The KRISS Vector CRB/SO MSRP $1895 – Even though we have seen it for four years now and it has been featured ad nauseum on the Discovery Channel, it still looks kinda space-gun-ish, but after spending a couple weeks with the gun I am a convert to the legion of true KRISS fans. In a pistol caliber carbine there really is nothing comparable on the market.
I feel that the 2nd generation features on the KRISS help justify its hefty Swiss price tag. The folding stock is not flimsy at all and clicks securely in both the folded and open position. The top rail is long enough for optics and night vision and the front grip comes standard.
Pictures are very difficult to capture the bolt mechanism of the KRISS. This picture is from the top looking down, parallel to the travel of the bolt. That spring squishes at the bottom of the handle. You can see the bolt just turning the corner to downwards here.
I was able to easily keep the KRISS within a two inch circle at 25 yards. The manufacturer recommends 230 grain roundball, but I think that is just because they are Swiss and the Geneva convention stipulates no hollowpoints. These Hornady Steel Match hollowpoint rounds shot really well in the gun.
The KRISS Vector takes down for cleaning easily with 4 thumb push pins and no tools. This is as far as you need to take it down. .
This is an 18” x 12” target and I was easily able to keep the whole mag on target with rapid fire. Nobody will be safe when the zombies come, but at least I’ll have a KRISS.
The KRISS takes standard G21 mags, and it comes with two of these extensions for the 30 round variety made by KRISS. My gun came with the mags attached but I don’t know what they are shipping with.
The SBR version of the KRISS is sold through Class 3 dealers, or KRISS can modify your gun once you have your Form 1 approved by BATFE.
The ballistics of the 230 grain .45ACP are desirable for precise shots at estimated ranges over 50 yards. The point blank range for the cartridge isn’t much beyond 25 yards.
KRISS Super V – Wins Best Close Quarter Combat Weapon.
Future Weapons- KRISS (Car Door Dummy Test)
Cool new guns always do well with the early adopter crowd, but seldom does a new firearm design last and thrive the way the KRISS Vector has since its introduction in 2007. You could not turn on the Discovery Channel back then without seeing the episode of Future Weapons that featured the KRISS. Now here we are in the future four years later, and the KRISS Vector has come into full consumer production, and it is again featured on TV. The Military Channel has named it the best close quarters combat weapon.
If you haven’t seen the KRISS on TV, it is truly a novel firearm. The patents are not just applied for, they are awarded. Compared to other pistol caliber carbines and rifles, the KRISS is just simply different. The bolt, upon firing, travels back and downwards, into the handle, and the recoil is absorbed in a spring in that downward position. The result is significantly reduced felt recoil and muzzle climb.
For real or not?
I am always suspect of a gun that has had a lot of press and exposure, especially through TV, and few guns have had as much TV exposure as the KRISS Vector. Add to that an MSRP starting at $1,895 (ouch). This is kind of the Swiss watch of guns. You just have to ask yourself, is this truly a world class firearm, or is it just an expensive novelty?
I think the KRISS is for real.
In the past two weeks I have spent a lot of time with this rifle and fired over 1,000 rounds through it. I have also fired the full auto version this year at Media Day before SHOT Show in Las Vegas. And while I can’t say that the KRISS was as easy to fire full-auto as the guy on the Discovery Channel makes it look, the muzzle climb does come in lower than the 9mm MP5s I have shot, and they are a much less potent caliber. There is no comparison to the extreme muzzle climb of a .45ACP MAC-10 carbine, and that gun is steel. The KRISS is definitely different, and easier to shoot.
Target acquisition from second shot forward is something you really should try for yourself if you can find one as a rental gun at an indoor range. The KRISS has felt recoil! From the media hype you would expect the gun to not kick at all, and whatdya know, it kicks. It doesn’t hurt your shoulder, but with your cheek down on the thin polymer skeletonized stock, you feel it.
For that reason, I wasn’t entirely sold on the gun until I attempted to unload the 30 round magazine on a one foot square steel plate at 25 yards. I started slow, bang, bang, bang, clink clink clink. Then I increased speed, bang bang bang bang bang until I couldn’t pull the trigger any faster. Every shot was clink clink clink clink clink.
Holding a 45ACP polymer carbine on target as fast as you can pull the trigger with no training and no practice is a feat for any gun. The KRISS delivers what it promises. It is one of the few guns on the market that are a completely new design (the Chiappa Rhino being the other one of note), and in a fickle gun market that doesn’t generally like new ideas, they do have a long road to travel. But it’s a good gun. I was surprised.
