Category Archives: AKBuilds

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

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.

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!


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.


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.


How to Remove An AK Barrel In Less Than 10 Minutes

I have a long history with building AK-47 rifles and a number of variants including: Hungarian, Romanians, Russian, and Yugoslavian. The problem I have these days is a total lack of time so I rarely get to indulge in building any more. In fact, this past year, I only got to build one AK and I had a lot of fun doing it. Rather than do a few giant posts, I am going to do a bunch of posts for each step I do.

The first thing I like to do is to remove the barrel and get it out of the way. Back in the golden age of AK Kit building you could get completed barreled AK kits for $89/ea and sometimes even less. Then the ATF decided to re-interpret the law and in July 2005 they told importers they would no longer approve the importation of kits with the original barrels. Now importers did have a lot of orders in the pipeline so the prices slowly went up and the supply dried up.

Today, you are only going to find kits with barrels that someone is selling from their collection usually at an astronomical price (I’ve seen them range from $600-1,200 literally for kits that used to be $99) or one of the vendors has decided to offer a service to assemble headspaced kits such as Arms of America. The other reason you may need to do this is that you have a donor rifle that you are getting parts from, which is what I was doing.

When I started, everything was done with hydraulic presses or the caveman approach of using big hammers that I never cared for. Today, you can remove a hammer super fast 99% of the time with an air hammer and that is my preferred method. I want to give you a few options to consider and some tips along the way.

What did I Just Work On?

I had an old Romanian Garda kit that I had built on an AK-Builder flat many years ago. I actually dug through my photos and it dates back to June 2007 when I built it originally. When I built it, I was tinkering with how to form the rivet heads and while it was a rock solid AK function-wise, the rivet heads always bugged me so I decided to rebuild it.

This was my last Romy G (meaning a Romanian Garda rifle) rifle. I’d built it on an AK-Builder flat and had experimented with forming the rivets and the heads always looked awful so it was going to be my source or donor rifle for my new one. Yes, my workbench almost always looks like that.

Options To Remove the Barrel Pin

There are three common ways that I can think of:

  1. Use a press to push out the pin – works great but it takes space and you need a jig to properly support the trunnion so nothing bends under the pressure. It also takes time to set up everything. Huge hint to the new folks who use a press – whack the side of the press that the bottle jack is pushing down – sometimes called the jack bracket – or the side of the frame supporting the bottle jack. The vibration will loosen stubborn pins and lower the risk of something breaking / bending or even shattering under extreme pressure. In short, use the hammer to introduce shock and vibration to the pin while under load – pump the jack handle to increase the load and whack, pump, whack, and so forth. I guess I should do a blog post on this some day but I hope you get the general idea – don’t just increase the pressure alone. Some pins come out super easy and some will fight you the while way out.
  2. Use a big hammer and beat the pin out – I have never had luck with this and only tried it a couple of times before deciding it wasn’t for me. I have a hereditary tremor in my hands and trying to hit a punch with a heavy hammer/small sledge with sufficient force just isn’t in the cards for me. Tons of guys have used the “BFH” (Big F’ing Hammer) method and driven the pin out.
  3. Use an air riveter or air hammer to drive the pin out. Folks, I started using this method some years back and it’s all I use now. It’s fast, easy and you don’t need to worry about things breaking/bending like you do with a press.

So option 3 is what I do. I use a Ingersoll Rand model 117 air hammer that I bought many years ago. The stroke length is 3.5″ and the hammer is .69″ diameter, or at least the bore for it is this helps the hammer hit hard at 2,000 blows per minute.

This is a photo of my IR 117. The air tool oil I used had gummed up and I used PB Blaster to free things up. That was some years back. I tossed whatever brand oil I was using but that IR is solid.

Note, I bought the 117 many years ago and may actually upgrade to one of the new 119Max air hammers. They have a .75″ bore (8% larger), still a 3.5″ stroke and is moving at 2,530 blows per minute. So it hits harder and it has an anti-vibration design as well. This makes it easier to control and less fatigue on the hands.

Regardless, the point is to get a big air hammer. I’m not sure if one of the super cheap Harbor Freight units will do the job or not. If you look to other brands on Amazon or where ever, look for units they describe as “long” – referring to the length of the hammer bore – or if they use a number, go for 4X or higher. I’ve typically seen that designation to refer to riveters and the 117 is a fine riveter for 1/4″ because of the nice variable trigger it has. The 2x, 3x, 4x, etc. all are referring to the number of times longer the barrel is compared to some original model as I understand it. The size of the rivet gun is based on the size of the rivet that needs to be set so guys may have a number of rivet guns in their tool box if they do a lot of riveting for planes, sheet metal, etc.

To push the pin out, you can use long air hammer drift pins or even start with the conical chisel and finish up with a hammer and punch.

