin is not as tall as the top. The lower-right is also a good angle for you to see the thinner bottom relative to the top.

There is an installation detail that you may not guess and they detail it in their installation instructions – you install the bottom screws first and tighten them down to the 20-25 in/lbs torque spec first. For folks not used to working with small fasteners, please note that is inch pounds and not foot pounds).

The bottom is torqued down first and then the top. There will be a small gap at the top. This method of bottom then top torquing centers the optic in their design. The only thread locker they will recommend is VC-3 Vibra-tite and the use of anything else will void the warranty. I’ve used a lot of Vibra-tite with Kydex holsters – it’s interesting in that you clean the fastener, apply the VC-3, let it dry and then assemble. It creates a rubbery surface that pretty much negates vibration. It also stays put when you unscrew and reinstall screws. It’s interesting stuff. They include a small packet of it with the mount but I also keep it around for working with Kydex fasteners and other situations where I expect there will be a need to uninstall and reinstall or adjust screws.

Here’s the M76 rifle with the American Defense mount installed. Note I used my Vortex torquing screw driver to do the installation. It’s definitely a precision instrument and what I use for all optics work now. I take care to return it to zero after each use.
Here it is from another angle.
I changed cheek pieces to get a better cheek weld. This unit is nice and stable. I’m so-so about the cheek pad itself and wish it was a bit wider but it is better than the Voodoo cheek pad that was there. I’m still hunting for an even better cheek weld and have some options I want to try that I will report on at a later date after I have a chance to try them. To be clear- it is a solid cheek piece and the right height but personally I do not like the feel of that relatively narrow riser.

In Summary

The combination of the RS!Regulate side mount system and the AD-RECON-SL optic mount is absolutely rock solid as in zero flex at all. even with the big and heavy Vortex Hog Hunter scope. I really think I have the ideal optic solution now for the rifle. The length of pull is better thanks to the installation of a SVL slip-on Limbsaver pad. I still need to find a better cheek piece to get my eye just the way I want it comfortably behind the scope and have some options to try. Last thing to report is that I did do some work on the firing pin but haven’t had time to test the rifle again.


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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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Yugoslavia army JNA scope ON-M76A ZRAK for M76 from 1984

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Yugoslavia army JNA scope ON-M76A ZRAK for M76 from 1987

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Yes, There Is A Published Specification for the AKM Fire Control Group Pins

I had a fellow who was new to AK-47s/AKMs ask me the other day how the two pins work and if there was a published specification for them because his were floating in their holes. I learned a long time ago to try and help guys learn so I took a few photos and sent them to him.

Two Pins for Semi-Auto AKs

In a fully automatic AK, there are three pins and they are referred to collectively as the fire control group (FCG) pins – this includes the hammer pin, trigger pin, and sear pin – once in a while you’ll see the word “axis” thrown in there somewhere. For most civilians, we’ll just see semi-auto AKs so there are just two pins – one for the hammer and one for the trigger assembly which is made up of the trigger and disconnector. They are still called the FCG pins.

For anyone that is interested, a 1968 Soviet era armorer’s manual does have the pin specification:

This is from a Soviet era Armorer’s Guide that specs out the AKM fire control group pin. The shaft is 5mm and is where the trigger and hammer rotate. The same type of pin is used for both the trigger and the hammer – they are not unique.
Here is a pile of pins from a mix of countries. I had them in one of my parts boxes. The diameters of the shafts vary from 4.921 to 4.988mm according to my micrometer. Based on the armorer diagram above, a diameter under 4.97 or over 5.03mm is out of spec. Three of those pins were under 4.97 interestingly enough.

Odds are that the heat treat is messed up on his receiver or someone drilled the holes out of spec. He has enough info now to decide his next steps and since I wrote most of this already, I decided to post it in case it helps someone else.

Accessing the 1968 AKM Armorer’s Manual

I am going to try hosting his huge armorer’s manual PDF file and see how it goes. If people have problems downloading it, I’ll just remove the link – click here for the 64MB PDF file. Note, I am not the owner or creator of that file. Someone did us a huge favor by taking the time to scan in all the pages and share it. It is in Russian and has a ton of diagrams.


