Guns The Tactical Edge Comrade AK Dave Merrill February 24, 2022 1 Comments, Join the Conversation Tactical Edge USA started out as a simple retail store, but has turned into so much more. They first started dabbling with AR-15s chock full of premium parts. But frankly, there are N+1 companies doing that these days. Because they fell in love with AKs, they ultimately decided to do the same with the AR’s commie brethren. The AK hasn’t been a cheap or pragmatic choice for over a decade, so the guys at Tactical Edge figured they would forgo “inexpensive” options and fully embrace the premium market. Unlike ARs, this part of the industry is comparatively underserved. So when we caught a glimpse of one of these rifles, we knew we would have to get our grubbies on a Comrade AK. Which brings us to this article. Aesthetics count, and the manufacturing markings are impeccable. Standard Configuration There are a whole lot of upgrades to the Tactical Edge Comrade rifle, some of which you may not typically perform yourself. So what makes this rifle cost just north of $2,000? Sure, it features an ALG trigger and an SLR Rifleworks handguard … but there’s also a titanium nitride-coated bolt carrier and piston, as well as a grey Cerakoted receiver. The barrel itself is no rando or used foreign affair but an American-made black nitrided 14.5-inch assembly, threaded in 14x1LH. Though the Soviet-Is-Best purists will naysay this rifle upon sight due to the modern aesthetics, the Comrade has features even the fanatics will appreciate. It has forged trunnions, a forged bolt carrier, proper rivets, gap-less receiver, and an East German combination gas block/front sight block — all as standard features. Most other American AKs can’t say the same, though they’ll spout some “just as good as” lines on the internet. As it came from the factory, the brake was pinned and welded with a Lantac DrAKon per BATFE specifications. The “pistol” and SBR 7.62×39 and 5.45 weapons Tactical Edge produces come standard with a SureFire WarComp. Each AK-pattern rifle also rocks enhanced controls, with a magazine release paddle even larger and longer than the excellent Chinese ones, and a safety lever that’s incredibly easy to manipulate with the dominant hand. Tactical Edge sent us a new production safety lever to replace our pre-production model, and the upgrade was far easier to both slide off “safe” and smack it back up. The ledge on the production charging handle is smaller to allow for some curvature of the finger as well as more angled and closer to the trigger finger than the previous iteration — if they sold these separately we’d buy about a dozen of them. The production safety selector (right) beats the bejesus out of the pre-production one. The SLR Rifleworks handguard not only comes with a rail appropriate for cowitnessing a red dot such as an Aimpoint Micro, but also four M-LOK slots on three of the sides. The longer handguard allows you to grab on closer to the muzzle for better control, and also provides more real estate for required accessories. Many AKs on the market have an (incorrect) welded gas piston, which has no wobble. The folks at Tactical Edge have a properly riveted TiN gas piston, with the wobble closely associated with reliability of the AK system. The Comrade also boasts a stock upgrade with a left-side folder, highly sought after in the AK community, especially when compared to a bunch of add-a-sh*t-plastic like the Magpul Zhukof. Bear in mind that this is not the AK-100 series solid stock (a favorite) but instead the classic triangle folder. Khyber Pass AF. The current king of AK triggers is produced by ALG Defense, and it’s standard on the Comrade. The pistol grip is a Magpul MOE K-2 AK grip. Frankly, we could take it or leave it — it’s good enough to leave on and not bad enough to bother removing. The extra storage is a bonus, though. Instead of a more traditional handstop or vert grip, the Comrade (and other Tactical Edge offerings) comes with their Advanced Angled Handstop (AAH). Not only does it have a rear stop that allows you to pull the rifle into your shoulder to manage recoil, it has a finger indexing point and a hard stop up front. Upgraded Admittedly, this rifle checks a lot of boxes right out of the gate. Enhanced controls? Check. OK optic mounting (as far as AKs are concerned…)? Check. Great trigger? Check. Rad stock? Check. Upgraded barrel? You got it. However, there was still a bit of work to do. The very first thing we did was submit a BATFE Form 1 to turn the Comrade into a registered short barreled rifle (SBR). The second after that paperwork was received, we removed the Lantac. Brakes in general and Lantac DrAKons in particular are concussive as