Category Archives: AKBuilds

How to build AK/Kalashnikov-type semi-automatic rifles and pistols.

My First IMI Galil Kind Of – First Impressions of My New James River Arms Gallant

I have wanted to build an IMI Galil from a kit for years and just never got around to it.  One thing that kept me from jumping in was that I had never really dug into the design deeply by taking one apart and looking at everything.

In 2006, like a lot of guys, I read the late Steve Matthews great article in Firearm News about building your own AK rifle or pistol.  For whatever reason, the AK building bug bit me hard and I wound up with a number of barreled Romy-G kits along with flats, rivets and tools from AK-Builder.

I read everything I could and guys kept telling me you “just gotta dig in, do it and learn”. Well sir, I did. I trashed my first flat or two – I think I messed up the bend on one and the other I ruined the top rails as I didn’t cut them right. Yes, back in those days we had to put Dykem Blue on the top rails and scribe a line to cut to using a layout jig AK-Builder eventually came out with.  I messed up a lot and I learned a lot. 

A fair amount of the mistakes were caused because I had never really studied AKs prior to trying to build my first one. Over the years I have learned a ton more but one lesson sure has stuck with me – it’s way easier to build something if you have first had experience with the design including disassembly.

Fast Forward To December 2020

Everyone was in a panic buying everything firearm oriented in sight and I was trying to figure out whether to make the slightly sideways leap from AK designs that I knew to a Galil that was based on the Finnish RK.62 and had a screw in barrel (not pressed and had to be headspaced, the extractor cut and barrel populated later), some wierd looking thumb selector (no idea what that linkage was going to look like) plus I was sure I would run into other little unque surprises.

So I took a rather odd gamble.  Other than custom shops, like the amazing Jeff Miller at Hillbilly Arms, there are two shops cranking out IMI Galil clones using original Galil ARM and AR kits married to new US barrels and receivers.  ATI and their Galeio and James River Armory (JRA) and their Gallant, which uses Galil ARM kits.  Note, they are using new receivers and appear to have corrected issues they had with their earlier 2019-ish models.

The JRA seemed to get good reviews and was affordable around $1,000.  Now, a receiver will run you $400-500 once you include S&H plus your FFL’s transfer fee.  A barrel will run you $99-199 depending on what you get and then you will spend another $300-400 for a kit.  All of a sudden, looking at that JRA rifle as a parts kit became really attractive plus they use an 18″ 1:9 twist that can stabilize up to 62 grain M855 “green tip” bullets – actually it can go up to 72 in theory but I wanted to be able to shoot M855.  The original Galil’s had 1:12 twists that could stabilize the older M193 55 grain rounds but not M855 – when you see targets where guys fired M855 rounds through a 1:12 Galil barrel, the bullets often “keyhole” or hit sideways.  So, the 1:9 twist rate really appealed to me.

Apparently JRA has an exclusive distribution agreement with Classic Firearms. It’s interesting really – Classic has a number of Gallant models and their description is actually quite thorough in hindsight – Classic was sold out but I turned on notify for the Gallant models I was interested in and maybe 2-3 weeks later I got a notice that one was back in stock so I jumped and ordered one – this is the link for the one I bought.

I wish I could say it went smooth but FedEx’s Ground Service (the old RPS group they bought years ago) threw a big monkey wrench in things. Classic shipped promptly but FedEx Ground’s South Bend office has been having huge problems due to lack of staff.  It took maybe 2-3 weeks from when they got it until they actually delivered it to my FFL.

Scott Igert, the owner of Michigan Gun Exchange is a good friend of mine and I use him for all of my FFL needs plus he has the best gun store in Southwest Michigan in my honest opinion. At any rate, Scott sent me a photo of an AK and told me my Galil was in. Leave it to Scott to pull a prank and I knew full well he knew what a Galil looked like so he didn’t get me as good this time … unlike other times 🙂 That’s what friends are for.

At any rate, I went and snagged the Gallant, took it home and promptly took it apart.  I didn’t really care about the warranty because short of some huge problem with the receiver or a bent barrel, it wasn’t going back.

