Tag Archives: AK

Cleaning and Tuning IMI Galil 5.56 Magazines

I have written a number of posts now about my purchase of a James River Armory Gallant, which is a Galil ARM wherein they provided a new US made receiver, barrel and pistol grip. They wanted to keep their costs down so the remaining three parts they needed for 922r compliance was to use a US-made Tapco Galil Magazine that is polymer and looks nothing like the original not to mention they are no longer being made!

The top mag is a polymer Tapco and the bottom is an original IMI surplus 35 round mag.

I wanted to use IMI surplus steel 35-round magazines that not only are the authentic ones to use but they are abundantly available. That meant I had to replace three more parts on the Gallant and the easiest is to swap the original Galil fire control group (the hammer, trigger and disconnector) with a US made group. The ALG AKT-EL is perfect for the job so I ordered one from PSA and installed it (click here for the big blog post I did about it). Next up was to source, clean and tune some original IMI Galil Mags, which is what this post will be about.

Finding the Mags

You can find surplus steel 35 round IMI Galil mags all over the place at websites that deal with surplus and gun parts. I bought all of mine from Numrich and they are in great shape at a fair price but you can also find them at Apex Gun Parts, Robert RTG, Aim Surplus and other places.

Numrich is a good firm to deal with. A few days after I ordered, a box showed up with my mags. Keep reading through because you do need to do some work.

Cleaning and Lubricating

Ok, these are surplus and they have been moved all over. Most feel like they have something on them for corrosion and are sticky. Some have a slightly dirty feel as dust and what not have stuck to the surfaces.

Do NOT try to use the magazines as-is. Take a few minutes to clean and lubricate them.

The bottom piece of sheet metal is the floor plate. Put a small blade screwdriver in the right end and pry while pushing down the locking tab you see sticking out in the middle. With the tab out of the way the base plate will come off and then the spring loaded internals are going to come flying out. To avoid this, pull the floor plate off about half way and then use your free hand to secure the internals as you remove the floor plate the rest of the way.
Once you have them all apart. you’re going to have a table like this.
I cleaned everything with brake cleaner and let it dry.
The parkerized finish did not let the follower slide as easy as I would like so I coated the inside of the magazine, follower, and spring with Super Lube Dri-Film Lubricant. Basically it is a PTFE (Teflon) in a solvent. So, you spray it on, the solvent evaporates and a film of PTFE remains. I like this because it lubricates without attracting dirt.
The white are the PTFE particles left after evaporation. All you need to care about is the inside. This is just extra that leaked out and I thought it would help to show what it looks like. Super Lube sounds like an infomercial brand but their lubricants are really good. The PTFE made a remarkable difference in how smooth the follower moved. Parkerized surfaces are rough and either they need to wear in or have something like PTFE to help.
To clean them up and make them look nice, I apply silicone spray and then wipe it off with a towel. I then let them evaporate for a while.

Fitting the Mags

Out of the eight mags I bought, three of them needed some help as they would not seat fully. In these cases, modify the magazine. If you told me none fit, I would look at the mag catch but in this case most fit so the issue was the mags.

I did not have a problem with any feed lips. The problems were all with the strip of sheet metal that is holding the mag catch tab. If you look close, it’s the strip hitting the receiver that is blocking seating the mag fully.
To resolve the issue, I used a small flap sander on my Dremel and put a beveled edge on the strip where it was hitting. Problem solved.

To do any testing with dummy rounds – not live rounds. I use A-Zoom brand dummy rounds, just FYI and I also was using my surplus steel Galil mags at this point because my 922r parts count was being met thanks to the new fire control group.

To test, I loaded up 10 of the blue A-Zoom snap caps and made sure they would cycle. In terms of hand feeding and extracting, I have to say JRA nailed it. The action was smooth and the Gallant fed from the surplus mags just as smoothly as the Tapco mag.

The mags look and function great as a result. Some of the mags did require some fitting so let me explain that next.

In Summary:

I can now use surplus mags like I wanted thanks to the ALG fire control group and these cleaned up mags. I hope this post 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.

Function Testing an IMI Galil / JRA Gallant

Let me open with this comment:

ALWAYS Function Test Before You Go To The Range With a New or Modified Galil or AK Rifle or Pistol!!

Seriously – don’t wait to go to the range to do this. You can find out a lot of things at home with all your tools and supplies on hand vs. being somewhere wishing you were home.

Before function testing, I clean and lube the rifle. I like to use Super Lube grease during break in on all sliding surfaces and a few drops of Super Lube liquid lubricant on anything that rotates.

