Upgrading the AK-47: A Short List of Recommendations
Major Pandemic 01.08.14
My Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter AK-47, chambered in the powerful and cheap to shoot 7.62×39, needed an update. With the prices of .223 these days, I found myself pushing a lot of rounds with the AK simply due to the cost and availability of the ammo. The plastic factory forend began to fail after about six months of being beaten down, and the accuracy due to the 4140 machined ordinance steel receiver was begging for an optic to tighten things up at distance. Although the stock grip on the Centurion was far better than most, I still pined for one of the great AR-15 style grips I was accustomed to.
Today we are fortunate to have a huge array of AK-47 aftermarket parts available from mild to wild. The challenge is that the AK-47 designs vary a little or a lot, so in most cases “some fitting may be required” is a typical caveat found on most AK-47 accessory packaging.
Midwest Industries Universal AK-47 Rail
Last year I saw Midwest Industries Universal AK-47 rail forend and noted that its design was developed primarily to work around the variances of the AK-47 design. The MI Universal AK-47 Rail design features a locking v-block style design that locks onto the barrel, sandwiched between the lower and upper handguard. Once installed on the barrel, it becomes a rock solid mount for all sorts of optics. In this case, I wanted to continue to explore the Cooper Scout Rifle concept in an AK-47 format by adding a Burris Scout Rifle Scope.
Rail installation was simple. Work through the initial stages of field stripping your AK-47 until you have the forend removed. Mount the lower rail section and block assembly and assure it stays nice and tight with a dab of LocTite on each bolt. After the lower rail section is mounted, the top rail bolts on, and you are essentially done after reassembly.
The MI Universal AK-47 rail does not require the front and rear forend trim rings, but I left them as it looks aesthetically nicer. You are now ready to mount your optic. The rail is not too far forward that standard red dots and Eotechs feel goofy, and they work just fine there. Midwest Industries does offer several versions of the rail which are direct mount compatible with many red dot models. In this case I mounted up the Burris Scout Rifle Scope and was ready to hit the range.
The quality, fit, and finish are all top notch on the MI AK-47 forend. The rail is available in a variety of color options, including the FDE version shown. For me, the most important aspect of this rail is that it has retained zero even after some substantial hits. This is all around a great investment in my AK that has delivered big accuracy advantages with optics out on the range.
Burris Scout Rifle Scope 2-7×32
Ok, I know this is not what Burris intended when offering this scope, however my logic is a bit different. Cooper’s original scout rifle design was based on the 30-30 Winchester, which a bit less powerful that the 7.62×39 AK round, but for practical hunting purposes, it’s identical.
Cooper’s love for the 30-30 round and the legacy of animals taken with the 30-30 is proof that that the 7.62×39 should be just as good or maybe a bit better. Burris was really intending their Scour Rifle Scope to be mounted to something like the .308 Winchester Ruger Scout Rifle. Based on my testing, maybe they should consider it for the AK-47 as well. This is a slam dunk, “Holy cow, why haven’t we been doing this for years?” kind of revelation after the first trigger pull.
The Burris Scout Rifle Scope transforms the AK-47 from decently accurate rifle to an effective 300 yard hog/deer hunter. The bullet drops are a bit different, but they lined up well enough. With my Nikon RifleHunter 1000 rangefinder and Strelok ballistic ap, I was able to even drop rounds pretty accurately out to the 12” 400-yard gong and hold 8”-10” groups reliably at that distance. My aging eyes deliver just a bit of fuzz at 100-yards, and the Burris Scout Rifle Scope was the perfect addition to get my AK out of the safe more often and out to the range or a hunt.
The 2-7 magnification and BDC reticle really makes a huge difference in my ability to hit things with any precision beyond the 50-yard range. I am not going to say the AK-47 is your next long range precision prairie dog rifle, but it delivers 1”-100 yard – 1 MOA groups and can hold that pretty well out to 200-yards. After that things open up a bit to about 4” groups at 300-yards from realistic field shooting positions. All that noted, the AK-47 fits the need of a scout rifle for anything under 400-yards.
