SUPRESSING AN AK

BUILDER'S GUIDE

Recoil - - Front Page - BY DAVE MER­RILL

Want to si­lence an AK? You have an up­hill battle. Back in Is­sue 26, we cov­ered a pair of ded­i­cated AK si­lencers — one from Gemtech and an­other from Dead

Air. Since that time, a hand­ful of other pur­pose-built Kalash­nikov sup­pres­sors have been re­leased, but what if you don’t want to buy a si­lencer specif­i­cally for an AK? That’s what this ar­ti­cle is for.

Chances are, if some­one only owns one si­lencer, it’s ei­ther for 22LR or for 7.62N — this piece is for those who fall into the lat­ter cat­e­gory. A 7.62N si­lencer as a “do all” is a very com­mon first NFA pur­chase. The ra­tio­nale be­hind a 7.62N can is pretty sim­ple: com­pa­nies typ­i­cally ad­ver­tise them as be­ing good for 5.56 and other smaller calibers as well.

But if you want to use your nor­mal 7.62N si­lencer, un­doubt­edly not de­signed for AKs, there’s some work you have to do to over­come the is­sues. Threads are of­ten not con­cen­tric to the bore — blame

Soviet pre­ci­sion. Rarely is an AK thread pat­tern read­ily avail­able in your stan­dard fare si­lencer, and there’s no shoul­der to speak of for a si­lencer to seat against. AKs are al­ready so over gassed; adding back­pres­sure from a si­lencer just makes it a heav­ily re­coil­ing mess.

And yet, it can still be done. We’ll show you a va­ri­ety of ways to over­come these is­sues, all while us­ing your nor­mal 7.62N si­lencer. These meth­ods can each be used piece­meal, or you can com­bine them. Be­fore head­ing to your work­bench, be fore­warned that not all sup­pres­sor com­pa­nies will honor their war­ranties if used on an AK, for all of the rea­sons we’ve al­ready out­lined.

ADAPTERS

First and fore­most, we have to ad­dress the thread pat­terns on an AK. By far the most com­monly seen thread pat­tern on a 7.62x39 AK is 14x1LH, though 24mm x 1.5mm takes se­cond place, es­pe­cially with 5.45 AKs. Other thread­ing ex­ists, like 22mm (for Ro­ma­nian 5.45/5.56 guns) and 26mm specif­i­cally for some Yu­gosla­vian AKs.

Re­gard­less, your stan­dard 7.62N si­lencer is un­likely to come in one of these thread pat­terns.

For best re­sults, you should send your ri­fle in to be threaded prop­erly in 5/8x34 — but not only can this be costly, it’s also of­ten im­pos­si­ble. So you’re left with thread adapters.

But you can’t just buy the first $15 thread adapter you find on Amazon.

One ma­jor is­sue is that AKs don’t have a solid shoul­der to butt up against, in­stead uti­liz­ing a front sight block right at the end of the threads. Us­ing adapters, in gen­eral and on AKs in par­tic­u­lar, is a bad idea — you’re stack­ing tol­er­ances that you don’t want to and ex­po­nen­tially in­crease your chance of a baf­fle strike.

If you have to use a thread adapter or a cus­tom muz­zle de­vice for your pat­terned AK, use one that in­dexes on the muz­zle it­self and not on the front sight. We rec­om­mend the Grif­fin Ar­ma­ment thread adapter for gen­eral pur­poses, and not just some ran­dom one you found on­line cheap.

Take care to note that any spe­cial­ized quick dis­con­nect adapter threaded for an AK also should in­dex on the muz­zle, not the front sight.

If your thread adapter or muz­zle de­vice threads com­pletely on, in­dex­ing on the front sight in­stead of the muz­zle, it’s a poor choice for use with a sup­pres­sor. If you just want a muz­zle brake? Go with God. The main con­cern with sup­pres­sors is that any an­gu­lar de­vi­a­tion from the bore is ex­po­nen­tially ex­ac­er­bated the longer the de­vice that you at­tach. A stubby 1-inch brake may give you no is­sue, but the same can’t be said of a 6- or 10-inch si­lencer. COST: $60 TO $70

RODS

Even if your cho­sen si­lencer has a thread pat­tern that works di­rectly with your AK, you ab­so­lutely need to check align­ment be­fore fir­ing to en­sure you avoid a baf­fle strike and the shrap­nel that can come along with it. With an AR-15 or sim­i­lar, it’s a fairly straight­for­ward process to pull an up­per and eye­ball it, but the same can’t be done with an AK. Even if you strip every­thing down, the rear trun­nion will get in the way of a com­pletely straight view down the muz­zle.

So what can you do? Rod it.