Use whatever your favorite bore cleaner is to clean out the barrel and the chamber. You will be surprised to see all of the dirt / dust / junk that comes out of a new barrel. Just because a given weapon is “new” does not mean it is clean.

Function Testing

First, I just test the mechanism without mags or dummy rounds. You can find out a lot by doing this and I do it without the dust cover on so I can see what is going on:

  1. Pull the bolt bolt carrier back and let it go. It should slam home without binding or sticking. If it does, try cycling the action 10-20 times and see if it smooths out. Some guys will cycle their AK a couple of hundred times before the range to smooth things out. I tend to find they are okay after a few dozen cyclings with lubrication or I need to take it apart and fix something such as a burr or rough surface.
  2. Pull the trigger, you should see it be released and it should firmly whack the firing pin. If it seems lame, the spring may be worn out or broken. I would recommend converting over to an ALG fire control group (PSA sells a custom version of the ALG-EKT that will work fine in any Galil or AK rifle – they are in stock and at a great price) and replace both the hammer and disconnector springs (the ALG will come with the disconnector spring but not the main hammer spring. ALG sells them and that’s what I use but I prefer the double wound spring model vs. the single spring unit they also sell. The Russians went with a double or “spiral wound” spring to increase the fault tolerance risk of a single spring breaking).
  3. Something unique to Galils is that they have a spring loaded firing pin whereas regular AKs just have a floating firing pin in the bolt body. You can get into arguments about this one. AKs work fine without a spring but you do have a risk of a pin sticking out or slamming home with enough force to cause a sensitive primer to detonate and cause a misfire. Thus some like putting a spring in the bolt that forces the firing pin backwards to reduce the odds of a misfire. Others will argue there is more risk of debris causing the spring to jam or the spring itself breaking and jamming the pin. Folks, this is like arguing Chevy vs. Ford – you aren’t going to convince a staunch believer of one side or the other that you are right and he is wrong. The Galil is not the only firearm design to do this and they work just fine. At any rate, just make sure the pin does not stay stuck out on a Galil. You should be able to push the exposed firing pin at the back of the bolt and both see and feel it freely move.
  4. Next, cycle the bolt carrier to cock the hammer, engage the safety lever next to block the trigger and try to squeeze the trigger – you should not be able to pull the trigger and have it fire. If you can then you will need to adjust the gap between the trigger and safety bar. With the ALG, this means you trimmed off too much, need to remove the first roll pin and start over with the second. If you don’t have an ALG, you will need to decide if you want to weld on some material onto the trigger leg or safety bar and then trim to fit.
  5. This next one tests the disconnector – with the trigger pulled back, cycle the action and you should see the hammer get caught/captured by the disconnector. When you let go of the trigger, the hammer should switch from the disconnector to the front hammer hooks on the trigger. This is a fascinating display of geometry. Now, if the disconnector does not catch the hammer or release it, you may need a new disconnector spring or have forgotten to install the spring.

Photos of the Bolt

This is the rear of the unique Galil spring loaded firing pin. Other AK variants do not have this. Put a drop or two of oil on the back side and let the lubricant run in. When you push on this button, it should depress and return smoothly and easily. If it sticks, it needs to be disassembled, inspected and cleaned to be safe. The reason I bring this up is that if the other end of the pin is sticking out of the bolt face, it will fire a primer when the bolt slams into a cartridge at some point of the feeding process.
I make sure the extractor at the top can move freely in and out. It has a fairly stiff spring in there so a cartridge’s rim slides against the ramped face of the extractor pushing it out of way until it snaps back into the slot of the extractor slot of the 5.56 NATO cartridge. Note the brass coloring. The Galil ARM parts kit that JRA used to assemble this Gallant saw a lot of use. I did headspace it also just to be safe and it was properly headspaced by JRA.

Next, do the above with magazines and with dummy rounds – not live rounds. I use A-Zoom brand dummy rounds, just FYI and I also was using my surplus steel Galil mags at this point because my 922r parts count was being met thanks to the new fire control group.

Comments about the above:

  • When it comes to step one above, I want to see the dummy round get stripped from the magazine and be fed up into the chamber nice and smooth. I will do this 10-20x to make sure it looks good. Things that can mess this up are: magazine not seating fully, bent magazine feed lips, no bullet guide installed, needing a slight radius at the start of the chamber to help line up cartridges, or if you bent the receiver while building or using the rifle (I’ve done both over the years so it happens.
  • When I am cycling the rifle, does it stall/slow down at any point during the feeding of the ammo? Guess what? The Gallant failed this – the old surplus spring was too weak and I replaced it with an ALG spring – (Any AKM spring will work even though the Galil is 5.56 NATO and the AKMs are 7.6×39).

