Tag Archives: AK47

Why Does the Color of Grips and Handguards From Ronin’s Grips Fade And What To Do About It?

I’ve had guys ask why the color of my grips or handguards seem to fade with time. The short answer is that it has to do with the liquid wax finish oxidizing and not the plastic – the color is actually in the plastic. You see, we sand every grip and handguard to get rid of mold imperfections and then we blast each with abrasive media (currently it’s Black Beauty or Black Magic depending in the store I go to) and that turns the plastic almost white as you can see in the photo above. We blast the surface to create a very sure grip when you grab hold – your hand doesn’t slide easily. The polished finish we used to do resulted in a surface that is slick when wet due to sweat, water, blood, etc.

So, the blasting abrades the surface and messes up the colors being reflected back to your eyes. To solve this problem, I tried a ton of different oils and waxes and the best was Atsko Sno-Seal. It really brought out the color and it did not fade – or at least I never saw it fade. The problem is that Sno-Seal is a paste wax and I have carpal tunnel. Rubbing it into grips and handguards every day over and over was killing by wrists so I had to stop it.

This pushed me back to the drawing board and this time I looked at liquid waxes. Some of them really smelled as the liquids evaporated and the best option I could find find was the various butcher’s block finishes that combine mineral oil and a wax – often a bee’s wax. This stuff goes on like a dream but does fade with time. There’s nothing wrong with the color – it’s just the finish oxidizing and drying out.

What to do about the fading?

As mentioned above, the finish I apply will fade. The good news is that the owner with a number of options and I’ll shorten it down to the four I recommend:

  1. Buy Sno-Seal and apply it. This stuff is awesome for boots and I actually had it for my boots when I tested it. It’s my #1 recommendation and what I do for furniture I make for myself.
  2. Shoe polish holds up really well and you can nudge the colors/hues one direction or another depending on the color of the wax. This goes on pretty easy and seems to last. Just buff it well so you don’t get any color on your hand. I’ve had very good luck with Kiwi products.
  3. Any fine wax for boots, leather, wood or preservation ought to work. Just follow the directions. Absolutely do not use super thick floor wax or it will be a disaster as one customer found out.
  4. Put another coat of butcher’s block conditioner on it. Easy to apply but it will not last.
Atsko Sno-Seal is my #1 choice. Kiwi shoe polish works great. Howard’s Butcher Block Conditioner is what I use in production and is also what fades with time.

How to Apply Sno-Seal

My first recommendation to customers is always Sno-Seal. It takes just a little it to polish a grip or handguard plus you can use it to waterproof your boots.

I did this corner at room temperature and you can tell it takes a bit more effort to rub it in and buff it off.

You can either warm it up on your hand and then rub it in or you can use a heat source to warm up the grip or handguard just a bit – meaning warm to the touch not hot – and it goes on even easier. When I did the M72 hanguard set shown, for example, it was warm after about a minute and 20 seconds in our microwave. You rub the wax in and buff it off – done.

Hello Mr. Microwave! You can optionally warm your piece of furniture up with a microwave, oven turned on at 150F or less, hair dryer, etc. You want it to be warm, not hot. If you can’t pick it up, it’s way too hot. The plastic will not begin to deflect until around 250F and there’s no way you can pick that up hence the rule of thumb. [Click here if you want to read about a heat test we did]
So here’s the finished handguard set after I buffed off the remaining wax.

Again, if you ask me what I do for my own grips and handguards, it’s Sno-Seal and I rarely use extra heat – usually just I just warm it up with my hands and rub it in. Sno-Seal lasts the best of anything I have found.

I hope this helps you out.


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Add Length of Pull to a Yugo M70, M72 or M76 Wood Buttstock WIth A Limbsaver Recoil Pad

Normally, I like the length of the Yugo M70 and M72 buttstocks. They’re shorter than many Western fixed stock designs but I’ve just grown accustomed to the length of pull (LOP). Recently, I had Two Rivers Arms build me a M76 designated marksman’s rifle (DMR) and found the stock to be a tad shorter than what I wanted to get in position behind the big Vortex Hog Hunter scope I had bought for it.

Two Rivers Arms custom built Yugo M76 rifle with a RS!Regulate scope mount and Vortex Hog Hunter scope. The UTG rings have been replaced with an American Defense mount and the cheek piece will be replaced but you can get an idea that this is a big rifle and a big optic.

I realized that to make the LOP longer, I had two options. My normal route with an AK is to install a stock adapter and either go to some form of modular stock. In the case of the M76, I really wanted to stick with the original wood. The brought be to my second option – to add a recoil pad.

There are a ton of recoil pads on the market but as far as I know, nobody makes a direct replacement recoil pad for the Yugo military rifles other than me and my pad is a copy of the original. This gives you two options also – either cut the stock and install a “grind to fit” pad that would ruin the original stock or to go with a slip on pad.

Slip on recoil pads are designed to fit a certain range of buttstock sizes based on the height and width. They may not be the best looking of options but they get the job done and don’t require any modifications to the underlying stock — plus for folks who don’t like messing with tools – they can be slid on and off usually very easily.

