Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoint C3

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Netpackrat
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Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoint C3

Postby Netpackrat » Sat Jun 09, 2012 10:48 am

Image

So, I've had this rifle for a while now; it was my first AK build in fact. Bog standard Romy kit rivet built on a US receiver. Last year I added one of my Wolverine stocks to it with an ACE folding mechanism and receiver block on the theory that every AK I have should also be serving as an advertisement for my products when I am at the range. I bought the Aimpoint back in February intending to mount it using a TWS rail, but it turns out the Romanians appear to have mis-machined the front trunnion such that the barrel will never line up with a receiver mounted top rail (the side rail is accurate to the bore, but not compatible with a stock that folds to the left).

Since I wanted to mount one of the new, extended, super-smooth handguards from Midwest Industries anyway, the easiest solution to my problem was to order the version that comes with the topcover mount for a standard 30mm Aimpoint. On the first attempt, they sent me the cheese grater (fully railed) version by mistake, but when I contacted them, they got the correct unit along with a pre-paid return label for the other shipped right away. Finally had time to get it all installed Thursday.

The installation instructions for the rail were easy to follow in a step by step order. My only complaint is that they specify locking the forward hand guard retainer back in place on the barrel once the original lower hand guard is removed, and as it turns out, the MI unit cannot be installed until the retainer is removed from the barrel entirely. So, out came the air grinder and cut off wheel, making this a one-way conversion. The MI hand guard set essentially clamps around the barrel and appears to be extremely secure. There is a pair of set screws that are tightened until they just make contact with the gas tube, eliminating it as a source of rattling, as well as providing an extra measure of anti-rotation to the hand guard. The upper guard/optic mount attaches to the lower with 4 countersunk screws and pulls up very tight against the lower and the rear of the gas tube. They include a tube of blue (removable) thread locker to be used in assembly along with all allen wrenches required.

Once installed, the Aimpoint mounts low enough such that the standard AK sights will provide a low co-witness. Since I had previously installed a Mojo rear aperture sight, I reinstalled the original military leaf rear sight along with a narrower than stock "target" front post that is manufactured by Tech Sights (which I discovered is too thick at the wrench flats to fit my AK front sight adjusting tool). Zeroing at 25 yards (which should give roughly a 200 yard zero and 1.5" high at 100), I found that the best way to achieve zero was to first fire a group using the iron sights. Then, holding the iron sights at the center of the target, the Aimpoint was adjusted to align the dot with the center of the group. After firing a few more rounds and fine tuning the dot zero, the iron sights were brought into alignment with the dot, and another group fired to verify zero of the iron sights. I still need to verify and fine tune the zero at longer range, but we had other things to do and no spotting scope with us. So I'll take care of it another day, knowing that at least I should have a reasonably close zero for now.

A big plus of this hand guard setup, is that it is not totally covered with rails as the previous version is. It came with 3 sections of rail that I can mount anywhere that I want to put a rail, while leaving the remainder smooth. Since I only want to occasionally mount a light, I used one of the smaller sections of rail up front at 6:00, and left the rest off. There are also several attach points for a QD, push button sling mount. And of course, the extended length of the lower hand guard gives a lot more flexibility in terms of hand placement than most other AK hand guards.

Anyway, I'm happy overall with how this rifle turned out, given that I couldn't have it with the red dot mounted over the receiver on a TWS rail like I originally wanted. I'm hoping to do quite a bit more shooting while the weather holds this summer, and plan to add to my initial impressions later on.
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Darrell
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Re: Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoin

Postby Darrell » Sat Jun 09, 2012 5:40 pm

Do such guards, rails, etc. make it difficult to break down the gun for cleaning? I'm thinking of gas tube removal, I suppose.
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Re: Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoin

Postby Netpackrat » Sat Jun 09, 2012 7:52 pm

Darrell wrote:Do such guards, rails, etc. make it difficult to break down the gun for cleaning? I'm thinking of gas tube removal, I suppose.


The gas tube isn't coming out of there without taking the whole rail system apart, which would cause a loss of zero, etc. But it can still be cleaned from the rear through the rear sight block with the gun field stripped, if desired. it isn't like it's an AR, so cleaning out the gas tube isn't really all that important. "Gas tube" is something of a misnomer on the AK, since the main reason it is there is to align the gas piston with the gas block as the bolt carrier returns forward. The gas system has done its work by the time the piston leaves the gas block, and only blow-by makes it into the tube.

Another thing I forgot to mention is that it's pretty difficult to get the cleaning rod back in place under the barrel with this setup installed. But, I don't use it for cleaning; it's only there to clear a bore obstruction or something like that, so that doesn't really bother me a lot. My other AKs don't have a cleaning rod installed at all.
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Re: Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoin

Postby toad » Sun Jun 10, 2012 9:31 pm

Here is a video that the competition made with a gas tube that was one inch away from the front sight gas block.

http://ultimak.com/ShortGasTube.htm

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Re: Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoin

Postby Netpackrat » Mon Jun 11, 2012 3:55 am

The new rail system that TWS has come out with replaces the gas tube entirely, with a stainless tube. It's open on both ends with a significant gap. Even with the standard tube you need a little bit of gap (AKA "rattle") so that the gas tube isn't bearing on the barrel via the gas block. Otherwise as the barrel heats up and expands, you can get vertical stringing due to changing tension.
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Re: Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoin

Postby toad » Sat Jun 16, 2012 3:33 am

Netpackrat:

Do you remember where you saw the specs on the new TWS system? They don't have anything up on their website yet. I'm guessing they won't until they have a production mode ready? I've looked for it but my search fu is weak.

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Re: Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoin

Postby Netpackrat » Sat Jun 16, 2012 4:01 am

Over at the cult of personality otherwise known as Warrior Talk. TWS is swamped just trying to keep up with orders, so I'm not surprised that their website has not been updated.
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Re: Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoin

Postby toad » Sat Jun 16, 2012 10:05 am

Well I went over to the Warrior Talk Forum and from there found that Once Source Tactical was going to be one of the distributors for it.
http://www.onesourcetactical.com/texasweaponsystemskalashnikovhandguard.aspx#.T9xLLxdDxyK

It's a nice unit but it is going to be out of my budget for while.

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Netpackrat
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Re: Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoin

Postby Netpackrat » Sun Jun 17, 2012 9:45 am

toad wrote:It's a nice unit but it is going to be out of my budget for while.


I don't think it's really worth putting on anything but a fairly high end AK. And I'm not real keen on the rail they machined into the bottom. I think it would be better if it were smooth with the capability to add on rails like it has on the sides, and my MI handguard has on the sides and bottom. But it looks nice all the same.
Cognosce teipsum et disce pati

"People come and go in our lives, especially the online ones. Some leave a fond memory, and some a bad taste." -Aesop

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Re: Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoin

Postby Combat Controller » Tue Jun 19, 2012 8:28 am

Looks sweet. I'll have to try one someday.

BTW your stock is a hit at the shotgun matches. Hope it nets some sales!
Winner of the prestigious Автомат Калашникова образца 1947 года award for excellence in rural travel.

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Re: Mini-review: Midwest AK-SS Extended Handguard + Aimpoin

Postby Netpackrat » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:39 am

Kewl; me too. The stupid Saiga 12 magazine floorplates have been selling better than the stocks (though that isn't saying a lot). And I originally only listed them because I wanted to have more than just the one product on the website before I came up with the Werewolf.
Cognosce teipsum et disce pati

"People come and go in our lives, especially the online ones. Some leave a fond memory, and some a bad taste." -Aesop


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