[Red Oktober 2016] A Kalashnikov themed Competition

DSC05499

Red Oktober is an entirely Kalashnikov themed competition that took place at Southern Utah Practical Shooting Range in St. George, Utah. It was primarily by Rifle Dynamics, along with a number of other industry sponsors that all pitched in to really support the two day competition. Essentially Jim Fuller from Rifle Dynamics, along with range staff from Southern Utah Practical Shooting Range saw the opportunity to create a competition in celebration of the Kalashnikov platform in the United States and brought it to reality. The divisions included Kalash Heavy (7.62×39), Kalash Light (5.56×45 or 5.45×39), Open Kalash for optics or drum feeding devices, and finally a ComBloc division for any non Kalashnikov design Soviet or otherwise within the Warsaw Pact countries.

The competition consisted of a number of very well designed and themed stages, from clearing a house, to long range shooting. Shooters came from all over the country, probably the furthest from Alaska to participate. Many stayed in hotels around the area but a good number also camped out on the range itself after the shooting was done for the day. Vender sponsors such as Dead Air Armaments, Kvar, Kalashnicohn, Circle 10 AK, Century Arms, Sabrewerks, Rifle Dynamics, in addition to others were staged around the range showcasing new products and allowing for test fire of their products. There was even a food truck at the center of the range selling hot meals to hungry shooters. At the end of the two day period, awards were announced and a number of rifles and optics were given out to winners. Century Arms gave a rifle to the top five shooters that were using Century Arms rifles in the competition.

DSC04064

DSC05649 DSC05479 DSC04065 DSC04067 DSC04326 DSC04485

As a platform, the Kalashnikov has experienced a number of stages of growth and decline since importation really began in the 1970s and onwards. In the 1990s importation declined due to the Assault Weapons Ban, but picked up after the ban was finished. Unlike the U.S. based AR market which has really grown because of its modularity, the U.S Kalashnikov has had a tougher time. Mostly this is because unlike the AR, putting a Kalashnikov together requires much more subject centric knowledge. Although the Kalashnikov is an extremely simple design, and very reliable, producing it can be cumbersome. Pressing trunnions in, folding receivers, punching rivets isn’t something that most gun owners can do at home that they could do with an AR build. Thus, many of the U.S assembled Kalashnikovs got off to a rough start because in-depth knowledge and quality of manufacturing was lacking. However, the last decade has seen an explosion of quality U.S builds, to the standard of Soviet manufacturing techniques.

Thus, the kind of person that becomes interested in the Kalashnikov, can sometimes come from a very different path than an AR aficionado. Some are fascinated by the historical aspects of it, with original wood and country specific versions very available in the market. Others approach it from the reliability and rugged aspects of the design, looking for a more reliable rifle than the AK. While others are intent on pushing the system as far as it can go by way of making it more accurate, and more modular with different receiver designs, and modern accessories. Either way, all these social genres have to maintain a commitment that one doesn’t usually encounter in the AR world due to the pure accessibility of options available. All were well represented at Red Oktober with their own take on what the ideal rifle is for them. There were semi-pro competitors that do competitions full time and wanted an outlet for their Kalashnikov interests, in addition to the guys who just liked good Soviet designed rifles and saw this as an excellent opportunity to run one in competition.

DSC04071

The scenery for the shoot was absolutely killer. Southern Utah consists of canyons, desert, and spots of civilization in between. It was absolutely the best competition I’ve been in when it came to the pure scenery involved. Looking over my shoulder, I could glance at far off mountain ranges, or St. George out in the distance. At night, the sky was alit with stars while I was sleeping underneath.