You can get the barrel pin started with the conical chisel that comes with many air hammer kits and finish it with a big hammer and punch or you can use air hammer drift punches and hammer it all of the way out. Ignore the dead blow hammer – it was just sitting there at the time – I probably was adjusting my drill press table at the time.
This is an M72B1 trunnion where I used the air hammer to start the pin being pushed out and then finished with a hammer and punch. I now put a long drift pin in the air hammer to push it the rest of the way out vs. using a hammer to finish it.

Note – If the trunnion is not secure then not only will it want to move on you but you will also lose a ton of force due to vibrations/movement that would otherwise be directed at the pin.

Slow down as you drive the pin out or it will fly across the room. I’m speaking with first hand experience on that. You will want to save the pin so you can re-use it.

Once you have the pin out, don’t lose it! I used to use a fishing tackle organizer and now I just use a magnetic tray. It is real easy to lose track of that pin and it’s happened to me.

Options To Remove the Barrel

There are four common ways to remove a barrel – I say “common” because I bet guys have figured out tons of other ways but let’s hit the trop four.

Option 1: Use A Hydraulic Shop Press

This is definitely a proven method. 12-20 ton shop presses were traditionally the go-to tools for a lot of AK work relating to barrels and rivets. For barrel work, guys use jigs from AK-Builder and others plus can make their own. The basic idea is to support the front of the trunnion and press the barrel out. Here’s a link to a post I did some years back for making your own barrel back out tool – I will tell you to make several – a long one if you need to reach through a receiver and a much shorter one if you are just pressing a barrel out of a trunnion or milled receiver stub.

This is 30 ton H-Frame hydraulic press. The super thick press plates are from SWAG OffRoad and they are rock solid. I’ve bent thinner press plates while working on stubborn parts. The SWAG plates simple do not budge. With the barrel pointed downward, I support the front edge of the trunnion and use the small 1/2″ bolt with a brass nut and steel backing nut to press down on the breach end of the barrel. The barrel assembly is from a WBP kit that is still one of my favorite rifles – click here to read that story.
The brass is soft and will not hurt the end of the barrel – don’t use steel for that part. The steel jam nut in the rear is what provides the strength so the brass doesn’t just push right off the threads – it will do that if it’s brass alone. You bring the press down, make sure the little barrel ram is square on the barrel and not something else and the barrel will push right out.

If you want to get a press, the Harbor Freight 12-20 ton models do the job. You can certainly spend more money and you are paying for how true the various parts are to one another and the amount of pressure they can apply. I have a knock off import 30 ton press and it does the job but is nothing to jump up and down about. I do like the large wide H-frame presses that have a nice big work area vs. the small skinny A-frames but it is up to you. Note, a bench top press will really limit your options and probably be disappointing. Also, a 12 ton press is the smallest you should consider. I’d recommend a 20 ton unit if you can afford it. I bought mine just to do AKs but have used it for all kinds of stuff since like pressing in barrels, etc.

To be clear, I have all the tools I need to use my press and it is my fall back method for stubborn barrels but it takes me longer to do the set up than I care for because of how my shop is set up. If you go the press route and it is easy to get to your press, rock on. I can have the pin and barrel out before I even get done setting up my press to do barrel work is all I am saying.

Option 2: Use a BFH

Some guys will just take a big f’ing hammer and a punch to drive the barrel out. I have honestly never tried this approach because of the tremor in my hands but there are a few guys out there who claimed to have used this approach. If you do this, make sure the trunnion is very well supported and can’t move. Get a big heavy hammer (say 1-5 pounds) and use a barrel back out tool like I described above. Be very careful to strike just on the pin or you will beat up your trunnion. I cringe while writing this just so you know. Guys have done it so I feel I need to mention it but I can’t personally recommend it. I think the risk of the punch moving accidentally and then beating the crap out of your trunnion is just way too high to be acceptable.

Option 3: All Thread Method

This method got it’s name from the use of threaded rods that can be used to create a tool to either push out or insert a barrel. Toth Tool makes one this is very nice but I have only used it one time to insert a barrel and it did a great job. They say it will work on pushing out a barrel and I tend to believe them unless you get a kit that has an insanely tight fit. Over the years, I’ve only had a maybe 3-4 barrels out of dozens that I wonder if it could have done the job. With many people building from scratch and not demilling or they are getting headspaced kits that they don’t have to fight as bad with, I think this would be a very strong option. I literally just bought my Toth tool and will give it a try at some point.

This is me using the Toth barrel tool to install a barrel. It’s very well made and I plan to use it a lot more.

Option 4: Use An Air Hammer (My Preference)

Do you notice a recurring theme? I’m not very patient so I look for quick methods. I used my big IR air hammer and drove the barrel out. I put the assembly in a solid vise, inserted a brass 1/2″ nut in to protect the barrel, an angled rivet set so I could reach in at an angle and hammer the barrel out. All said and done it took a couple of minutes.

I inserted a 1/2″ brass nut to protect the barrel from the angled steel rivet set. You always want to put a soft metal in to serve as a buffer to protect the breach. If you don’t do this, the hardened metal rivet set will beat the snot out of the barrel.

