By Dan Shea, photos by Jeff W. Zimba
Sometime around the mid-1980’s, the word “Krinkov” entered my vocabulary. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment, but it was probably around 1987. I had seen a photograph of an exotic, very short Kalashnikov variant. It was Soviet, Spetznatz (Special forces) to be more precise, and looked absolutely fascinating. This is the period of time that might be referred to as the beginning of the rifle caliber “K” gun movement in the United States, with radically shortened M16’s and HK’s in every innovative designer’s mind. While the “Krinkov” variant was known in some circles, it really hadn’t hit the general knowledge pool yet. Since that time, a number of different Krinkov style firearms have made an appearance. The Russians and the Eastern Europeans seem to have adopted this shortened AK for law enforcement and Special Forces. This latest one is a Bulgarian import, coming in as a parts “Set” and available from K-Var.
Why does anyone want a Krinkov? The answer really lies in the needs of the end user. While the collector/ hobbyist might see a fascinating, exotic addition to a collection, the professional has a more direct interest. To the professional, the Krinkov allows a very powerful cartridge in a small, controllable firearm. It’s that simple. The 7.62 x 39mm cartridge is an intermediate cartridge that came from the experimentation surrounding World War II. While the cartridge is shorter than the full size mid century rifle cartridges, it is still a potent and very lethal package. This has been proven time and again for half a century in many places around the world.
Murray Urbach is known in the Class 3 community for his work on machine guns and custom barrels, and somewhat more widely known for his innovative work on slowing down the cyclic rate of the Mac type machine guns. Followers of the SMG competition courses will undoubtedly have heard of Murray’s work. Urbach Precision Manufacturing has been working on the HK and AK type firearms for a long time, and Murray has an excellent reputation for his workmanship. When K-VAR contacted me about testing the Bulgarian Krinkov, I was concerned that it would be a time consuming parts set needing to be built onto a host gun, but when he told me that Murray was doing the work, I got much more interested. Combining what I knew of the quality of Bulgarian Kalashnikovs and Murray’s reputation, I was hoping to bring a real interesting firearm to the attention of SAR’s readers.
Which is exactly what this is- one of the more interesting finds of today. The Krinkov we tested was an Egyptian Maadi receiver registered and converted to fully automatic, then built up using the Arsenal manufactured Bulgarian parts supplied by K-VAR. Murray’s finish work was superb- the lines are clean, the parts are tightly fit but maintain the slight play that seems intrinsic to the Kalashnikov action. Even the gas piston tube/forend fit tightly, but was still loose enough for easy removal.
I am particularly fond of the spring attached action cover on this Krinkov. Normally, I have to fight to get this part back onto the AK after disassembly, and the fact that it comes completely off of the standard AK has always, in my opinion, been a negative feature. Much of the beauty of many of the modern designs lies in the disassembly/ reassembly ergonomics. By that I mean; do you lose parts when you have to clear the weapon- and under stress, are you MORE likely to lose those parts? When your M16 Jams, you perform immediate action drills. If necessary, you push the rear takedown pin, hinge the upper forward, retract the bolt carrier, and clear. Put the bolt carrier in, close the upper to the lower and push the pin into place. On the earlier Kalashnikov series, while the top cover removal does give you better access to the chamber/ moving parts area, the damnable action cover is easy to lose. No action cover, weapon open to damage and dirt, weapon non-functional when you need it. This is not a happy situation. With the Bulgarian Krinkov setup, the action cover is released in the same manner as most Kalashnikovs- depressing the recoil rod end that protrudes for this purpose, but instead of coming completely off of the rifle, the action cover rotates up under spring tension, and allows clear access to the internals. Once you have fixed your malfunction, simply close the cover and recharge the rifle.
Caliber availability is another versatile area on the modern Kalashnikov series, and Arsenal (The Bulgarian manufacturing facility) produces the Krinkov in three calibers. 7.62 x 39mm, which we tested here, 5.45 x 39.5mm, and 5.56 x 45 mm NATO. SAR hopes to bring you some further testing on these other calibers, and a comparison of the ballistics as well in a future issue.
