Tag Archives: 7.62×39

PSA AK-E Part 4: Customizing The Rifle

In the past three posts, I covered some of the reviews I read, initial observations out of the box, and a more detailed look and the internals. Now, I’ll cover the customization work that I did. For me, the AK-E was always going to serve as a base platform to build on. I wanted to showcase both one of our AK-12 grips and one of our new AKM gas tube covers. So, let’s step through the modifications.

The RS!Regulate GKR-10MS Handguard

The red stock set had to go. That was the plan from day one. I only bought it because it was the first AK-E model that I was available during my daily “do they have one yet” check of the PSA website [click here if you are hunting for one as well].

In place of the handguards, I planned to install one of the RS!Regulate GKR-10MS aluminum rails. It’s 10″ long, is ready for MLOK attachments and looked wicked. Furthermore, you do not need to remove the sling loop on the lower handguard retainer. Scot Hoskisson is the owner and I’ve used his scope mounts on a number of rifles plus one of his handguards on my IWI Galil Ace pistol and really liked it.

I thought this would be easy but that turned out not to be the case due to a seemingly small change PSA made that I’ll cover in a moment. Basically the rail system has three parts – The F1 front piece, the middle rail section and a rear end cap. Scot provides good instructions so follow them to the letter.

Like other AK rifles, there is a space between the front trunnion and the receiver to allow the tab of the handguard to press into. The flakes you see in the photo are presumably from the finish of the red handguard, just FYI.
The block is designed to be filed to fit. You can see where it will go but you will need to take your time and file it to fit.
The elevated sides of the U in the middle need to be filed to fit and you might need to take some off the sides as well.
So take your time, remove a little and test fit over and over. A trick I learned that I applied is to file the protrusions at a very slight angle so that as the handguard is pressed further in, the tighter the fit becomes.
It was coming together nicely. Notice the rail is secured to the end cap and is clearing the handguard retainer nicely in terms of the slot.
Next, this F1 nosepiece has to slide back inside the handguard, get screwed in place and then set screws on the opposite side are tightened thus locking everything in place This is where things go sour.
Every time I tightened down the bottom screw, the F1 piece would cam backwards vs. sitting properly. I tried a few times and could not get it to sit. I have both carpal tunnel and a tremor so this is very tedious for me to try and do. I reached out to Scot and he told me a compatability issue had come up with the PSA handguard retainer.
Due to ever so slight dimension differences, the F1 piece does not sit flush or even lower than the retainer so when the bottom screw is tightened down it cams the F1 backwards. Argh!
I spent almost an hour of careful filing and test fitting and finally decided to super glue a trimmed #6 washer to the bottom of the F1 unit to address the issue. I think this would have worked from the start. Note, Scot tells me that he plans to make a PSA specific unit. It’s totally do-able as-is once you realize you need to add a spacer to the unit. It was rock solid after I made that change and tightened down the set screws. I also had to use a longer 8-32 screw vs. the supplied unit due to the spacer.
Folks, this is the type of washer I used – literally it came out of this box. I ground two flat sides so it wouldn’t stick out past the front or back of the F1 part. Your goal is for the washer to make contact with the handuard before the retainer does. If the retainer hits first, it will want to make the F1 part cant as you tighten it.
Look closely at the F1 fitting in front of the handguard retainer inside the rail – you can see the shiny #6 washer doing its job.

One Of Our Gas Tube Covers

I made a bunch of new molds to make AKM gas tube covers and they are all based on Polish AKM units. In other words, the masters were real Polish covers that I then used to make the molds. It turns out that the PSA gas tube cover is just a tad taller and uses a different spring clip than the Polish units. Our new covers work just fine – the difference surprised me though.

Here’s an original wood Polish AKM gas tube cover on the left and the PSA model on the right. Note the PSA unit is just a tad taller.
To remove the PSA cover, you just rotate it on the tube 180 degrees and pull them off. Because the rifle is brand new, this is very easy to do. On surplus rifles you can have a real fight on your hands trying to get them off sometimes.
Here’s a photo of the installed GKR-10MS rail and our gas tube cover.

