Maybe the post of this rifle review should actually be “The ONE MOA AK.” Fair warning, this MAY blow your mind. If you suck at reading and prefer TV then watch the video. Or do both.
- AK-47s are good and all but they’re inaccurate and sloppy.
- The trigger is too heavy.
- The grip is too small for my hand and the rear corner of the receiver digs into my thumb knuckle.
- I can’t see the sights well enough to get on target.
- The safety on AKs is just too much of a pain to deploy.
- I hate the stock.
- I can’t co-witness an optic with the iron sights.
Blah, blah, blah the list goes on. I think you get the idea.
*For the sake of full disclosure (and my credibility) I need to mention something that I haven’t done nor do I often do. The owner of the Snakehound RLTW concept (I’ll call it concept because it can be applied to a stock WASR, an International Ordinance 100% Made in USA AK, or even YOUR AK gathering dust in your closet because you’d rather shoot a .22 caliber at the bad guys) is a good friend of mine, so I’ve been privy to his design ideas from day 1. BUT, regardless of our relationship status you should know that I will not misrepresent a product despite the outcome, good or bad. In THIS case you should know the outcome was good (if you think my writeup is shady then watch the video. Proof is in the pudding). That might even be putting it a bit on the timid side but I’ll go ahead and let the cat out of the bag…
100 yards, with an Aimpoint Micro clone (Primary Arms MD-09 which proved “good enough” for this prototype) off a sandbag with the Black Snakehound RLTW prototype, which just happened to be a Romanian WASR because it’s what was available when the dream needed to become a reality:
So how did this happen? How did I get a SUB MOA 3 shot group from an AK-47 pattern rifle? Well, after disassembling and a few hours of hand polishing contact points like the hammer, sear, safety and remaining trigger group parts then the bolt carrier, bolt and any other contact points that could prove troublesome, Owen at ALLAK47.com has outfitted the rifle with practical and proven add ons to make these rifles what they are.
From front to back the stock AK slant muzzle device is replaced with a Phantom style flash suppressor, which is not intended to serve as a muzzle break but to reduce flash to aid in night firing and rapid target reacquisition if needed. Then the lower half of the stock handguard replaced and fitted with a TEKKO polymer handguard (also made in USA) then the top half of the forend and gas tube are replaced with an ULTIMAK scout rail/gas tube made from aluminum which stays cooler longer, dissipates heat and is a bit lighter than the typical AK handguard setup as we’ve seen from first hand experience. The ULTIMAK also allows the shooter to forward mount a non magnified optic for cowitness or even a low powered pistol scope or an optic with long eye relief intended to be used in scout rifle type applications. On the prototype rifles we received have had Tech Sights adjustable rear aperture sights added which extends the sight radius an extra 8 1/2 inches creating a more accurate iron sighting system without changing more mechanical on the rifle. One of my favorite simple additions is the Tromix knurled charging handle knob which gives charging and reloads TONS of added traction. The stock pistol grip has been replaced by a US PALM battle grip which feels a bit anemic but swells nicely in the palm. Then the original buttstock is replaced with a Vltor (pronounced VIL-TORE) AK Buffter Tube Adapter and capped with a Magpul CTR. The mate between the CTR and Vltor tube is smooth but solid like they were made for each other.
How does it handle? Anything and everything. I tested Yugoslavian (which typically don’t like my personal WASR), Romanian and Chinese standard steel AK mags mixed with TULA Ammo, Herter’s steel cased, Brown Bear and finally Winchester White Box during the accuracy and it didn’t object to any of them whether FMJ or Hollow Point. These are lightweight AKs, so the recoil is more noticeable at the end of the day than one with 10 extra pounds of furniture attached but they swing quickly and sure and the honed Tapco G2 trigger is smooth (albeit a bit long, not atypical) with a light 4 pound wall and no grittiness in the travel. In short, these rifles handle like you would hope they would coming from someone who demands ONLY AK pattern rifles and has for the better half of his lifetime.
The two rifles I handled were prototypes, that is to say they were the first product of Owen’s original dream of the RLTW. Now the rifle and package has evolved as has the flexibility and the pricing. In the end is it still just an AK? Well yes and no. Yes to the fact that it’s one of the most (if not the most) reliable battle rifles ever designed. And no in the sense that it’s enhanced to keep the modern M4 connossieur in mind. Hate standard AKs? Okay no problem. This isn’t your grandpa’s AK. If anything give Owen a shout and pick his brain. The dude knows his stuff when it comes to the Kalash. He believes in the system and knows it inside and out. And if he keeps as busy as I think he will with these, you might want to get in line before there’s a waiting list.
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