The Meridian Defense Pestilence is one of four rifles from Meridian Defense Corp’s Apocalypse Series. Each of these rifles is handcrafted by using a mix of both imported and American parts. These special projects division “apocalypse” themed rifles aim to be a cut above the rest in both looks and performance. Rather than taking their word for it, I borrowed a friend’s Pestilence rifle and headed to the range to see just how good this AK variant could be.
To some, it may look like “just another AK”, but the Meridian Defense Pestilence series adds a whole new level of refined characteristics. All of the Pestilence rifles use Romanian Military parts kits. Meridian then strips off the original finish, adds a new stain, and then re-seals the wood. During this process, they add the last two digits of that kit’s year (or a number of your choosing) to the stock.
The receiver is built by Meridian and includes a receiver-mounted optics rail and Tango Down grip. This is paired with an optics-ready rail upfront so you can choose from a wider variety of optics for your rifle.
The pestilence is built on a Romanian Md.63 parts kit. These Romanian kits are fairly common with slight variations or modifications often made. Oftentimes the dong (vertical forward grip) is cut off or cut at an angle to accommodate a larger selection of magazines. Personally, I’ve always liked the dong grip as-is, and I’m glad this one had been refinished and not cut in any way.
At the front of the gun is where you start to notice more of the western influence. The upper handguard has been replaced with an UltiMak 1913 railed gas tube for mounting lights, lasers, optics, etc. This particular rifle was loaned to me with this Trijicon MRO and Inforce WML-HSP already attached, and I ran it in this configuration.
Meridian gives you plenty of options when it comes to muzzle devices, specifically muzzle brakes. This rifle was ordered with a Dead Air Key-Mo style muzzle brake which is pinned and welded to a nitride finished 14.5in barrel giving it a 16in overall length.
Fit and Finish
What sets the Meridian Defense Pestilence aside from the rest is the insane almost OCD attention to detail. I spoke with Paul at Meridian about how exactly these rifles are assembled.
After each rifle is built and inspected, the metallic parts are then fully blued before the finishing process begins. The entire rifle (including magazine(s)) is then distressed by hand, giving it a seamless battle-worn finish that matches the original furniture.
Overall, the finish does a great job of making the rifle look seamless, and as a result, the non-standard parts like the gas block don’t stand out as much.
Even the dust cover, which typically shows some sort of wear, was immaculate on this rifle.
The owner of this rifle isn’t a huge fan of cleaning AKs (I mean who is), but even in this condition, all the internal components had a very clean fit and finish.
At the Range
First things first, it was time to test the Meridian Defense Pestilence as a silencer host, and see how well it accepted some common aftermarket magazines. In addition to the magazine supplied by Meridian, I tested the rifle using a polish Circle 11 mag, Xtech Mag 47, and Magpul PMAG.
For ammunition, I used a mix of both lacquered and non-lacquered steel-cased ammunition. This included 196gr Brown Bear Subsonic, 123gr Tula, 122gr Red Army Standard, and 123gr Barnaul hollow point (not pictured).
Using high-velocity ammunition the rifle performed flawlessly both suppressed and unsuppressed. The rifle is gassed heavily (like just about any AK) and you can expect spent steel cases to be landing seven or so yards away. All the magazines fit and functioned perfectly in this rifle, but note, Magpul PMAGs are a VERY tight fit. So tight that it’s really not worth it to try and wiggle them in and out with the dong grip upfront.
The only failure I encountered with the rifle happened using 196gr Brown Bear Subs with the rifle unsuppressed. With the silencer attached these ran perfectly, but upon removing the Sandman-K it didn’t have quite enough pressure to cycle. Other than that one mishap, the rifle consistently putting rounds on target.
Note: My camera decided to die during testing, and my footage was lost. However, the owner of this rifle has his own review footage you can check out here.
Pro’s and Cons
The Meridian Defense Pestilence is a rifle that will absolutely turn heads at any range. The fit and finish are impeccable down to the year numbers painted on the stock. The rifle is pure AK nostalgia. Any changes I would’ve made (like an ALG Trigger or KNS Piston) are available build options from Meridian. So if you order a Pestilence you can get exactly what you want.
The Pestilence uses a proprietary front sight base and gas block that shortens the overall sight radius. This does change the entire front half of the rifle from its original configuration. As a result, there isn’t a cleaning rod or bayonet lug, and you do have a shorter barrel. These changes aren’t optional, so take it or leave it.
The Pestilence lands squarely in the middle of where old-school nostalgia and new school refinement meet. Using wood furniture, it doesn’t look overly tactical while allowing you easy mounting of optics and accessories. That aesthetic isn’t cheap, and a Pestilence will set you back $1,799 with lead times currently 40 weeks out.
The Pestilence is a limited production rifle, so when they’re gone, they’re gone. Personally, I liked this rifle enough that I placed an order for one shortly after I returned this one to its owner. So if you’re in the market for a high-end one-of-a-kind AK, I’d recommend putting in an order for a Pestilence before they sell out.
Special thank you to Jake from 1911 Syndicate for loaning me his personal rifle for this review. More information on the Pestilence and other Meridian Defense rifles can be found at the links below.
- CALIBER: 7.62X39
- MDC-47 1MM FULLY HEAT TREATED RECEIVER
- SIDE RAIL FOR USE OF STANDARD AK SIDE MOUNTED OPTICS.
- MDC-4150 CMV BLACK NITRIDED BARREL (14.5 PINNED TO OAL OF 16 INCHES)
- MDC-FSB FULLY MACHINED COMBO GAS BLOCK
- MDC BD3-AK PINNED/WELDED MUZZLE BRAKE
- ULTIMAK M1913 PICATINNY GAS TUBE
- MDC “SPECIAL PROJECTS DIV” LASER ENGRAVED REAR SIGHT BLOCK
- TAPCO G2 “TUNED” FIRE CONTROL GROUPS
- TANGO DOWN AK GRIP
- CUSTOM REFINISHED “APOC” WOOD FURNITURE
- OUR CUSTOM BATTLEWORN FINISHING
- ONE STEEL COMBLOC AK MAGAZINE