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Ian McCollum Interviews Max Popenker Who Shares His Deep Knowledge On The History Surrounding the Design of the AK-47

I’m definitely a fan of the AK-47 rifle and am always looking for more insights about the history and design. Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons recently hosted Max Popenker, who is a Russian small arms researcher and publisher of Modern Firearms – one of the original firearm research websites. Between the two of them, there is a ton of knowledge.

The AK-47 design was the result of collaboration and competition amongst designers and didn’t happen magically overnight.

Now the video portion is ok but what is really cool is listening to Max unravel the history that led up to the AK-47 rifle’s design – the desire by the Soviets to develop a system of small arms, the influence of German small arms, and other Russian designs.

Here’s the Video


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My Favorite AK / Kalashnikov T-Shirts – May 2019

As my wife will tell you, I like T-shirts and, of course, I like AK rifles so the two go together! There are so many cool designs out there these days, I thought you might like to see them. Plus, since they are on Amazon, you know you will have their excellent customer service backing you up.


I hope you have some fun looking at the photos at least plus it is time to get ready for summer and having fun outdoors!


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.


My Cool New Kalashnikov Coffee Cup

Guys, I must confess that I have a coffee addiction 🙂 As most of you know, I am into AK rifles as well. As part of that interest, I have read every biography I could find of Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov to try and better understand what led to the creation of the AK-47 and the eventual family of Kalashnikov designs.

Recently I was searching on Amazon and surprisingly found a coffee cup with a great photo of a young Kalashnikov that was tastefully done and, of courcase, had to order it. I had to wait a few weeks as it shipped from Germany.

When it arrived, I was surprised that the graphic was a different color than what the Amazon ad depicted. I thought about returning it but I do like the cup. The following shows you the cup that arrived – it is pretty cool and the color has grown on me.

My wife’s reaction was “Why did you buy another coffee cup?” To which I answered “But honey, this is Kalashnikov” at which she just turned around while shaking her head 🙂

In case you are looking for a conversation piece, check out this cup. Here’s the listing on Amazon.

7/3/2019 Update: It’s holding up just fine. It does make for a cool conversation piece when people use it. “Who is this guy?” is usually how it starts 🙂


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Larry Vickers Interview in Russia – Is the AK Outdated?

During his visit to Russia in 2018, Larry Vickers was interviewed by
Vladimir Onokoy, a technical consultant with the Kalashnikov Concern, about Larry’s views on the traditional AK platform.

The two discussed a number of topics and I’ll just hit some personal highlights that I found interesting:

  • Larry mentioned that people get hung up on the design of the safety and the short sight radius but the positives of the design far outweigh the negatives. This is especially true because the safety works just fine once you get used to it and the addition of a good red dot is a game changer. I agree with both points.
  • Vladimir asked Larry his caliber preference. Larry said if he had to only pick one, it would be 7.62×39. That’s definitely my go-to caliber for the rifle.
  • Larry made a really interesting point – the tapers of the 7.62×39 and 5.45×39 aid in reliable feeding in the AK platform. The 5.56×45 is at a disadvantage because it does not have the same degree of taper. That caught my attention – I never really stopped and thought about the impacts of case taper on reliability given how to AK operates. Interesting point.

So, is the AK obsolete? In my opinion, it is an extensible platform but watch this interesting video and here Larry’s thoughts first hand.


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Larry Vickers Shows a Federov, SKS and Pre-Production AK-47

In 2015, Larry Vickers had a great chance to visit the Central Armed Forces Museum in northern Moscow.  While there, he had a chance to visit the museum’s archives and see an original Federov rifle, an early SKS and a preproduction AK-47 that was produced in 1946.  He assembled this part of his visit along with a comparison of a German StG 44 and a Type I AK into a video.

The Federov

The Federov Avtomat was arguably the first assault rifle.  It was designed in 1913 and produced at the Kovrov Arms Factory from 1913-1925.  Roughly 3,200 of these forward thinking rifles were built.  Personally, I think the rifle was very novel for its time including the use of the 6.5x50mm SR (Semi-Rimmed) Arisaka cartridge (What we call 6.5 Japanese today).

