TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

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Netpackrat
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TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

Post by Netpackrat »

Another [strike]bear[/strike] bare gun... Not sure what a guy has to do to get KG to send him some Gunkote. Move, I guess.

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This is the same SBRed AK that was posted in the rifle pictures thread, now with the addition of folding stock with adjustable cheekpiece and anti-rotation QD sling mounts, Texas Weapon Systems Gen 3 rail, and Leatherwood CMR 1-4 power scope with 7.62x39 specific, illuminated reticle. Didn't really want to put it all together until I have a chance to paint the rifle, but if I want to get any range time in with it prior to a class AlaskaTRX and I are taking at the end of July, I kind of had to. Glad that I did due to a couple of minor issues that cropped up.

This is the second TWS rail that I have on an AK; the other is a Gen 2 unit on my Saiga .308. The Gen 3 is more heavily built in general, the rail is very slightly higher, and instead of hinging at the rear sight pivot point, it detaches using an AR type captive takedown pin. They made these changes due to the inability to hinge the cover all the way up for cleaning and field stripping when using a longer scope, and presumably also due to some negative reviews they got where people managed to tweak the mounts when subjecting them to some fairly unrealistic and ridiculous "torture testing" (aka Rob Ski bent one by dropping it while it was hinged open.... duh).

Anyway, I am not entirely enamored of the changes. Mostly because I was quite happy with the Gen 2 rail on my .308 Saiga, even though with the 3x9 variable installed on that rifle, it does have the issue with not being able to fully open the cover. I never considered it a big problem since it opened far enough to field strip, but I will probably still upgrade that rifle to a Gen 3 at some point, and put the current Gen 2 on an AK I plan to build later. Not that there seems to be anything wrong with the Gen 3; so far it seems to be a good product in its own right. I simply think there is something to be said for the lighter rail that sold at a lower price, and did the same job well.

First issue I encountered, was the nut plate that secures the fixed portion of the dog leg to the rear sight block would not slide far enough into the block for the mounting bolt holes to line up. I had to remove some metal from the underside with a file. The second issue is not really the fault of the rail, but as you can see, I have no backup rear sight currently. I bought a rail mount leaf unit from Kel-Tec that others have successfully used on their Gen 2 rails, but using the medium Warne QD rings, they are just barely too tall to fit under the scope. I have an email in to TWS support asking for the height of their backup peep sight, to see if it will clear.

The CMR scope seems to be exactly what I needed for this rifle, assuming it holds up okay. I'm not totally thrilled about having a made in China optic on a "go" rifle, but if you want an optic with a dedicated 7.62x39 reticle, there are only a few options, and I am not going to spend ACOG money on this. The etched reticle seems to be well done, with range markings out to 1000 meters (whatever, but that's what it's marked to), and off to the right side there are range estimation markings that I still need to read more about. The illumination (I chose red) works well, and runs from very bright, down to very dim settings intended for use with night vision devices. It takes the same 2032 batteries as the RMRs on my Glocks, and included 2 in the box with the scope.

Hopefully I can get to the range with this rifle sometime in the next week or so, and I will follow up on how that goes. I am hoping to find a solution for a backup rear without having to switch to taller rings. The medium (3/8" height above rail) rings were kind of a guess; looking at it installed I probably could have used the low (1/4") rings, but no way would I have been able to run a rear sight then. And given the scope's price point and country of origin, I definitely want irons to fall back on.
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JustinR
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Re: TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

Post by JustinR »

Nice. Is that a 51T mount on the front to be able to use your .30 cal can?
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Netpackrat
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Re: TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

Post by Netpackrat »

JustinR wrote:Nice. Is that a 51T mount on the front to be able to use your .30 cal can?
Yeah. The rifle started life as an AMD-65 parts kit, but that's not the original barrel. I re-barreled it with a 16" 4150 "nitride" US barrel, then pressed the barrel back out, had a gunsmith cut it back to AMD-65 length, and thread 1/2-28. The front sight block is moved back to give plenty of clearance for the 51T mount. Gunsmith left it a hair longer than I expected, so there is just a little more space there than I originally intended.

I want to build a 16" equivalent to this rifle in case I want to travel out of state (for classes, or whatever), but getting suppressor-true threads will be more of a challenge on that, since I haven't found any normal AK spec barrels longer than 16.x inches. Probably have to move the FSB back a little, and then have a gunsmith shorten, thread, and blind pin the muzzle device in place.
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Netpackrat
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Re: TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

Post by Netpackrat »

Did some searching around, and found purported dimensions that seem to answer my question about the TWS peep for the Gen 3. The Gen 2 rear sight apparently stands .55" above the rail surface overall, and the Gen 3 rail is .090" taller than the Gen 2. Since they lowered the height of the Gen 3 peep sight accordingly, it doesn't seem like it will be low enough to use with my current rings.