I then Install the dust cover and make sure that nothing is binding. At this point, your rifle should be good for testing at the range. Always, always, always test combinations of ammo and magazines on a given weapon before you rely on them. Do the function testing and take them to the range.

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.

Shimming The Loose Handguard on my IMI Galil / JRA Gallant

Second on the list of things I needed to fix right after the buttstock was the loose handguard.  It’s a personal preference thing but I don’t like handgurds that wiggle and this thing could move front to back as well as side to side.  The reason this happens is usually because the handguard retaining slot on the barrel was cut too far forward such that the cam lever on the retainer couldn’t push the handguard far enough backward.

I expected thiss. Classic Firearms, and presumably James River Arms (JRA) were up front in the product listing that the handguard would probably be loose and it was.  Thankfully, from years of working on AK rifles, I knew I had a number of options:

  • I could weld the handguard retainer channel closed on the barrel and cut a new one.  Pro – the right way to do it. Con – would take more time than I wanted to invest.
  • Some guys will add layers of epoxy liquid or putty inside the retainer but I am not a huge fan of that one due to the epoxy getting warm and likely breaking down under the relatively sharp edge of the sheet metal nose of the Galil handguard.
  • I could extend the front edge of the handguard retainer by building it up with small welds.  Pro – easier than redoing the barrel channel. Con – would take more time than I wanted plus it’s really hot out and welding did not sound pleasant.
  • I could fabricate some shims and insert them into the handguard retainer. Pro – an age old method with soliders putting everything from  wood and gum wrappers to folded steel and aluminum cans in there Cons – can fall out when you remove the handguard.

I opted for the fourth one and decided to make shims.  You’ll notice a common theme – I do not have a ton of time and am dancing around the battle worn theme with the rifle leaning more towards the newer end of the spectrum vs. extremely worn.

To shim a handguard, I prefer a metal vs. wood, paper or plastic as they tend to all break down with time.  An age old trick on the AK community is to take an aluminum soda or beer can and then cut either into strips or in an approximate shape that fits inside the retainer.

The shape of the Galil handguard added a bit of a challenge in that it is a “U” shaped piece of sheet metal that slides into the retainer.  The front edge is relatively thin vs. the old days of a big thick piece of wood or plastic going into the retainer. This approach can be seen elsewhere also such as in modern Bulgarian and Russian handguards.

So, given the shapes of the handguard and the retainer,I decided to cut two strips that would closely fit between the barrel and the inside lip of the retainer and also be sufficiently think to secure the handguard.  Given the “U” shape I was betting that I would get enough support from the left and right sides and that I would not need to worry about supporting the bottom.

I measured the gap from the barrel to the inside wall/edge of the retainer on the left and right sides and it was about 6mm (0.236″).  That meant I needed something that either started at a 1/4″ and grind it down or find something closer to 6mm.

My first try was to look for 6mm wide shim sets and none was to be had. A shim set or shim assortment is a collection of steel of varying thicknesses so you can combine whatever thicknesses you neeed to get your final thickness plus you cut them to what is needed.

I ordered in a steel shim assortment set as I haven’t needed any for quite a long time.  I also scrounged around for what sheet metal I had in stock.  I had some rediculously thick 16 (0.0598″) and 18 (0.0478″)  gauge pieces plus a good sized piece of 22 gauge (0.0299″) sheet metal.  I decided to start with the 22 gauge set and fine tune with the shim assortment but a bigger question was forming – what did I have to cut this stuff cleanly that wouldn’t make a big mess.

Good old fashioned sheet metal shears / tin snips were an option but I’ve never been that consitent with the things.  I had an air nibbler that I could set up with a straight edge to cut strips … and then it dawned on that I had a Harbor Freight 14 gauge swivel head double cut sheer (item #92115) that might do the trick and – here’s the plus – it cuts a metal strip out of the source stock to avoid deformation. 

I dug the thing out and lubed the cutter. It had probably been at least a year since I had used it. Guess what?  That “waste” strip turned out to be about 6mm and gave me what I needed.

Here’s the business end of the double cut shear. Note the strip it cuts out. I just ran it into the stock with a straight edge just to keep the donor sheet clean and had all I needed and then some in a few seconds of actual cutting.

Plain 22 gauge sheet metal is 0.029″ thick and I knew I had a fair sized gap to address so I tried folding it in half and then trimmed to to fit in each side of the handguard. The best way I found for test fitting was to clamp the whole rifle with the muzzle down in my big woodworking vise. From there I could rest the shims in the handguard retainer, insert the handguard and pull up on everything trying to get the locking lever to flip.

