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Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 3: Kalashnikrazy

The Red Oktober Kalashnikov Championship is open to any AK-derived firearms. Match divisions include the popular Heavy (7.62x39mm, 7.62x54R) as well as Light (5.45, 5.56, 9mm). Within those divisions, you can run Iron Sights, or Open with any configuration of optics, muzzle breaks and suppressors.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 3: Kalashnikrazy

Tarr’s favorite gun at the match, a full-auto 5.45mm AKS-74U with a custom muzzle brake, wearing a Trijicon MRO in an RS Regulate scope mount.

This is Part 3 in a series about James Tarr’s misadventures at Red Oktober. You can read Part 1 Here and Part 2 Here.

Everything you are about to read is true and actually happened.

The Red Oktober Kalashnikov Championship is open to any and all AK-derived firearms, and the match had divisions to suit every one of them. The most popular ones were Heavy (7.62x39mm, 7.62x54R) and Light (5.45, 5.56, 9mm), and in those divisions you could run Iron Sights, or Open. Open guns could be outfitted with an optic or three, and any kind of muzzle device you wanted, including large muzzle brakes or sound suppressors.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 3: Kalashnikrazy
Left: The fake verdigris on this AK looked even better in person. It is not Cerakote, but rather a custom chemical reaction whose explanation went right over Tarr’s head. Right: His and hers AKs, belonging to a husband and wife. The wife was using the rifle without the suppressor.

The single most popular division in the match was Heavy Open, where competitors used their 7.62x39mm AK-pattern rifles topped with their optic of choice. I used a Pioneer Arms AK Sporter with a Trijicon SRO on the rail and no other modifications, which for this match made it rather plain. Lots of shooters equipped their rifles with multiple-port muzzle brakes and aftermarket handguards. A number of guns had custom finishes (mostly Cerakote), which often matched the shooter’s outfit. Somewhere between 5-10% of the guns were equipped with suppressors.

Every manufacturer you can think of was represented at the match. Some people shot brand new guns, others shot collector’s items. I saw a number of 9mm AKs (mostly brace-equipped pistols), and one Romanian PSL. One competitor was running a short-barreled RPD for the belt-fed division, and he was having a great time. I saw at least one Vz58.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 3: Kalashnikrazy
A good representation of the kind of guns you saw at the match— an SVD, a Mosin, and a Galil ACE, among the standard AK variants.

Heavily represented in the top tier of finishers was the Galil ACE, in both 7.62 and 5.56. This gun (in both rifle and pistol form) has improved controls, and saving time while doing AR-style reloads definitely helped moved those shooters up in the standings. 

Perhaps my favorite gun seen at the match was a full-auto AKS-74U, what Americans for some reason started calling a Krinkov in the 1980s. This 5.45x39mm-chambered gun had a custom muzzle brake and was topped by a Trijicon MRO in an RS Regulate mount. The young woman running it was doing two-round bursts on the stage that required headshots.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 3: Kalashnikrazy
This shooter is running an actual Dragonov SVD at the match. The balaclava and Adidas shoes complete the outfit.

There was a large, sprawling area for vendors and match sponsors, featuring a lot of companies you will have heard of (IWI, Pioneer Arms, Blue Force Gear, Hogue Knives) and many you likely haven’t, as they cater to the somewhat niche AK crowd (Beez Combat Systems, Occam Defense Solutions). The match itself is put on by Rifle Dynamics, one of the largest names in AKs.

Many of the vendors had a live fire area. Competitors and spectators enjoyed putting rounds downrange through the Kalashnikov USA KP-9 (pistol and subgun), IWI had several Galil ACEs present, as well as two Negev LMGs, KCI USA had an RPK you could shoot, and Pioneer Arms had a full-auto 7.62x39mm SBR and PPS43. Pioneer Arms was showing off their new 5.56 gun, as well as their new AKs with forged trunions.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 3: Kalashnikrazy
At their booth Kalashnikov USA was letting competitors get a little trigger time on a full-auto KP-9 SMG.

Several firearms media producers were on hand filming. The Gun Owners of America had a charity shoot to support 2nd Amendment rights (and win prizes!). Lots of prizes, including guns, were raffled off on the final night of the competition. All competitors received shirts, as well as AK magazines made by US Palm.

The site of the event, Pro Gun Club Vegas, is about twenty miles southeast of the Strip in Boulder City. The Las Vegas Strip is a world-famous attraction in its own right, but if you’re in the area of Boulder City, you might want to take the opportunity to visit the Hoover Dam, which is only about a 20-minute drive away. This is a famous American landmark.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 3: Kalashnikrazy
In the vender area were a lot of familiar names (Rifle Dynamic, Hogue Knives) and a few perhaps not (3C Medical, Occam Defense). Hogue brought their deuce-and-a-half.

However…it is also valuable American infrastructure, and to reduce the chances of a terrorist attack there is a security checkpoint before the dam. At this checkpoint not only will you pay your $10 admittance fee, but you will also get chatted up by federal officers, who may or may not inspect your vehicle. And no firearms are permitted on the property. So if you are like me, and had four firearms in your vehicle in varying states of readiness, you might want to take advantage of the wide spot before the checkpoint and do a casual U-turn before leaving the area. Am I a good guy? Absolutely. But it might be hard to convince the federal officers of that, considering I had several “enemy rifles” in my truck, one of which had a decent amount of dried blood on it from my day of competing. Oh, and several thousand rounds of ammo.


Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 3: Kalashnikrazy
There was some gun media in attendance. Here Clint Morgan of Classic Firearms interviews Dillard Johnson of Pioneer Arms.

Read Part 4: Comrades, One and All

If you have any thoughts or comments on this article, we’d love to hear them. Email us at

About the Author:

James Tarr is a longtime contributor to Firearms News and other firearms publications. He is also the author of several books, including CARNIVORE, which was featured on The O’Reilly Factor. His current best-selling novel, Dogsoldiers, is available now through Amazon.

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