That being the case, I think my best option at this point will be to file the Kel-Tec leaf rear slightly to fit under the scope. This carries the advantage of not having to wait for more parts to arrive, and thus I should have it ready for use when I make it to the range next week.
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Netpackrat
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Re: TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

Post by Netpackrat »

OK, so I have backup irons now. Here's a picture of the Kel-Tec rear sight, as received. IIRC, it was $20 or so direct from KT.

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It measured .395" high from the top of the rail, so it wasn't going to fit under a scope mounted with .375" rings. I clamped it in a vise, and then filed the top of it down until it would slide under the scope with a little clearance. Tightened in place, I can easily slide a .002" feeler gauge between the sight and the scope. I hit it with a flat black paint pen. The notch is a little wide, but it should be okay as a backup sight. As you can see, it adds some windage adjustment capability. It's not perfect but hopefully I will adjust the irons and then never need to use them.

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Scope mounted in place over the sight, and SDN-6 installed on the muzzle:

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I switched from the plain rubber butt pad I had before, to a Limbsaver, to gain a little LOP (orangutan arms), even though it really isn't needed with x39. Since I made my stocks to accept a standard AR recoil pad, that took all of a couple minutes. Sling is attached at the rear with a standard QD swivel, and a Magpul Paraclip at the front. So far I dislike the Paraclip less than the mash hook I was using previously. An aluminum handguard wtih a QD point would be ideal (it would be nice to have a light mount too), but hopefully I am done hanging crap off this rifle for a while. I probably won't put the can on it all that often, either. I use the 10 round mag for bench work, didn't feel like changing it out for the picture.
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slowpoke
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Re: TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

Post by slowpoke »

If your gunsmith is up for it, you could cut back the 16" barell mount the 51t mount concentic and pin and weld it on to get you to 16.1 at the end of the flash hider. You would be non sbr and a bit more handy. Trick is getting a good concentric mount because once it's on its not coming off, thus needs a very good smith.
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Netpackrat
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Re: TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

Post by Netpackrat »

slowpoke wrote:If your gunsmith is up for it, you could cut back the 16" barell mount the 51t mount concentic and pin and weld it on to get you to 16.1 at the end of the flash hider. You would be non sbr and a bit more handy. Trick is getting a good concentric mount because once it's on its not coming off, thus needs a very good smith.
I think that's going to be the way to go. The guy I use has threaded 4 barrels for me so far, 3 of which I have successfully run my can on (I don't have any intention of suppressing the 5.45x39 he threaded for me a few weeks ago), and he currently has my Rossi 92 barrel for threading. So I have a pretty high degree of confidence in his work at this point.

I did find the website of a dude who will make an AK barrel to spec, but that looks like an expensive way to go, and I kind of like AK Builder's nitride 4150 AK barrels. That's what I used for the above pictured rifle, trimmed back to SBR length.

One interesting thing I learned about the CMR's BDC reticle from the manual... It appears to be designed to match a Russian mil-spec round that uses a steel core, boat tail bullet, that's not available to us here due to ATF's ban of steel core 7.62x39. Looks like the closest available round is going to be Golden Tiger FMJBT... I only have one case of that put away, but for future ammo purchases that will be the way to go. Most of what I have on hand besides that right now is Wolf and Silver Bear.
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Netpackrat
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Re: TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

Post by Netpackrat »

The rifle has some issues that I need to rework, but as far as I am concerned, the scope and mount are good to go. The Federal JSP (blue box) is quickly becoming my favorite factory 7.62x39 for benchmark testing. It's a little more accurate than the Lapua FMJ in this and also the CZ-527M bolt gun. Too bad it's $32/20 locally, but on the other hand, at least I can find it locally. Higher end x39 ammo has pretty much disappeared from the stores around here over the last year or two.

This is obviously not ever going to be a target rifle, but I think it is showing promise. Not bad for a stamped AK bullet hose with a foot long barrel.

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Captain Wheelgun
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Re: TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

Post by Captain Wheelgun »

Very nice. Have you tried out the BDC yet? I'm still trying to decide on a scope for my Mutant, and the CMR is on the list. As you said, there aren't many scopes with a good BDC for 7.62x39.

I've had Leatherwood's 2-7x Scout scope on my Lee-Enfield scout for a couple of years now without any problems, so I would think that the CMR should be OK as well.
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Netpackrat
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Re: TWS Gen 3 AK rail/Leatherwood CMR 1-4 w/AK reticle

Post by Netpackrat »

No, I haven't tried it past 100 yet.
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