Monday, July 9, 2012

MArooned Product Review: KRISS Vector CRB

When I attended SHOT Show in January, one of the many highlights was the Media Day at the Range that took place the Monday before SHOT officially started. Hundreds of vendors, exhibitors, and manufacturers were on hand displaying their wares, talking to media, and in the case of manufacturers, letting us media folk try their product out on a shooting line. Most of the exhibits were packed – we are talking about shooting someone else’s gun (that you don’t have to clean) with free ammo here – but none was as busy as the KRISS booth:

At the show, I talked to one of the KRISS representatives about getting a carbine for T&E, and a few weeks later I got a call that it was in. Over the past few months I’ve had a good chance to put it through its paces, as well as letting a variety of other folks handle it and run some rounds through it. It’s time to package her up and send her back to KRISS at the conclusion of the T&E period, which means it’s also time to jot down some impressions.


The first thing to note about this particular model is that it is Assault Weapons Ban compliant – in this case, the folding stock is permanently pinned open and it ships with a 10 round magazine instead of a 13 round magazine. It has both top and forend rails for optics, forend grips and lasers or lights, and comes with fold-down iron sights fore and aft. The first thing I added was a $50 TruGlo red/green dot sight and a UTG forend grip – because, well, IS RACE GUN. The forend grip on the KRISS is really more of a formality, as the magazine well is molded for a grip from the factory. 

It takes down quickly and easily without tools:

Four pins holding everything together. The upper housing separates from the lower receiver, the bolt drops out, and everything comes apart easily for cleaning. The whole process takes maybe a minute or two, and goes back together just as simply. Manufacturer recommendation is to lube every 400 rounds and clean every 1,000, but for the purposes of this review I gave it a full cleaning at ~ 350 rounds (and will clean it again before it goes back, because I’m anal-retentive like that…)

One of the first things I noticed, not being one to RTFM, was that it hated – I mean *HATED* - steel-cased ammo. I attempted to run some Tulammo 230 grain FMJ through it the very first outing, and had a positively miserable experience – I don’t think it ran more than 1 or 2 rounds without failing to load, eject, or fire a round. I took a look at the manual (finally) and realized that they have a specific list of ammunition shown to work in the KRISS. Okay then; brass-cased Winchester White Box or Federal 230 grain FMJ it is!

Another observation – and this is not a reflection of the KRISS at all – is that using 20 year old magazines of unknown origin probably isn’t going to yield a fair test. One magazine in particular – the G21 magazine with the +2 Pierce extension – was so problematic that I stopped using it entirely. The unmolested pre-ban 13 round G21 magazine and the 10 round magazine that shipped with the ban-compliant KRISS worked well. Again, this is a reflection on the KRISS only to the extent that it uses existing Glock G21 magazines – for those of you in Free America who can own new G21 magazines, I suspect the experience would be entirely uneventful.

First Impressions.

Okay, I’ll admit it. The KRISS is crazy-cool wizbang styling. It is unlike anything you’re going to see at the range, guaranteed. The model I received for testing and evaluation is literally the only model I’ve seen outside of SHOT Show and the NRA conventions. When the KRISS comes out of the case, people come over to gawk – I think I made the comment that this was not a firearm for introverts! Naturally, I was more than happy to let any and all who asked run a magazine through it – and, like Robb, experienced nothing but smiles from anyone who tried it out.

And there’s a reason for that. The design of the KRISS is such that recoil – not that there’s a lot of recoil from .45 ACP out of a rifle, of course – is minimal thanks to the patented recoil system utilizing a short travel bolt and a slider mass that travels downward to keep the firearm on target. In a semi-automatic carbine this isn’t as critical, but in a short-barreled submachine gun it dramatically reduces “climb” out of a weapon firing 1200 rounds per minute. In the semi-automatic carbine version, it means that keeping the KRISS on target is very simple and yields positively stunning results:

The accuracy of the KRISS carbine – even with an inexpensive red dot sight hastily installed and sighted in – is impressive indeed. This is the result of nearly 50 rounds fired at 25 yards, rapid fire. As for the recoil management, let's go to video for a true test of how the KRISS recoil management works:

Note just how little the gun moves when fired – there’s a reason it’s so accurate, and that’s the engineering that goes into this carbine.

The experience wasn’t without glitches, though. Even when using recommended ammunition, there were still a small number of stovepipes experienced (three out of ~ 600 rounds). The 13+2 round G21 magazine was found to have issues loading in the KRISS, which may be the fault of the magazine itself – but it’s something for folks in ban states to consider if they have to use pre-ban magazines. One of the selling points of the KRISS is that it uses existing G21 magazines, and for those in AWB ban states, that means ~ 20 year old mags. I wager that folks in Free America that can purchase new G21 magazines will not have such issues.


The KRISS Vector CRB carbine is a fun, accurate .45 ACP carbine that’s sure to get noticed at the range. It has futuristic styling, significant recoil reduction engineering, and impressive accuracy at carbine distances. It’s on the picky side as to what you can feed it, but if you’re not put off by the near-$2K MSRP, running factory brass ammo through it shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re looking for something that no one else has - that will put the rounds exactly where you want them - the KRISS Vector is definitely something to consider.

The KRISS Vector CRB carbine really sets the standard for pistol caliber carbines.

That is all.


Doug Pilcher said...

Thanks for your review. This review helped me learn more about the KRISS Vector CRB. Just got mine but haven't made it to the range yet. My sons think I'm losing it for spending this much cash for a .45 acp gun. Well, I lusted after the KRISS when I first saw it and since I ain't dead yet, I'm going to continue to work on my bucket list and have some fun shooting.

Anonymous said...

I test fired the Vector at a range and absolutely loved the gun and ordered one the next day. I ordered the CBR and used Federal American Eagle .45 FMJ as recommended by Kriss. Upon firing the second round the round must have not fully seated (or something screwy happened). The receiver polymer case cracked on both sides. I returned the gun to Kriss for a warranty exchange and received a call from their senior gunsmith. He reported that they have never had an incident of this nature and provided a new weapon in exchange. I'm waiting to give it another workout.