Many of the firearms developed in post-Soviet republics are extremely obscure with only a few pictures and brief descriptions available at best. There are multiple reasons why: from the secrecy of such projects to their limited production numbers (if they even made it past the prototype stage) due to the economic inefficiency of adopting and producing completely new firearms on a large scale, partially because all these countries inherited entire arsenals of guns from the Soviet Union. One such rare firearm is the Armenian K-2 pistol. Fortunately, we recently had a chance to examine and shoot this handgun as well as talk to the designer (he preferred to remain anonymous).
Developed in 1996-1997, the Armenian K-2 pistol is one of several firearms designed in this country in the post-Soviet era. The pistol went through several revisions and the one we are taking a look at in this article is the latest one. The K-2 is an all-steel hammer-fired semi-auto pistol chambered in 9x18mm Makarov and fed from double-stack single-feed 14- or 16-round magazines. The choice of the 9x18mm round is associated with the wide availability of this cartridge in the country and in the region in general. At the time, 9x18mm was way more common in Armenia than any other handgun cartridge including the 9mm Luger. As many other handguns chambered in this cartridge, the K-2 pistol is a direct/simple blowback firearm. There was an attempt of designing its locked breech version with a rotating barrel lockup chambered in 9x19mm, but that project was halted.
The 118mm (4.65″) barrel of the K-2 pistol is cold hammer forged and completely chrome plated (both the bore and external surfaces). It is a fixed barrel, in that it doesn’t move when the pistol is fired, but it is detached from the frame when field stripping the gun. The disassembly process starts with removing the magazine, rotating down the disassembly lever located on the left side of the frame and sliding forward the upper assembly that consists of the slide, barrel and recoil spring with its guide rod which is attached to the barrel. Further disassembly of the upper assembly is done by pushing the barrel forward inside the slide, lifting the breech end to free the barrel from the slide which retains it vertically at the chamber area, and pulling the barrel with recoil spring assembly rearward at about a 45-degree angle. The recoil spring and guide rod can then be detached from the barrel. The reassembly is done in reverse order.
The cartridge feed ramp of the K-2 pistol is not integral with the barrel but is a separate part installed into the frame, right in front of the magazine well. As noted by the designer, the barrel provides the utmost cartridge case support leaving just enough of the rimcut exposed for the extractor to grab. This feature should make a blowback gun more secure in that the case has to travel a longer distance until it reaches a point where case rupture is possible, and/or allow having a bit lighter slide.
The trigger mechanism of the K-2 pistol is single action only. All the controls are located on the left side of the gun. The slide-mounted manual safety is switched off by being rotated down. Interestingly, besides the manual safety, the hammer also has a half-cock position. The gun has a push-button magazine release and a last round slide stop mechanism with an external slide release lever.
Besides examining and photographing the Armenian K-2 pistol, we also had a chance to shoot it. Here is a video showing one of my friends shooting this pistol.
The Armenian K-2 pistol is really soft shooting, quickly returning to target and making double taps a breeze. Well, no wonder why – it is a full-size, 195mm (7.7″) long all-metal handgun weighing 940 grams (2lbs 1oz) and chambered in the rather mild 9x18mm Makarov cartridge. However, what also contributes to its shootability are the overall well-balanced design and the grip geometry which makes it extremely comfortable. At first, it looks like a normal grip with smooth front and backstraps and checkered side grip panels. But when you look closer, you notice that front and back straps have quite a complicated geometry (it’s barely noticeable) with different curved surfaces smoothly transitioning into each other. That’s probably a nightmare to machine but it really makes the gun fit your hand like a glove. The designer told me that he has been consulting a physician to better understand the anatomy of a human hand when designing the grip.
The Armenian K-2 pistol was produced in small batches and has been tested by various Armenian military and LE units. According to the designer, one sample has 55000 rounds through it and still runs flawlessly. The pistol was designed for the Armenian Army but it was never adopted.
Does this pistol have a chance to be successful in the modern market? I think it does have some interesting design solutions but the cartridge it’s chambered in makes it less competitive in international and even local markets. I think it is safe to say that the 9x18mm Makarov cartridge is dying – even most of the new Russian handguns are not chambered in 9x18mm. Maybe if priced right, it could have a decent demand in the US civilian market. I think if they resumed designing the locked-breech iteration of the K-2 pistol chambered in 9x19mm (keeping all the good features and adding some modern ones like an accessory rail), that could be a more attractive pistol in both government and civilian markets.
I hope you enjoyed this article dedicated to the Armenian K-2 pistol. If I missed to describe any part of this handgun that you find interesting, please let me know in the comments section. Thanks for reading!
Many thanks to the designer for taking the time to explain the features of the pistol and to my friends who arranged the meeting.