Comparing Original Russian Izhmash and Arsenal’s US-Made AK Handguards

In 1991, the Russian Izmash factory started producing AK-74M rifles with a uniquely styled glass fiber reinforced polyamide stock and handguard that we see today on newer weapons.

The Bulgarians followed suit as they licensed the designs from the Russians. I’m not sure how closely the Bulgarians copied the design but now we can see there are some minor differences.

What started me down this path was the desire to convert my Palmetto State Armory AK-V to look more like a Russian Vityaz. The Vityaz uses the bulged handguard like you see on the AK-74M, AK-100 series and what not. So, I hopped on the www.kvar.com website to see what they had and they surprisingly had both the Arsenal US-made handguard set and a real Izhmash set. I jumped and bought one of each of both sets. Note, the AK-V uses the same handguards as either the AKM or AK-74M so you have a ton of options.

For me it was really interesting to set the two very similar handguard sets down side by side and note all the minor differences. So, I took a ton of photos and decided to create a photo gallery so you can see them for yourself.

The most noteworthy differences:

  • The Izhmash set is slightly more grey and the Arsenal is a richer black
  • The Izhmash’s surface finish is duller and the Arsenal is slightly more reflective.
  • The bottom rear of the Izhmash lower is more angular and the Arsenal is more rounded
  • The Izhmash set has more mold markings such as the “2-2” on the gas tube cover.
  • The Arsenal lower has “US” marked on the outside rear

In case you are wondering what I used on my AK-V, it was the K-Var set. I had to trim a very tiny amount (0.015-.030″) off the metal nose of the lower to get it to fit and I didn’t want to modify a real Izhmash set that might have collector’s value some day.

Below are thumbnails and you can click on one and see a bigger photo and any comments/labels on each:


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PSA AK Webstore Links

Click on the following links for the associated webstore categories at Palmetto:

The Streamlight 88081 PROTAC HL 5-X 3500 Lumen Light IS a Beast On Your Side – Part 2 – Out of the box & performance report

As mentioned in the first post, I ordered a Streamlight 88081 from Amazon. It arrived and, of course, I had to immediately check it out. Here are a series of photos with the story told in the captions.

This is the 88081 with the 18650 USB rechargeable batteries
The box has twp tables talking about performance metrics based on the type of battery used. The left table is for CR123A batteries and the right is for 18650 batteries. The model I bought comes with the 18650 class batteries (two of them are used at a time) so the right table is applicable.
The first thing I noticed was how it felt – there’s a nice solid heft to it, the rubberized grip is very positive and it fits my hand real nice. Note, I wear XL-sized gloves for reference.
Here’s the business end of the light. Notice the interesting lens. It kicks out one hell of a bright focused center but still radiates a very broad cone of light. It is not adjustable but I really haven’t found the need to change it after using it for over a month.
It has some big fins for heat dissipation. Note, the rubberized surface is only on the handle – the emitter head is just anodized aluminum to allow for cooling. Good idea on their part. The longest I’ve run the light about 5-10 minutes. It does warm up but I’ve not run it long enough to see just how hot it can get.
These are the Streamlight brand Micro USB rechargeable 18650 batteries. I was unsure about the concept at first but they give you a ton of options for recharging in your home, vehicle or even with a big battery in the field.

Streamlight 22102 Rechargeable Li-Ion Lithium-Ion 18650 USB Battery Set - 2 Pack

$29.08  
End Date: Saturday Aug-01-2020 14:34:39 EDT
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Streamlight 18650 Rechargeable ProTac Flashlight USB Battery 2pk

$29.60  
End Date: Wednesday Jul-15-2020 14:01:08 EDT
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Streamlight 18650, USB Rechargable Battery, 2/Pack, Clam Pack 22102

$29.11  
End Date: Wednesday Jul-15-2020 11:07:08 EDT
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22102 Streamlight USB Rechargeable 18650 Battery - 2 Pack

$29.46  
End Date: Wednesday Jul-08-2020 11:46:22 EDT
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Streamlight 18650 USB Rechargeable Lithium-Ion Batteries 3.7V 2600mAh 2 Pk 22102

$37.34  
End Date: Thursday Jul-16-2020 18:35:25 EDT
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Because I already have an 18650 charging cradle, I bought some spare 18650 batteries. OLight makes good gear so I got a pair of their batteries. As I write this, they are in the light right now. I also bought them because I wasn’t sure how the Streamlight USBs would perform and the short answer is that if I had it to do over, I’d buy a second pair of Streamlight USBs because of the flexibility to charge just about anywhere. DO NOT BUY CHEAP BATTERIES!! You risk performance and them catching fire/exploding.