One Of Our Russian AK-12 Grips

To change the pistol grip, you remove this bolt and then the T-nut inside will flop around.
This is the loose T-nut that sticks through the receiver. When you install the new grip, use one finger to keep this in place while you are getting the bolt started.
This is our installed AK-12 grip.

M4 Adapter and a Magpul ACS Stock

Next up was the stock. I really prefer the M4-style adjustable stocks and the Magpul ACS is really my go-to unit for most of my builds. It’s solid and has a locking clamp so there is no wiggle.

To remove the stock, first take out these three blade screws. Now, to avoid chewing them up, use a screwdriver blade bit that completely fills the slot from top to bottom and left to right. Using a screw driver that is too small will cause the metal to deform around the screw heads and make a mess. Furthermore, screw driver bits are hollow ground so their end is not tapered unlike a normal screwdriver is.
One of the reasons I keep this Weaver tool set handy is the bit collection. Note how there are a variety of sizes of blade bits. This is my go-to for removing stocks for that very reason.
The stock is press fit into the receiver. It should either just pull out or you may need to use a mallet and wood dowel to tap it out. Surplus AK buttstocks can be a bear to remove but since the AK-E is brand new, you will probably find it fairly easy. In this photo, you can see what some call the “puzzle piece” or “jigsaw puzzle piece” that is unique to PSA. This lets them have one rear trunnion and if the application does not warrant the tang, then it is not installed. Historically, we would have needed to cut that off depending on what type of buttstock system we planned on using. In this build, I am going to use an M4 adapter and I do need the tang so I was careful not to lose it.
If you are now thinking, “crap, I lost the puzzle piece/rear tang” then you are in luck. PSA sells just that part. Click here to go to the product page.
This M4 adapter was on my AK-V. It is either made for PSA by Rifle Dynamics (RD) or it looks just like RD’s design. Basically it slides in place of the stock and the tang of the stock passes through the M4 buffer tube’s mouth. This was an ingenious move and created a short solid adapter. PSA does sell this – click here for the product listing. Unfortunately it is out of stock a lot probably due to the popularity of their rifles and pistols that use it. I’ve used the RD adapter and it is rock solid so I definitely recommend getting that one if you can – check out Brownells or RD directly.
Here’s a view of the adapter from the rear. You can see the tang passes through the threaded circle where the buffer tube will screw in.
The adapter goes where the stock was at using the supplied machine screws. Apply blue loctite so they don’t vibrate loose.
You can see the puzzle piece / modular rear tang is installed and is protruding through the threaded attachment for the buffer tube. Be sure to apply blue loctite to this screw also.
When I need AR parts in a rush, Primary Arms is one of the vendors I check first. They ship fast – often the same day if not the next. This is an Expo Arms 6 position Mil-Spec buffer tube, an Expo Arms castle nut and a BCM Gunfighter QD End Plate (meaning it is an M4 receiver end plate but it has the attachment point for a QD swivel.
On an AR, I worry about torque specs for the castle nut. On an AKM with a sheet metal receiver, you will see it start to twist as you apply more more torque so my recommendation is *not* to treat it like an AR because I don’t want to bend the receiver. I tighten the castle nut down farmer firm (meaning snug and then some) and then stake the nut to the end plate to keep it from moving.
These are my three key tools for installing a Magpul ACS buttstock as well as the tube and cast nut. The above is an automatic center punch. It’s be Neiko and I also have one from General Tools. I use them for staking the castle nut by striking the surface 3-4 times. With my tremor I have a hard time with a hammer and center punch, which is what most folks use. To tighten the castle nut, I use a Magpul wrench. The way it engages the castle nut is very well thought out and reduces the odds of the tool slipping and marring the finish. The bottom is a simple tool I make and sell to grab the friction locking mechanism of the ACS stock and lift it high enough so the stock can slide into place. Yes, there are other ways of doing it but the tool makes it super simple.
Here’s the installed ACS stock
While the AK doesn’t have much of a recoil, it can be softened further by adding a Limbsaver recoil pad that simply replaces the OEM Magpul pad that is a fairly hard plastic. You just use a drive to remove the two screws, pull the old pate off, push the screws into the new Limbsaver pad, line the pad up with the stock and drive them into place.
Here’s the installed Limbsaver recoil pad. It fits very nicely as you can see.

