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  1. #1
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    Russian & Bulgarian AKSU Rifles

    Russian & Bulgarian AKSU Rifles

    I would like to solicit the help of forum members that are interested in drafting a new Krinkov thread. The main goal would be to document with pictures and text the differences in the Russian and Bulgarian rifles, and time line changes for both. Do to my limited knowledge of the Krinkov, and the rarity of Russian made and early Bulgarian made parts in the hands of collectors, I stand no chance of doing the thread on my own. It will require input (pictures, information, references, grammar, spelling, etc.) from many collectors and enthusiasts to make this happen. I would hope that in a matter of 3 to 6 months we could have a good start on the subject. At least by then we will have made good progress or the thread will have died on the vine do to lack of interest, lack of work, or my bad attempts at humor. I am guessing there may never be more information in the hands of collectors, on this subject than there is now. With the possibility of new gun control legislation in our future, I fear interest on the subject could diminish and much of this information will be lost, so now is the time.

    I really like the format of the “Russian AK-74 Production Modifications” document. I would suggest this as a possible format, but this is just a suggestion. Rather than starting with an attempt at a complete draft or even an outline I would like to start off the thread by picking one or two parts at a time, run them in to the ground, and move on to the next part or item of discussion. When we have covered most of the parts and other topics, we can look at what we have and go from there.

    One thing that I really need help with is to not to observe one part, and then read too much into it, keep me on the straight and narrow. I tend to get the cart before the horse a lot of times anyway, and I always liked the idea of dessert first! So out of any kind of logical order, here goes...

    Development activity was complete by 1979 (Izhevsk arsenal). Tula arsenal started production in 1979 and ran until 1989 for Soviet Military use. Production continued at Tula until at least until 1993 for export. Also Izhevsk arsenal did special production runs during the entire build time. So I would say that early production Krinkovs would be 1979 until 1884. Mid production starts in 1985~86, this is when they switched to non-vented hand guards (still have the deep cut finger guards for a short period of time?) and started press/punch mounting of the FSB and hinge block to the barrel. I do not know when they switched to the dual rivet feed ramp in the trunnion, shallow finger grooves, and the more deeply rolled over butt stock struts. I would say anything after 87 would probably be late. The Krinkov much like the AKM continued to have minor changes through production so there really is no definitive early, mid, late production rifles. Some of the things such as the different embossing pattern on the safety lever, shallow cut hand guards, and deep rolled stock strut’s may all be from post Soviet era rifles or export versions. The main reason for using these terms is to show a order of use for different versions of a particular part.

    This 1978 Izzy looks to be the final proto-type.



    There seems to be a lot of recent interest in Russian hand guards, I would like to start off the discussion with these.

    Hand Guards

    Tula: The first production made hand guards are known as the vented type. These were made form laminate wood with the typical Russia shellac finish. There appears to have been two varieties of the lower, ones with a slightly deeper cut main trench and a relief cut for full air flow through the vents on the lower hand guard retainer. I would guess that this was the first of the two vented varieties to be produced. This assumption is being made do to the later non-vented varieties not have these features. The second variety is near identical, with only the main interior cut being slightly shallower and no relief cut for the lower hand guard retainer vents. At least this is all that I have noticed. One thing to keep in mind is that AK parts variations are caused by at least two causes. One being true planned design changes, and the other being day to day variations. The day to day variations are caused by such things as the operator, the supervisor, the machine used, the factory, materials on hand, etc. My first thoughts are that the depth of the trench may be a strength issue, more material remaining the more robust the hand guard. However it is possible that it is just random variances and the examples shown just happen to line up this way.


    The Hand Guard on top is the first variety



    The one on the left is the first variety




    Here you can see the center cut is deeper by looking at the hole drilled through the back end of the hand guard



    Here you can see the air flow through the retainer vent is partially obscured on the second variety (below).



    This is the first variety (below). It does not have any obstruction to air flow.



    Also the lower handguard retainer is the late style manufactured by Tula. It has the more rounded release lever (below). This one has a proof mark (above).



