Take something as iconic and American as Apple Pie and mix in a little Communist Red Army – What do you get? Let’s not get too political here… What we were hoping you would say is the almighty VEPR Kalashnikov, chambered in the bleeding-red-white-and-blue, .308 Winchester. For those of you who may be wondering – Yes – this is the perfect rifle for the firearm enthusiast who watched American Sniper and hated Mustafa’s guts, but secretly wished they had his gun. While this isn’t a true FPK/PSL or SVD, it’s a clone that gives you much of the feel of shooting one of those bad-guy classics in a newer, more refined, and better-chambered package.
The most obvious modification we made to this VEPR was removing the awful wood furniture they give you out of the box. Because the VEPR’s are a Russian-manufactured firearm (born in the Legendary Molot Factory), the only way to bring them into the states for sale is to make them a traditional “Sporting” rifle with all the fun bits left out… We immediately replaced the thumbhole stock and chunky forend with a much more acceptable “SVD-Style” set from Ironwood Designs. If you’re looking for some high quality wood furniture to go on a variety of AK platforms, check those guys out – they’ve got some really cool stuff!
Much like an AR-15 being chambered in any other rifle cartridge, there are subtle differences inside this .308 VEPR, but it’s ultimately a familiar AK platform. Unique to the VEPR rifles, it uses a beefy receiver much like that of an RPK, resulting in an inherently much stronger platform than traditional AK-47’s
Side note – See those two flat head screws towards the back of the receiver? Well, after waiting four months on this custom wood furniture set (we caught them right in the middle of moving their shop – it’s much quicker now) it finally arrived, and, much to our dismay – there were no holes drilled to accept those screws! In a tizzy, we called up the folks at Ironwood Designs to ask what could be done. Their customer service was excellent as they explained that due to the nature of Kalashnikov’s and their extreme range of tolerances – If they pre-drill any holes in their furniture sets, the chances of it actually lining up with your particular receiver are slim to none… Truly shocking after coming over from the precision rifle and AR market. Regardless, we nervously drilled the necessary holes in the gorgeous wood to install the set and it came out just fine – no vodka needed.
We can never do a “Guns of Vortex” without discussing the sights. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the tangent-style sights present on all out-of-the-box VEPR’s. The one thing we did find truly unique about this Kalashnikov, though, was how surprisingly accurate it was with just irons! On day one (Pre-Optic), we were consistently smacking steel rams at 540 yards using only the irons and match ammo. That was a pleasant surprise and also a promising indication of how well she would do when we got some magnification up top.
Now for the real fun – We’ve played around with a number of different optics atop this Midwest Industries GEN 2 AK-47 Optic Mount. First, it was a Gen I PST 1-4×24 with the tall turrets. That made for a fun setup and also looked closest to a true FPK/PSL or SVD setup, and while 4x certainly helped more than plain Jane iron sights, we still felt like we could push the limits just a little further. Consequently, for a brief period of time, the SVD clone wore a Viper HS-T 4-16×44. That ended up being too much optic for our application, so it has since worn a prototype PST Gen II 2-10×32 FFP. Much like Goldilocks and the three bears, we found this combination to be just right for stretching the capabilities of the semi-auto .308, without sacrificing too much on the low end. Rings – Precision Matched 30mm, 1.26 inch height rings.
AK-Optic Tip – Zeroing without the ability to bore sight like a bolt gun is certainly tricky, but if you start close (25 yards) to get on paper, and then adjust as you move back and fine-tune your zero to 100 yards, you’ll be all set.
Should you decide to get one of these beauties, keep in mind you can use a Dremel to remove the pesky, factory-installed and welded thread protector. In this case, we replaced it with the Lantac Drakon, which threaded onto the end of the 23 inch, hammer forged and chrome-lined barrel, just like any other AK with its reverse threading. A much needed improvement in our opinion.
For many enthusiasts – one of the biggest downsides to collecting unique firearms is the huge variety of ammunition used over the course of history. If you’re a hand-loading fanatic or enjoy buying bricks of mil-surp ammo by the truck load, then that’s perfect. On the other hand, if you’re like Jimmy H here (the owner of this VEPR), it can be too much to handle. Any time you can get a cool and unique firearm in a cartridge that many of your other guns already shoot, and one that’s readily available both store bought and for hand-loading, that’s a huge plus. In the case of this VEPR, it’s also nice to take something so blatantly communist and inject a little freedom into it with the .308.
As always, we hope you enjoyed checking out one of the many unique firearms here at Vortex. What cool and unique guns do you have in your collection? We’d love to hear about them in the comments below! Stay tuned for more “Guns of Vortex” to come in the future.