The Gallant ships in a hard case to protect the rifle. I snapped this photo literally when I got home and opened the case to take a serious look at the rifle.

So let me itemize my observations

They tell you right up front it is supposed to look battle worn. The skeptic in me thinks it was a way to cut costs but another side of me likes the look – the receiver and barrel are black, parts with the original finish have the grey/green parkerized finish on them and the wood has a look that only a ton of grease oil and God knows what can achieve.  I actually found myself liking it.

I’ve not done the battle worn look before and like it. I originally thought I would refinish the rifle but am now leaning towards leaving it the way it is  including the wood handguard.  For me, that blocking handguard is one of the iconic “signs” that tells you that you’re looking at a Galil ARM.

For 922r compliance, they have a US 1:9 barrel, a US receiver, a US Galil-Ultra looking grip made my Phoenix Technologies here in the US and a US Tapco magazine.  Now that last one gets a bit of a groan – the Tapco magazines are plastic, they work, but there are a ton of nice steel surplus 35 round mags out there that would make the rifle no longer 922r compliant if inserted.  As best as I can tell, they used an original Galil fire control group with it’s forged trigger hooks and two part spring setup – one spring for the trigger and one for the hammer – if it is aftermarket, it is not marked.

Note, I emailed JRA and asked them about the compliance parts. So far, they have not responded. Classic says on their web page that surplus mags fit (and they do by the way) but there is no mention of compliance.

Now, there are a two primary mindsets out there when it comes to 922r compliance: Some worry about it because they want to be legal. Some don’t care for whatever reason and that is their decsion. As for myself, I ensure that anything I build or modify is 922r compliant.  So, I wanted to use steel surplus Israeli mags so I decided to swap out the original IMI hammer, trigger and disconnect with a new ALG enhanced fire control group (FCG).  Yes, an AK FCG will work in an IMI Galil. If Classic tells me they actually sourced a US made IMI-style FCG, I will update this. I’m writing this post after already making the change to the ALG.

Heresa quick snapshot of the FCG that came with the JRA. Note that there hammer and trigger springs are independent. Also note that the person assembling the rifle took the time to polish the hammer face so the bolt carrier would cycle smoother. On the negative side, those are metal chips in the receiver from machining — I cleaned everything out. I’ll post more details as I do posts for each change I made.

The buttstock made me groan. It had a giant splash of yellow paint on the very butt of the stock for some reason.  The color was hideous, the horizontal tube had a few small nicks, and the finish was a bit more beat up than I preferred so decided I would swap it out for one in better shape from a SAR kit I had.

I am sure there is some meaning behind these colors but … yuck.

The rifle did come with an ARM bipod but it had a bunch of rust in the mechanism. It worked but definitely need cleaning and refinishing.

The Classic Firearms listing is straight up and honest – they bought a bunch of the detachable ARM bipods in the surplus market that were in good shape but not great. Mine had most of the finish gone from the legs and some rusting in the mechanism but it was fully operational. It would be an easy refinishing job some day when I have time. The ARM already weighs quite a bit empty so having a bipod installed was not on my high priority list *but* I did want a bipod to be complete.

The handguard was way, way to loose. This was pointed out in the ad so I expected some – but not what I felt. I don’t like it when they shake and rattle so that needed to be tightened up. The wood was in good shape though and I really liked the coloring.

Note how the rear forged retainer is canted with the top forward. There are two coil tensioning springs – one on each side – of the bottom. Because the handguard was so loose, they were causing the retainer to cant. Definitely fixable.

The barrel looked good – it was not bent and the components were installed right — other than the notch for the handguard not being close enough as mentioned previously. The bore was also nice and shiney with nice sharp rifling.

The barrel looked good inside and out. I was happy that they picked a 1:9 twist rate as I tend to shoot M855 62 grain ammo the most.

The top cover is still driving me nuts when it comes to installation. It is a delicate balancing act to get the recoil spring assembly to stay in the receiver groove and go into the dust cover vs. going out of the groove and falling into the receiver. I  have some Galil receiver stubs and I want to see if the receiver that JRA used is too short or if the IMI suffered from the same headache. I haven’t decided yet if I just want to live with it or cut the tab down about 1/8th-3/16th of an inch shorter, cut new grooves in it and the refinish the whole rod assembly.

