Category Archives: AK & Related Rifles

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

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.


Super Secret AK Furniture Fitting Tool

Ok, now that I have your attention with that title, I often get asked how to fit the various furniture parts of an AK to a given rifle – the gas tube cover / upper hand guard cover, the lower handguard and the buttstock. Most of the work can be done with a secret tool – a slightly modified single cut file and patience.

For example, this is Palmetto State Armory’s Redwood furniture set on a Romy G kit I built.

Most of the time with new furniture, you need to remove material and a single cut file works great for that. With the pictured PSA Redwood furniture set, I needed to think the half circle ends of the gas tube cover and I also had to fit the lower hand guard just a tad.

This is an 8″ single cut Nicholson Handy File that I bought many years ago and modified. I prefer a single cut file so I can go slow and not remove material too fast. Just remember an old saying – “it’s easier to take more material off than it is to put it back on.”

Now here’s the trick to really make this tool work for fitting furniture – grind one thin side smooth – literally get rid of the file’s teeth. This will allow you to quickly and easy run the file right against a raised edge, such as the lips of the gas tube cover, and remove material that you want while leaving the raised edge untouched.

I find an 8″ file just the right size. 8″ is the measurement from the front edge, or “point” of the file, to the base of the heel – the bottom of the main body before the tang starts.

Any brand of file ought to work. Some come with a “safe” edge meaning no teeth. Just test it first to see if any of the teeth from the perpendicular surfaces protrude enough to cut – if they do then knock them down so the smooth surface can ride on the material you are working on with zero cutting happening from that side.

I used my big belt sander and removed all the teeth from this one edge and ensure it was smooth. I purposefully left the teeth on the other thin edge.

Just be patient – look at where the furniture is binding, remove a small amount and test the fit. In general, you want AK furniture to fit snug vs. rattling around. Patience is the key though – don’t rush things. Just keep inspecting, filing off a bit and testing over and over.

So everything is installed, nothing broke because I rushed and the end result is nice snug fitting furniture.

Summary

A single cut file with one thin edge ground is the secret tool but you need to be patient when using it. I can’t even begin to guess how many lower and upper handguards I have adjusted with this file over the years plus I have learned a bit more patience as well.

I hope this helps you out.

The PSA AK-V Pistols and Carbines Are Good To Go

I’ve had a few guys ask me about my experience with the Palmetto State Armory AK-V and if I thought it was worth it. Well, I bought mine on July 20, 2019 and it was solid right out of the box. Although I did do a bunch of customizations, none of those changes were to improve reliability – they were all cosmetic.

An AK-V is basically an AK that has a blow back operating system to handle the little 9×19 (or 9mm Luger) cartridge. They did have some initial problems with the design such as cartridges getting stuck under the dust cover, they had fixed them by the time I bought mine.

This is my AK-V right out of the box still sporting the Magpul MOE grip, handguard and SBA-3 brace.

The biggest problem I had was finding one. There were a bunch of us watching the PSA website trying to snag any model we could. Finally, on July 1, 2019, I snagged one of their MOE SBA3 models and proceeded to change it to my liking – first with an SBA4 brace and then to look more like a Vintorez. [Click here for a listing of all of my posts on the AK-V].

This was my AK-V after my first round of modifications – I move to the stiffer SBA-4 brace, added one of our quick takedown rings so I could get the dust cover out of the way when cleaning the pistol and one of the Vortex Crossfire red dots.
This is my current confiruation – a CNC Warrior/Bonesteel Arms side folding brace (they are way beefier than the side folding triangles PSA sells), K-Var handguards and one of our Molot Gen 2 grips.

To be very clear, I bought it so I can saw whatever I want about my experience.

I really had fun with the little braced pistol and found it reliable, accurate and just an all around fun little gun to shoot. The good news is that for people looking for AK-Vs now, PSA production has finally caught up and you can hop right over to their website and buy one.

I do want to give you a tip for breaking in the AK-V before your first range trip:

  1. Field strip the rifle
  2. Clean the bore and make sure the action doesn’t have any junk in it.
  3. Oil the fire control group
  4. Use a light grease on the frame rails, where the bolt goes into the bolt carrier and on the bottom. You can switch to oil but the grease really helps lubricate things druing the wear in period — If you are in cold weather, say below 30F, then use oil as the grease will be too thick.
  5. Reassemble the AK-V
  6. Without a magazine in the AK-V, rack the slide (meaning move it back and forth) a couple hundred times to help the wear in process get started. You do not need to use anything abrasive to wear things in – I’ve heard of folks using valve compound to accelerate wear in but it’s just not needed 99.9% of the time.
  7. I would also recommend using a stout/strong/stiff load initially. Rather than 115gr FMJ ball ammo, I will use 124gr FMJ as it generates more of a recoil impulse. I use 124gr Sellier & Bellot (S&B) FMJ 9mm a lot for this.
  8. After a few hundred rounds you can shoot anything you want and it will cycle.