Fit and finish of the Burris is excellent, and I really liked also the overall size and weight, which kept things tight and light. The Burris Scout Rifle Scope is essentially a handgun scope with a Burris Ballistic Plex that delivers approximate aiming points for shots from 100-500 yards with the 308/.223 rounds. The scope can be used as a handgun scope. When mounted to a .308 or .223, it lined up pretty well at 100, 200, and 300 yards, however 400 yards it seemed to align more to the 500 hash mark. Your performance may vary.
Once you figure out where the bullets are dropping at distance, it is pretty easy lock down pie-plate sized hits all the way out to 400-yards with the 7.62×39 AK-47 round. This is a great optic that would be equally at home on a handgun, scout focused AR-15, or something like the Ruger Gunsite.
Mission First Tactical Engage Ak-47 Grip
The factory grip was better than average, but I wanted the ergonomics of the AR-15 grips. I reached for one of my favorite brands, Mission First Tactical, for their AK-47 grip.
“Some fitting may be required” was accurate due to my billet receiver, which is a bit different than typical stamped receivers. Two minutes with the Dremel allowed me to let out the needed material on the grip to clear the handguard, and I had a perfect fit. What else can I say about Mission First? For me, they are one of the most comfortable AR-15 and AK-47 grips available, and I was a happy camper after this grip was installed.
Magazines… I Need More Magazines
Generally everything on the AK-47 runs perfectly, but I had received some “very inexpensive” mags for testing that were so loose that I could swear the wind could cause them the wobble and occasionally deliver a misfeed. On the other hand, the Tapco AK-47 magazines have been wonderful and have fit very solid, so I loaded up on Tapco AK-47 magazines during one of the pre-holiday sales. I wanted to be sure I had plenty of extra magazines handy, and I have never had a functional issue due to them.
The Century Arms Centurion 39 Sporter has a lot going for it, and the billet receiver does make it a more stable and more accurate AK-47 than the stamped receiver versions. With the addition of the Mission First grip for comfort and the MI Handguard and Burris Scope, I now have an excellent package that is considerably more accurate as the yards add up.
MI AK47/74 Universal Handguard Specs
- Fits most AK-47s, AK-74s and Variants, Stamped and Milled
- No gunsmith install. Installs in minutes using nothing but wrench included in the kit.
- High quality T-marked mil-spec 913 rails for lights, lasers, and optics
- Lightweight, rugged construction
- Weight – 10 oz.
- Made 100 un the USA of 6061 aluminum, hard coate anodized for lifetime of service
- “Highest quality and most affordable AK handguard on the market”
- Lifetime warranty
- Available with Standard, Optic Specific or 30mm ML2 Topcover.
- $124.95 MSRP (standard topcover)
- Colors – Black FDE, OD Green
Burris Scout Rifle Scope 2-7×32 Specs
- Tube Diameter: 1″
- Adjustment Click Value: 1/4 MOA
- Adjustment Type: Click
- Fast Focus Eyepiece: Locking Ocular
- Lens Coating: Fully multi-coated
- Warranty: Burris Forever Warranty
- Power Variability: Variable 2x-7x
- Reticle Construction: Wire
- Reticle: Balistic Plex
- Illuminated Reticle: No
- Holdover reticle: Yes
- Finish: Matte
- Water/Fogproof: Yes
- Shockproof: Yes
- Objective Bell Diameter: 1.5″
- Ocular Bell Diameter: 1.5″
- Eye Relief: 11.0-21.0″
- Exit Pupil Diameter: 16.0-4.6mm
- Weight: 13.0 oz.
- Max Internal Adjustment:Windage: 66 MOA – Elevation: 66 MOA
- Street Price: $379
Mission First Tactical Engage AK-47 Grip Specs
- The backstrap and finger swells are grooved to provide a non-slip grip surface.
- The grip angle replicates the AR-15.
- The grip features a secure, water-tight storage compartment
- Street Price: $19.99
Tapco AK-47 Mags Specs
- Holds 30 rounds of 7.62 x 39mm ammunition
- Designed for use in the AK-47
- Double Stack
- Anti-Tilt Follower
- Heavy Duty Spring
- Body Constructed of Reinforced Composite
- Counts as 3 U.S. 922r Compliant Parts (body, floorplate, follower)
- Street Price: $12.99