In our shooting test, the controllability and accuracy were of primary concern. In order to get a test done in time for this issue, we had to work out in the wild Maine winter- 10 degrees F, windy, with three feet of crusted snow on the range. For these reasons we did not have the testing equipment with us- I was interested in what the effect on velocity would be from the shortened barrel, and the cyclic rate changes from the standard length AK. The cyclic rate was amazingly low- considering what had been expected. It appeared to be in the 650 rpm range. I did not have my PACT timer with me, but plan to retest this in a future article with the other K-VAR variations. This low cyclic rate seemed to approach the natural harmonic of the design- in that the line of sight stayed pretty consistent with the target at all times- evident by the small groups.
Accessories with the Krinkov, or rather the accessories that came with the kit were the following: magazine pouch, cloth gun case, and an innovative flash hider. We did not get a magazine with the Krinkov, but utilized an East German metal, some Chinese metal, and a Russian plastic. All fit and functioned perfectly. The flash hider was perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the Krinkov system. In the attached photos you will note the standard Krinkov style flash hider, and a somewhat larger, cylindrical one as well. This new cylindrical flash hider is actually a four piece unit with an internal flash cone. K-VAR supplied me with a letter from Technology Branch ATF stating that the flash hider was indeed a “Flash Hider”. We had some concerns about possible sound moderation, and that letter allayed any fears of regulatory problems. The difference between the two flash hiders was very noticeable. The new Bulgarian cylindrical model is an excellent design. Very effective- there was virtually no flash noticed at the muzzle. We were using Russian ammunition, not Norinco yellow box “flame thrower” ammunition, but still one would expect much more flash from propellant that finishes its burn after the end of the barrel is shortened.
SAR’s take: While many law enforcement agencies in the United States are reluctant to field Kalashnikov variants in their arsenals, the Krinkov certainly bears looking at. The ballistics of the cartridge, combined with the small size of the Krinkov and the general reliability of the Kalashnikov system warrant some serious review. This author would not hesitate to put this firearm into the hands of a tactical group for evaluation, because I believe that there would be some surprising results.
Bulgarian Krinkov parts sets are available from:
5015 W. Sahara Ave #125
Las Vegas, NV 89102
Krinkovs are available from Murray, as well as other Class 2 work:
Urbach Precision Manufacturing Co.
1529 Axe Drive
Garland, TX 75041
SAR TAKES A SHORT BREAK WHILE DAN ANSWERS SOME QUESTIONS FROM THE AUDIENCE:
You there in the back…no, not you, the guy behind you… yes, with the red bunny hat. What? Oh…your hair? Never mind…what was the question? Can you own one of these? Well, that depends. Are you a police department of and by yourself? Didn’t think so. These are restricted to Law Enforcement use, which means that only a government agency, meaning federal, state, or local, that is a law enforcement agency, can own them. Or, a Class 3 dealer can possess them for the purpose of doing a demonstration to a law enforcement agency- what we refer to as a “Post 86 dealer sales sample”. Class 3’s can own them as long as they pay the Special Occupational Tax to be an NFA dealer or manufacturer.
Next? The gentleman with the spittoon haircut. Relax, I didn’t mean anything personal, I just couldn’t identify you- if I said the big ugly guy with the beard half the room would think I was talking to them, it was really just a way of singling you out, I didn’t mean that in a BAD way… What’s the question? Sure, Murray can take your registered transferable AK and make it into a fully transferable Bulgarian Krinkov. He’d LOVE to do that. Great idea. Where’s the guy with the red hat… Hey! Here’s how you can own one- buy one of those infuriating SWD converted transferable Chinese AK’s, even the .223 caliber ones, and transfer it to Murray. Give him a little time and some money, and he will make you a nice Krinkov just like this one.
Next? Hmmmm… the lady with the M249… you didn’t think I’d notice little ol’ you? Get serious… How could I possibly NOT look at a woman who’s got a really nice M249 SAW? The thong swimsuit? That’s pretty nice I guess… hey, where’d you get that M249- is it a pre-sample? Want to sell it? Well, what’s the question… a semi automatic short barreled rifle? Yes, Murray can make a registered Krinkov Short Barreled Rifle. It would have the $200 tax stamp due on it, but would be fully transferable. The thing is, if you want to have the dreaded assault rifle characteristics, you have to start out with a “Pre-ban” AK, so that you don’t make one of those scary guns on the “Ban” list.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N8 (May 1999)|