Category Archives: AK & Related Rifles

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

Are You Looking For A Rifle Sling That Has Great Quality And Is Affordable? S2Delta 2-Point Modular Slings Are Good To Go

A good sling for a rifle is really worth it if you plan on carrying them around much. The challenge can be finding one that is quality made that doesnb’t break the bank in terms of cost. Over the past few years, I’ve found a vendor that makes their slings in the USA and does a really nice job – that group is S2Delta.

S2Delta was founded by two Marine Recon vets in Albuquerque, NM, that offers a variety of accessories includling slings, rifle rests and patches. It also looks like they are working on bringing a Remington 700 short action rifle chassis to market as well. My experience with them focuses on their two point modular slings. Let’s review a few things first.

What do they mean by 1-point vs. 2-point slings?

When you see companies refer to a sling being one or two-point, they are referring to the number of places the sling attaches to the weapon. A one-point sling connects only at one point and exactly where depends on the length of the weapon and the preferences of the operator. For example, a relatively short AR may be attached at the end of the buttstock and swung up into position as needed. I’ve also seen guys run connectors along the stock on purpose built end plates just in front of the castle nut.

A two-point slings connects to the weapon and two points – at forward and rear positions usually. I’ve seen guys run their forward position way out at the end of their handguard or even the front sight. The rear tends to be towards the rear of the stock.

Personally, I tend to run two point slings given how I like to distribute the weight of the weapon and how I swing it up into firing position. If I have something relatively small and light, I might run a one point sling but again, this really depends on what you prefer and you learn this over time.

What is a modular sling?

A sling has to connect to the weapon somehow. These days it might be strapped, clipped, a “mash hook”, snap gate D-ring or some form of quick detach (QD) swivel. Instead of dedicating one sling per method, a modular approach became popular that allows you to take a base sling and then pick the connector of your choice to use at one or both ends. You could also start one way and then change just the end vs. the whole sling.

This helps settle the debate of “what connector is best?” Instead, you let your needs dictate what to use. For example, with MP5s I would use HK hooks. With ARs and AKs with modern furniture, I tend to run QD swivels. Again, it’s up to you and what your weapon can support.

What makes a sling “good”?

Ah yes, the quality section. Years ago, I wanted to carry slings forRonin’s Grips and bought a bunch of import samples and all of them were junk meaning they were made from questionable materials and methods. It dawned on me that bringing another sling to market without a differentiator was pointless so I dropped the idea.

Ok, so what you want to look for is the use of wide heavy duty nylon straps, reliable connectors and slides, plus good stitching in a nutshell. So let’s look at each of these points.

Let’s start with the connectors that attach the sling to the weapon – the cheap no-name or import airsoft-grade slings have connectors of real bad quality. I’ve seen hooks snap, QD swivels jam or disintegrate… I dropped an AR on concrete once when the QD failed for example. The connector is very important.

By the way, remember the Die Hard movie scene withere Bruce Willis’ character is dangling from an HK strap? That was a pretty cool memorable movie scene but I wouldn’t say it should set expectations in reality.

These days, I tend to prefer the QD swivels as most of my rifles have them so I can move a sling around quickly if I need to. Also, if I am cleaning, working on the weapon or even firing from the bench, it’s super easy to disconnect the sling and set it to the side.

This is an S2Delta sling with one of their supplied QD swivels that is installed in the handguard of a 16″ AR. Note the beefy stitching and the clips they are using to secure the modular end to the sling.
Here’s one of the S2Delta supplied quick disconnect swivels

For the straps, I prefer nylon and you need them to be at least 1″ to 1.25″ wide to fit swivels, etc. When you get up to the area that will be on your portion, look for 1.5-2″ or even having padding. If you are wearing body armor, the weight is distributed. If you aren’t then the weight of your weapon will only be distributed by the area of the sling that is in contact with how you have it slung on your body. A weapon can get uncomfortable surprisingly fast if the weight isn’t distributed. For heavier long range rifles, I will either get a sling with a pad or buy a pad to help spread out the load.

S2Delta modular sling on DMR with a 20″ Ballistic Advantage barrell, Magpul PRS Lite stock and Vortex Diamondback scope. Note the ample 2″ wide portion of the sling for the shoulder.

