M+M Industries hit the scene a few years ago importing M10 (AKM pattern) rifles from the Cujir factory in Romania. Combining a good price point and high quality, the M10 was well received. However, demand outpaced supply, and M+M decided to manufacture its own rifle.
But rather than just produce a traditional AKM design, M+M upgraded the venerable platform to make it more accurate and to provide a better interface for optics. Thus, the M10x Elite was borne. Is this the most accurate production AK derivative rifle in existence?
One clarification is in order right off the bat: M+M Inc.’s M10x is not a pure AK derivative. Rather, it’s a hybrid design that takes many of the best features of the traditional AK (magazines, magazine release, fire control, pistol grip, etc.) and combines it with a serialized steel upper receiver /“monolithic” alumimum barrel shroud, a SIG SAUER inspired gas system and action, and an AR-15 inspired safety and stock interface.
In fact, the more time I spend with this rifle, the more I’m inclined to think of it as an attempt to “upgrade” the SIG SG 550 series of rifles by replacing the proprietary aspects of that system (i.e. trigger, magazine, pistol grip, and stock) with readily available AK-47 and AR-15 alternatives. The beauty with that approach is that it makes the rifle easier to customize and upgrade.
Want a different stock or pistol grip? Can do. Easily. Want a high-end aftermarket AK trigger? Ditto. Want to add M-Lok accessories? Yup. Need Picatinny space for night vision to shoot hogs? Yes sir. You can tell that the design concept of the M+M M10x Elite was to make the rifle easy to customize.
The “lower receiver/trigger housing” (for lack of better terms) is pretty standard AK-esque in design. The M10x’s billet steel upper receiver, on the other hand, is unique. That’s the serialized part, but you really can’t see much of the upper receiver because it’s fully encased by a one-piece, 18-inch-long, aluminum extrusion “barrel shroud / dust cover.” If you take apart the hinge screw, the steel receiver and aluminum shroud can be separated from one another.
In this photo you can see the receiver hiding beneath the aluminum “barrel shroud/dust cover:”
With that out of the way, here are the key features of the M+M M10x Elite:
Fully floated nitrided barrel (result of floated joint at gas cylinder and gas block)
Reversible charging handle
Ambidextrous AR-style safety
Full-length picatinny rail and M-LOK sides and bottom
Proprietary hybrid flash suppressor / muzzle brake
Three-position adjustable gas valve (including “off” position)
No AKM style recoil spring (Mainspring instead wraps around the gas piston)
I’ve read that AKs are known for having “poor balance,” but with the possible exception of the AKMS underfolder, I’ve never found that to be the case. Perhaps some AKs are a little front heavy, such that holding them by the pistol grip alone is a bit awkward. Nonetheless, while a typical AK weighs in at seven to eight pounds, depending on the version, most feel lighter. In fact, most people think of an AK as a very “handy” and relatively compact rifle.
The photo above shows the M10x Elite below the M10, which is a “standard” AKM in terms of length and weight. The M10x Elite has better balance than most AKs, but it is noticeably heavier at 8.5 lbs. empty. In terms of heft, it reminds me a lot of the IWI Galil or Finnish Valmet. In short, that characteristic AK “portability” or “handiness” factor seems to be missing: it’s somewhat like the difference between an M-16A2 and an M-4. The M10x Elite also feels longer than it really is, but that’s mainly because the buttstock can be extended much further back than a conventional AK.
All of these complaints go away, though, when you shoot the M10x Elite. In fact, the same extra weight and length that make it feel less “handy” help make the M10x Elite a pleasure when it goes bang. The longer stock is also a big plus as well, and maybe the KickLite recoil reducing stock (discussed below) helps a bit as well.
One huge improvement over a standard AK is the ambidextrous AR-style safety lever. It features a 45° throw lever which is much faster to employ than the typical AK lever safety. The M10x Elite also features a Hogue pistol grip, which is much better than the typical commie grip made for under-fed Soviet peasants.
The M10x Elite features a three-position adjustable gas valve that appears inspired by the SIG SAUER 550/551 series. Under normal conditions, the gas value should be set to “1.” In harsh conditions or when using poor ammunition, the gas valve can be closed down to the “2” position, which directs more gas into the action.
Finally, if you wish to manually cycle the rifle, you can set it to the “0” position. In this mode, most of the gas escapes out the sides of the gas cylinder, causing the rifle to not cycle. In the photo below, one can see the holes that regulate the amount of gas that reaches the long stroke gas piston.
This photo shows the bolt, the charging handle, the bolt carrier, the gas tube, and the piston and captured main string assembly.
