Tag Archives: Kalashnikov

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.


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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The CNC Warrior Brace

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ronin’s Grips Izhmash Molot Grip

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

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

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

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

K-VAR US Handguard Set

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Results

I really like how the converted AK-V looks and how it feels. Click on any of the thumbnails below to open the full size photo and enter the slide show:


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

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

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

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

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

The most noteworthy differences:

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

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

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


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First Range Visit For the PSA AK-V

I’ve written a number of posts about the Palmetto State Armory’s second generation 9mm AK-V pistol and how impressed I was. After about a week,I finally got a chance to take it to the range with my daughter and a friend of her’s. Boy, did we have fun!

First off, I cleaned and lubricated the AK-V before we went to the range. This is something you should always do with a new firearm. While cleaning it, I noticed how heavy the bolt assembly was and decided to break it in with 124 grain Sellier &Bellot (S&B) 9x19mm ammo.

The AK-V’s bolt assembly does not have a separate bolt and bolt carrier like you would see in a rifle caliber AK, meaning 7.62×39, 5.45×39, etc. It’s surprisingly heavy and that led me to using 124 grain ammo to break the AK-V in.

The reason for this decision is that 124 grain ammo is used in a lot of submachine guns (SMGs) to generate enough of a recoil impulse to reliably cycle the weapon. I figured the AK-V would need to break in and I had a ton of S&B 124grain FMJ ammo from work I had done with UZIs and MP5s. It also should be mentioned that the S&B ammo is loaded to the 9x19mm CIP spec and not the lighter US 9mm SAAMI spec. Note, 9mm NATO is hotter than commercial 9×19 CIP or SAAMI. I did not have any otherwise I would have used it.

The loose ammo is 124 grain Sellier &Bellot 9mm full metal jacket. It worked great during the break in process. Not one single feed or extraction problem!

To save time and ammo, I used a MidTen brand 9mm laser bore sighter to dial in the Vortex Crossfire Red Dot to be more aligned. I’ve never had a boresighter achieve dead-on accuracy but they do tend to get you close enough on paper so you can more easily make the final adjustments based on actual rounds fired.

The Range

It was a beautiful afternoon when we loaded up the car and headed to the Berrien County Sportsmans Club. My favorite lane was open and we set up at the 25 foot mark.

We loaded up four of the 35 round PSA magazines with the 124 grain S&B ammo, two magazines with 115 grain CCI/Speer ammo that PSA had on sale, and one last magazine with 10 rounds Hornday Critical Duty ammo. Note, I’d heard of guys having some small issues when trying to use Scorpion magazines so I avoided them and only used PSA’s own brand of magazines for the AK-V.

To do the first test firing, I loaded two rounds of the S&B 124 grain in a mag. I had aready function tested the AK-V with the dust cover off to make sure the fire control group operated the way it should. By loading just two rounds, I could safely fire one, make sure the bullet hit the target and then fire the second. The last thing I wanted was a run away gun where a geometry error might cause the whole magazine to dump uncontrollably.

The AK-V ran just great without one single problem. It fed and ejected everything just fine. I was very impressed by the accuracy and reliability. I’m definitely not the only one saying this either – tons of guys are reporting how much they like their AK-Vs.

The Vortex Cross Fire Red Dot on the American Defense quick release base worked great. It’s a tad too high to co-witness but you can get it off the weapon in a hurry if need be.
This is the first 37 rounds fire free hand from about 25-35 feet away plus I was dialing in the red dot as I went. I’ll take the AK-V out again and fire from a rest to see what kind of accuracy I can get.
I’m very happy with our quick takedown pin. Everything was secure and held zero with no visible wear of any kind. Click here if you want to order one.

In conclusion, we had a lot of fun. The AK-V ran great! Note: I’ve read posts from a ton of guys who shot just 115 grain 9mm from their AK-V to break it in so that’s an option for you as well. Also, I was toying with replacing the trigger but after shooting the AK-V, I really do not see the need. The trigger’s actually pretty decent.

So, that’s it for now. I definitely recommend the AK-V to anyone who is interested. It would appear to be accurate and reliable. Kudos to PSA for listening to customers and creating this second generation.


Other AK-V Posts:


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PSA AK-V Part Four: Lubricating and Picking a Carrying Case

At this point, the AK-V is almost ready. As you may have noticed in the first post about impressions out of the box, it shipped pretty dry with just some oil to prevent rust and that’s just fine. In this post I’ll outline what I did to lubricate it and also the cool US Peacekeeper it will be carried in.