Getting the recoil rod to stay in the right place and pop out of the dust cover during assembly is more of adventure than I care for. Honestly, that tab/button does not need to stick out that far sheesh.

Happily the rifle was properly headspaced and it fed rounds nicely. For a kit built rifle, it cycled and the FCG operated smoothly – surprisingly smoothly.  Okay, it looked like I had a solid foundation to build on. So far, so good.

At this point, I knew I was going to keep it so it was time to start making changes. I put the rifle back together and started thinking about what I was going to do.  I’ll detail what I did in subsequent posts.


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.


Pandora’s Box Is Open: 3D Printing Of Firearms

You may be thinking I am kind of late to the game with a post about the 3D printing of firearms but you’d be a bit wrong yourself. This domain is alive and exploding with designs that range from almost entirely 3D printed to sophisticated hybrid designs where some parts are printed and some key parts are leveraged from off the shelf suppliers such as Glock slide assemblies and AR uppers.

Just look at these examples:

This is a rendering of the FMDA DD17 Glock 17 compatible frame STL file.
This is a rendering of the FMDA DD19 Glock 19 compatible frame v1.2 STL file.
This is a rendering of the Mac Daddy frame STL file.
The authors of the Mac Daddy project provide the above photo in their Zip file as an example of the finished weapon. Note, this is not mine – I don’t even own a 3D printer!

There are just tons and tons of designs – AR receivers, AK receivers, vz Scorpion receivers, modern polymer pistol lowers … the list goes on and on.

It’s interesting to look at this vibrant community as a one step removed observer. I am intrigued by the innovation and the designs but I also have zero time to learn 3D printing at this point. Between my day job, Ronin’s Grips, family and the need to sleep at least a few hours every night, there is no free time. My wife also made it clear to me in no uncertain terms that I am not to buy a 3D printer — which really doesn’t phase me because I have no time as I mentioned.

The reason I wanted to take a moment and write this post is so that those of you who are curious can dig into the many how-to guides and access the tons of designs that are accessible at this time. It’s hard to say what way the winds of regulation will blow in the United States or a given state for that matter. In some countries, even the possession of these 3D design files would get you in huge trouble.

With that said, the following links are provided for educational purposes only. Please understand the laws and regulations in your area before you download anything or try to build a weapon. You assume all liability.

Getting Started

The first place you will want to visit is CTRL+Pew. They also have their own getting started guide online that you will want to read plus links to other guides and tutorials.

Where to find the files?

In addition to CTRL+Pew mentioned above, there are tons of download links where people are sharing/replicating a huge “Print2a” repository plus have photos and links to individual designs:

Don’t ask me questions!!

Honestly folks, I am not kidding. I find this topic fascinating from an engineering perspective but I have no plans to get into it. Consider this blog post as an introduction and you will need to take it from here.

For all the authors cranking out these amazing designs – rock on! I seriously enjoy seeing them.

Lastly, why did I mention Pandora’s Box in the title? Because I highly doubt the proponents of gun control will ever be able to close the box again.


Again, the above links and information is provided for educational purposes only. Please understand the laws and regulations in your area before you download anything or try to build anything. You assume all liability.

All renderings and the photos of the Mac Daddy are from files that claim to be in the public domain. I do not own them.

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.


What are rear stock options for SDS Lynx 12 Gauge shotguns?

A fellow messaged me the other day and asked what options he had to replace the light fixed stock on his SDS 12 gauge shotgun. I told him that he has a lot. The rear of an SDS is very similar to an AKM or AK-74.

The rear piece that holds the stock in is called a “trunnion” they are what provide the real strength in the sheet metal receiver. The stock is held in place by the two screws you see. Be sure to use a blade screw driver bit that completely fills the slot. You can see that whomever installed the screws at the factor did not do this and slightly deformed both slots by using an undersized screwdriver or blade bit.
You may need to use a wood dowel, or whatever you have handy, to tap the stock out. I like using a hardwood dowel because it doesn’t bend or scratch things all up.
I used a Rifle Dynamics adapter that lets you convert from the AK-rear to an AR/M4 buffer tube. Both the Rifle Dynamics adapter and the one sold by PSA are very well made.

