I think of firearms as tools, and like my tools, I always end up altering and changing them to fit my preferences and needs. That’s why Russian soldiers currently field upgraded AKs, not wood-stocked, Vietnam-era rifles. If your rifle is a “safe queen,” fine, but I use my AKs for all manner of training courses and range trips. These are my go-to rifles when it comes time to fine-tune my shooting skills.

I’ve altered my AKs to make them better suited to the hard use common in today’s training courses. For most applications, they work as well as any rifle. Of course, they have their limitations—I generally use them within 300 meters—which is perfectly acceptable for an AK outside of a video game or movie. So, with all that in mind, let’s look at some common modifications you can make to turn your AK into a tactical workhorse.

I’ll start by saying that my needs revolve around practical accuracy, ease of use from either side and the ability to add a white light and red-dot sight. If I plan to use my AK for practical distances, I’ll chose a red-dot sight over a magnified optic any day of the week. But this is just the beginning of the upgrades. Scroll through the gallery above to see eight DIY upgrades to trick out your AK.

For more information on the companies mentioned in the gallery, please visit the following sites.

ALG Defense

Colorado Shooting Sports


Krebs Custom


Midwest Industries


This article was originally published in ‘AK-47 & Soviet Weapons’ 2017. For information on how to subscribe, visit

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