After studying recent additions to my gun safe, I realized I have been on a Kalashnikov binge of late.
New additions consist of a Century Arms Yugoslavian M72, Polish Tantal, and Romanian PSL rifles, along with a used AK that I could not pass up due to the right price. These join a Romanian AK purchased years ago. My latest and greatest addition to my growing AK family is a Krinkov-style AK chambered in 5.45x39mm. For me, the Krink is the culmination of my AK quest, due to its compact size, reliability, firepower and affordable ammunition.
Krinkov in its original form at the range. Weak areas were addressed by adding Krebs Custom Quad Rail, which allowed accessories to be added.
The Krinkov reviewed here was assembled by Ohio Rapid Fire from a Bulgarian kit. I originally was searching for a Krink chambered in 7.62x39mm, but succumbed to a 5.45x39mm-chambered version that I repeatedly fondled at my local dealer, Stonewall Arms, over a period of months.
In hindsight, the 5.45x39mm proved a wise choice due to ammunition cost and availability combined with recoil management of the 5.45mm cartridge in the compact short-barreled Krink. Stonewall Arms is a Class III dealer and proved very accommodating to my many questions about the BATF process and requirements before I finally made the decision to purchase the Krink. Stonewall Arms aided in filling out the paperwork for submission to the BATF and guided me through getting the fingerprints, passport photos, and paperwork signed by local law enforcement officials.
My Krink bundle of joy weighs approximately seven pounds, features an 8.5-inch barrel, measures only 8 inches high and a little over 19 inches long with the triangular metal stock folded, and less than 29 inches long with the stock deployed. When folded, the metal stock is held securely to the receiver by a latch and is rock steady when unfolded.
Krink held its own compared to ARs and other SMG-style weapons in completing carbine course designed for LE competition.
My first visit to the range supported all my expectations regarding handling and reliability of the Krink. Several hundred rounds were fired that day by me and other participants eager to handle the Krink. At times, we got carried away and had the little rifle’s wood forend smoking. Reliability was never an issue, with the Krink vigorously ejecting shells.
I was fortunate in that the private range had recently hosted an LE shoot and the various barricades and stages had been left in place. The Krink proved very capable at handling the CQB-style course, where most targets were ten yards away with the stop targets placed farther downrange. Transition between the multiple targets was effortless, and the 5.45x39mm offered little in terms of recoil.
Muzzle device did fair job at minimizing muzzle flash, though a jet of flame would at times emerge from 8.5-inch barrel. Krink takes Most Photogenic prize at night shoots.
The muzzle signature was less than what was expected as well. I had expected a horrendous muzzle blast, but was pleasantly disappointed. A short-barreled AR-15 on hand seemed much worse in the noise/muzzle blast department. The Krink’s muzzle device did a fair job of minimizing flash, but every so often a jet of flame would fly out from the cylinder-shaped muzzle device. I say muzzle device because what came on my Krink is neither a true brake nor flash hider, but rather a gas expansion chamber to ensure reliable functioning on full-auto—not an issue with the semi-auto Krink under review here.
Frankly, the CQB capability of the Krink surprised me. I realize no LE agency is going to run out and purchase Krinks. Most private citizens probably won’t either, due to the red tape and additional cost involved in pursuing an SBR. However, the CQB capability did open my eyes to the Krink’s potential and why it is seen so often in the hands of Russian and other former Soviet-bloc special units.
Krinkov was left smoking after many drills. Reliability was never compromised.
For testing I used 60- and 70-grain Wolf Ammunition. I also accessed some surplus 52-gr. 5.45x39mm ammunition. This is loaded with the original 7N6 “poison pill” bullet that first gained notoriety in the Soviet-Afghan War. Basically, the Russian designers constructed the 52-gr. FMJ with an air cavity behind the tip of the bullet. This causes the bullet nose to deform when penetrating a target, causing it to tumble through flesh.
One downside to the surplus ammunition is that it utilizes corrosive primers—something the Russians and other ex-Soviet bloc states insist on using due to concerns with cold weather ignition and the long-term storage capabilities offered by corrosive primers. However, I am stocking up on it, considering it is currently less than ten cents a round!
I could not resist chronographing the 8.5-inch barreled Krinkov. The Wolf 70-gr. load produced velocities of 2,100 feet-per-second (fps) and the Wolf 60-gr. a more respectable 2,500 fps. By way of comparison, when fired through a full-size AK-74, the Wolf 70-gr. produced 2,600 fps and the Wolf 60-gr. nudged 2,900 fps. The 52-gr. surplus ammunition clocked in at nearly 2,600 fps in the Krink and over 3,000 fps in the “big brother” AK-74.
Krinkov after adding Krebs Custom Quad Rail, Trijicon Reflex RX30-23, and Crimson Trace Laser Foregrip. Both Reflex sight and Laser Foregrip featured A.R.M.S. levers for quick attach/detach without affecting zero.
These velocities make the Krinkov a viable option out to a couple hundred yards. The key now was being able to put rounds on target.
I struggled with the factory-installed sights, which are no more than a crude post and a notch coupled with a short radius due to the diminutive barrel length. At close range, the sights were not a problem due to the human-sized targets and natural alignment with target. At 50 yards and beyond, I had to really slow down and yet still struggled to place consistent hits in the “A” zone of an IPSC-style target.
I turned to a multi-fold solution for increasing my accuracy and thus the lethality range of the Krink.