Opin­ions vary on what align­ment rod to use, with Geis­sele gen­er­ally con­sid­ered the best and CNC War­rior rods as a se­cond. Some use pre­ci­sion drill rods from McMaster-Carr for the same pur­pose, though the tol­er­ances aren’t as pre­cise as Geis­sele’s of­fer­ings.

Af­ter mount­ing the si­lencer, insert the align­ment rod into the end of the sup­pres­sor and al­low it to fall to the bolt face of the ri­fle. If any point of the rod makes con­tact with the si­lencer — con­sider it a no-go and do not shoot the AK with the si­lencer at­tached.

If you’re us­ing ei­ther a 5.45 or

5.56 AK with a 7.62N si­lencer, you have a bit more wig­gle room for align­ment, but you still shouldn’t pull the trig­ger on a ri­fle that fails an align­ment test. AK-spe­cific si­lencers, such as the Dead Air Wolver­ine PBS-1, use baf­fles with aper­tures that get con­tin­u­ally larger fur­ther down the sup­pres­sor to help mitigate mis­align­ment — but even still, don’t shoot a gun that doesn’t pass a rudi­men­tary rod test.

COST: $19 TO $75

SPRING­ING IT

As men­tioned, AKs are gas hogs. Part of the myth­i­cal re­li­a­bil­ity of an AK-se­ries ri­fle stems from the fact that they tap so much gas from the bore, al­low­ing the bolt car­rier group to fully cy­cle even when ex­tremely fouled. At­tach­ing a si­lencer to the end ex­ac­er­bates this, with the back­pres­sure the si­lencer cre­ates push­ing gas not only through the pis­ton sys­tem, but also back through the bar­rel it­self.

This leads to greater re­coil and in­creased parts wear. No, re­gard­less of what you’ve read on a gun fo­rum some­place, the AK isn’t in­fal­li­ble and can and will break.

Adding heav­ier springs doesn’t solve the prob­lem of ex­ces­sive gas, but it does cut down on the symp­toms. The ad­di­tion of more ro­bust springs will not only re­duce re­coil and muz­zle rise, but will in­crease in­ter­nal parts longevity. While there are sev­eral op­tions, we’ve found the Snake­hound Ma­chine (SHM) spring kits to be fan­tas­tic for this pur­pose.

Not only do you re­ceive a much stronger re­coil spring in the pack, but also a ham­mer and ex­trac­tor spring (the lat­ter must be cut to fit). With most AKs, the SHM kits will work sup­pressed or un­sup­pressed, be­cause the AK-se­ries ri­fles have such a large op­er­a­tional win­dow.

Swap­ping re­coil springs on an AK may seem daunt­ing at first glance, but it’s ac­tu­ally a fairly easy process.

To re­place your re­coil spring:

1. Re­move the re­coil spring assem­bly. 2. Pull back on the spring and use a pair of vise grips to hold the re­coil spring to the rear.

3. Spread the two spring bars to re­move the end piece of the re­coil spring assem­bly.

4. Re­move the cur­rent re­coil spring (Watch out! It can fly off).

5. In­stall the new SHM re­coil spring and hold it to the rear with vise grips.

6. Spread spring bars apart to re­in­stall end piece.

7. Re­move vise grips and re­in­stall the parts.

Even if you choose an­other method for sup­press­ing an AK, the SHM spring up­grade should be used in con­junc­tion with it. COST: $25

BUF­FERS AND GAS BUSTERS

The in­creased gas from the ad­di­tion of a si­lencer means your bolt speed will be higher than usual.

While a stan­dard buf­fer setup will pro­tect your rear trun­nion from un­due wear from bolt cy­cling, it also re­duces some of the leaded gas rolling into your face.

But you can take it a step fur­ther.

A com­mon AR-15 mod is mak­ing a “DIY Gas Buster” charg­ing handle uti­liz­ing RTV sil­i­cone, and the same can be done with an AK. For this mod, all you need is a cheap AK buf­fer, some cook­ing spray, and black RTV sil­i­cone (com­monly avail­able at any auto parts store).

While red RTV sil­i­cone is most com­monly used on an AR, the black is more re­sis­tant to oil, so we uti­lize it for our pur­poses.

1. Field strip AK and de­grease.

2. In­stall buf­fer on re­coil spring assem­bly, in­stall back into BCG.

3. Spray rear trun­nion and in­side of top cover with cook­ing spray to act as a re­lease agent.

4. Gob the black RTV sil­i­cone onto the buf­fer and in/around rear trun­nion.

5. Re­place top cover.

6. Al­low sil­i­cone to cure for 24 to 48 hours.

7. Af­ter cur­ing, dis­as­sem­ble AK, re­move ex­cess cook­ing oil.

Ugly? Ab­so­lutely. Func­tional? You betcha. Gas to the face is sig­nif­i­cantly re­duced. COST: $18

GAS PIS­TONS

Ev­ery fix and so­lu­tion up to this point only ad­dresses the symp­toms and not the root causes. But not this one. The KNS ad­justable gas pis­ton al­lows gas to vent from the pis­ton it­self, slow­ing the movement of the BCG. Less parts wear and re­duced re­coil — what’s not to love? Well, a cou­ple of things:

At the time of this writ­ing, 19 dif­fer­ent pis­tons are avail­able cov­er­ing the vast ma­jor­ity of AK/AKM vari­ants. You’ll need to choose the one that cor­re­sponds to your ri­fle.