Much to my surprise, that double thickness of the sheet metal worked perfectly. I had expected to get close and then keep adding pieces of shim stock until I had a solid lock up.

The next thing I had to consider was how to hold the shims in place when I normally assembled the rifle. I decided to keep things simple – I super glued them in. My reasoning was that I rarely take off handguards and if the two shims fell out in the future I could glue them back.

These are the two shims. Notice I made them as long as I could for each siide but I did not make one for the bottom and that has not proven to be a problem thus far.

Now one thing was still bugging me – there was too much movement left to right in the retainer as well. What I did to fix that was to glue a shim on on the outside edge of one part of the metal handguard’s front steel U-shaped nose.

Here is the single 22 ga shim I needed to stop lateral movement.
It turned out that the shim was visible in the gap between the retainer and the handguard,  I wound up painting it with some of the Rustoleum Satin Black pain also.
With the shim painted black, you don’t even know it is there.

The Results

The handguard is now rock solid. I decided not to change the wood at all. I really like the coloring and for me it’s really part of the iconic look of this rifle.

With the handguard done, next up was to switch the fire control group to an ALG enhanced set so I can have the appropriate 922r parts count and be able to use some of the cool IMI surplus mags that are out there.

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.

Replacing the IMI Galil / JRA Gallant’s Fire Control Group with a New ALG AKT-EL set

The AR, ARM and SAR IMI Galil rifles use an AK-style fire control group. I didn’t include the little Micro Galil as I am not sure about them. For the others though, this means you can swap out the IMI-designed group for the AK group of your choice.

I needed to do this because my JRA Gallant (which is a kit assembled rifle using an IMI Galil ARM kit) came with a single Tapco plastic Galil magazine and I wanted to use steel surplus magazines. Now, there is a regulation known as 922r that requires a foreign rifle not approved for importation into the US (read that as military style weapons typically like AKs, Uzis, etc.) certain number of American made parts to be legal based on a list the ATF came up with. In the case of the Galils, you need to replace 6 parts.

The Gallant has American made: receiver, barrel, and pistol grip. The Tapco magazine gave it the other three. To use the surplus mags, I needed to replace another three – the trigger, disconnector and hammer. I like ALG triggers and while I prefer the Ultra, the Enhanced trigger is still really good. Let me give you a tip – you can get a great deal on enhanced ALG triggers from Palmetto (PSA).

The Thumb Selector

There are two unique parts to the Galil design that you need to bear in mind. First, the thumb selector lever is actually connected to the selector lever inside the receiver. This leads us to the second item – because of the thumb lever, the very popular fire control group plates can’t be used to secure the hammer and trigger pins so don’t lose whatever wire retainer comes with your weapon. If you do lose/need one, get a Dissident Arms AK retaining wire.

Starting from the right edge of the receiver, you can see the grip nut on the bottom. The selector lever and thumb extension are two parts located above it. You can then see selector, and the hammer retained by the twin hooks of the trigger. Note the two part springs IMI used – in an AK, there is a single fire control spring that does double duty to both handle the hammer and the trigger. With the Galil, the hammer spring is a twisted wire design but there is a unique dedicated trigger spring. Purely from a redundancy perspective, I prefer the braided AK spring the handles both. I am not too sure how the Galil design would fair if the trigger spring failed on one side. It is secured on both trigger forks independently so…. not sure how well it would work if one side failed.

Remove the IMI Group

First off, remove the dust cover. Next, remove the recoil spring and bolt assembly. You can then look down right at the innards of the rifle.

The dust cover is off and you can see the recoil spring assembly and the back of the bolt carrier. Both of these plus the pistol grip will need to be removed so you can then remove the selector lever, thumb selector and, finally, the fire control group.

Remove the pistol grip by unscrewing the grip screw on the bottom. You can then have enough room to swing the selector lever so the notch in the receiver will allow you to remove the lever from the left side.

To remove the hammer and trigger pins, you must first remove whatever retaining wire the builder used. JRA used this really elegantly simple retaining wire where you push it up off the hammer pin and then can push it back and remove it from the trigger pin.

The retaining clip’s front edge is just to the right of the braided hammer spring. I inserted a small screw drive and pried upward and the clip came right off. Now not all builds use this same type of clip but it is wonderfully simple.
This is a close up of the retaining wire and one of the fire control group pins. The pins are the same for the hammer and the trigger. The rear of the retainer that looks like a semi-circle goes into the trigger pin’s groove and then the wire is rotated down and pressed onto the hammer. The small lip on that part allows the pin to flex and snap into place into the groove of the hammer pin. It’s really quite elegant. Yes, I realize my bench cover is messy.
Last photo of the retaining wire. It also gives you a good look at the really beefy double hook trigger that the Galil uses. If it weren’t for 922r, I would have left it in. Note the orientation of the hammer spring.

