Issue 43 The Tactical Edge Comrade AK Dave Merrill Form Meets Function 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. 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 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. Aesthetics count, and the manufacturing markings are impeccable. 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 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. For the rest of this article, subscribe here: RECOIL Issue 43 Visit https://www.tactical-edgearms.com/ Explore RECOILweb:This Weekend in Georgia: The Precision Rifle ExpoFighting: Be honest to the problem, be honest to yourselfBlackhawk! Gideon Series KnivesMission Essential: MTM Watches NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). Click here to get IMMEDIATE ACCESS to a digital PDF of this target pack!