In or­der to in­stall the KNS gas pis­ton, the orig­i­nal pis­ton has to be re­moved.

For many guns, this just in­volves a punch and a hand drill. But if you’re un­lucky enough to have a pis­ton that’s welded in place, like many CAI im­ported guns, in­stal­la­tion is far more daunt­ing. There’s no guar­an­tee that you won’t de­stroy your bolt car­rier in the process of re­mov­ing a welded pis­ton, and many don’t con­sider it a worth­while ven­ture.

If you have a stan­dard pinned car­rier, re­moval of the OEM pis­ton and in­stal­la­tion of the KNS is fairly easy.

All you need is a vise, hand drill, 1/8inch punch, and 1/8-inch drill bit. OK, maybe a Dremel too.

1. Strip the BCG and put in a vise.

2. Lo­cate the rivet head; some­times you’ll have to re­move some fin­ish to find it.

3. Par­tially drill the rivet out, and use

the punch to com­pletely re­move.

4. Ro­tate out the OEM pis­ton.

5. In­stall the KNS pis­ton and se­cure with the in­cluded roll pin.

Af­ter in­stal­la­tion, the pis­ton has to be tuned. There are over 100 set­tings, so it may take you a bit of time to find your de­sired sweet spot. Also, bear in mind that the pis­ton will have to be ad­justed when tak­ing the si­lencer on or off for op­ti­mal per­for­mance. Note that since the gas is vented in­ter­nally, though car­rier speeds are re­duced, you’ll still get the ad­di­tional gas in your face.

COST: $149 TO $165

CUS­TOM GAS BLOCKS

This op­tion is for those more dar­ing-minded, as it in­volves per­ma­nent mod­i­fi­ca­tion to your ri­fle.

Un­like the KNS gas pis­ton, this mod­i­fi­ca­tion vents ex­cess gas to the

at­mos­phere, vir­tu­ally elim­i­nat­ing any gas to the face. But in ad­di­tion to per­ma­nent mod­i­fi­ca­tion and tun­ing, you’ll now have some small parts to keep track of.

1. Us­ing a #21 drill bit (5/32 is the clos­est frac­tional size), drill a hole in the gas block for­ward of the end of the gas pis­ton.

2. Thread the hole to 10/32, uti­liz­ing a qual­ity tap and handle.

3. Ob­tain sev­eral vented cup-point cap screws — McMaster-Carr sells a 10pack for $5.16 (PN 7573841421). Now it’s tun­ing time. Head to the range with the ri­fle and si­lencer of your choice, along with a set of num­bered drill bits and a cord­less drill. Since an AK is al­ready so vastly over gassed, there’s a de­cent chance it’ll run un­sup­pressed with just the stan­dard vented cap screw. If it doesn’t, ob­tain an un­vented cap screw from your lo­cal hard­ware store for un­sup­pressed use.

In­stall your sup­pres­sor and slowly open the hole in the vented cap screw un­til it re­li­ably cy­cles at the speed you de­sire. While we’d nor­mally ad­vo­cate for a drill press, it’s not prac­ti­cal for most to run to the range with them. A field ex­pe­di­ent method is to use a pair of vise grips to se­cure the vented cap screw while drilling.

If you make the hole too large? Well, maybe that’s why McMaster-Carr sells it in a 10-pack.

For our par­tic­u­lar ri­fle/si­lencer combo we have one cap screw for sup­pressed, and an­other for un­sup­pressed. The ex­tra screw, along with a hex key, is stored in a small baggy that con­ve­niently fits into the AK cleaning kit.

COST: $10

GAP (Good) The more par ts you stack, the more you in­crease your odds ofa baf fle strike. NO GAP (Bad)Al­ways en­sure your bore rod fits per fectly on thebolt face.

If any par t of the align­ment rod touches any par t of the si­lencer — no-go.

A pair of vise grips makes swap­ping in Snake­hound springs a snap. With­out them, you’re li­able to lose an eye.

Black RT V Sil­i­cone be­ing squished on as a seal against gas may look ugly — but it’s ef fec­tive. Not that the in­sides of AKs are prett y any way ... Hell, you prob­a­bly have half of this al­ready.

While drilling and tap­ping the gas block is the most ex treme op­tion, it can be per­formed with sim­ple tools.

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