Another thing to consider are the slides, D-rings and other strap management parts – cheap ones tend to be thin and flimsy while the quality parts tend to be beefy and a reinforced plastic.

Last but not least, look at the stitching. Edges should be double stitiched and ends box stitched (think of a rectangular box with an X stitched inside extending to each corner.

Solid stitching for sure.
Another up close shot of the stitching.

The end of the day, the sling is only as strong as its weakest component.

Oh – I should mention length. For two point slings look for at least 50-55″. To short and you will not be able to carry the rifle in a patrol postion perpendicular to your body. A rifle over your shoulder may take too long to deply depending on what your use is.

By the way, before you take that comment to be purely tactical. A charter captain I met this summer in Alaska told me the story of his good friend who was nearly killed by a brown bear. The friend had the rifle on his back and couldn’t deploy it hast enough when the brown bear did a surprise charge from the brush. He would have bled to death from the mauling excepthe got real lucky that there just happened to be a helicopter nearby that could medevac him out. The friend still hunts but carries a .44 magnum in a Kenai-style chest holster and has his rifle much more accessible.

Conclusion

I am now using four of their two-point modular slings on a variety of AR configurations ranging from a 16″ defensive carbine up to a 24″ Criterion varmint barreled custom Aero designated marksman’s rifle with a Vortex PST Gen II scope that weighs quite a bit. The first time I tried one was back in 2019.

The S2Delta slings are made in the USA from good materials and I have not had any problems so far. You get a very good level of quality at an affordable price is what it boils down to.

If you are looking for a good two point rifle sling that you can count on, check out S2Delta. They offer a variety of colors and connection methods. Plus, they use Amazon to handle their sales and shipping so it makes things easy.

I hope this helps you out.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


How to level a scope reticle

First off, I better explain that a recticle is the formal name for the cross-hairs or series of fine lines that are inside a scope that you use to aim with. There are a ton of different ones out there and one thing you want to do is to get them level with the rifle.

Let’s start with why this matters

The reason for this doesn’t affect the old traditional cross-hair designs but it does the ones that have additional marks to help you better determine the range and the necessary hold based on Mil-Radians (Mils) or Minutes of Angle (MOA).

These are examples of reticles found in a very interesting post about the topic on Wikipedia.

If you search, there are tons and tons of posts about different types of reticles and how to use them. The important point I want to make is that for any of these more modern reticles with additional lines to help you accurately, the horizontal lines must be parallel with the rifle.

How do you level a reticle?

The first way is the old fashioned “eyeball” method. Hold the rifle and make sure the top of the receiver is as level as possible (meaning the rifle is not tilted left or right), look through the scope and adjust it in the rings until it is true to the top of the receiver and then start tightening down the rings while confirming nothing shifts. It’s not the most precise method but it does work, I’ve done a ton of rifles that way, but there is another approach using levels.

In it’s most form, you put a small level on the top rail or flat spot of your recever, tilt it until it is level and then put the level on the top turret and adjust the scope until it matches. Having something to hold the rifle in place while you work really helps as does having a second level so you can both confirm the receiver and scope are level as you work. You can often find single vial levels at hardware stores or through industrial supply houses. The one negative to this approach is that the levels can slide off if you don’t have things secure. I like to use a Tipton Pro Rifle Vise to hold the rifle in place while working.

Wheeler Engineering does offer a basic level set that works. I don’t use it though because it’s rear receiver piece has a magnet to secure it and that will not work in an AR or other weapon that is made from aluminum and not steel. For this reason, it wasn’t something I could use.

These days, when I have time and I want to try and get the scope as accurately positioned as I can on the first try, I use a Wheeler Engineering Profession Reticle Leveling System. It’s easy and fast.

First, you put the level on your receiver/rail and level the receiver. Then you put the clamp on the barrel and level it – I compare both the receiver and the barrel bubble levels before I move the receiver level to the top scope turret. Once the level is on the top turret, I adjust the scope until the bubbles match and it’s done. I’ve used this for a number of years now and am very happy with it.

