The AKS-74U Krinkov Short Barrel AK History & Review

In this video Miles (who is currently on a 2 month hike in Wisconsin) discuss the history of the famous Kalashnikov AKS-74U. The “Krink” was developed and adopted by the Spetsnaz in the 1970s. It gained infamy in Afghanistan during the 1980s where it was disliked by the Russian Special Forces, but very popular with the Pashtun Mujahadeen, who gave it the name “Krinkov”.

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Transcript …

(speaking in foreign language) – [Voiceover] Or the Russian 545 by 39 millimeter AKS-74U, popularly known as the Krinkov in the United States, or the Kalakov in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

The concept for a 545 submachine gun for the SPETSNAZs was developed in the mid-1970s, eventually being adopted in 1979.

However, Russian special forces never liked it, and often traded it off for full-length AKS-74s with mostly vehicle and helicopter crews adopting it.

The Mujahideen, especially, favored captured examples for this reason and has become a status symbol in modern-day Afghanistan.

The weapon first became known to the Western media through a July 1984 edition of Soldier of Fortune by writer David Isby went to Pakistan to investigate the mysterious Krinkov.

Today, we have a semi-automatic NFA-registered SBR build on an original Russian Tula parts kit with American 922 compliant parts.

I’ve got some Russian ammunition, and this is just an original Russian Bakelite magazines as we put this through its paces.

The gun would come with this canvas carrying case that allowed for it to be carried with the sling still attached.

This case wasn’t designed for rugability or ease of use.

Instead, it was to protect the gun while in transit.

The sling is designed to be used while the stock is folded as opposed to extended.

Underneath the AKSU, there’s an internal pouch for the magazine that it was supplied with.

Disassembling the AKSU is much like any other Kalashnikov platform.

Make sure the firearm is unloaded, then push in on the receiver retaining button.

The receiver cover will angle off towards the forward position exposing the bolt carrier, bolt and mainspring.

Remove these straight out of the firearm to expose the internal trigger and hammer components for cleaning The gas tube, however, unlike other AKs, is held in place by a spring-loaded pin actuated by the receiver cover.

Push down and it’s locked.

Push up and it comes out.

Similar to other AKs in European small-arms manufacturing techniques, the serial number is engraved on all the major parts from the factory.

In 1985, the Soviets stopped cutting air vent holes in the handguards of the AKSUs.

This is an ’86 build.

The sights are extremely rudimentary, adjustable 400 to 500 meters then in battle sight zero for three and in.

The front sight is adjustable for elevation.

We’ll see later on, this submachine gun never performed well at long range, despite it being a 545.

Here, we have a simplistic representation of what a Soviet helicopter crew member might have carried one of these in.

The Soviets issued out special leg holsters and we were able to slap together a cardboard representation of one.

The vest had the magazine pouch just above the holster for easy access, purely a self-defense setup.

Operating the AKSU is just like any other Kalashnikov platform, apart from it being a blast, literally.

If you look closely, you can see the ball of flame coming out of the muzzle from the short barrel of the submachine gun.

The 545 is a very light-recoiling cartridge, and followup shots are extremely easy to squeeze off.

(clicking) For the majority of the day, we are shooting at handgun distances because steel is so much funner that way.

Joking aside, this is honestly the distances that the AKSU was historically deployed in, and is currently used today within the Russian law enforcement.

Production stopped in 1993, and only the police have it now.

Bulgaria has a number of variants as well.

(gunfire) Looking through old pictures, we see a lot of Soviet soldiers with 45-round magazines in their AKSUs.

That or 30-rounders taped together.

The reason for this was because the weapon was only expected to be used as a personal defense weapon outside of a vehicle or downed helicopter.

We also had on-hand a Rifle Dynamics Krinkov in 7.62 millimeter, and shot the two together as a sort of old versus new test.

Of course, the 545 cannot compare to the 762 in terms of caliber, but what we have are two opposite ends of development spectrum from initial issue to modern conceptions.

(speaker drowned out by background noise) We then fired the two at 100 meters, and surprisingly enough, the minute of milk-jug sights on the AKSU actually allowed for smaller grouping than the aimpoint on the Rifle Dynamics.

This is also from a benchrest position, and isn’t indicative of what the submachine would have been capable of at 300 meters or in or a typical engagement distance during the Soviet-Afghan War.

We wish to thank Panther Ridge Training Center and Jeremiah Cohn from Kalashnicohn in Phoenix, Arizona for putting together an outstanding historical rebuild of this AKS-74U.