You can either remove the hammer first and then the trigger or vice versa because the springs are independent. I removed the hammer first .

Here’s the hammer. Note the short dedicated spring. If installed, the legs would be rotated clockwise 180 degrees.
The hammer face is polished smooth allowing for the bolt carrier to pass over it very easily. I suspect the JRA builder did this because it is uniform. When forearms “wear in” and the parts get to know each other, you see a polishing of sorts. If this was done by wear then it is surprisingly uniform. Again, if it weren’t for 922r and my wanting to use surplus mags, I would have run with it.
After having a few “where did that part go?” moments over the years, I now use magnetic trays and put small parts in them. I have a variety of sizes that I’ve picked up over the years and they really make keeping track of parts easier.
For whatever reason, IMI opted to use a single strand wire for the trigger. It’s fairly fault tolerant – if one side breaks the other would still provide some function but I do find it an interesting departure from the typical AK where the legs of the hammer spring provide the pressure to reset the trigger. At any rate, the spring shown goes into a small hole in the trigger on each side.
To remove the spring, use a small blade screwdriver. Insert the head between the wire and trigger and twist to remove the spring from the hole. Do this on each side and then the trigger pin can be pushed out. The pin will be under tension so don’t try beating on it before you release the spring.
Here’s a good look at the trigger group. Top left is the trigger. It is a double hook design (meaning it has a hook on each front side to grab the hammer). You can see one of the unique holes drilled in the hook to hold the trigger spring. To the right of it is the unique IMI Galil trigger spring – single wound. In the middle is the disconnector and the spring is still in the body – those can weaken over time. At the bottom is the trigger axis pin.

Install the ALG Group

Despite the unique springs in the Galil, any AKM (AK Modern) fire control group will work in there – Tapco, Fime, ALG, etc. Right now, my favorite AK triggers are from ALG.

As a bit of background, ALG is the sister company of Geissele Automatics who make my favorite AR triggers. ALG are the initials of Amy Lynn Geissele (the wife of Bill Geissele who founded Geiselle Automatics). ALG was founded in 2012.

At any rate, ALG makes two AK triggers and both count towards three 922r parts (hammer, disconnector and the trigger each get one point). The AK Trigger Ultimate with Lightning Bow (AKT-UL) is hands down my favorite. It’s light, crisp and my preferred trigger for a designated marksman’s rifle (DMR) build.

When I can’t find or afford the AKT-UL, I use the AK Trigger Enhanced with Lightning Bow (AKT-EL). It’s still far, far better than the typical OEM AK trigger and works just great for normal AK builds. Normally you can find these triggers very easily but not right now – at least not from most normal suppliers who carry them unless you are willing to sign up for in stock notifications and wait.

COVID-19 variants, democrats handing out free money incentivizing people not to work and continued panic buying have just snarled supply chains everywhere. Trying to find some parts can just be a bear an ALG triggers for an AK are a good example but I am going to let you in on a little secret.

As I mentioned earlier, Palmetto State Armory (PSA) buys tons of modified ALG triggers for use in their various AK pattern rifles plus they make the triggers available for sale on their website (click here to go to the PSA page). These triggers work just fine in other AKs and in Galils. Not only are they almost always in stock – I can’t think of a time they were not when I needed them – but they are only $59.99. Folks, you can’t beat that. Bottom line, that is what I am running in my JRA Gallant and it ought to work in any Galil build.

