Tag Archives: AK-47

November 10, 2019 – Russia Celebrates Kalashnikov’s 100th Birthday

On November 10th, 1919, Mikhail Timofeyevich Kalashnikov (Михаи́л Тимофе́евич Кала́шников) was born in Kurya, Altai Governorate, Russian SFSR (now Altai Krai, Russia). He grew up from humble beginnings to be known as the father of a very famous rifle, the Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947, or AK-47 as we know it in the West.

Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947 Type II
Photo from Wikipedia

While he died on December 23rd, 2013, at the age of 94, he is still revered as one of the leading small arms designers in history. In memory if him, Russia is celebrating his 100th birthday today. Being a student and fan of his designs, I would like to also say, Happy birthday Mr. Klashnikov.

You definitely need to visit the memorial website that the Kalashnikov Concern is hosting – it is in Russian and your browser can translate some of it but not the videos. Click here to visit the site– knock on the door and click on various items in the study to learn more.

Click here to go to the Klashnikov Media site for the 100th birthday
Image copyright is Kalashnikov Media

Want to learn more about Mikhail Kalashnkov? Then I would suggest the following:

There are a lot of books on the rifle that also discuss Mikhail as you need to understand the designer (really the most publicized of the designers involved) to understand the evolution of the rifle. There is one book that I really like gets into more detail about the man and he even authored the introduction. That books is “Kalashnikov: The Arms and the Man” by Edward Clinton Ezell.

If you want to learn more about the rifle, the best reference source is “AK-47: The Grim Reaper” by Frank Iannamico, now in its second edition.

Videos

There are a few brief videos on YouTube that touch on Mikhail’s life and let you hear different perspectives and see a number of different photos and videos of him at various events:




Without a doubt, Kalashnikov was a superb designer and it does seem very fitting to take a moment and remember him on his birthday. As always, best wishes to all and hope you find this interesting.


Please note that all photos used are the copyright of their respective owners or public domain. The stamp and rifle photos are from Wikimedia and the website screenshot is from Kalashnikov Media’s website.


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Customizing An IWI Galil Ace Pistol – Installing a RS Regulate Handguard, SBA4 Brace & Vortex Optics

In my previous posts, I covered a bit of the history of the Galil Ace, did two posts about the differences between the Ace and an AKM that I observed (click here for the first and here for the second) and now that leads up to me making a few tweaks of my own to my 7.62×51 Ace pistol.

Moved to a SB Tactical SBA4 Brace

My Ace came with a SB Tactical SOB brace mounted on a proprietary IWI tube with a very heavy hinge. While the SOB is rugged, it is not adjustable so I installed and SB Tactical SBA4 brace.

The SOB4 brace is what comes with GAP51SB pistols. Palmetto had a great deal on this model and that’s why I bought it. If I could have found the pistol model without a brace cheaper, I would have done that.

Now some may wonder why I didn’t just file for a short barreled rifle (SBR) tax stamp and run a normal stock. I may very well do this in the future but I didn’t want to deal with it right now.

The Ace design allows for very easy changing of a rear block by simply driving out one roll pin. The block can the be lifted straight out and whatever you want installed in its place.

The Ace is resting on a green bench block and I used a roll pin punch to tap out that single pin. That’s all you need to do and then the rear plate of the receiver that holds the hinge, or anything else for that matter, will lift right out.
With the pin removed, it literally lifts out. Notice how the “plate” or “block” sits in a groove and that’s what provide the bulk of the strength. The roll pin is just stopping vertical travel and is more than enough.

Since the SBA4 is ATF approved, I opted for a modular adapter block from KNS Precision going to an Ace Limited (owned by Doublestar and not IWI) folding M4 adapter – the FSM-AR. Note, if you install a folder, buy one with the boss – the raised oval shape. It will fit into the groove in the KNS Precision adapter and make for a very solid connection.

This is the external face of the KNS Precision adapter. The groove is where the boss from the FSM-AR adapter will sit to limit movement. I’d recommend always getting adapters with the bosses unless you intentionally do not want them. The two screw holes allow for variations in mounting.
This is the back side of the KNS adapter. The one roll pin goes through one of the grooves to hold it in place. It is very nicely done – kudos to KNS Precision.
The KNS adapter just slides right in and is secured by the roll pin.
This is the Ace Limited (owned by Doublestar and not IWI) FSM-AR adapter. You can see the oval boss on the left part of the folder. This gets flipped over and screwed into the KNS adapter. Also, oil the hinge at some point before you close it. Sometimes they can be a bear to actuate when dry — personal experience talking there. Also, use blue Loctite on all screws or they will shoot loose.

