Gun Review: Kalashnikov USA KR-9 (a 9mm ‘AK’)

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.

Here’s a beauty shot of the Kalashnikov USA KR-9 on Silencer Shop‘s floor sporting a SilencerCo Omega 9K.

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

Caliber: 9x19mm
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.

comments

  1. avatar Mark says:

    Maybe the lamest company ever. We make all sorts of “AKs”, except for actual real AK rifles, you know like the AK47 or AK74! Fuck these retards. Go buy an Arsenal or Molot.

    1. Arsenal makes an excellent AK, especially their milled receiver models.

      1. avatar Mark says:

        Agreed. It is fantastic.

        1. Used to be the only stocking dealer in Arizona years ago for Arsenal USA . So I had the opportunity to test drive them all. Kept bothering them to make a 7.62×51mm to no avail. They have dramatically increased their line since I used to deal with them: https://www.arsenalinc.com/usa/

    2. avatar Rad Man says:

      You said it Mark. For years they’ve been trying to get me to pre-order rifles in volume that aren’t even close to being in production.

    3. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      They keep saying they’re coming sometime. They’re certainly not opposed to it and they’re planning it. Not sure what the delay has been.

      1. avatar Mark says:

        It should have been their debut product. It is the ultimate in marketing retardation. No one fucking wants a dumb ass AK shotgun or 9 mm POS. My dog could have conceptualized a superior business plan than their CEO.

  2. avatar jwtaylor says:

    To the lathe, Batman!

  3. avatar GS650G says:

    1300 bucks, quite a bit of coin.

  4. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    No criticism of the weapon itself. Just the concept. A pistol caliber weapon with a 16″ barrel. I’ll take my 16″ weapons in rifle calibers.

    1. avatar X marks the spot says:

      They sell a “pistol” version too iirc. You can’t blame them for nonsensical NFA laws.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        X, I’m all about practical. You ever held any of these pistols at arms length on your hind legs? See how that works for you.

    2. It’s because the 9mm is so cheap to shoot in comparison to rifle ammo.

      1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

        7.62X39 don’t exactly break the bank. Especially if you shoot that steel jacketed stuff (barf!).

        1. The steel jacketed stuff will destroy your barrel rather quickly. Not to mention that it is a rather lame round, as it starts dropping dramatically after 300 yards.

        2. avatar but george the steel doesnt work says:

          Evocatus_strategic ……. insta handle

          I advise you check them out to put your uninformed steel hate to rest. Smacking targets at 1000 yards (i think the last video was 5 in a row) with an ak and steel cased 6.5 grendel says you don’t know jack sh!t.

          Hey, but keep spewing bs because I can tell you the steel cased ammo is not the problem with your accuracy….more like the trigger puller.

        3. avatar Mantitude says:

          To be fair, the Wolf steel-cased Grendel I shoot of my Vepr has proven itself worthy to at least 700 yards, and that’s just because that’s as far as I’ve wanted to shoot the 16″ barreled one.

    3. avatar jwtaylor says:

      Agreed. Hence my “lathe” comment.

  5. avatar Wyatt says:

    Does the top cover rail hold a zero?

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      Within a reason

  6. avatar Marcellus Hambrick says:

    Hi-Point 9mm carbine is much cheaper and no worries about scratches or anything. Has quirks but mine has 2 FTE in over 1,400 rounds.

    1. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

      Two too many.

    2. avatar Username says:

      Why would anyone be worried about scratching an AK?

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        In this particular case I’d guess it’s because the AK in question costs $1,249.99.

        1. avatar SoCalJack says:

          Good point. Made for current and new fans of AK patterned rifles. Similarly there’s a bullpup internet community out there. Why a bullpup when you can have an AR pistol? Because it’s America! I still love my Tavor.

  7. avatar AJ says:

    Looks similar to the PSA AKV at double the price.

  8. avatar enuf says:

    That’s an awful lot of money. For less than half the cost, try this one:
    https://ruger.com/products/pcCarbine/models.html

    But hey, spend the same total amount. Add a pile of 33 round magazines and lots of ammo to practice with and you still don’t have to spend all that money.

    1. avatar GS650G says:

      and the new tactical model has neat furniture. I’d like to get the collapsible pistol stock for mine and I suspect more accessories are in the pipeline.
      I got mine for 485 and bought mags for 39 dollars each. It even breaks down into 2 parts.

      How long until the scratch line on that AK receiver from the safety starts to rust?

  9. avatar Cooter E Lee says:

    Wake me up when Kalashnikov USA makes something in 7.62×39. I’m ready to upgrade my century Arms made in Murica unregistered trunnion destructive device before she blows.

