Lightning Review: Midwest Industries Gen2 AK Handguard

    About a month ago Midwest Industries leaked out this photo of their new Gen2 AK Handguard. I had to get one. The ability to mount a Trijicon MRO and co-witness irons is what sold me.

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    Here is the photo MI posted on Facebook a month ago.

     

    I got the long and short version to try out. Here is the short handguard with MRO top cover on a Century Arms RAS47 Zhukov.

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    The installation is relatively straight forward. I had to remove the Zhukov handguard and the gas tube cover. You need to remove the bolt to get the gas tube out.

    Then there is a small rectangular block of plastic that you need to file the sides so it plugs into the front opening of the receiver. That block is set screwed to the back of the handguard bottom half. This prevents the handguard from rotating. Then there is a barrel clamp block that bolts over the barrel and into the handguard. Once that is done you re-insert the gas tube and bolt on the top cover. If you have one with an integrated optic mount then you bolt the optic first before bolting the top cover to the bottom handguard.

    As you can see the Trijicon MRO mounts perfectly and co-witnesses with the irons. The short handguard weighs 7.5 oz.

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    Here is the long handguard on the same RAS47. It has the railed top cover. The Meopta Meored sits a little high so it does not co-witness with the irons. The long handguard is 11.5 inches long and weighs 16 oz. The long handguard comes with a milled gas tube which you need to replace with your factory gas tube. Also since the RAS47 came with the Zhukov handguard installed by factory there was no forward sling loop. If your AK has a forward sling loop, then you need to have it cut off.

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    I also got the T1 top cover to try out as well.

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    Just like the MRO top cover, the T1 mount allows T1 compatible optics to co-witness irons. I am using a Hilux Leatherwood Micromax B-Dot.

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    Next I tried my friend Adam’s slightly modified Saiga AK to see if the long handguard would work on his gun. He too was tickled at the idea of co-witnessing red dots on an AK.

    Adam had just recently shifted his front sight back and threaded the barrel for 14L. Luckily the front of the top cover is forked so it cleared the front sight without any issues.

    Saig handguard

    Looks like an AK Dissipator. Original Saiga handguard below.

     

    Below is a comparison of our friend Billy’s modified AK and Adam’s AK with MI Gen2 handguard. Both are Saigas with modifications.

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    The first long handguard that I got had a defect in it and MIdwest Industries were awesome about it. They sent me out a whole new handguard and just asked for the defective part back. The problem was that somehow the tool in the CNC had broken when it was milling the relief cuts for the MLOK slots. The slots should be like 0.10″ but these were 0.23″.

    I originally thought I would prefer the longer handguard since I was used to the Zhukov handguard. However I have grown to love the shorter handguard. When Adam shot 1.5 mags out of his Saiga AK, the handguard got a bit warm.

    With the short handguard the only thing I would change is add a handstop at the front edge so that my index finger doesnt slide forward to touch the barrel.

    Both handguards share the same hardward like the anti rotation block, barrel clamp and screws. However The spacing for the top cover screws are not the same. I was not able to fit the short top cover on the long handguard lower. I would have liked to try that setup. While I could bolt the rear screws, the front screw holes do not line up.

    There are other options for mounting optics to an AK but this seems to be the most streamlined. No need for adding mounts to side rails and you have more options with keymod or MLOK handguards. One great feature is the integrated QD holes for sling mounts. I could have mounted a MLOK QD mount on the Zhukov handguard but that is added cost and added weight. Here they are already there if I need them.

    The short universal handguard costs $159.95 and the extended handguard costs $234.95. Now that is for MLOK. Keymod versions are $10 more. There is no price difference for the top covers. It is the same price for picatinny, T1, or MRO.

    For more information go check them out on their website.

    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]


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