More late 2000s nostalgia that nobody’s going to care about for another 5-10 from me publishing this, but I’m saving it now while the info is just about still available online. It might be gone in a few more years.
This style of updated AK type rifle was very, very fashionable in all sorts of tacticool circles in the years straddling 2010 when the CoD series was really ruling the world, so millions of people will have used this gun in-game. Though the AK was the last weapon to be unlocked in MW2 multi-player, so as soon as you ‘Prestiged’ you’d lose it again which limited it’s exposure. Especially compared to the ARMS equipped M4 found in the game.
The airsoft market at the time was absolutely flooded with ‘PMC’ AKs featuring all sorts of railed handguards and either AR buffer tubes or non-standard folding stocks. They’re still made and sold to this day by at least a couple of brands including CYMA.
Fortunately the remaster of the game combined with the Inspect feature means we can see the headline screenshot that shows the parts far better than would have been possible in the original 2009 release. The handguard seems to be manufactured by Russian brand TDI and was previously distributed by CAA in the west, though seemingly no longer. The pistol grip is also probably TDI and is still sold by CAA at the time of writing. I get the impression that the Roni kit is one of the few products CAA might actually make and the rest of the line up may well be an amalgamation of cringey looking firearm accessories sourced from around the globe.
The only photo I could personally find of a similar rifle in use in Iraq around the time is actually in the hands of a bloke reported in some places to be a SEAL but according to some reputable sources was indeed a contractor for Triple Canopy. In my head I recall more pictures of private contractors with accessorised AKs floating around before, which was supposedly a result of some companies only legally being able to acquire weapons in-country; but I can’t actually find those images (though tbh I’m not willing to spend more than 20 minutes digging). Almost all the pictures of contractors from the period I could find still in the cloud actually show them using ARs, as you would naturally expect. Potentially the loss of the website MilitaryPhotos has doomed such pictures to be lost forever.
It’s hard to know whether I’m just imagining things or the flavour of the month at the time was all whipped up over nothing. Either way, this style of rifle and the whole PMC aesthetic was a very big thing for a time amongst gun-cosplayers, airsofters, gamers and all sorts of general militaria fan types. For example Metal Gear Solid 4 (2008) was seemingly based on and around the whole style and general concept. A look that is certainly well cemented in to my memory.