Kalashnikov USA Shows Off AK-Alfa, US-Made PP-19-01 Vityaz | SHOT 17

Kalashnikov USA had two potentially very exciting rifles at SHOT 2017. Unfortunately, the guns that I got to handle were not so great.

After this article was published, I met with Kalashnikov USA’s CEO to discuss the issues with these rifles. Please see the update to the article linked here.

I don’t like writing things like this when companies are releasing new products, but on the other hand, what’s my reason for going to SHOT if I am not going to tell you when products fall seriously short of expectations? So I’ve got to add to this post what I thought about the guns at Kalashnikov USA’s booth, and unfortunately it’s very negative.

The two guns I examined on the showroom floor were the AK-Alfa and the KR-9, the latter of which is a close clone of the Russian PP-19-01 Vityaz 9mm submachine gun. Both guns had major issues, to the extent that I felt the need to record video of some of the worst elements. Those videos are embedded below.

With the AK-Alfa, it was clear that not only were rumors of it being “just an AK in a polymer shell” true, but the AK inside the shell did not seem to be very functional, either. Despite the rifle obviously having been fired quite a lot prior to me getting my hands on it, the bolt group hung up on the fire control group when charged to the rear. This is a common problem with AK rifles and does not necessarily indicate a functional problem, but the AK-Alfas and KR-9s on display were well outside what I consider normal margin for rifles of this type. They exhibited bolts that stuck so badly that I found myself wondering if there was a manual bolt hold open that I could not identify; there was not. The KR-9 in particular was very bad. One of the examples at the show was virtually impossible to charge without mortaring, a maneuver I was not willing to perform in the middle of the Kalashnikov USA booth.

Both the KR-9 and AK-Alfa exhibited numerous other issues that have lead me to believe that at this stage Kalashnikov USA does not have a firm handle on their quality control. The KR-9 exhibited raised rivets, a sign of shoddy manufacture, as well as a triangle stock that was misaligned to the point where it could not be captured by the crosspin without considerable effort. Photos of both are below.

The AK-Alfa exhibited stiff and inconsistent safety levers, and a stock that also did not line up with its catch, preventing capture of the stock in the folded position.

The receiver on the KR-9 did not appear to be equipped with safety detents, and as a result the safety simply swam freely from position to position:

The KR-9s and AK-Alfas at the Kalashnikov USA booth had so many problems that they seemed less like real, functioning firearms than facsimiles thereof. Perhaps these prototypes are early pre-production models, but I have a hard time believing that, especially given the fact that both weapons were present at last year’s SHOT Show, albeit behind glass.

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at nathaniel.f@staff.thefirearmblog.com.


  • k3081285

    It’s not like they have anything to do with the real Kalashnikov anyway. They just ripped off the name for some fake credibility.

    • Andrew

      They didn’t just rip off the name. The US company was partnering with Kalashnikov Concern of Russia but then the sanctions imposed because of the Ukraine invasion forced them to break off ties. It is now illegal for a US company to have any dealings with Kalashnikov Concern.

      • Foma Klimov

        The only deal they ever had is an exclusive contract to import Saigas, which they paid heavily for, back when the company was called RWC. Previous “partners” were EAA, RAA, etc. I wouldn’t call it “partnering”. What’s illegal here is this sham of a company, the current Ukrainian regime (which came to power as a result of a CIA-backed coup and murders scores of Ukrainians) and these “sanctions” (pathetic economic terrorism).

        • May

          Buzz off KGB.

    • valorius

      They were originally part of the Russian company.

      • Tritro29


  • Quest

    TOTALLY hilarious bore-to-sight height….

  • Jose

    The Alfa rifle is developed by CAA in ISRAEL; it is not an U.S. design. They are the ones behind it and they are still working on the rifle, they even considered changing their name to “KALASHNIKOV ISRAEL”, to push its promotion. The prototype shown here still have some issues; yes, it can now shoot, but it’s still unperfect. I hope that these issues are resolved before the end of the year. Same thing with the KR-9 prototype.

    Just an observation.

  • LCON

    looks like they still have some QC and tolerance issues to work out.