RS!Regulate Optics Mount and Vortex Crossfire Red Dot

In my honest opinion, the best AK mounting rail system is made by RS!Regulate. It’s a two part modular system that Scot developed. It consists of a lower that is tailored to the rifle and shooter preferences that is then mated with an upper that can be optic specific or a general Picatinny rail.

For this rifle, I opted for the full length AK-303M lower and AKR upper. If RS!Regulate is out, check out Primary Arms and Brownells as well..

This is the AK-303M lower. The clamp is adjusted by compressing the clamping bar and turning that silver shiny screw that is then exposed. Clockwise tightens it and counter-clockwise loosens the clamp. I had to dial it in a bit for the PSA clamp and you probably will for just about any rifle. It’s nice and snug now.
Here’s another view of the AK-303M. The top AKR will mount onto the lower and be screwed into place. When everything is dialed in, the rail can be drilled and a roll pin installed to permanently marry the upper and lower if you so choose. Yes, that is a picatinny rail. The upper mounts to it by have the inverse of the rail that then marries together.
Here are the two halves mated together with a Vortex Crossfire Red Dot. The Crossfire red dot is my go-to when I need a good basic red dot optic. I may change it out for a 1-6 or 1-8 scope but time will tell.

Streamlight 88058 Protac Rail Mount 1

The last tweak I did was to add a short piece of aluminum Magpul rail and a Streamlight 88058 Protac Mount 1 light. I have found Streamlights to be very reliable and I use them on a variety of weapons. This model is dedicated for a rail and comes with a pigtail and pressure switch if you want to mount the switch remote from the light. I am right handed, not a huge fan of vertical grips and find it very easy to reach up with my left thumb and turn the light on or off.

The 88061 is a 350 lumen LED light that can use either a AA battery or a CR123A – I prefer the CR123A batteries – it is brighter and lasts longer than if you use the AA battery. Regardless it is cool to know that you have an option in case you are out of your preferred battery but have the other.

By the way, you can see the quick disconnect (QD) sling swivel in the background. This is an example of a part where you do not want to go cheap. The unit seen above is Midwest Industries. Go with a name brand and not some cheap knock-off.

Conclusion

That’s it for now and I hope you found this helpful. I’ll do one more post with photos of the finished rifle.

Note, I have to buy all of my parts – nothing here was paid for by sponsors, etc. I do make a small amount if you click on an ad and buy something but that is it. You’re getting my real opinion on stuff.

If you find this post useful, please share the link on Facebook, with your friends, etc. Your support is much appreciated and if you have any feedback, please email me at info@roninsgrips.com. Please note that for links to other websites, I may be paid via an affiliate program such as Avantlink, Impact, Amazon and eBay.


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:

PSA AK-E Part 2: Out Of The Box Observations and Photos

After researching and deciding to buy the AK-E, I ordered it and then waited about a week. The trick with any of PSA’s AKs these days is finding them in stock. Here’s my tip to you – the email notification is broadcasting the news to a ton of people and anyone may buy before you do. I’d recommend checking their site manually between 10am to 3pm Eastern. Just leave your browser open on the page and hit refresh when you can – say every half hour or hour. It took me a week or two but that’s how I was able to get both my AK-V and AK-E. This approach works for any of their hard-to-find because everyone is buying them AK-series weapons. Click on the below to go straight to the PSA page in a new tab:

For me, it’s really interesting how PSA has jumped with both feet onto the AK bandwagon and are offering different grades and styles to appeal to different levels of shooters.

Getting back to the AK-3, I only waited about a week and Scott Igert, my good friend who owns Michigan Gun Exchange, called me up when the AK-E arrived and I went and got it.

Opening The Box

For this post I took a bunch of pictures to share first impressions and will put them in the captions of each photo.

