Mike Rogers of Lone Star Arms writes:
After range testing the Kalashnikov USA KS-12 over the weekend, I’m still impressed. It ran beautifully with high pressure ammo, and didn’t cycle low pressure shells. But that’s not surprising. It is, after all, a very well made US version of a Russian Izhmash Saiga 12.
Bottom line, if you don’t want to spend more to upgrade the KS-12, you’ll be shooting high brass. If you want it to perform with less expensive lower pressure stuff, it will need exactly the same type of work as its Russian twin.
Out of the box it’s clear that the KS-12 is not a race gun (although it certainly has the potential to be). Like the Russian originals, they’re meant to be basic and versatile. The model I ordered comes with a branded Kalashnikov USA Saiga 12 type 5-round magazine.
Because I have already successfully shoved every Saiga 12 mag within reach into the gun, I know for a fact that the Kalashnikov USA gun takes Saiga 12 factory mags, SGM Saiga 12 magazines, Promag 12-round drums, and MD Arms 20-round drums just like a Russian factory gun. The mags used for range testing (with the exception of the K-USA factory 5-round mag) were the same SGM Saiga 8-round mags I use regularly to test Saigas.
I ordered the KS-12 online and paid $805 delivered to my doorstep from a national retailer. That seems like fair price for a quality AK platform gun that comes with both a US and Russian pedigree, competes head-to-head on price with similarly equipped Russian made guns, and comes in at about $200 less than the $1,000 average that brand new (and even used) Russian IZ-109s are going for at the time of this writing.
Aside from the fact that the notch on the safety is a bit too far forward for efficient use as a bolt hold open, I really haven’t found anything that I don’t like about this gun. If Russian Saigas are ever imported again, the Izveshk factory is going to have to step up its game. Kalashnikov USA really seems to have gotten it right the first time, and in doing so has raised the bar.
NOTE: TTAG will be testing both the stock KS-12 and Lone Star Arms’ breathed-upon version. Watch this space.