Based on Russia’s go-to submachine gun, the Vityaz-SN, which in turn was based on the AK-74, Kalashnikov USA’s KR-9 brings AK form factor to the pistol caliber carbine (and pistol, and SBR) market. And it does this in a surprisingly refined, smooth, and fun-to-shoot fashion.
First thing’s first: yes, the KR-9’s muzzle is threaded in good ol’ American flavor 1/2×28 threads. It’s ready to accept any 9mm-rated suppressor or muzzle device on the market. No weird Euro threads here, and the barrel shoulder is wide and nice and square. The muzzle brake above is included with the KR-9.
And here we find the same KR-9 wearing CZ-USA’s 9mm reflex suppressor, the CZ S2 SS Reflex. I borrowed this can from Silencer Shop and hit the range with the KR-9 and a huge quantity of ammo.
A straight blowback design, there is no locking system or delay in the action of the KR-9. This, of course, is standard operating procedure for 9mm “subguns” or PCCs.
Thanks to the fairly high mass of the KR-9’s bolt, which includes the faux gas piston / operating rod, the bolt speed did not feel too fast and I found it to be quieter when suppressed than your typical AR-9 (AR-15 format 9mm) with less gas blowback. It got dirty, sure, but my eyeballs and nose didn’t.
The KR-9 is an AK, so you’ll enjoy features like a fixed, reciprocating charging handle on the right side of the gun. And actual rivets.
You’ll enjoy only two spots that look extra AK-ish, unfortunately: the welds on either side of the Vityaz style triangle folding stock.
Outside of these artisanal, hand-made welds, the fit, finish, and machining on the KR-9 is excellent.
Fold the stock to the left and it locks solidly in place.
A grooved button protruding from the side of the receiver catches the inside lip of the stock. Simple, strong, and effective.
When you’re ready to clean your new Kalashnikov USA KR-9 (not that I’ve ever cleaned one), you’ll be pleased to find a hinged top cover. Push the button at rear, flip the cover up, and remove the moving bits from the inside. This is 73% easier than your typical AK-47 top cover, which may only slide back into place if you swear at it in Russian.
Aside from that extremely dirty bolt you saw earlier, inside the gun you’ll find the safe end of the barrel right where you’d expect to, complete with a large notch for the large extractor.
Behind that there’s a large, fixed ejector built into a bolt rail just like on the big boy caliber AKs and a standard AK trigger group.
Likewise, the safety selector is all AK-standard. Up for safe.
Down for fire.
Paddle style, sheet metal magazine release? Yes. All AK all the way.
Speaking of magazines, Kalashnikov USA’s U.S.-made 10- and 30-round KR-9 magazines are faithful to the Vityaz pattern. While I don’t believe there’s anything else on the market that’s compatible (e.g. MP5, Scorpion, etc mags don’t work), Vityaz mags can be found in a handful of versions at low prices, and I had zero issues whatsoever with KUSA’s magazines. Full MSRP is $46 each or five for $184 ($36.80 each).
Up top, the KR-9’s rear sight is rapidly adjustable for elevation to account for holdovers at varying target distances. Unfortunately, I did not test the range markings for accuracy with 9mm. If you were to put money on it, would you bet that it’s truly calibrated for typical 9mm or did they not bother?
Out front is a hooded post. Nothing fancy, but the KR-9 does have a trick up its sleeve:
A Picatinny rail on top of the top cover! This is great, as we all know mounting an optic to an AK-47 often presents a challenge. Thankfully the KUSA KR-9 is optics-native. Mostly.
The “mostly” factor comes in with certain optics or certain mounts.
You see, the KR-9’s M1913 Picatianny rail isn’t true, full-on M1913 spec. Rather than full-width recoil lugs, Kalashnikov USA has milled out the center and left only nubs on either side. In most cases this will be totally fine. In some cases, like with the extremely slick and nice Bobro mount on my Primary Arms TA44 ACSS ACOG, there is no lug engagement, because the mount’s lug is in the middle.