Special note – the charging handle for my Ace pistol is on the left side. In my case, I was not worried about operating when folded. If you want to fire with the stock folded, you must go with a right side folding mechanism. If I had it to do over, I would have used a right-side folder but I simply used what I had in this case to cut cost plus I don’t plan on folding it much.

Here’s the Ace folder open to the left and the brace assembly does interfere with the charging handle. If you want a weapon that will operate with the brace folded, then go with a unit that folds to the right.

The SBA4 comes with a Mil-Spec receiver extension (buffer tube) and I used a generic castle nut that I had in my tool box along with an end plate that has hoops to connect a sling.

The SBA4 comes with a Mil-Spec receiver extension/buffer tube. You will need to supply your own castle nut .

I only use my Magpul wrench now for installing castle nuts as it enables a very positive/sure connection. I’ve done my fair share of scratching stuff with tools that used older methods and the MagPul is the way to go. I also used an automatic center punch to stake the nut.

For dealing with castle nuts, you simply can’t beat the Magpul wrench. I don’t use the combo wrench below it any more because I have scratched a ton of tubes accidentally with it.

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All in all, it was a very straight forward swap and allows for some adjustment now. In case you are wondering, the SBA4 is very beefy. I do not like the SBA3 as the end is soft and and ears that go around the shooter’s forearm just kind of bend and flop around. The SBA4 is very well done.

I definitely will SBR it at some point down the road but am happy with what I have for now.

Installed a RS Regulate GAR-9M-N Handguard

I was not fond of the original handguards and was pretty sure I would like the GAR-9M-N handguard from RS Regulate based on photos that Scot Hoskinson had posted. Let me tell you, it is a huge improvement. First off, it’s way longer and second it uses a M-LOK attachment method for accessories so you don’t have unnecessary rails bulking up the girth like you do with the originals.

This is the RS Regulate GAR-9M-N handguard for Ace pistols. It’s machining and finish are excellent. Installation was very easy.

Scot Hoskinson, the owner of RS Regulate, has put together a real nice installation guide with plenty of illustrations. The one thing I’ll tell you is that the two original handguard screws from IWI have threadlocker on them.

Just behind the mouth of the gas tube & front sight block is the mounting point that holds the two screws that retain the original Ace handguards. They do have threadlocker on them so warm them up to make removal easier.
I used a 1/4″ ratchet with a 4mm allen bit and the retaining screw on each side came right out. Note, you will see two rivets on each side – one rivet head is visible between the wrench handle and the bit. You don’t need to do anything to those. You just need to remove the two screws. You can see one of the above just forward of the bit.

You can heat them up and make them easier to loosen, use a 1/4″ ratchet with a 4mm allen/hex head to break the screws free or, what I did, was a bit of both. With the gas tube off and out of the way, you can see where the two screws mount on the barrel. I heated that up and backed them out with the ratchet pretty easily.

Once the screws are removed, slide the handguard forward slightly and pull the rear down. It will come right off.

From there, you basically pull the stock handguard down nose first and pull forward. Then, follow Scot’s instructions. You will need to pay attention and install a small spacer between the barrel mounting point and the handguard when you install the new screws. I applied blue Loc-tite and torqued them down to 25 in/lbs per Scot’s instructions. You also have to install one long screw at the rear that you’ll want to use the blue Loc-tite and torque to 25 in/lbs also.

The RS!Regulate comes with the three screws, two spacers and an allen wrench. I applied medium-strenght Blue Loctite and used my Vortex Optics torque driver to tighten the screws to 25 in/lbs.

The installation instructions where spot on and I did not encounter any surprises at all. The unit bolted right up with no fitting needed.
The fitment is really superb. Here the rail is sliding over the rear block and will be secured later with the long screw that squeezes the rail’s walls together further locking it in place.
I like the RS!Regulate unit far, far more than the original. It’s longer and it fits my hand way better in terms of girth.

This is a slick handguard – the fit and finish are superb. I’ve come to expect that from all RS!Regulate products. Scot’s created another great product in my honest opinion. His AK scope mounts are the best hands down in case you aren’t familiar with them.

Opted For a Vortex Razor AMG UH-1 Optic and 3x Magnifier

I figure this will be a close in weapon – certainly within 200 yards probably – and will figure that out when I get it to the range. With that in mind, putting a high power optic on it just does not make a lot of sense but I also wanted magnification just in case so I checked out what Vortex Optics had to offer.