– Hey guys, it’s Alex again with TFBTV.

I hope you enjoyed that video.

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Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • micmac80

    Russians disliked it as they knew how useless SBRs are for anything but real CQB ,Afganis liked it for prestige value as it was not a CIA supplied AK anyone could get

    • iksnilol

      I feel the Krinkov would a been way better with a slightly longer barrel (10-11 inches), some rear sight farther back (like the tech sights are) and chambered for 7.62×39.

      • Harry’s Holsters

        It would be but man it’s just a sexy gun in it’s current format.

        • Kivaari

          I’ve only handled one and it is a fabulous little thing. I know I couldn’t hit squat with it unless it had glass attached.

      • LCON

        The Russians eventually introduced the AK105 With a 12.5 inch barrel in 5.45 and the Ak104 with the 12.5 inch barrel and 7.62x39mm

        • iksnilol

          Yup. Whilst they are handy I still feel they miss my mark simply because of the muzzle device. shorten the barrel and gas system 2 inches and remove the muzzle device and you’d hit the nail on the head in my eyes.

      • Anonymoose

        So basically a full-size Draco, Type 56C, or AK-104, but with Tech-sights? I read somewhere that SU-16 Tech-sights can be used in lieu of the basic non-adjustable peep sight for the TWS railed dust cover, and might work with other railed dust covers as well. That way you could have better-ranged irons and put on a QD scope mount, or you could just use the regular AK Tech-sights and one of those MWI rear-sight-block red dot mounts.

        • iksnilol

          No, no, way smaller than an AK-104 or full size Draco (though it is a good starting point). About the size of a type 56C is right. What you have to avoid is a big muzzle device. I’d rather have a short suppressor (10-15 cm) than a muzzle booster/brake/hider combo that is of equal or similar length.

          Either Tech-Sights or some other solution with repeatable zero that puts the rear sight way back. Or just a red dot. I was thinking a red dot wouldn’t be that feasible in the time the Krinkov was originally made.

          • Kivaari

            Now that there are rugged micro red dot sights they make ge=reat sense on these little guns. When everything was the size of an EOTech and bigger they just added too much weight and unbalance. Now 2 ounces of optic and mount make them pretty good choices. As I am now quite old with poor eyesight I need glass on everything, except pistols.

      • Sermon 7.62

        That is called M92.

        • iksnilol

          Pretty much. Though I’d like a stainless steel barrel (or at least a chromed one).

          Underfolder stocks are decent enough. Though I’d add some thin wood panels or something to make them more comfortable against the cheek.

          • Sermon 7.62

            The stocks, grips and handguards are too old, it’s time to change them for some KAC rails and Valmet tubes.

          • iksnilol


          • Sermon 7.62

            It looks retro.

            I think that if Knights Armament decided to make a rail for AK, it might be good, like URX3 or something. And I like the Valmet’s tube stock.

    • CommonSense23

      SBRs with the right ammo are more than capable for activities other than real CQB.

    • Kivaari

      It’s the sights that limit the Krink. It’s a great little gun, just with sights so crude that hitting at any distance using iron is tough. A low and small red dot sight on them makes them much better. The 5.45 round may not be the hottest load around, but at 200m and under it will do OK. Those sights are just like using pistol sights. AND I can’t hit at distance anymore without glass.

      • SBR/PDW sized weapons didn’t really come into their own until the widespread use of red dots and other optics.

        • Kivaari

          They became much more useful after good glass came along. I’d say they would still be out there in the form of pistol caliber SMGs and the Commando-sized rifles. We just couldn’t hit with them any better today than 40 years ago. I’d take a stripped down M4 11.5″ carbine over an MP5, and I really like the MP5 having been issued one for about 10 years.

      • AK

        I fail to understand this gun in 5.45, because the short barrel completely handicaps it. I think this gun makes excellent sense in 7.62, because that round excels with short barrels. It’s almost like it’s made for urban vehicle borne ops. Russians just need to extend that rear sight out and put a co-witnessable picatinny in the middle.

        • Kivaari

          It simply makes sense to issue it is 5.45mm since the standard service rifle is 5.45mm. Why screw with the supply system by adding another caliber for a few guns. Like our Colt M4 Commando with an 11.5 inch barrel or the Mk 18 10.3, both firing 5.56mm it would be foolish to add another caliber to complicate the supply train. Like .300 BLK. UNLESS, it was for a dedicated suppressed weapon. The magazine swap business leaves me cold.