Here’s a good view of the inside of the receiver. Everything is clean and appears solid. However, it definitely needs lubrication.
The bar you see in the middle with the circle on its left is the bolt hold open or bolt catch mechanism. On the PSA AK-V magazines, you will see a red tab at the back that only protrudes when the magazine is empty. That tab pushes this bar up and it holds the bolt open. A slide release lever is in the non operating side and simply moves this bar down allowing it to close.
That red tab in the back of the magazine is what pushes upwards and lifts the bolt hold open bar into position.
Here’s the fire control group. It comes with a retaining plate, which makes me happy since I really do not care for the traditional wire retainers.
This is not really a criticism and more of an observation – PSA installed a sheet metal shelf just forward of the hammer and just above the center support rivet. Don’t dry fire the weapon without the bolt present or the hammer will hit this shelf. In most AKs, the hammer would be beating up the center support if triggered without the bolt assembly so really the same need to manually move the hammer forward when the bolt assembly is not installed in order to protect the two surfaces still exists.

Cleaning the AK-V

On any new weapon, you need to run a bore snake or whatever your preferred method is to get any remnants from machining, dust, etc. out of the barrel. I ran a RamRodz tip down the length of the barrel coated in CLP and it came out fairly dirty. I did this four times with two RamRodz and was set. Note, I usually use the RamRodz on my 9mm pistols and happened to have them sitting there. The wood push sticjs were too short for the AK-Vs barrel so I used a small nut driver to push the wood stick down. I would normally use a Hoppes 9mm Bore Snake.

Here’s what the two normally white RamRodz looked like after running down the bore two times each with CLP on them. Note, I broke one removing it from the mag well in a rush.

Lubricating the AK-V

To lubricate the weapon, I pretty much did what I normally do with any AK and I follow and old saying “If it slides, grease it. If it rotates, oil it”. My grease of choice these days is Super Lube. It works great on weapons in a wide range of temperatures, is a synthetic grease and includes very fine particles of PTFE (Telfon) in it. I apply it to the bottom of the bolt carrier, rails, fire control group (FCG) surfaces and a light film in the hole for the recoil spring in the bolt group. I wanted to say bolt carrier but in the AK-V, the bolt is a one piece combination of the traditional bolt barrier and bolt body.

I then used Super Lube oil on the FCG pins plus a drop on each end of the firing pin. Technically, I tried to put a drop in the hole on the bolt face and a drop on the exposed firing on on the rear. I also made sure the extractor was oiled as well.

I’m using Super Lube grease and oil on everything these days – rifles, pistols, shotguns, stuff around the house, etc. You can see the acid, or flux, brush that I use to lightly coat parts. I buy them by the bag off Amazon and keep the current one in use in a baggie between uses — that’s the purpose of the Bondhus zip loc bag to the left.
It’s not pretty but you get the idea – any surface that slides has a think layer of Super Lube grease. All surfaces that rotate have the oil.
You can see I brushed Super Lube on the bottom of the bolt. It looks heavier than what it is thanks to zooming in and the lighting. I put a drop of Super Lube oil down the front firing pin hole and on the exposed firing pin in the back.

After lubricating the AK-V, I function tested it. Wow. What an amazing difference. We’re talking night and day difference. It was incredibly smooth and hadn’t even been broke in yet!

US Peacekeeper 28″ Rapid Assault Tactical Case

Ok, so after measuring the rifle, I ordered the US Peacekeeper case and it fits like a glove. Often you have slop at the ends but here the butt and muzzle go right up to the cushioned ends.

The case is rather discrete and very well made in terms of materials, zippers and stitching. Inside the outer pocket is MOLLE straps for securing pourches and accessories. To hold the magazines, I opted for a three cell pouch made for AR magazines – you can get two of the AK-V 35 round magazines in each and just barely close the flap.