The professional leveling system has two parts – the barrel clamp and the separate level you use on the receiver and then the scope turret. The two parts are made from aluminum and come in a nice protective case. If it weren’t for the case, mine would look much more beat up. Protecting the parts makes sense for another reason – you don’t want things to get bent, gouged, dented or whatever and then throw off the readings or mar the finish of your weapon.
The first thing you do is to use the small level (shown behind the backuop sight) to true the receiver. Then you adjust the barrel clamp until it is level also. Just visible under the handguard is the front of my Tipton vise.
After the barrel clamp has been levelled, you move the small level to the flat top turret and then rotate the scope however you need to get it flat also. Compare this level to the barrel clamp level to make sure they agree. The more care you take to get the bubbles centered and matching, the better.

I do use a Vortex torquing screw driver to tighten the scope ring screws and am careful to confirm the scopes levelling does not shift in the process. Vortex scopes say not to torque them past 18 inch/pounds (please note that is inch pounds and not foot pounds just to be very clear – you don’t want to damage your scope but at the same time, you do want it secure).

Again, with any of these methods, it really helps to secure the rifle in a vise where you can adjust and then secure the rifle so the top is horizontally true.

Yeah, this is my real work bench. It was worse than normal as I still had all of the packing from the scope,rings and upper on the bench. The Tipton gun vise has served me very well over the years. By the way, notice the level on the turret – you reall want that perpendicular to the rifle. In this photo it is slightly crooked and no longer perpendicular and risk the scope not bein accurately levelled to the rifle.

Conclusion

The Wheeler Engineering Professional Leveling System has served me well and I have used it on a number of projects over the years. I have no hesitations in recommending it to you as well.

Sabatti Urban Sniper with a Vortex PST scope.
Ruger RPR with Vortex PST optic sporting its sun shade.
IWI .308 Galil with a Vortex PST Gen 2 Scope.

I hope this post helps you out.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


PSA Has Evolved Their AK Offerings Considerably – Taking A Close Look At A GF5

When I first started buying from Palmetto State Armory (PSA) maybe 10+ years ago, they were a source for cheap but decent AR parts plus other brands of parts, like Magpul, and ammunition. If you compare what PSA is today to way back when, they have achieved a lot – most folks don’t know that PSA is part of a large portfolio of companies under JJE Capital.

Early PSA AK’s were rough. I bought an AK-E a number of years back and then an AK-V and I could see the quality was improving. They have continued to evolve their offerings. The GF3 was even better and with the GF5 series I think they are getting a lot of things right — I should add their versions of the 100 series of Russian rifles to that list as well.

PSA will tell you

  • The barrel is cold hammer forged chrome moly vanadium steel with a chrome lining and made by Fabrique Nationale Herstal (FN for short) – these are top notch barrels.
  • Hammer forged front trunnion – US makers tried to do castings originally and they just do not hold up
  • Hammer forged bolt and carrier – not everyone forges their carriers and you see photos online of them cracking/snapping where the gas piston goes into the body of the carrier.
  • The trigger is an ALG AKT enhanced model – these are excellent AK triggers and I really think it was a good idea that PSA went with them
  • They have a lifetime warranty.

Now PSA says they have torture tested the rifles to 10,000 rounds with no problem. A number of folks on the Internet have posted videos blowing through tons of ammo, in the case of JMAC they did it at full auto and the rifles have held up admirably.

Yeah, I ordered one

The fit and finish of parts was excellent. Rivets were formed very nicely and the tooling marks were reduced in my opinion. In short, it looked pretty good.

Now let’s get into some photos – click on one to see it full size or to then move around and look:

Conclusion

The rifle looked really good and everyone who I know who has shout one speaks highly of them. PSA sure is selling a ton of them.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


Fitting A Quick Takedown Pin To A Kalashnikov USA KP-9

Since Kalashinkov USA introduced the KP-9, I’ve had a handful of guys ask me to make a quick takedown pin for it. Well, it turns out it is a unique size and the hinge pin would need to be around 3.75mm – smaller than what any of my vendors could reliably hit. My existing pins all have a diameter of .156″ or about 3.96mm so they would not work.