It’s a good looking rifle. The red furniture is brighter than I care for but I bought the rifle with the knowledge that I literally planned to replace everything so my strategy was to get the first AK-E that I could get and move ahead from there. Note, PSA packed it well. It comes in this foam lined box and note the little buffer on the end of the charging handle to keep it from poking through the packaging.
Yeah, it’s really red! Note the AK-74 style lightening cut on the stock. The wood is really light. I’m not sure what they used but when you pull the stock, it is surprisingly light.
You can see the little orange chamber flag they include. The front sight block (FSB) is a combination unit that includes the gas block. Because it is now set back, the brake is secured with a jam nut rather than the traditional detent pin that protrudes from the FSB. The rifle ships with one Magpul 30 round magazine. PSA has been teasing they are going to sell their own line of inexpensive AK magazines and I’m going to keep an eye out for that. Magpul is now on their third generation of AK magazine based on lessons learned for reliability and feedback/desires from the AK community.
You can see the handguards have a slight hand swell. An AKM-style optics rail is ready to go. The grip is basic but functional.
I could have done without the Palmetto logo on the side but at least it is relatively small. Note the good job they did on the rivets and the magazine stabilizer dimples. The bluing is nicely done. Fitment of the handguard is good as well.

The muzzle device has two ports on each side and is secured by a jam nut. PSA reports the thread is the standard 14mm x 1mm left hand thread that one would expect on an AK. That means you can use other muzzle devices if you want. I’m going to try and the supplied brake out first before I change anything.

Here’s a closer look of the combo front sight block (FSB). It’s pinned in place and looks good. Note there are no additional vent holes in the gas tube. Some AK variants have them and some don’t – it’s just an observation
Closer view of the side mount optics rail. You can also see the ALG AKT trigger and more of the nicely done rivets. By the way, the AK-E has the best out of the box trigger I have encountered. I’ve been an ALG fan for a few years now and am happy to see PSA use them.
Here’s a closer view of the trigger, selector stop, trigger guard and the magazine catch. Note the cracked pistol grip. I contacted customer service and they offered to either send me a replacement grip with the risk of the shade of red not matching or a $30 credit back to my card. I opted for the $30 credit as I did not plan on keeping it anyways.
Here’s the selector lever. You can also see the nickel-boron (Ni-B) coated bolt carrier. Folks, the rifle arrived unlubricated but it was one of the slickest actions I have felt out of the box. My Galil Ace was that smooth and my Vepr was after I lubricated it. Point being is the Ni-B coating definitely aided lubricity as one would expect.
Definitely a good looking AK.
The manufacturer info is forward of the mag well. You can see the Ni-B coated bolt carrier and part of the bolt itself. Also note that they dimpled the ejector to reinforce it.
The pistol grip is attached via a screw with a washer.

The rear sling mount. You can see the metal butt cap wrapping around the end.

Note the FSB does not have any provision for a cleaning rod. No big deal to me. I have never actually used the supplied cleaning rod on any of my AKs. I either use a Tipton cleaning rod or a bore snake. I honest prefer bore snakes at this point.

So those are my out of the box impressions. In my next post, I’ll begin tearing down and making much more detailed comments about the internals.

I hope you found this post interesting.


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 AK-E Part 1: Research

In 2019, I bought a PSA AK-V and really liked it. The little pistol caliber carbine was reliable, accurate and fun. I did an initial four blog posts about the purchase and then one on converting it.



Because I liked the AK-V so much, I started paying close attention to reports about the improved quality of the PSA AK line in general. I read the posts in the Facebook AK-47 group regularly and guys were reporting how happy they were with the GF3 series and the new AK-E that would be the PSA premium rifle with forged trunnions, nickel boron coated carrier and bolt plus a premium cold hammer forged barrel from FN. It definite caught my attention so I decided to monitor the situation.

Out Comes Rob Ski’s Videos

Rob is the creator and host of AK Operator’s Union’s video series. He was born in Poland and served in the Polish Land Forces as an infantryman. Then, when his family immigrated to the United States, he joined the US Army and was a paratrooper. In short folks, he’s the real deal when it comes to his opinions and experiences. If you’d like to read more, click here to read a 2014 interview.