First, I installed a Krebs Custom Quad Rail forend. The Quad Rail installed simply—do read the directions—and securely to the Krinkov, multiplying my potential options at adding accessories to the rifle. As expected from Krebs, the Quad Rail was well made and did not move once installed on the Krinkov.
Another benefit of the Krebs Quad Rail is that it allows for better ventilation around the Krink’s barrel, thus cooling it down faster after long strings of fire. I consider the Quad Rail essential to getting the most out of the Krink. Without it I would have been unable to proceed with my other enhancements.
Krinkov with stock folded fits easily inside BlackHawk pack, even with magazine inserted. BlackHawk offers numerous discreet transportation options for use with Krinkov, including Mobile Operation Bags, Battle Bags, and other tactical gear that can be configured with magazine pouches and other accessories to suit individual needs.
I tested two different sights on the Krebs Quad Rail. The first was from Trijicon, the RX30 Reflex sight with A.R.M.S. (RX30-23) lever for quick mounting/dismounting while still retaining zero. The beauty of the Trijicon Reflex is that it does not require batteries to generate the aiming dot. The RX30 Reflex features dual illumination of fluorescent fiber optics and tritium lamp. The lack of reliance on batteries appealed to me as matching the Krink’s rugged nature.
At first, the Trijicon Reflex RX30 did seem to sit high on the rifle, altering my natural cheek weld. However, after a few magazines at the range, it posed no problems, especially when used with both eyes open as the RX30 is designed for.
The Trijicon Reflex weighs less than 13 ounces, is made from aluminum with hard coat anodizing, and is a hardy sight designed for hard use by troops in the field. It did not disappoint me in my range tests, proving more than capable of withstanding the Krink’s recoil and the heat generated from firing multiple magazines. The Trijicon Reflex’s 6.5 MOA dot aided in acquiring a fast aiming point at CQB ranges and allowed me to reliably hit steel targets out to 150 yards. (As a reference, a military silhouette target measures almost 17 MOA at 100 meters.)
The second sight tested was the Ultra Digital Compact from ATN. I have experience with other ATN products. I previously used an ATN Ultra Open Collimating sight during a 2,000-round carbine course with no issues. The ATN Ultra Compact was definitely smaller than the Trijicon Reflex and sat lower on the weapon. It does take batteries to operate. The Ultra Compact performed well and its digital aiming point could be altered in configuration and brightness for more precise shot placement. It held up fine to the pounding and heat generated from firing multiple magazines through the Krink.
Close-up of Krebs Custom Quad Rail, which enabled other items to be added to Krinkov, thereby enhancing its performance.
Lastly, I installed a Crimson Trace Laser (CTC) Foregrip with A.R.M.S. mount on the Krebs Quad Rail. The CTC Laser Foregrip utilizes Beratta 92 grip panels on an aluminum billet and instantly allowed me a more secure hold on the Krink, with better accuracy results. The CTC Laser Foregrip serves a dual purpose as foregrip and CQB sight. It was zeroed at 15 yards and proved very effective in allowing me to engage CQB targets quickly and accurately with the Krink.
I had to move the CTC Laser Foregrip to the front of the Krebs Quad Rail to make sure magazine changes were not impacted. This is a small price to pay for the compact nature of the Krink and did not affect performance or handling. The CTC Laser Grip stayed sighted in after numerous rounds were fired downrange and even after removing it from the Krebs Quad Rail. The A.R.M.S. lever pays great dividends in this respect, along with allowing for quick mounting/dismounting. The CTC Laser Grip has an on/off switch and pressure activation pads on both sides of the grip to actuate the laser projecting it on the target.
I experimented with mounting a BlackHawk Falcata 6V flashlight and an ATN LTAD-GN laser designator on the Krinkov. Both items functioned and performed well, but diminishing returns in regard to the Krink’s handling versus weight added led me to remove the items from the Krinkov. The BlackHawk Tactical light will probably be added back on at various times, as I have a fetish about mounting lights on my rifles and handguns. (Hey, there are worse fetishes to have…) All of this illustrates the flexibility of the Krinkov with the Krebs Quad Rail mounted.
The Krinkov is now my bug-out rifle, having replaced a larger AK that previously served in this capacity. With the stock folded, the Krinkov can easily fit into my BlackHawk Mobile Operation Bag, along with various other crucial items such as magazines, pistol and rations. This allows for a more discreet mode of carry.
Some will question why go through the bureaucratic hassles for an SBR. Is it worth it?
The answer is personal preference. I hope this review encourages readers to look outside the box when making decisions concerning weapon choices. Did my Krinkov, with added enhancements, turn out to be a good investment of time and money? In my opinion, yes in every area, including shootability, reliability, functionality, and lethality. What more could I ask from a rifle?
American Technologies Network Corp. Inc. (ATN)
1341 San Mateo Ave.
S. San Francisco, CA 94080
6160 Commander Pkwy.
Norfolk, VA 23502
Century International Arms, Inc.
430 South Congress Ave., Suite 1
Delray Beach, FL 33445
Crimson Trace Corp.
9780 SW Freeman Dr.
Wilsonville, OR 97070
Krebs Custom Inc.
1000 Rand Road
Wauconda, IL 60084
2438 Valley Ave.
Winchester, VA 22601
49385 Shafer Ave.
PO Box 930059
Wixom, MI 48393
P.O. Box 757
Placentia, CA 92871