So, what to do? I’d bought a KP-9 with their brace and it was a nice weapon in terms of fit, finish, and operation. I’d pressed out the unique hinge pin and saved it so I could have replaced it but I decided to go another route. By the way, the original pin was swollen at the ends from being set but the middle measure 3.75 so that’s the number I was going with.

KP-9 right out of the box.
There’s the hinge pin between the rear sight and the start of the dust cover rail.
There is a spring on the pin to help the dust cover pop up when the recoil rod is pushed in. Note, the fitment of the cover to the rear sight block and rear trunnion is very good. If it weren’t for the spring, the cover would stay down. By the way, the big black round thing you see on top of the barrel pin has a groove behind it. When the brace is swung into the folded position, a tab on the brace goes into the groove and holds it in the folded position.
This is the origianl hinge pin and the spring that pops the dust cover up. The pin is 2.75mm wide and about 24-25mm long – mine measured 24.31mm after I pressed it out. Some deformation would have occurred when it was pressed in and the ends flared open.

How To Remove The Original Pin

I used a punch on my air hammer to pop the old pin out. You could also press it out or drill it out.

I used my ATS air riveter to pop out the pin in a matter of seconds. You could press or drill out your pin.

Reaming the Hinge Hole

If you look at the hinge, there is enough material around the hinge pin material to ream it out a bit. I decided to get a 0.1563″ (3.97mm) cobalt reamer and a 4mm cobalt reamer. My thinking was to first try the smaller reamer and if that proved to be too small, I’d step up to the 4mm (0.1575″). I bought mine from McMaster-Carr but you can get them from any reputable vendor.

Reamers are cool – they make perfectly round holes and you can do them in a hand drill if you are so inclined, which I was. Secure your weapon in a vise so it can’t move, use a drill bit or other pin to align the hinge parts from the other direction. As you ream, this slave pin, or alignment pin, will be pushed out of the way as a reamer’s head is blunt.

Put your reamer in your drill chuck and coat it with cutting oil, then slowly insert the reamer into hole – let it cut – don’t force it. You’re not taking off a ton of material so I reamed the hole out in one go.

The slave pin did it’s job and I had a true hole in the end. Okay, the .1563″ reamer’s hole worked but was too tight – If you don’t intend to pul the pin much, it would work but it was not what I wanted. I then did the same thing by inserting a slave pin but this time used the 4mm reamer and it worked great.

You see, getting the hole size right matters a great deal compared to some weapons such as the M92 and Krinks – they want to cam the cover up so there is tension that locks everything in place. With the KP-9, the fit of the dustcover relative to the rear sight block is so good that there isn’t tension so you need the quick takedown pin to fit snugly and the detent ball to do its job.

Our AK-V pin fits great. This is with the 3/4″ ring installed.
Here’s the full view of the hinge. Note the detent ball on the pin that keeps it from accidentally sliding out of the hole.
The way a quick release pin that has a ball bearing detent works is that a spring is behind the ball bearing pushing it up but it is captured in the hole. By sticking up, the ball bearing limits travel. Having a circular surface if you pull hard enough during extraction then the ball bearing is pushed down, the pin pulls free and then the spring pushes the ball bearing detent back up once it is clear.. Insertion is just the reverse.

In closing

I really like how it turned out. For folks who want to add a quick takedown pin, just order the AK-V pin [click here to open that page in a new tab] and then ream your hinge open. Note, you might want to get the same size reamers and see which you prefer – start with the smaller one first of course.

The pins make removing the dust cover really easy.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

My Galil Ace .308 DMR

Okay, I wrote about Galil Ace .308 Pistol some years back and it got sold at some point to fund other projects. However, when I sell firearms it’s not that there was any problem – like tons of other projects, I finished it, learned from it, got bored of it and sold it … that’s my usual progression for 99% of the firearms I buy. At any rate, some time last year it really dawned on me that the hands down best factory manufactured rifle that you can buy in the US today are the Galil Aces. I’m sure someone will argue with me but the evolution of the design that they did is remarkable regardless.

This is the original 308 Galil Ace before updates. I took the photo right as the sun was going down so everything had a bit of an orange hue to it.