I kid, you not, this can make a world of difference when you go to the range the first time. What I find frequently happens is that a new gun owner gets excited and takes his/her brand new purchase right out of the box at the range, loads it and then gets upset at the weapon and labels it as an unreliable POS, which isn’t fair. I always tell new owners to do the above for any semi-automatic firearm.

Another view
Here it is with the brace folded. I would have preferred a left-folding brace but CNC Warrior was sold ouut so I opted for the rifle-folding model. Regardless of the model, this is the best in class folding triangle brace and I highly recommend it.

So, with that said, get an AK-V, do the above to break it in and have fun. There is a huge parts aftermarket for the AK rifles and pistol and I am sure you’ll enjoy it.


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 Locate And Drill AK Front and Rear Trunnion Rivet Holes

Building an AK takes a fair amount of drilling, fitting and riveting that can intimidate someone thinking about building their first rifle. Lucky for them, the industry has evolved a lot of really cool tools exist to enable faster higher quality results. A good example of evolution is the location and drilling of the the rivet holes in the receiver for the front and rear trunnions.

Back around 2006 or so when I got started, you either measured the location of the trunnion holes and marked them or you could take a post it note, push it on the trunnion to get an outline of the holes and then transfer it to the receiver, again marking where to drill. You learned quick to start with a small drill bit so you could adjust a bit if you were off with either method – I got pretty good with the post it note method actually.

One of the AK-parts and tool vendors that has been around the longest is AK-Builder and he was always bringing new offerings to the market, I slowly added one of all of his tools as funds permitted. I had his rivet jig, flat bending jig, the top rail layout jig (if you remember those) and so forth. At some point he added a really, really cool jig for locating and drilling the holes for the trunnions. I bought it and swear by it to this day.

The jig is extremely well made and durable. When you buy it, you have options for the sizes of mandrels to fit different barrel channel holes. The red one you see works on 7.62 AKs and they also have one for 5.45 and the unique MAK90. The rounded rectangle on the right holds the rear trunnion.

Using It For The Front Trunnion Holes

Using this fixture is about as easy as it gets but you must have a drill press. I’d recommend an X-Y table on your drill if you plan to do this much but at least have a drill press.

  1. Securely mount the fixture to your drill press.
  2. Insert the trunnion and tighten the knob so it can’t move.
  3. Move your drill table around to line the drill bit up with the hole in the trunnion.
  4. Slide the receiver over the trunnion.
  5. Lower the drill and it will go in the exact same location as the trunnion hole you lined up on.
The front trunnion is being held securely by the fixture. I am sliding the receiver forward and when I bring the drill down, it will make the hole in the exact same spot as what was in the trunnion.
This fixture is the best means I have found to quickly and accurately locate and drill the trunnion holes in the receiver. I prefer undrilled receivers because with this jig I can put the holes exactly where I want them. By the way, these are AK-Builder rivets also.

Tips For The Front Trunnion Holes

  • Confirm the drill bit sizes you need before you start. For most AKMs, the front rivet holes are 4mm so you can use either a 4mm or 5/32″ (3.868mm) bit. Note, that dimension can be different so just confirm is my point. Also, I’d recommend good cobalt bits personally.
  • Use cutting fluid – I like Tap Magic personally.
  • You will drill a hole at a time – do not try to go all the way through. Small alignment errors become big problems when you do that. Avoid the grief – do a hole per rivet.
  • Make sure the table can’t move, that the fixture is secure and that the trunnion is being held firmly. If anything moves, you are hosed.
  • Line up on the hole, slide the receiver all the way on, pull it back just enough to verify nothing moved one last time.
  • After I drill the first rivet hole I carefully inspect everything is lined up. I then move to the second rivet hole and repeat the above but before I drill, I insert temporary rivets in the holes to make sure nothing moves. DO NOT SQUISH THEM – I literally am just using their bodies to keep everything lined up. It really helps avoid small movement errors.
  • If you mess up real bad for some reason, weld the hole shut and start over.
If you go to the AK-Builder product page for this jig [click here] you should note the link in their description to a page with a lot of photos and detailed instructions.

