I made the following changes since the last update, and finally got to take it to the range.
* Aimpoint H1 sitting on a Kalinka Optics low rail (http://kalinkaoptics.com/mounts/ak-v...ck-finish.html).
* MD Arms "V-plug" gas valve (http://store.carolinashooterssupply....sh-PLUG/Detail) to replace the "Gunfixers" valve.
* Removed the recoil buffer.
* Streamlight TLR-1s in a UTG barrel clamp mount (UTG? What what? http://www.amazon.com/UTG-Universal-...6274242&sr=8-7).
On the Aimpoint:
The cheek weld was about as good as it is going to get trying to use an optic on a standard AK-style stock. I could probably get the optic down another 3 - 5 mm if I opted for an Ultimak gas tube rail and mounted it in a scout position.
It took about 5 - 7 rounds to get what I'd consider a "zero". Rounds used were Remington Long Range Express 1 oz 2 3/4" slugs. Not a stellar load, but certainly a "good enough" round for the purpose of a zero. Zero was done from a benchrest. I felt... funny... zeroing a shotgun on a benchrest. 50 yard zero, improved cyl. choke.
Once zero was done, I put a few rounds out to 100 yards, I think that the point of impact was well within the expected group sizes given the low quality of the load.
Result: As happy as a clam. The mount is rock solid, but then again, what would I expect from a Russian-made 1/2 lb. mount holding a 4 oz. optic? It came wrapped in the famous "brown paper covered in wax/grease", and the only "instructions" were a scrap of paper in Russian, so I knew it was authentic...
Next, I ran 5 rounds of Federal LE #00 buck, still at imp. cyl. choke. Very nice pattern, and the Aimpoint was super quick to point and aim as expected. I was able to land some of the Federal LE #00 at *100 yards* on an 18" paper, again, at imp. cyl. choke. I can't wait to get my hands on some the #1 buck. I had to put the gas valve up a couple of notches, the #00 wasn't cycling well enough to eject (but well enough to cock the hammer) on the lowest setting that I was using for slugs. I'd show the targets, but they had a lot of other holes in them at roughly the same size and place.
Then I put through 15 rounds of #8 birdshot at "hey, is that a fully auto shotgun?" speeds. I left the gas valve on the setting used for the #00. No problems at all.
The optic mount actually has a side rail, and with a small riser, the TLR-1s could fit there. I chose the barrel clamp instead, despite not looking too nice, because the ergonomics were better for flipping it on/off in my tests. I had two big concerns with it. First, would the recoil have the light's switch smash my support hand? Secondly, would the UTG mount shift around? Pleased to report positive results on both. The recoil is tamed quite a bit with the new plug, and the placement was just fine, and the UTG clamp works just fine.
Something that I was really loving on this range trip, was the extremely reduced recoil. I only brought 2 boxes of slugs because they are usually no fun to shoot, but with the new gas valve, I can get it turned down a lot lower. I would actually enjoy doing target shooting with this combination! The Federal LE #00 and #8 birdshot were very manageable. The Aimpoint is astounding. In terms of the aiming itself, I would feel very confident taking a hunting or defensive shot at 100 yards, and I would be willing to pull the trigger out to 150, provided I thought the slug could hit with appreciable power at that range. I kind of regret getting the side rail mount instead of the Ultimak gas tube mount, mainly for looks, but also for versatility (I could hang the light off that fairly easily, for example), but I'm not exactly running out to change it either. This optic setup is just dandy. I also sort of wish I had gotten a 4 MOA dot, but if I ever move it to a carbine I'd want the 2 MOA anyways, and the 2 MOA is perfectly fine as well. I do not like the "bikini" covers for the Aimpoint, and there are no flip ups at this time.
I can't wait to get some Federal LE #1 buck; I had the chance to snag some a few weeks ago, but I waited 'till payday and missed my chance. I also want to get some of the new Federal LE slugs through it. I'm not sure if I should be getting a 20 round drum or a pair of 12 round magazines for HD use. The drum makes it pretty bulky to store, but the 12 round stick mags are pretty long. It's a shame that the Mossburg "Loc Box" uses a key instead of an electronic loc, otherwise it would be a winner for storage. If I go the 12 rounder route, I'd download them by 1 to ensure easy loading on a closed bolt.