RS Regulate Handguards

So, I bought a .308 Galil Ace rifle knowing I would get rid of the handguard. Yes, the factory one is functional but it is way too fat for me I prefer a long narrow one aluminum handguard. Even before I bought the rifle, I knew I would get one of RS Regulate’s GAR-14M-N handguards. The biggest problem you will run into with an RS Regulate product is finding one – his scope mounts are the best out there and the handguards are excellent as well. As a result, you may have to hunt around. I found one in grey thinking I would refinish it but the contrast actually looks pretty cool so I am running with it.

The original handguards do have rails under those covers but the combination is too fat for my taste.
This is the RS Regulate GAR-14M-N handguard in Desolation Grey. Installation is very straight forward and instructions are provided.
The two short screws and spacers are for attaching the handguard to the barrel. The long screw is for the rear. Install the rear end cap before you install the rear screw. Use blue Loc-tite on all. Use needle nose pliers to hold the spacers in place when you side the side screws into the handguard and on to the barrel.
The end cap goes to the bottom rear of the handguard and sits on the inside. Two additional short screws are in another bag for it. See the long needle nose pliers at the top? Something like them will enable you to install the spaces very easily.
This is the end cap right before I installed the screws.

Vortex PST II Scope

Because of the accuracy reports (1 MOA-ish) I also planned on getting a decent scope to make the Ace a designated marksman’s rifle (DMR). To explain, a DMR is a supporting rifle that usually has better accuracy and/or reach than the rest of the squad but it typically doesn’t have the accuracy of a true sniper rifle. From what I read, the Galil Ace would fill a DMR role no problem so I wanted a scope with a decent range starting with a low value so I would have a decent field of view (FOV). What I bought was a Vortex PST II 3-15×44 — first off, Vortex is my favorite scope maker and second, the second generation PST scopes are very clear and have good light transmission. I purposefully did not go with a 50mm objective because while it does pull in more light all things being equal, I didn’t want an topic standing up a mile above the receiver either.

American Defense Scope Mount

I’ve become a scope mount snob over the years after having a ton of problems with cheap ones – screws stripping out, moving on the rail, letting the scope move, quick release levers that bend on break off, crappy finishes, etc. To be honest, I am done with the cheap ones. My go to for scope mounts is American Defense – I also use the offset Vortex mounts that are also made by American Defense.

Why American Defense? They are solid quality all the way through – they are everything the cheap ones are not and have never let me down. So, yes, I will pay a premium for them and be happy about it. For this build and the smaller objective, I used a AD-Recon-X-30-STD.

This is an American Defense AD-Recon-X-30-STD scope mount with quick release levers. Excellent quality.

In Case You Are Wondering – Why .308?

Well, I am done adding yet another caliber and had a good selection of range and match .308 ammo that I can try out. When I do take this to a range, I’d like to find out what this particular rifle likes and buy more. By the way – for folks relatively new to firearms – you will find out that some ammo works great in one firearm and horrible in another so always experiment and find out what load your rifle likes. Handloaders spend hours agonizing over every possible details to find the round that works best at a given range and situation.

The Result

It came out pretty cool – I thought I would refinish the grey but it grew on me.

In Closing

The .308 Galil Ace is pretty slick. I really like the components I picked and now need to find time to go to the range. I will be adding a Magpul bipod before then as well.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

Add A “Thumper” To A Blast Cabinet And More Than Double Your Productivity!

Okay, Ronin’s Grips started making Yugo M70 grips sometime around 2004 and rapidly added models – the challenge was that I hand polished each and every one of them. It took a ton of time, handwork and was putting my carpal tunnel through the roof. Jeff Miller of HillBilly Firearms told me to abrasive blast the grips for a better grip and a heck of a lot less handwork. I was sold – I had to change something. Jeff also gave me a few tips – get a foot control to protect the seals vs. being in the cabinet with all of the grit, put transparency film on the window of the unit to make it last longer and he told me to get a “thumper” to make the grit settle.

Well, way back in the day margins were super thin so I bought a large bench top abrasive blast cabinet from Cyclone Manufacturing in Dowagiac, MI – they are about an hour from my shop and I could pick it up along with the foot control, I got a box of transparency film either from Amazon or a local office supply store, but I had no idea what a “thumper” was or how important it is to productivity.

