By Rob Curtis
It’s no secret that everything we buy on the mass market is designed to function in a window of operation envisioned by the engineers tasked with bringing an idea to life. Further, those engineers are often limited by the budgetary constraint known as return on investment. No matter how great a product idea is, there’s always some tradeoff made at the drafting table to cut design or manufacturing costs.
While most people might buy and use a widget just as the manufacturer intended, there are plenty of us that color outside the lines. And it’s for us that firms such as KNS Precision exist to serve.
The company’s first product was made 24 years ago to serve shooters that wanted to get more precision out of their rifles than the original manufacturer ever anticipated. The KNS Crosshair Front Sight, which is still available today, provided iron sight AR shooters with a fine aiming point that isn’t obstructed by a traditional, thick front sight post that obscures what you’re aiming at. As AR’s shed the minute-of-man accuracy they were once known for, KNS was ready to pick up where the limited expectation of the factory designers left off.
Over the years, KNS continued to come up with different products that elevated firearms to the level of performance that the market expected. That brings us to the latest crop of products KNS is debuting in 2024, beginning at SHOT Show.
BND-90 FOLDING CHARGING HANDLE
Brownells hit it out of the park with its BRN-180 line of short-stroke gas piston uppers for the AR platform when they were released a few years ago. They brought Eugene Stoner’s lauded AR-18 design from the 1960s into the new millennium and made it drop-in compatible with the beloved AR-15 platform, giving AR shooters a nearly painless path to pistons. Nearly painless, that is, because of the BRN-180’s highly functional, but terribly tall side-mounted, reciprocating charging handle. Anyone that’s recently run one with an optic mounted on their rifle will present the evidence of their BRN-180 dedication; the knuckle scabs (or scars) awarded by the scope mount bolts for running the charging handle to the rear.
Far from oblivious to the fangs they created, Brownells was happy to work with KNS, says KNS co-owner Gordon Gipson. Gipson says the two companies have a great history of working together that dates back to 1999 when Brownells was the first distributor to pick up KNS’s products. Brownells brought to them their desire to see the BRN-180 fitted with a friendlier charging handle and KNS was happy to oblige.
The resulting product will appeal to anyone with knuckles and a BRN-180. The new BND-90 is a drop-in replacement that adds both comfort and safety to the BRN-180 upper. First off, instead of an upturned lever, the new charging handle sticks straight out and provides plenty of clearance between the upper’s top rail and the hand running it. While that might be enough to entice the bloody-knuckled to pick one up, the BND-180 also automatically folds forward when the gun is fired, thus reducing the chance of the reciprocating lever bashing something it shouldn’t when the gun is running.
It’s made of stress-proof steel, finished with black nitride for corrosion resistance and features a comfortable nylon handle. The BND-90 Folding Charging Handle for the Brownells BRN-180 will be available by the time you’re reading this for $60.
KNS CZ P-07/09 ENHANCED SAFETY
In this next installment of “what were they thinking” KNS takes aim at CZ’s highly regarded, but ergonomically imperfect P-07/09 series of pistols. Launched in 2013, the successor to CZ’s 75 P-07 Duty, the CZ P-07/09 series featured a bevy of major changes that included reshaping and dehorning the slide and frame, adding a modular backstrap, upgrading to metal sights, and even changing the formulation of the polymer used in the frame. All of these changes were appreciated by the market and CZ sold and continues to sell plenty of its polymer pistols.
But you knew it was coming. All of those changes and CZ barely touched the anemic safety levers when it redesigned the Seventy Five. The P-07/09 series brought forward the legacy, nearly flat-faced safety paddles that work pretty well but are a little slick when working with grimy or gloved hands.
Again, KNS’s Gipson points back to a conversation he had with CZ execs at SHOT Show a couple of years ago when they told him some shooters, mostly competitive shooters, were looking for a more substantial interface between thumb and safety than the factory P-09 could supply.
It took longer than expected, Gipson told me, but KNS came up with a set of drop-in safety levers for the P-07/09 series that answers the mail. The new KNS CZ P-07/09 Enhanced Safety levers provide a solid thumb shelf on both sides of the gun. What’s more, KNS made their Enhanced Safety compatible with the OEM parts. So, those that want to can run a KNS lever on one side and the slicker, factory lever on the other, say, for better concealability. Or, one lever can be run alone, deleting the safety lever from the other side completely.
The parts are built to compliment the durability of the P-07/09 line. The axle is made of structural 4130 chromoly steel with a nitride coating, while the paddle is made from Type-III hardcoat anodized 6061 aluminum. The KNS CZ P-07/09 Enhanced Safety comes with right and left paddles and is available now for $68.
THE CZECH VALVE
The last of the upcoming KNS products we’ll cover is at the heart of what KNS is about; looking at a gun’s baked-in limitation and refusing to accept it. The CZ BREN 2 line of carbines has a solid following, and it operates reliably with typical ammunition loads and in typical configurations. But some shooters run loads CZ’s engineers didn’t anticipate, others run suppressors, and some run both. In testing, KNS found the BREN 2 7.62×39 models were ammunition sensitive, while the 5.56mm guns were less temperamental… until you put a suppressor on them. For these folks, the BREN 2’s gas system causes reliability issues that can’t be tuned out with the stock parts.
The Czech Valve is a drop-in kit that replaces the gas valve and piston on the BREN 2. It has a 2-stage adjustment range and a gas flow path that provides finer control and a wider range of adjustment of the rifle’s gas regulation than the stock valve. It’s very similar to KNS’s DiSCARder gas valve for the FN SCAR, for those that are familiar with that product.
Installation is straightforward. Field strip the gun, replace the stock gas piston with the KNS version and swap the stock gas plug with the Czech Valve. Then head to the range with the rifle in the configuration you’ll most use, and with the lightest load you anticipate shooting. Starting with one of the Czech Valve’s three coarse settings and the fine control knob at its lowest setting, fire rounds while turning the large, fine control knob up one click at a time until you get reliable operation. Take note of the setting on the valve for later reference. There are 14 settings from 0-13, each laser-engraved and featuring tactile and audible clicks. Once set, the knobs stay put thanks to hearty detents. Should your configuration or load change down the road, the system can be adjusted on the fly with a turn of the knob.
Like the KNS DiSCARder, the Czech Valve does two things differently than its competitors. First, it vents gas into the atmosphere instead of simply restricting gas that’s then forced back into the barrel. Second, the gas path in the Czech Valve (and the DiSCARder) takes a couple of turns and goes through a perforated diffusor. These steps help further regulate timing and flash suppression.
The body of the Czech Valve is made of stress proof steel and the adjustment collar is 416 steel with a nickel boron finish to keep carbon from sticking to it. And, as a nice touch, the detent spring is Inconel to enhance durability (full-auto guns could cook that spring).
Expect the KNS Czech Valve to ship before the summer in two configurations, 5.56mm and 7.62mm, and with a price that’s within $20-$40 of the DiSCARder.
More info is available at knsprecisioninc.com