Zenitco AK Furniture Review: Does the Russian Hype Measure Up?

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This guest post was written by Lindy Y.

Let’s start this with full disclosure: I used to be one of those guys that mocked people for making “tacticool” AKs. The eternal debate of classical versus modernized seems to have pervaded the AK community to a greater degree than with any other family of firearms. As a historian myself, I understand the anger of the “rifle is fine” crowd; the ubiquitous Kalashnikov is one of the greatest symbols of the Cold War era, of Soviet aggression, of the ever looming Red Scare. Covering an AK in polymer rails and cheap Chinese optics creates a glaring anachronism for these often outspoken individuals.

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Yet most AKs on the US market are new-production models manufactured specifically for American civilian consumers. They are, ironically, the polar opposite of the Communist Peoples’ rifle some envision them as. Regular Car Reviews’ explanation of signifiers versus the signified  sums up the problem perfectly. In short, once the historical significance of the platform as a whole is stripped away, much of the reason to keep an individual rifle historically accurate disappears.

What we’re left with is a tool, one that stands in need of functional upgrades. Plain handguards and a single mounting rail riveted to the receiver don’t exactly leave the end user with many options for optics or accessories. And whether due to lack of consumer demand, perceived cheapness of the platform, or the inherent foreignness of the AK itself, development of quality US parts has been sporadic at best. Magpul’s recent offerings mark a new increase in large-scale domestic development for the platform, but most dedicated optic mounting solutions are still supplied by small companies.

Enter Zenitco. Originally available only in small quantities through a few enterprising individuals, adoption of the brand by community members like Larry Vickers and AK Operators Union has made their furniture more widely available to the US market. Part of the brand’s gaining popularity among the community can be attributed to its increasing usage by active Russian military forces, lending it an air of legitimacy above its domestic competition. The desire to “clone” military loadouts has always been popular, and Zenitco now presents the newest level to match for the platform.

So does the product live up to the hype? For the most part, yes. I recently picked up a full complement of Zenitco furniture for a newly finished AK-105 build, and decided to see if the brand actually lived up to expectations. The total parts lists ended up as:

B-30 Extended Lower Handguard

B-31S Extended Upper Handguard

B-33 Hinged Dust Cover

A-1 Rail-Mounted Sling Mount

As the handguards were purpose-made for AK-105 style rifles, I expected them to offer a greater degree of functionality than any similar options on the market. By this criteria alone, Zenitco certainly passes the test. For any AK with a combination gas block/FSB setup, there are few other alternatives on the market that offer the user as much rail space without being overly bulky. The handguards extend to just short of the muzzle itself, a feature extremely common among the AR-15 platform but fairly new to the AK market. This allows for much greater freedom for positioning of accessories, as well as hand placement. Installation also requires no modifications to the rifle. This is a major benefit over similar railed units like those offered byTexas Weapons Systems, which requires removal of the standard handguard retainer.

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Where Zenitco’s lineup truly shines is with the B-33. Mounting optics to the B-33 allows for any left side folding stock to be locked in place without their removal, a nearly impossible feat when relying on the standard receiver mounted scope rail. The hinged cover also gives easy access to the rifle’s internals in case of cleaning or malfunction without needing to remove attached optics. While other companies have previously released dust cover mounted rail systems, reviews concerning zero retainment are often mixed. Installation again requires no modification to the rifle, while competing dust covers often replace the rear sight leaf. With the B-33 both tensioned against the rear sight block and attached at four points to a Zenitco handguard, zero retainment and overall lockup are flawless.

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Aiding in this lockup is the tightness with which Zenitco products fit, yet this is also where the negatives of their equipment begin. Their parts are naturally designed with Russian AK-74m specifications in mind. Wide variances in AKs rifles from differing countries of origin means hand fitting will almost certainly be required. The parts used for my AK-105 were all Bulgarian in origin, and significant fitting was needed to install the lower handguard into the receiver. In addition, Russian AK-105 style front sight blocks place the detent pin in a higher elevation than Bulgarian blocks. This means the front right locking tab of the upper hand guard requires significant slimming, if not outright removal. The handguard still locks up solidly with only three retention tabs, to the point of having negligible impact on lights/lasers/BUIS units. However, it is still something to keep in mind considering the much greater prevalence of Bulgarian parts compared to Russian ones within the US.