  • Connor Christensen

    Well that’s disappointing, hope they take it in stride and fix this stuff. Who knows

  • Tony O

    I wish you guys at TFB would mention that “Kalashnikov” USA has nothing to do with the real Kalashnikov Concern in Russia and that they are simply RWC with a new name. RWC shames the Kalashnikov name, and there are way too many people who believe that they are the real deal. Including that whenever you publish an article about them would go a long way towards dispelling that ridiculous notion.

    • Alexandru Ianu

      Let’s be serious here. If they didn’t have anything to do with them, KC would have come out more firmly against KUSA in press releases despite them not having any legal means of attack. Any statements up to now seem to be just to cover their bases legally.

      It’s possible that since they were importers of Izzy rifles, they have some verbal agreement to pretend to be unconnected while KC sends them blueprints and perhaps even some parts for prototyping via Kalashnikov Israel (the AK Alfa appeared as a KI project as well).

      KC can’t profit from US sales, but eventually western sanctions will be dropped (even if it happens after a war), so having Izhmash pattern guns already sold on the market by a company with Kalashnikov in the name will be an advantage for them, as they’ll probably negotiate a royalty deal at that point.

      EDIT: That’s all valid if RWC/KUSA can actually put out some decent production AKs.

  • Dougscamo

    Thank you, Nathaniel, for posting observations rather than just quoting the company’s press release….

  • USMC03Vet

    The market wants these but the company seems uninterested is getting actual products to market. I don’t know what to think about this any longer with them saying last year rifles would be out that year to not meet that claim and now still just being in limbo. Oh well, $850 arsenal is here so good luck AK manufacturers.

    • valorius

      why would anyone pay $850 for an AK when you can get an AR for $500?

      • Don Ward

        Because it’s fun to have different types of guns?

        A shocking sentiment, I know.

        • valorius

          Im one of those “every gun i own has to fill a role” type of people.

          • Toxie

            “Fun” is a valid role, you know.

          • valorius

            I hear ya. 🙂

      • andrey kireev

        Why would you want to pay $25 for a steak when you can buy a burger for $12 ?

        • valorius

          If anything the AR is the steak and the AK is the burger. So the question is why would you pay $25 for a burger when you can get a steak for $12.

          • Ed

            The $850 AK vs. The $500 AR the AR is DEFINITELY the hamburger…I have a $1000+ AK that shoots sub 1″ easy…so it’s all about quality components, not rifle design.

          • valorius

            An AK with tight tolerences allowing precision accuracy really flies in the face of what the AK is supposed to be all about. My modified $1000 Ruger AR-556 will shoot sub MOA with the right ammo too, btw.

          • Jayste

            What kind of AK? (Buying one soon) reliable?

          • andrey kireev

            The point went over your head. You ever heard saying “The variety is the spice of life ” ?

          • valorius

            If we were talking about women i’d agree 100% with that point. 🙂

          • Phillip Cooper

            In that case, AR= fiesty, tempermental redhead.. lots of fun, picky as hell, where AK= promiscuous, dumb blonde… good enough for the purpose, and everyone gets a turn.

            Yup, it fits.

          • valorius


          • Phillip Cooper

            In elated news, I’ve found a lovely 45-year-old AK to play with lately.

            Life is good.

            EDIT: should be “related news”. But it’s pretty gorram elated, as well. 😉

      • Ed

        Because some of us want a .30 caliber rifle without paying $.50-.90+ per round for a lesser performing round (.300blk) and quality AKs cost money…and any AR your buying for $500 is most likely a bottom of the barrel pos.

        • valorius

          You can build an entire AR parts kit for less than $500, out of Anderson Arms or other similar high quality components. Several websites sell them.

      • I’ve seen too many “$500” and home built AR’s break or become malfunction monsters from bargain shooters out on rifle courses. No thanks.

      • Phillip Cooper

        In the event one needs a “SHTF” rifle, I have to (VERY grudgingly) admit an AK is a better choice for someone that doesn’t know how to, or isn’t inclined to maintain a more tempermental AR, for instance.

        • valorius

          You should check out IN RANGE’s mud and sand tests.

      • USMC03Vet

        AK is much more fun to go out and shoot.

  • MrBrassporkchop

    The company would be more successful making one-off movie prop rifles since that’s pretty much all they’re capable of.

