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They're Here.... Kalashnikov USA KS-12

Kalashnikov USA KS-12

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#1 Mike Rogers

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Posted 25 May 2017 - 09:44 PM

Well the UPS guy showed up today with a box, and said "New toy?".  "Yep", I replied. I told him what it was, and we talked guns for a bit before he had to rush off to his next stop.

 

So, upon getting the box inside, I opened it up and out slid a red hard case with the Kalashnikov USA logo emblazoned on the front. "Nice touch", I thought.  I opened up the case, pulled out the shotgun, and turned it over in my hands. Everything about it was instantly familiar - aside from the fire control group being situated where it should be, and Kalashnikov USA furniture, which looks pretty good, this is about as close to a dead on clone of a Saiga 12 IZ-109 as I've ever seen. From the rear trunnion to the end of the threaded barrel, everything about this gun looks feels and operates like a IZ-109, except - its a little crisper, a little smoother, and somehow just feels a little bit cleaner than a typical IZ-109.

 

Grabbing the charging handle and cycling the action, this impression carries forward. The bolt carrier moves back and forth nicely, and the bolt rotates cleanly in and out of battery. Sweet! I check to make sure the chamber is clear, and slowly pull the trigger to dry fire. I don't even have to look inside - Tapco G2 trigger. Stock trigger pull is about what I'd expect from a stock Saiga fire control group.

 

Once I pull off the dust cover field strip the gun the and look at the internals, my intial impression is confirmed. Bolt, bolt carrier are clones of the stock Saiga parts. Trigger and disconnector appear to be stock Tapco G2 hardware, the left side of the mainspring has walked off the trigger platform just a little to the right, and the hammer appears to be either a copy of the Russian original, or an actual Russian part.

 

The bolt, while shaped like the original Russian part clearly isnt. There are no origin markings or partial serial numbers on the bolt or carrier, which otherwise look like slightly cleaned up versions of the Russian originals. The bolt looks like it might be cast from Russian original, which is fine - as long as the steel is of good quality, and has been hardened and tempered properly. Looking straight down into the receiver, it is immediately apparent that K-USA has completely ditched the Saiga manual bolt hold open, opting instead for a notched safety.  Rear of the receiver is nice and square with a standard AK rear trunnion. The composite stock is mounted with two countersunk torx screws.

 

Rear notch sight, gas tube, gas block, and front sight bead are exactly the same arrangement as with the IZ-109, but once again, it is striking how good the external fit and finish are on the American gun. Externally the gas block is extremely clean with none of the characteristic orange peel surface typical of the  Russian gas blocks.The K-USA gas block may also have been cast, but the finish and tooling leave the impression that it could just as well been machined from solid billet. Retaining pins are exactly the same as the Russian gun, as are the two setting gas plug, detente pin, and gas piston. Have not yet removed the gas block. Three ports were clearly visible, and I'm betting there is a 4th (.072").

 

The barrel is threaded ( M22X.75 RH) with a nice steel thread protector, is honed to an extremely fine finish, and black chrome lined (very nice). Barrel length for my gun measured 18 3/8" from the end of the barrel to the closed bolt face.

 

That's it for tonight. Will take the gun out this weekend along with a couple of fresh Vepr 12 builds just off the bench.


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#2 Spacehog

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 01:05 AM

With all due respect Mike, and you have much more experience than me, but I have not met anything close to a 7-8 lb Tapco G2 FCG in a stock or aftermarket AK even with stock Comblock hammer springs. 3 lbs with a mile of travel should be more like it, unless they are going with much heavier hammer springs, and if so why?

Edited by Spacehog, 26 May 2017 - 01:15 AM.

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#3 Mike Rogers

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 08:14 AM

With all due respect Mike, and you have much more experience than me, but I have not met anything close to a 7-8 lb Tapco G2 FCG in a stock or aftermarket AK even with stock Comblock hammer springs. 3 lbs with a mile of travel should be more like it, unless they are going with much heavier hammer springs, and if so why?