This is the PSA version of the EKT-UL. It runs just fine in a Galil/Gallant.
To help smooth things out, I always put a rubberized polishing bit in my Dremel and polish all surfaces that will make contact – the area on the hammer where the hooks and disconnector grab, the bottom of the hooks and the bottom of the disconnector. I can’t stress this enough – you just want to lightly polish. You absolutely do NOT want to remove material or you will likely mess up the functioning of the trigger. Never use sand paper. I like rubber polishing bits but felt bobs with polishing compound work also.
The fastest lowest stress way to install an AK trigger is to use a slave pin during assembly. You put the spring in the disconnector, position the disconnector in the trigger and then push in the slave pin told hold it all together. Then, when you install the actual trigger pin with the assembly in the rifle, the slave pin exits the other wise as it is pushed out by the trigger pin being inserted. It just so happens that we make and sell them. Click here to go to our store’s page.
In case you aren’t familiar with AKs, note the orientation of the hammer spring. It can be a bear to install due to the torque the spring is generating. The legs of the spring set on the back legs/bars of the trigger.
By the way, here’s a little trick for you when you do install a hammer – use a small zip tie to secure the legs of the spring in the proper orientation. Get the hammer in place with the pin installed and then cut the zip tie. Note the positioning of the spring in the photo above so you can zip tie it accordingly.
One thing with the ALG triggers, they supply you two roll pins in case you need to adjust the gap between the back leg of the trigger and the selector/safety lever. The hole you see above and to the left of the disconnector is where the roll pin goes if you need it. I installed the hammer and trigger and tried testing. Without the pin, like you see it right now, the safety does not sufficiently block the trigger and it will fire. In other words, it needs the pin or there will be no safety mechanism.
The fastest way I have found to install that roll pin is to tap it far enough to start and then fully seat it with a vise. You can do whatever you’d like. It will need trimming from here.
You can use a file, sanding drum or whatever to remove enough material so the height of the pin allows the safety bar to move into position easily but also no longer allows the trigger to move enough to release the hammer. The ALG trigger comes with two pins just in case but my recommendation is to just take your time, remove a little and test over and over until it fits just right. You can’t tell from the photos but I think it took me around six tries to get it to fit right. Don’t rush is the message.
I like the design of the Gallan’t fire control pin retaining wire clip so I used that. Normally with AKs, I use plates but the big Galil does have a unique non-operating/left-side to accommodate the thumb lever so a normal plate will not work. Again, I like the clip JRA made and used it (I still use it actually).

Now, there is one gotcha and I want you to know right now very clearly before you pull your hair out. The ALG trigger is slightly wider so the leading edge of the original IMI Galil grip will cause it to bind. I did all the testing without the grip and then when I installed it, the trigger no longer worked right. Seriously, I had a WTF moment because this does not happen on AKs … then I remembered the long part of the Galil grip and sure enough it was preventing the trigger from rotating freely.

It’s an odd angle but you can clearly see where the grip was causing the ALG to bind. I just removed a bit of material from that leading edge and it was good to go. In hindsight, I could have used a drum sander on a Dremel and just removed material from the inside edge where the problem was. I used my belt sander and that’s the only reason I removed material all the way across. I’ll go the Dremel route next time.


So that’s an overview of installing the ALG fire control group in a Galil. It’s really straight forward and other than few small unique features of the Galil, it’s a straight forward swap just like any AK.

Up next, I will go over cleaning the surplus Galil mags and getting them ready.

Note, I will do a function testing post also – always clean, lube and function test a Galil or AK before you take it to the range to avoid surprises.

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.

Replacing the JRA Gallant’s Buttstock and Refinishing It

The first thing I decided to do was to replace the buttstock and it was purely for cosmetics – the original locked up solid and did the job. I happen to have two SAR kits that I hope to build some day so I could look at them and pick parts. It just so happened that one of the SAR kits had a stock that was in much, much better shape.

The buttstock assembly I planned to use came from a SAR kit I had. The barrel stub has the night sight and I was thinking of moving the flip sight to the Gallant but changed my mind. I figured I could at a later date should I want to but I also realistically knew I would never need them. My goal was to get the Gallant into the shape I wanted it – not to build a perfect replica.

A Galil buttstock is press fit into the rear of the rear of the receiver and held in place by a roll pin that goes through each side of the receiver.

To remove the stock, first punch out the pin using a roll pin punch. These punches have a small round hemisphere in the middle that sits inside the roll pin and the shoulder of the punch rests on the walls on the pin that enables for the punch to properly drive out the pin with even support all the way aroud.

The SAR receiver stub is supported by a bench block and I am using a roll pin punch with a hammer to drive the roll pin straight out. I used a 3/8″ brass rod and hammer to drive the stock out of the stub and also out of the Gallant’s receiver.

To drive the stock back out of the receiver, I would recommend a 3/8″ brass rod cut to whatever length you want/need. Before the brass rid, I tried a hardwood dowel but the end simply broke apart against the metal insert. The stronger brass rod and a hammer made quick work of pushing the stock back out without harming the surrounding steel.

Here is the stock that came with the Gallant. I used the 3/8″ brass rod and ball pein hammer to drive/knock the butt stock out of the receiver .

I used a rubber dead blow hammer and whacked the new stock back into position. I had locked the stock in the open position and was striking the buttplate that I planned on refinishing anways.

One challenge was that tnew stock’s holes did not line up with the receiver’s holes so. I egged the hole slightly and filled the gap with epoxy, If I ever want to improve the looks, I’ll either weld the holes shut and re-drill them or go to the next size larger roll pin. I guess I just figured they would line up given it was Israeli but it’s not a big deal.

