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Solar Tactical AK47 MFER
- The AK47
MFER (Magazine Funnel, Enhanced Reload) from Solar
Tactical is a magazine funnel/guide for the AKM pattern series of
weapons that guides the magazine into place during reloads, enabling
a faster and more positive magazine reload.
MFER - The AK series of weapons doesn't have a magazine well like the AR15 to guide the magazine into place. The bottom of the receiver is flat, and not very conducive to providing any kind of guidance for the top of the magazine. I've fumbled AK magazine reloads from missing the opening in haste, and I'm sure many AK users have as well. Purists may balk at putting a mag funnel on an AK, but I'm not one of them.
The MFER is a polymer magazine funnel that installs onto the host weapon with no modifications to the weapon. It provides a magazine funnel around the magazine opening in the bottom of the receiver to help guide the magazine should it be misaligned. The inside walls of the funnel are angled towards to receiver opening. The MFER is designed to fit all AKM pattern AK47-style rifles along with 7.62 Saigas. It will not fit the standard Yugo pattern AK. Solar Tactical is a California-based business, so it follows that the MFER also works in conjunction with the Solar Tactical AK series California magazine lock.
Installing the MFER is simple. The MFER attaches by catching the front lip on the receiver at the front of the magazine opening with a stainless steel clip. The MFER is spread at the rear over the trigger guard and rotated forward. The clip is engaged while pushing the MFER forward and down. I tapped it lightly with a plastic mallet to seat it, as I couldn't do it by finger pressure alone. The rear of the MFER secures around the trigger guard and the two small stainless steel screws and nuts are then installed with thread locker. Care must be taken not to overtighten the screws. The MFER installed on my Hungarian AK without any issues.
Trying the MFER out with different magazines, I did find that the US Palm AK30 was very tight in the MFER; it was very hard to rock back and engage the mag release catch. I took a closer look at what was happening, and saw that the top horizontal strengthening rib (waffle pattern) on the outside of the AK30 was pressing up against the inside bevel of the funnel. It was flexing the MFER outwards as the magazine was rocked back, and preventing the magazine from being fully seated.
I didn't want to limit myself to steel AK magazines so I decided to modify the MFER, since I use the US Palm magazines frequently. I used a dremel and relieved the inside of the funnel, as shown in the photo below (red arrows). I created more clearance on the sides, then beveled the step so that there was still an angled transition to the magazine opening in the receiver. This modification did not affect the way the steel or bakelite magazines were guided in, or adversely affect the MFER. I'm now able to use all of my mags with the MFER.
The MFER does make a difference when reloading as it does its job to guide the top of the magazine into the opening, making it easier to insert the magazine than without it. It's an inexpensive enhancement to the rifle.
Kinetic Development Group SCAR Accessories
1/1/16 - In early 2015, Kinetic Development Group announced their new line of products for the FNH SCAR; which include their MREX handguards and SAS stock kit. Both of these items transform the look and feel of the weapon significantly; and were products that I was excited about trying out the moment I saw them.
Kinetic Development Group - KDG (Kinetic Development Group) is a relatively new company; made up of industry veterans; namely AJ Lafferty and Darren Mellors formerly of LWRCi, and Joe and Andrew Visinski of JV Precision (at the time of this writing). They formed KDG to pursue their innovative ideas and small arms solutions unhindered by the bureaucracy of a large corporation. I believe this statement, as a larger company might have passed on the SCAR, and instead concentrated on the larger AR15 market. Their focus is on finding solutions for deficits that they see in the quality rifles and carbines on the market. They chose the well-tested FNH SCAR 16 and 17s for their first project, as the SCAR is one of the most tested weapons in our military's arsenal, and currently in service with military personnel around the world. While the SCAR is accurate, light and reliable, it's not the most ergonomic or user-friendly rifle. KDG set out to address that, and I think they have.