The other thing I really like about the gun is that it has matured. When you spend almost $2,000 on a firearm you really want it to do everything you need. We are many years down the road from when rails became popular on combat firearms and I feel that any new or established product on the market should come standard with them at this point and the KRISS has them in all the right places. Although the fore-grip is not included, there is a top rail that is long enough for an optic as well as a night vision device. The folding stock (in the states where legal) is solid and effective, and the gun comes with extremely high quality AR-type sights made by KRISS themselves. No other pistol caliber carbine comes with all this stuff, and even the majority of ARs still don’t. Aftermarket parts, that you have to install, just aren’t the same. You need this stuff molded and built into the gun, and they are on the KRISS.
Accuracy is not as good as my other Swiss gun, the WWII era Schmidt Rubin K-31, but compared to other pistol caliber carbines it is pretty good. Our test gun came in zeroed to point of aim at 25 yards, which is point blank range for the cartridge. I was easily able to keep 5 rounds within 2 inches at this distance. Other .45 caliber carbines, from the “Grease Gun” to the Thompson to the MAC-10 are considered “spray and pray” guns. With the recoil and muzzle climb advantages of the KRISS and the actual physical accuracy of the gun, even rapid fire or possibly even full auto aimed fire is realistic.
There is also an important Glock 21 connection for those who are in the law enforcement community. The KRISS Vector actually ships with a 13 round .45ACP G21 magazine (where legal) and the extended 30 round magazine that you see in the pictures here is a G21 magazine with an extension, made by KRISS, to turn the 13 round mag into 30 rounds. This allows police officers who elect to carry the G21 as a duty pistol a great deal more instant firepower should they lose their rifle, or fail to acquire their rifle in time for a gunfight. The extended mags do still fit the G21. So, in a law enforcement setting where the officer is most likely carrying the full-auto KRISS, you have both an entry carbine and lots of backup ammo for your pistol, all at the same time.
The .45ACP Cartridge
No conversation about the KRISS is complete without considering why you would want one in the first place. In an age where the AR-15 has become the standard in both law enforcement and military/tactical settings, you have to ask if there is room for a pistol caliber rifle in today’s tactical arsenal.
The answer is yes for a few reasons. One is that the AR-15 is not as universal as one might think for police use. In fact many departments specifically don’t allow the AR or the .223 cartridge for police officers. I won’t get into why, but it is mostly due to misinformation, where political forces have decided that the .223 is “too powerful” a cartridge for street use and therefore has no place in an urban police setting. For these departments, the only option may be a pistol cartridge, and compared to the other offerings out there, the .45ACP KRISS Vector is head and shoulders a better performer.
The other main reason is the .45ACP cartridge itself and its heavy 185-230 grain bullet. At an average velocity of 907 feet per second and a 230 grain bullet I measured out of the 16 inch barrel on the KRISS, it equates to 420 foot pounds of energy. A standard 55 grain AR bullet traveling at 3,240 feet per second equals 1,282 foot pounds of energy.
You would think this amounts to night and day, or apples and oranges when it comes to stopping power, but it doesn’t in practical use. The .45ACP has a long history of being a manstopper, and this isn’t reflected in the equation for foot pounds of energy that heavily favors velocity because it is squared. In practical terms, the .45ACP is at least as effective as the .223 in open flight, and the bullet has enough weight to pound through car doors, wall studs and windows and still remain effective, whereas the light and hot .223 tends to burn out on the first thing it hits. You don’t want to be that first thing of course, but two layers of sheet rock is an effective barrier to slow down a .223, let alone a wall stud or junction box.
And one more reason, perhaps the biggest reason for many, is that the .45ACP in 230 grains is sub-sonic. There is no sonic boom when you fire it, so with a suppressor it makes little if any noise. All other carbine calibers require some sort of compromise in ballistics to keep the cartridge under the speed of sound. Either you end up shooting a bullet that is too long for the rifling, or the velocity that makes the cartridge popular and effective is cut down severely. With the .45ACP you get to shoot the full power manstopper cartridge with no compromise, and it is well under the speed of sound.
The SBR and Pistol Versions
Probably the coolest thing you can do with a KRISS is have it made into a “Short Barreled Rifle” or SBR. This involves the legalities of Class 3 weapons and requires a special permit that you obtain from the BATFE on what is called a Form 1. Not all states allow civilian ownership of SBRs and I have not been able to find a comprehensive list states that do and don’t by googling around. KRISS also sells an SBR version called the SBR/SO. Talk to your local gun shop if you want to go this route and they will tell you what you can and can’t do in your state.