Bolt Carrier Group
You will understand that this is not your typical AK when you look at the bolt. While obviously inspired by the Kalashnikov design, subtle differences exist. In fact, the M10x traces its bolt design more directly from the SIG 540 series of rifles. That isn’t a bad thing, because the SIG 540 is a proven design going back 45+ years.
The rotary bolt locking mechanism consists of two steel locking lugs that engage locking recesses in the breech and, with one exception, is identical to that used in the SIG 540/550/551. Like an AK and the SIG, a spring-loaded extractor is incorporated into the bolt. However, the M+M features a plunger-style ejector. (If I’m not mistaken, this latter feature is different than the SIG, which as far as I know features a fixed protrusion on one of the receiver’s internal guide rails which ejects the spent cartridge casings).
Aside from these SIG-esque modifications, there’s also a high level of machining that’s atypical for an AKM or AK clone. In the photo above, compare the work on a garden variety AKM (top) and the M10x Elite (bottom).
You can see the difference between a typical AK (right) and the M10x (left) below. Note the plunger ejector, which provides constant spring pressure on the round:
Another view (M10x at top).
The M10x features a high quality US-made 16.25-inch barrel made of 4140 steel and finished in black nitride. It has a 1 in 9.25 twist, and is threaded to accept brakes with 14/1 left hand threads typical of AKs. I’ve been told that in the future, M+M is responding to user feedback by switching to a more common 5/8 x 24 thread pattern to make it easier to use with suppressors and U.S. made .30 cal. muzzle brakes. The best feature of the barrel is the fact that the breech end is threaded (as opposed to being press fit and pinned like a typical AK), thereby making barrel changes easier for a gunsmith.
The M10x Elite’s trigger group is a definite high point, breaking at just over four pounds in my tests. It’s a single hook design made in house at M+M. It appears to be a MIM part similar to the Tapco G2. The trigger is typical of AKs and MP-5s in the sense that it features a long steady pull with no discernable “wall.” The long pull has obvious creep only if you try to slowly “stack” the trigger; otherwise it is pretty smooth. While not a target trigger, it’s one of the lightest and best factory AK triggers I have ever shot.
The MOE aluminum back-up iron sights (BUIS) are a definite low point. So much so that M+M has since made the decision to ditch them and ship the rifle without any sights. As far as I can tell, these sights appear visually similar to the Yankee Hill Machine Co. 5040 Q.D.S. sights, but they aren’t the real deal. Instead, they’re Chinese reproduction. In fact, they are the only part of the rifle not made in the USA.
While I guess they work to some extent, they seem second rate compared to everything else about this otherwise first-class rifle. It’s like putting steel wheels and hubcaps on a Porsche. In addition to an overall chintzy and clunky feel, the front sight post is canted and the rear sight wouldn’t remain retracted under recoil.
The rear sight I got was also cosmetically blemished, as you can see in the top photo above. So if you end up buying an M10x Elite, chuck the factory BUIS and get a set of Fab Defense FBS/RBS, Magpul Pros, or, if you’re feeling flush, the excellent Knight ‘s Armament BUIS.
M+M might have bombed out with the iron sights, but their excellent proprietary “MRL” magazine release is the bomb. It’s innovative because it uses optimized geometry to improve on the original Kalashnikov design. The M+M MRL helps eliminate magazine wobble and increases the number of out-of-spec commie magazines that will function with the rifle. I added one to my AMD-65, and it really improved that rifle by eliminating the wobble.
Phoenix Technologies Kick-lite Buttstock Shaft
One unique feature on the M10x Elite is the Phoenix Technologies Kick-Lite recoil reducing stock buffer. Recoil reduction stocks make some sense on a 12-gauge shotgun, but I’m still unconvinced of the need on a platform that shoots 7.62×39. While the system seems to work to a degree, it adds unnecessary weight and cost.
Also, when shooting from the bench, the Kick-Lite causes the gun to tend to bump-fire a second round. In fact, when shooting off of front and rear bags, I had to make a concerted effort to prevent the rifle from sending two rounds down-range. I let a few friends shoot the rifle and they experienced similar bump-fires. I have the feeling that M+M may ditch the Kick-Lite in future production of this rifle, as they did with their “Zhukov” version of the M10x.
M10x rifle comes standard with M+M’s CHAOS hybrid muzzle brake and flash hider. This is the same brake that was used in the original M10, and is a refinement of the Tapco Razr brake. I have no complaints about the CHAOS brake; in fact, on the M10x Elite, I did not hear any of the resonating “twang” sound I heard when the CHAOS brake was fitted on the original skinny-barreled M10. The M10x Elite featured an AK-compatible 14x1LH thread pitch. Again, feedback from consumers has convinced M+M to use the more standard 5/8x24RH barrel threading in future production runs.
