As the legend goes, Mikhail Timofeyovich Kalashnikov began work on his infamous assault rifle in 1942 while recovering from wounds incurred during the battle of Brausk in World War II. The resulting Avtomat Kalashnikova model 1947 went on to become the most produced firearm in the history of the planet.
Total production of the classic Kalashnikov and its variants now numbers more than 100 million, and they are found in virtually every country. In many of the world’s trouble spots, the Kalashnikov is background clutter not unlike cooking pots and televisions.
Archangel AK stock set brings the classic AK into the 21st century. Stock is utterly robust and significantly enhances the effectiveness of this legacy weapon.
There is a reason Kalashnikov’s rifle has done so well on the world’s battlefields. It fires a hard-hitting .30-caliber bullet and is legendarily reliable. It is simple to use and even simpler to maintain. Despite the availability of markedly more technologically advanced small arms systems, many armed professionals even today opt for the classic AK in its classic caliber.
But for all its accolades and attributes, the Kalashnikov design is still 70 years old. When the first AK rolled off the line, jet engines were in their infancy, the state of the art in space technology was Sputnik, and the simplest computers in existence occupied entire buildings.
In the case of the traditional AK rifle, modern technology and 21st century engineering have conspired to enhance this legacy system and make it competitive with the most modern designs in the marketplace.
Archangel stock set incorporates four standard sling sockets as well as a dedicated sling slot.
The Archangel Michael of Biblical renown is the personal messenger of God. I have met the guys at Archangel Manufacturing, and they do strive to live up to their namesake, in the process producing some top-shelf tactical products.
I maintain several of my service weapons with Archangel gear and have been extremely pleased with the design, quality and execution of their products. The folks at Archangel are artisans and their medium is carbon fiber.
The AK is undeniably reliable and robust. It is the standard by which all military weapons are judged. However, there are certain attributes of the design that can admittedly be enhanced. While the atrocious safety lever is something we are likely stuck with for the time being, other pieces of the system are ripe for improvement.
Archangel stock set comes with two upper handguards, one of which incorporates a scope mount. All stock material is built from nearly indestructible carbon-fiber composite.
CLASSIC LINES, CONTEMPORARY FUNCTION
The standard fixed stock on the Kalashnikov weapon system has a marked drop from the receiver to the toe. While this does make for a comfortable platform from the shoulder—the stock was designed to fit the human form—it exhibits an unfortunate side effect. The line of recoil ends up above the shoulder, which creates an inevitable twisting movement when forces are transferred to the shooter’s shoulder. The result of all this physics is muzzle climb.
Most modern military weapons are designed such that the recoil impulse is transmitted directly into the operator’s shoulder in a straight line. This should eliminate the tendency of the rifle to climb when fired vigorously. Archangel designed their replacement stock set with just that in mind. The new stock aligns perfectly with the bore of the rifle and makes a significant difference in controllability, particularly on full-auto.
Another unfortunate turn of physics regarding the Kalashnikov rifle system is that it can be difficult to mount an optical sight on it. Many factory AKs include a side-mounted scope rail riveted to the receiver, but this necessitates bulky elevated scope mounts to bring the optic up to the shooter’s eye level.
Forearm incorporates sheet steel heat shield to help ameliorate heat buildup. Standard handguard on an AK gets hot quickly in rapid fire.
Archangel addresses this shortcoming by incorporating a short length of Picatinny rail into the top portion of the handguard. In this manner, a red dot sight may be employed in long-eye-relief mode to make target acquisition markedly faster. There is a bare upper handguard included as well should the operator choose to forego an optical sight.
The lower handguard on the traditional AK is made of wood or a phenolic composite, and it can get unpleasantly hot in a very brief period of time. As few as two to three magazines on rapid fire can make grasping the traditional rifle a gut check.
Archangel addresses this issue with a stamped steel heat shield in the lower handguard, which keeps the appendage markedly cooler than its conventional counterpart.
The stock itself incorporates four standard sling swivel sockets as well as a dedicated sling slot. If you cannot find the sling combination that suits you with this stock, you are just being too picky.
Most any long-eye-relief red dot scope will fit on the Archangel mount. After a little attention, fit and lockup on test rifle were tight.
Mounting the stock is painless, but does involve drilling two holes in the polymer. Given that there has been wide variation among the 100 million or so AKs in circulation, this insures that the stock is tight and wobble-free on the host weapon. This chore took me less than five minutes with a hand drill.
As the scope mount is part of the top handguard, stability is at the mercy of the original host steel gas piston cover. In my case, this is a high-mileage rifle with fairly loose tolerances. After a few magazines, the piece did start to wiggle a bit, but ten minutes with some scrap plastic sheet and model airplane glue shimmed it nice and tight. In the final analysis, with a little attention, the scope mount works like a champ even with my beat-up old rifle.
Archangel stock set puts line of recoil directly into operator’s shoulder.
By comparison, original Kalashnikov stock drops markedly and foments muzzle rise. Angle is obvious on this Romanian RPK.
AT THE RANGE
The difference between lipstick on a pig and a tactical game changer is evidenced in the field. With this in mind, I mounted up the new Archangel stock set on a full-auto Romanian AKM and retired to the range with a can full of ammo and a pile of magazines.
The Archangel stock is adjustable in two dimensions. The height of the cheek riser is readily adjustable with the press of a button, and detents are firm and crisp. The stock adjusts in length as well through a range of settings with a simple lever. In this manner, it can accommodate any physique or body armor.
The stock is more adjustable than collapsible, and this makes for a completely stable firing platform. The subsequent readily repeatable cheek weld that consistently indexes with optical sights is a pleasant improvement over the original.
Unlike AK’s original, Archangel pistol grip is comfortable and large enough for corn-fed American shooters.
The overall result is fairly remarkable. The AK in 7.62x39mm is a powerful rifle for its light weight and diminutive dimensions. For this reason, while undeniably effective, I have never really enjoyed shooting it. But with the new Archangel stock set installed, the shooter puts physics on his side for a change.
Rapid-fire strings are tighter and more comfortable thanks to the generous rubber recoil pad and in-line design. Full-auto bursts are markedly more manageable over the standard wooden furniture. Firing any military weapon on full-auto from the shoulder requires a modicum of technique for optimal control, but this in-line system from Archangel brings AK performance into the 21st century.
Archangel stock set comes replete with generous rubber buttpad.
More than a few civilian contractors operating downrange in today’s conflict zones carry Kalashnikov rifles. The reliability is appealing and the ready availability of ammunition outside of conventional supply channels is also a plus.
Additionally, entire armies employ AK rifles and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Semi-auto AK rifles are also markedly cheaper than their AR counterparts on the U.S. civilian market. This all adds up to widespread applications for well-executed aftermarket enhancements.
In the case of the Archangel AK upgrade, the materials are virtually indestructible and the design is brilliantly done. Five minutes with a hand drill and your classic AK shoots straighter and is more comfortable than ever before. Combine this with the built-in optics mount and surprisingly pleasant price, and I think Archangel has a winner.
My old AK furniture is headed to the attic.