By Rick Cartledge
In early 1997, Paul Mahoney went into the Skunk Works at KRINKS and placed the entire R & D staff on ‘double secret probation’. Since Pauly is the staff, this didn’t present much of a problem. Paul began his Class 2 career making short barrels for full auto AKMs. He built Krinkov style barrel assembles for 7.62 x 39 guns. Paul has liked the simplicity and ruggedness of the AKM since he first fired one. I first met Pauly before he escaped from New York. In the fullness of time, this talented machinist moved to Naples, Florida. He did so in order that he could build the kinds of guns that he liked.
Immediately after acquiring his Class 2 license, Paul Mahoney built his first AKM Krinkov prototype. At Knob Creek Range he, Mike Thacker, and I hammered that first prototype. It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it. Pauly did several single trigger pulls emptying 75 round drums. He wanted to “prove out” the shortened bolt carrier or break it. We finally broke the carrier and Pauly swapped in another. After another crate of full auto, the front wood caught fire. We noted that a Krink doesn’t have the convenient bayonet. Bayonets in this case would serve to stick an AKM up in the ground until the wood stops smoking. That, and weighting the front end, are about their only redeeming social values on a firearm this size. Paul took the KO’d bolt carrier back to the Skunk Works and fabricated a much stronger one.
For the civilian market, Paul manufactured his Krinkov replacement short barrels for legal full auto guns. Mr. Mahoney also crafted custom SBRs. He still does. Paul also observed that many sport shooters like to target practice and plink with a rifle in 762 x 39. Through inquires at gun ranges, he found that many shooters didn’t care that their rifles fired full auto. Their interest lay in sport shooting. For that, these sport shooters wanted a quick handling, accurate, semi auto only sporting rifle. Pauly observed that many sport shooters liked the Chinese and European rifles in 762 x 39.
In early 1997, Paul Mahoney decided to supply the American sport shooter with an American sporting rifle in 7.62 x 39. He reasoned that Americans could do anything that the Chinese or Europeans could do. Paul concluded that Americans wanted a sporting rifle based on the Kalashnikov system in semi auto only. American sport shooters also wanted a quality firearm at a reasonable price. American sport shooters would insist on a sporting rifle that contained readily available American parts. The problem was how to accomplish all of the above. Paul Mahoney assigned himself the problem and proceeded to solve it.
Some readers may cringe at what follows. It explains the reason for ‘double secret probation’. In order to properly dimension the receivers, Pauly destroyed two registered AKMs. With the receiver dimensioned, KRINKS then tackled the furniture and the internals. Pauly contracted with American manufacturers for the butt stocks, pistol grips, internals, and fore ends. For the internals, Mr. Mahoney asked Mr. Harold Shinn for his assistance. The guiding hand of First Son Enterprises and a shooter for ‘Saving Private Ryan’ readily agreed to join the project. Harold will supply internals through Soup Bowl Enterprises in Four Oaks, North Carolina. Wes Drennan at Soup Bowl will also offer custom stocks in common and exotic woods. The resulting collaboration has produced a semi auto only gun that is truly ‘All American’.
In December 1998, Paul Mahoney test drove his first prototype. When I telephoned Paul on another matter, he cheerfully answered my questions. He then stated, ‘I am driving to Key Largo to test fire the first M97 Sporting Rifle!’ I replied, ‘Let me know how it goes.’ Paul telephoned the next day and gave a fine report.
Mr. Mahoney stated that the sporting rifle functioned flawlessly. He fired the rifle on Key Largo and drew a crowd. He drew the same kind of crowd when he later test fired the rifle at an indoor range near Naples, Florida. For the indoor firing Paul used the plastic projectile rounds with no problem. While Paul did not experience any firing problems, he did experience a few with the crowds. Those that gathered to watch him fire wanted to buy the weapon. Paul pointed out that he received some generous offers but declined. He explained that they had viewed a rifle bound for a major dealer. KRINKS debuted the M97 at the Shot Show in Atlanta, Georgia in February of this year.
As Harry Callahan said, ‘A good man knows his limitations.’ This writer will leave the technical details to other writers. That being said, I make the following observation. The look, fit, and feel of the M97 Sporting Rifle is excellent. Some like thumb hole stocks, others do not. I find a thumb hole workable on the SVD Dragunov for long range. For a shorter range rifle, I like the pistol grip and straight stock of the M97 Sporter. Paul builds the receivers for the Sporting Rifle to European specifications.
I find it particularly impressive considering that the rifle contains only eight foreign parts. KRINKS fabricates all of the M97 receivers in house.
KRINKS’ in house quality control offers several advantages to the customer. First, KRINKS supplies a letter of compliance with each rifle. This letter states that the M97 Sporting Rifle complies with all current Federal firearms laws. Though Pauly will build the M97 as an assembled rifle, KRINKS also will offer custom service to retail customers. For those who have legal parts kits in country, KRINKS will assemble the M97 Sporting Rifle per BATF guidelines.
Those readers wishing M97 Sporting Rifles built from their legally owned kits should contact Paul Mahoney for pricing. Upon completion, KRINKS will furnish the customer with a certificate of compliance. For law enforcement agencies, Paul Mahoney will offer different custom receiver guns in full auto mode. To these guns and to those Class 2’s wishing to fabricated Post ’86 samples, all BATF rules will strictly apply. Those wishing law enforcement sales or receivers for crafting Post ’86 samples should contact Mr. Mahoney directly. Again, all BATF rules apply.
The M97 Sporting Rifle from KRINKS accepts Kalashnikov magazines and drums in 762 x 39. Readers will find the M97 to be Y2K compliant. As of this writing, Pauly has counseled with Dave Selvaggio of DSA Inc. DSA is making plans to distribute the M97 and cooperate with KRINKS on another very interesting project. Small Arms Review will furnish more information on that project at a later time.
The photographs that accompany this article give one a sense of the M97 Sporting Rifle. Our intelligent readers know that hands on experiences tell more than text. Go by your local dealer and examine the quality for yourself. If unavailable in your area, contact KRINKS or DSA directly. Those wishing Sporting Rifles crafted from legally owned in country kits should contact Mr. Paul Mahoney at KRINKS. I suspect that the readers will find the M97 to be a well crafted rifle carrying a reasonable price.
We at Small Arms Review keep our readers on the cutting edge. We take our readers where others cannot go. We invite you to view the M97 Sporting Rifle within these pages and at your local 01. We invite you to judge the M97 for yourself. When you examine the M97 Sporting Rifle, remember this. In Small Arms Review you first read of the ‘The All American’— the M97 Sporting Rifle. Within the pages of your magazine you found the first text of this new rifle. We keep the faith. Enough said.
P.O. Box 387
Round Lake, IL 60073
1870 Elsa ST, Unit 3
Naples, FL 33942
357 Mulberry ST
Macon, GA 31201
Soup Bowl Enterprises
304 Wellons ST
Four Oaks, NC 27524
Special Thanks to Harold Shinn of First Son, Doug Hollberg, and Don Thomas for additional material. Paul Mahoney donated the finished rifle in the photographs to the 1934 Foundation. The Foundation raffled it at Spring ’99 KCR. The proceeds benefitted the Foundation’s work. The receiver reads ‘Y2K AK-001’. By its numbering, our readers will know that the KRINKS M97 Sporting Rifle qualifies as Y2K compliant.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V2N11 (August 1999)|