Doing The Rear Trunnion

Doing the rear rivet holes uses the other side of the drilling jig. The little rectangular tab goes into the top of the rear trunnion where the recoil spring rod normally sits and you can then crank it down tight to hold it in place while drilling.

Notice the receiver will be parallel to the jig during these operations. Again, make sure everything is secure and you need to make sure the back of the receiver is true to the rear of the trunnion.
The end result will be accurately located holes. Before you set the rivets, this is when you should be thinking about a side rail for optics if you want one. I like the AKM side rail mount from AK-Builder. Those holes you will need to manually locate and drill. Use a caliper and true the top of the rail to the top of the receiver if you do install one.

Tips For the Rear

  • First, read all the tips I wrote for the front trunnion if you skipped them.
  • The key to all of this is a solid setup and nothing moving.
  • Confirm the size drill bit you need. It will probably be 4.5mm which you can do with that size drill or be close with 11/64″ (4.365mm).
  • DO NOT DRILL STRAIGHT THROUGH. I’d recommend you take your time and do a hole at a time.
  • Once you get a hole drilled and are ready to do the next, stick a rivet in it to prevent movement.

Summary

The AK-Builder drilling jig is the best tool I know to help you quickly and accurately locate and drill the front and rear trunnion holes in your receiver. I definitely recommend it.


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 Quickly Remove AK Receiver Rivets

Okay, there are a ton of ways to remove rivets and I’ve posted some details both about removing the trigger guard and side rail rivets (if your AK has a side rail). This post is going to get straight to the point.

I use a 4.5″ cordless Ryobi angle grinder and take all the rivet heads down flush. Unless I plan to reuse the receiver, I don’t care how to receiver looks. If I do, then I will be much more careful and stop just before I get to the surface.

I then center punch all of the holes to make drilling easier. I like to use an automatic center punch so I can focus on where I want to make the divot for drilling vs. trying to keep everything aligned. If you’ve never used one, they are worth their weight in gold.

I drill an 1/8″ hold in each one use quality cobalt drill bits and cutting oil. I like to buy Tap Magic in bigger containers and then transfer the fluid as needed into smaller squeeze bottles with long metal tubular “needle” tips so I can precisely put it right where I need it.

From the top – 1/8″ drill bit, roll pin punch and an automatic center punch on the bottom.

I then use a roll pin punch where the rounded tip can fit in the 1/8″ hole and the shoulder properly engage the remaining rivet. Folks, this makes removing the remaining rivets super easy except for the long trunnion rivets.

For the short rivets, I like to drill them out with an 1/8″ bit to both create a hole and relieve stress. I then use a roll pin punch to easily knock them out because the ball end of the punch keeps it centered on the rivet. If you’ve ever fought with keeping a normal punch centered while hammering, a roll pin punch centered in a hole makes a night and day difference.

Long Rear Trunnion Rivets

Okay, these take more work so we’ll make a section just for these little headaches. They’re not horrible – they just take additional time to remove but I will tell you a HUGE time saver in a moment.

In general, it’s easier to remove the rivets with the trunnion out of the receiver. If you need to save the receiver, be gentle and use successively larger drill bits to remove the rivet heads so you can then pry the sheet metal receiver open and pull it out. The balancing act is that if you make the receiver holes too big then you will need to weld them shut and drill new ones. It’s not the end of the world. I prefer welding and redrilling compared to using even bigger rivets with heads that cover the holes but are mismatched to everything else.

If you don’t care about the receiver or are removing stubs, grind those heads down and use an air hammer chisel to easily bend the receiver sheet metal away from the receiver.

With the rivet heads ground off you can clearly see the rivet body outline and thus you can mark the center.

Traditional Method – drill in from each side about 1/2 way and then punch the rivet out. Guys will use 5/32″ (3.969mm) or even 11/64″ (4.366mm) drill bits. If you are spot on the center and you have access to quality cobalt metric bits, this is usually a 4.5mm rivet so you could use that. You will read about guys suggesting 3/16″ drills but this route is problematic because 3/16″ is 4.762mm and thus too large. You’d need to use a 3/16″ rivet to properly secure the trunnion and the heads will look noticeably different from the others.