Some people like Rob and some don’t – I like Rob. I think he’s a character and like his videos. I also respect his opinions. At any rate, he did a series of videos on the AK-E and the first one caught my eye because of the title “I hate new Palmetto State Armory AKE” – here it is:

He then posted an update after 2,000 rounds:

One at 3,000 rounds

After even more rounds and after pouring in a bunch of sand while it was running, accurate and Rob was impressed.

Well, between the Facebook group and Rob, I ordered my AK-E and will post about taking it out of the box next.


Please note that all images were extracted from the video and are the property of their respective owner.

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 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:

Assembling a Beryl-ish AK From a WBP Kit – Part 1

It’s been a couple of years since I last had time to build an AK and definitely felt the need to catch up. Contrary to what some may think, the majority of guys who like building guns aren’t trying to bypass laws – they genuinely enjoy it. Think of it as being similar to building a model but this one can go “bang” 🙂

I think I got bit by the AK builder bug in 2006 after reading an article in Shotgun News by Steven Matthews about building AKs. The rest, as they say, is history. At the time, you could buy a kit for $50 if you shopped around then after the barrel ban went into effect, the prices just went up and up. Now, with the advent of US and foreign barrels plus businesses that are selling kits with headspaced barrel assemblies, prices are relatively affordable. They are still far higher than years ago, but you can build your own entry level AK for about $500 and then the prices just go up and up.

At this point I have to answer the question “Why do it when you can buy a complete AK rifle for the same amount or less?” In short, you get to control as much of the quality as you want is the answer. Like anything, someone can always figure out how to make an AK cheaper but that doesn’t mean better. Frankly, some of the US-made AKs are total pieces of shit if you will pardon my French and complete honesty. The internet abounds with stories of busted US made parts and hack assembly jobs. Really, the only AKs I would recommend are going to come from custom or semi-custom shops like Two Rivers Arms, Jim Fuller’s Rifle Dynamics, Jim Roberts, Krebs and so forth.

Certainly there are good foreign made AKs but even they can have quality control moments. Zastava can make excellent AKs if they choose to is one example. Russian Molots are my all time favorite but they are banned from further import though there seems to be a ton of them still for sale and prices haven’t gone up much. Bulgarian AKs can be good and that is one reason K-Var can charge what they do. One country with a long AK history that not all American’s know about is Poland. It would be cool if they start selling more models into the US- market but at least Arms of America is bringing in a wide variety of kits right now.

So that brings me full circle. Why do I want to build vs. buy? Because I like building them and I can make an AK do just about anything I want it to at this point. I’ve done rivet, screw and weld builds. I’ve built Romanian, Hungarian, Polish and Yugoslavian AKs and RPKs. I’ve done traditional looking builds and over-the-top “tacticool mall ninja this thing is way too heavy” builds. Seriously, I kind of went nuts with a Hungarian AMD-65 about 10 years ago and put on a quad rail with a red dot, laser, light vertical fore grip and bipod. The thing was so heavy that it literally taught me that just because you can add something on does not mean you should – it takes time and energy to bring something that heavy up into position and also to stop it once on target.

I’m not saying I know everything. I’m just saying I know my way around the AK platform well enough to build what I want. The hardest thing for me is finding the time between my day job, family and Ronin’s Grips. So, an interesting opportunity presented itself because I had Polish Beryl furniture, Childers Guns sells Polish receivers and Arms of America (AoA) had a cool kit for sale. It was a WBP 7.62×39 kit with a Polish chrome-lined Cold Hammer Forged (CHF) barrel that is arguably, and it will start arguments, one of the best AKM-style barrels you can buy right now. The kit included a solid-steel Bery-style optics rail that goes over the dust cover and for about $670. This appealed to me because I already owned the Beryl handguards, was getting ready to release our version of the modern Beryl grip and, separately, AofA was selling a collapsing Beryl stock that is a unique looking beast for sure.

So, I got the wheels in motion and ordered the kit stock plus some translucent WBP mags from AoA, a RRD-4C brake from JMac customs, an ALG trigger and a Vortex Crossfire Red Dot. I ordered a completed 100% receiver from Childers Guns and had it sent to my FFL and good friend, Scott Igert, of Modern Antique Firearms.

Once it all arrived, it was time to start.


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.