How To Quickly And Easily Remove An AK Trigger Guard

So, let’s review how to remove a riveted AK trigger guard assembly. For those of you building from virgin kits or complete demilled (“demilitarized”) kits, you don’t need to do this but for many folks they do. In my case, I needed to remove the trigger guard from a beat to heck donor rifle that someone had butchered.

You have three options to remove the trigger guard rivets:

  1. Drill them out by center punching each rivet or using a rivet drill jig and remove them.
  2. Mill the heads off, drill a hole and punch out the remainer of the bodies.
  3. Grind the heads off, drill a hole and punch out the remainder

All of the above methods work. It really comes down to what you are most comfortable with. As for myself, I use option three. The reason I just don’t drill them out is that rivet head shapes can vary considerably. The AK-Builder drilling jig is fantastic but it can’t guarantee you are centered on every rivet.

With this in mind, I simply take a 4″ grinder and take off the rivet heads flush to the surface of the trigger guard itself. This lets me see the outline of the rivet bodies so I can then drill and 1/8″ hole and I’ll explain why after a couple of photos.

This is my 4.5″ Ryobi 18 volt grinder. To be honest, the tool pleasantly surprised me. I really wondered how much torque and battery life it would have. Over the last six months I have ground down quite a few bolts and metal parts with this tool. Before I had it, I had a 4″ Makita corded grinder that I still have — it’s just that cordless is so convenient. The Ryobi made short work of the five rivets that hold on the trigger guard.
Definitely practice with your angle grinder until you are able to control it. What you want to do is to remove the rivet head with out doing major damage to the trigger guard. Can you see the outline of the rivet bodies? That is what we want to get all of the way around.

The next steps you will do are to center punch each rivet, drill an 1/8″ hole through the rivet and then use a roll pin punch to knock the rivet out. This was a bit of an epiphany for me one day – I was trying to keep the punch on the rivet and I thought to myself – “Man, what if I drill a hole and use the right sized roll pin punch? The little ball on the end of the roll pin punch ought to keep it centered.” I tried it and it worked great. No more punches slipping around.

At the bottom is an automatic center punch. I love these things. You push down on the handle until the action cycles inside and the hardened tip makes a dimple in the surface without a hammer. Above it is my roll pin punch. Tons of companies make these and you can barely see the little ball at the end that will center the punch on the drill hole. Above it is an 1/8″ drill bit. I’d recommend you go with good cobalt bits when demilling. They last longer and will go through just about anything. Note, if you buy a cheap cobalt drill bit it can be worse than plain high speed steel from a quality manufacturer. Go with a brand name – Norseman is my favorite but you can go with stuff from big box stores too like Bosch, Dewalt, etc. If you are getting a set off Amazon, be sure to check reviews.
Here’s the finished result – a nicely separated receiver, selector stop plate and trigger guard. Be careful not to lose that stop plate – you will need to and the trigger guard for your next build.

One perk of only using an 1/8″ drill bit is that you have some margin for not being exactly centered on the rivet. 1/8″ is 3.127mm and a 5/32″ drill bit comes in at 3.969mm so real close to the actual 4mm holes drilled in the parts and if you are off a tad then you wind up with an “egged” or misshapen holes. Of course you can use other size drill bits – just figure out what you like.

Even though rivets are relatively soft steel, I still recommend you use cutting fluid. I keep some Tap Magic in a little squeeze bottle with a needle tip and it makes it super easy to add it when working.

Summary

Removing the trigger guard is all about getting rid of the five rivets that hold it in place. Whether you drill, sand, mill, grind or otherwise cut off the tops, then drill out the remainder – using a roll pin punch really makes it easy to punch them out the rest of the way.


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