Bottom Picatinny Rail
The M10x Elite features a short 1913 picatinny section milled directly into the bottom of the “upper” receiver. I don’t think this rail section is particularly necessary, but it may work with a short vertical foregrip such as the BCM Gunfighter. I tried to mount a Magpul RVG grip but it wouldn’t fit due to the clearance needed for the 30-round magazine. This bottom rail feature is dropped on the Zhukov model in order to shave off some weight and cost, and frankly, won’t be missed.
The M10x Elite is easy to disassemble, although I did have to resort to the unmanly act of reading the manual to figure out the first step. Turns out there is a latch located on the underside of the lower receiver that you can push forward (i.e. towards the muzzle end of the rifle) to “open” the rifle. In this regard, the way the upper and lower receivers pivot on a hinge pin reminds me of my FN FALs.
Once open, you un-pin the charging handle using a bullet or similar pointed object, and then the bolt carrier group will slide out the back of the upper receiver. The gas system is similar in appearance and function to a SIG 551 and a FN 49/FAL. It consists of a gas cylinder, a gas valve, and a piston with captured spring. It’s easily removable using a bullet or similar object.
Once field stripped, the M10x Elite is easy to clean – similar, if not easier, than an AK. The only tough part is cleaning the outside of the barrel, since it is covered by the handguard and not readily accessible. To clean the barrel, you do need to unscrew the hinge screw, thereby allowing the barrel shroud to be removed from the upper receiver. This requires removal of any M-Lok accessories that are attached to the handguard.
Holy cow. If you need a reason to buy this rifle, this is it. The free-floated barrel, monolithic upper receiver and excellent trigger pay great dividends in the accuracy department. While most AKs seem to shoot in the 2-4 MOA range, the M10X Elite is easily a 1 MOA rifle, especially when using US-made brass case ammo such as American Eagle or Winchester PDX defender, or the steel cased Hornady SST.
While a typical AK has a shorter stock and handguards that make shooting off a bench somewhat awkward, the longer stock on the M10x Elite helped me get some good supported shooting positions. For example, using “Dog Gone Good” front and rear bags, I even shot this impressive three-shot sub ¼-inch (1/2 MOA) group at 50 yards:
Brass-cased Sellier & Bellot and Prvi Partisan also shot very well, repeatedly turning in groups in the 1.0 to 2.0 MOA range at 50 and 100 yards. Even the lowly Russian steel-cased ammo (Wolf, Tulammo, Red Army, etc.) shot 1.2-2.5 MOA for the most part, but the steel-cased ammo exhibited a higher tendency for annoying flyers. A “typical” 100-yard group with Ruskie steel-cased ammo looked like this:
That’s four shots at roughly 1.5 inches, and a “flyer” that opens the group up to 2 MOA.
Moving out to 300 yards, hits were easy to obtain on a 12 x 20 (2/3) IPSC target from Grizzly Targets. Using Hornady 123-grain A-Max SST and a Leupold 2-7 VX-R scope, I was able to turn in this 3-shot group that measured just a hair over 3 inches.
When shooting at the Grizzly 2/3 IPSC, we were able to get reliable hits at 400 yards and occasional hits at 500 yards. In both instances I was obviously dialing significant elevation to compensate for bullet drop. However, things really did fall apart for us when we tried to engage similar sized targets at 600 yards.
I attempted to reach out and touch an 18-inch gong at 600 yards with no less than 60 rounds of high-quality U.S. made ammo, with almost no success. We concluded that the fat and somewhat slow 123-grain bullets just get bucked around in the wind too much to give reliable accuracy at that distance. Even with that, the M10x impressed. I’ve always thought of the AKM platform as having a maximum effective range of 200-yards +/-, but this rifle easily doubles that effective range to 400-450 yards.
When you’re dropping somewhere in the neighborhood of $1,300 to $1,500 on a rifle, it had damn well better perform flawlessly. Fortunately, the M10x Elite did not disappoint. It delivered excellent reliability using a variety of different ammunition. In fact, we ran at least ten different brands of ammo through the rifle, and it gobbled up everything we threw at it. We even did a few obligatory “mag dumps” in order to make sure the gun would run hot, and the M10x Elite did not miss a beat.
While technically not an “AK,” the M+M M10x Elite will hold significant appeal for AK aficionados as well as those seeking a modern updated SHTF platform supporting the ubiquitous Soviet M43 (7.62 x 39) round. As updated, the M10x Elite extends the maximum effective range of a typical AKM from 200-250 yards to 400-500 yards. In so doing, the M10x loses some of the lightweight portability that AKMs (and, in particular, the folding stock AKMS variants) are so famous for.