Here’s the case. I had to add the Punisher swag patch to it.
That is a Midway USA brand three AR magazine pouch mounted with MOLLE straps. It’s a pretty good pouch and the as you can see the mags just barely fit. I have three mags laying in the pouch for moment along with an Outdoor Connection one point sling. I don’t think I will keep the other three magazines in there. I do want to keep at least one spare battery for the red dot and a Mag Lula loader in there. I may add one more AR magazine pouch to hold a total of eight magazines and still have room for the batteries and sling.
You can see the AK-V magazines just barely fit. I’m perfectly fine with the fit. The purpose of the pouch is really to organize the case and I don’t need to worry about how securely they are retained vertically.
As you can see, it is a nice snug fit. The AK-V and Vortex Crossfire Red Dot sit in there just perfect. It will not fit with a magazine in case you are wondering.
This is the back of the bag. You can see the sling attachment points plus the fact that they ran the handle webbing all the way around the bag. Cheap bags don”t do this. The reason it matters is that this bag will weigh a lot once the magazines are loaded and you want the weight as evenly distributed as you can – looped under the bottom even. Cheap bags that have handles that only go part way risk the material separating over time under the load. Now there are designs that compensate for this but I thought it worth pointing out that US Peacekeeper thought this through.

That’s It For Now

I will try to get this to the range at some point and will report back when I do. I hope you found these posts useful. Please note, none of these groups sponsor me or gave me their products – I had to buy everything so please consider buying something off one of our Amazon links so we can get a small bit of sales commission.


This is a four part series on the PSA AK-V 9pmm:


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.


PSA AK-V Part Three: Changing the Brace, Adding a Red Dot and Installing A Quick Takedown Pin For The Dust Cover

Out of the box, the AK-V is impressive. The trigger is decent, the grip and handguard are functional but there were three things I really wanted to do – move to a SBA4 brace, install an optic and create a quick takedown pin so the dust cover could be removed (the big reason I bought the AK-V from a business perspective). So let’s step through each.

Replace The SBA3 Brace With An SBA4

Yes, they are both adjustable braces but that comparison ends there. The SBA4 is much more sturdy and has five length of pull adjustment positions. The SBA4 does go on sale and that is the time to buy one. I got mine for $99 at PSA’s July 4th sale and there was free shipping!

The SBA4 is the top brace and the SBA3 is the bottom. You can instantly see the SBA4 has more bracing and is bulkier. The back end does not flop around either unlike the SBA3.

Now PSA did something with the SBA3 that is a best practice. They staked the castle nut to the receiver end plate. Now, I started thinking about what would be my easiest option and it dawned on me that if I was SB Tactical and wanted to control cost and complexity, I would try and have as few inventory parts as possible and that means as few buffer tubes. Guess what? The SBA3 and the SBA4 both use a Mil-Spec 6 position buffer tube. Problem solved. You can remove the brace just like most AR/M4 stocks – lift up on the locking pin and slide it right off.

The Castle Nut has two real solid stakes in it. Kudos to PSA.
Ta-da! Under the brace is a Mil-Spec buffer tube or “receiver extension” depending on who you talk to. The SBA3 and SBA4 use the same tube!! Note, the weapon is upside down for this photo.
Here’s a good shot of the receiver. See that small vertical slider switch just above the mag catch? That’s the bolt release. The M4 buffer tube / receiver extension they are using is rock solid. If it is made by someone else, I don’t recognize it.
Here’s the tail end of the SBA4 on the left vs. the SBA3 on the right.
The SBA4 uses the same buffer tube and slides right on in place of the SBA3 brace.

The result is a very sturdy brace. After comparing the two, I will only use SBA4 braces going forward.

Vortex Crossfire Red Dot Optic and American Defense Mount

I doubt I will ever go past 100 yards with the AK-V and a much more likely engagement distance is 50 yards so a red dot is perfect. I’m a huge Vortex Optics fan and this was a perfect situation for their Crossfire Red Dot mounted on an American Defense AD-T1-L STD quick detach mount. They are my favorite combination of price and performance these days.

By the way, be sure to keep a couple of spare 2032 Lithium batteries in your case or range bag. Nothing dampens a range trip like dead batteries. It’s also why I use a quick detach mount – if the batteries are dead or that optic fails, I am yanking that optic off.

With the AD-T1-L STD mount you are a tad higher than the AK-V’s sights. I plan to watch how they relate at the range so I can ballpark where to aim if the battery is dead and am in a rush. Practice, practice, practice and not just when everything works.

Here’s the Vortex Crossfire Red Dot on the American Defense AD-T1-L STD mount. If you wonder why I use American Defense, it’s for the quality. Cheap Chinese/import quick detach rings shoot loose, don’t return to zero and bend/break over time. AD stuff is rock solid made from aerospace aluminum. Note, you can see our Quick Takedown Pin just above the handguard and I’ll cover that next.