I’ve now used a boat load of their red dots and scopes on all kinds of firearms including 12 gauges, .50 Beowulf and .338 Lapua. They’re solidly built, good glass and back by a no-nonsense warranty. So they are my go-to for optics and have been for several years. Yes, I do actually have to buy them and no, they do not pay me to say that.

At any rate, I’d been eyeing the Razor AMG UH-1 for a while. Now that is a mouthful and I notice a lot of guys just refer to it has the “Huey” due to the UH-1 helicopter. It’s a true holographic sight which means a laser image (a hologram) is projected into the viewing window. The benefit of this is that regardless of the angle you look through the lens at, if the dot is on the target, it’s going to hit there.

The Razor AMG UH-1 or “Huey” mounts easily with its quick release lever and is ruggedly built.
It has a large viewing window that makes sight acquisition very fast.
The controls are well laid out and easy to use.

Battery life is somewhere around 1,500 hours and there are a lot of variables that can influence that including the brightness of the reticle (there are 14 levels), whether you are using a CR123A battery or a rechargeable LFP123A. Note, Vortex found that recoil kills the basic rechargable RCR123 batteries in 2-300 rounds. They stopped testing the LFP123A at 10,000 rounds and it was still working. I’m using the supplied CR123A still at this point and will likely use Surefire CR123A batteries going forward as I keep them in stock for lights.

In short, the Huey is very slick and it’s getting great reviews. I’ve been a long-time red dot fan and the UH-1 is my favorite at this point.

To get a better view at 100-200 yards, what I did was to pair the Huey sight with the Vortex V3XM Micro 3x magnifier. What this does is give me the ability to install, remove or even swing the installed optic out of the way when I need or don’t need the target to be magnified 3x.

Some assembly was required and I applied medium-strength Blue Loctite to the screws.
Here’s the Vortex Micro 3x magnifier paired with the Huey.

The V3XM is small, light, has a quick release lever also, just like the Huey, and pairs very nicely with it.

Here’s the end result with the SBA4 brace, RS!Regulate rail and Vortex Optics combo.

Summary

The pistol really turned out slick. It balances well and ought to be a blast. Now just to find some time to get to the range before it really gets cold 🙂 Here are some photos for you:


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How A Modern IWI Galil Ace Differs From A Traditional AKM – With Lots Of Photos – Part 2

This is the second part of my review of the differences I saw between a 7.62×51 IWI Galil Ace pistol and a typical AKM-type rifle. [Click here if you would like to open the first post in a separate window.] The following round out my observations:

Railed handguard

AK handguards have evolved from wood to bakelite to elaborate affairs made of polymers or aluminum. In the case of the Ace, no rhyme intended, an aluminum handguard with Picatinny rail is covered by sculpted rail covers.

The handguard is U-shaped with rails at the the 3-, 6- and 9-O’clock positions. The top rail is integral with the gas tube. Note now they have a cut out read for a pressure switch and the rails are open on the middle for wiring. There is one socket screw on each slide to fasten the handguard to the weapon.
The two socket screws thread into a retainer and have thread locker on them. When you look at the top of the rail, you see a small circle indentation on each side and then just a bit further back a rectangular shaped indentation. The screws are on each side. Also, you also get a good view of the front sight .
These are the three rail covers for the handguard. They lock into place and can be released by pushing the visible button at the back. The panel in the middle is the bottom piece and it has a lip that serves to help you index your hand.

So, two differences to note – a unique railed handguard and it is held in position with screws vs. the traditional AK front handguard retainer.

As a personal comment, I stopped buying tri-railed handguards some time ago because they feel too fat for me once you add on rail covers. The Ace handguards aren’t too terrible but they are fat and shorter than I would like. The stock unit will be replaced by one of the excellent handguards from RS!Regulate – the GAR-9M-N model to be exact and that will be in a future post.

The Gas tube has tabs and a rail but no lever

This is a unique little item right here. The gas tube slides into place via tabs on the unit that mate with slots on the rear base. It does not have a locking lever like an AK does.

The top has a Picatinny rail and the whole unit is locked into place when the dust cover is installed, which pushes the gas tube forward into position. The fitment is so well done that the Picatinny rail is level all the way across the top.

