Rifle Dynamics Custom SAR-1 AK Upgrade: Handcrafted Precision from Las Vegas

by August 15, 2012 08/15/12
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade

You may remember a few months back when Kelly and I went out to Las Vegas to visit Jim Fuller, Billy Cho and the crew from Rifle Dynamics. While we were there, they were able to give us an outstanding tour, interviews and a day filled with shooting fully-auto AKs.

I’d brought my 2002 Romanian SAR-1 AK (7.62 x 39) out with me to Vegas and Jim convinced me to leave it with them for a little work (he didn’t have to convince me that much.) I’ve really loved my SAR-1 since I bought it brand new back in ’02 and have felt it’s been a good shooter.

It was great to hear that Jim had a lot of positive things to say about the SAR-1 and was able to quickly check that it did indeed have correct headspace, a common issue with other off the shelf models like the WASRs. Another thing he mentioned was that they’re fairly straight, meaning that in some cheaper AKs, the  trunions are riveted into the back of the receiver crooked, creating a crooked barrel or stock.

Crooked gas blocks and sights can be fixed, but straightness in the barrel and stock aren’t always easy to fix. For more things to look for when purchasing an off-the-shelf AK, check out Jim’s tips in the video here.

What you’ll see below is before and after photos of the transformation that Rifle Dynamics was able to do to my SAR-1. I’ve also listed the modifications that were done, as well as some notes on my thoughts of my AK in its present form.

SAR-1 Upgrade

Looking at the Rifle Dynamics Upgrades list on their Website, what was done to my SAR-1 was essentially what they dub the “WASR Upgrade,” as mentioned earlier though, the headspace was correct, so there wasn’t much to do in that regard.

Some modifications that were added that aren’t found on the WASR Upgrade were the Tapco G2 Trigger (made in the US), threading the barrel and adding a Battle Comp AKBC (made in the US), removing the AK side scope rail, adding a Krebs Custom Mk VI Enhanced Safety Selector and coating the parkerizing with Black Norrells Moly Resin.

Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade

Upgrade List

  • Sandblast and Parkerize all Metal
  • Krebs Retainer Plate
  • Tapco G-2 Trigger and Fitting
  • Fix any Cant in Sights/Gas Block
  • Fit Safety, Bolt/Bolt Carrier, Mag Catch
  • Dehorn Areas Where Operator Touches
  • Pin Gas Piston
  • Test/Correct Headspace
  • Fuller Rear Sight Mod
  • Threaded Barrel (14×1 LH) and added Battle Comp AKBC
  • Testfire and Zero
  • Norrells Black Moly Resin over Parkerizing
  • Remove AK Side Scope Rail and Weld Holes
  • Krebs Custom Guns Mk VI Enhanced Safety Selector Lever

Before Photos

Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade

After Photos

Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade
Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade

Notes

I’m extremely happy with the work done by Rifle Dynamics and truly feel it has made a difference in the way my AK functions. Aside from the features gleaned from the safety selector, Battle Comp and G2 trigger, I absolutely can tell the difference in the way it feels in everything from charging, cycling and firing.

Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade

The BattleComp is just like my experience has been with the BattleComp 1.5 on my AR I built not too long ago in the DIY AR-15 Build series here on ITS. It’s led to faster follow up shots and enabled me to control muzzle rise a lot better. The Tapco G2 Trigger has less take-up than the stock trigger, which is exactly what I was after.

Rifle Dynamics SAR-1 AK Upgrade

I’m still getting used to the Krebs Safety Selector and the ability to lock the bolt to the rear and work the safety selector with my index finger.  It was a modification I wanted to try out though and this was a good opportunity. I still need more time with it before I give it a final verdict. I’m still running the US PALM AK Battle Grip and AK30 Magazines. They’ve performed great!

I do appreciate the side scope rail being gone, I never used it and figure the loss of its weight is a good thing. If I do ever want to put on a sight on the future, it will be a red dot and there are better ways to do that. I’m also digging the Fuller Rear Sight Mod, which is a  widening of the rear sight notch and rounding of the corners to make the eye naturally align with the sight notch, allowing an improved sight picture.

I’m anxious to put more rounds through my SAR-1 and continue to report back on the progress, I have no doubt that the work that Rifle Dynamics has done will continue to stand out as exceptional upgrades.


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JohnEllis1
JohnEllis1

Why on earth would you remove the side rail?

Josh Rocklage
Josh Rocklage

I have a Soviet AKM rebuilt by Jim as well and it looks very similar to yours with the wood furniture and all. I was just wondering which sling you were running with it however. I like the use of attaching it to the neck of the buttstock, BFG Vickers sling perhaps?

Ratfink
Ratfink

I have a SAR-1 built by jim fuller and its one of the best rifles i have ever had. Mines a 1981 sar1 so the markings are a little bit different than yours, but what a great rifle. The coating they use is super tough and im only missing the finish where the top cover goes on the rifle.

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