Tak-MAK, Squak-MAK and Flak-MAK
There a few things to keep in mind about the MAK. First, the stock has to be removed to clean the bore. To do that you must remove two screws that hold the "aft cap" in place and for this you'll need an Alan wrench. I'd prefer to have two knurled big-head screws that could be tightened by hand. I saw some of these at the Jense Precision web site, but since they weren't for sale, I made my own. I used the cut-off .204 barrel muzzle to make two oversized screw heads. I cut two wafers .2" thick and drilled and tapped the wafers ¼-28. I bought some ¼-28 bolts at Lowes, JB Welded them into the screw heads and then cut them to length. Second, an A2 grip attaches behind the trigger guard with one screw, just like any AR, but apparently the contour of the MAK frame above and to the rear of the grip is slightly different. To fit the Magpul MIAD grip with the oversize backstrap, you'll have to MotoTool away a little plastic to get it to fit. That was about a 10 minute job. Third, the MAK is not the lightest setup around, but then again, it wasn't designed to be a sporter. It was designed to be a target rifle. Speaking of target rifles - not all target rifles have safeties. And such is the case with the MAK. It is designed to not have the factory safety installed. I have managed to use an Olympic quality Feinwerkbau 300S air rifle for years without a safety, but on this rifle, I didn't want to disable its working safety.
¼-28 screws plus a cut-off .204 muzzle yield 'big head' stock screws. An original screw is in the center.
Prior to JB Welding the action into the MAK receiver tube, I cut a semicircle in the tube to make room for the safety. I could have purchased a trigger with a bottom safety (like Jewell or Huber) but was out of money, don't like the way they look and have no experience with them. The cutting was uneventful but when I tried to bend the safety lever for a better fit … Snap! … it broke. It must be hardened because it had no give to it at all. That necessitated my making an aluminum safety lever to fit the broken stub. It's glued and screwed in place.
Safety lever is visible inside the cutout, behind the bolt handle
When I purchased the tube gun kit, it had one problem - it was electric blue. I actually liked the color, but since I'm calling this Tak-MAK, as in Taktical, the color had to change. Cutting a notch so the safety can be retained and making a couple big head screws probably doesn't make it Tactical or even Extreme Tactical, but let's not forget that it's black and flat dark earth, sturdy, can chamber several 'tactical' cartridges and has a Harris bipod hanging off it. Just as important - it rhymes. And by naming it I hope to add an air of legitimacy to my gun butchery. Moving on … I degreased all the parts with alcohol and Brownells TCE cleaner and then spray and baked it with GunKote. That was a mistake. I had weighed the options of sandblasting before GunKoting but didn't want to blast off (?) the anodizing. So I hoped that the GunKote would adhere, but it didn't work as well as I'd hoped. The paint chips off at sharp edges, revealing its royal blue pedigree. I sandblasted, degreased, sprayed and baked the bolt with GunKote and it worked fine, so there's nothing wrong with the product, but apparently you shouldn't use it over anodized aluminum without sandblasting it first. Oh well, a little flat black Rustoleum spray paint touches it right up.
My handguard accepts a handstop by way of an accessory slot at 6 o'clock. You can also order the handguard without the accessory slot. There is one threaded hole for a QD sling stud just ahead of the slot, but it sits far enough forward that the Harris bipod base overhangs the front edge of the handguard. Not caring for that arrangement, I made a threaded T slot nut that fits in the accessory slot, accepts the QD sling stud and provides an attachment point for the Harris bipod. For night time adventures, I drilled and tapped two 10-24 holes at 10 o'clock so that I could attach a short section of Picatinny rail. The rail gives a Streamlight a place to sit.
I used a fixed A1 stock for this project, but the longer A2 stock, a Magpul PRS or one of the many collapsible stocks would also make good choices. I cut off the sling swivel flush with the bottom of the stock so that it would ride the sandbags better. With the stock removed, the overall length of the rifle is about 11 inches longer than the barrel length. So if a collapsed 14.5 inch M4 (31" long) will fit in your gun case, then the MAK with a 20 inch barrel and the stock removed will fit it to. Just put the stock in one of the accessory pouches.
Here are some weights related to this project: A1 stock with Aft cap - 1.33 lbs. Handguard with QD stud - .65 lbs. 7-08 22" skinny barrel with spacer - 2.45 lbs. .223 24" skinny barrel with recoil lug - 2.88 lbs. .204 heavy barrel with spacer - 4.33 lbs. .308 18" heavy barrel - 3.27 lbs. AI 5 round mag loaded with .308s - .62 lbs. Receiver sleeve with Rem 700 receiver, bolt, trigger, safety, trigger guard with pistol grip, scope rail - 4.06 lbs. .204 barrel with handguard, stock, action - 10.37 lbs ditto plus Harris bipod and 3.5-10x scope - 12.4 lbs. 7-08 complete rifle with 6.5-20X scope, bipod, 5 round AI mag - 11.30 lbs.