In terms of preparing the replacement stock, I used 0000 steel wool to smooth the horizontal polymer rod. and then applied Rustoleum Satin Black on the metal. What was on both stocks seemed to be something enamalish so I opted to brush on a finish using a foam brush. I did two coats at let it dry for a day before I handled it. Note, bore solvents and what not will probably attack the Rustoleoum so I’ll just try to minimize contact for now.

It came out better than I expected but it was shinier than I wanted. I let the paint harden for a couple more days and then I used 0000 steel wool to knock down the shine. What happens is that the very fine steel wool immparts very small scratches to the surface thus removing the shine. If I had it do do over, I would still use Rusoleum but I would have used flat black. If I really wanted to go nuts, I could have taken everything apart, blasted and parked the steel surface, apply Molyresin or Cerakote, bake it and then reassemble.

The first coat of Rustoleum Satin Black is on the two aluminum portions of the buttstock – the lower angled tube and the rear. The top is some form of black polymer that I ran over with 0000 steel wool. Note how shiny the paint is. After it had a few days to harden I then knocked down the shine by lightly going over it also with 0000 steel wool.

Again, my goal was to roughly stick with a batte worn look vs brand new from the factory. If I ever change my mind, I can always go that route also. A friend once told me that once you get into building guns, it’s kind of like Barbie Dress Up for men. You can change all kinds of stuff whenever you want and your two big constraints will always be time and money.

It came out pretty good. I left the steel folder surfaces alone.

So, the final product look came out pretty good – I wanted “worn and mismatched” and that’s what I stil had. Just a tad bit more to my taste. Next up was to fix the handguards so they weren’t so loose.

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.

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Trevor’s Cool Zastava ZPAP M70

Trevor sent me a photo of the Zastava M70 that he modified:

He provided the following info on it:

  • The furniture is from ironwood designs – it has a Tabuk-style buttstock with an AK-74 style handguard set
  • The recoil pad and lower handguard ferrule are from us (Ronin’s Grips)
  • The magazine is Serbian
  • The sling is Yugoslavian surplus
  • The brake is a J-Comp from Strike Industries
  • The rifle is a new Zastava ZPAP M70

It looks great Trevor!

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What Are Good Commercial AKs You Can Buy In The USA?

If you ever want to start an argument on the Internet, ask what is the best AK brand you can buy in the US or at least ask what is good a good brand. You’ll get a ton of opinions, hear say and even a few people with real experience will chime in.

Paul Popov is the admin of the AK-47 Group on Facebook and an avid AK hobbyist and industry tracker. He also runs a website called the Kalash Connection where he maintain information about AKs.

The other day he sat down and took the time to create what I will refer to as “Paul’s List” to try and answer that question above:

Current 12-12-20
Question one: What new Ak do I buy?
Current new production mass market AKs that are proven and a safe bet.
· Arsenal,
· Century imported WASR or Draco
· IWI Galil ACE,
· K-USA KP9p/r,
· M&M Cugir AKs,
· Palmetto State Armory GF3 – up, GF4, 103, AKv, 74 (the only 74 in new prod),
· Riley Defense is hammer forged where it counts, should be ok? (test is not completed, ammo is expensive currently for just putting rounds through one for testing)
· WBP Poland. Still pretty new, hard to say on this one. Maybe ok
· Zastava should be ok, the ones Century imported were hit and miss. New ones have chrome lined barrels (yay and about time) and lets hope better metallurgy than Century imports.
o Atlantic firearms often have decent kit builds to purchase, but are not mfg. new AKs. So do many kit builders, we have a list in announcements along with a list of where you can buy kits from.
o Please let me know if I forgot any.

