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RECOIL Buildsheet: AK SBR

AKs are no longer the pragmatic choice they were 15 years ago. Even bottom-barrel AKs can cost significantly more than the equivalent AR. Quality magazines cost more now than ever, especially if you want new production, and defensive loads are few and far between relative to a 5.56 AR-15.

Despite this, AKs can still be fun — and this Build Sheet is absolutely all about fun. We started with the ugly stepbrother, the Mini Draco chambered in 7.62×39. This Romanian “pistol” has a 7.5-inch barrel and a bit of a reputation for being problematic at times. Though shoulder-firing pistol braces are now quasi-legal again, from the outset the intention with this one was to register it as an SBR.

After the Mini Draco arrived, we ensured it was at least semi-reliable. Then off the paperwork went to Uncle Sam, along with a check for $200 for the privilege of adding a real buttstock some months down the line.

Since AKs are built to wildly different specifications, sometimes when produced within the same country or even the same factory, you should prepare yourself for a bit of parts fitment from time to time. Because of the truncated gas system, the Mini Draco suffers from that same fate and more. While Midwest Industries, Manticore Arms, and SLR Rifleworks all make handguards for the Mini Draco, we decided on the Alfa Rail from Manticore because it provides a couple more inches of space — real estate for your hand is already at a premium, so we wanted as much as we could get. An Arisaka Defense vertical grip made for an excellent handstop without encumbering the rock-n-lock reload of the AK.

The terrible trigger-slappy Romanian fire control group was upgraded with the much better ALG Defense trigger. A three-prong flash hider was added in an attempt to quash the excessive flash from such a short barrel, though it works poorly in that role.

Every rifle we have that’s not solely for gaming gets a weapon-mounted light (WML). Though not always fans of pistol WMLs on rifles, a 600-lumen SureFire X300U-B packs a lot of power in a compact package, so we mounted one on an offset rail. However, it’ll soon be replaced with a new 500-lumen single-cell SureFire M300.

In as-imported form, the Mini Draco comes complete with a hotdog bun handguard.

In as-imported form, the Mini Draco comes complete with a hotdog bun handguard.

Optimal mounting of modern optics can be an issue with the AK, but we kept the package small and lightweight by replacing the rear sight assembly with an Attero Arms RMR mount and topped it with the adjustable 3.5MOA Trijicon RMR06.

We dragged the controls of the Mini Draco a bit more into this century by cutting a bolt-hold-open notch into the safety selector and spot welding on a tab for easier manipulation with the firing hand. And just because we could, we modded a Griffin Armament A3 AR-15 grip to fit. (See “4 Minute AK Fixes” in RECOIL Issue 26 or on RECOILweb for full instructions on these DIY modifications.)

Once the government gave us the permission slip consisting of an approved Form 1, it was time for the buttstock. Manticore Arms makes a triangle folder reminiscent of the original Russian AKSU folders, but without all the major surgery required to install it. Since the Mini Draco’s rear trunnion has a solid back, we simply drilled and tapped it for #10-32 screws and installed an ACE folding stock mechanism and folder. To make the cheek-weld a tad more comfortable, we applied a self-adhesive leather wrap originally intended for use with tennis rackets. It also lends a bit of that post-apocalyptic movie look.

Finally, the receiver, safety, top cover, barrel, gas tube, and muzzle device were Cerakoted in SIG Gray by The Trigger Group in Columbus, Ohio.

More special-purpose than general, this short-barreled AK is extremely compact and will do more to a target than simply bloody its nose with the muzzle blast. With these upgrades, a once neck-bearded rifle-caliber pistol is now infinitely more controllable and practical.

Lots of parts and pieces went into this rifle to make it vastly more practical.

Lots of parts and pieces went into this rifle to make it vastly more practical.

[Editor’s Note: Take note we publish MSRP in regards to pricing–undoubtedly you can do the same for less]

Item & MSRP
Mini Draco: $720
Griffin Armament Grip: $16
Manticore Arms Triangle: $105
Surefire X300U-B: $299
ACE Folding Mechanism: $92
CNC Warrior 3-Prong: $17
Manticore Arms Forend: $199
Vector Offset Rail: $35
Arisaka Defense VFG: $32
Attero Arms Mount: $75
ALG Defense Trigger: $55
Tourna Leather Grip: $13
Trijicon RMR06: $602
Tax Stamp: $200
Totals: $2,460


A Dead Air Wolverine PBS-1 silencer has now been added to the build. A 2-cell Surefire Executive light was upgraded with a 1,000 lumen head to replace the X300U-B. Expect to see another WML change in the future.

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