An SBR is a rifle that has a barrel less than 16 inches.
You may ask, what constitutes a rifle to begin with? The answer is a firearm that shoots a single projectile and that it has barrel over 16 inches. A rifle is legally allowed to have a shoulder stock. A pistol, legally, has a less than 16” barrel, and cannot legally have a shoulder stock (or a front grip).
Don’t worry you aren’t the first person to find this confusing. But if you think about it, in a system where you want pistols and rifles to have different legal rules (we at GunsAmerica of course don’t want that), the government has to set legal definitions as to what these things actually are and how you tell them apart.
The SBR is a legal exclusion. It can have a pistol length barrel and a shoulder stock. The permit you obtain from the BATFE costs $200 and if it is available in your state, is said to take several months to come back. Once you have the permit you are then allowed to either cut down your own barrel, or if you want to retain the warranty, send it to KRISS to have it replaced. They can also thread it for a suppressor, which if you want one of those is another form and another tax.
I don’t want to sound like a sales pitch. KRISS is advertising on the website so it is easy to seem that way, but I feel that if you find the SBR compelling, the KRISS is really the gun to put your money into. I can’t say I’ve ever loved the MP5, but it is a pretty good gun. The MAC-10, especially these high end ones coming out of Masterpiece Arms, are one of my favorite guns ever. The KRISS is just truly in a class by itself when it comes to a pistol caliber carbine.
The pistol version of the KRISS has also come out this year, but I haven’t had a chance to try one. The only thing I am weary about with it is that it has the front rail like the rifle. PLEASE BEWARE, it is illegal to put a front grip on a pistol. This is not a heavily publicized law and most people are ignorant of this fact. Some states have a constructive possession law, and while I don’t know how this would effect a police officer who finds an XD in your car with a not attached pistol grip, I think the reaction is a lot more risky with a KRISS and a not attached pistol grip. It is sad that law abiding Americans have to deal with the nuances of poisoned political posturing, but that is the way it is.
We are now 4 years down the road from the introduction of the KRISS in 2007. When I look at the curved slot that the bolt travels around, I wonder about it. But if that curved internal slot was a problem wear part, or if the bolt didn’t hold up after 5,000 rounds, we’d hear about it by now. I think the fact that we haven’t heard about any of these obvious initial first concerns is evidence that the gun holds up.
The only issue I had with the gun was an initial break-in period of a few magazines, but I guess if you can afford to buy the KRISS you can afford to shoot it. We did have some light strikes on some sealed military looking primers, but I think they were just out of spec hard primers.
I fed the KRISS everything from Hornady Critical Defense, to Steel Match, to the plain old 230 grain roundball that the manufacturer recommends. Even old dirty homemade 230 grain leadheads pushed by 5.5 grains of Unique didn’t slow the gun down, and it didn’t fail to function no matter how dirty it got. The brass bent a little from hitting the top of the ejection port, and that lip was beat up some by the ejected cases. I don’t know if it was just the ejector on my gun doing this or if they all do that, but it didn’t affect the function.
Early Adopters: Press 1 for Swiss
Can you imagine what it would be like if people who bought 4 year old model TVs were considered early adopters?
I don’t see the KRISS becoming ubiquitous anytime soon, but this latest version has definitely brought the gun out of its novelty status. If you can afford it as an early adopter, I think it is a safe purchase that will be reliable, do what you want it to do, and for sure get you some looks at the range. If you carry a G21 for duty use, the KRISS is a no-brainer as opposed to an AR.
The only downside to it is the long range ballistics of the .45ACP. If you zero at 25 yards there is a 6.5 inch drop at 75 yards and 14.5 inches at 100 yards. That is slightly outside the range you can easily estimate with your eye. A 185 grain bullet will shoot a little flatter.
The upside is the benefit of sustainable on-target rapid fire without a lot of practice or training. If I can do it, you can too, I assure you. If there is a true novelty to the KRISS, this is it.
The gun does what it says it does, and it does so reliably and with all the features that you need. The gun does kick. Don’t be disappointed if you buy it and get your face a little too close to the folding stock button and get clipped by it when you fire. It isn’t some kind of space weapon that negates the physics of the slow and heavy .45ACP bullet. This isn’t a video game.
After a lot of time with the KRISS Vector, starting out extremely skeptical of it, I think the KRISS is a good gun and will serve you well. I also think it is here for the long haul and will hold its value, so you really have nothing to lose by trying one.
You can find one on GunsAmerica here