  • J.T.

    More vaporware from these clowns. I have yet to see any guns made by these guys actually for sale.

  • micmac80

    Notice how everyone an their sister can make an Ar15 clone , but have issues replicating the AK

    • forrest1985

      And yet the AK was meant to be a simple design to replicate

      • myndbender

        Exactly!!! The AK designed in part to be manufactured in 3rd world countries at bargain basement costs, mfg. w/a semi skilled labor force at best. Yet other than custom manufacturers that want $2k for a working AK i.e. Krebs, Rifle Dynamics, & Definitive Arms, nobody in the US can make a reliable AKM clone at a reasonable price. It truly boggles the mind.

        • Blake

          Malthrak already mentioned this, and he’s completely right. It wasn’t supposed to be easy to replicate; it was supposed to be cheap and easy to pump out a bazillion of them once the factory is set up.

          But your argument still remains valid to an extent. How has no one been able to set up a production line to make a decent AK at a decent price? There’s no way you would have to pump out Soviet-like amounts of them for it to be financially viable. If word got out that there was a company making super reliable AKs for ~$600 (like ARs) they would sell like hotcakes.

      • Malthrak

        It wasn’t designed to be simple to replicate, it was designed to be inexpensive, reliable, and easy to make en-masse.

        The fundamental issue is that the AK was meant to be produced in large centralized factories with lots of tooling and specific materials and produced by the hundreds of thousands or millions. That was the Soviet economic model. The Soviets spent a lot of effort sending big teams of technical specialists and expensive tooling to other nations to set up these operations and get them running, often taking several years to do so.

        Having people reverse engineer such a design for 3-5 digit production levels in what is effectively a “cottage industry” setting without access to big industry tooling/capabilities and often substituting other materials and manufacturing methods due to their smaller scale or not having access to full design specs (such as heat treatment specifics) is what causes issues.

    • valorius

      lots of countries/companies have made AK clones over the decades.

    • Michael Lubrecht

      Fortunately, most AK issues, like those mentioned, can be fixed with application of large hammer or rock!

  • Jay

    Kalashnikov USA is a scam. They took advantage of the sanctions to ripoff the real kalashnikov, knowing they can’t be sued.

  • Jeff Beck

    So 2016 show Russian imports, 2017 badly made prototypes; Working guns 2018ish? For sale 2019ish?.

  • TheNotoriousIUD

    I hope the Russians small arms work as well as their carrier that keeps flinging airplanes into the ocean and has to be towed from place to place.

    I heard they got it on Craigslist for $50 and a stack of old Foghat records.

    • Don Ward

      I guess towing that carrier around would be a… wait for it… Slow Ride! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38fe90d88f6473a8c5595ca84633607c7cf243cb11434b870ce4d7a8dcf8fb84.jpg

    • Paul Rain

      Brah, the Kuznetov is more than 30 years old.

      The USS Zumwalt is far less capable of moving around under its own steam, and it’s just been built. It did cost a lot though, must be a great piece of gear! Then there’s the Littoral ‘Combat’ Ships which can barely littoral and can’t combat.

      • TheNotoriousIUD

        That’s not a very coherent argument but nice try.

  • Raginzerker

    It reminds me of a beretta arx160

  • May

    I guess they’re rushing to market while they can; as of today the US is officially a Russian puppet state so those sanctions that these guys are banking on won’t last long. They’re shoving something out the door to make money while they can.

    • Jay

      You are a puppet of hillary, soros and the rest of the bunch of psychopaths. Only a brain dead moron, who can’t be bothered to read the real news, and relies on what the rotten MSN is trying to feed us, would belive the “Russia did it” bulls$hit.
      It’s 2017. There’s a whole internet at your finger tips. You have no excuse to be so misinformed.

  • Minuteman

    Another spot on write up. Good job!

  • supergun

    Sometimes,,,,only the original will do.

  • Cottersay

    I have constant nightmares about having only a single crappy gun in my dreams that is useless in self defense. This article with videos https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/b0f2eec6e304b9dac2055547bce3bd278adaf8c749f2139d4ae071347ad26771.jpg on Kalashnikov USA will now increase those nightmares to dramatic proportions….