Fit and finish of the parts are stereotypically Eastern European. Tooling marks are noticeable, and the finish is lacking in durability compared to hard anodizing or commercial firearm coatings like Cerakote. This is a purely cosmetic issue and will have no impact on performance, but given the price of the parts, can be rather bothersome.

Speaking of the price, the cost of outfitting an AK with Zenitco gear is probably the single greatest negative against the brand as a whole. Total market value of the parts used in my build was well over $600 USD. Pricing of the extended handguards is nearly on par with the similar models from Troy or Texas Weapons Systems, but the dust cover is far more expensive than its competition. The cover’s excellent lockup to any Zenitco handguard also means that you will, at the very least, be purchasing two of the more expensive parts from their catalogue, making any build utilizing the B-33 a rather costly venture.

At the range.

At the range.

Let’s get to the bottom line: is Zenitco’s gear right for you? If you’re serious about the platform and have any plans of utilizing Western optics, lights, or forward grips, I certainly recommend investing in at least the dust cover and a lower handguard. This goes doubly so if you have a left side folding stock or AK-102/4/5 length barrel. If you just want to clone the latest kit from Russian military personnel, there are certainly worse products out there. If you’re on a tight budget, the rather high cost of the parts would likely be better spent on the rifle itself. For the price of a low end AK and full complement of Zenitco furniture, you could instead pick up an Arsenal and simply mount an optic on something like an RS Regulate rail. As the most glaring detractor for Zenitco products as a whole are their price, your budget for the rifle is going to be the major determining factor in whether or not they fit your needs.



Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


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  • salivates uncontrollably

    I don’t normally get excited about tactical stuff, but for some reason if it’s made in Russia I go all weird in the head.

    • andrey kireev

      Just wait till you see Russian cars… your trust in quality will quickly diminish XD

      • G0rdon_Fr33man

        Hey, that 4×4 Lada Niva, I hear it is kind of like an AK. Cheap, simple and robust. Don´t know if it´s true, but it does fit that Russian philosophy 😛

        • micmac80

          its true, Lada Niva is very popular with hunters and offroaders in Europe .Not only is it cheap , simple and robust its very off road capable. Its the one car Soviets got right.

          • iksnilol

            I’ve seen them used as snow clearing cars.

            Trucks and pickups are usually used for that. It was cool.

      • KestrelBike

        A black Volga sedan is the very definition of slow, sexy seduction. You could make love to a woman in the back seat of one of those. Now in a crash, you’re dead.

    • Kevin Harron

      Commieboo. 😛

    • ostiariusalpha

      Well, that handguard is certainly authentically склочный, and authentically тяжелый; I can only get authentically огорченный by the sight of it. Aesthetically, I find the AK-12 to be much more drool stimulating.

  • USMC03Vet

    20lb AK.
    Should have just bought a WASR10 and taped them together.

    • SMH374

      Yeah I hear the Zenitco stuff is extremely heavy, did you weigh the gun after slapping the rails and stuff on? I’m sure this stuff is good but if it adds 4 pounds to the rifle…

      • Lindy

        Last I measured with that super-heavy can brake, it came out to around 10.4 pounds. Not as light weight as a Mk18, but not exactly a lead weight either.

        • SMH374

          We will have to agree to disagree. My 7.62×39 AK weights about eight pounds flat with just a Aimpoint on a side mount. It doesn’t have the rails like this one but a 10 pound AK is well into too heavy territory for my tastes

    • andrey kireev

      An AK-74M with and underbarrel Yugo M92 =P

      • iksnilol

        It’s a barrier penetration attachment.

  • andrey kireev

    Russians are just behind the curve… don’t they know that quad rails are so 2012 ?

    • Cal S.

      There you go again with your evil Kapitalzt propaganda. Clearly, anything the Russians do is cutting edge and better than anything Western powers have, or haven’t you been paying attention to the internet? 😉

      • Tritro29

        So far these are made by people who need them for work. Like for real. Pew Pew dead Dagestani guy. Not to feel good from the waist and under on a range. On that premise Zenitco reigns supreme. Better or not that’s not the point.

    • DW

      Nyet Comrade, in Soviet Russia curve is behind Russia! Or it’d be sent to gulag for re-education!

    • Tritro29

      … Given the original B’s are from 2010…I find this ironic.

