Check out what Troy does for AKs: https://troyind.com/rail-systems-accessories/rails/ak47
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The AK has a dedicated cult following here in The States. Despite its reputation as the-rifle-that-won’t-quit, the Kalashnikov is still a hard sell for many who cut their metaphoric teeth on the very American AR-15. There are numerous reasons—too many to list. Some hate the lack of a bolt hold open. Others can’t wrap their heads around the mag release. Still others don’t trust the 7.62 x 39. And some folks are just too patriotic. The biggest complaint: the lack of rail for easily mounting optics.
But each of those issues has after-market fixes (except for the patriotism—I’m not sure that needs fixing). The Russian rifles come in numerous calibers, and can be retrofitted with a variety of American-user-friendly options. That’s where this review is headed, obviously, but we have to make a clear distinction here, at the outset. Troy doesn’t make plastic junk to help Call-of-Duty wannabes make their AKs look cool. These aren’t novelty parts. Troy makes hard-use gear.
When an American gun maker takes on Russia’s shortcomings
The very real threat of terrorism would suggest that everyone, and I mean everyone, should know how to run an AK—and also how to shut one down. With that in mind, I became a student of the platform. And I’ve grown to respect it. But the basic design has its flaws.
I’ve been waiting for this kit for a long time. I’ve been slowly working my way through the aftermarket options for forends, looking for something that will allow me to keep my hand off of the gas tube and barrel. I tend to hold farther out than the stubby forends on most AKs will allow. So when I saw the long tubes on the AKs in the Troy booth at SHOT last year, I was ready.
There was only one problem—the Troy forends wouldn’t clear certain Arsernal AK barrels, because of the threads for their muzzle devices. I talked with Troy several times about the changes being made, and at last a set arrived tailored to the Arsenal.
Length is first for me. This long tube allows for a lot more real estate than I’ve ever had on an AK. With this much length, you can wrap way out above the barrel (which is an ideal hold for a rifle with sights this high). If length is not important, Troy makes a short version of the rail, too.
Even the short version has exceptional texture. The tube is cut so that you can grip any surface on the outside of the tube and find a solid hand-hold. If you want more texture, you can stick the rubber squid-suckers into the vent holes. Sections of rail can be added, too, so hand stops and vertical grips are also options.
One thing I’ve found with other forends is a distinct lack of stability. The wooden forends are solid, but don’t offer much beyond modest insulation. Some of the plastic forends are easy to fit, but shoot loose, or come loose when the plastic heats up and expands. The aluminum forends are less prone to this, but most are so thick (and placed in close proximity to the gas tube and barrel, that they heat up quickly and hold that heat longer.
The way the Troy forend attaches keeps it from shooting loose. And the open space inside the tube allows for the air to pass freely, which helps cool off the gun and the forend.
How to install it
Taking the old forend off may be incredibly easy. If not, it may require tools, elbow grease, and carefully selected expletives. Once the two halves are off, dry fit the forend. Remove the brake or flash hider and angle in the barrel. The sight post is the real obstacle.
When I finally got the retrofitted gun to the range, I had one issue. The open section below the sight post allows you to get close to that hot barrel. I didn’t have my cleaning rod in, which would have offered another small barrier. Just be careful when you wrap that hand around the end of the forend.
The fix? I’d like to see Troy build a small section of tube that simply bolts into place—something that would bring the whole circumference of the tube all the way to the end. If that were available, I’d Loc-tite that plate in place and never take the forend off of this gun. Ever. I like it that much.
As is, I’m going to have to practice a bit before I’m comfortable reaching way out there on that end. And I’ll be wearing gloves.
In the (fore)end
There’s a lot to recommend about this set-up. Even with the open bottom, the forend offers so much more than the typical tactical AK furniture, and infinitely more than the wood. It may not look so much like an AK when you’re finished, but that’s typically not an issue for those of us who want their guns to be as functional as possible.
The long Troy forend sells for $139.95. The top rail is $149.