by Rob Kay
If it’s one thing that On Target staff has learned, not all AKs are created equal. In the near future we plan to do a review of the VEPR 7.62 x 39 “sporterized rifle” from MOLOT, the Russian company that manufactures this gem. It’s a category of AK that many people are not acquainted with. They should be. As Nathan May from Canis Design Group, which manufactures third party parts for this rifle put it, “a VEPR is to a Saiga what a Lexus is to a Toyota”.
In preparation for our VEPR review we knew we had to do some research. The first person we called was Marc Krebs, founder of Krebs Custom. Marc was influential over the last decade in turning the humble AK into a work of art. Marc’s new line of KV-13 rifles is based on the VEPR. Thus, he knows this platform intimately.
If you’re interested in buying a VEPR with the notion of customizing it, I think you’ll be interested in hearing what Marc has to say.
Here’s an edited transcript of our recent interview with him.
Q: Tell us a little about what’s new at Krebs Custom?
A: We’ve been gearing up for production. Demand has been very high. It’s gotten to the point where you can read about our guns but you can’t own them.
We want to make it so people can own them! So we’re concentrating on making sure that we can keep up with sales. We’ve decided to go through distributors instead of selling direct. We’re selling now through Copper Custom Armament (which is a company that Tim Harmsen of Military Arms Channel is associated with), Circle10 AK and Atlantic Firearms. Having other entities take care of this end of the business will better allow our shop to concentrate on making the rifle. This will free up our guys to concentrate on inventory and other activities such as tech support. (We will be available to return phone calls for these kinds of questions from 2 – 3.30 pm Central time). Ideally we want to produce more rifles to bring down the cost a bit. We’re doing time studies to determine how long it takes to produce the rifles.
A: Yes, we solely use the VEPR for that model. It’s got a more stable barrel because of the diameter. They are more accurate than the Saiga.
Q: What exactly are the differences between the VEPR and the Saiga?
A: The VEPR is a heavier gun than the Saiga. It’s based on the RPK, a light machine gun. The receiver is thicker and it has beefier locking lugs. The bull barrel is more accurate at long distances.
Q: What about interchangeability between the two models?
A: As far as internals go, the triggers will fit, the bolts and carriers will fit. (You always need to check headspace on a new bolt and the best way to do that is with a headspace gauge). Pistol grips are interchangeable. Buttstocks aren’t interchangeable.
Q: What about magazines? Will AK magazines interchange with a VEPR?
A: The VEPR and AK mags are not interchangeable.
Q: What about changing out a buttstock on a VEPR? You’ve got options such as a fixed buttstock, a folder, a collapsible, or a folder/collapsible combo.
A: Yes, you can get all of those. The collapsible buttstock has the most latitude when it comes to adjustability. The folders wiggle a tiny bit and perhaps that may impact accuracy. That said, we’ve had pretty good groups on our KV-13 which is a folder.
Q: How would you mount a collapsible buttstock on a VEPR?
A: OK, well if you want to put a collapsible buttstock on there, say a Vltor, you’re going to need a long or short adapter block which screws on to the back of the receiver. You also need a “pig nose” which screws into the adapter (two screws). It’s a threaded cup that allows you to screw in the buffer tube. Once that’s in place you can then screw in the buffer tube and add the buttstock. If you want to combine a folder and a collapsible, which is what we use on our KV-13, you can add the ACE folding system. We think it’s the best out there. We use the left hand folder, a milspec buffer tube and a Magpul CTR buttstock.
Q: What products do you sell that will fit a VEPR?
A: First off, we sell a long rear adapter block which means you can use the tang. It’s cut out for a screw so that you put in the scope mount. You can’t have the scope mount on it without the tang. You can attach whatever type of stock you want to that. That works with the ACE pattern folder. We also sell a short rear adapter block. With the short one you have to cut off the rear tang. That’s what we put on our KV-13s. The other issue is that some people don’t want to cut off their tangs. However, if they are into custom work they will buy the “shorty”. If they want to extend their stock and not fuss around with cutting metal they can just screw in our longer block.
We sell wide notch rear sights and peep sights that fit to the rear sight support. We also offer the Krebs Custom AK Rear Sight Rail System sight with a peep sight. That will increase the sight radius dramatically.
We sell a UFM forearm that fits a VEPR. We also sell a handguard that is the only field strippable, one available in keymod configuration.
Our safety fits a VEPR as do our trigger parts. We rework the triggers on the VEPR and we also sell the G2 triggers from Tapco. We polish them up and rework the geometry.
The Flash Hider is another item we sell.
Q: Any products for a VEPR that you recommend other than your own?
A: I think ACE makes a really nice internal receiver block.
We like the Magpul grips for the AK or VEPR. That’s what we’re using.
As I mentioned earlier we like the Tapco G2 triggers and the RS Scope Mount. We think it’s a great product.
Photos courtesy of Krebs Custom, and Rob Ski (AK Operators Union 47-76).
Questions? Comments? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org