End of Buttstock Size for Yugo M70B1, M72B1, and M76 Rifles

Zastava made the Yugo rifles but is now in Serbia and makes both commercial and military rifles. The dimensions I am about to give so you can get the proper pad only apply to he military rifles. If you have a Zastava N-PAP for example, your stock is much smaller and I don’t know the dimensions.

If you do have a military sized Yugo M70B1, M72B1 or M76 then the following should sizes should be approximately right:

  • Top to bottom of the buttstock overall: 4.48″ so just under 4-1/2″
  • Left to right at the widest point: 1.29″ so just under 1-1/3″

So that means a slip on buttpad needs to accomodate those dimensions and will slide right over the original recoil pad as well.

Limbsaver by Sims Vibration Labs

Years ago, I happened across Limbsaver recoil pads and started using them more than Pachmayr, which is another leading brand. I’ve had very good luck with Limbsaver so they were my go-to when it came to the M76.

They have a new Air-Tech series that adds 1″ to the LOP and is also remarkably spongy to absorb the recoil. The M76 really doesn’t have a ton of recoil so my decision was more based on the 1″ LOP.

The AirTech slip on pad comes in four sizes:

  • “Small” fits stocks measuring 4-1/2 x 1-1/2 inches to 4-13/16 x 1-5/8 inches
  • “Small/Medium” fits stocks measuring 4-5/8 x 1-9/16 inches to 5-1/8 x 1-3/4 inches
  • “Medium” fits stocks measuring 4-13/16 x 1-5/8 inches to 5-1/8″ x 1-3/4 inches
  • “Large” fits stocks measuring 5-1/8 x 1-3/4 inches to 5-3/8 x 1-7/8 inches

Given those dimensions, I opted to buy the “small” size and it fit beautifully.

The small-sized pad slid right on and fits nice and snug.

I actually wish they had a pad that added about 1/2-3/4″ of pull as that would be perfect. The end result is just a tad longer than what I would dial in with an adjustable Magpul PRS stock but it definitely feels better when I start lining up behind the scope. It’s staying on the rifle!


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What To Do When Your AK’s Barrel Is Too Big For Your Front Trunnion?

A few years ago, I bought a 1969 Polish Radom Circle 11 AKM kit from Arms of America. It has laminate furniture, matching parts and they populated a new Polish Chrome Hammer Forged (CHF) barrel with the front, gas and rear sight blocks. Furthermore, it was headspaced. I double checked that before I pushed out the barrel pin and then the barrel – that’s where things got interesting.

Pressing Out The Barrel

I have a 30 ton H-style hydraulic press with a 20 ton air-over-hydraulic bottle. The thing is a brute and have used it many, many times over the years on gun and car projects. There are a few things you learn over the years – 20 tons is 40,000 pounds and is a serious amount of pressure – steel parts can bend, break or even shatter under those loads. You learn to go slow, watch carefully feel the pump and listen. I also learned long ago to use the air to move the ram quickly but always do the real work by hand for those very reasons – I’ve bent the crap out of stuff in years past because you can’t tell what is going on.

I wear a full face shield when working with a press. I’m not joking when I say things can go bad fast when there is a lot of pressure. When you push out a barrel, you just don’t expect a ton of pressure from a new kit – at least I don’t. I’ve had some real hairy barrel pins and barrels in years past when dealing with surplus… but not on a new kit with a populated barrel … not until now.

Pressing Out the Barrel

As you can guess, the barrel did not press out easily. I had to apply a boatload pressure – way more than average. So much that I put a 3/4″ piece of plywood between me and the trunnion/barrel assembly. I was also checking and double-checking that my barrel press tool squarely on just the barrel and not a part of the trunnion – guys I was nervous.

I reached the point where I knew I was squarely on the barrel and something had to give. I was whacking on the press trying to shock the barrel out and I kept upping the pressure – pump, whack, pump, whack… Finally the barrel came free like a gun shot. Guys- do you remember the old Romy kits where the pins and barrels sometimes felt like you were taking your life into your own hands? That’s what this felt like.

I actually inspected the front trunnion very carefully looking for cracks. I then inspected the chamber end of the barrel – nice and smooth – remarkably smooth. No signs of galling. Ditto on the inside of the trunnion. I suspect that someone was using some kind of press system that included a barrel support and slammed that new barrel in using a level of force I couldn’t do without damaging parts. I noted to myself that reassembly was probably going to be just as colorful.

Building The Kit

Nothing new about building the kit – I had fun. In the below photo, the front trunnion and rivets are just sitting there. I was mocking things up and they are not actually set. I installed the trigger guard taking care to orient the selector stop properly and using a rubber band to keep the assembly together as I used my press and an AK-Builder trigger guard rivet jig to do the job.

The rubber band keeps the receiver down on the trigger guard jig so the rivet, selector stop and trigger guard all stay in place while you move around. The AK-Builder jig really does a nice job.
Here, everything is drilled and seems good to go.