The air hammer works almost all of the time and is my go to method but note that I do have a big press in the event I run into something really stubborn that can’t be air hammered out.

Avoiding Galling

There is an ugly cosmetic issue that can happen when pushing out an extremely tight fitting AK barrel or one where the originating country maybe didn’t have the best metallurgy and that is a problem known as “galling”.

When an AK is assembled at the factory, the barrel is inserted into the trunnion, the hole for the barrel pin is drilled and then the pin is inserted. When the hole is drilled, a potentially sharp surface is created at the top front portion of the hole in the trunnion. If the barrel is pressed very tightly or the metallurgy is off, when pushing the barrel back out, this surface shaves the metal off the barrel creating an unsightly blemish on the shank of the barrel. It’s just cosmetic and does not hurt the functioning of the barrel but it sure is ugly.

The barrel on the left had galling when it was removed. The barrel on the right, by luck, had minimal galling.

There is a trick that can help reduce the chance of galling. You push the barrel pin out as normal and just start to press the barrel out so you expose part of the front top edge of barrel channel inside the trunnion in the pin hole and dress it, meanin slightly dull or bevel it so it does not dig into the part of the barrel shank (the breach end) that will still need to push past that sharp surface.

Here, the barrel has moved ahead slightly. By reaching in with a small circular file to the inside front edge of the barrel channel, the sharp edge of the trunnion can be knocked down and reduce the chances of galling. Note the red shows the location but you need to file in the barrel channel, not the outside of the trunnion.

Small circular files, like chainsaw sharpening files make quick work of this. I have a few circular files and just grab whatever one gives me enough room to maneuver inside the 7mm (0.276″) barrel pin hole.

You can then press a bit more and see if there is galling taking place. If so, push the barrel back out a bit, get rid of the steel that is shearing off and try breaking the edge of the front barrel channel lip a bit more.

Again, this is purely cosmetic and not something that will reduce the safety or reliability of the weapon. Do I always do this? No, just on expensive kits where I don’t want the barrel to look bad.

Some Quick Tips

Let me briefly summarize some lessons I’ve learned over the years:

  • If there’s any sign of rust around the barrel, trunnion or pin then either soak the assembly in Ed’s Red or spray it down with PB Blaster and let it sit at least overnight. I have a 5 gallon bucket about half full of Ed’s Red and I will literally put the whole trunnion assembly right in the bucket with the barrel sticking out and leave it there.
  • If you are not familiar with your air hammer, practice with it and get a feel for the trigger and how to control it. Otherwise you might beat some parts up that you did not want to.
  • If you use a press to push out the barrel pin, remember that tons (literally) of additional pressure is not always the best bet. Press pins can shatter, trunnions can tear and so forth. Whack the press with a metal hammer to introduce vibrations to the part. It can make things way easier.
  • Keep track of your barrel pin both when it comes out of the hole as well as later.
  • Make sure everything is properly supported and you have clearances all the way around your part. I bent a barrel once years ago because I didn’t notice it was resting on something that shouldn’t have been there.
  • If you are going to clamp a barreled receiver in a vise, clamp on the trunnion and not on the far softer sheet metal.
  • When pressing out the barrel, protect the steel on the chamber end and do not press or beat on it directly. Insert a brass or copper buffer in there to avoid steel to steel contact.
  • When pressing or hammering out the barrel, make sure your tool is pushing directly on the barrel and hasn’t somehow lodged against the trunnion.
  • When the barrel comes out of the trunnion have something soft for it to land on or hold on to it so the barrel isn’t damaged during the fall.

Conclusion

You can absolutely get a barrel pin and barrel out of an AK with a press fit barrel in 10-15 minutes with an air hammer. The only catch is if you are stuck with one of those kits with unholy tight interference fit and then you’ll need a press.


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.


Are You Looking For A Great Deal on The ALG Enhanced AK Fire Control Groups – the AKT-EL Model?

I wrote about this recently that my go-to fire control groups, meaning the trigger, disconnector and hammer, are now the ALG Enhanced Triggers – model AKT-EL. There are two challenges that interested buyers have – #1 they can’t even find them in stock at most websites and #2 even if they do, they are expensive. Let me tell you a secret.

Palmetto State Armory has made a big push into AK-series rifles and pistols over the past few years and some of their models have a unique layout inside that requires a slight change to the traditional AK trigger design. They talked to ALG, a sister company owned by the wife of Bill Geiselle of Geiselle trigger fame – and they produced a bunch of the AKT-EL triggers for PSA with the slight modification. Guess what? Any AK can use them.

For a couple of years now, I have been using AKT-EL in regular AK builds and even my IMI Galils that needed their fire control groups swapped out for 922r reasons.

So this post is short and sweet – if you are looking for a great American made AK trigger, then get an ALG AKT-EL and if you want one that is in stock at a great price, go to PSA [click here].

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.


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.