So, on each shot, my TA44 slid a tiny bit forward from the recoil. That is, until the mount’s lug butted up against one of the rivets that holds the Pic rail to the top cover. In my case that center lug was a help, but it’s possible that, with some optics mounts, it could be in the way. Rivets are not part of the M1913 mil-spec, either.
Don’t get me wrong, though! I’m through the moon that the KR-9 has an optics rail at all, whether in-spec or not. And who are we kidding? This rail will work great for 95% of the mounts out there and it looks cooler and weighs less than an in-spec rail anyway. On balance, I’ll take it!
On a related note, a modified Picatinny rail can also be found under the [faux] gas block. I’d recommend a bayonet or narwhal tusk.
One round into shooting the KR-9 and I found myself quite pleased with its trigger. I did not expect such a smooth, light trigger but that’s exactly what the KR-9 provides.
In the AK tradition there’s a decent amount of travel distance, but in the KR-9 it’s light and smooth. Then there’s a sudden, full break. On the way back, the reset is about as crisp and as solid as it gets. I believe this is a Tapco G2 trigger.
Finding the trigger to my liking and the optic reasonably zeroed, I took a shot at the top circle and made a hole just off of dead center. Naturally I then immediately unloaded the rest of the magazine at 15 yards just about as fast as I could. The result is that nice grouping seen above.
At a full 25 yards, shooting offhand but leaning against the wall with my shoulder, the KR-9 shot some perfectly decent groups with different brands and weights of ammo.
In over 500 rounds of mixed ammunition, shooting suppressed about 75% of the time, the Kalashnikov USA KR-9 never suffered a stoppage or hitch of any sort. It ran confidently and smoothly.
The smooth, polymer grip was not my favorite and I’d likely swap it out were this my KR-9. While the angle and shape of the grip were fine, it’s just too smooth and slick.
Aside from nitpicking the grip, Chris and I loved shooting the KR-9. It’s an incredibly smooth PCC that suppressed great. Fit and finish are way up there for a stamped AK, and touches like the flared magwell, good trigger, and optics rail come together to form one heck of a fantastic 9mm package. The KR-9 runs like a top, shoots straight, and is guaranteed to make you smile. And it’s threaded 1/2×28!
Specifications: Kalashnikov USA KR-9
Capacity: 30+1 rounds (10-round magazines also available)
Operation: semi-automatic, straight blowback
Barrel Length: 16.25 inches
Muzzle Threads: 1/2×28
Overall Length: 34.5 inches extended, 25.25 inches folded
Weight: 6.58 pounds
MSRP: $1,249 (available through Brownells)
Ratings (out of five stars):
Style and Appearance * * * *
I love it. The classic all-black triangle folding stock AK styling works for me. The darn barrel is too long, aesthetically speaking, but that isn’t Kalashnikov USA’s fault. The KR-9 really demands to be an SBR! Thankfully, Kalashnikov USA knows this and gives you three ways to accomplish the feat: buy a KP-9 pistol, file your Form 1, and bolt on the stock when you receive approval (e-filed Form 1 is only a ~three-to-four-week turnaround right now!), buy a KR-9 rifle, file your Form 1, and have the barrel cut down and threaded when you receive approval (not the recommended route), or buy a KR-9 SBR right from the factory. While you’ll have to wait the full ~nine months for Form 4 approval, buying a factory SBR does have one big advantage: you don’t need to engrave it with your trust (or personal) information.
Reliability * * * * *
Flawless with no sign of ever slowing down.
Ergonomics * * *
I mean, it’s fine for an AK. The grip isn’t my favorite.
Customize This * * * * *
Standard AK footprint (aside from the magazine well) leaves nearly endless customization options with replacement parts galore.
Accuracy * * * *
To be fair, I didn’t properly accuracy test the KR-9 by using a magnified optic and a rest. In the way I did test it, though, it put up groups that are about as tight as I’m capable of shooting.
Overall * * * *
Kalashnikov USA’s KR-9 is a rock solid four-star gun all day long, and the SBR version with an upgraded pistol grip would get an easy five stars from me. This is a fantastic pistol caliber carbine / subgun. And it’s undeniably cool, to boot.