Meet Kat: an AK project gun

Kat1 is a GP WASR-10/63. Essentially, this is a stamped-receiver AKM, with a side rail for optics mounting pre-installed. The WASR designation marks it as a Century Arms import of a Romanian AK; some WASRs were built for the American civilian market back during the bad old days of the assault weapons ban, but this one is not. Kat’s receiver bears a triangle-and-arrow mark that marks her as a demilled Romanian military rifle. Century Arms imported her and built a rifle around the parts kit. Unlike the old AWB-compliant rifles, she had a pistol grip and a bayonet lug2.

Kat was originally parvusimperator’s rifle; he sold it to me at a steep discount as part of a wedding gift package. Since he is Captain Tacticool, it varies a bit from the original, 1950s-style configuration. Here’s what he’s done to it:

  • Added a NATO-length polymer stock. (NATO-length is slightly longer than the default AK stock, more closely approximating your M16 length of pull.)
  • Added a railed gas tube forward.
  • Switched out the forward handguard and the grip for Hogue rubberized ones.
  • Added an AK-74-style muzzle brake.
  • Added a large charging handle knob.
  • Added an improved safety lever.

I had the rifle out at the range the other day for some sighting in, and with a few magazines through Kat, I’ve decided what I’m going to keep and what I’m going to drop. Before I get into that, though, I should explain what Kat is for. At a shooting range an hour or so from Many Words World HQ, there’s a monthly two-gun shoot: that is, a combined practical rifle and pistol event. Kat will serve as my Scary Black Rifle for that endeavor. The precise setup, however, is a topic for the next post.

NATO-length stock – Drop
The main reason why this stock won’t do has to do with my choice of optic, which, as I said, is a topic for the next post. The NATO-length stock has two faults: it’s too long for proper/comfortable eye relief with my side-rail-mounted optic, and the comb is too low for a good cheek weld for same.

Railed gas tube – Keep for convenience
I don’t plan on going the cowitnessed red dot route, which is the main use for the gas tube rail, but I don’t have any particular reason to ditch it. Rails are useful. It might come in handy sometime.

Hogue furniture – Keep
I can’t speak highly enough of Hogue’s AK stuff. Grippy without being painful, comfortable to hold, well-molded to the human hand. I couldn’t do better if I tried.

Muzzle brake – Keep
I wasn’t planning on sticking with the AK-74-style brake, since it’s renowned for its size and weight. Tapco used to make a superb muzzle device for AKM-style rifles, which scores at the top of every muzzle device shootout I’ve seen, but they aren’t available anymore. The AK-74 brake may be amusingly large, but that’s part of its charm, and it does look very proper on the front of the gun. It also scores very well in most shootouts, and certainly reduces felt recoil and muzzle climb to very manageable levels: not very far off of an AR-15 without a brake.

This one may change down the line, but I’m holding onto it for now.

Charging handle knob – Keep for convenience
I probably would have chosen a slightly smaller charging handle extension: parvusimperator, in typical fashion, went for what I think is the biggest one he can find. It’s held on with a set screw, looks like, and parvusimperator tells me that he used the dreaded red Loctite, so in the interest of avoiding the tremendous bother finding my heat gun would be, I’ll just leave it as-is for now.

Safety lever – Keep!
The single best mod on the gun. I can easily flip the safety on and off with my index finger. Definitely holding onto it.

So parvusimperator did a pretty good job, though it pains me to say: Kat already has some of the features I want in a competition rifle. She is controllable, much better off as regards ergonomics, and attractive in that Scary Black AK way. Next post, though, we’ll explore what I’m doing to make her mine.

1. It’s multilingual wordplay. A common way of forming a diminutive, cutesy version of a name in Russian is to add an ‘oshka’ or ‘eshka’. For instance, the word for ‘male cat’, ‘kot’, turns into the general word for domestic cats of any sort by adding ‘oshka’: ‘koshka’. Pinning it onto the end of Kalashnikov yields ‘little AK’, Kalashnikoshka, which also ends in the word for cat. Hence, Kat.
2. It was ground off, at some point, but it was almost certainly imported with one. Parvusimperator speculates that, since he obtained it in New York (no friend to firearms rights), the bayonet lug was removed for compliance there.

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