I ordered a CSS tri-rail a few weeks ago. When I got it I was unhappy with the porduct and requested a replacement see my thread here
. While I was waiting on the replacement I went ahead and ordered the top rail to convert the tri-rail to a quad rail. On innitail inspection, I was unhappy with the replacement rail and and top rail. The edges of the rail are not straight nor uniform on the grooves. It is mainly a cosmetic issue, but I expected more from a $200 rail system.The fit and finish is no better than the UTG rail I owned. The design however is superior to the UTG. In that it dosen't touch the gas tube except at the rear. The UTG clamped the gas tube and some have reported problems with the piston binding as a result.
Uneven rail edges and machining marks on replacement rail:
The next thing I noticed was that the rail came with no instructions what so ever. I'm mechanically inclined, I work with my hands for a living. But I like to have instructions to make sure I am doing things right. So I shot off CSS an email requesting instructions. Here is what I got in reply:
1. Make sure the firearms is unloaded.
2. Remove the dust cover, carrier and gas tube.
3. Install the lower section of the bracket with the forearm using the supplied screw through the hole on the front of the forearm.
4. Slide the forearm down the barrel and into position where the the back tab is seated completely.
5.This now shows you where the bracket should be secured to the barrel. Lay the top section of the bracket in place and mark the barrel with a marker or tape.
6. Remove the forearm from the firearm and unscrew the bracket.
7. Assemble the bracket on the barrel making sure the flat part on the bottom is level and then tighten all 4 screws. Loctite is recommended on all screws.
8. Slide the forearm down the barrel and secure it to the bracket with the supplied bolt and secure the back tab using the existing factory bolt off the original forearm.
9. Reassemble the gas tube, carrier and dust cover.
This sounded simple enough and pretty much what I had figured, by looking at it, but I felt better having instructions.
The next thing I noticed about the set up was the hardware. The bolts that hold the top rail and clamp on are tiny. To the point it bothers me they are not more robust.
Top rail and barrel clamp bolts compared to a cheap scope ring bolt:
Ok so lets get to the install. This is the ring that clamps the railt o the barrel:
there are 4 bolts that hold the split ring together similar to a scope ring. There is another bolt that holds the handguard to the ring. This must be removed to seperate the top and bottom of the ring. Then you reattach the lower half of the ring to the handguard and slide it in place the rear of the handguard has a tab bolted onto it That slides into the reciever where the factory handguard would go.
This tab is threaded to accept the factory handguard bolt. I went ahead and installed the bolt to help hold the handguard in place so I could mark where the barrel clamp ring goes. I marked it with a collor pencil on the barrel. The reing rests against the shoulder of the barrel where it starts to get thicker.
I then removed the handguard screw and slid the rail back off the barrel. Then you have to remove the barrel clamp ring fromt he handguard since the screws that hold the ring together go in from the bottom up. I then screwed the ring together and used the groves in the barrel for reference marks to get the clamp on level.
I used a x pattern tightening the bolts like you would when mounting a scope ring. I tightened it untill the alan wrench started to flex. I didn't want to go any tighter for fear of stripping the bolts out. I of course used loctite on all bolts.
At this point you slide the handguard back on over the barrel clamp and into the slot n the reciever for the handguard. Reattach the factory stock bolt and the handguard clamp bolt. I tightened both down firmly.
Next reinstall the gas tube and you have completed the tri rail install.
To install the top rail simply line up the bolts and bolt holes. Apply loctite and screw the bolts in. There are only 4 bolts holding the top rail on. Again use a x pattern when tightening like you would a scope ring for best results. At this point reassemble your rifle and you are done.
I decided to go with LaRue index clips for rail covers and I'm very happy with the way they worked out. In one package of index clips you get enough to cover both sides and the bottom rail with one left over.
Overall the rail appears to be very solid. I like the fact that the top rail does not touch the gas tube for the majority of it's length with will pervent any kind of binding and should keep it cooler durring rapid fire.
The small bolt used on the top rail and around the barrel clamp ring do give me some concern, but time will tell if the hold up to abuse or not. I'm also no the least bit impressed with the fit and finish of the rail as shown in the first pics. However I think it will be very functional and I don't have any safe queens so it is more or less a nonissue. I just expect better for the price. Also of note the bottom rail has one less notch thatn the sides and is not lined up with them. Purely cosmetic but I would have prefered they lined up.
If you are looking for a rail system for a Saiga that you are going to use and abuse this one will work. However if you want something that is cosmetically perfect look elsewhere.
ETA: Over all width is 2" and length is 10". No scale so I can't tell you how much weight it adds, But t dosen't seem to change the ballance of the gun or feel heavier.