CSSpecs Brings American Metal VEPR Mags to Soviet Steel

CSSpecs Brings American Metal VEPR Mags to Soviet Steel
Molot VEPR 54 complete with Manticore Arms nightbrake, handguard, Belarusian POSP scope, Choate polymer Dragunov stock and 10-round CSSpecs magazine.

When I first got into shooting, one of the biggest hurdles was money: Between ammunition, targets, range membership and the cost of gas to get to that range, the sport isn’t exactly conducive to a poor college student’s budget.

Luckily, I had two powerful allies - instant noodles, and surplus Soviet arms and ammunition. The latter being the most integral part to my learning to be a better marksman. Frankly, when one can only afford $30 a week for ammo, 7.62x54r and 5.45x39 go much further than .308 Win or 5.56mm brass ammunition - at least that was the case.

While no longer true, the affordability of these rounds led this shooter to seeking out new and unique platforms to launch inexpensive rounds from. I bought a pair of Arsenal AK-74M clones, and even an AKS-74u clone from Bulgaria, and they are excellent.

Seeking to get into the DMR game on the cheap, I purchased a VEPR 54r from Molot a few years later. For the uninformed, the VEPR series of semi-automatic rifles are based on the Russian RPK light machine gun. This LMG is essentially a beefed up AKM, featuring a 50% thicker receiver, and reinforced barrel trunnion.


Metal-VEPR-Mags-2
If the receiver of the VEPR looks familiar, it should. It’s based off an RPK LMG, which itself is just an AKM with a longer, heavier barrel and thicker receiver.

The 54r VEPR takes this to the next level, and chambers the oversized AK in 7.62x54r - a potent, long-range round. Combine this with the famous die-hard reliability of the classic Soviet lead-slinger, and you’ve got a recipe for greatness.


At least, that would be the case if not for the factory magazines.

Featuring a polymer body, baseplate and follower, the VEPR 54r magazines only hold a scant five rounds of ammunition. While most shooters can appreciate that five rounds is hardly enough for plinking fun at the range, it’s the magazine’s polymer construction that really raises concerns.

While all-polymer magazines are the norm with the AR-15, the AK doesn’t handle them quite so well. Sure, many exist, but AK aficionados consider them to be range-only magazines.

Metal-VEPR-Mags-3
A factory polymer VEPR 54 magazine flanked by an all-steel CSSPECS mag. Double the capacity for only a small increase in size.

Why?


The nature of AK magazine wells, means that mags are rocked in to place. Because of this, weight applied on the magazine while inserted acts as a fulcrum with mechanical advantage against the locking tab on the magazine. Meaning a shooter can accidently put hundreds of pounds of pressure on a small piece of plastic that if broken, renders the magazine unusable.

Metal-VEPR-Mags-4
So-called, ‘Bakelite’ magazines were actually made of  thermoset phenolformaldehyde resin. They also featured a steel reinforced collar and locking tabs.

This is why the Soviets added metal reinforcements to their so-called bakelite magazines (actually thermoset phenol-formaldehyde resin), and why Bulgarian circle 10 waffle-pattern magazines have these same reinforcements.

Another alternative are all-steel magazines, but sadly no such VEPR 54r magazine existed, until now.


Enter, the CSSPECS 10-round VEPR 54r magazine.

Metal-VEPR-Mags-5
Featuring the same overbuilt design as steel AKM magazines, the CSSpecs mag is more durable, higher quality and less expensive than factory polymer ones.

Boasting double the capacity of factory magazines and heavy-gauge steel construction, these magazines are nearly bomb-proof. They feature an anti-tilt steel follower and heavy duty double thick reinforcements at the locking tabs for added longevity.

While the magazines are much heavier than the factory polymer ones, they’re also roughly 50% less expensive and vastly superior in terms of durability.

In testing, the new magazines functioned 100% reliably. This was with three different types of ammunition - Bulgarian silver tip, Soviet surplus and new-production Hornady hunting rounds.

