Have you ever tried to free float an AK barrel and piston system?
Why couldn't you shorten an AK piston (maybe micro galil piston), use a Galil gas tube and a gas block that's supported by a "SD shroud" like an MP5 is done? (All welded together) The gas block would no longer need to be attached to the barrel for support. You would need to pipe the gas to the piston, but that that could be done with a low prifile AR type gas block.
The O.D. of the shroud could be made to match the I.D. of an AR free float hanguard also.