Fast forward to about a month ago. Abrasive blasting used to take me a while – blast, hit the cabinet or manually move the material around in the hopper, blast some more, whack the cabinet or move the material around … it gets old. It took me years to realize that this really sucks but blasting was so much better than polishing that I didn’t think much about it.

So, a “thumper” is basically and industrial vibrator (insert joke here) that uses an electric motor in a housing with off center weights on the shaft that then vibrate like crazy when the motor runs. I guess you could call it the power of Amazon but one day I was scrolling through Amazon and a suggested item came up – a concrete vibrator – and it looked like a small motor in a housing. I had 25 Galil grips I was going to blast and all of a sudden I remembered Jeff’s advice.

Okay, the power of a vibrator with a blast cabinet is that the vibrations cause the grit to shake down to the lowest point constantly. You can blast and blast and blast. The unit was $118 with free delivery and I figured I would give it a try.

It shipped from the importer, not Amazon, and showed up a few days later – it was pretty quick as I recall. The unit was very well made other than my needing to tape up a plastic junction box on the power cord that was a little cracked and I needed to attach a 120 volt plug – it was one phase and they said about 40 watts so nothing special. The machine label says – 110V, 1 phase, 40 watts, 3600 RPM – the little thing totally kicks butt and was only $49.

Here’s a close up of the label – note it says 40 watts. There are bigger units but I don’t think you need them for an abrasive blaster.

I didn’t put it on the blaster right away because I wasn’t really sure how violent it would be and I am glad I didn’t – it vibrates like you would not believe – there is nothing subtle about it – and I immediately realized two things – 1) I was going to mount it on the free standing tool bench and not the plastic blast cabinet walls or it would eventually shake loose and 2) I needed a variable speed control to tone it down some.

Try #1

Okay, so sometimes you just have to poke fun at yourself – or at least I do. I marked the bolt holes on the 3/4″ plywood bench top and mounted the vibrator. I then plugged the power cord from the vibrator into the speed controller, the controller into a surge strip and turned it on at full speed.

I wish I had a before photo or a video of what happened next but I don’t. Every single thing on that table started vibrating right off of it. Yeah, all the grit went to the bottom on the blast table but the blast table was headed to the edge of the bench too. Whoa! I hit the off switch.

Try #2

I simply took some strips of plywood and added a cradle around the legs to limit travel. That worked. Time to try blasting some stuff.

Here’s the vibrator.
Here’s the speed controller.
Another view of the strips to limit travel. Everything on the floor had been on the workbench before I turned the vibrator on the first time 🙂 By the way, the 3/4″ plywood top is screws into the stands it is on.

Actually Blasting

Folks, it is night and day different – stunningly different. Because I don’t have to stop and whack the side of the baster or reach in and move grit around, I’d bet I’m getting work done 2-3 times faster. A bench top blaster doesn’t have a very deep bottom so without a thumper, I spent a lot of time moving grit over to the pick ,up.

Another fun lesson learned. Over the years, I’ve developed the habit of putting my chin on the plexiglass as I focused on doing the work. Don’t do that. I put my chin down on the vibrating plexiglass and it felt like someone was playing the tambourine with my teeth 🙂

Those are two IMI Galil grips getting blasted. What an amazing difference.

In Conclusion

This is one time I can honestly tell you that I have one regret – I should have done this years and years ago. Wow. It was worth it! I’ve used vibrator and speed controller both extensively for a little over a month and it’s a great combo. I don’t use the slowest speed but I am closer to the low end on the dial than I am the fastest speed.

Note, I got lucky with my first purchase. I really wasn’t sure what size to buy but the 40 watt unit has worked great. I can’t imagine anyone needing a bigger unit for a blast cabinet. These generic industrial vibrators have all kinds of uses including for the movement of powders, grains, rock, etc. so they sell bigger and more powerful ones as well.

I’d highly recommend this to anyone who has a ton of blasting to do and is getting tired of having to stop and manually move grit around.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Looking at a ZPAP M70 With Polymer Furniture Out Of The Box

In my last review, I provided detailed photos of a M70 with maple furniture [click here for that review]. I bought this M70 at the same time and it came with a Polymer furniture set. In taking the rifle apart, I saw the same extensive tooling marks.

