Over a three day training course with Pete Milionis at The Site, I have reached a new level of understanding of how to set up my rifle for serious training. There are a lot of products on the market to make your AK look really cool, or “tacticool,” but are you really being practical? If you want to train and learn how to operate your rifle, you should avoid being tacticool, and try to be more practical.
I am going to try to define what I feel is tactical and what is practical. Tactical refers to enhancements to a rifle that will include features that make it better for combat or give the operator an advantage. This may include parts that add rails, optics, lights, lasers, or make a weapon more flexible for different environments. I find that tactical does not always mean it is practical. Practical is something that works, but does not include features that restrict the operator, or reduce the weapons usefulness. Sometimes practical is simple.
With all the rail systems, stocks, and grips, and magazines on the market I decided to keep my rifle simple, its weight down, and test out features that work well for left handed shooters.
I choose the Magpul MOE handguards which worked well for gripping and shooting. I decided that a forward rail system did not make sense for me. I did not want to add a lot of weight to the rifle, and I did not have a use for the rails. Magpul MOE handguards are very simple, and you can add a light, QD stud, or another tactical feature to them using the M-LOK mounting system.
If you are going to train and shoot a lot, get yourself some gloves to keep the heat off your hand. Don’t let anyone tell you that if you use this handguard over the next handguard you will not feel any heat.
The Magpul MOE+ grip is very well designed and is an excellent practical upgrade. The Hogue grip is also very practical, and absorbs a lot of recoil.
Shooting left handed presented a challenge, as I wanted to use a single point sling, so I decided to try the Rifle Dynamics M4 stock adapter the VLTOR adapter with a Magpul ACS-L stock. The VLTOR adapter comes with a mil-spec buffer tube, and I used a PWS enhanced buffer tube with the Rifle Dynamics adapter. I took my modification to another level due to shooting left handed, but right handers would be better served using a more simple setup. The Zhukov-S is nice, but I want to say it may be less practical for training. The most practical stock to use would be the Magpul MOE fixed stock.
What magazine to use is a very touchy subject, and all magazines tested during training had zero issues. Not one magazine failed and not one broke from dropping them on the ground. This is an area that we really need to explore, and discount all the opinions that are out there. I ran a mix of steel, steel reinforced, and standard composite. Pro-Mag, Magpul, Bulgarian, Hungarian Steel, Russian Bakelite, Polish Steel and whatever other surplus I had mixed in my pack were fully loaded with 30rds per magazine. Find the magazine that fits your rifle, and decide if you want to spend $30 per magazine, or be more practical and spend $10-13 per magazine. I prefer to let the other guy buy $300 worth of magazines while I spend $130 and have $170 left over for good quality beer after a hard day of training.
I want to end this blog with the most important part of training. Coming from a civilian background, the people you are training with are the most important part of training. I have made new friends and friends that encourage you to succeed. When you are a civilian, you may not have the natural skills needed for tactical shooting. You develop these skills because your friends provide encouragement, advice, and are patient. Without good friends, who will provide you cover during a reload?