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.