Mount Up

Midwest Industries' simple yet robust platform for mounting accessories on your AK.

The Midwest Industries' system is comprised of a lower fore-end and upper handguard with numbered 1913 rails. Both components are machined from aluminum.

The Midwest Industries' system is comprised of a lower fore-end and upper handguard with numbered 1913 rails. Both components are machined from aluminum.


Out of the box, your standard AK pattern rifle needs little. Feed it decent ammo and clean it when you have the chance, and it will serve you well. Items such as a sling and cleaning kit/combo tool usually are included, so you don't need to splurge here.


Good quality magazines from former Communist bloc countries are readily available, and I highly recommend you put away at least 10 for your rifle. With these few items you are pretty much good to go.

However, if you'd like to take your rifle into the 21st century, there are some accessories you should seriously consider. A good flash suppressor, tactical light and red dot sight top my list. A flash suppressor, such as a Smith Enterprise Vortex, is easy to add and relatively inexpensive. The reduction in flash, especially with 7.62x39 rifles, in low light is dramatic. This is money well-spent.


Properly mounting a tactical light and red dot sight can be a bit more difficult. One new option that greatly simplifies things is Midwest Industries' new AK47/74 handguard. Although Midwest Industries (MidwestIndustriesInc.com) is best known for its host of high quality AR accessories, it has not ignored Mikhail's Avtomat.

What Midwest came up with is a simple replacement fore-end and upper handguard. Machined from 6061 aluminum and then hard-coat anodized, both pieces feature T-marked mil std 1913 rails. Manufactured here in the USA, the unit allows accessories and red dot sights to be mounted easily. Plus the whole system weighs only 10 ounces.

One thing that must be taken into account when designing a rail system for the AK platform is the lack of standardization among the various rifle manufacturers. There are often small differences going from country to country, and milled receiver rifles are different from the later stamped receivers.

Midwest Industries got around most of these issues by making its design extremely simple. The fore-end bolts directly to the barrel, and the upper handguard then bolts to the fore-end. Due to this, the whole system is easy to install in just minutes using the included Allen wrenches.

The hardest part of the entire procedure is removing the original upper handguard from the gas tube. However, once the original fore-end and upper handguard are removed, mounting the Midwest Industries rail system is very straightforward. Once mounted, it is very secure, but you must remember to use thread-locking compound on the screws.

To see how Midwest Industries' new offering would perform I mounted it onto a Romanian 7.62x39 WASR. Romanian AKs are widely available at inexpensive prices, so I felt it would be a good match. No problems were encountered, and the installation took only a couple of minutes.

The rail system gives the rifle a different look that some traditionalists may not like. The unit itself is nicely machined, and the anodizing was well-done. Cross slots are marked, and a row of cooling holes are machined into both sides of the fore-end and upper handguard.

After I installed the handguard, I mounted a KAC vertical grip and Pentagon light on it. I'm not a big fan of vertical grips--especially on 7.62x39 AKs, where they can interfere with your reload. In this case, though, I wanted to see if enough torque could be applied through the vertical grip to eventually move the fore-end. I added the light because, after taking part in raids in Iraq, I won't have a defensive rifle that doesn't include a light.

I also wanted to see if the system would have any effect on accuracy since the Midwest rail is actually bolted to the barrel. If anything, accuracy was slightly improved.

The unit was then subjected to several months of use and abuse. Despite using the vertical grip during long strings of fire, and the rifle bouncing around in a truck, Midwest's rail stayed tight. Repeated heating from firing and subsequent cooling had no effect. It also shrugged off hard impacts without issue.

The upper handguard is designed to allow a red dot sight to be easily mounted. While the standard AK sights are certainly usable, a red dot sight offers a number of advantages, particularly when it comes to speed.

If you are going to mount an optic onto an AK, you should select a design that's rugged and reliable. In this case I happened to have an Aimpoint Micro T-1 in for review. The Micro T-1 weighs just 3.7 ounces, has an integral base and a four m.o.a. dot. It mounted easily on the handguard and zeroed without incident.

All in all, the Midwest Industries handguard system performed extremely well. Price of a universal handguard system is $125 while a Yugo-specific unit runs $130. A Saiga-specific handguard is slightly more expensive at $135. The system is available in black, flat dark earth and olive.

Midwest also offers a handguard/red dot sight combination. This comes with a Vortex red dot sight and retails for only $250.

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