The more I shoot carbines the more I find myself gravitating towards the AK platform. I personally enjoy ARs and have nothing against them; however, I find myself more efficient and comfortable with an AK. Shooting and building ARs felt stagnant for awhile because I had worked on so many and it was all I was shooting at the range and courses.
Within the last year a SAR-3 came through the gun shop I work at that was chambered in 5.56. I purchased the rifle quickly and had planned on leaving it in its factory form. Originally, the plan was to have another AK in the collection and occasionally run it at the range. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to change certain attributes to make the rifle what I desired out of both an AR and AK platform together. In my head, I wanted to merge the capability and availability of the 5.56 cartridge and standard AR mags with the ease of operation on the AK platform. I began planning the changes over the next few months and began slowly ordering new parts.
First off, the stock was replaced with CNC Warrior's tubular stock. This provided a more appropriately sized stock, and the ability to fold for storage. More can be read about the stock in a previous article here.
A new fire control group was a necessity. When the SAR-3 was imported the assembly was changed and given the incorrect setup. The original hammer had incorrect geometry and would have issues firing and could potentially cause damage to the firing pin. Red Star Arms provides a replacement that makes your trigger adjustable and alleviates worries about damage. When properly adjusted the trigger has an incredible break and reset.
After the new stock and trigger, big changes started to take place. The SAR-3 I had purchased and other 5.56 AKs take a different magazine than typical AKMs on the market. 7.62x39 and 5.45x39 magazines remain easy to find, at least in my area. The 5.56 magazines are slightly harder to track down and can often be expensive. To fix this I opted for an adapter from Canis Design Group. The adapter not only allows the firearm to accept AR magazines, but also features a last round bolt hold open. My problem was solved with sourcing new magazines, and I always have the three original ones laying around in case I ever pick up another 5.56 AK to leave alone.
To reach future goals with this project I had to relocate the front sight so it would be incorporated into the gas block. Finding a front sight gas block combo for the gun was not difficult, but deciding what was best for my long term build was. I blame this one factor for the project taking as long as it did. In the end, I opted for the GBC-13 from JMac Customs LLC.
The next big change was having the barrel shortened to 14.5 inches, threaded and crowned, and having a SilencerCO ASR flash hider pinned and welded to the freshly chopped barrel. This had to be done after the front sight gas block combo was mounted since the muzzle device would now be permanently affixed.
Most changes occurring past this point were cosmetic and simple. TDI Arms has an incredibly lightweight (3.52oz) hand guard that I chose with M-lok for attachments. An Ultimak was used to replace the piston tube for mounting optics and eventually an IR system for night vision. Both of these items are simple bolt on changes that I have had great success with so far.
Currently, my choice of optic is the Holosun HE403C-GR Elite. The optic currently resides on the Ultimak featuring the low based mount. I have been running multiple Holosun optics for quite some time now and look forward to seeing how it performs long-term with this setup.
Few additions to the rifle remain and are in the works. This post is to give a rundown for those who have been reaching out to me on social media and messaging interested in how I put this firearm together. Updates will be posted when additions or changes are made.
Here is a list of the parts discussed:
- JMac Customs GBC-13 (front sight gas block combo)
This setup has mixed the aspects I desired out of both platforms quite well so far. As I had mentioned there are some small changes that will still be made. As of now, I am pleased with the setup and have been running it heavily. Many AK purists will dislike the bastardized conversion; however, it fits my needs and runs as I desired.