An overview of the Federov from the video.
Larry steps shows the Federov to viewers and has a lot of great close ups of this rare rifle.

The SKS

The Samozaryadny Karabin sistemy Simonov (SKS) was designed in 1944 and went into production in 1945.  Thus, it became known as the “SKS-45” in the USSR and was widely exported.  In total, the Soviets produced about 2.7 million SKS carbines first at the Tula Arsenal (1949-1958) and also Izhevsk Arsenal (153 and 1954).  The rifle was chambered for the 7.62×39 round that would later on be used the the AK-47.

Larry provides an overview of the SKS carbine
Here, he is holding an early SKS model and gives a quick overview of it.

A Preproduction AK-47

Larry had a chance to review an actual pre-production AK from about 1946 that was used in the Army’s trials of the weapon prior to official adoption in 1947.  This is what I especially wanted to see.  You see, many people assume the AK-47 was one single assault rifle when, really, it evolved over time.  They had the Type I, II, the III/AKM and so forth.

At any rate, Mikhail Kalashnikov and his design team worked on the AK-47 design from 1946-1948.  From 1949 to present, it estimated at least 75 million AK-47s were built.  Like the SKS, it uses the 7.62×39 cartridge.

Larry shows the Army Trial rifle and the viewer gets to see a number of angles of the rifle.

German StG-44 vs. Type I AK-47

Larry then goes on to argue that the StG-44 greatly influenced Kalashnikov and his design team.  Folks, this is a hotly debated topic.  As a point of Russian pride, they minimize any thoughts of influence.  At this point, it’s really hard to say.  If it were me, I’d look at a previous design and get ideas from it to save time, money and reduce the risk of mistakes.

Larry has a German StG-44 on the left and a Type I AK on the right.

The Video

So with no further to do, here’s Larry’s video:


Please note that all images above are extracted from the video and are the copyright of Vickers Tactical.


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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Prototype AK-47 Underfolder Circa 1948

Kalashnikov Concern released an interesting short video of this prototype 7.62x39mm AK-47 that they say dates to around 1948.  There are some interesting design features to point out:

  • A sheet metal receiver with no reinforcing center rivet/spacer visible.
  • The muzzle brake is integral with the barrel
  • The fire control group is permanently mounted
  • The cocking handle is a hollow tube
Source:  Photo from the video

Source:  Photo from the video

Here’s the Video:


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The Thinking Behind the Nazi Sturmgewehr (StG) 44 vs. Soviet AK-47 Video From Forgotten Weapons

I’m more knowledgeable about the Soviet AK-47 than I am the German Sturmgewehr 44 (StG 44).  The main reason I even known about the StG 44 is from reading about it in books that cited it as being an inspiration to Mikhail Kalashnikov and his design team.  But was it really – I’ve heard some heated debates about this.

I had some time and watched this brief video where Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons has a Chinese Type 56 sitting next to a StG 44 as he talks.  They were both on loan from the James D. Julia auction company.

Ian gave a very interesting perspective that the AK-47 was essentially designed as a more powerful replacement for the Soviet’s PPS-43 that fired the 7.62×25 Tokarev pistol round.

In constrast, the Germans were wanting a controllable automatic fire weapon that would increase the firepower of soldiers especially during tactical withdrawals.  They had the German 7.92×57 bolt action K98 and the famous MG42 belt fed machine gun also in 7.92×57 but they needed something different hence the StG 44.

Now, I have no doubt Kalashnikov and his design team got ideas from the StG 44.  Any good engineer would take an existing design and learn from it.  The Soviets needed to build up a hero so there is a lot of myth mixed in with history so I am not sure where to draw the line myself.

The video shows you the two rifles and actually shows live firing of the two so you can see how the StG 44 was actually more controllable.  I thought this was really cool because the slow motion really shows the difference.

Here’s the video:

Click here for Ian’s Forgotten Weapons website.


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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