Reinventing the AK Wheel with RS Regulate
Matt Korovesis 11.12.14
Americans love to tweak and customize their guns. The exponential growth of the firearm accessory and optics aftermarket in the past several years proves that fact. While the AR-15 is often held up as the ideal “Lego gun” and much of the industry is focused on supplying parts for that design, certain innovators have dedicated themselves to bringing that American love of utilitarian, rugged accessories to the AK platform. RS Regulate, a manufacturer of accessory and optic mounts for AKs, is a major part of that movement.
Making the Kalashnikov modern
The AK has held a steady position in the American firearms community for quite some time. Until very recently, however, AK-pattern rifles and pistols were largely considered poorly made, clunky, and good for only mag dumping and affordable centerfire plinking (though their reliability is, of course, the stuff of legends). The growing number of AK enthusiasts in the United States has led many to reevaluate this undue reputation.
One of the first things many gun owners seek to do with a rifle or carbine is mount an optic to it. On an AK, the best way to do this is by using the side rail on the left side of the receiver (if the gun has said side rail—not all models do). Until the optics and accessory explosion of the past few years, though, a prospective side-railer had very limited options when it came to actually attaching an optic to their AK—obsolete fixed-magnification scopes, awkward Russian-made Kobra sights, and so on. To make matters worse, made-for-AKs optics often sat much higher over the bore than American shooters were used to, which led many to complain of “chinweld” with their guns’ stocks.
The clear solution to the AK optics dilemma was a modern, low-profile side mount, allowing shooters to attach their sighting devices while maintaining a comfortable and repeatable cheekweld.
Scot Hoskisson, the president and founder of RS Regulate, is giving the AK world exactly what it needs. His company’s signature product is an ultra-lightweight, modular side mount system that allows users to comfortably co-witness their optics with their iron sights. And, unsurprisingly, it’s revolutionized the AK platform. I recently met with Scot to learn more about RS’ background, and his passion for Kalashnikovs.
An AK and an ACOG
It all started with an AK and an ACOG. Back in 2009, Scot purchased a Bulgarian kit-built AK carbine chambered in 5.45x39mm. He wanted desperately to mount his ACOG to the gun, but there simply wasn’t a way to do that with the mounts available at the time.
An engineer by trade, Scot decided to solve the problem himself. After much tinkering and testing, he produced a custom mount for his gun that yielded a suitable cheekweld and sat the scope precisely centered over the rifle’s bore.
When Scot attached his handiwork to his friend’s Romanian SAR 2 (another 5.45x39mm AK-74-pattern gun), however, he found that his mount didn’t sit the scope directly over the rifle’s bore, as it had on his Bulgarian gun. There are slight differences between just about every country’s AKs. The incongruities between the kit gun’s side rail and the SAR’s side rail meant that, while the ACOG mount worked perfectly for the former, it was in a suboptimal position for the latter.
Scot’s solution to the center-over-bore problem was to create a two-piece mounting system. The lower piece would be what actually attaches to the side rail of the rifle, and the upper piece would be connected to the lower and cradle the optic. Scot made the upper’s over-bore position adjustable—a shooter could drift the upper mount from side to side before securing it to the bottom. Scot eventually released versions of this “first generation” adjustable mount for the Aimpoint Comp series and Aimpoint Micro dot sights. An ACOG-specific upper would come later.
Since the release of the first RS Regulate mounts, Scot’s design has gone through numerous revisions and refinements. In 2012, he began rolling out his AK-300 system, which features six different lowers: a front-biased base, a rear-biased base, and a full-length base for most Eastern European AK side rails; a front-biased and full-length base for “Yugo” and Romanian M10 pattern AKs; and even a rear-biased base for Czech vz. 58s. Ever the perfectionist, Scot made his mounts even lighter (the full-length lowers weigh only 3.5 ounces, while the rear- and front-biased bases weigh 3 ounces) and more modular.
Any upper (of which there are now several, including a standalone section of Picatinny rail to mount more generic items like scope rings) can be attached anywhere along the length of a lower, allowing the shooter to determine their preferred front-to-back positioning.
AK-300 lowers can be easily adjusted to fit a side rail using a locking bolt on the bottom of the mount—previous RS mounts used a Soviet-style clamp. Adjusting the AK-300’s locking bolt to ensure a snug fit on a gun takes a matter of seconds.
All of the items in the AK-300 series are constructed of durable 6061-T6 aluminum and hardcoat anodized. The minimalist and lightweight nature of the AK-300 has to be seen and felt to be fully appreciated. Anyone who’s ever used heavier, overbuilt mounts will immediately recognize the strengths of the AK-300 system with it in their hands, and even more so when it’s on their rifle. Almost all AKs can be field stripped without removing an attached AK-300 mount, a feature that many other AK mounts are lacking.
The RS Regulate philosophy
Throughout Scot’s journey with RS Regulate, one philosophy has always guided him—and it’s why he chose to make mounts utilizing the AK’s side rail instead of developing replacements for essential parts of the firearm.
“I don’t want to impact the weapon’s combat effectiveness,” Scot told me. “[I don’t want to] mess with critical components without knowing their total effects. The side rail is the original quick-detach optic mount—why would you want to mount an optic differently? The Russians put it on there for a reason.”
Scot’s “change nothing, utilize everything” principle has led him to create what is arguably the best AK optics mount in the world. The AK-300 requires no permanent modification to the firearm it’s mounted on, and most red dot sights mounted in an AK-300 upper offer a lower one-third co-witness with iron sights.
Innovation doesn’t begin and end with optics mounts, though. RS Regulate now sells three different accessory mounts: the BM-1, BM-12, and BM-12G. All are designed to give a shooter the capability to mount lasers and lights in easily-manipulated positions on their firearm. While the BM-1 and BM-12 are specifically designed for Kalashnikov pattern rifles and shotguns, respectively, the BM-12G will work with almost any tube-fed shotgun. A large order for BM-1s was placed by a domestic contractor, and a version for Yugo-pattern AKs (dubbed the BM-2) is forthcoming.
Scot’s passion for the Kalashnikov platform is evident in his design philosophy and his dedication to his products. He is perpetually striving to make his accessories the absolute best in the game. Scot is one of the few individuals in the United States who is reinventing the “AK wheel” of the gun world, breathing new life into a proven design that’s well deserving of it. If you’re an AK enthusiast, don’t get left in the dust—give RS Regulate some consideration the next time you go to customize your combloc blaster.