The AK-V Dust Cover Quick Takedown Pin

I had to look up — I built my first Yugo M92 in 2012 and instantly hated the hinged dust cover. I drilled out the rivet and came up with a stainless pin with a ball detent and pull ring to secure the cover. The rest is history. I wound up making pins for the M92/M85, Tula and Bulgy Krinks use the same pin, Vepr shotguns and now the AK-V.

The reason for wanting a quick takedown pin is plain and simple, when you want to clean the weapon or work in the receiver, the hinged dust cover is in the way. To remedy this, you can install our AK-V quick pin and it’s about a 10 minute job if you know how to strip down an AK. This is a quick overview:

  1. Ensure the weapon is empty.
  2. Field strip the weapon like you would any AK, remove the gas tube and the lower handguard so they are out of the way. 
  3. The AK-V’s hinge is simply a 5/32″ roll pin that needs to be tapped/punched out so use something like a bench block to support the weapon and create a hole/gap for the pin to exit into.
  4. Use a 5/32″ roll pin punch and a hammer to tap the roll pin out.  You can save it for the future in case you ever want to use it again for some reason. 
  5. Put the dust cover back in place with the hinge holes lined up and slide in our quick takedown pin.
  6. Re-assemble the weapon.
  7. Done
Here, I have the rear sight block fully supported by the bench block behind it and am using a 5/32″ roll pin punch and hammer to drive the roll pin out.
What makes a roll pin punch different from a normal punch is the dome in the middle that centers the punch on the pin and makes driving the pin out very easy. It also reduces the risk of a regular punch slipping off what you are working on an scratching the finish.
So this is what you wind up with once the roll pin is removed.
This was my first attempt because I am right handed. Having the pull ring there right next to the gas tube locking lever was just too much. I flipped it around and had the pull ring on the other side of the gas block.
This is how I am running it now. The pull ring is on the left / non-operating side and the ring is tucked just behind the handguard.

We have the pins up for sale on our website now. Click here to order one.

Summary

Looking good!

The AK-V was almost done at this point. I still needed to lubricate the weapon and put it in a suitable case. I’ll tell you about that part of the journey in the next post.


This is a four part series on the PSA AK-V 9mm:


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.


PSA AK-V Part Two: First Thoughts Out Of The Box

A tad over a week from when I ordered my AK-V via the PSA website, Scott Igert, of Modern Antique Firearms, called and told me that the pistol had arrived. Let me give you a tip, there is such a huge backlog of people signed up for the “email me when it is in stock” feature of the PSA website, you will never hear when they show up. I have a huge tip for you – check at 9am and 4pm Eastern manually. I did that for a week or so and that is how I snagged my AK-V. I My logic was real simple – if I were them, I’d add inventory either first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. Bingo. Maybe it was just luck but it worked.

Okay, so this post is really a collection of photos to show you the AK-V. The next post will get into the modifications that I did.

Here’s the AK-V still with the PSA tag on it. You can see the SBA3 brace, Magpul grip and handguard. Note, Magpul makes some very solid stuff. If that works for you, great. It will take any AKM grip and handguard. That means you can put Russian AK furniture on it, Bulgarian, etc. The good news is that it is not custom.
I have mixed feelings about the big Palmetto logo at the rear but what can you do? It has an enhanced safety lever. And you can see the mag release just behind the magazine.
Here’s one reason I bought the AK-V – the hinged top cover. When I saw the AK-V was taking off in terms of popularity, I knew a good chunk of folks would not like the hinged cover and want to replace it with a quick takedown pin. What is nice is that hinge is just a 5/32″ roll pin and it pushes/punches right out. The gas tube cover lever is separate.
Just so you know, this is our quick takedown pin for the AK-V. Click here to open a new tab to order it. In the next post, I’ll get into the installation.
In one photo you can see why I don’t like the SBA3 brace. The rear rubber is too flexible and slides into weird shapes. You’ll notice that not only are the top and bottom (the sides really) of the brace not lining up but the whole shape is slightly cupped upward. The SBA4 is a far better design.
Top down view of the front half.
The hinged top cover is nicely designed and executed. This is a close up of the hinge area. You can see the rear V sight just to the left of the center of the photo.
It is a solid albeit unique top cover design. The rear sight block (RSB) does not have a groove to retain a normal dust cover. This weapon is a pretty unique design – it’s not just AK parts slapped together with a magwell adapter – there’s a lot more to it. I am impressed.
When you lift the top cover, you immediately notice an interestingly shaped spring, a rubber recoil buffer and a spacer made from machined aluminum.
A view of the hinge with the dust cover open.
A closer view of the recoil buffer and spacer.
This is the recoil spring assembly removed. The length looks pretty much like that of an AKM but I did not measure it.
Wow – now the bolt carrier and bolt are one piece and it is surprisingly heavy. This thing is packing some inertia to be overcome. Notice how the gas pistol is both short and fixed/solid? No wobble like you would see on an AK. Notice there is no out of battery tail on the carrier/bolt either.
Now look at it flipped the other way.
Here’s a close up of the bolt face. Notice there is no sign of the firing pin – it’s spring loaded and being pushed backward. The extractor looks beefy. This is what I am talking about in terms of AK-V being an interesting design.
Another view of the non-op side of the bolt. You can see the bolt handle towards the top left.
This is the rear of the firing pin being pushed backward by a spring.
Things look pretty normal. Definitely needs to be lubricated before the first use.
View of the bolt hold open mechanism and the interestingly shaped ejector.