The hammer spring appears to be a standard AK, is stout enough, and I don't disagree with you. Definitely pulls harder than 3 lbs, and a bit harder than the 5 lb. factory trigger in my HK VP9. There is plenty of travel to be sure, and overall the trigger is not at all unpleasant. The hammer spring on this particular gun could benefit from adjustment. Adjustments will be made to keep the left hand side of the hammer spring from walking inward, and to relieve a bit of the tension on the trigger arms.

 

Disclaimer: I am a licensed gunsmith, and I am not in any way recommending this or any other mod for anyone else. I do recommend that anyone experiencing any type of issue with a new firearm consult the manual, and contact manufacturer directly.

 

ETA: As to why, I don't know, but imagine that shipping a fast cycling 12 ga. shotgun with a 3 lb. trigger pull right out of the box might not be something any new manufacturer is likely to do.

 

YMMV

 

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#4 YOT

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 01:39 PM

You should be banned for not posting pictures. drevil.gif


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"It isn't always being fast or even accurate that counts, it's being willing. I found out early that most men regardless of cause or need aren't willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger and I won't." - The Shootist (John Wayne)

 

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#5 Mike Rogers

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 02:05 PM

I tried, and tried YOT, but  forum image upload is still non-functional. Sent some to another outlet. Will post the link if the photos appear there. Got some great shots of the inside of the receiver, bolt, bolt carrier and FCG, and even the red hard case the gun ships in. May try hosting the images through my website, and linking here but won't have time for a few hours.  Will post as soon as I can.

 

Mike


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#6 GunFun

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 02:43 PM

Use Imgur for your image hosting. Way less hassle, and you never get screwed with view limits or file size caps.


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#7 Mike Rogers

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 03:05 PM

Thanks Gunfun. Worked like a charm smile.png  Forum would not allow images to link through the editor, so posting link below.

 

http://imgur.com/a/H8Ftj


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#8 YOT

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 05:06 PM

 

Looks tight!

 

My '09 must have been built on worn-out tooling, besides the operators being drunk.


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"It isn't always being fast or even accurate that counts, it's being willing. I found out early that most men regardless of cause or need aren't willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger and I won't." - The Shootist (John Wayne)

 

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#9 Mike Rogers

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Posted 26 May 2017 - 05:57 PM

 

 

Looks tight!

 

My '09 must have been built on worn-out tooling, besides the operators being drunk.

 

Oh yeah, those crisp edges, and the smooth steel surfaces inside and out almost look a bit surreal.

 

Like you, I'm used to seeing sheet metal with impressions of heavy industrial rolling mill wheels ingrained in the surface, and corners, and edges which show  signs of tens of thousands of pieces coming out of the same set of molds.

 

It's actually a bit surprising  to me that the Kalashnikov USA guns are shipping now, heading into the traditional summer lull, with Vepr 12 prices creeping incrementally lower, existing Catamount and DDI 12  models still on the shelves, and two new chi-com copies of Saiga/Vepr platforms just coming into the market. Rolling out an AK platform 12 gauge product in this market environment takes cajones the size of cannon balls.

 

Still, its easy to get excited about a new US version of this platform becoming available, especially one which stays so scrupulously true to the original Russian design. 

 

Handling this gun, there is an unmistakable tactile sense of quality. I really can't wait to shoot the gun, and with open American bias, want this gun to succeed, to perform as well as it looks and feels, and to succeed spectacularly.  Perhaps this is obvious. There is an element of pride about taking a platform developed upon foreign shores, doing it as well or better, and making it truly American.

 

US custom builders, and serious enthusiasts have been doing this with ( too often, marginally serviceable) Russian export model shotguns for over a decade. Hats off to Kalashnikov USA for staying true to their purpose, for making this project a reality, and for excellent branding and execution.

 

All of the other "ifs" aside, I believe there is potentially something for everyone in this gun. I ordered 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 ~$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.

 

At this point, I haven't fired a single round from this gun, but as a long time builder and gunsmith specializing in Russian shotguns, my impression is that these guns are likely to perform at least as well as a solidly good NIB Saiga from which they are cloned.