In this post, I’ll provide photos and observations for this rifle. In case you are wondering about the setting, it was 15 degrees outside so I did the review in our kitchen – my shop didn’t suddenly grow appliances 🙂

The stock is a Promag Archangel OPFOR four position stock with an adjustable cheekpiece. It’s solid, well thought out and didn’t rattle when I shook it. The pistol grip is a comfortable Tango Down model. Note the recoil pad on the stock.
The stock is adjustable four positions – here it is fully extended. The stock does not fold by the way.
The cheek piece angles upwards in the front by pushiing the grey button. Note the sling swivel quick connect hole.
Top left, the dust cover doesn’t fit flush with the trunnion. The unique recoil spring assembly locking buttonm is just above the top right edge of the side mount rail. Speaking of which, I really wish someone would make and sell this side rail. Zastava USA doesn’t import it. You can see tooling marks on the back of the mag catch housing. The ZPAPs have tons of tooling marks but function well despite them.
In general, I like Hogue’s products. This handguard with the overmolded rubber feels really good in the hand.

Conclusion

I thought about doing a big blog post with a ton of photos showing all the machining marks but decided against it. The rifle and furniture are solid but the metal working lacks refinement. If you’d like to see the detailed photos from a M70 ZPAP with a maple stock bought at the same time as this one, click here.

Zastava turned out a rifle probably to hit a price point and could have done better but at a higher cost. I didn’t expect to like the polymer stock set but I do – the buttstock, grip and handguard all feel solid and feel good when you shoulder the rifle.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.



Looking at a ZPAP M70 with Maple Furniture Out of The Box

I had a chance to get an up close look at a couple of the new Zastava ZPAP M70 rifles recently. The subject of this post arrived wearing a maple furniture set and quite a bit of heft that one would expect from a larger M70 AK vs. an AKM.

To give a bit of background, the ZPAP rifles are based on the military M70B1 rifle with some changes.

  • A smaller commercial buttstock is used
  • No grenade launcher gas block
  • No night sights
  • A commercial wood grip was used instead of the very ergonomic traditional black polymer model
  • No bayonet mount
  • Semi-auto fire control group
  • A fire control group retaining plate vs. a retaining wire

For whatever reason, when I got “bit” by the AK bug, I really dove into Hungarian, Romanian and Yugo AKs initially. I always liked how the Yugoslavs took the Russian design, made it their own, and turned out some exceptional AK variant rifles. The fit and finish of the Yugo rifles always impressed me.

Well, let’s fast forward to today. I field stripped the rifles, wrote down some notes and took a ton of photos. If there was one general disappointment I found across the rifles it was the abundance of tooling marks. Rather than coming across as a refined AK, the ZPAPs come across as capable bruisers that are rough around the edges.

In terms of cycling, the finish is very smooth and the trigger feels like a typical AK. However, the lack of refinement was disappointing to me. I actually thought about taking it apart and redoing it but don’t have the time.

Now don’t get me entirely wrong – from everything I have read the ZPAP M70s are capable and nothing I saw or felt made me doubt that.

So, let’s get started at the rear and work our way forward on this photo heavy post:

