When the Tail of the AK all began, one of the reasons I wanted the M+M M10 AK-74 was to get the integrated sight/gas block. Jim Fuller of Rifle Dynamics has been a big proponent of this for a while. You are able to take almost a pound off the rifle if you cut the barrel back, permanently attach a muzzle device and combine the front sight block and gas block.
When I got the Arsenal, I knew if I wanted to go this route, it would be down the road. I didn’t mind this, as it allowed me to learn the platform from a stock rifle. Unlike the M+M the Arsenal actually works and has functioned flawlessly no matter what she has been put through.
One of the main complaints you often hear about Arsenal rifles is that their finish is a cheap black paint. BBQ paint is the term often thrown around in forums. After just a month of use with the rifle the finish showed significant wear. I don’t really mind that, it gives her character but over the long haul she would need to be refinished.
If she was going to go visit a gunsmith for refinishing I wanted to add a couple of items to the to-do list. So I started to form a list of things I wanted to have done and also started a quest to find a smith that could do the work. Rifle Dynamics was out, as the wait is now up to a year. It’s not easy to find a good Gunsmith let alone one that works on AKs. I poked around and was able to find a good smith (Nate Rayle of Unique Armament Creations in central VA) with very good reputation that was somewhat local. Early on, in conversations with Nate, he understood what I was attempting to do and was very helpful with advice.
My list for the smith was the following:
- Pull off the front sight block and gas block
- Cut the barrel down and permeably affix a BattleComp 2.0 at 16”
- Attach an Arsenal Lower Handguard Retainer Ring that I had to cut off when I installed the TWS Handguard
- Install a Bolton Gas Block which is an integrated gas block and front sight block
- Rework the trigger and action
- Properly fit bolt/bolt carrier and trigger group
- Bead blast the finish, and coat with Norrells Moly Resin
I was headed out of the country for a while so it made sense to try to get the majority of the work done during that time. Nate said he had a window and could do the work in about a month and a half.
The process was painless during the drop off as he took excellent notes when we were chatting initially. I gave him all the parts I had gathered and waited for my call in a month or two.
Nate was on point with his timing predictions as it took him right around a month and a half. The rifle turned out exactly as I had described I wanted. The action is so much smother. The trigger is probably the best part, as now, it is crisp with a strong reset with no slack. The finish turned out be a perfect color as I went with a grey. The cutting down of the barrel and install of the Bolton took a pound off the rifle and makes it far handier to move between targets. The rifle is now only 34 inches long and 26 inches with the stock folded.
At this point I could not be happier. We only have about 300 rounds through her since her pickup but that is going to change very quickly. We anticipate putting a couple cases through her by the end of November.
We will review all the parts as we go along especially the BattleComp and the Bolton Block. We have a number of add-ons that have been waiting for testing. We should have reviews of those up by the end of November. There is also a VEPR 308 on the way that we will be sure to post our thoughts on.
If you have any questions about the build, don’t hesitate to comment in the comments section below or on our Facebook page.
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