The gas tube goes over the nipple on the front sight block. The relieved tube you see with the screws are where the handguard retainer screws thread in from each side.
This is the gas tube with the rail on top. Note the tabs at the bottom rear and the groove on the rail that mates with the rail from the dust cover.
Here’s another angle – you can see the heat shield on the handguard and the slots on the rear block. We can’t call it a Rear Sight Block (RSB) like we would on an AK because the sight is on the dust cover on the Ace. Here, all it is doing is securing the gas tube.
The fitment of the dust cover and the gas tube are so well done that despite being two separate parts, their two respective rail sections align very nicely.

Integral lower plastic assembly – grip, magazine guide

Part of the revisions from the IMI Galil to the IWI Ace was changing 12 parts from steel to plastic. To be honest, I did not hunt down all 12 and itemize each. What I did readily see was the plastic lower assembly that connects with the steel forged receiver. It has the following:

  • An integral grip that has a hollow storage area
  • Ambidextrous magazine releases
  • An enlarged integral trigger guard
  • A natural hand hold curve just forward of the magazine

Folding Brace Assembly

IWI makes two models of the 7.62×51 pistol – the GAP51 without a brace and the GAP51SB with the brace. I really just needed the GAP51 but went with the GAP51SB because the price was so good from Palmetto State Armory at the time.

What you get with the GAP51SB is an IWI designed integral folder with a 1.25″ diameter pistol tube and an SB Tactical SOB brace. The SOB part makes me smile every time I write it. So, it does give you a well designed fixed length brace and a rock solid folder.

The SB Tactical SOB Brace with the unit locked into position.
That hinge is soooooo cool.
A close up with the brace folded alongside the receiver.
The unit is very compact and functional with the brace closed. Note the IWI logo on the brace but it is definitely an SB unit and the butt end has their logow. SB Tactical OEMs for others as well – meaning they will sell units with the logos of other firms displayed.

Magpul Pmags

No AK ever used Magpul magazines so I think this counts as a difference 🙂 The 7.62×51 Ace uses Magpul’s 7.62×51 PMags. You can get them in a number of sizes as well as a drum if you really want to rock and roll. I bought some 20s, 25s and one of the D50 drums. I’ve not tested the pistol yet but expect it will work great with all of them.

The 7.62×51 Ace uses readily available Magpul Pmags.

The Manual

I can’t say that I’ve ever read a very good AK manual that has tons of illustrations and covers a lot of topics – operating, cleaning, trouble shooting, and a detailed parts breakdown. The IWI Ace manual really is exceptional. The PDF copy is 88 pages long!

IWI puts all of their operator manuals online – click here to visit their site.

Summary

That’s it for differences I’ve noted thus far. In the next post, I’ll share a number of reviews and videos that I watched before I purchased the unit.


References


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.


How a Modern IWI Galil Ace Differs From A Traditional AKM – With Lots Of Photos – Part 1

The Ace is definitely a modernized AK weapon. One look inside confirms that. The Colombian defense firm of Industria Militar (INDUMIL) began a commercial relationship with Israeli Military Industries (IMI) that would later carve out the small arms division to become Israeli Weapons Industries (IWI). Their collaboration was on the Galil Automatic Rifle (AR) and INDUMIL obtained exclusive rights to it.

What the two organizations accomplished is remarkable. The two collaborated and modified 43 of the 96 parts in a base Galil AR to reduce the weight by approximately 1 KG (about 2.2 pounds). 12 of the parts shifted from steel to plastic. The goal wasn’t just to reduce weight, they improved precision as well.

In my last blog post, I mentioned that I bought a Galil Ace pistol chambered in 7.62×51. It’s IWI model GAP51SB. Because there was a relationship between IWI and INDUMIL, I asked IWI USA to confirm where the Ace series is made and they told they are all made in Israel. I asked more out of curiosity than anything else.

I decided to see how many differences I could observe between it and a traditional AK. I wish I knew enough about Galil’s to compare a traditional Galil AR to the Ace but being an AK guy, I was very curious to see how the Ace compared.

I tried to be objective about things and started out that way but the more I took the pistol apart, the more genuinely impressed I became. So, let me try and catalog the differences with as many photos as I can.

Two Chamber Muzzle Brake

One thing that caught my eye was the two chamber muzzle brake and that it is held on by a jam nut, which is a nut that is tightened uo from the rear against the brake to lock it in place. The thread is 5/8-24 for the 7.62×51 Ace models.

In comparison, an AK-47 typically has a 14mm diameter by 1mm pitch left hand thread (14x1mm LH). They are held in place by a detent pin that protrudes from the front sight block (FSB) and engages a timing groove that secures the brake in the correct orientation. Now, 14×1 LH is typical for AK-47s but once you add in the variants, threads are all over the place with different style brakes and boosters.