hell. A rapid Dremeling of the weld plus a tap on the workbench made this quaint “feature” easy to rotate off and remove, exposing some rather clean 14x1LR threads. We knew we’d be running this gun suppressed, and with the AK already being fairly overgassed, the beast would have to be tamed somehow. While an enhanced recoil spring comes included with the Comrade, we swapped in a Snakehound Machine spring set. This is damn near required for all AKs, suppressed or not, but it really cuts down on the recoil when a silencer is rolling on the muzzle. Regarding silencers, we also added a recoil buffer and applied a liberal amount of RTV silicone around it to quash any leaded gas to the face (see Taming the Beast: How to Silence an AK from RECOIL Issue #38 for a comprehensive DIY). It’s ugly when the top cover is off, but you can’t tell when it’s closed. RTV silicone is ugly AF, but it’s effective, especially when combined with Snake Hound Machine springs. Plus, you can’t see it when the top cover is installed anyway. Additionally, we added a paracord wrap to the triangle stock to make it more comfortable when shooting. As previously mentioned, an AK-100 solid stock would be better, but they aren’t readily available — and when they are, they’re cost prohibitive. While Tactical Edge included one of their triangle stock pouches, we’re more inclined to add a 3C Medical stock blowout pouch. But since that rig was on a go-to short-barreled AK, we forwent it altogether. The SLR Rifleworks handguard features two sling quick-disconnect spots on either side; one close to the receiver and another towards the muzzle end. We knew we could do better. Not only did we remove the right-side fixed sling point on the triangle stock, we converted it to accept a quick-disconnect sling mount and then added another to the top-rear of the stock. See the sidebar for the full instructions. Stock Woes The Comrade uses a Bulgarian-made triangle stock, with some quirks. Normally a Bulgy folder would rock a 4.5mm hinge pin, but instead Tactical Edge went with a 5.5mm modern AK-100 style pin for the Comrade. Unfortunately for Tactical Edge, since they were going with new production stocks they were relegated to so-called Bulgarian “civilian” models. These don’t have rolled-steel construction for increased strength like the older military versions and caused a bit of a headache. The first stock was unsatisfactory. The first one we received actually bent from simply holding the stock firmly against our shoulder during a magazine change. I’m not Superman and have never seen this happen before. Tactical Edge quickly sent another, but the second one had a buttplate installed backward, so we blew hard on the mechanism the retaining latch would fail. Third time’s the charm, and the latest replacement is A-OK. We daresay that their Bulgarian suppliers are f–king them a bit here, and it also wouldn’t be the first time a product was labeled, “Made in Bulgaria” when it was actually made in Jiangsu (there are still people in prison over that). We spent some time looking for a solid AK-100 folder with a 5.5mm, as opposed to 4.5mm hinge pin, but all of them were prohibitively expensive. While you’d think you could just drill out a 4.5mm part or shim a 4.5mm nut, the angle is also 2.5 degrees off so it ends up being wonky after installation. And come on, if you wanted wonky you’d buy a Century Arms rifle covered in Tapco. Because we received a pre-production prototype, we knew there would be a handful of issues that users wouldn’t see on production models. This isn’t new to us by any means, but it does mean that occasionally there’s a bit of work to do. This case was rather tame, and the only surgical thing we had to do was to trim the top of the magazine release a bit before a good sample of magazines fit the bill. ADDING QD SLING MOUNTS TO AN AK TRIANGLE STOCK While triangle folders come standard with a fixed sling swivel, we decided to do some upgrades. First, let’s get rid of that OEM fixed point. We freely admit we followed instructions from Echo-93 on this one. Required tools: ½-inch drill bit5/8-inch drill bitDrillPliers How to: 1) First and foremost, remove the fixed sling point with your pliers. This involves bending the tabs on the rear end so the whole assembly can be removed. 2) Enlarge the exposed hole to ½ inch, drilling slowly. 3) Carefully (slowly!) countersink the hole with the 5/8ths bit until a QD swivel can easily snap in place. Done! For the QD Sling point on the top rear where we like it, it’s pretty simple: Required tools/parts: Dremel (or files, or grinder, or … you get the idea)DrillMagpul M-LOK or similar QD sling mount1/8-inch drill bit How to: 1) Grind the rear of the sling mount flat 2) Using a pen or automatic center punch, mark the first hole to be drilled 3) Drill a single hole — make sure to go slow. 4) Attach flattened rear M-LOK QD sling mount to the first hole utilizing OEM screw and nut 5) Align QD mount in-line with stock 6) Using the mount itself as a guide, make second mark and drill slowly. 