Magpul’s AK lineup, better than fine.

Now that I’ve had a chance to hit the range a few times and run them through their paces, I’ve got a solid impression of Magpul’s AK offerings. The host firearm is a 2013 production Romanian WASR-10 with the following hardware changed from stock:

My WASR-10

My WASR-10

Installation:

I’ll start from easiest and move on from there. The Tapco Retaining plate is a simple drop-in upgrade and replaces this simple (yet functional) retaining spring and makes it easier to install the Krebs Safety, which simply twists in once the old safety has been removed. I twisted on the thread adapter and the Blackout with a couple shims to time it correctly. These three parts should take about two minutes maximum to install without any tools necessary.

The Tapco Plate, installed

The Tapco Plate, installed

From there it’s a simple screw removal to install the MOE AK+ grip, which simply threads into the grip nut and cinches tight on the receiver. Having worked primarily on AR platform rifles until this point, I was surprised at how loose the grip nut/block was when the grip wasn’t tightened down. This one took a couple minutes, but no hard work.

It was at this point that I hit the first hurdle. I removed both screws from the tang of my rifle and pulled the stock to separate it from the receiver, but no dice. It was in too tight to try and wiggle out. I wound up having to wrap the stock in a towel and clamp it in a vise, and it was then a bit tricky. However, this was the most difficult part of the stock install. Magpul’s directions are pretty good, as per usual, and three screws later, the stock install was complete. With the time it took to un-stick the previous stock it took me about 30 minutes to install. From here it was time to plug in the Dremel, and pass the point of no return.

This is the block that attaches the rear stock to the trunnion.

This is the block that attaches the rear stock to the trunnion.

The Zhukov handguard is the one part that requires permanent modification to the rifle. It necessitates that the handguard retaining cap be removed. I secured the AK by clamping a cheap South Korean mag in a vise and carefully made two cuts in the retainer to make it easier to bend the metal. Once the cut was through the retainer, I was able to bend it enough to clear the barrel. After the retainer is clear, the handguard separates into two parts; the inner heat shield and the outer handguard. The aluminum heat shield slides on as one piece and secures directly to the barrel with two clamps and four screws. Once the heat shield is secured, the handguard slips on to the heat shield rails and secures with two screws in the rear. After the screws are secured, the whole assembly is very tight, with no wobble.

The aluminum heat shield from the side

The aluminum heat shield from the side

The two clamps holding the heatshield to the barrel

The two clamps holding the heatshield to the barrel

The underside of the heatshield and the four attachment bolts

The underside of the heatshield and the four attachment bolts

The handguard without the heatshield

The handguard without the heatshield

With the handguard locked down, the final step was to install a rail panel. I thought that I’d be able to save a little and use some of the MOE panels I have from my AR builds, however the screws that come with the MOE rails are too long to clear the aluminum heatshield beneath. I bit the bullet at that point and picked up an M-Lok rail panel. I hadn’t dealt with either M-Lok or Keymod at this point, but being able to attach the panel without removing the handguard was impressively easy, and I wouldn’t be surprised if M-Lok becomes the new standard moving forward. I slid on a spare AFG2 to wrap everything together and called it done.

 

Ergonomics:

First things first, I consider the Krebs Safety (or a clone) a must for any AK. I know it creates some training gaps to rely on aftermarket parts, but the ease of use and manipulation without having to re-establish your grip is well worth it.

While we’re on the topic of grip, I wasn’t initially sold on the rubberization on the MOE AK+ grip, but after running it for a while it’s a great tactile enhancement, especially when running gloves like mine that are a little worn. Like the other MOE grips, there’s storage space inside for batteries, small tools, or a few spare rounds in case of an emergency.

The length of pull on the WASR with the factory stock is 12.25″, which is also the length of the Zhukov-S in the fully collapsed position. I haven’t had a reason to extend it any further than this, however for anyone taller than my 5’11” frame it does go up to 14.8″. Personally I’d prefer if it went down a little under 12 to work with American bladed shooting stances and/or use with a plate carrier/body armor, but it fits my bare shoulder pretty well, especially when using a longer grip that the Zhukov handguard allows. I’m hesitant to use a c-clamp grip with it since that would place my thumb squarely on top of the gas block, but it’s easy to run a thumb forward grip using one of the front M-Lok slots as an index point. The AFG also helps quite a bit with the thumb slipping, I’ll probably put some grip tape on it as well.

 

Performance:

I ran a series of BSA drills, 2-2-4-2-2s, and a 3-gun style rifle course to put the AK through its paces, and was quite pleased with the results. Compared to the few times I ran it before replacing the furniture and muzzle device the recoil impulse was incredibly flat and easy to control. I don’t know if the brake, the stock, or the longer grip allowed by the handguard, but it was much easier to keep on target. I would still definitely suggest a glove on your reaction hand in case it slips up to the block/tube, but heat coming through the handguard is definitely cut way down from stock AK handguards. The QD slot built in to the Zhukov stock block works well for running a single point sling, in my case it was a Magpul MS3 with a QD sling loop. This brings me to the final nitpick of the Magpul furniture; the QD slots have the new anti-rotation design that prevent the swivels from spinning. I prefer that the slots free-spin, but that’s personal preference.

I also took a few test shots with the stock folded. Manipulating the safety with the stock in a folded state is tricky at best, and it would be faster to unfold the stock if the safety is engaged. The charging handle clears the stock normally, but not if using any of the cheek risers needed to use side rail mounted optics. If the safety is off and the chamber empty, charging the rifle with the stock folded also takes a little extra work, but is possible. Folding seems optimal for carry, storage, and transport rather than firing.

Conclusion:

The Magpul AK Zhukov line is a relatively simple upgrade, provides several ergonomic advantages, and provides a solid base for future accessories with M-Lok slots and Ultimak compatibility at a very reasonable price with minimal gunsmithing. I would make a list of pros and cons, but I can’t come up with any specific cons, only mild nitpicking.

A+ for all of the parts mentioned. I wouldn’t hesitate to put any or all of them on another AK in the future.

MSRP by part:

Stock: $99.95
Handguard:$99.95
Grip: $24.95
Rail: $13.95
Safety: $44.95
Retaining Plate: $4.95
Thread Adapter: $16.99
Muzzle Device: $98.99

Total MSRP: $404.68

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