    The Bulgarian made and early made Russian rifles had the square variety release lever (below), these are both Bulgaria made.



    I received a PM from one of the forum members, speculating that the first variety vented handguard (the one with the vent cut for the LHG retainer vents), might actually be Izhvesh made, instead of a very early Tula made part. I stole the following picture of an 83 dated Tula Krinkov from Tantal's web site. It looks like you can see that it does not have the relief cut. You can see the inside wall of the lower through the handguard retainer vents. From the angle this picture was taken, if the handguard had the relief cut, you could not see the inside wall. The earliest made Tula, that has been identified to me is an 82. So maybe the early handguard is Izhvesh made. One other thing that appears to be different on the handguard (the one with the relief cut), is the color of the finish. The color has a very distinct yellow tinge, that the other handgurds do not have.



    Anyone have any thoughts of info?

    These pictures are of an upper that was received with what I am calling the second variety vented lower. If someone has a set of the first variety, look at the upper and chime in please.







    Mid Production Lower Hand Guard





    Another set of mid production ere hand guards



    Mid Production Russian Hand Guards that were on an early demilled Bulgarian Krinkov. The lower hand guard retainer is the square type. You can also see the mold number on the FSB/GB of this early Bulgarian rifle. Is it Russian or Bulgarian ???





    Late (top) & Mid (bottom)



    Comparision Vented Early, Vented Late, Mid, Late



    Comparision Vented Early, Vented Late, Mid, Late



    Mid (w/gas tube) & Late



    Some pics of Bulgarian handguards compared to Russian.

    Three sets are pictured below (from top to bottom):
    -Russian Late AKS-74U Handguards (top)
    -K-Var Part KR-010GT "Russian" AKS-74U Handguards (middle)
    -Bulgarian Solid Wood AKS-74U Handguards from a recent demil kit (bottom)



    As you can see, all three sets have laminated upper handguards. The Russian handguards have the standard red iodine finish, while both the K-Var "Russian" laminate and the Bulgarian hanguards have shades of brown stain. At first glance the Russian and K-Var "Russian" handguards appear to have the same wood; however, the grain of the laminate in the floor of K-Var's "Russian" is different than actual Russian AKS-74U handguards.





    Actual Russian handguards are made from three pieces of laminate pinned together, the K-Var "Russian" set is cut from one big piece of laminate. K-Var is also selling a "Blonde Russian" AKS-74U handguard set KR-010BL. Looks like the same wood with a lighter finish.




    Here is a pic showing the remaining aspect of the Bulgarian Late-pattern Gas Tube. this one does not have a mold number, most Bulgarian do not.





    Factory Russian Plum Hand Guards on an 86 Tula



    Gas Tubes Late Tula (left & middle) Early Bulgarian (right)
    Note the mold numbers on all 3



    Late Style Tula Barrel w/Punch Press Mounting Divets. It appears that the divet on the chamber end of the barrel was slightly egged when the hinge cover was drilled out for removal.





    The muzzle end of the barrel is much more square than on the Bulgarian made barrels.



    Here you can see the punch press mounting technique on this very late (1993) Tula FSB/GB assy. I believe this was started in the 85~86 time frame.



    The picture below shows a Bulgarian made FSB/GB, it also has a mold number. Most Bulgarian Krinkov parts do not seem to have mold numbers. The style of the mold number is easily distinguished from a Russian, the number is smaller and has a more defined edge. The Russian mold numbers appear more squshed out.





    The Muzzle Booster on the Bulgarian rifle has a more rounded shoulder than the Russian made booster.


    Bulgarian (above)



    Russian (above)



    Left - Russian, Right - Bulgarian. There is a proof mark on this Russian made booster.

    Rear Sight - Bulgarian/ Izhvesh (a guess that these are the same) and Tula


    Battlefield (300 meter) on the left, 400-500 Meter in the center, & Tula 400-500 Meter on the Right.