7) Fully attach QD sling mount with OEM screw and nut. We took the extra step of reversing the nuts for greater surface area. That’s it! Now you have two separate QD mounts to utilize on your triangle stock. Outfitting If you’ve been reading so far, then you’ll see there isn’t a whole helluva lot to do to the base model of this rifle. Of course, we’d have to add a weapon mounted light and an optic to bring this rifle into fighting shape. We opted for a Primary Arms Advanced Micro Red Dot (MD-ADS). The 2MOA dot is crisp, has been proven durable, and has a 50,000-hour battery life (sound familiar?). Though it started out in FDE, we rattle-canned it brown to more closely match our paracord wrap. For the light, we cobbled together a SureFire M600 Ultra on a Haley Strategic Thorntail mount. The mount brought the light out far enough to easily activate with the support hand thumb. And of course, we put on a silencer on her. Had we gotten a model with a SureFire WarComp the easy button would be a SOCOM762MINI2, but since we started out with a Lantac, we went a different route. We selected the SilencerCo Chimera, but as you can tell from the photos there’s a little more going on here. First, we started out with a Griffin Armament 14x1LH-to-5/8×24 thread adapter. Griffin Armament is our preference because the adapter aligns from the end of the muzzle itself instead of the shoulder — paramount for AKs. Yes, though this is an American-made barrel, and undoubtedly built to better specs than a drunken Russian factory worker is capable of, it doesn’t hurt to be careful. Next we installed a Dead Air flash hider, and a Dead Air Key-Mo adapter for use with the Chimera. Yes, Dead Air makes a 14x1LH flash hider, which would reduce the length a little bit, but we rolled with what we had in the parts bin. Down the line, we’ll swap it out. Differences in Full Production As we previously mentioned, our Comrade example was a pre-production model. The one that you’ll receive at your FFL is virtually the same as the model that we upgraded. Dead Air flash hiders will be standard as opposed to the obnoxious Lantac and the triangle folder will have reinforced welds. The new safety selector will be installed, and as little fitment as possible will have to take place. At the Range After the very first range trip, we knew we’d have to apply some RTV silicone and a Snakehound spring kit. The gas to the face when suppressed is not only dangerous in the long term, the more than robust recoil would make it less than pleasant in the short term. However, if you’re not planning on adding a silencer into the mix, the rifle will be A-OK as-is. After we applied the upgrades described, it became more than pleasant. Zeroing was easy, utilizing a standard 50/100 yard trajectory for 7.62×39. If you’re stuck at a 25-yard indoor range, zero so the impacts are about 0.5-inch under your aiming point and then later confirm at distance. Regarding accuracy, it’s no laser beam, but it did consistently group just under 3 inches. Look, it’s an AK. Buy an AR if you want better. Loose Rounds There undoubtedly are many who will cry foul at the price of the base rifle, but we’re not among them. Though we too remember the days when a Romanian parts kit could be bought for double-digits, that simply isn’t the case anymore. Putting together an American AK costs a helluva lot more than people realize, and when you add up all the premium parts that come standard the price point is certainly more bearable. It’s not 2005, and you can’t buy a WASR for $7 anymore — deal with it. Tactical Edge Comrade Caliber: 7.62 x 39Barrel Length: 14.5 inches (NFA), 16 inches with permanently attached muzzle device (standard).Overall Length: 24 inches (closed), 34 inches (open)Weight: 7 pounds, unloadedMagazine Capacity: 30 roundsMSRP: $2,099URL: tactical-edgearms.com Modifications Primary Arms MD-ADS: $125SureFire M600 Ultra: $299Haley Strategic Thorntail: $50Griffin Armament Adapter: $60Dead Air Flash Hider: $89Dead Air Key-Mo: $249SilencerCo Chimera: $1,030Magpul M-LOK QD Sling Mount (Modified): $20 Price as Featured: $4,021 More on AKs and their Cousins Taming the Beast: DIY AK Silencer Tricks.PSA AK: Blue Collar Build. Explore RECOILweb:Vist: The National Guard Militia Museum of New JerseyPreview - National World War II MuseumCheap Night Vision Goggles? 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