Written by Matthew Sommer
The robust design of the Kalashnikov platform lends to the fact it is still in use today on the battlefield (Namely in the hands of our enemies). This type of rifle will be fielded for years to come. Why? Simply put, it works. Now I’m not here to start a platform debate, let’s put that aside and look at the merits of the AK platform.
Back in the day you bought an AK and kept it stock. There was not enough interest or companies on the market that even took a second look at that heap. Nowadays you can get so many bells and whistles for your Kalashnikov that you can set it up to run exactly like an AR. I’m talking bolt hold open features, left side charging handles, straight insert mags (no rock & lock), one hand control safeties and magazine releases, adjustable stocks, etc. Point is if you want it, it’s probably out there.
Most accuracy out of an AK is well within acceptable range for a battlefield rifle. I’ve even heard of updated open sight systems where people are doing 1MOA with wolf ammo. Yes, WOLF! On top of that the Kalashnikov comes in many flavors – 5.45x39mm, 7.62x39mm, 5.56x45mm, .308Win, 7.62x54R, .410 or 12 gauge. Throughout all these calibers the AK remains reliable.
Personally I was always the guy who liked the traditional look and thought I would only be putting lipstick on a pig if I modified my AK. However since working at ROBAR my eyes have been opened as it were. Starting with the fundamentals of a good working rifle, it should be reliable, have good sights you can see, and a trigger you can manage without moving the sights. Well, reliability is why you chose the AK so we’re good there.
So on to what I did to improve my personal AK. First wanting quick combat accuracy I choose to upgrade the rifle by putting a red dot optic on it. This makes getting on target much easier, especially in high stress situation. Most AKs have a side mount for optics although some will not. I rather like having either a rail or scout style mount fixed to the front trunnion some fashion. I also replace the backup irons with a front stripe tritium sight from XS and had ROBAR U-notch the rear sight. I chose to replaced the wood furniture with a set of aftermarket grips from Hogue.
Our head rifle smith developed a way to eliminate the take up and over travel of the AK stock trigger which usually feels like a smooth double action revolver pull in standard configuration. After the trigger job the standard AK trigger had a nice crisp light release (better than some nice aftermarket AR triggers I have handled). Put all that together with some beautiful Poly-T2 and NP3 Plus internals and you have an unstoppable bullet hose.
If you are not familiar with the Automat Kalashnikov (AK) I recommend picking one up, sending it to ROBAR for a work up, and giving it a run. If for nothing else they can be extremely fun.
Mikhail Kalashnikov died December 23rd 2013, at the age 94.