MREX - The Kinetic MREX (Modular Receiver Extension) extends the SCAR hand guard to a more practical length with a reduced profile, and allows the end user to install Picatinny rails or modular accessories where needed. The SCAR, as it comes from the factory, has a very cramped handguard, similar to a standard M4. It doesn lend itself well to mounting accessories on it like a light etc. My support hand naturally wants to hold the handguard in a more forward position. I had installed a PWS SRX rail, which addressed the length issue, but with the factory polymer rails installed and rail covers, it ended up being quite a bulky fore end. The FN rail extension offering didn't appeal to me either because the front rail was at the same height as the flat top and even more bulky. The MREX extends the hand guard to two lengths; 4.9" and 6.5", and either will fit the SCAR 16 or 17. They comes in Flat Dark Earth (shown here) or Black. It utilizes a one-piece design, and was designed to be simple, durable and light weight. It allows for removal of the barrel with the extension still attached, allowing users to change out their barrel assembly with just a few screws. The MREX comes in a nicely packaged box, with their high quality quite evident the moment you hold them in your hands and examine them.
The MREX is offered in two platforms at the time of this writing; the original MREX which features a modular accessory bolt-on design that uses threaded holes spaced 1-3/16" apart; and the MLOK version that has Magpul's MLOK slots at the front of the handguard. Both are available in short or long versions. Compared below are the non-MLOK and MLOK versions side by side. Note that the MLOK versions have MLOK slots forward of the gas block/front sight, but none behind due to lack of clearance between the handguard and the receiver for MLOK nuts. The original MREX comes with two aluminum accessory Picatinny rails and mounting hardware. The MREX slides and overlaps the SCAR receiver instead of just adding length at the end.
For installation to my rifle, I narrowed it down to the MLOK versions, as I preferred to have a more universal mounting platform for accessories. Right now, Vltor's KeyMod and Magpul's MLOK seem to be the most widely available, with many accessories available for both mounting options. After going back and forth between the long and short handguards, I finally decided on the shorter 4.9" version. While the longer 6.5" version helps make my 16" barrel look shorter, I didn't need the extra rail length or weight. The shorter handguard also looked more 'balanced' to my eye than the longer versions.
Installation - To install the MREX onto a SCAR, the factory rails and hardware are removed from the receiver, as well as the bottom rail from the barrel. This sometimes poses problems as the bottom screw can be difficult to remove. I found it curious that KDG did not provide any written installation instructions, but instead have a tutorial video that goes through the installation. The video tells you all you need to know, but I don't always have a computer near where I'm working on guns, so I'd have liked to have a printed instruction sheet as well.
I had removed the bottom factory rail before, so I didn't have to heat up the screw to remove it for the MREX installation. I followed the directions on the video; they were clear and the installation took only a few minutes. In a nutshell, the barrel is attached to the MREX handguard and the assembly slid onto the receiver after installing a couple of Delrin rings/spacers that go between the receiver and inside of the handguard.
The barrel Torx screws are tightened, then the receiver and bridge screws are installed. When installing the MREX rail system, KDG recommends hand tightening all screws, then applying an additional 1/4 – 1/2 turn to insure the screws are tightened properly. Make sure to use Vibratite on all screws installed (included).
Shown below is the completed installation of the MREX-MLOK 4.9" handguard. There are two MLOK slots on each side, forward of the front sight, and six slots on the bottom. There's also a stepped down portion of Picatinny rail in front of the gas block which would be the perfect place for an IR laser. The gas regulator plug and piston can be removed with the MREX in place. Since I also had the MREX 6.5" and MREX-MLOK 6.5" handguards on hand, I also photographed them below for comparison. The MREX handguard is slimmer than the stock receiver with 'cheese grater' rails installed, and feels much more comfortable than exposed rail sections. It's the only rail extension/handguard for the SCAR that I've encountered so far that actually slims the SCAR's profile while adding utility, vs. making it bulkier. The Magpul FDE Cerakote colour is quite a close match for Magpul FDE magazines and the TangoDown grip I have on the SCAR, but nothing else on the rifle. SCARs are notorious for having a different shade for every part, so it's no big deal at all.
SAS - SCAR Adaptable Stock - When the SCAR was first introduced, there weren't many kind words said about its clunky/chunk stock, which was likened to a boot or fish tail. I myself wasn't thrilled with its aesthetics, and quickly swapped it out when Vltor's RE-SCAR became available. The Vltor RE-SCAR is an adapter that allows any AR-15 carbine stock to mount onto the SCAR. It replaces the factory stock. While solid and perfectly functional, the only thing it was lacking was the ability to fold for storage.
