“All Business with No Wasted Effort”
Rifle Dynamics’ Interest in the AK
Las Vegas-based Rifle Dynamics (RD) is one of the premier AK gunsmiths in the U.S. Jim Fuller’s Rifle Dynamics is one of the few truly qualified companies that can improve the AK platform beyond its out-of-the-box potential without impacting its “hell and back” reliability, simplicity and ruggedness. Jim has always been impressed and attracted to most Soviet-Block weapons; even though many in the U.S. discounted Soviet arms as inferior tools of the enemy. This led him to intensifying his study of the AK system of operation beginning in the early 1990s. Jim believes the AK is the most dependable fighting rifle ever produced. While it may not be as inherently accurate as other rifles, the AK is still plenty accurate for the job it was designed to do as a combat arm. Rifle Dynamics is an 07FFL/SOT manufacturer which allows for work on machine guns, suppressors, SBRs and SBSs combined with being considered a dealer as well.
The true hallmark of the AK-series of rifles gaining acceptance in the U.S. is the rise of gunsmiths, ammunition manufacturers and aftermarket accessories starting to cater to its clientele. Based on this, Fuller decided to introduce a Rifle Dynamics AK signature line that encompasses many upgrades and modifications over “factory” standard AKs. With so many customers inquiring about Jim’s opinion for a solid, no “frills” AK fighting rifle, he decided to invest in making this type of AK available to customers without having to experience the wait associated with custom projects. These production RD AKs will benefit from years of experience gained from doing improvements on customer-provided rifles and custom orders.
Jim Fuller explains, “We (RD) are doing different production rifles that are basically the same except caliber (7.62×39 and 5.45×39) and stock configurations. All RD models will have our custom front end with Bolten Gas block. The muzzle device will be a Battle Comp AKBC on the 7.62 guns and Battle Comp 2.0 on the 5.45 guns. TAPCO G2 triggers will be used as standard fire control. A Fuller designed rear sight is included as well as a U.S. Palm AK Battle grip. The RD AK production AKs will have an UltiMAK upper rail installed.” Jim goes on with, “There won’t be any other options since these are production rifles. The quality will be what you would expect from one of our (RD) custom builds, but we have to limit options in order to produce them in a timely manner.” The current RD production AKs will be labeled RD700 for 7.62×39 rifles and RD500 for 5.45×39—simple enough.
The RD702 AK
The particular Rifle Dynamics rifle tested is the RD702. The RD702 AK is chambered in 7.62×39 and utilizes the RD AK/M-4 stock adapter to affix a Magpul CTR rear stock. The RD702 AK benefits from a custom front end consisting of a Bolten gas block offered through Venom Tactical. Aesthetically, the RD702 gets your attention immediately with its 14.5-inch barrel with pinned PWS FSC flash hider. Rifle Dynamics is proud of its custom front end work featuring the Bolton Gas Block; this sets apart RD AKs from others. The RD modification removes almost 1 pound off the front of the rifle, moving the center of gravity about 4 inches closer to the body making the RD702 feel very light and more importantly the fastest handling non-SBR-length AK on the market. The RD front end work is complimented by adding an UltiMAK gas tube scope rail. The UltiMAK provides a solid mount point for whatever forward mounted optic you prefer.
The Rifle Dynamics’ RD702 AK features a Fuller Modified Rear Sight unit. Jim reports this is one of his most popular AK modifications in terms of customer feedback. Over the years many have complained about the iron sights on the AK; the Fuller Rear Sight improves this tremendously. The Fuller Sight has the notch widened and corners radiused to a spec that was given to Jim by an Optometrist for maximum efficiency in centering the front post in the rear notch. Both windage and elevation adjustments are made on the front sight. Jim ships the rifle with a long front post expecting elevation adjustment to be fine tuned by filing down the sight and windage adjustments made by turning the front post to whichever side is necessary. The finish on the RD702 AK tested is Norrell’s Moly Resin gray applied over fresh Parkerizing. Rifle Dynamics has found this to be the best finish for a rifle that will take a lot of abuse, heat and lack of cleaning. Jim reports the finish has proven itself many times over in the worst conditions.
