As I mentioned in my previous Post about adding a drill and tap Choat scope mount and leapers scope to my SKS, I am still working on making her a stereotypical “evil” black rifle.
For the next step in my mod, I wanted to get rid of the grenade launcher, which I consider to be almost as useful as an icemaker in an igloo. The only down side is that just removing the launcher would leave me with a threaded end on the barrel which just wouldn’t look cool enough. I could just lop off the threaded section and re-crown…but I decided to replace the launcher with one of the after market muzzle brakes that can be found through the wonderful world of Algore’s Internet.
There are several models of pin on brakes designed for the AK/SKS without a grenade launcher, but heck, I already have a perfectly good threaded barrel, why not a model designed to screw right on?
First I looked at
I was absolutely thrilled with the response I received from Mr. Miller. I emailed him and asked him for ordering details, he gave me the information needed to pay through Paypal (he doesn’t accept credit card payments but in the age of Paypal, that isn’t much of a hardship) and he had my brake shipped the day I paid. He sent it UPS priority and I had it in my hot little hands two days later.
Now THAT’S service.
Now the fun part: Removing the grenade launcher and sight and installing the muzzle brake.
I started out by (as always) ensuring she was unloaded and safe. Then I completely disassembled including removing the Bayonet. I could have left that on, but I wanted to see what it looked like with it off.
The next step was to remove the Grenade launcher. After having read the accounts of other people who have accomplished this feat, I knew that it involved two steps. The launcher is threaded on tightly and then pinned in place. First one must remove the pin, then break the launcher loose in the threads and unscrew it. My impression was that actually breaking the grenade launcher loose to unscrew it would be the hard part.
First I broke my pin punch. So I tried using the tip that I had just broken off and holding it with a pair of needle nose pliers, It broke into three or four pieces. Then I tried various and sundry impromptu punches, pieces of drill bits, nails, etc…breaking or bending each one in turn beyond use. Oh, and the pin never budged. I finally had to drill the pin out with my drill press. I was terrified that I would get the angle a little off and bung up the barrel and/or threads. I was very careful, drilled a little and hammered a little and drilled a little and hammered a little. After about an hour and a half of futzing with it, I finally got the verdamt pin out.
Oh well, press on. I clamped the receiver into my padded vice and heated the launcher (not the barrel) with a propane torch. I only heated for a couple of minutes. I wanted to warm the metal of the launcher enough to make it expand just enough to get it to break loose, but figured that if I heated too much, the barrel would also get hot and expand and the heating would be for naught.
Imagine my surprise when cosmoline started seeping out of the joint and threads where the grenade launcher was attached. It seems that, no matter how well I THOUGHT I cleaned her, I still missed some nooks and crannies.
After heating for a couple minutes, I stood on a step stool to get above the project. I decided to use a pipe wrench to break the launcher loose, I wasn’t planning on putting her back to original configuration at any time so I decided marring the launcher wasn’t a consideration. I wanted to get above the rifle so I could press down on the barrel at the same time as pulling up with the wrench. I figured that would prevent me from putting too much lateral force on the barrel and bending it.
Based upon the other accounts I had read about the difficulty in getting the launcher to break loose, I steeled myself for a battle of epic proportions. I established firm grips on both the barrel and the wrench slowly began applying force to the wrench handle and…POP! she broke loose almost immediately.
Whew! I guess that just goes to show you, every situation and every rifle is different. Experience helps, but it doesn’t tell you everything. I think the keys are applying just the right amount of heat to the launcher so that it expands without heating the barrel enough to do the same and getting above the project so that maximum leverage can be applied without danger of bending anything important.
Anyway, after fretting about it, unscrewing the launcher turned out to be a piece of cake.
The next step was to remove the grenade launcher sight. The sight wouldn’t do me much good without a launcher so…it’s gotta go. I had read other people’s accounts of how they did it and they all involved cutting the sight arm with a dremel and removing it in pieces. My thought was “why not just punch the pin out?” Well, the reason became self-evident immediately upon trying. The pin was not budging. I was not having much luck with pins in this project so I quickly reverted to following the directions of people who had done this before.
I used my dremel to cut one leg of the sight.
Then I used a screwdriver to pry the sight off of the mounting pin. There is a second, spring-loaded pin that “locks” the sight in place when it is extended. On mine, it didn’t launch itself across the room but I could see it happening in some cases so be aware that it is there.
I didn’t like the looks of the pin sticking out of the mounting block after the sight was removed. First I tried driving it out (again) with no luck at all (again). Then I realized that it would actually look better to leave the pin in place but grind off the ends sticking out so that there wouldn’t be a hole in the block. OK. That’s the rationalization that I used to stop trying to get the stupid pin out. Anyway, I broke out the dremel again and ground the pin down flush with the mounting block on both sides.
(The bluing compound is drying in this picture, this isn’t the finished product, it looks very good after rinsing and polishing with steel wool).
I would like to grind off the entire mounting block section at the rear of the sight where the night sight and grenade sight were mounted. I think it would clean the lines up considerably to do so, but that is a project for another day if I do it at all.
Perhaps if I decide to remove the bayonet and grind off the lug, I’ll do it all at once.
In any case, the only thing left to do was screw on the adjusting ring and muzzle brake and put her back together. Luckily, my pin drilling escapade in removing the grenade launcher didn’t seem to harm the barrel threads so the muzzle brake twisted right on with no problems. I adjusted it to the obvious configuration with the six large ports on either side horizontal and the three small ports on top. I can change it later after shooting to get the best performance if need be.
So far, the only improvement I would suggest for Mr. Miller is that he offer the brakes blued rather than parkerized as the finishes don’t match. Not a major concern for me…in fact I kind of like the contrast…but some may be put off by the mismatched finishes.
Here’s the “After” photo. I think she’s coming along nicely. Range report forthcoming as soon as I can get back to the range. If it looks like it’s going to be a while before I can get to the rifle range, I’ll take her to the indoor range and at least give a report on my impressions of the effectiveness of the brake in reducing muzzle flip/recoil.
Next step in the project: Tapco T-6 stock. Hopefully I’ll be able to afford it in the next couple of months. We’ll just have to see.
I’ve been thinking about getting a basic reloading press and trying my hand at some reloading. If I decide to go there, it may be a while before I can afford the new stock.
This stuff is really starting to get fun. I haven’t attempted anything too complicated yet but the more I do, the more I enjoy it.