In summary

The AK-V is a very interesting design. Rivets and the finish were well done. Everything looked well machined and assembled. You could tell it was dry. There was a very light coat of oil but the action felt rough just like most new AKs do. In the next blog post, I’ll actually step through what I did in terms of changing to the SBA4 brace, adding a Vortex Crossfire Red Dot and installing one of our Quick Takedown Pins.


This is a Four Part Series on the PSA AK-V in 9mm:


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.


PSA AK-V Part One: Good Reviews Really Raised My Interest After They Fixed Initial Problems

Well, I bought a Palmetto State Armory AK-V in 9mm. I’ve been a PSA AR fan for years and years. I’m not even sure how many rifle and pistol kits of their’s that I’ve built. On the other hand, reports about their AK attempts kept me away from that product line until recently.

PSA responded to the market and brought out a 9mm pistol caliber carbine (PCC) using the AK platform that they called the “AK-V”. In a ways, they took the Russian ideas behind the 2004 Vityaz-SN as inspiration and created their own unique weapon.

Now, they did have some bumps when they launched. Guys identified a number of weaknesses and then PSA did something that not a lot of folks expected – they went out and fixed them and improved the AK-V design. Kudos to them – seriously. What has resulted is a red hot product that is pretty hard to find.

So, before I get into what I did, here are some videos that started me down my journey including some updated videos.

AK Operators Union, Local 47-74

Rob Ski has fired 3000 rounds through his as of July 11th with no major problems. He reported one CZ magazine not a PSA magazine. My response – just use PSA’s magazines. He was dropping it on rocks too! The bolt, buffer, chamber and internals all looked fine. No deformations or marks. Rob doesn’t mince words and likes what he is seeing.

Military Arms Channel – PSA AKV9 Relaunch

They did a lot of shooting and said they are extremely happy with the performance of the gun now.

I did a lot of lurking reading reviews and comments on Facebook and what not. Watch these videos – these guys are impressed. My next post will have a bunch of photos and first impressions.


This is a four part series on the PSA AK-V 9mm:


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.


Really Cool Russian Page With A Detailed Breakdown of the 5.45mm AK-12 Rifle

Folks, there is a really cool page in the Russian language that has an excellent breakdown of the Kalashnikov Concern’s AK-12. You can visit it and get a ton of info . A trick I would recommend is to use your browser’s ability to translate a webpage – it will not be perfect but you sure will get a much better idea of what they are talking about.

Click here to go to that page.

We also have a great video in English that gives an overview of the AK-12K, AK-15K AND RPK-16K if you are interested. Click here for that.


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, the image shown above is from the article and remains the property of its respective owner.


Video: Kalashnikov Concern Releases the Civilian Version of the AK-12: The AK TR3 Rifle

Because of the import restrictions of the Russian firm Kalashnikov Concern, Americans will not get a chance to see a cool new rifle just released by them. Their AK TR3 rifle is a civilian version of the modern AK-12 and will be available in both 5.45×39 and 7.62×39 cartridges. [Click here for a previous post that goes into the AK-12 in more detail.]

The AK TR3 is identical to the military AK-12. Note that it has three fire control group pins.
The AK TR3 is chambered for both traditional Russian cartridges, the 5.45×39 and 7.62×39

Here is the Video

In this short video, Kalashnikov gives you a brief overview of the TR3:

Yeah, I sure wish I could buy an AK TR3 but given the political issues between our countries, that is not going to happen. Regardless, it looks like a very slick rifle and I’ll just have to ogle it from afar.


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.


All images were extrated from the video and remain the property of their respective owner.