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What is a Krinkov?: A Guide to the AKS-74U

We take a look at the Russian Krinkov. Come explore what this rifle is, how it was used, and modern variants.

There are lots of names in the firearm world that seem somewhat odd. Why the hell do we call things like the Tavor a bullpup?

Why do we call the AKS-74U a Krinkov or Krink? 

Sometimes it’s tough to say, but I know what you picture when I say Krinkov or Krink.

AKS-74U Krinkov
AKS-74U Krinkov

It’s a super short AK series rifle with a folding stock, wood or bakelite handguard, and a very distinct muzzle device. 

It’s one of the most gangster-looking rifles in the world with a different kind of cool to it.

The AKS-74U has been one of my grail guns ever since I saw Goldeneye. It’s a fascinating design. 

Pierce Brosnan's James Bond carrying a AKS-74U in GoldenEye (1995)
Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond carrying an AKS-74U in GoldenEye.

So, today, let’s examine the Krinkov, where it came from, and what it was used for. By the end, you’ll have better insight into this cool little gun.

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What’s a Krinkov? 

At its heart, the Krinkov is an AKS-74U — a Russian assault rifle that came to be in 1979.

Shortly after the AK-74 saw adoption, a competition began to produce a very short and handy carbine that rode the line between a rifle and a submachine gun. 

AK-74 and AKS-74U comparison
AK-74 and AKS-74U comparison (Photo: Tong045266)

The requirements were simple. First, it needed to weigh less than 4.85 pounds or 2.2 kilos.

Next, the overall length with the stock deployed needed to be 29.5 inches in length and 17.9 inches with the stock folded. 

On top of that, the weapon required a max effective range of 500 meters. It also needed to be capable of selective fire. 

Numerous firearms designers with very familiar names submitted samples.

Guys like Dragunov, Simonov, and of course Kalashnikov offered up designs. Kalashnikov’s design was essentially an AKS-74 rifle that featured a barrel chop and minimal changes. 

AKS-74U
AKS-74U (Photo: Gusbenz)

You can argue it was barely a competition since Kalashnikov was the golden boy, and his rifle provided the simplest option possible.

No need for new magazines, new ammunition, or even new wings of factories to be built. The AKS-74U won the competition and became the famed Krinkov. 

Breaking Down the AKS-74U Krinkov 

Being the golden child of Russian firearms design allowed the AKS-74U to mitigate some of those design requirements.

The AKS-74U weighed a total of 6 pounds, and with the stock folded, measured 19.3 inches long.

It didn’t quite fit into that strict box but got close enough for Soviet small arms design. 

Pair of AKS-74Us
Pair of AKS-74Us (Photo: Roman Stepanov)

Like the AKS-74, the stock is a triangular folding design that folds to the left-hand side of the gun.

When I say the barrel is short, I mean it’s short for short barrels. At 8.1 inches, the AKS-74U might’ve been the shortest barreled rifle at the time. 

While we joke they chopped the barrel, this isn’t technically true.

Many Americans found that out when they tried to produce their own Krinkovs and the standard AK-74 barrel wouldn’t work. Projectiles keyholed and accuracy fell apart. 

A special twist rate was utilized to ensure projectile stability with the ultra-short barrel. The twist rate is the beautifully odd 1:6.3 inches. 

Jah fires an AKS-74U in Fast and Furious 6
Jah (left) fires an AKS-74U in Fast and Furious 6 (2013)

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room, and that’s the big muzzle device at the end of the Krink.

To ensure proper and reliable function, the Soviets added a special muzzle device to the tip of the barrel called a muzzle booster.

Pioneer Arms Hellpup
Muzzle booster on the Pioneer Arms Hellpup. Yes, it’s an AK-104 clone, but you get the point.

A muzzle booster helps provide enough gas to keep the super short gun-running reliably. 

It also acted as a means to reduce muzzle flash and concussion.

While it helped a little, the short barrel still delivered a ton of concussion and muzzle blast. The 5.45 does well from a short barrel and reaches up to 2,400 FPS. 

AKS-74U with an early style handguard
AKS-74U with an early style handguard

I’ve heard the claim that the goal was for the AKS-74U to reach the same velocities as a standard AK-47.

Another means in which the Krinkov didn’t meet the Russian standards is in max effective range.

The reported effective range was roughly 400 meters. That seems optimistic when you factor in the crazy short sight radius. 

Sadly, the Krinkov couldn’t mount a bayonet or standard grenade launcher. However, a crazy silent grenade launcher was invented and used by Russian Special Ops forces and could mount to the AKS-74U. 

AKS-74U Krinkov
AKS-74U Krinkov

Like the other AKs out there, we have a scope rail bolted to the side of the gun. This allowed users to mount a variety of optics to the gun — including some massive night vision optics.

Arguably the AKS-74U is an assault rifle, just a very short one.

However, it also fits the role of both submachine guns and personal defense weapons. Like the M1 Carbine, it’s a bit of an oddball that does a variety of different things. 

Where Did The Name Come From? 

The old story is that the Afghans captured a Soviet officer named Krinkov and named the gun after him.

That’s simply not true. It’s not a Russian name, albeit to American ears, it certainly sounds Russian. 