Nonetheless, depending on your purposes, this may be a fair tradeoff for the increased accuracy/range. In fact, it’s fair to say that this is the finest “AK” compared to my collection, and I prefer it to an Arsenal SAM7SF due to its superior accuracy and ability to support optics. Having said that, I don’t own a Krebs or a Rifle Dynamics, so I can’t compare this to those high-end offerings.
Now let’s talk about the price. The M10x Elite’s $1,550 MSRP ($ 1,300 – 1,500 street) is a lot of dough for a modern sporting rifle that shoots an intermediate cartridge such as the 7.62×39. I would be a lot more comfortable recommending it at a street price in the $1,200 range so that it’s less expensive than the SIG SAUER 556xi and the AR-inspired CMMG Mutant.
I have not done a comprehensive review the SIG SAUER 556xi, for example, but I have fired it at SHOT Show. Nonetheless, based on Nick Leghorn’s review, it appears that the M10x Elite kicks the SIG’s butt in term of accuracy. Based on my experience at SHOT, I can confirm that the SIG’s trigger is fairly awful, whereas the M10x has the best factory AK trigger I’ve experienced.
The M10x’s use of M-LOK rail system is also a big plus over the the SIG, but the SIG has highly desirable folding stock and is a full pound lighter. Despite the fact that SIG SAUER brand has more name-recognition and panache, I also think the M+M is the better buy over the 556xi due to the fact that it is more accurate and more customizable, while still maintaining the high degree of quality you would expect from any high-end manufacturer.
As it turns out, M+M has incorporated user feedback into a new version of the M10x featuring the Magpul Zhukov folding stock. This version makes some other minor tweaks to get the weight down to around seven pounds. Remarkably, they even managed to shave a couple hundred bucks off the price as compared to the Elite.
At the time of this writing, M+M is beginning to release the “Zhukov” version of the M10x, and as much as I like the M10x Elite, I think the Zhukov version is the way to go unless you really like that extra “Galil-esque” heft and a non-folding stock. M+M, Inc. will continue to produce the M10X Elite in a very limited production run once a year. Individuals wishing to order should contact the company for details on how to get on the list.
Additionally, their new M10X that comes with a Magpul Zhukov folding stock is designed based on the experience with the M10X Elite. The parts are cross compatible between the two rifles. You can see details for both rifles at mm-industries.com. I will be doing a review on the new M10X later this fall.
Action: Semi-automatic rotating bolt long stroke gas piston driven system
Upper Receiver: Single unit integrated made out of fully heat-treated high quality milled billet nitrided carbon steel
Bolt & Carrier Material: Fully heat-treated high quality milled billet nitrided carbon steel
Lower receiver: Made of stainless steel with Black nitride finish
Upper Picatinny Rail Length: 18 inches
Forearm Cover & Finish: Aircraft grade aluminum; Mil Spec Type III black anodized coating; Magpul® M-Lok compatible slots
Barrel Length: 16.5 inches
Stock Length Collapsed: 36 4/16 inches
Stock Length Fully Extended: 40 1/16 inches
Rifle Weight: 8.5 lbs (tested) without magazine
Trigger Pull: 4.2 lbs +/- (4.1 lbs, as tested).
Safety: Ambidextrous w/indicator marking on both sides of receiver
Charging Handle: Ambidextrous removable reciprocating handle
Stock: Six position Magpul® CTR™ buttstock w/Phoenix Technology® Kicklite recoil reducing shaft
Pistol Grip: Ergonomic rubber overmolded Hogue grip
Magazine Type: Comes with 5/10/30 round depending on state configuration
High Corrosion Resistant Components: Ninety-five percent of the rifle including bolt, bolt carrier, gas cylinder, lower receiver, trigger, trigger guard, upper receiver, mounting hardware are finished in black nitride.
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Ergonomics (Shooting) * * * *
Better than an AK.
Ergonomics (Carrying) * * *
This rifle is a bit heavier than I would prefer – the Zhukov model solves this complaint. Even so, its well balanced when carried at the ready position.
Reliability * * * * *
No problems so longs as you set the gas ports correctly.
Customize This * * * * *
This may be the biggest selling point for the M10x – you can swap out the trigger, pistol grip, stocks, and you have plenty of rail space to add anything you can possibly think of.
Accuracy * * * * *
Outstanding. Takes the AK to the next level.
Overall * * * *
As much as I like the M+M M10x Elite, I think I will prefer the Zhukov stocked model simply because of the lighter weight. Nonetheless, this would make a fine hog rifle, especially when paired with Winchester PDX-1 or similar performance 7.72 x 39 ammo.