Thursday, February 16, 2012

Building an AK-74 DMR Rifle

AK-74 DMR Rifle
The AR-15 seems to get all the attention in the U.S. market place.  No less than 50 different companies currently make, or did make, AR-15's for civilian sales in the U.S.  Couple that with the countless manufacturers of accessories like rails, stocks, sights, mounts, slings, barrels, triggers, etc. and it's a massive industry that feeds the AR marketplace.

But what about the AK?  The popularity of the AK has been growing by leaps and bounds over the last couple of years.  At one time major online retailers like Atlantic Firearms sold mostly AR's.  Today Atlantic Firearms tells me they sell 10 AK's for every AR they sell.  If you look at their main page you can see a massive array of AK's presented to the buyer, something they apparently want.

Slowly we're starting to see high quality accessories for the AK being made by companies such Midwest Industries, US PALM and RS Products being offered.  The one area where AK's still need development is in the long range accuracy department.  Many people believe that the AK is horribly inaccurate and there's nothing you can do about it.

Straight Jacket system
This isn't true.  Marc Krebs has been working to build sub-MOA AK's for a while now and I've shot a couple examples.  But having Marc build you a rifle is not only expensive but it can take a while.  Gunsmiths such as Marc are in high demand and they're usually swamped with work.

What if someone could build an AK that shot 1" groups at 100 yards that cost less than $1500?  That puts it in the same price range as a good quality AR.

I've always wanted a Designated Marksman Rifle (DMR) based on the AK.  A DMR isn't a sniper rifle per se, it's a rifle intended to be used by regular grunts for medium range aimed fire.  It's not typically as fancy as a full blown sniper rifle and it's usually semi-automatic.  It's also usually based on a standard infantry rifle that's been slightly modified to increase the long range accuracy.

Muzzle brake on the Straight Jacket system
When I attended David Fortier's Big 3 Event last year, I was introduced to Teludyne Tech.  They offer a unique product called the "Straight Jacket" that is applied to a factory barrel and is claimed to substantially increase the accuracy of the rifle.  It not only makes the barrel more rigid, like a heavy barrel, but it also acts as a very efficient heat sink that whisks heat away from the barrel and chamber of the rifle.  I gave a demonstration of this in my video review of the event.

It dawned on me, what if I took the Straight Jacket system and applied it to a AK-74?  Would it make it as accurate as an AR-15?  I contacted my friends at Atlantic Firearms and discussed the concept with the owner.  He shared my interest and so the project to build a DMR AK-74 began.

The rifles were sent to Teludyne before Christmas of 2011.  We got them back the week after SHOT Show 2012.  I just received my test rifle last week and the testing will begin this coming weekend.  The goal is to confirm the accuracy potential of the rifle with common commercially available 5.45x39 ammo.  A video or two about this process will be posted to the Military Arms Channel in the next few weeks.

Straight Jacket adds little weight to the rifle
Why was the AK-74 chosen vs. one chambered for the 7.62x39?  Simple:  Ballistics.  The 5.45x39 is flatter shooting and less effected by wind drift than the 7.62x39.  The DMR rifle should be able to engage targets out to 500m and the 7.62x39 simply isn't up to that task.  The AK-74 also has very mild recoil, similar to that of the AR15 which will make follow-up shots very quick and easy.  I believe the 5.45x39 is the ideal cartridge for this project.

Waffen Werks was chosen as the test bed for this project.  They are known for building quality AK's using Bulgarian parts kits and NODAK SPUD receivers.  They produce about the best U.S. made rifles on the market and they're reasonably priced.

I'll keep you guys posted on the progress of the project here on the Blog and on our YouTube channel. If you have any questions, swing by our Facebook page and post your questions there (or here in the comments section).


  1. I have been dreaming of something like this for years and I'm extremely excited to see where this project takes you. That said, I think a good trigger would do this project a lot of justice also. Are you using the standard FCG shipped with the Waffen Werks '74 or are you swapping it out for something better? My personal favorite setup is the Red Star Arms adjustable trigger with a JTE hammer spring. After a day of tinkering with the assembly in my Draco SBR I was able to achieve a ~2.5lb 2-stage pull with zero overtravel and a short reset. The second stage breaks clean and the first stage is smooth with no grittiness. Just a thought.

  2. It's the stock trigger for now, but I may order a Red Star Arms trigger for it to try out. Thanks for the suggestion. I've dreamed of a AK74 DMR for a while too. I'm really excited about this project.

  3. Linked at my place:

    Glad to see somebody give the Straight Jacket a good test! I heard about it on a podcast but then never saw it in action.

  4. I love the concept. Keep up the good work brother.

  5. Have you calculate the additional weight this process added? It sure does look beefy...I can't wait for the results. Glad you did this one.

  6. What is the status of the project. I am building a similar project based on a CNC Warrior Milled receiver. I would love to hear about the trigger chosen and the barrel treatment performance

  7. What happened to this project, teludynes site is under construction still but i have many questions and an excellent platform for this if its the real deal and still in action