If you are an AK-47 or AK-74 fan, one of the coolest AK related products for 2015 will surely be the new line of Magpul AK accessories. Last year, Magpul dipped its toes in the water with the release of rather awesome pistol grip and 30-round AK-47 7.62x39 Mags which you might have seen featured in a number of my previous AK-47 reviews. This year at the 2015 SHOT show, they introduced a completed picture of accessories which include both their MOE and premium ZHUKOV brand forends and stocks. Although AK-47 specs vary greatly, Magpul has really made an effort to offer a set of products which deliver the most fitment flexibility with the least amount of "hand fitting" on most milled and stamped AK-47/AK-74 format rifles. As can be expected with any AK-47 part, some AK's may require fitting.
I hate to overuse the word transformative, however in this case Magpul has not done a hell of a lot to improve the ergonomics of the AK-47 and AK74 platforms with more comfortable buttstock options and handguards all while not going too far and turning the AK into an AR. Its a delicate balance. Magpul has their "standard" MOE line and the premium ZHUKOV models which are appropriately named after General Georgy Zhukov who was the most successful and celebrated Russian General of WWII. You might remember that Russia was on our side at that point.
MAGPUL AK STOCKS
Magpul has made an effort to not make the AK into and AR as we see from most manufacturers. Instead they have attempted to stay true to the AK minimalist style. Whether shooters choose the AK MOE or ZHUKOV-S stock, the mounting is similar. The MOE trunnion and stock are all polymer, however the ZHUKOV stock uses a melonited steel trunnion. Both stocks use a tightening wedge system to make the stock receiver unition rock solid even on looser spec AKs.
The installation process is simple. Remove the existing stock and tap in the Magpul version. I will say that mounting the ZHUKOV-S stock required a few taps with the rubber hammer to get it seated into position on my Century International Arms C39V2 Billet Receiver AK-47. Since the Century Arms C39V2 is designed to be backward compatible with stamped receiver AK furniture, the process is the same should you have a stamped AK firearm. Secure the stock with the included hardware and you are off to the range.
Magpul's MOE AK Stock (MAG6161) is a simple and inexpensive upgrade for $59 which delivers lighter weight, open skeleton design, integrated QD mounts, and improved ergonomics. The MOE version is compatible with optional .25", .50", and .75" cheek risers to improve fit with optics. I was impressed with what I handled at the Magpul booth.
For shooters wanting more features, they can opt for the top end $99 ZHUKOV-S (MAG585) folding and adjustable length stock I tested here. I will note this stock is rather beautifully executed. The ZHUKOV-S stock delivers side folding stock, QD-mounts, and multi-position length adjustment in an extraordinarily minimalist design with minimal bulk.
The single side folding function latch button is located on the left hand side and is easily reached. Press the button and the stock folds and then is held in place with a simple detent. Unfolding the stock is as simple and fast as just opening the stock to the locking position where it clicks in place securely. The right side fold helps during storage considerably, provides a shorter more maneuverable CQB weapon option, and also does not interfere with left side mounted optics. With the stock folded, the shooter can still operate the bolt, however access to the safety is a bit obscured.
Length of pull adjustment is also familiar similar to AR15 stocks. With a simple lift of the latch, length can be adjusted. For a 10-minutes upgrade part the ZHUKOV AK stock delivered a really nice tight fit and wonderful ergonomics. The AK format and furniture are typically pretty utilitarian which does not equate to comfortable, however with the Magpul offer AK shooters a really great option to customize fit with the same optional .25", .50", and .75" cheek risers cross compatible with the MOE AK stock.
MAGPUL AK HAND GUARDS
Magpul basically delivered the same level of design form and function up front at the handguard with three different hand guard options for standard gas tube length rifles. Magpul offers the drop in AK MOE Hand Guards in a standard handguard AK version and marginally shorter AKM versions. These MOE AK Hand Guards are designed to just more or less drop as replacements for stock furniture without any modification to the AK. On one of my rather trashy looking stamped Chinese AKs, the stock dropped right in. On my Century Arms C39 billet receiver it took a few sharp raps from the rubber mallet to seat the lower portion of the Magpul MOE Hand Guard into the billet receiver, but it worked and was crazy solid once attached. The top gas tube handguard simply turns into place and felt solid enough I am a bit shocked that Magpul is not offering a top picatinny rail version for a red dot sight. Both of the MOE versions have internal heat shield which also serve as sprung tensioned handguard retainers which significantly increase the rigidity of the hand guard.
For most people, the MOE versions will be the most popular of the AK hand guards simply because it requires no fitting other than the a few taps from a rubber hammer to seat in place even on milled receivers like this Century International Arms C39V2. The Magpul AK furniture provides a drop in simple replacement. It can also be modified to fit other fitment needs. A bit of Dremeling allowed me to also mount the marginally shorter Magpul AKM Hand Guard on my Centurion 39 billet receiver pistol. Although not a job for the ameuter gunsmith, I was able to fit the AKM handguard into the C39 receiver which had a handguard slot about 1/3 smaller than the standard handguard hole in the receiver. All of the Magpul MOE and ZHUKOV Handguards are fully M-LOK accessory compatible at 3', 6', and 9' o'clock positions.
The higher end $99 ZHUKOV version is a barrel clamped extended hand guard length which I really like, however the hand guard system does require some compromises during installation. You better really want the Magpul ZHUKOV because you are going to be stuck with it. I don't see this as a problem with its features, however you should be aware that the gas block sling mount loop and factory handguard retainer cover must be ground off your AK. Yep, this means you are not going backward from an upgrade perspective at any point in the future.
The Magpul ZHUKOV hand guard covers the sling mount point, so even if you do a fairly ugly job, no one will see it. This also means that the ZHUKOV is not a "drop in upgrade", but something easy if you know how to run a hacksaw and file or Dremel well. Once the sling loop and handguard retainer are removed the structural aluminum chassis inset can be removed and securely clamped to the barrel. After the aluminum chassis is in place, the handguard can be slid into place. The main advantage of this barrel clamped configuration is that the handguard is never shifting or moving. The ZHUKOV handguard is UltiMAK optic rail compatible, however Magpul provides a gas tube cover if you are not using a UltiMAK optic rail.
One of the reasons some will opt for the ZHUKOV hand guard over the MOE version is that this version is designed to be "more" compatible with various milled receivers since the hand guard is not reliant on a slot in the receiver and handguard retain for stability and is instead just clamped to the barrel.
Like all Magpul products they are well designed and thought out. I was a little confused that Magpul did not provide an optic mount as an option, however they did specifically recommend and build in compatibility for the UltiMAK optic mounts. All these upgrades were very tight fitting components on my volunteered Century milled AKs. These are definitely not the loose fitting handguards that fall off after you pull the gas block cover off, nor are they items you will likely be pulling on and off during routine cleaning. I love what Magpul has done to overhaul the AK47/AK74 rifles from top to bottom to keep the AK current even after all these years.
SOURCESMagpul - http://www.Magpul.com