7.62x39 AR

Recoil - - Contents - BY STEVEN KUO

In this is­sue of RE­COIL, we cel­e­brate the AK, in all its splen­dor and vari­a­tions. What bet­ter way to honor it than by build­ing a 7.62x39mm AR. And not one that takes weird un­re­li­able mags shaped like the let­ter J, but one that hap­pily feeds from the orig­i­nal ba­nana mag.

Bil­let Ri­fle Sys­tems of­fers a re­ceiver set tai­lor made for this build. The lower re­ceiver has a yawn­ing AK mag­well, a stain­less steel cross pin, and a pad­dle mag re­lease to ac­cept rock-n-lock mags like an AK-in­spired AR truly should. The up­per sports a sweet non-re­cip­ro­cat­ing side charg­ing handle, on the left side where prop­er­handed shoot­ers ex­pect it to be. BRS sells en­tire ri­fles too, but we wanted to roll our own AK trib­ute, so we used their up­per, lower, ac­tion spring, and cus­tom bolt car­rier group as the ba­sis for our build. Un­like CMMG’s 7.62x39 Mu­tant, with its stretched di­men­sions, BRS’s re­ceivers con­form to the stan­dard AR-15 foot­print — thus ex­plain­ing the slightly cramped trig­ger guard.

Our next se­lec­tion was Faxon’s ni­trided 16-inch bar­rel with mid-length gas sys­tem. BRS rec­om­mended open­ing up the gas port by a few thou­sandths of an inch for op­ti­mal func­tion. We topped the bar­rel off with a Sure­Fire muz­zle brake and sup­pres­sor adapter so we could at­tach a can for our next hog hunt.

An un­der-fold­ing stock wasn’t an op­tion, but we put a side-fold­ing stock on it with LAW Tac­ti­cal’s clever stock adapter. Mis­sion

First Tac­ti­cal’s butt­stock was both func­tional and evoca­tive of metal fold­ing stocks found on var­i­ous AK-pat­tern ri­fles. You can’t dis­charge the ri­fle with the stock folded, but it’s very handy for trans­port — and, let’s be hon­est, it looks cool and was per­fect for our AK theme.

When you picture an AK in your mind, we’d bet that it has wood fur­ni­ture. It took some dig­ging, but we found hand-fin­ished wal­nut rail pan­els and pis­tol grips from Black Wood USA; their mil­i­tary red fin­ish was per­fect for our theme. The M-LOK pan­els are a lit­tle chunky, a great match with Cen­tu­rion Arms’ very low-pro­file 15inch hand­guard.

On top, we at­tached a Bur­ris XTR II 1-5x scope with CQ mil ret­i­cle, a nice match for this ri­fle. We ini­tially put it in a QD mount but kept hit­ting the levers when work­ing the side-charg­ing handle; we switched to an Aero Pre­ci­sion mount, com­pletely smooth on the left side and very light and af­ford­able to boot. For backup iron sights, we mounted Sidewinder sights from Strike In­dus­tries, which flip out as 45-de­gree off­set sights or up as tra­di­tional sights.

The other parts, pins, and springs to com­plete the build we also got from Strike, ex­cept for the am­bidex­trous safety se­lec­tor from AIM Sur­plus. We also in­stalled a drop-in trig­ger but found it wouldn’t ig­nite the hard primers in 7.62x39mm ammo roughly 5 per­cent of the time. We swapped in a crisp HIPERFIRE Eclipse trig­ger, set­ting up its springs to de­liver more ham­mer en­ergy than stock, and the prob­lems went away.

Fi­nally, we al­ways in­stall a light and sling on ri­fles in­tended for use be­yond com­pe­ti­tion. The Sure­Fire M600DF scout light puts out 1,500 blind­ing lu­mens with its recharge­able 18650 bat­tery, mounted in a slick Im­pact Weapon Com­po­nents Thorn­tail2 mount, which pulls the light in tight against the hand­guard. A suit­ably aus­tere but func­tional Proctor sling with QD swivels fin­ished off the build.

At the range, we tried eight dif­fer­ent types of ammo, both do­mes­tic and im­ported. All ran per­fectly, aside from the light strikes be­fore we switched trig­gers. To as­sess ac­cu­racy po­ten­tial, we benched it with a Night­force at 40x — and it de­liv­ered 1 MOA five-shot groups with Fed­eral’s Pow­er­shok (the most ac­cu­rate load in our 7.62x39 ammo roundup in Is­sue 26) and Winch­ester’s Su­per-X ammo. Who says 7.62x39mm can’t be pre­cise? Other groups gen­er­ally ranged from

1.5 to 2.5 MOA, and most loads posted av­er­age muz­zle ve­loc­i­ties just over 2,300 fps on our Mag­ne­tospeed chrono­graph (at 92 de­grees F and 32-per­cent hu­mid­ity). As usual, the Mag­ne­tospeed proved its worth, as we strapped it to the hand­guard and left it there dur­ing ac­cu­racy test­ing while si­mul­ta­ne­ously cap­tur­ing ve­loc­ity data.

One item to note: BRS’s re­ceiver is tuned specif­i­cally for Mag­pul’s MOE AK PMAGs, which ran 100-per­cent in our test­ing. Mag­pul’s Gen M3 mag­a­zines sur­pris­ingly have slightly dif­fer­ent ge­om­e­try and wouldn’t quite clear the mag catch to lock in place. Some steel AK mag­a­zines would lock in, but ex­pe­ri­enced some feed­ing prob­lems. Bot­tom line — use MOE PMAGs with this gun, and it won’t let you down. Also, the bolt doesn’t lock back when empty, but nei­ther do AKs.

Weigh­ing in at 9.3 pounds un­loaded, the ri­fle han­dled beau­ti­fully and shot softer and flat­ter than we ex­pected for a 7.62x39. BRS spent a lot of ef­fort di­al­ing in their sys­tem, and it shows. With the Eclipse trig­ger set at 3 pounds, we ripped off smok­ing splits with huge grins on our faces. This gun is a blast — we’re def­i­nitely tak­ing it to some ri­fle matches. It turned out great, and we hope Mikhail would ap­prove.

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