With the rear stock removed, you can use any AKM/AK-74 traditional wood or polymer stock that you want or adapter to use an AR-style stock. Read up online before you buy because there are tons and tons of options and combinations for you.

I hope this helps you out and here are a few examples for your consideration:


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.


Introducing 1/2″ and 3/4″ Pull Rings For Our Quick Takedown Pins

When I originally designed our Quick Takedown Pins for the Yugo M85/M92 and then also the Bulgy/Tula Krinks, PSA AK-V and Vepr 12 shotgun, I used my hand size as a gauge for making a pull ring big enough. Guys have asked me repeatedly over the years for smaller pins but I could never find them made well enough that I felt good about carrying them — until now!

This is my AK-V with its quick takedown pin with the standard size 1″ ring installed.

This last time when I placed an order with the machine shop that makes my pins, I asked if they could do custom heavy duty 1/2″ and 3/4″ pull rings from stainless steel with a black oxide finish and they said they could! It cost a fair penny because I needed to order a boatload of each but here they are as an accessory if you want to purchase them … please purchase some 🙂

Here are the three rings side by side. The pins all come with the 1″ standard ring installed.

The 1″ and 3/4″ rings are very beefy. We had to go to smaller gauge wire to do the 1/2″ rings but they should work just fine – it’s really the pin itself that does all the work.

Click here to go to the page with all of the pins and rings if you would like to place an order.


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 Had Both Yugo M70B1 and M70AB2 Parts Kits – But Are Sold Out Now

11/28/2020 – This is an old post. Please note that both kits are sold out at PSA. I would be highly surprised if they get more in but who knows.

Hi folks, I’m a fan of Yugo AKs and have been for some time. I wanted to do a quick post to let you know that both fixed stock (M70B1) and underfolder (M70AB2) kits have hit the market at a good price. You will need to build/buy a receiver, barrel and 922r parts to complete them.

Here’s a photo from PSA of one of the M70B1 kits. Click on the image to go to the order page.
This is a photo of one of the PSA M70AB2 underfolder kits.

If you are interested in building a Yugo AK, you might want to consider snagging one of these. I suspect they will sell pretty quick.


As a reminder, PSA has their own line of AK rifles and accessories in case you want to check them out.

4/24/2020 Update: I received my M70B1 and it was in pretty good shape and the numbers matched. In other words – it’s not all rusted together. All the parts are in one bag and the wood is dinged up but it’s buildable. I hope to get some photos later — let me put it this way, I’m debating whether to buy a second or not.

PSA AK Webstore Links

Interested in an American made AK? Consider Palmetto State Armory (PSA) as a source. Click on the following links for the associated webstore categories for AK-related rifles, pistols and parts at PSA:


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.

Great Deals On Pistol Braces and Pistols With Braces At PSA

When the ATF reversed the ruling about braces and enabled folks to use them however they saw fit, the demand and supply of pistol braces went into orbit. I have carpal tunnel and a hereditary tremor so for me, using a brace is the only way I can wield a heavy pistol – such as one based on an AR, AK or MP5 type of action.

Examples of Braced Pistols

SB Tactical’s PDW brace is great on AR pistols
IWI Galil Ace in 7.62×51 with a SB Tactical SBA4 adjustable brace
PTR PDWR .308 pistol with a SB Tactical folding mechanism and SB Tactical SOB brace

Palmetto State Armory (PSA)

PSA has come a long way. I’ve used them as my go-to AR parts supplier for years and now they have great deals on parts, kits, receivers, and firearms. They also offer some great deals on braces – by themselves as parts, as part of a kit offering or even on firearms.


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.

Brownells Has All Kinds of Metal Finishes And Surface Preparation Supplies

Folks, if you are looking for supplies to finish your firearm, Brownells is a great source. I’ve done business with them for years and they have provided me great technical support as well as customer service. If you are considering a spray on finish like Alumahyde (their own product), Cerakote, Duracoat, or Gunkote plus other finishes like cold bluing, hot bluing, color case hardening or parkerizingBrownells has a ton of options for you.

