AMERICAN CAPITALIST HAMFISTED DREMEL WORK TRIUMPHS OVER SOVIET MANUFACTURING!
After a whole lot of trouble shooting, I found out what was wrong with this AK. I followed some advice of starting with the AK in stock configuration (not counting lower rail handguard or buttstock since these have no bearing on how the weapon operates), taking the firing pin out, and hand cycling 5 mags through. This was repeated with each new piece of 'bling' added. I also had just put in a new extractor, since I thought that was what was causing the issues.
Started with the standard bolt carrier, no dust cover on. No issues resulted.
Next, went with the left hand charging handle bolt carrier, no dust cover on. No issues.
Next, added Ultimak tube, no dust cover. No issues.
Finally when I added the dust cover, some of the same jams started showing themselves again. That is, rounds were going to the left of the bolt and bolt carrier, with a round was in the chamber as well.
So I took a closer look at the ejection pattern with the rifle in this configuration, and noticed that with the dust cover on, a good fraction of the rounds were ejecting anemically, bouncing off of the edge of the dust cover and ending up about a foot forward of me, at the two o'clock or so. A marked contrast to the standard AK ejection of tossing rounds out vigorously to the 4-5 o'clock.
I took a closer look at the dust cover, and saw that the area directly above where the tip of the safety sits when it the 'safe' position was all gnarled up and bent inwards. It also showed signs of repeated impacts. I tried cycling a few more rounds relatively slowly, while paying attention to what was happening in there. It seemed that the rounds were bouncing off of the dust cover and back into the action.
I was told that this might have to do with the angle of the ejector blade. But, since I didn't feel like messing with the ejector blade itself, instead I took a dremel to the dust cover. I figured if I messed something up, it would be cheaper and easier to replace the dust cover than the ejector blade.
Horrible and hamfisted, I know. "But dust and debris can get in there" some might say. Well yeah, but I don't think it's going to make a difference given the huge slot cut into the left side of the dust cover for the double charging handle.
I repeated the dry cycling test with the dust cover now properly mutilated and had zero issues, and the ejection pattern was solidly to the 4-5 o'clock.
But of course, this was no true confirmation, a test fire was needed. So today, I went out to the range and fired off a full combat load of 7 mags.
The funny part was, out of the seven mags fired, only two were from the standing position. The rest were from the prone, magazine supported position. Still zero issues. (I had previously thought that resting the mag on the ground was helping with the malfunctions.
The final step of my horrible blasphemy towards Mr. Kalashnikov's design was to apply krylon, now that it was finally working properly.
(Not the best pictures since the sun had just set over the mountains unfortunately.)
So there you have it.
Lessons learned from this experience:
AKs are not drop-in lego modifiable like ARs are. Test fire that shit before you add new components. Hell, before you add ANY components.
Don't buy a Lancaster. Get a Saiga or an Arsenal instead if you're gonna mod something up.
Don't get so honed in on the idea that ONE THING is making it jam up. It might be something else entirely.