The only aspect of these magazines that doesn’t surpass the originals, is how difficult they are to load. This isn’t the result of overly-strong springs, but rather the cartridge’s design itself. The “R” portion of 7.62x54R stands for rimmed, this rim makes extraction from a rifle’s chamber easier. But the rimmed round was designed for bolt-action firearms, not auto-loading ones. 

This is one of the biggest reasons that magazines for rifles chambered in this cartridge tend to be limited in capacity: “rim lock”. The same issue plagued British designs utilizing their rimmed .303 round. It’s one of the reasons the Bren LMG uses gravity-assisted magazines.

Metal-VEPR-Mags-6
Coupled with quality, expanding ammunition from Hornady, the VEPR 54 using CSSpecs magazines makes for an excellent hunting rifle.

For civilian shooters, this equates into difficulty correctly sliding rounds fully rearward in magazines. It’s not the end of the world, but it’s somewhat frustrating when compiled with a rigid steel magazine digging into your loading hand.

Another minor issue deals with rifle compatibility. Certain generations of the VEPR 54r feature a bolt whose geometry differs from the original models. This extra 1/16 of an inch of material can cause feeding issues with these magazines.

Thankfully, CSPECS website includes instructions on how to modify your bolt with a hand file in only a few minutes, and detailed instructions on identifying which type of VEPR you own.

Other than that small “issue” These new magazines are a slam dunk! Shooters looking to add or replace their VEPR 54r magazines should consider these over factory offerings.

 

            

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

M134 Mini-Gun

M134 Mini-Gun

While filming the 2018 season of Guns&AmmoTV we had the unique opportunity to fire the M134 Minigun.

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

A $50 Ring Loc-Kit gives AirForce Condor airgunners unparalleled power and accuracy. Air Guns

AirForce Airguns Condor Ring-Loc Kit Review

Tom Gaylord - May 29, 2019

A $50 Ring Loc-Kit gives AirForce Condor airgunners unparalleled power and accuracy.

CRKT makes 17 different knife models exclusively for Ruger, from fixed hunting knives to tactical folders, and many of their models are offered in several different styles. Accessories

Ruger CRKT Knives Review

James Tarr - July 08, 2019

CRKT makes 17 different knife models exclusively for Ruger, from fixed hunting knives to...

Governor Northam is calling a special session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, July 9th, to do nothing but pass more gun control! 2nd Amendment

Virginia Governor Northam Declares War on Gun Owners

Virginia Citizens Defense League - July 09, 2019

Governor Northam is calling a special session of the General Assembly on Tuesday, July 9th, to...

Rhode Islanders are setting brushfires for freedom once again as they advance a Second Amendment Sanctuary Town movement. 2nd Amendment

SPECIAL REPORT: BIG 2A HISTORY BEING MADE IN LITTLE RHODE ISLAND

John Peterson - May 22, 2019

Rhode Islanders are setting brushfires for freedom once again as they advance a Second...

See More Trending Articles

More Accessories

Night Vision can give you the edge you need in uncertain times. Accessories

Why You Need Night Vision

Sean Utley - June 30, 2020

Night Vision can give you the edge you need in uncertain times.

They said it couldn't be done! Amend2 Magazines introduces the first polymer 6.5mm Grendel/6mm ARC AR-15 magazine to hit the market! Accessories

Amend2 Polymer 6.5mm Grendel AR-15 Magazines — First Look

Samantha Knight - July 16, 2020

They said it couldn't be done! Amend2 Magazines introduces the first polymer 6.5mm Grendel/6mm...

RCBS announced that it has begun shipping the 6mm ARC SB T/C Die Set. Accessories

RCBS 6mm ARC SB T/C Die Set Now Available

Firearms News Staff - August 01, 2020

RCBS announced that it has begun shipping the 6mm ARC SB T/C Die Set.

If you are looking for a beautifully machined and bombproof scope mount, the Geissele Super Precision is one to consider! Accessories

Geissele Super Precision Scope Mount Review

David M. Fortier - May 13, 2020

If you are looking for a beautifully machined and bombproof scope mount, the Geissele Super...

See More Accessories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW OUR CURRENT ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Get Digital Access.

All Firearms News subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now