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Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 4: Comrades, One and All

The Red Oktober Kalashnikov Championship is not just a shooting match; it's a place where like-minded AK fans gather to ham it up and socialize.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 4: Comrades, One and All

If you’re not doing the Slav Squat atop a Russian tank while wearing an Adidas track suit and ski mask, are you even really trying, comrade?

This is Part 4 in a series about James Tarr’s misadventures at Red Oktober. You can read Part 1 Here, Part 2 Here and Part 3 Here.

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

Fans of AKs know they are a little off the beaten track, in America, but they embrace that. They come together as a community. Instead of attacking each other for not having the latest and greatest gizmo on their AR, they love to see anybody with any kind of AK-pattern firearm. In the firearms community, AK owners are to the mainstream what conservatives are to the national news media—adherents to something older but proven even while often being mocked and ridiculed.

But does anyone want to argue that an AK can’t get the job done?

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 4: Comrades, One and All
How to have fun, illustrated in one simple picture—run a short-barreled full-auto belt-fed RPD at the Red Oktober match.

Red Oktober is officially a shooting competition, but it is also a social gathering, and in many ways it reminded me of SASS matches. Many of the shooters are more interested in showing up and hanging out with like-minded people than they are winning the match.

And then there are the costumes.

Forget the wide variety of AK-pattern guns seen at the match, there were an equal number of great costumes. Adidas-striped tracksuits? Check. Balaclavas and ski masks? Check. Tanker helmets. Gas masks. Seemingly every camo pattern Russia has ever fielded. I saw more Russian sailors in Nevada than I’ve ever seen within sight of water. A number of shooters (some of whom are current active duty) competed in full US military Multicam.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 4: Comrades, One and All
There were the folks in Russian costumes, and then there were the guys in Hawaiian shirts. These two friends were running highly customized and Cerakoted rifles: that’s a Galil ACE in 5.56 on the left, and a 5.45 AK on the right.

The vendors at the event know their crowd, and the t-shirts they were offering were excellent. The folks from the Restoration Passion YouTube channel showed up with a fully restored Russian T-62 tank (complete with Syrian markings and large caliber impact marks). On the last day there was a live fire demo, and the tank did a demo as well.

I saw a number of couples shooting together. Families with kids. Someone brought their dog, which was bored by the whole event.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 4: Comrades, One and All
“Heels to the ground, comrade found. Heels to the sky, capitalist spy.”

Ironically, while a celebration of all things AK, Red Oktober is ultimately a celebration of everything that makes America great: people from all walks of life hanging out together and having fun, capitalism, free enterprise, and the constitutionally guaranteed access to military-grade weapons.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 4: Comrades, One and All
Red Oktober wasn’t just a shooting match, it was a coming together of a community, and you saw a few families as well.

Now, for the rest of the story: for those of you wondering about my amazing accommodations I detailed in Part I, on the morning of day two at the no-tell motel I found a chicken bone resting peacefully on the hood of my truck. Either someone got a little excited eating a late dinner, or my truck now has a voodoo curse on it. Oh, and later that day the outlet which powers (or rather powered) my microwave and mini-fridge died. And I learned the hard way that the motel does not do maid service every day, only between guests….

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 4: Comrades, One and All
Left: Every kind of Russian outfit—real or stereotype—could be found at Red Oktober. And the people wearing them were happy to have their photos taken. Right: Tarr really liked the Apocalypse Now-esque art on the buttstock of this AK.

On the plus side, with a colorful hotel motel you get colorful guess. Like the group of girls coming back from an all-night rave one morning at 7:30. The prettiest of the girls was in a fluorescent green thong bikini and torn fishnet stockings. She was about 5 ft tall and 200 bouncy pounds. I did not take photos, even though she seemed more than up for it. 


Good times.

Unless you were moving slowly in a hotel or on the floor of a casino, no employees seemed to care whether or not you were wearing a mask, so I was actually able to eat at restaurants during my time in Vegas. About half the people on the Strip were maskless. Still, I passed on a free ticket to Cirque du Soleil, as I won’t even pretend to wear a mask. Turns out nobody working the show cared…although there were gymnasts reportedly wearing masks while performing. If there is one group of people nearly immune to this virus it is young world-class athletes, but if the only “facts” they get come from the mainstream media there’s no way they’d know that, so you can’t blame them. Moving on….

Day one of the drive back ended in Rifle, Colorado, which is east of Parachute and just west of Antlers and Silt. The west has far superior names for their towns. My second day driving back was quite windy, and there were actual tumbleweeds blowing across the freeway in eastern Colorado. Another thing I can check off the bucket list. That night I stopped in the middle of Kansas to visit Dave Fortier’s cats. Dave also happened to be home. For dinner, we headed to the local Cracker Barrel where, while eating bacon (good) one of my teeth cracked and fell apart (bad). I left the section of tooth for the waitress along with a healthy tip.

Misadventures at Red Oktober 2021, Part 4: Comrades, One and All
Left: Red Oktober had the best shirts. True Shot Ammo/Gun Club out of Tempe Arizona was selling these Red Dawn-esque shirts, and Tarr had to buy one. Right: If you know, you know.

TFB’s James Reeves (who didn’t even shoot the match) was complaining simply about being put up in a cheap $40/night truck-stop/casino/hotel in Boulder City. Please. Rookie.

Let’s run down the numbers for my trip, shall we?

Total miles driven: 4497

Days on the road: 9

Propositions by Vegas hookers: 3

Bloody fingers: 2

Broken teeth: 1

Masks worn: 0

Lesson: Embrace the suck. Adventures are supposed to be uncomfortable.

But hopefully I’ll be able to fly to next year’s Red Oktober Kalashnikov Championship.

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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