Improved Sights

Note the longer sight radius, integral gas block with front sight, aperatrue rear and protected front sight.

There are five things I noticed right away

  • The Ace has a longer sight radius, which is a fancy term meaning the distance from the rear to the front sight is longer. In general, the longer the sight radius, the more accurately the weapon can be aimed.
  • Aperture rear sight – The Ace sports an aperture (meaning a hole you look through) rear sight that has flips to show either a small circular hole for distance work (300-500 meters) or a larger circular hole for close quarters work (0 to 300 meters).
  • Integral Front Sight and Gas Block – The Ace sports a combination gas block that combines the gas and front sight blocks. Note, AK folks use the term “blocks” to refer to the three sub-assemblies that sit on the top of the barrel – the front sight block (FSB), gas block (GB) and rear sight block (RSB).
  • Both the front sight post and the larger rear aperture have Beta Lights – Tritium Gas – for low-light visibility. In general, tritium is radioactive and will last about 10 years. After that, the sights still work but you will not have the glowing effect.
  • The height of sights enables co-witnessing with optics such as red dots.
View of the front sight and you can see the tritium (white dot) painted on the post.
Rear sight with the close quarters aperture flipped up. Note the tritium circles for low light. This close quarter aperture is 0-300 meters.
View of the rear sight showing the smaller aperture sight flipped down. It is used for distance work and the manual identifies it as 300-500 meters.

Ok, this pistol is in 7.62×51 and has an 11.8″ barrel – I’m real curious to see what it can do within 100 yards. The sights are the same used on the full size 16.5″ barreled rifle so I really don’t think the smaller aperture would ever realistically be needed but we will see.

Railed Dust Cover

The dust cover of the Ace is pretty interesting. Most of the cheap aftermarket railed AK dust covers simply aren’t very stable or consistent when the dust cover is removed, installed and the weapon fired – in short, they don’t really work very well.

The Ace dust cover is beefy and installs very firmly with no travel it is a stable platform to build on. The top of the dust cover has a Picatinny rail section on the top that is welded in place. It aligns with the rail section on the gas tube via a small tab.

This tab slides into a corresponding groove on the gas tube to align the two rail sections,

The rear of the dust cover has a second layer of sheet metal wrapping the bottom making for snug fit and reducing flexion.

This is the dust cover = you can see the rail, dual aperature rear sight and the double reinforced rear bottom that mates with receiver.
You can see the welds that secure the rail to the dust cover plus the reinforced rear.

In short, the dust cover is remarkably solid. I actually have to give it a knife hand chop on the rear to get it to seat down fully into the receiver. It needs to fit tight as the installation of the dust cover also locks the gas tube in place.

Milled Receiver

Speaking of the Ace’s receiver, it’s milled and built like a tank. I found it very well machined with nice touches like a funnel design to help guide the recoil rod assembly into position.

As an example of the care taken in the design, note how the seat for the operating rod assembly is funnel shaped to help with installation.

Note, while the modern AK (AKM ) uses a stamped receiver, the Type 2 and Type 3 AK-47s used milled receivers so it’s not entirely new but it does differ from the AKM. In fact, some countries continued to use milled receivers such as Bulgaria, Finland and Israel in at least some of their weapons.

Milled Recoil Assembly With Rubber Seal

The recoil rod and spring assembly is of a tubular style you typically see in RPKs. The benefit of this is a more consistent pressure being applied to the bolt carrier particularly when it comes to lock up. The thumb tab that locks the dust cover in place seems a tad longer than what I see in other AKs. Last comment is that they added a rubber seal at the rear of the assembly to seal out debris.

Here’s the recoil rod assembly with the dust cover removed. You can see the long thumb tab and also the rubber seal. It also gives you a good view of the plat that seals the length of the groove where the bolt cocking lever passes
Shows the recoil spring, tubular rear, round front shaft and retainer. In an AKM, rather than a tube and rod, two pieces of folded wire form the central element and can bounce all over the place. Not a big deal in a typical AK but it does matter when you want to improve consistency.

Forged Galatz Fire Control Group (FCG)

The Ace FCG is very nice. Let’s face it, most AK FCGs reflect and elegantly utilitarian design that isn’t very refined. I have always been impressed by the simplicity of the AK design and what the Ace designers decided to do was to take the enhanced FCG from the IWI Galatz designated marksman’s rifle (DMR) and used it in the Ace weapons.