          • AK

            Well, I’m pretty sure the Red Army had 7.62×39 in supply chain at the time as well. The point is, ballistically the gun doesn’t make sense in 5.45, a caliber which like the 5.56 relies on speed to be effective. Curiously, the American military has also handicapped the M-16. Having been in the military, I’m familiar with the decision making process there and I’ll write this one up to that.

          • Kivaari

            Itr just makes thing more troublesome as you try to supply an extra cartdige and magazines. Keep everything as inter-changable as possible, limiting oops moments. The 5.45 will do its job within range. Being flatter shooting it will be easier to hit with than a similarly shortened, and slower yet, 7.62×39. Both weapons are designed for 100m use, by adding glass they are 200m guns, with the 5.45 still being easier to hit with. After all, they replacing SMGs with these short carbines. They are not issuing them to every grunt running patrols. Given a choice of duties, the average soldier will be better served by a full-sized rifle. Like WW2 and Korea where our M1/2 carbine was issued to those that were not expected to be fighting, but just in case the enemy got in close they needed a PDW. This PDW is a great gun in that role.
            WE issue the M4 and it’s pretty much a great balance between the M16A2 and Mk 18. Other than being cool there isn’t much need for the Mk18, other than being shorter with a can attached. Same with the Krink, its a specialists weapon or a behind the lines type.

          • AK

            Well, the Russians still have 7.62×39 in their supply chain today, damn the logistics. Why the cartridge is better out of a short barrel, is because it proportionally loses much less velocity out of a short barrel than a 5.45. This has to do with the ratio of case capacity to bore size. Plus, “hitting slower than designed” 7.62 will be massively better, terminally speaking, than a 5.45. Also, you would use this gun out of vehicles and in built-up areas – methinks barrier penetration is a priority as well? 7.62 for the win.

        • Sermon 7.62

          Cops use it a lot, it’s good for them. And 5.45 has a subsonic cartridge. It’s a good gun for CQB.

          • AK

            I like the form factor, but calibers such as 5.45 and 5.56 are designed for speed, and need a long barrel to be effective. There have been bandaid solutions to both, but stock 7.62×39 ammo is far more effective out of this type of gun than any 5.45 will ever be. For subsonics, 5.45 is 80 grain bullet coming out about 300 joules, where 7.62 is about 450J with the stock 123 grainer. Add a proper subsonic pill, something like 200 grains, that goes up to about 600 joules easy.

          • Sermon 7.62

            That’s true, but it’s still a good gun, compared to MP5, etc. I agree that M92 is a better choice.

    • andrey kireev

      Our police seem to like them just fine.

  • Harry’s Holsters

    Such a sexy gun in it’s original format. The RD gun looked good too.

  • guest

    Avtomat Kalashnikova Ukorochennyj, where the last word literally and directly means “shortened”, what would otherwise be called “compact” in english.


    There is not a single place in any serious gun-related literature were ANY compact (or otherwise “less than full size”) assault rifles are called “submachine guns”.

    • iksnilol

      Pretty much all Eastern European literature refers to Krinkovs and such as submachine guns.

      • Who cares what the people who invented and use it call it. Bubbas here in the US are the true authority on proper Russian nomenclature!

        • iksnilol

          I never looked at it that way.

          You’re right, comrade Alexey. I can only ponder what wisdom the so called bubbas are hiding from the world.

        • I want to hear bubba’s thoughts on Marxist theory too.

          • Sermon 7.62

            I hear them all the time here.

    • Kivaari

      Else where, the short and even standard sized AKs are called SMGs. China markets their AKs as SMGs, even though it doesn’t pass the American English standard. But, we don’t own the rights to calling them SMGs or not.

      • Anonymoose

        Lots of languages use “submachinegun” or even “machinepistol” for what we would call full-size “assault rifles.” The East Germans and Romanians always called their AKs “machinepistols.”

    • Anonymoose

      The XM177 was classified as a “submachinegun” by the US military, although it would be more accurate to call it an “assault subcarbine,” but they didn’t see it that way back then.

      • guest

        That kind of nonsense would probably come from the same people that wouldn’t know the difference between a tank, an APC, an SPG and a personnel carrier.

        Or – to dumb it down a notch – AKSU is as much a “submachine gun” as a semi-auto civilian carbine is an “assault rifle”.

        • iksnilol

          I think the US military knows the difference between a tank, an APC, an SPG and personell carrier.

          Yet they classified the M231 as a submachine gun, and the XM177.

      • roguetechie

        The M231 as well… Whose designation was port firing submachine gun.