The .308 barrel started life as a factory Remington Varmint profile 24" barrel. I cut the barrel with a hacksaw to a handier 18" and asked Eric to give it a USMC PWS crown. The muzzle diameter was .86". I threaded the barrel into the action with a go-gage held in the bolt face and the barrel stopped with a .183" gap between the front face of the action and the barrel shoulder. I had a recoil lug .186" thick that I figured would provide a headspace measurement between min and max. I cut and filed the bottom of the lug off to make a recoil spacer that would allow the handguard to fit in place over the receiver sleeve. It looked sort of cheesy (not that anyone could see it) so I put the lug on the lathe and cleaned up the outside bottom surface. I got the following velocities from factory ammo with this 18 inch barrel: 130 Norma - 2780 fps, Federal 150 Ballistic Tip - 2700 fps, 155 Scenar - 2655 fps, Remington 165 Ballistic Tip - 2590 fps, 168 TAP AMax - 2530 fps, 175 Federal Gold Medal - 2455 fps and Black Hills 175 Match - 2470 fps. Five shot groups of 168 TAP Amax and 175 Gold Medal run around .8 to .9 MOA. The Black Hills 175 Match runs around .75 MOA for 3 shot groups.
I cut off a second take-off Varmint barrel from Mr. Del at 20"and crowned it using the Manson muzzle crown refacing kit available from Brownells. Firing TAP 168 AMax, I got a 5 shot group measuring .99" but that included the Cold Bore Shot (CBS). Shots 2 thru 5 measured .49". The second five shot group measured .50". Lapua Scenar 155 grainers shot into .65". Some rounds loaded with 168 grain Berger bullets shot less than .5 MOA. The Sellier & Bellot 168 HPBT Match ammo shot about 1.25 MOA and some Hornady Superformance 178s shot around 1.5 MOA.
To switch barrels, I use the Surgeon action wrench and a barrel vise. The Surgeon action wrench fits into the ejection port rather than fitting in the back end of the action. The advantage of this is that you don't need to remove the stock to change barrels. Also I save a little more time by not removing the handguard while changing barrels. I just clamp the barrel ahead of the handguard, using the appropriate wood inserts in the barrel vise. I made several wood inserts that have varying inside diameters to fit the different barrels I have. I don't twist the barrels on too hard since I like to change them without pulling a muscle. A couple things I'm still experimenting with regarding accuracy are the torque setting used to tighten the barrel along with using Teflon tape to limit the slop between the barrel and action threads. I want the barrel screwed on tight enough to give me the barrels best accuracy, but not so tight that it's difficult to change.
I have had good luck with two types of magazine for the .308 and 7-08 ammo. The first is the 5 round magazine made by AI (that comes with the MAK kit). The second is an Alpha Industries Type 1 10 round magazine. It's only a little longer than the AI 5 round mag and is shorter than the AI 10 round mag. It's made from stainless steel with a black Teflon finish and is made in the USA. It accepts ammo up to 2.85" long. The Type 2 magazine doesn't have a spacer welded in the front of the magazine so it accepts ammo up to 2.98" long but needs to have the feed ramp modified to work properly. There is also a third magazine made by C-Products that is an AICS compatible magazine, but I have no first-hand experience with it. For clarification, whenever I use 'AI' in this article, it stands for Accuracy International and should not be confused with Alpha Industries, which could also be shortened to AI.
The last MAK variant, for which I have no photo, is the rare and elusive Flak-MAK. You may be interested in knowing that Flak is an acronym taken from Flieger Abwehr Kanone (anti-aircraft gun.) The purpose of the Flak-MAK is to engage low flying, slow moving, uninvited aerial intruders, utilizing extended four column magazines, triplex tracer depleted uranium sabot ammo and a Pederson-like device, thus converting the rifle to full auto fire. In addition to burning out a barrel in short order, the tripod is heavy and the anti-aircraft sights cumbersome. Since this is only a concept at this point, I guess my boys and I will have to spend all our time blasting away with the more popular and practical Squak-MAK and Tak-MAK.
MAK Enterprises, 1017 Wildwood Ct., Seymour, IN 47274, 812-523-6769 or 812-522-8837, www.tubegun.net
Alpha Industries magazines, PO Box 5127, Fullerton, CA 92838-5127, www.alphaindmfg.com
Ross side discharge muzzle brakes - Ross Schuler, 261 Victor Gust Drive, Mountain Home, Idaho 83647, firstname.lastname@example.org
Borka Adjustable Torque Driver, model ATD-36x72-06FS, www.brownells.com
Surgeon Action Wrench, www.surgeonrifles.com
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