DSC04148 DSC04010

DSC03960DSC04185 DSC04295

Being that it was Halloween weekend, there were a number of shooters that came in costumes for the shoot. Ian McCallum from Forgotten Weapons was there as a drug trafficker coming across the Arizona border, complete with padded boots to obscure footprints and bale of weed on his back. Another competitor was there as a “War Pig” in a pig outfit, complete with matching pink and blue rifle! There were also numerous guys with Afghan Packools as headgear as well. All the Soviet or foreign era inspired costumes really reinforced it being a quasi cross cultural/historical interest focused get together. I could not see any of that happening at a strictly AR themed competition (which most of 3 Gun is anyways in the rifle category).

The crew putting the competition together was absolutely spectacular. Unlike other competitions I’ve been to, the range officers here were actually calling out to shooters if they missed a target or not, in addition to guiding them through the entire stage and making sure everyone was was safe throughout.

Barricade Stage

Nine steel targets were set up around 75 meters away, shooters had to engage all nine at three different barricades, while carrying a water jug between them. This one was pretty straight forward and was a good stage to become familiar with the match rules and regulations. Because the safety on Kalashnikov rifles is much more difficult to operate quickly, safeties were intentionally left off on the majority of moving portions, while the ROs paid strict attention to trigger placement and muzzle discipline.

DSC04440 DSC04371 DSC04278

This dude had an RPK.DSC04255

Stalingrad Stage

Paying homage to the battle of Stalingrad, here you start sitting in a trench, then have to crawl through a sort of tunnel, and working your way into a house where your rifle is. You have to engage targets from the house while crouching because of the low windows in it. Outside of the house, you kicked a steel silhouette target that engaged 2 pairs of swingers on the left and the right. The SBR guys really took it here.

DSC05502 DSC05525 DSC05557 DSC05517 DSC05500

Car Ambush Stage

Here you had to start from inside a car, engage stationary targets, which then activate a swinging target directly in front of you. Leaving the car, you push through the stage and engage stationary targets on either side of you while going through a net house set up.

The SKS guys managed to work inside the confines of a vehicle.

DSC04851 DSC04782 DSC04785 DSC04635

House Clearing Stage

This was one of the neatest stages wherein you had to clear a house, and push outwards for targets outside of it. The stage RO hands you a loaded 12 gauge shotgun, and you have to blow a wooden latch on the door open. Then you throw in a flashbang grenade and continue with the house targets.

Sometimes the wood wouldn’t break upon engaging it with the 12 gauge, so shooters would have to kick it open themselves.

DSC05181 DSC05182 DSC05161 DSC05070

PKM Stage

Hands down, this is probably the coolest shooting competition stage I’ve ever participated in. You started off with 10 rounds from a match provided Class III PKM machine gun, emptied all of them downrange, and then pushed throughout with a satchel containing all of your magazines.

DSC05300

Your rifle was in the trash can on the right, with you starting with a burst from the PKM.DSC05265 DSC05247

Afghanistan Stage

The Afghanistan stage started off with three steel targets 150 meters away. Engaging them, you push through a tight canyon, with stationary targets on either side of you as you move through. Ending it with the same three targets you started off with, but now at 50 instead of 150 meters away. On my particular squad it appeared that the SKS armed guys were better at 150 meters than the Kalashnikov guys of any caliber.

DSC05582 DSC05589

Although SKSs might have had an easier time at long range, magazine changes and malfunctions were much harder to manipulate.DSC05615 DSC05640

Night Stage

The night stage took place at the barricade portion, and was lit up by a flashing police siren, in addition to barrels on fire throughout the range. Even with the lights shooting this with iron sights proved to be tough, really tough! Here the optics mounted Kalashnikov shooters showed a stark advantage over the iron sights, easily hitting targets when the iron sights could barely align in the dark.

DSC05427 DSC05446 DSC05445

ROs white lit all shooters with the status of their weapons.DSC05461

Targets were lit up down range, but this didn’t help the iron sight shooters from acquiring their sight pictures as well as the optics guys.  DSC05472 DSC05475

The closing ceremony was an excellent finishing touch, in addition to a final shoot out between the two contenders in each category. All the sponsors and winner said a few words a piece, some being quite humorous as well.