·Question two: What are good used AKs to buy?
This is a great list Darryn Eugene compiled.
AK variant buyers guide (models and variants G2G)
7.62×39 AKm/47 Variants
· Mitchell Arms Imports, M-90/m-70
· Mitchell Arms Imports, M-72
· Zastava M-92 (inspect due to varying QC)
· Zastava NPAP/OPAP (inspect due to varying QC)
· Cugir/Romarm/Century AES-10B not to be confused with AES-10 (basically a long barreled wasr)
· Cugir/Romarm/Century Sar-1
· Cugir/Romarm/Century Cur-1
· Cugir/Romarm/Century Wum-1 (check for “moon cuts” meaning a dish shaped portion cut out of the rear of the receiver to dissuade the use military stocks.
· Cugir/Romarm/Century WASR-10 variants (only upon inspection)
· Cugir/Romarm/INTRAC Romak-1
· Cugir/Romarm/INTRAC Romak-991 (dimple-less single stack pre WASR import.
· FEG/Hungary/KBI/Kassnar Sa-85 variants post and pre ban.
· FEG/Hungary/TGI Amd-65 builds (not to be confused with Clearview Investments builds)
· Valmet, Literally any of them they’re all excellent.
· Arsenal of Bulgaria/Las Vegas/Legion SLR 107 variants, SAM-7 Variants, SLR 101 Variants, SGL-21 Variants
· BlueRidge/GordonTech/INTRAC SLR100h builds (Hungarian Type3 AK-55 kits on Bulgarian Receivers)
· Norinco/Polytech AK47S series.
· Norinco/Polytech MAK90 series milled and stamped models. (on stamped models identify whether it is slant cut or straight when figuring your price to pay.
· Norinco/Polyech NHM-91
· Norinco/Polytech MAK-91 (20-inch barrel milled receiver rifle, neutered Polyech legend national match).
· Norinco/Polytech Hunters. (great for galil/valmet conversion)
· GSAD/Kengs/Siles Type 56, AK47S
· Molot Vepr 1&2 models (model 2’s being the integrated front sight gas block set up)
· Robinson Arms Molot Vepr Conversions
· IWI Galil Ace series.
· Izhmash Saiga series.
· Intrac Maadi ARM
· Century Maadi MISR SA (avoid MISR 90)
· Intrac Maadi RPM, RML
· Steyr Maadi
5.45×39 AK-74 Variants
· Cugir/Romarm/Century SAR-2
· Cugir/Romarm/INTRAC MK-2
· Cugir/Romarm/Ratmil WUM-2
· Cugir/Romarm/Ratmil CUR-2
· 1st Gen Waffen Werks (identified by Nodak Spud receivers and Bulgarian barrels)
· Arsenal of Bulgaria/Las Vegas SLR 105-104 variants
· Arsenal of Bulgaria/Las Vegas/Legion FIME SGL 31 variants.
· Marcolmar/InRange Ak-74/AKS-74
· Molot Vepr 1&2 Series
· Robinson Arms Molot Vepr Conversions
· Interams Tantal
· Izhmash Saiga Variants
AK-101/5.56 Ak variants
· Romarm/Cugir/Century SAR-3
· Royal Tiger/FB Radom/ Beryl Archer
· Arsenal Of Bulgaria/ Las Vegas SLR 106 series ( research serial number prefixes to identify potential problemed models)
· Izhmash Saiga Variants
· Norinco/Polyech 84S
· Norinco/Polytech NHM-90
· Norinco/Polytech BWK-92
· Zastava/Century M85 (cannot verify quality of m85NP series)
· Mitchell Arms M-90
· Arsenal USA (not to be confused with KVAR) K100 model. (Bulgarian milled receiver assembled with Bulgarian 5.56 barrel on 74 parts.
· Arsenal Of Bulgaria SAM-5
· IMI/IWI Galil and Galil ACE variants
· TENN Galil builds.
· Valmet M72/65 variants.
· Valmet Bullpup. M82? Can’t recall model during time of this list. And yes i know i could use google. Don’t judge me…

So for all you folks new to AKs, take a look a the above. The last AK I bought was an IWI Galil Ace and they are superb.

Also, be sure to check out Paul’s site at: https://thekalashconnection.com

I hope this helps!

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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:

Will A Bulgy ARM9 Grip Fit An IMI Galil? The Notch Is Definitely Different

A recurring question I get is if a Bulgarian ARM-9 grip can be used on an IMI Galil rifle. Not easily is my answer and I took a bunch of photos so you can decide for yourself. You would need to add black epoxy to the inside back of the ARM in order to Dremel or mill it open further to duplicate the swing of the Galil’s lever – at least that’s how it looks to me because I don’t own an IMI Galil to experiment with.

So, here are some photos so you can see what I mean:

Note the difference in the shape of the ARM-9 grip’s notch on the left vs. the IMI Galil’s notch on the right
Here are the notches even closer.
Here’s the ARM sitting on top of the Galil for another perspective.
Here’s where you can see that the ARM-9’s original wall design is hollow behind the notch. It’s not an impossible change – if you were to abrasive blast the inside of the ARM grip and then use wax stripper, you could then fill that back in with black epoxy. It wouldn’t be an exact color match by any means.


So there you have it. They are different and definitely not a simple swap with out doing some epoxy work and then maybe a top coat of some finish if you want the colors to match. I hope this helps you out as you think through your options.

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.