Olight 3600mAh 18650 High Capacity Protected Rechargeable Battery ORB-186P36

$24.99  
End Date: Thursday Jul-09-2020 17:26:10 EDT
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Olight 3600mAh 18650 High Capacity Protected Rechargeable Battery ORB-186P36 x2

$49.98  
End Date: Friday Jul-10-2020 11:21:19 EDT
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2pcs Olight 18650 3.6V 3600mAh Rechargeable Li-ion Protected Battery ORB-186P36

$37.79  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 06:44:52 EDT
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Olight 3600Mah 18650 Protected Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery Orb-186P36

$26.95  
End Date: Friday Jul-24-2020 07:49:49 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $26.95
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Olight 3600mAh 18650 protected Li-ion rechargeable battery

$39.95  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 07:31:57 EDT
Buy It Now for only: $39.95
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They use a nice beefy spring on the tailcap. This spring is a failure point on cheap lights along with the switch. I’ve never had a spring or switch fail on a Streamlight product.
According to my Bushnell 1200 laser range finder, the hedge row at the back behind the trees is 65 yards. You can see the very bright center and flood light around it.
The bush to the left of the driveway is 62 yards away. Again, you can see the very bright focused center beam and broad light to the sides.

TEN-TAP Programming

I have a pet peeve with some lights – I loathe the ones with tons of modes where you need to click the power switch to cycle through them – low, medium, high, strobe, SOS, etc. What a pain in the butt!! Streamlight wisely made the PROTAC HL programmable via what they call “TEN-TAP”. Mine is set to high beam on and off. That’s it. Sure, I can adjust it if I ever want to but all I need right now is the high beam and I don’t want to have to fumble around clicking the button to get to the high beam mode. Streamlight has a page that tells more about how to program your light – click here.

Bottom Line

I really, really like this light. It is the brightest one I own now and when we pull down the trash at night, we can see everything very clearly. If there are any coyotes, I am sure they are getting the heck out of Dodge as soon as they see that light and hear us coming. Furthermore, the light has enough heft that if we do need to hit something with it, the blow will do massive damage – you’d be amazed what a freaked out fat man can do 🙂 At any rate, I have no reservations recommending this light to you.


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Streamlight 88080 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$104.87  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 09:21:51 EDT
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Streamlight ProTac HL 5-X USB Flashlight 88080 18650 Bat 3,500 Lumens

$103.99  
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Streamlight 88074 Protac Hl-5X Flashlight W-Batteries

$91.58  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 02:51:27 EDT
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Streamlight 88080 ProTac HL 5-X 3,500 Lumens Rechargeable Lithium Black

$89.99  
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Streamlight 88080 ProTac HL 5-X USB LED 3500 Lumens Rechargeable Flashlight

$51.00  (20 bids)
End Date: Thursday Jul-09-2020 16:04:31 EDT

Bid

Streamlight 88080 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ USB Charger

$100.00  
End Date: Sunday Jul-26-2020 18:08:16 EDT
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Streamlight 88081 Protac HL5-X Series up to 3500 Lumen Tactical Flashlight

$91.95  
End Date: Wednesday Jul-15-2020 15:00:58 EDT
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Streamlight 88081 Black ProTac HL 5-X 3500 Lumen LED Flashlight w/ 18650 Battery

$105.07  
End Date: Thursday Jul-23-2020 09:21:58 EDT
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Streamlight 88075 Black Protac HL 5-X 3500 Lumens LED Flashlight w/ Batteries

$88.49  
End Date: Sunday Jul-12-2020 11:04:10 EDT
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Streamlight ProTac HL5-X USB Flashlight LED with Rechargeable 18650 Battery

$99.00  
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When Strength and Quality Matter Most