Rather than designing a brand new stock, KDG decided instead to adapt an existing stock to the SCAR. They chose the Magpul ACR stock, which is now available as the Bushmaster/Remington ACR Telescoping/Folding stock. The ACR stock, designed by Magpul is made of high-impact composite polymer with a rubber butt pad. It locks in seven different positions for an adjustable length of pull from 11" to 14". The stock unlocks and folds to the right side, depending on spring tension to keep it folded. The SCAR can be fired with the stock folded. An adjustable, locking cheek piece raises 1/2" for better sight alignment with optics. A sling loop is provided at the toe of the stock, and the QD cup can be swapped from left to right.
The KDG SAS adapter/coupling is made of 6061 T6 aluminum billet that is hard coat anodized black. The KDG SAS assembled stock assembly weighs approximately 2 oz less (approx 17.75 oz) than the all-polymer factory SCAR stock assembly. There's also a weatherproof battery compartment with rubber plug that is accessed only when the stock is folded. KDG offers the SAS kits in black and Magpul Brown. I found that the Magpul Brown matched the lower receiver colour on my SCAR quite closely.
Compared below are the KDG SAS stock, factory SCAR stock and Vltor RE-SCAR w/BCM Gunfighter stock. The Vltor RE-SCAR adjusts up and down for cheek weld adjustment, whereas the factory stock and KDG SAS have adjustable, two-position cheek pieces. The SAS cheek piece is adjusted by pulling it back until it unlocks, moving it up or down, then pushing it forward to lock it. Note that the stock cannot be in the fully collapsed position when you unlock the cheek piece as it prevents the rearward movement for unlocking. The SAS stock's length of pull is adjusted by depressing both square buttons on either side of the body, sliding the stock forward or aft, then releasing them to lock it into the desired position. Only the lower portion of the stock extends; the cheek piece remains in the same position and doesn't move back. The SAS installs in exactly the same way as the factory stock.
The SAS stock is folded by pressing the rectangular button on the left side, near the front of the stock. This disengages the latch and the stock swings around to the right side of the weapon. It is prevented from folding complately flat by the shell deflector sticking out behind the ejection port. It's still held in the folded position by spring tension and won't open under normal handling. To unfold the stock, you simply swing it out and it locks automatically it in the open position without having to depress the button.
SCAR Accessories - The factory sling loops on the SCAR were also a source of dissatisfaction; being limited to HK-style snap hooks only. I had modified the front sling loop on the left side; cutting it off to make way for a SCOUT light some time ago. KDG's SCAR Front Ambi QD Point (FAQP) is a simple and superior (in my opinion) sling solution to the factory sling loops. The FAQP replaces the existing factory part and provides a QD mounting point on either side of the rifle, right behind the front sight/gas block. Installation requires removing the barrel/handguard assembly, which is why I installed it during the MREX handguard install (you can see it in the photos above).
The FAQP is compatible with both 7.62 and 5.56 SCAR models, and is made out of 6061-T6 billet aluminum and hard-coat anodized black. It uses the factory screws for installation. KDG also makes a SCAR Rear QD Point (KRQP). It is small and elegant, and mounts at the rear of the receiver and can be installed on both left or right sides with slightly longer screws (included). Note that when installed on the right side (for a lefty like me), it prevents the KDG SAS stock from folding fully, so bear that in mind. I decided to mount it to the left side and use the factory HK snap hook sling loop for the right side. Both the FAQP and KRQP feature rotation-limited QD cups, so your sling won't twist around in them.
Another neat item from KDG is their Kinect MLOK mount, which is compatible with any MLOK handguard on the market. Shown here is the 3-slot mount. Rather than having the typical MLOK screws and nuts, it has two spring-loaded wedges in the base. When the accessory rail is pressed down in an MLOK slot, two tiny deployment triggers contact the handguard, firing the wedges outward in place, which lock the rail to the mounting slot. It's a tool-less mount that takes only seconds to mount or remove. To remove, you just depress the buttons at the end of the rail. It's very 'Mission Impossible'-like to just snap accessories in place like in the movies. It's a solid mount when locked in, comes in 3-slot, 7 slot and Harris Bipod Mount versions. The only small drawback is that it's not quite as low profile as a standard MLOK accessory rail; the increase in thickness/height being necessary to house the mechanism.