In fact, to Afghans, it sounds Russian as well. They add “ov” to the end of words to Russianize them.

In 1984, Soldier of Fortune magazine got their hands on one of these rifles and referred to it as the Krinkov. 

Krinkov Soldier of Fortune Article
Krinkov Soldier of Fortune Article (Photo: The Firearm Blog)

Miles Vinning of the Firearms Blog did a deep dive into the naming convention, and it seems that the Mujahadeen named the rifle.

Its evolved through time and through the many different languages and dialects spoken throughout Afghanistan. Some call it the Krinkov, others the Shrinkov, and several more. 

I certainly suggest watching the TFB TV video, below, about this topic.

What It Became 

The Krinkov might’ve started life as a tool for armored personnel and helicopter pilots, but it became a popular status symbol in certain parts of the world.

In Afghanistan, in particular, it was considered a trophy. To get one, you’d have to knock out a helicopter or an armored vehicle and retrieve it from the wreckage. 

That’s why so many Mujahadeed, Al-Quaeda, Taliban, and Afghan government officials carry this weapon.

Osama Bin Laden with Krinkov
Osama bin Laden famously had an AKS-74U almost always close at hand. (Photo: The New York Times)

It’s not necessarily for its effectiveness but for its status.

Why the Krink? 

You know, for the time, the AK series was reasonably short and light rifles.

When you compare an AK to an FN FAL, the G3, M14, and even the M16, the AK was rather small and handy.

M16 and AK-47 comparison
M16 (top) and AK-47 (bottom) (Photo: Henrickson)

Even these days, the AK series is still compact enough for easy CQB work. 

Though it’s easy to think the AKS-74U is clearly a weapon designed for special operations forces, this view would be wrong.

The AKS-74U is more like the M1 Carbine.

This rifle would be used for helicopter pilots, truck drivers, armored personnel, RPG men, and similar roles. It wasn’t for Spetsnaz.

Russian Spetznaz
Russian Spetznaz (Photo: Aleksey Yermolov)

Admittedly over time, the AKS-74U would find its way into the hands of Special Operations in Russia.

It did provide an ultra-short rifle for engagements in close quarters combat. However, it was a specialized tool, much like a submachine gun. 

Fighter of the LPR 1st Separate Mechanized Battalion "August" firing his AKS-74U
Fighter of the LPR 1st Separate Mechanized Battalion “August” firing his AKS-74U (Photo: ICorpus)

The AK-105 is a 5.45 rifle with a 12-inch barrel that likely provides more range and better ballistics while remaining lightweight and short for special operations.

It’s also become a popular rifle with Russian police forces. 

Variants of the Krinkov 

Like most things in the world of AKs, the AKS-74U saw adoption through various Eastern Bloc countries.

The Bulgarians produced the AKS-74U, as did the Ukrainians. And the most common Krinkovs we find in the United States are the Bulgarian models rebuilt from Arsenal. 

Ukrainian Marine with AKS-74U
Ukrainian Marine with AKS-74U

The famed SLR-106 series rifles are a great place to start if you want your own Krinkov.

Best High-End AK
1649
at Rainier Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Best High-End AK
Arsenal SLR AK Series
$1649 at Rainier Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Beyond the SLR-106, you might have seen the Zastava series of rifles. These resemble a Krink but famously utilize the classic 7.62x39mm round

The M92 series equipped the Serbian military forces with their own version of the famed Krink.

Albeit, this rifle has an under-folding stock, a 10-inch barrel, and its own version of the muzzle booster device.

981
at Gunprime

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Zastava Arms ZPAP92
$981 at Gunprime

Prices accurate at time of writing

It’s far from the AKS-74U but will often be referred to as a Krinkov. 

The M92 series are also popular AK-style pistols in the United States and are widely available at often affordable prices. They feature the heavier RPK receiver and are quite stout in design.

On top of the M92, Zastava makes a 5.56 variant called the M85 pistol that’s worth a glance. 

813
at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Zastava Arms ZPAP85 AK Pistol
$813 at Primary Arms

Prices accurate at time of writing

Conclusion

The Krinkov is an interesting rifle, circling the world of weird firearms. It sits in that weird place between rifle and SMG in both design and role.

It wasn’t a beloved rifle by infantry or special ops, and to this day, isn’t a mainstay of any particular force. 

Zastava Arms ZPAP92
Zastava Arms ZPAP92…not exactly a Krinkov but kinda…

However, it’s a cool rifle with a fascinating history and design that makes it a clear standout in the world of military small arms. Plus, it’s not too tough for a dedicated collector to find and own.

Is it a rifle you’d rock and roll with? Tell us why or why not below. To learn more about the AK platform, check out our Definitive Guide to AKs.

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2 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    PK

    You could add India's ordinance factory copy to the list too. It's called Trica carbine chambered for the 7.62 x 39 round.

    April 14, 2022 1:59 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Greg Hodge

    Very cool! Thanks for the fascinating history lesson! I would totally "Rock and Roll with it" as you say. One thing though, the article mentioned the side rail for mounting optics but none of the pictures seem to show one having said rail.

    My homespun version is a 7.62X39 Draco with a SB folding triangle brace. Which is good for me anyway because it is compatible with the rest of my AK stuff.

    December 31, 2021 3:13 pm
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