My Polish AK-47 started earning gouges, scratches and dents when The Beatles’ “Hey Jude” was Billboard’s top hit in 1968. I’m sure each mark has a story behind it.
Although the rifle’s furniture has seen a lot of hard use, its metal components would tell a different story. They were rebuilt in America for 922r compliance and look factory fresh. But I thought the rifle’s furniture could use some rehab to catch up with the metal components’ recent facelift. Swapping out the original furniture with Magpul Original Equipment (MOE) parts seemed like the natural solution, because it provides a fresh look and better ergonomics, making the gun more maneuverable and easier to control. Plus, it makes it easier to attach accessories.
The tools required for a full Magpul MOE rehab include a flat-blade screwdriver and a pair of channel-lock pliers. If you have access to a bench vise and a rubber mallet, that will help with the installation. Your life will be a little easier if you can clamp the AK in a vise by its triggerguard. The rubber mallet will help seat or extricate stuck parts without marring any surfaces. And make sure you use a flat, well-lit benchtop surface.
As you start working on AKs, you soon realize these rifles have a wide range of tolerances. Some have stamped and milled receivers (like my Polish AK), and rifle components differ depending on the country of origin. Not all aftermarket components fit every AK, but I found that Magpul MOE parts typically allow for drop-in installation. Magpul’s instructions are also well written and easy to follow. Of course, before swapping out the furniture, make sure the rifle is unloaded. Then, field-strip the gun into its basic components.
The Magpul MOE AK Stock only fits stamped receivers and is not compatible with rifles that have milled receivers, like Yugo-pattern AKs and Norinco Type 56s because of differences in the rear trunnion’s tang. Magpul says you might have to do some minor fitting of the stock, but I found the MOE AK Stock fit perfectly on my Polish build.
The MOE AK Stock is lighter than the laminated wooden stock, and the 12.8-inch length of pull works for me if I’m wearing extra gear. It also features a rubber recoil pad and a hidden storage compartment that can hold optics batteries or cleaning rod tips. Whatever I store in the compartment, I include a bit of foam so the parts won’t rattle when the lid is closed.
To start, use the flat-blade screwdriver to remove the two buttstock screws. With the screws removed, pull the factory stock out from the rear of the receiver. If the stock is stubborn, use the rubber mallet to gently tap it free.
Insert the MOE wedge block for the MOE AK Stock using the included hex screw, washer and nut. Make sure the washer is between the screw head and the hole in the stock. The hole in the stock is in the forward end, inside the storage compartment. Note how the nut fits flush into the wedge block. The long screw pulls the wedge into the stock so there’s no wiggle.
Magpul AK Installation
Next, insert the two weld nuts into the T-slot at the top forward end of the stock. The first weld nut goes into the slot dimple down and hole-end first. The second goes in hole-end last, dimple down. The hole in each weld nut must be aligned with the two screw holes in the rear trunnion. The weld nuts slide around in the slot, so use the long hex wrench to position them.
Take the 7/16-inch button-head screw and place the brass conical washer tapered-side down. Insert them into the first, forward-most trunnion hole, and tighten them to 30 to 40 foot-pounds using the hex wrench. Next, insert the 3/8-inch screw through the second or rear-most trunnion tang hole, and tighten it to 30 to 40 foot-pounds. Tighten the wedge block to 30 to 40 foot-pounds using the long hex wrench. Make sure the stock is flush with the rear of the receiver, with no gaps. Finally, snap the storage compartment cover into place.
Magpul also offers cheek risers that are compatible with MOE stocks and snap over the comb of the stock. The cheek risers come in 0.25-, 0.5- and 0.75-inch heights. I find the extra height gives me a better cheekweld when using optics.
Magpul offers two MOE handguards for the AK and AKM. The standard MOE AK handguard will only work with handguard retainers that don’t include a sling loop. You can install it on a rifle that has a sling loop, but you’ll first need to cut off the loop. My Polish AK has the loop, and I wanted to keep it, so I used the MOE AKM handguard.
Magpul inserts stainless-steel heat shields into the handguard to protect the operator from excessive heat during extended fire, and M-LOK slots along the sides and bottom of the handguard allow you to attach various accessories, including lights, lasers, sling swivels and grips.
First, install the bottom half of the MOE AKM handguard by inserting the two square lugs at the rear of the handguard into the open end at the front of rifle’s receiver, and pivot it toward the barrel. Then, slide the handguard retainer rearward along the barrel until it fits over the front of the handguard. Rotate the cam lever down to lock it into place.
You will need to remove the gas tube from the upper portion of the factory handguard by grasping the rear retaining cap with the channel-lock pliers, or by securing it in a vise and rotating the handguard 180 degrees to free it. Replace it with the MOE upper handguard by rotating it back 180 degrees to lock it into the front and rear retainers. Reinstall it on the rifle, and rotate the gas cylinder tube lock downward.
Magpul’s MOE AK+ Grip also has a hidden compartment. It’s flatter and wider than the factory grip, and it has textured rubber overmolding so you’ll still have traction with sweaty hands.
AK pistol grips are typically attached to the receiver via a long screw and a T-shaped nut inside the receiver. The screw/nut combination pulls the grip into the bottom of the receiver to secure it. Use the flat-blade screwdriver to remove the factory grip.
Keep the T-nut, and position it in the hole at the bottom of the receiver so it angles toward the butt of the rifle. Insert the included screw into the Magpul MOE AK+ Grip, and hold it in place with a screwdriver. Then, with your other hand, hold the T-nut in place inside the receiver. Tighten the screw, and you’re good to go.
Lock & Load
Reassemble the rifle and conduct a systems check. The only other MOE part you might want to consider is Magpul’s PMAG 30 AK/AKM GEN M3, an inexpensive, lightweight, 30-round, polymer magazine designed for AK-platform rifles in 7.62x39mm. It features a removable floorplate, constant-curve geometry, a low-friction follower and steel-reinforced locking lugs. It’s a must if you want to keep running and gunning without any jams.
For more information, visit magpul.com.
This article is from the March 2019 issue of Tactical Life magazine. Grab your copy at OutdoorGroupStore.com. For digital editions, visit Amazon.