Old school – drill the rivet out most of the way and then punch it out the rest. You can see the pin exiting to the left. Note, do this on a hard surface that isn’t going to flex and absorb some of your blows. Here I am literally beating the crap out of the punch on the concrete floor. I’ve since moved on to a method using an air hammer that I will describe next.

The impatient Ronin method – drill 1/8″ centered holes in one side of the rivets left in the trunnion. Make or buy an 1/8″ air hammer drift pin and chase each long rivet out in a matter of seconds. It’s amazingly fast. I don’t know who invented the air hammer but it is seriously magical when it comes to tasks like this.

I can pop out a rivet in seconds using an air hammer and my rivet fixture. I took two old .401 shank air tools and drilled center holes. One is 1/8″ and the other is 5/32″. I then have a variety of lengths of 1/8″ and 5/32 dowel pins to do the job. I built both diameters but really I just use the 1/8″ punch now. I put the trunnion in a heavy metal working vise and start with a short pin to start the push and then a longer pin to chase it all of the way out. It works like a dream. If you do this, please, please, please wear safety glasses. A hardened dowel pin can brake in these situations. For an air hammer, I am using an IR 116 – a 4x air riveter ought to work also, I have a 3x ATS but have never tried it for this.

Summary

Use an angle grinder to knock off the rivet heads, drill and punch out the short rivets. For the longer rivet, decide which of the two methods you want to use. I hope this helps you out!


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You can Easily Remove A Side Rail Scope Mount But The Receiver Is Going To Look Butt Ugly

The Kalashnikov design team took an interesting approach to mounting scopes on AK-Rifles. Rather than centering the optic over the bore they placed a mounting rail on the side of the receiver. There are different types depending on the model of rifle in question but one thing that pops up from time to time is whether one can be removed.

The short answer is yes. Now I add in the “but” – it is going to leave you with a receiver that not only has holes in it but receiver material that was forced into a countersink so you will have at least the center rivet area on the sheet metal receiver that will probably stick out like a little volcano taunting you.

Center punch and drill out the rivets. The rear rivet is an it depends – it may either be short like you see with the AK-74 or attached via the long rear trunnion rivet. You may want to start with an 1/8″ drill and go up to 5/32″. The rear trunnion if it has a large rear trunnion rivet in it will be 4.5mm and I actually use a 4.5mm cobalt bit on that one to free up the side rail. Some guys who don’t have a 4.5mm bit will use an 11/64″ drill bit instead – it’s 4.366mm. I’ll do another post about trunnions but unless you are running a drill or mill that you know is true to the table and work piece, do not try and drill the rivet out entirely from one side, I go about half way in from each side and punch out the remainder or use an air hammer to chase out the rivet with an 1/8″ drift pin but that’s a topic for another day.
You can see the receiver material that was forced into the center hole. It really shows how secure riveting can be with countersunk rivets and holes.

So, yes, you can drill out the rivets and use the scope mount on other rifles. The question becomes what to do with the source receiver. If it is getting destroyed then this is a non issue – follow whatever your procedures are to file a destroyed receiver/firearm record with the ATF provided it was serialized and registered to begin with unlike rifles built from a blank, etc.

Now if you want to keep the receiver, the recommeendation would give is to put a thick copper backing plate behind the holes, weld them shut and then sand the result flush. For the holes with the cones, if you have any, grind/mill them down flush first and then do the same – copper backing plate, weld the holes shut and then sand flush.

You’ll need to refinish at least the receiver and the bluing on the steel welds typically doesn’t blend with bluing on the receiver so you may want to just refinish the whole thing if you care about it looking good.

Looking at the back of the side rail is fascinating. The whole indexing of the scope rail starts with the front rivet of the rear trunnion. and then having an equal distance from the top of the receiver to the top of the side rail. Now this one is flopped 180 degrees compared to the receiver under it but look at the accomodations they have for thee selector lever and center support pin of the receiver. This is off a WASR-10 and is an AKM style plate but interestingly the rear trunnion was a split AK-74 style with two small short rivets in front on the two legs of the trunnion and a long rear trunnion vs. the ccommon AKM approach of two long rivets securing the rear trunnion. The machining is crude but it did the job. The AK-Builder plates are virtually identical but far better machined and finished. If I needed to use an AKM side rail, that’s what I would get.

Summary

Yeah, you can remove the side rail but if you plan to continue to use the receiver, you’ll need to weld the holes closed, sand, and refinish the weapon. I’m very impressed by the design they came up with – it spreads forces across the sheet metal receiver and allows ready access to the dust cover and internals if required.


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.