There is a tremendous amount of fitting that goes into the Rifle Dynamics’ RD702. Even though a “production” rifle, the RD702 benefits from RD quality control via internal reliability checks, fire control group polished and light planing on the bolt/carrier group and guide rails, combined with exterior surfaces being dehorned where users touch them. Jim takes great pride in the amount of fitting that goes into everything Rifle Dynamics produces. Most owners will not even notice the Rifle Dynamic attention to detail but can take comfort that everything possible has been done to make a Rifle Dynamics’ AK the best fighting rifle available. Even without firing a live round the Rifle Dynamics AK superiority over a standard AK can be detected in the smoothness of the action, trigger pull, quality of re-finish and overall weapon feel. Rifle Dynamics is well-versed in the nuances of the AK platform and can educate even the most diehard AK connoisseur. The RD702 7.62×39 reviewed in this article will retail at $2200.
After a quick verification of 25-yard sight zero, range evaluation commenced with a function test involving firing several magazines in rapid succession at various steel man targets and vehicles that dot Echo Valley Training Center (EVTC) where I do my testing. While not unique, this is a good way to establish a baseline for reliability. Let’s face it: if an AK-type weapon does not have pristine reliability, its major attribute is nullified. I made sure different types of AK-47 magazines were used to verify compatibility with the RD702 AK. Metal and polymer 30-round magazines of various manufacturers performed fine with no issues inserting, removing or feeding the rifle. The U.S. Palm AK-30 polymer-style magazines were the primary magazine used after initial magazine trials. The U.S.-made AK-30 magazine is molded so that disassembly is not possible or warranted. The AK-30 magazines were complimented by the AK Attack Rack. The AK Attack Rack is a low-profile, secure platform for 4-AK magazines and 4-pistol magazines. The AK Attack Rack chest rig can be worn over hard or soft body armor and is built to military specifications out of 500d Cordura nylon for durability and minimal weight.
A more comprehensive 100-yard sight zero confirmation took place after functionality was established. After first using the Fuller modified rear sight found on the RD702, I decided to mount a Trijicon MRO. Many will be more than satisfied with the Fuller rear sight and eschew mounting anything on the rifle choosing a more traditionalist route. I found the UltiMAK rail too tempting and favor the advantages associated with red dot sights. Red dot sights offer the capability to engage multiple targets in rapid sequence compared to open sights. Age may be catching up to me as the single focus plane with the red dot is easier to shoot accurately than coordinating front and rear sights.
The Trijicon MRO (Miniature Rifle Optic) is a sealed miniature reflex sight intended for use on rifles, carbines and shotguns to provide fast target acquisition. The large aperture and tapered light path maximize the viewing area and allow for better situational awareness and fast target engagement—especially from non-standard shooting positions. Combine all this with the ambidextrous brightness controls, sub-flush adjusters, advanced lens coatings and the fully sealed, waterproof, hard-anodized forged 7075-T6 housing, and you have the ultimate mini reflex sight on the market. The MRO’s 2MOA red dot offers the capability to engage multiple targets in rapid sequence compared to open sights, while at same time providing adequate accuracy out to a couple hundred yards on man-sized targets; yards due to the red dot not obscuring the target due to the dot not being that large.
Multiple 7.62×39 loads were tested with the Rifle Dynamics’ RD702 AK such as Hornady, Wolf and Red Army Standard. All of the loads produced approximate 3-inch groups at 100 yards. In all fairness, a magnified optic would have probably produced better accuracy results in lieu of the open sights, especially with the Hornady SST loads. Gilt edge accuracy is not the goal with any Rifle Dynamics’ AK; it is a fighting rifle measured by a different set of parameters.
Other range tests consisted of completing several runs on EVTC’s “Jungle Walk” range. Several ISPC-style man targets and steel silhouettes were engaged from different firing positions. Multiple shots were fired at each target, and a magazine change was mandated before leaving cover. I find testing any rifle in this format helps highlight any strengths or weaknesses in handling or weapon manipulation. The Rifle Dynamics’ RD702 AK handled as well as any rifle I have tested. There is a fundamental reason why AK versions proliferate around the world and now are spreading across the land of its Cold War nemesis. This is due to the AK’s well-earned reputation for ruggedness and reliability.
Rifle Dynamics’ understanding and appreciation of the AK as a fighting rifle translates into the RD702 accentuating these characteristics with no urge to make it into anything else. The UltiMAK rail is a nod to the advantages offered by a red dot optic or by possibly mounting a tactical light without succumbing to the urge to hang items that are not necessary on the forend, ruining handling. The Fuller rear sight is another subtle refinement intended to upgrade the AK platform without hindering its design intent. The honing, polishing and fitting of internals such as trigger mechanism and bolt carrier are done to compliment smoothness of operation, not reduce tolerances to a point that compromises reliability out in the real world. All business with no wasted effort—that sums up the Rifle Dynamics RD702 AK.
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|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V23N1 (January 2019)|