By Marco Vorobiev
Photos by Brendan Vorobiev
Marco Vorobiev was a member of the elite Soviet Spetsnaz in Afghanistan in the 1980s. He's a U.S. citizen now and conducts training courses that draw on his special forces training. He'll have a new installment every Wednesday.
So, I had my new AK-74 all "railed" up in effort to mimic the new Russian AK-12's mounting options. As a result the I.O., Inc. AK-74 started to look some what similar to the new Russian rifle. But to look similar is one thing to function like one is something totally different. With this in mind my next objectives attack were the controls: the pistol grip, magazine latch, safety and charging handle.
The new AK-12 assault rifle came with ambidextrous and ergonomic controls that were departure from the traditional AK style operating controls. It features an ergonomic pistol grip, button-operated magazine release coupled with the traditional latch, reversible charging handle and thumb safety and a rate of fire lever that is located on both sides making the gun ambidextrous.
I would address all of these features one by one starting with simplest. First, I wasn't going to be concerned with ambidextrous ability for my AK-74. It is already uniquely suited for a left-handed shooter utilizing the American (SWAT) style of shooting. The bigger problem was adapting the controls to suit a righty. I moved on to the simplest: the pistol grip.
After searching the Web, the closest thing I came up with was the Hogue AK Grip I found on amazon.com for $17. All the hardware came in the kit and it took me total of three minutes to swap the PG on the AK-74. The Hogue grip fit like a glove and felt great.
Next was the quick magazine release. Another Internet find provided the solution in the way of an EMA Tactical AKMR AK 47 Ambidextrous Magazine Release for $14 from AIM Surplus. Once again the AME release lever installed in minutes onto the original AK latch with three set screws holding it in place solid. I've checked the functionality of the new mag release and was pleased with such a simple and functioning device.
The last but not least feature was the safety lever that can be operated without taking your shooting hand off the pistol grip. Personally I have never had a problem with the original AK safety, as in my case my experiences had me take it off once and put it back on after the firefight was over.
However, I also understood that it did not fit well with the modern American style of carbine shooting. Therefore, I solicited the MK VI-S Enhanced AK Selector Lever from Krebs Custom. It dropped right in place of the original lever in seconds. I had to play around with the tension to make the new Krebs lever work smoothly. After a few moments, I had it where I wanted.
That was it. I was done with the controls. I was able to add desired ergonomics to the standard AK by replacing the pistol grip and added enhanced AK-12 controllability by installing a couple of simple parts. Now I could drop mags using my right index finger and operate the safety using the same digit without taking my right hand off the PG.
Granted, my improvements did not look like the ones on the AK-12, but they functioned the same and in spirit of practical functionality they matched those of the new gun pretty closely.
I did not forget about the charging handle. I just ignored it this time, as it is a subject of the next week's post.
New AK-12 Rifle
The designers of the new AK-12 rifle addressed the AK's ergonomics by introducing a new set of controls. Now, a shooter doesn't need to take his hand off the ergonomic pistol grip.
AK Pistol Grip Options
Though there are plenty of AK pistol grip options, Vorobiev selected the Hogue AK Grip as the most comfortable for himself, and as the closest visual match to the AK-12 grip.
Ambidextrous Magazine Release
EMA Tactical's AKMR AK 47 Ambidextrous Magazine Release is a simple enough device. Made of tough plastic, it mounts on the original magazine latch tang and lets you release mags with either hand.
EMA Tactical AKMR AK 47 Magazine Release
After installation, Vorobiev checked for functionality. The EMA Tactical AKMR AK 47 Magazine Release worked great. It released the latch and mag freely dropped every time.
MK VI-S Enhanced AK Selector Lever
The MK VI-S Enhanced AK Selector Lever from Krebs Custom adds a crucial detail to the original AK lever, the index finger tang. Vorobiev thought it would be useful only at heavily regulated DNR ranges.
Krebs Custom Lever
The Krebs Custom Lever installed into the test gun just like any AK lever would. Vorobiev had to play around with the tension against the receiver until he got it functioning just right.
Controls of the new AK-12
In the end, Vorobiev got most of the controls of the new AK-12 or at least their functionality replicated with components already available on the U.S. domestic accessory market.