Here are some differences I noted:

  • A single large forged trigger hook for holding the hammer
  • Engagement surfaces are polished such as where the disconnector grabs the hammer
  • Hammer and trigger springs are separate whereas the AK has two wires spiral wound together that power the hammer and push down the rear of the trigger’s rear ears/bars.
  • The top of the hammer is asymmetrical with only half of the normal bar that adds mass to the top rear of AK hammers. This is what normally gives an AK hammer the hammer-head shark hook.
View of the hammer. Note the polishing. You can see the double-wound hammer spring and a part of the single-wound trigger spring sitting on the left ear of the trigger.
Here it is from another angle. You can see the top rear of the hammer is asymmetrical vs. having the hammer-head shark design typically found in AK rifles.

Out of the box, it felt fair but once I used Superlube grease on the surfaces and Superlube oil on the rotating pins … wow. It is very smooth. [Click here for a blog post I did on Superlube – I use it on all of my firearms now]

Two Selector Levers

An AK has a single selector lever on the right side of the rifle that also serves to seal the receiver. It’s about as basic as you can get. On a semi-auto AK, the selector either physically blocks the trigger from actuating by moving a bar directly above the rear ears of the trigger or it moves out of the way allowing the trigger to move freely. On an automatic weapon it also allows the user to select full-auto or semi-automatic.

The Ace has a thumb control on the left side and more of a switch vs. the traditional long lever on the right side. Internally, the linkages do the same thing for semi-automatic in terms of moving the block bar into or out of position. The Ace has a separate plate for sealing the groove where the cocking handle reciprocates so the selector lever is not doing double-duty in that regard.

Visible are the thumb selector switch at to top of the grip and so is the charging handle and the very interesting articulating plate that pivots down and allows the charging knob to pass by in both directions.
Here’s the right side selector switch located where the traditional long AK selector lever would have been.

Note, the thumb selector connects to the safety bar via a linkage. The movement of the lever is an arc and not a horizontal slider. It is stiff and definitely needs lubrication when you get the weapon. I’ll comment more about that below when reviewing the pistol grip base.

Pistol Grip Base vs. Grip Nut

With AK’s, there tends to be a grip nut or in the case of Yugo-patterned AKs, a grip strap with an integral nut that the grip screw threads into. For the Ace, there is a “pistol grip base” that is uniquely shaped because it has a tube on top and my best guess is that it is to limit travel of the thumb selector and possibly to trap the pin so it can’t back out if it were ever to come loose.

The “barrel” in the middle of the receiver is the top of the “pistol grip base” as IWI terms it in the manual. You can also see the linkage – you’ll definitely want to oil this.
Another angle on the grip nut and thumb selector linkage.
Just behind the selector bar you can see a 6mm thread protruding from the bottom of the receiver. It is threaded into the unique “pistol grip base”.

Bolt Carrier and Bolt

The moment you open up a Galil Ace, you know you are looking at a rifle with an AK heritage and the bolt system clearly is AK inspired. When you look at the bolt and carrier, the refinements are interesting:

  • Most obvious perhaps, the traditional right-hand side cocking left on the bolt carrier has been moved to the left side and is tubular to reduce mass.
  • The bolt carrier has a lightening cut – that would lower mass and impact energy
  • Bolt and carrier do not appear to have serial numbers. While I can’t find confirmation of what I am about to say, perhaps the manufacturing tolernces are so good that the traditional hand fitting and matched components are no longer required.
  • At least for the 7.62×51 version the gas pistol is significantly shorter and has a collar on it.
  • While an AK’s firing pin is free floating, the Ace has a spring loaded firing pin that is pushing it back away from the bolt face. Now some will argue whether this was really needed or not but it is a design difference.
Note the short piston with the collar and that the cocking tube in on the left side.
A better view of the very short gas piston
Here’s a view of the underside of the carrier with the bolt installed. Note the knurling on the kocking lever. I am curious about the pin hole under the cocking tube. It may allow for the swapping out of the lever – some dayI will take it apart and see if this is the actual case.
Here’s the bolt. Definitely a good sized extractor.
Lightening relief/cut on the carrier.
Bottom of the carrier with the bolt removed. Curiously, notice the machining marks where the bolt’s lug would engage with the carrier.

Wrapping Up The First Post

There’s definitely more ground to cover and that will be in the next post. Click here to read it.


References


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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 JNA army M76 manual Ex Yugo M-76 manual

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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!


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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 🙂


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.