First up is a steel buttpad on the male stock. You can see they are using Torx head screws vs. old school blade or Philips screws. This recoil pad is smaller than the military rubber model found on earlier model rifles – the stock is smaller as well.
Here’s a better view of the Torx screw. You may find it funny that I am making a big deal about their using a Torx screw but it is because I am so fed up with traditional blade and Philips screws on rifle stocks. If the wrong sized screw driver is used then the metal deforms and looks horrible. With a Torx bit, granted it needs to be the right size, but you can really torque on them without deformation.
This model has a maple stock set. Zastava USA offers a number of stock options including sets you buy and swap later. They retained the traditional M70B1 stock attachment method so this opens up a world of surplus and aftermarket stocks including M4 designs.
Here you can see the receiver, the selector lever with a notch cut in it to hold the bolt open, the wood pistol grip and a relatively traditional handguard other than it being made from a ferrule.
The rivets are all over the place in terms of shape and compression. It looks to me like the parts were finished and then assembled. I might be wrong on this but I am trying to figure out why the finish on the rivets looks worn – maybe it was just from rubbing in the box. I’m not sure.
The handguard has a nice pattern from the maple wood in it, They continued the use of a steel ferrule at the rear of the lower handguard to protect the end grain of the wood from the relatively hard and sharp sheet metal receiver.
You can see two very different rivets here. I mentioned earlier that the rivet heads are all over the place in terms of shape and you can see tooling marks even on them.
The dust cover has gaps between it and the trunnion. Ideally, those would not be there.
Peeking inside you can see they have a plate fire control group retaining plate. That’s cool. Note how they use the height of the plate to stop just short of the selector lever hole to keep things in place. That’s a simple and effective idea right there.
They are using a double hook trigger. The disconnector retains the tail from the full auto design. The double wound hammer spring is also very robust..
Interestingly, the selector lever stop is relatively tall on the ZPAP M70s and, unfortunately, you can see tooling marks on it. The selector notches in the receiver are nicely formed.
That’s the side rail for mounting optics and it is unique to Zastava. Nobody else makes this rail so it can be next to impossible to find them unless you buy a ZPAP M70 and use it as a base to build from. The problem with that is you can see all of the clean up required to get rid of the tool marks.
The bolt carrier is flattened with the serial number but there is also an electro-pencil (vibrating etcher) number on the trunnion and other parts – you’ll see them in other photos.
Here’s the electro pencilled serial number on the trunnion. To clarify, I have to assume it was a serial number at least used during assembly.
Here’s another example of the electro pencilled serial number – this time on the rear of the recoil rod assembly. By the way, you can see the operating side of the unique recoil spring assembly lock. Being able to lock the recoil spring part way forward makes installing the dust cover so simple compared to fighting the dust cover into position with the recoil spring assembly having a mind of its own. The lock was originally built in for handling the recoil of rifle grenades but sure makes re-assembly easy as well.
Not too bad. You can see a lot of tooling marks but the notch for the bolt is pretty well done.
Here’s a close up of the groove the bolt’s timing key rides in.
Here’s the bolt in the bolt carrier. The serial numbers are readily apparent on both parts showing they are matching.
Here’s the bolt. They tried to electro pencil the serial number on the hardened steel shaft in the filet shown above but boy, I sure can’t read it.
Machining/tooling marks are everywhere but at the heart is a very robust AK bolt face. You can see a bit of lacquer from the test rounds by the firing pin hole.
Here’s a good view of the chamber end of the barrel and the extractor cut out. Note the slight bevels from about 3pm to 11pm on the barrel face. They would add in reliable feeding no doubt – a cartridge off a but would follow the bevel and go into chamber all things being equal. There is still a riveted bullet guide between the magazine and the barrel.
The fit and finish of the wood overall is very good. The gas tube cover is nicely done.
I wish the metal work was as refined as the woodwork to be honest. The buttstock, grip and handguards are all very well done.
The lower looks good.
A close up of the lower handguard rear ferrule.
This is the lower handguard secured by its retainer. Note the lathe marks on the barrel. I would prefer smooth steel.
Rear sight block
Interestingly, the rear sight leaf is steel colored and the numbers are blackened.
They inscribed the serial number on the elevation adjustment slider.
Handguard retainer and gas block. Note the gas block still has the separate sling ring and no provision for a gas valve that one would see on a military M70 series.
Sling loop and gas block.

In Conclusion

This review dove into details that most AK buyers will not notice. There are tons of reviews and videos of these rifles that show how reliable they operate plus how durable they are by shooting tons of rounds [Click here for Rob’s review at AK Operators Union – he does solid reviews]. I did not have a chance to take this rifle to the range but it felt solid when I function tested it. Honestly, it cycles very smoothly – the tooling marks did not affect function.

The rifle appears solid and has the heft to go with it. While the woodwork was very well done, I honestly found the fit and finish of the metal parts pretty rough. Zastava could turn out a far higher quality weapon if they chose to – I’ve seen it in my military surplus kits. I have to assume they built these rifles with a lower price-point in mind and let the cosmetics issues happen. I hope they choose to turn out a higher end product in the future but in the mean time one of these rifles will give you a big bruiser at a reasonable price.

I hope all the photos give you some food for thought.


Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.