By Jorge Amselle, Gun Digest
Marc Krebs from Krebs Custom in Wauconda, IL, is arguably the best custom AK manufacturer around. It seems he’s always experimenting, looking for ways to improve the AK platform. He even manufactures several aftermarket improvements as well as working on customers’ rifles. And makes his own complete rifles, usually from Russian Saiga receivers. His latest, the KV-13, really exemplifies what he has achieved.
For this build, he selected another Russian AK-pattern rifle: the VEPR made by the famous Molot (Vyatskie Polyany Machine Building Plant) factory. VEPR AKs are rock-solid reliable. What sets them apart is that the traditional gun made by Molot was the RPK squad automatic weapon.
Notably, the VEPR uses a standard stamped receiver that has been beefed up for heavy use and is 50 percent thicker on each side. It uses a heavy duty front trunnion, which is where the barrel connects to the receiver and the bolt locks. This makes the receiver much stronger with less flex when fired. The rear of the receiver has an angled cut that requires the use of an adapter to install different stocks.
Krebs first cuts the barrel down to 14 inches, then adds a permanently attached muzzle brake to bring the legal barrel length to 16 inches. The four-prong brake itself is made by Krebs and very effectively reduces muzzle flash. The gas block is the modern type with a 90-degree angle, but it is hard to see because of the custom KeyMod handguard.
This handguard provides 9.5 inches of Picatinny rail on top between the front sight and the dust cover. The sides and bottom of the aluminum unit feature the KeyMod system, co-developed by Noveske and VLTOR, allowing you to more easily install rails or accessories anywhere along the handguard. It runs 12 inches from the front of the receiver almost to the muzzle brake and facilitates a hands forward grip, while doing an excellent job of dissipating barrel heat.
As for the action, Krebs takes this already reliable system and improves it by smoothing and dehorning the edges. The trigger has been tuned and is far crisper and more comfortable than any standard AK trigger I have ever tried. Krebs adds an outstanding safety selector that can operate as a bolt hold open and bolt release using just the trigger finger and a finger extension. This safety selector is an easy upgrade to most any AK.
The sights on the KV-13 are outstanding. Instead of the usual short radius post and notch sights you find on most AKs, Krebs has installed true AR-style peep sights with a 19-inch sight radius. The rear sight is adjustable for windage, the front for elevation. The left side of the receiver has the standard AK optics rail for installing a scope.
The polymer pistol grip is the TAPCO SAW style, which is large but comfortable and features significant interior storage space. An ACE folding stock adapter has been installed and mated to a mil-spec AR buffer tube so any compatible AR collapsible stock will fit. In this case, Krebs installed the six-position Magpul CTR stock. Folding the stock is fairly easy and really makes this a super compact gun for transport or storage. Of course, it can be fired with the stock folded.
The KV-13 will accept any standard AK magazine, one steel mag was included. I found the fit to be a bit tight. The fit and finish on the rifle is quite good, using the KrebsKote solvent-proof finish to replace the standard Russian bluing.
On the range, it was very handy and well balanced. Empty cases are ejected brusquely and tended to land about 20 feet away and slightly forward. There were certainly no failures of any sort.
For accuracy, I used a forward-mounted Zeiss Z-Point red dot sight. I tested at 100 yards, which worked fine with the 3.5 MOA dot on the Z-Point. Accuracy was combat-acceptable with groups ranging between 3 and 5 MOA. No one ever claimed that the AK was a target rifle, but it is most certainly reliable and tough. Krebs can build AKs to suit your tastes, so many options abound.
Krebs Custom KV-13
BARREL: 16 in. with brake
OA LENGTH: 26 in. folded / 33.75 in. collapsed / 37.75 in. extended
WEIGHT: 8.5 lbs. empty
STOCK: Polymer collapsible folding stock
SIGHTS: AR-style peep
CAPACITY: 30-round magazine
Click here to see the Gun Digest Guide to the Modern AK, by Jorge Amselle