By Mike Cumpston, Guns Magazine
A .45 ACP semi-auto carbine spun off from a popular submachine gun is not a particularly new idea but it is a concept that has real legs when it is the progeny of a design noteworthy for its shooting qualities and durability. This is particularly true when it is vetted by much field research and has emerged with the stamp of approval from the US Army Endurance and Environmental Testing protocols at the Aberdeen Test Center.
The Vector family is a product of the now-ubiquitous CAD/CAM design and production modality and a successful meld of steel, aluminum alloy and the “injection molded, polymer composite material” irreverently known as plastic. Variations on the theme include the aforementioned sub gun—an item that, due to a low barrel axis and an innovative delayed recoil system, delivers .45 ACP rounds at high cycle rate in a controllable cone of fire.
There are civilian-obtainable tax stamp short-barrel firearm variations, a civilian-legal pistol and a carbine version available in legal form in all 50 states and Canada (at least until the dust settles on the latest nanny-state power grab). Optional fixed, non-detachable stocks conform to legalities in some jurisdictions. All are outgrowths of the same system letting the Kriss USA company do one thing really well without sacrificing versatility. The Vector line fires from a closed bolt, with the recoil abated by a double slider rail atop the mainspring. Impulse from the fired cartridge sends the bolt on a downward trajectory that delays the cycle and directs at least some of the recoil impulse back and downward.
The sample we have is the 16.25-inch barrel model with folding and removable stock. The barrel length is extended to 18.6 inches for sale in Canada. It uses Glock Pistol magazines with 10- or 13-round capacity depending upon various state laws. A 30-round extension is available—no doubt particularly useful for the full-buzz sub gun. Sights are a windage adjustable faceted rear and an AR-15/ M16 front adjustable for elevation via an M16 sight tool. There is a bottom accessory rail and a socket for a dedicated SureFire light. The iron sights fold flush with the top accessory rail, which will accommodate optical sights. A variety of accessories are available from Kriss. Of particular interest is the Vector Tac Pack including: Custom single-point tactical sling with hinged sling mount pin, Bipod Grip, which is a vertical fore-grip with swing-out legs to serve as a bipod, SureFire E1B dedicated flashlight with pad switch and an EOTech Sight Model 512.A65/1. All these very fine accessories add about $1,000 to the base price for the shooter who wants the full-gorilla kit.
The base-model carbine arrives in a plastic hard case with the usual cable lock, a very readable owner’s manual and a checklist detailing the contents of the package as well as the function tests done prior to shipping.
Kriss deems the Vector Carbine usable to 150 meters with accuracy expectations of less than 1 inch at 25 meters and inside 6 inches at 100 meters. Ammunition recommendations include several kinds of ball, the similarly profiled Remington Golden Saber, and one Personal Defense load from Federal. In practice, it proved entirely reliable with a variety of ammunition, including hollowpoints that have a nose profile similar to hardball.
Flat-pointed rounds with abrupt ogives tend to stop against the feed ramp. This happens frequently when chambering the first round but occurred at least once after several rounds had been fired. The only fix for this sort of stoppage is as outlined in the owner’s manual. Put on safe, remove the magazine and assure that the offending round is removed.
To prepare the Vector for firing first set the selector lever to “safe,” insert the loaded magazine, pull back and release the charging handle. Alternatively, if the arm has been shot empty, put on safe, insert a loaded magazine and press the bolt release under the charging handle. The Vector has a quintessential “military trigger” with considerable take-up and an 8-pound release. Accentuating the positive, the trigger can be regarded as a safety device in its own right, though only in conjunction with the manual selector safety. The weight of the trigger posed some limitations to my benchrest shooting. I shot my groups at 50 yards, splitting the difference in the accuracy expectations Kriss established at 25 and 100 meters. A couple of the groups show the carbine to be striving mightily to group in just over 1 inch at that distance. That the groups all ended up at circa 3 inches, had more to do with my own limitations than those of the carbine.
Several free-standing sessions on B-27 targets at 50 yards kept almost all of the rounds inside the 9-, 10- and X-rings, giving up little or nothing to results I got years ago with a .45 Reising semi-auto carbine, and about what I would expect with any similar arm. The Vector’s light weight and balance make it easy to hold on target while milking the trigger. This was born out when I took the carbine to Stan Jarosz’s range and we knocked around some 10- to 12-inch plates at 25 and 50 yards. The minimal barrel rise facilitated knocking over the steel at a fairly rapid pace. Justin King, a local shooter who favors tax-stamp short-barreled arms also gave the Vector high marks for shootability.
Winchester Western White Box Ball and my softball 230-grain roundnose handload both gained about 100 fps over expectations from a 5-inch Government model. The 230-grain hollowpoint load from Pierce Munitions delivers 829 fps from the 3-1/2-inch barrel of a Bersa Thunder Ultra Compact and 1,064 fps from the vector closely matching the +P loading of the Remington Golden Saber from Buffalo Bore. Pierce of Buffalo, N.Y., is the maker of Ted Nugent hunting ammunition and is marketed through American Tactical Imports.
The Owner’s manual covers dismounting for cleaning and lubrication with very clear instruction. The major units are held together with easily removed but secure spring-loaded pins. As long as the bolt is reinstalled in the slider rails with the extractor facing up, putting it back together presents no surprises.
The Kriss Vector carbine is a great adjunct to the .45 pistol encompassing the wide range of purposes such a combination might serve. Compact and simple to use, its applications for home and vehicle defense are fairly obvious and, beyond that, it’s eminently suitable for a fun afternoon at the range or gravel pit.
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