    Got the PSA mutant clone to scratch the itch for now so I’ll hold off a bit.

  10. avatar Will Drider says:

    Good write up, seems to have a lot going for it. Their PCC and Pistol version are the same price and there’s a whole lot of high(er) quality competition in that price range.

  11. avatar Charlemagne says:

    These guys need to build a semi-auto AK-103 complete with the side -folding stock and the series 100 thin stem bolt l With the 2014 sanctions the prices on all of eh 7.62 Saigas have shot through the roof, particularly the Arsenal/Fime SGL-21-94.

  12. avatar Lil loquito says:

    Why won’t they make a .308 Tigr ver. 03 in the USA

  13. avatar DekNgo says:

    Jeremy, can you provide additional details on that Bobro mount? Thanks.

  14. avatar Russian Bot #4 says:

    I just received a KP-9 pistol a few days ago. I also ordered an Armacon Monolith-3 Gen 2 buffer tube adapter from Ivan Tactical. The Monolith allows you to fit an AR15 pistol brace and will also fold flush with the side of the receiver.

    The Monolith works, but it isn’t perfect. It took several hours of filing to fit it to the receiver. I had to remove material from the top and bottom of the lug that fits into the rear trunion. I also had to do a lot of filing on the oblong slot that accepts the 5.5mm hinge pin.

    To fold the Monolith the adapter has to be able to slide to the right maybe 1/4” on the hinge pin after it is unlocked. Mine wouldn’t slide because the inside of the slot that rides on the hinge pin was binding. Luckily I had a few small files that would fit and the adapter isn’t hardened. I also had to remove material from the bottom of the lug that the stock latch locks into. After all the fitting I was able to attach a Shockwave Blade I had in the parts box.

    When a buffer tube is fitted to the Monolith it sits higher than the comb of the factory stock. The iron sights are useable, but it’s a little cramped. The height would be perfect for a red dot on a low mount and that’s going to be my next addition to this pistol. The buffer tube is also not centered on the rear of the receiver, it sits slightly to the right. I’ve tried the irons off my left shoulder and it works but is more cramped than off the right shoulder. If you are left handed I’d definitely recommend an optic if you want to use the Monolith adapter.

    I’ve only had time to shoot 100 rounds of 124 grain FMJ reloads and sight it in. There were no stoppages. The front sight is nicely centered and recoil was more pleasant than the Colt pattern 9mm AR15 I can’t get to work reliably. Overall I’m happy to have what is basically an exact copy of the Russian Vityaz. I’m planning to run quite a few rounds through it, but that will have to wait until next month.

    Note:
    This was the second KP-9 that I was sent by Atlantic Firearms. The first had a hump in the optics rail because the center rivet looked like it was set with a ball peen hammer. It was bad. If I am going to complain there was also a receiver rivet that wasn’t quite perfect (but was close). If the top cover had been correct I would have been happy with the gun.

    Atlantic issued a call tag after I emailed them and promptly sent a replacement. The only thing I could find wrong with the 2nd pistol is the T-nut that accepts the grip screw wasn’t seated correctly in the receiver. It took about 2 min with a screw driver to fix this. All the rivets are perfect and the front sight housing is straight, which is something that even Arsenal of Bulgaria doesn’t always accomplish.

    The pistol was $1060 shipped and magazines were 2 for $70. Of course they had a factory sale a few weeks later for $100 less + a free Primary Arms red dot. I’m still kinda miffed they wouldn’t give me this deal since I had to send the first one back and still hadn’t received the second gun, but I got what I ordered and I’m happy with it.

    After I shoot it a bit more I’m going to send in a Form 1 and hopefully I’ll get it back by next Christmas.

    1. avatar Jeremy S. says:

      eFile Form 1s are like 3 to 5 weeks for approval right now. Yes, weeks not years 👍

  15. avatar Michael W says:

    Hello folks – thanks for providing this information. I’m a new KP-9 pistol owner. Sounds lame, but how the heck to I release the back end to allow an attachment of a swing stock? I’ve pushed buttons, pulled on things but not using a tool or anything yet, I dont want to force anything.
    Thank you in advanced.

    1. avatar Biff says:

      Well if you want to attach a stock to a KP9 pistol, you first have to submit a ATF Form 1.

      You attach a stock or brace by opening the top cover, unlatch in the rear sling swivel plate so it opens and then use a small punch to drive the hinge pin upward and out. It is smaller on the bottom and is held in place by the top cover.

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