    • iksnilol

      Quad rail? That thing has more than 4 rails.

  • Al

    Nyet to the tacticool, whether Russian manufacture or otherwise.

    • andrey kireev

      Well, that is your opinion… and its wrong !

      • Al

        Well I’m in complete awe of all the facts you back that up with…

        • andrey kireev

          I don’t need facts on internet !!! =P

        • sauerquint

          They resemble the ‘facts’ you used.

          • Al

            Adding a 5 pound rail in order to mount a shorty vfg has little appeal – to me. But it looks just stunning. Like every other ar15…

    • notalima

      Is it ‘tacticool’ if I pull the wood thumbhole stock off my Veprs to replace with something more ergonomic…or is that just against moral decency? 😉

  • I’ll stick with american made magpul furniture

    • Dracon1201

      RS Regulate already makes the finest there is.

      • rs regulate is also kinda expensive.

        • Dracon1201

          Buy once, cry once. You will never have an issue with it, it’s flexible, and there is no substitute.

    • FinallyFree

      I just emailed their tech folks today. They have no plans for an AK rail at this time. They indicate the UltiMAK is compatible with their new MOE and Zhukov furniture.

  • FinallyFree

    Anyone familiar with the UltiMAK or Troy gas tube rails? Will they fry a red dot optic?

    • Dracon1201

      They’re gtg

      • FinallyFree

        Thanks

  • dsd1

    what target is that – i want to read the shooting legend at the bottom

  • Steve Martinovich

    While I appreciate a classic any day, Ivan hasn’t ran the “Nyet, rifle is fine” version of the AK platform in more years than I care to remember. Another case of converts — in this case Yanks — being more fanatical on the matter than the founders of the faith.

  • micmac80

    Price of Russian gear doubles on export to US .Except when under US brands like most of NVG optics.

  • Ike

    Great write-up with very good pictures. Thank you!

  • After first discovering Zenitco on TFB I was so enamored that I combed Gunbroker and Ebay for this magical Russian tactical gear. Boy, what a letdown! It was heavy and the finish chipped with incredible ease. Zenitco’s pistol-grip was clearly designed by someone without hands. Twas’ still sexy though! I sold it all except for the badass glass-breaker muzzle brake.

  • Bill

    I’m not an AK guy, except when it’s the only thing available, one of the reasons being that I thought the days of using hose clamps, duct tape and 550 cord to attach critical components like modern slings and lights were past.

    I was in a 3rd world country when a drug dealer/ripoff artist/undercover cop approached me and tried to sell me dope. After “No” in every language I could think of I told him what I really needed was an AK and at least 4 loaded mags. He stopped bothering me.

    • andrey kireev

      Umm… AK had a solid optic mount about as long as M-16 had. Just about any competent gunsmith can install a side rail on the receiver.

      • Bill

        True that, and I’ve installed a lot of Pic rail sections with wood screws, shimmed with washers if needed for light mounts on sundry rifles that didn’t have fore ends that accepted them. Now I guess I can just pack this fore-end, and apparently a file, when I travel somewhere where AKs are the rule.

    • notalima

      “what I really needed was an AK and at least 4 loaded mags”

      Hmmm. I should have tried that approach in Jamaica. 😉

      • Bill

        It worked there – Jamaica has the 4th highest homicide rate in the world, and was where the phrase “trust no one” was probably invented. I’m sure there’s good people there, at least 5 or 6.

  • Lance…NOT

    another tacticool ak YAWN!!!!!!!
    *oh look AR15 accessory, must be good*
    russia is catching up now just switch to good ar if they want rails on guns

    …or so the *real* xXx__AR15_OPERATOR__xXx would post, jeez why doesn’t some ninjas develop identity crisis now that many ARs look like something else, and everything else tries to look like ARs. More options can never be boring, unless you are from the other side of the camp (Pro Gun Control) and if you are, PREPARE TO BE INDOCTRINATED

  • Russian Ivan

    That is so funny to read all your comments as a man in russian gunmarket. People here would sell a kidney for a proper magpul customization and most of russian-made tuning is kinda meh. You should totally give less fcks about the origin of custom parts.

    • Cal S.

      Stupid ITAR…

      But yes, Magpul ftw!

  • SD

    That cheekweld, doh.