All the range staff and ROs that made the match go as smoothly as it did. All of these people performed excellently at their jobs!

DSC06015 DSC06024

The final shoot off involved engaging steel targets at 100 meters, then moving to near steel at 25 meters.DSC06047

Dingus, of Bad Element Customs trying out an experimental drum he is working on.

One of Circle 10 AK’s shooters with a customized AK74 build.



Miles V

Former Infantry Marine, and currently studying at Indiana University. I’ve written for Small Arms Review and Small Arms Defense Journal, and have had a teenie tiny photo that appeared in GQ. Specifically, I’m very interested in small arms history, development, and Military/LE usage within the Middle East, and Central Asia.

If you want to reach out, let me know about an error I’ve made, something I can add to the post, or just talk guns and how much Grunts love naps, hit me up at miles@tfb.tv


Advertisement

  • iksnilol

    I’d give out an award too, if they managed to win with a Century rifle they deserve it.

    • Nashvone

      No kudos for any IO guys that showed up?

      • iksnilol

        They actually survived!?

        • Timothy G. Yan

          I saw at least 3 I.O. guns at the event.

  • alex waits

    That is probably the coolest competition i’ve seen.

  • .45

    Awesome. Wish I went. Maybe next year I’ll look into it.

  • Martin M

    That’s pretty cool. Wish I has something like that in my area.

  • 🐒👊

    NICE!

  • Bucho4Prez

    The 2 Gun stuff looks like a hoot. Like a comic con with guns.

  • Arie Heath

    Someone really needs to come out with an SKS chambered in 5.45 for us ComBloc weapon fans here in Cali.

    • .45

      7.62 isn’t allowed?

      • Ken

        No, they just want a semi auto in 5.45. The SKS is nice because it can be featureless without looking ridiculous and can be quickly clip loaded.

  • Anonymoose

    According to their page, Kalash Heavy is for 7.62×39 AND OVER, but no one brought a .308 Vepr or Saiga?

    • Sunshine_Shooter

      I wouldn’t have either. More recoil compared to the x39, lower capacity magazines, and for what gain?

      • Anonymoose

        Better for the longer range engagements that the SKS’s seemed to dominate over the AK guys.

        • Sunshine_Shooter

          Not sure the distances seen in the videos is far enough for a .308 to actually have an advantage over x39. is there something about the Vepr and/or Saiga that gives them an advantage? Doesn’t the SKS’s performance on those stages show that the x39 caliber isn’t the limiting factor?

          • Anonymoose

            I will concede that the longer sight radius probably has more to do with it than the caliber, so I guess a regular 7.62×39 RPK-clone would get the job done.

          • Sunshine_Shooter

            I would like to see someone run it next year with a .308, or some x54r monstrosity 🙂

          • Anonymoose

            10 round mags are as big as you can get and still be reliable in the Vepr 54R, though. Also, according to the rules sheet, they said that Mosin-Nagants are for MANLY MEN.

          • Sunshine_Shooter

            UPDATE: “Unfortunately, due to the range’s restrictions we had to disallow calibers larger than 7.62x39mm, so no Mosins, VEPR 7.62x54s or Dragunovs. We did shoot a PKM off a bipod set up in a manner where it could not fire over a berm. Red Oktober WILL be moving next year to a larger location without such a restriction, so big calibers are back 🙂 Brian Nelson Match Director, Red Oktober Kalashnikov Championship”

            11 months and your wish will be granted.

    • KC

      Caliber restrictions were put in place after their page was put up, no .308 or 54r was allowed due to safety problems with how the bays/stages were laid out, specifically on the afghan stage.

  • Nik G

    Was good to meet and shoot with you Miles. Great shots of Boris and his bayonet!

    • You too buddy!! You guys were awesome company!!

  • Nashvone

    Police sirens make noise. Police beacons make light.

  • romaniak

    Howdy! Second picture under the M2 – what is that non-stamped elongated receiver ak?