Armament Research Services (ARES) has a database of Conflict Material (CONMAT), logging arms and munitions documented within the illicit sphere in conflict and post-conflict zones. I have been working on co-athoring a report with N.R. Jenzen-Jones covering Libyan arms trading conducted via social media platforms between November 2014 and November 2015 for Small Arms Survey. One of the interesting side benefits of digging through a database of thousands of documented arms is finding some particularly entertaining ones.
Let’s begin with a simple piece of conversion work. We all know that lighter is better for small arms, right? So why not remove the extraneous bits of your rifle to make it handier?
Ok, this started as an AK-103-2 (you can still see that marking on the receiver, above the magazine). It already had a polymer sidefolding stock that added basically no bulk and minimal weight…and would have really helped someone actually hit their target. But nope, it had to go. And since nobody will be making hits with this thing anymore anyway, might as well save another few grams by chucking the rear sight.
Next up, this opposite take on accuracy. It’s another AK-103, but instead of removing sights, this person has added one. Good plan! However, the use of just one scope ring may not have been the right sort of optimization.
Now we’re talking! This guy dropped an entire aftermarket parts catalog on not one, but TWO nice AK-103s. Between them we have no fewer than four lights, three optics, and four vertical front grips!
Interestingly (and this is a general trend) the integral optics rail has been ignored, and all the sights are mounted on aftermarket top covers with welded-on Picatinny rails. Those things are notoriously terrible at maintaining zero, even though these examples are the ones with set screws that allow you to tighten them down against the trunnions.
The multiple vertical grips are a total mystery, because both guns also have lights mounted on the handguards (note the pressure switch wires strung back along the receivers). And how are you supposed to use that front front-grip with the rear one so close? More importantly, how do you remove the magazine with that Grip-Pod in the way?
Lastly, we have…this. Hopefully this thing couldn’t possibly fire (if it somehow did everything would fly out the back into the poor shooter’s face). It appears to be an H&K G3 grip assembly and cut up receiver mated with a misaligned PSL magazine, all held together with electrical tape. Truly the definition of W.E.C.S.O.G. work.
I thought it would be fun to post a few of these examples, since the ARES/Small Arms Survey report is much more scholarly in tone. It should be out in a couple months, and I think it will make for very interesting reading for anyone interested in the current Libyan situation!