 

Out of the box it is clear that these aren't race guns. 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 mag, and because I have already successfully shoved every Saiga 12 mag within reach into the gun, I know for an absolute  fact that the Kalashnikov USA gun takes Saiga 12 factory magazines, SGM Saiga 12 magazines, Promag 12 round drums, and MD Arms 20 round drums just like a Russian factory gun.

 

Saigas are designed from the ground up to run reasonably well with high brass, and at the outer end of the curve, about one in twenty will run practically everything right out of the box (if you own one of these, cherish it). The US made Kalashinikov USA clone I have in hand appears to be on the positive side of that curve, and I'm not expecting magic.  Physics don't change with country of origin, so the strength of the gun lies with the proven integrity of the original design, the quality of materials, and the quality of manufacture.

 

Will  range test the gun with a variety of ammo this weekend. Fingers crossed.

 

Mike


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#10 evlblkwpnz

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 09:18 AM

I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed they didn't keep the BHO, but kept the side optic rail. Looks like a winner  at $800'ish though. Thanks for posting as I have been wondering about this.


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#11 Mike Rogers

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 02:57 PM

I have to admit that I am a bit disappointed they didn't keep the BHO, but kept the side optic rail. Looks like a winner  at $800'ish though. Thanks for posting as I have been wondering about this.

My pleasure, Anthony.  I'm sure we'll be seeing these come in for mods and performance work very soon.

 

Tested the gun yesterday, and shot video. Link follows.

 


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#12 Spacehog

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 03:20 PM

Thanks Mike for the thorough review.
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#13 GunFun

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 05:39 PM

The machining in the camming groove in the carrier looks nicer than Russia ever did. That's a good sign.

a06ukqx.jpg


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#14 Mike Rogers

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Posted 29 May 2017 - 06:17 PM

The machining in the camming groove in the carrier looks nicer than Russia ever did. That's a good sign.

a06ukqx.jpg

Totally agree. Very impressed with the quality of manufacture.


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#15 YOT

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 10:27 AM

Well, it shouldn't be too much of a puzzle to get that proper.


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"It isn't always being fast or even accurate that counts, it's being willing. I found out early that most men regardless of cause or need aren't willing. They blink an eye or draw a breath before they pull the trigger and I won't." - The Shootist (John Wayne)

 

"You have enemies?  Good!  That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life" - Winston Churchill

 


#16 opto_isolator

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 09:32 PM

The problem with that nice machining job is quantity.  How many of these things can they crank out with machining like that?  That's why Mother Russia was able to pump these things out left and right - not A+ quality like you see above.  Also makes me wonder if the prices will be higher considering that better build quality as well.


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#17 JDeko

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Posted 30 May 2017 - 10:13 PM

Would these be ready for AK style wood handguards out of the box or would you have to do all the tinkering you had to on 109s?


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#18 GunFun

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Posted 31 May 2017 - 12:56 PM

good question. I would want to know if the mounting points match dimensionally.


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#19 Mike Rogers

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Posted 01 June 2017 - 08:56 AM

Would these be ready for AK style wood handguards out of the box or would you have to do all the tinkering you had to on 109s?

Gunfun: "good question. I would want to know if the mounting points match dimensionally."

 

The answer to both questions is that the KS-12 is exactly the same as its Russian counterpart with the exception of non-metric threading for the handguard mounting screw. The K-USA handguard mounts in the same way and at the same points as the IZ-109 handguard. The mounting screw is a standard 10-32 flat head socket cap (countersunk).


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#20 Mike Rogers

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Posted 03 June 2017 - 09:23 AM

The problem with that nice machining job is quantity.  How many of these things can they crank out with machining like that?  That's why Mother Russia was able to pump these things out left and right - not A+ quality like you see above.  Also makes me wonder if the prices will be higher considering that better build quality as well.

Covered pricing - at least the price I paid from an internet retailer - in an earlier post. To recap, $805 delivered, and I did not ask for or receive an industry discount.  Pretty sure K-USA had no idea who was buying the gun. I really wanted to get an Idea how these would perform right out of the box, and what if any work would be necessary to have them performing optimally.

 

The serial number for the gun I bought was in the high 600 range, and the retailer I purchased from has already sold out and restocked, so at this point in time it looks like K-USA has a decent supply to cover demand.


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