    Stock Assemblies

    Buttstock Variances

    Stocks Russian Izzy(non-rolled strut w/smooth butt plate) - Bulgarian (non-rolled strut w/ribbed butt plate) - Tula Early/Mid - Tula Late (rolled edge strut w/ribbed butt plate)



    Some of the Tula Krinkov butt stocks have more of a rolled edge than other. IIRC the one with the most roll over, came from Andre (Ruseller). The one with the least, was from a recently imported batch of stock assemblies. Does anyone have any info on these? Is this an era of manufacture thing or just variation in batches???







    Here you can see proof marks on the stock and the stock trunnion. Picture is of a 93 Tula rifle.



    Close up of the recoil spring rear end





    Raised in New Mexico, where the Hell else do you sneak out in the backyard and shoot off an Atom Bomb or three, instead of a firecracker ...

  2. #2
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    Great stuff Jerry....thanks for posting

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    That is very interesting. Here is something that is confusing tho- The first production HG's were obviously the vented types. Thopse were the "early" type. These, I thought, ALL had deeply cut trenches. Then, came the mid, which were NON vented, but kept the deep cut trench. Then the late, which had a shallow trench, and of course no vents.

    So, since you pointed out that there R two varieties of the first type, one with deeper trnech, one with shallow trench, it seems very odd that they would first produce a deeply cut trench set; then a shallow cut trench set; then abandon the vents for the MID type, only to go BACK to the deeply cut trench style of the 1st variety. I guess the russian designers were wierd this way. 74 wood is just as hard to guess about.

    Thanks for the information, I was wondering about this myself, because most of the authentic russian early style handguards Id seen ALL HAVE DEEP CUT TRENCHES with the vents. Then, triage1998 posted pics of his newly acquired vented "early" handguards from rusmilitary, and I noticed that the trenches are shallower than all other "early" AKSU handguards Id ever seen. Based on his pic of the mid-type next to his early vented type, I can conclude that the vented ones that rusmilitary was just selling were of the second variation you have described.
    I say that because the mid style they are selling have a trench cut that is deeper than the early style ones they were selling. The 1st variation has a trench cut with exactly the same dimensions as the mid type.
    That statement opitimizes what I find "wierd" about this newly found variation. Why would the 1st variation of the early handguards be more simliar to the mid type, than the 2nd variation? Usually things evolve in a linear fashion.
    WTB= Carved Yugo wood furniture
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  4. #4
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    Of the sets I have examined the trench cut is progressively (linear) deeper and deeper as you go earlier in production. I have not had a chance to examine any of the mid production sets that Rusmilitary is currently selling. One thing to keep in mind is that AK parts variations are caused by at least two causes. One being true planned design changes, and the other being day to day variations. The day to day variations are caused by such things as the operator, the supervisor, the machine used, the factory, materials on hand, etc. My first thoughts are that the depth of the trench may be a strength issue, more material remaining the more robust the hand guard.
    Raised in New Mexico, where the Hell else do you sneak out in the backyard and shoot off an Atom Bomb or three, instead of a firecracker ...

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    Pics Added

    Looking for a picture that shows the interior side of the upper hand guard from one of the mid production sets 9non-vented) Rusmilitary is currently selling.
    Raised in New Mexico, where the Hell else do you sneak out in the backyard and shoot off an Atom Bomb or three, instead of a firecracker ...

  6. #6
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    ALL the MID sets Ive seen have the VERY deep trench cuts. Ive not seen one set of mids that dont, in fact me saying that is useless, because the only distinguishing factor of the MID style handguard IS the deep trench cut, and of course the absence of vents. The distinguishing factor of the LATE wood style is the SHALLOW trench cuts, and the absence of vents. Anyhow, that is very very very interesting, I NEVER knew there was so much variation in the krinkov.