Both of these rifles were finished using Duracoat’s spray on finish. You really needed to blast the surface, make sure it was very clean and then allow the finish to cure for a week for it to be durable.
Baking on Molyresin over manganese park. That’s a M92 with a long barrel in the front and a M72B1 in the rear from back in the days when I had free time 🙂

These days, I do a base surface preparation of manganese parkerization and then Norell’s Molyresin on top. The park creates an ideal surface for any sprayed on finish like Alumahyde, GunKote or Molyresin to stick.

The following are some great examples of products they carry:


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.


Why Does the Color of Grips and Handguards From Ronin’s Grips Fade And What To Do About It?

I’ve had guys ask why the color of my grips or handguards seem to fade with time. The short answer is that it has to do with the liquid wax finish oxidizing and not the plastic – the color is actually in the plastic. You see, we sand every grip and handguard to get rid of mold imperfections and then we blast each with abrasive media (currently it’s Black Beauty or Black Magic depending in the store I go to) and that turns the plastic almost white as you can see in the photo above. We blast the surface to create a very sure grip when you grab hold – your hand doesn’t slide easily. The polished finish we used to do resulted in a surface that is slick when wet due to sweat, water, blood, etc.

So, the blasting abrades the surface and messes up the colors being reflected back to your eyes. To solve this problem, I tried a ton of different oils and waxes and the best was Atsko Sno-Seal. It really brought out the color and it did not fade – or at least I never saw it fade. The problem is that Sno-Seal is a paste wax and I have carpal tunnel. Rubbing it into grips and handguards every day over and over was killing by wrists so I had to stop it.

This pushed me back to the drawing board and this time I looked at liquid waxes. Some of them really smelled as the liquids evaporated and the best option I could find find was the various butcher’s block finishes that combine mineral oil and a wax – often a bee’s wax. This stuff goes on like a dream but does fade with time. There’s nothing wrong with the color – it’s just the finish oxidizing and drying out.

What to do about the fading?

As mentioned above, the finish I apply will fade. The good news is that the owner with a number of options and I’ll shorten it down to the four I recommend:

  1. Buy Sno-Seal and apply it. This stuff is awesome for boots and I actually had it for my boots when I tested it. It’s my #1 recommendation and what I do for furniture I make for myself.
  2. Shoe polish holds up really well and you can nudge the colors/hues one direction or another depending on the color of the wax. This goes on pretty easy and seems to last. Just buff it well so you don’t get any color on your hand. I’ve had very good luck with Kiwi products.
  3. Any fine wax for boots, leather, wood or preservation ought to work. Just follow the directions. Absolutely do not use super thick floor wax or it will be a disaster as one customer found out.
  4. Put another coat of butcher’s block conditioner on it. Easy to apply but it will not last.
Atsko Sno-Seal is my #1 choice. Kiwi shoe polish works great. Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner is what I use in production and is also what fades with time.

How to Apply Sno-Seal

My first recommendation to customers is always Sno-Seal. It takes just a little it to polish a grip or handguard plus you can use it to waterproof your boots.

I did this corner at room temperature and you can tell it takes a bit more effort to rub it in and buff it off.

You can either warm it up on your hand and then rub it in or you can use a heat source to warm up the grip or handguard just a bit – meaning warm to the touch not hot – and it goes on even easier. When I did the M72 hanguard set shown, for example, it was warm after about a minute and 20 seconds in our microwave. You rub the wax in and buff it off – done.

Hello Mr. Microwave! You can optionally warm your piece of furniture up with a microwave, oven turned on at 150F or less, hair dryer, etc. You want it to be warm, not hot. If you can’t pick it up, it’s way too hot. The plastic will not begin to deflect until around 250F and there’s no way you can pick that up hence the rule of thumb. [Click here if you want to read about a heat test we did]
So here’s the finished handguard set after I buffed off the remaining wax.

Again, if you ask me what I do for my own grips and handguards, it’s Sno-Seal and I rarely use extra heat – usually just I just warm it up with my hands and rub it in. Sno-Seal lasts the best of anything I have found.

I hope this helps you out.


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.