So let’s get back to the main point of this blog post and why you are probably reading this – what do you do when the interference fit is too tight and the barrel will not go into the trunnion all the way.

Life Got Colorful Trying to Press The Barrel Back In

Yeah, that tight fit came back to haunt me. I tried polishing the trunnion and applying non-seize. Usually this works for me but when I went to press the barrel back in, it would not go. I saw the barrel begin to deflect in the press and immediately stopped. Let me explain what I mean by deflect – a material will bend so much and spring back into place. When I saw the barrel begin to deflect, I immediately stopped – it was taking way too much pressure and I was risking bending the barrel permanently. It was time to press the barrel back out and rethink the situation.

Here’s my barrel and my receiver. I double-checked the barrel to make sure I did not bend it – I got lucky. I always get worried if I see the barrel start to deflect/bend — they don’t always return to true.

So, what this confirmed for me was the someone slammed this thing together – hard. An AK barrel is press fit into the trunnion. To do this, the barrel is a tad bigger than the hole made for it in the trunnion by about 0.0010-.0026″ (0 .025-0.065mm) according to Robert Forbus who is a true machinist and has shared a ton with the AK community – click here for his page). At the tighter end (around 0.002″) it is getting hard, if not outright impossible, for someone to press the barrel into the front trunnion without the proper specialized barrel press equipment that supports the barrel. I have a big press but nothing to properly support the barrel in these high-pressure situations. It would likely warp like a wet noodle if I just kept adding pressure.

I don’t own a machine shop but I am a redneck with a shop. I needed to open up the barrel channel in the trunnion and opted to use an OEM brand brake hone. Why? Because I’ve used these small bore hones in the past for other things and was pretty sure it would work for this too.

I also need to point out that I have no way to accurately measure the barrel or the trunnion so I figured I would remove a bit and try to install the barrel, remove a bit and try, over and over until it went in. The next picture shows my OEM hone (and the Lisle is virtually identical):

This is an OEM Tool brand brake hone and the Lisle unit looks virtually identical.

Take a look at the above picture – by tightening the knurled nut at the base of the spring, you can apply more and more pressure to the 220-grit stones at the end of the arms. (The Lisle tool’s stones are 240 grit purely FYI – not a big difference.) I just used the basic pressure and did not increase it. Life lesson for me years ago – it’s easier to take more material off than it is to put it back on.

I applied cutting oil to the trunnion liberally and then slid the hone in and out with my drill on slow speed. I would do this for a bit, clean stuff, and then tested how far the barrel goes into the trunnion by hand and then keep removing more. This is not the time or place to get impatient.

By the way, OEM makes fine 400 grit stones that you can swap into place and use to polish the interior further if you . I got the job done with the 220 grit stones and silver Permatex anti-seize compound. If I ad the 400 grit stones handy at the time, I would have done so but I did not. Also, be sure to clean out the grit/dust before you try to reinsert your barrel.

My one action photo and it was blurry! You get the idea. Keep it lubed with the cutting oil and keep moving the unit in and out so you are polishing the whole barrel channel.

This is a down and dirty “git ‘er done” approach and will make machinists cringe. I go slow and test — I would push the barrel in, test and the press it back out if need be. [Click here to see how to make a barrel backout tool].

*IF* you see a bur or squished rivet protruding in the trunnion, then carefully grind that down with a Dremel and polish with the hone. Don’t try to do it all with the hone or you will be removing material elsewhere that you may need – the arms are spring loaded and independent so they will go where ever they can. This is a pro and con.

After a couple of tries, the barrel went all the way in with the press. To be safe, I confirmed the head space using real Manson brand 7.62×39 gages (use real gages folks and treat them well – don’t go cheap). The barrel headspaced just fine so I pressed in the pin and finished the rifle up.

Bottom line, a brake hone can help you carefully remove steel from the front trunnion and get a tight fitting barrel to go in. It worked wonders on this 1969 cold warrior that is now ready to go to the range.

The 1969 Polish AKM rebuilt and ready for the range!
The rifle is wearing one of our Polish Tantal/AKM grips as a 922r compliance part – we make them by hand here in Michigan from a glass fiber reinforced polymer.

Click here to learn more and order one of our Polish Tantal/AKM grips.


One of our fire control group retaining plates. that fits all AKMs and rifles that use standard AKM fire control groups.

It also has an ALG fire control group – they are awesome triggers – and one of our fire control group retaining plates. Click here for our fire control group retaining plates.


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Video: How to build an AK47 from scratch part 6 (the last part) by usmcdoc14

This is his last video in the six part series.  He recaps what he did and shares with you some of his tips for sandblasting such as putting foam earplugs in the chamber.

Here are the links to each segment – when you click on them they will open in a new tab:


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Video: How to build an AK47 from scratch part 4 by usmcdoc14

In this fourth installment, you can see usmcdoc14’s welding results and he discusses how to trim the top rails.  Note, a lot of flats and receivers now have pre-cut top rails so you only need to trim them if they look like what you see in the video – big, wide and straight.

Here are the links to each segment – when you click on them they will open in a new tab:


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.