    Where did you get that pic of the 86 tula krink?? Ive NEVER seen a picture of an Authentic Russian Krinkov with the ribbed polymer handguards. Do you have ANY more pics of russian krinks with the ribbed HGs??? Id be interested in seeing them... thanks for the info!!!
    WTB= Carved Yugo wood furniture
    Russian 70's AKMS webgear

  7. #7
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    The picture of the 86 Tula cam out of the KLASHNIKOV ARMS book. There are two more pictures of the same rifle. This is the only picture I have run across of a Russian rifle with the ribbed poly handguards.
    Raised in New Mexico, where the Hell else do you sneak out in the backyard and shoot off an Atom Bomb or three, instead of a firecracker ...

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    Threads like this are what brought me to this forum. Nice job jithaca.
    arizonashooting.com

  9. #9
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    More Pics added.
    Raised in New Mexico, where the Hell else do you sneak out in the backyard and shoot off an Atom Bomb or three, instead of a firecracker ...

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    Some pics of Bulgarian handguards compared to Russian.

    Three sets are pictured below (from top to bottom):
    -Russian Late AKS-74U Handguards (top)
    -K-Var Part KR-010GT "Russian" AKS-74U Handguards (middle)
    -Bulgarian Solid Wood AKS-74U Handguards from a recent demil kit (bottom)


    As you can see, all three sets have laminated upper handguards. The Russian handguards have the standard red iodine finish, while both the K-Var "Russian" laminate and the Bulgarian hanguards have shades of brown stain. At first glance the Russian and K-Var "Russian" handguards appear to have the same wood; however, the grain of the laminate in the floor of K-Var's "Russian" is different than actual Russian AKS-74U handguards.



    Actual Russian handguards are made from three pieces of laminate pinned together, the K-Var "Russian" set is cut from one big piece of laminate.


    Here is a pic showing the remaining aspect of the Bulgarian Late-pattern Gas Tube:


    K-Var is also selling a "Blonde Russian" AKS-74U handguard set KR-010BL. Looks like the same wood with a lighter finish.
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  11. #11
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    Thanks SteveM, I'll integrate these into the first post.

    I received a PM from one of the forum members, speculating that the first variety vented handguard (the one with the vent cut for the LHG retainer vents), might actually be Izhvesh made, instead of a very early Tula made part. I stole the following picture of an 83 dated Tula Krinkov from Tantal's web site. It looks like you can see that it does not have the relief cut. You can see the inside wall of the lower through the handguard retainer vents. From the angle this picture was taken, if the handguard had the relief cut, you could not see the inside wall. The earliest made Tula, that has been identified to me is an 82. So maybe the early handguard is Izhvesh made. One other thing that appears to be different on the handguard (the one with the relief cut), is the color of the finish. The color has a very distinct yellow tinge, that the other handgurds do not have.



    Anyone have any thoughts of info?
    Raised in New Mexico, where the Hell else do you sneak out in the backyard and shoot off an Atom Bomb or three, instead of a firecracker ...

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    Here's a 1978 Izhevsk AKS-74U for reference. (Pic scanned from "History of Russian Automats")
    --------------------------
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  13. #13
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    We have been discussing that rifle in the Russian forum. It is probably a one of a kind prototype build. We were looking at the rivet pattern on the rear stock trunnion. It looks to be the AKM pattern but has the stock that slopes down when open. All of the other pics of early production (AKM rivet pattern) AK74 rifles have the straight across stock. We decide we couldn't really draw any conclusions about production rifles from this one. It has the upper handguard that is the same lenght as the lower and a corresponding very short top cover hinge block.
    Raised in New Mexico, where the Hell else do you sneak out in the backyard and shoot off an Atom Bomb or three, instead of a firecracker ...

  14. #14
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    I'll look for pics of a "production" Izhevsk rifle if there is such a thing.

    Edited the Bulgarian handguard post above to include solid wood type.
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  15. #15
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    Stottman has a few pics of a Production Izzy rifle taken through a glass display case. Can't tell much.
    Raised in New Mexico, where the Hell else do you sneak out in the backyard and shoot off an Atom Bomb or three, instead of a firecracker ...

 

 
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