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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Members: I recently acquired what was listed as a Russian AK-74 Top Cover from an online store. When I received the cover, not only would it not fit my SAIGA SGL21-85, but it looks identical (other than being painted black) to a MAADI top cover I had a month or two ago. I took photos of it compared to a Bulgy 74 cover (which I believe is for all intent a direct copy of the Soviet). I am looking for verification my suspicions are correct.

What stands out most about the questionable cover is the lack of definition to the reinforcement ribs, large notch behind ejection port and the way that area angles outwards, and contour/angle of the front lip which will not fit into the hand guard retaining groove of the rear sight base. Lastly, I weighed both covers and though I don't have a digital scale, the cover in question weighs in @ 2.5 oz. & Bulgy @ 2.75. oz. The latter is definitely made of slightly heavier gauge steel. Photos follow with the Bulgy 74 cover being either the second cover in each set or the lower example in a combined photo. Thanks for your help!
 

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Mint brand new old school top covers don't usually fit right out of the oil paper, they are made a little too long so an armorer can fit them to be rock tight on each rifle, which have slightly varying clearances due to standard manufacturing tolerances. In other words, if this is a mint new ZIP stock part, then you probably have to do some minor light filing on the front edge to make it fit as it should. It's standard and typical when changing out a cover for a new one, and way better that trying to use a used or previously fitted cover that has already been overly shortened and fits loosely on your rifle. Take-off covers, demilled kit covers, and covers on new rifles are either already fitted by the factory to that weapon, or they are of a later vintage in which the covers were made to be plug-and-play so to speak. since the rifles had become more precisely engineered and manufactured due to automation.

Bulgarian covers are all of the same basic style and are generally of a Soviet 82ish pattern, with some domestic differences (see below). In other words, a Bulgarian cover almost NEVER makes a good example to positively determine if a particular top cover is "Russian" made part or not. this is because there were at least four different styles of ribbed Russian AK-74 top covers, depending on the era in which they were made.

I'd need to see the whole thing (to include the shelf over the selector lever and the top ribs in total) to give you a better answer, but so far it looks pretty Russian to me. IF it's the one I think you are referring to, i.e. is this the one that is supposed to be Russian?

The way that dimple is made on the lip is exactly how I'd expect a Russian cover to look, nicely defined and less "lazy" of a stamping than a comparable Bulgarian cover. Also, Russian covers of the Soviet era will be proofed on the inside, on that flat part of the corner on the other side, almost without exception. I'd check for that,. too. It's often a diamond with an alphanumeric character inside, and won't always be cleanly stamped (75% of the time it's just a partial).

BELOW: This side lip dimple is pressed fairly cleanly, like a Russian top cover, but the top ribs are sure flat looking. Need more images to show the whole thing. BTW, is that a proof I see in the blurry background, on the inside corner?



BELOW: This is an older pattern style stamping, see how that crease or vertical lip curves at the top? Looks like a Russian AKM top cover from the mid-70's. If you're so-called Russian top covers had this very dramatic curve to it, i'd say it's NOT Russian AK-74. It is however, strangely enough, a feature found on all the Bulgarian '74 top covers i have ever looked at. The Soviet's stopped making lips with that much curve on them by at least 1974/76. Some of the circa-1980 and earlier covers have just a hair of curved lip at the top, but it's so high up and so small it's hardly worth mentioning and not noticeable, not like your Bulgarian cover. I guess that indicates the Bulgarians truly had their own domestic stamping dies for their AK74-style top covers.



BELOW: This is much more like how the average true Soviet AK74 cover lip is formed, with a vertical indented line with no curve at the top. The lack of a clearly defined top rib (called the "lazy rib" design) indicates manufacture after about late 1981 to mid-'82.



To determine if your new cover is really Rusisan, look for that corner proof, and if you are still not sure then please post full view images if you need more help.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Tantal:
I really appreciate your detailed & thorough examination of the covers. From your description, that must be a "Izhevsk" proof on the left, inside lip of the one in question and something I had not noticed before. In all pictures, the "Russian" cover is the like-new example. I have added three additional photos of the front end of the covers. Two are comparison shots showing how the "Russian" one tapers inwards (as opposed to the Bulgy 74). I would have to bend that outwards in order it fit into the retaining slot. The last shot is a comparison of the ribbing.

I did take a micrometer and measure the inside width of the covers (rearwards of the selector lever cut-out). The "Russian" example measured 33.5mm & Bulgy @ 34.5mm. However, I did notice on the "Russian" example the sides were slightly bowed in from the rear base corners. Perhaps if tweaked outwards/straightened it might allow the cover to fit, as it did measure 34.5mm mid-length. Some time ago I tried to see if a E. German top cover would fit the SAIGA and it would not either (width), although they seem to fit OK on Armory & NDS receivers.

Lastly, the cover is very light and almost "tinny". This was the same with the Egyptian Maadi cover. Perhaps this was part of the idea...a lightened cover using reinforcement ribs to compensate for strength negated by lighter-gauge steel. In any event, it looks like my suspicions were unfounded and the cover is legit. I did not realize there were multiple Russian variants.
 

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No problem, man!

All the widths of all the covers, DDR, Russian, Bulgarian, etc are all meant to be the same. So are the receivers. Some covers are bent inwards on the bottom so they grip the receivers with force. Russian covers almost always have a pinched in area on the back on both sides at the rear, so dependign on how severely (and how new) the covers are (and how tight your rear rivets were squeezed), you often have to snap them in place over the edges of the receiver sidewalls. So tight it often wears a little of the painted finish off on both sides of the rifle at the back edge. The tight fit is on purpose, of course. But, keep in mind these covers are easily bent, and can be unbent/tweeked etc. if they simply won't go on a particular rifle. Don't be afraid to adjust them slightly, here and there, if necessary, for fit, clearance of the selector levers, and cosmetics.

Not fitting the receiver itself right out of the box generally has nothing to do with the type of rifle they were originally made for, or what country made them, as long as they are Russian pattern and in spec. I've never had a '74 cover from any factory that I could not get to fit on any one of my rifles or receivers. Even between models such as AK, AKM, RPK or AK74, etc. They all thankfully have the same blueprinted width and length.
 
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