By: Sal Palma
When Parabellum Armament, LLC. announced the AKARS (AK Adaptive Rail System) in the fall of 2012, I was somewhat skeptical. I’ve accumulated a lot of experience, mostly bad, over the years looking for an effective way to mount a Picatinny rail along the bore axis on an AK47. I tried a number of approaches but none provided a solid mounting option with repeatable and consistent results; needless to say, I approached Parabellum’s product with a dose of healthy skepticism.
I decided to move forward with the project after meeting Rick Veal, one of Parabellum’s founders. Rick impressed me as a straight up guy who knew his subject matter well. I went ahead and tracked one down – by the way, these are not easy to come by – then reached out to my buddy, the Mad Russian, who was all too eager to volunteer his Bulgarian, milled receiver AK47 as a test bed.
The AKARS arrived a couple of weeks ago, so first things first; I sat down and read the instruction leaflet.
Installation of the AKARS was very straightforward. After clearing the weapon, the first thing you’ll need to do is remove the receiver cover and recoil spring assembly.
Next, you’ll want to remove the rear sight from the rear sight block. To do that, you’ll need a small flat head screwdriver. Insert the tool in the slot on the sight so that you are directly above the sight’s retaining spring. The spring provides tensioning of the sight. You’ll need to use some force; with the proper amount of pressure, you’ll feel the spring compress. This is precisely what you want. While maintaining downward force, pull up and back on the rear sight until it comes away from the sight block. Note that the spring remains in position and should be left alone. Now you’re ready to install the AKARS.
The AKARS comes packaged with one rail assembly, a receiver cover, two Allen wrenches and a roll pin.
One end of the AKARS attaches to the rear sight block on the AK; this is where you want to start you installation. Begin by removing a small set screw followed by the pivot pin that comes with the rail assembly.
Now align the AKARS attachment point with that of the rear sight block. You will need to press down on the AKARS to overcome the spring tension. The best way to do that is by holding the AKARS perpendicular to the rear sight block as you press down. It takes some force to successfully compress the sight tensioning spring. When you’ve overcome the spring tension, the holes are aligned; now insert the pivot pin and gently tap it in. The pin is not keyed so you can insert it from either the left or right side.
You’ve just completed all of the “difficult” parts in the installation process, and your installation will now look like Figure 1. on the top left. Next you’ll be attaching the receiver cover to the rail assembly.
The receiver cover has a keyed attachment point consisting of two pins set in a block. The block sits on the receiver cover, which is slotted to allow for front to back movement of the mounting block.You’re in the homestretch now.
Next, install recoil spring assembly so that you’re ready for Parabellum’s receiver cover.
Insert the receiver cover indexing pins in the corresponding holes on the rail assembly; now seat and install the receiver cover on the weapon’s receiver. The receiver cover will self-align with the rail assembly and the weapon.
Your final step will be to tighten the set screw on the rail assembly followed by the two hex screws on the receiver cover. Feel free to use blue Loctite. You’re done!
The process from start to finish, including reading the instructions was 15 minutes.
Fit and finish are excellent considering its mounting to an AK47. There is so much variability from one AK47 to another that it’s next to impossible to design anything around an AK with consistency.
The only fit and finish issue I experienced with the AKARS was between the AKARS’ receiver cover and the safety actuating lever.
Figure 2. , on the right, shows that on my test weapon, the safety lever could not be fully engaged because of a dimensional problem between the receiver cover and the safety lever. This was a very simple issue to resolve and I ended up grinding down the safety actuating lever just a few thousands to resolve the problem.
With a grinding wheel or Dremel tool you’re looking at 2 minutes worth of work, tops, with a steady hand.
What do you gain by installing Parabellum’s AKARS? You get the flexibility of mounting any Picatinny compatible optic available on the market. As part of my review, I went through magnified optics, Aimpoint, EOTech and mini red dot sights; all worked extremely well.
As part of my testing, I removed and reinstalled the optics, which I checked against a reference zeroed laser pointer. Sight alignment was maintained in all but one case. I then removed and reinstalled the receiver cover a number of times with no loss of zero.
Throughout my testing I encountered only one instance when sight alignment was noticeably off and that was caused by a problem with the sight mount itself and not the AKARS.
I did not test fire the weapon to identify the existence of any anomalies resulting from recoil – I was caught flatfooted with the ammo scarcity – but as soon as I get to the range I’ll send a few rounds down range to see what affect, if any, recoil has on sight alignment.
Updated 7 Feb 2013:
After securing ammunition (this ammo situation is amazing to put it mildly), I fired the test platform to assess return to zero and any changes to point of impact resulting from recoil. Parabellum’s AKARS performed brilliantly no problems with return to zero or holding zero under live fire.
After spending a considerable amount of time with Parabellum’s AKARS, I have no reservations. You couldn’t ask for a more thorough design. Quality too was superb. With a retail price of $129.99 it’s quite a bargain. However, keep in mind there is a considerable amount of variability AK to AK but Parabellum’s design does everything humanly possible to account and correct for that.
If you are AK centric the AKARS is a must have!
For Additional Information:
3142 Broadway, Suite-200Grove City, Ohio 43123 (614) 593-2525
Trying to locate a H&K M750900-A5, SP5K 9mm with two 30rd magazines – MSRP $2699. What must I do to own one within a 6 months?
Boy! Gary that’s a tough one. HK didn’t make many so they’re damd near impossible to get. Your best bet is trying something like Gun Broker but I’m not hopeful. Why don’t you consider their new SP5 9MM MP5 clone. They sell it in a pistol format and you always have the option to complete an ATF Form 1 to covert it to a short barrel rifle. It takes about six to 8 months to get a response from the ATF NFA Division.