Notes/Observations - I was super excited to get the SCAR 16S when it first came out after following its development and subsequent offering to the public several years ago. While my SCAR has been 100% reliable, I still don't shoot it/manipulate it as well or as fast as an AR15. Part of that is familiarity. The other part is that it cycles weak ammo slower than on my AR, so I can sometimes over run the trigger. It's also just bulkier than an equivalent AR15, with much fewer handguard/rail options. However, because it's never failed me, I wouldn't hesitate to rely on it as a primary weapon should the need ever arise. That being said, I was never quite happy with some of the aspects of the SCAR. The factory stock left much to be desired in the aesthetics department, and the short handguard didn't offer much space to mount a light.
When the Vltor RE-SCAR AR stock adapter came out, I quickly switched over to it, and used AR stocks on the SCAR. I felt that the feel was improved over the factory stock, but I did give up the convenience of a folding stock for compact storage. I also looked at different receiver extensions on the market, and got a PWS SRX rail which added 5" to the front of the receiver. That gave me the added length to put a light or laser where I wanted it, but combined with rail covers, it made the SCAR feel a bit front-heavy and bulky. It was during this time period that Vltor came out with the KeyMod attachment system, and MagPul with their MLOK. Both systems got rid of 'cheese-grater' Picatinny rails, and offered a much lower profile direct-attach accessory option. I hoped that I'd see something like this offered for the SCAR, and when I first saw the Kinetc Development Group MREX, I said 'that's it!'
As mentioned above, I picked the shorter 4.9" MREX over the longer 6.5" one, simply because I didn't need so much extra accessory space. I also felt that the rifle looked the most 'balanced' with it, rather than more front-heavy with the longer handguards. Installation was relatively simple, as I had taken apart the factory rails before. Again, I'd have liked a printed instruction sheet to come with the MREX, but the video tutorial worked. I ended up taking off the INFORCE WML pictured above and mounting a Scout light with an Arisaka Defense Offset Scout mount. I was a bit disappointed that the Rear QD point was not compatible with the SAS Stock when mounted on the right side, so I left it on the left side of the rifle and used the factory HK snap hook loop for my sling. When shooting the SCAR previously, I had to make a conscious effort not to let my support thumb stray over thegas block, as it gets hot after firing. I found that the front sling swivel cup of the KDG FAQP actually provided a stop for my thumb and it is now where I rest my thumb against.
While the Vltor RE-SCAR is an improvement in ergonomics and more solid feeling than the factory SCAR stock, it doesn't fold; so this was one feature that was nice to have again on the SCAR with the KDG SAS kit. The SAS/ACR stock looks very much at home on the SCAR, which is not surprising since the SCAR and ACR bear a passing resemblance to each other. I'm thinking of taking a bit of material off the end of the shell deflector so the stock folds flatter, but that's low on the priority list since it's retained by spring tension. I found the stock easy to adjust and comfortable to shoot with; very solid feeling with a minimum of rattle. I had the cheek piece in the raised position when shooting, which put my eye at the right height for the compact ACOG.
I did notice that the handguard did get rather warm after shooting a few mags through the rifle - enough to warrant putting on gloves. I'm guessing that it's because of the direct attachment to the bottom of the barrel below the chamber. Other than that, the barrel free floats and doesn't contact the handguard anywhere else. I'm not sure why it'd be different from any AR15 free float handguard then. Other than getting warm, I thought that the handguard transformed the feel of the weapon in a positive manner. The extended handguard placed my hand where it wanted to go and I was able to activate my Scout light with ease. The handguard is slimmer than the factory rails with rail covers, so the decrease in bulk was a welcome change for my small hands. It also wasn't as front-heavy as when I had the PWS SRX extension installed. The KDG MREX handguard adds utility and mounting space to the SCAR without an increase in width and at a very small overall increase in weight (2.5 oz); while preserving the original light feel and handiness of the SCAR.
While we shouldn't put aesthetics over function, I'm glad to say that with the KDG accessories, you don't have to. They all look 'right' on the SCAR and are of the highest quality. They've made my SCAR more enjoyable to shoot - this is the way it should have come from the factory.
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