You can Easily Remove A Side Rail Scope Mount But The Receiver Is Going To Look Butt Ugly

The Kalashnikov design team took an interesting approach to mounting scopes on AK-Rifles. Rather than centering the optic over the bore they placed a mounting rail on the side of the receiver. There are different types depending on the model of rifle in question but one thing that pops up from time to time is whether one can be removed.

The short answer is yes. Now I add in the “but” – it is going to leave you with a receiver that not only has holes in it but receiver material that was forced into a countersink so you will have at least the center rivet area on the sheet metal receiver that will probably stick out like a little volcano taunting you.

Center punch and drill out the rivets. The rear rivet is an it depends – it may either be short like you see with the AK-74 or attached via the long rear trunnion rivet. You may want to start with an 1/8″ drill and go up to 5/32″. The rear trunnion if it has a large rear trunnion rivet in it will be 4.5mm and I actually use a 4.5mm cobalt bit on that one to free up the side rail. Some guys who don’t have a 4.5mm bit will use an 11/64″ drill bit instead – it’s 4.366mm. I’ll do another post about trunnions but unless you are running a drill or mill that you know is true to the table and work piece, do not try and drill the rivet out entirely from one side, I go about half way in from each side and punch out the remainder or use an air hammer to chase out the rivet with an 1/8″ drift pin but that’s a topic for another day.
You can see the receiver material that was forced into the center hole. It really shows how secure riveting can be with countersunk rivets and holes.

So, yes, you can drill out the rivets and use the scope mount on other rifles. The question becomes what to do with the source receiver. If it is getting destroyed then this is a non issue – follow whatever your procedures are to file a destroyed receiver/firearm record with the ATF provided it was serialized and registered to begin with unlike rifles built from a blank, etc.

Now if you want to keep the receiver, the recommeendation would give is to put a thick copper backing plate behind the holes, weld them shut and then sand the result flush. For the holes with the cones, if you have any, grind/mill them down flush first and then do the same – copper backing plate, weld the holes shut and then sand flush.

You’ll need to refinish at least the receiver and the bluing on the steel welds typically doesn’t blend with bluing on the receiver so you may want to just refinish the whole thing if you care about it looking good.

Looking at the back of the side rail is fascinating. The whole indexing of the scope rail starts with the front rivet of the rear trunnion. and then having an equal distance from the top of the receiver to the top of the side rail. Now this one is flopped 180 degrees compared to the receiver under it but look at the accomodations they have for thee selector lever and center support pin of the receiver. This is off a WASR-10 and is an AKM style plate but interestingly the rear trunnion was a split AK-74 style with two small short rivets in front on the two legs of the trunnion and a long rear trunnion vs. the ccommon AKM approach of two long rivets securing the rear trunnion. The machining is crude but it did the job. The AK-Builder plates are virtually identical but far better machined and finished. If I needed to use an AKM side rail, that’s what I would get.

Summary

Yeah, you can remove the side rail but if you plan to continue to use the receiver, you’ll need to weld the holes closed, sand, and refinish the weapon. I’m very impressed by the design they came up with – it spreads forces across the sheet metal receiver and allows ready access to the dust cover and internals if required.


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