        Honestly, if anything that poor bastard gives a bad name to good submachine guns. No front or rear sights, and purely intended to be used with straight tracer…

        All that said, it’s still my absolute favorite retro M16 variant. What’s not to like about a striker fired open bolt full auto only M16 with a super short buffer tube and a threaded firing port interface pinned over the gas block?

        I’m slowly but surely working on my NFA legal M231M (yes I’m using the Russian M to denote improved version)

  • Jim N Jenna SK

    Wisconsin is awesome

    • David Harmon

      Shame it’s so close to Chiraq though.

  • Isaac Newton

    I know you were going for the serious history/technical perspective and it was very interesting, but if you deliver a few funny jokes next time you could probably get even more subscribers.

  • Lance

    The 74U wasn’t designed for Spetz Naz as much as it was originally designed for Tank crews. Spetz naz quickly adopted it due to small size and lighter weight. Though its true even today most Special Forces in Russia and the CIS prefer the basic full sized AK-74. Though supplemented in Russia by the full sized action AK-105 its used in Russia by Police as well as in full use in the CIS or former Soviet republics. You see them used by Ukrainian T-80/T-84 tankers easily.
    Love the 5.45mm and the AK-74 series thanks for a awesome video Steve.

  • Anonymoose

    I kind of like the idea of a Zenit- or plum-furnished, solid-stocked AKS-74U, but the 104 and 105 are definitely the superior weapons.

  • iksnilol

    They have about 5 cm longer barrels and a way bigger muzzle device than my vision of the super short handy AK.

    Though the AK-102 with its 30 cm barrel is about as short as I would go with 5.56

    • Sermon 7.62

      Furniture can be replaced, flash hider too. Bravo 18 once made a nice rail interface for them.

      • iksnilol

        Furniture isn’t a big deal. The 100-series solid folder is pretty much the best option. The long af muzzle device bothers me. I’d rather have a short flash hider (IE A2 or slant brake) and a short suppressor.

        • Sermon 7.62

          Chicom T-84 flash hider is good.

  • Sermon 7.62

    You think there are more honest politicians in the US?

    • Tritro29

      It has nothing to do with honest politicians or with the USA. It’s a Russian telling you that they (AK 105’s) are rare in Russia. You don’t need to sermon me about my own country. As a matter of fact, Honesty and Politics are oxymorons. Everywhere, any time.

      • Yuli

        How is the AK105 compared to the 74M? I’ve noticed it has slightly shorter range than the 74M but always wondered why the Spetsnaz and MVD did not adopt it due to it’s compactness and familiarity with the AK74M series..

        • Tritro29

          Because the 74M is compact enough as it has a folding stock. The 105 is something of the past for 5.45 IMO. It is better than the 74U but it’s no panacea to the fact the short barrel doesn’t cut it to the same ranges the 74M goes. Ironically the few ones that were bought by the MVD are almost all fitted with a M4 style of stock which is usually non folding.

          • Yuli

            That makes a lot of sense when thought about. I’ve always figured that chopping down the 16 inch barrel of full rifle to 14 inches would adversely effect range. Seems the Russians have good standards when it comes to desiring a little more range out of their weapons.

          • Tritro29

            It’s something pretty basic, most Russian people who use guns for a legit reason, love the 5.45 for the fact it gives them more “effective range” than a 7.62. And more predictability as well. So while you have a rifle that can become pretty compact “by rifle standarts” why would you sacrifice that for something tha isn’t exactly a problem by now. Also, the issue with the folding stock being less useful folded, could have been arranged had the Soviet Union opted for German Style Telescopic stock.

          • Yuli

            Oddly enough, it is the opposite in the US with regards to the AK. There’s a misconception that most Americans believe that the AKM and it’s 7.62x39mm cartridge is equal to or slightly better than it’s smaller counterpart. Granted, advanced optics and accessories help the AKM quite a bit in the US compared to the virtually unknown 74. I’m really in the Russian mindset that the 5.45 rifles are better in terms of most usage when compared to any AKM 7.62mm variant out there.

          • Kivaari

            In Ezell’s book, “The AK47 Story”, he quotes the Soviets Army officials as saying the AK&$ gavea 2.5 times increase in hits compared to the AKM and the old cartridge. The combination of ease of shooting, lower recoil being a factor, and the flat trajectory was a huge improvement. Being able to achieve a 2.5 times increase in hits, is sure better than missing with the 7.62mm bullet.

      • Sermon 7.62

        That’s not something to tell people from the US, because it makes a different impression on them.

  • The_Champ

    In Soviet Russia, Krinkov operates you.