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KRISS Vector .45 ACP Review: Semi..Good, Full-Auto…Not So Good?

We take a full-auto KRISS Vector chambered in .45 ACP to the range to see if this SMG is as reliable as it seems.

The Kriss Vector is truly a remarkable firearm in a sea of a few originals surrounded by copycats.

Just by looking at it, you can tell what problems the designers were trying to solve and maybe even who they were trying to solve them for.

With a super compact design that really doesn’t look like other weapons, the Vector promises a whole world of portability functionality without pulling its punches.

We can agree that getting the most amount of firepower from the smallest package is a great concept. However, the execution becomes critical to the overall success of the project.

Toward that end, we took the Vector out and had a few shooters try it. We’ll share the results with you below, and there may be some surprises, so brace yourself!

Table of Contents

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KRISS Vector: At a Glance

Pros

  • Compact
  • Innovative Design
  • Accurate

Cons

  • Reliability (full auto)
  • Ergonomics

The Bottom Line

This firearm is an absolute blast. The funky, compact design and amazing rate of fire make it a true powerhouse — when it’s running properly. Reliability and ergonomics presented some challenges for us during testing.

Like a rabid chainsaw.

KRISS Vector Specs & Features

Specs

  • Caliber: .45 ACP
  • Capacity:
  • Action: Closed Bolt, Delayed Blowback
  • Length: 27.9”
  • Barrel Length: 5.5”
  • Weight: 7.45 lbs.

Features

  • Super V Recoil System
  • Runs on Glock magazines
  • Low bore axis

Specification Source: KRISS Vector SMG

Background

The Vector was designed in 2006 by KRISS Group, a firearms manufacturer in Switzerland. It was a largely reimagined approach to the submachine gun.

Some of the biggest advancements were the low bore axis combined with the Super V Recoil Management System, creating impressive control over muzzle climb and recoil.

In addition, the Vector came in three variants: the CRB (carbine), SBR (short barrel rifle), and SDP (special duty pistol).

In 2015, KRISS released Gen II of the Vector, which featured changes to the pistol grip, trigger, reduced safety throw, removal of a slot for a SureFire weapon light.

While the original models were chambered in the traditional 9mm, .40 cal., and .45 ACP, KRISS released a 10mm in 2016 and .22 LR in 2020.

Who Is It For?

Just about anyone can take advantage of the Vector’s unique design. It’s pretty clear the original purpose of the weapon is CQB, so it would serve well as a home defender.

Not what I mean by “truck gun”.

Because of its compact design, the Vector could also easily be enlisted as a backpack gun or truck gun since it can be stowed so readily. That size does limit its versatility for distance shots to some degree, though.

KRISS Vector Fit & Feel

The model we tested was a Gen I SMG in .45 ACP, so it included semi-automatic, burst (two rounds), and full automatic fire modes.

But if you aren’t fortunate enough to have a SOT (or friends with one), there are semi-auto versions without the fun switch.

1445
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

The Vector is different from most guns, and you feel that as soon as you pick it up.

The angle of the grip matches the front of the receiver where you place your support hand. Shouldering the Vector, you feel like everything is nice and tight, close to your body.

The grip is very reminiscent of a larger pistol, and reach to the trigger is optimal.

The trigger itself has a nice, relaxed bow and breaks without pre-travel as a single action.

Reset is all the way back at the end of the return and is both audible and tactile. Both are very strong and crisp, so the shooter has good knowledge of where the trigger is.

The Vector feeds on Glock magazines, so full-sized (depending on caliber) and up apply. We used extended capacity 30-round (.45 ACP) magazines for testing.

25
at Gun Mag Warehouse

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

How Does It Shoot?

The Vector delivered accurate fire during testing from seven yards. The recoil and muzzle flip are pretty minimal due to the design of the gun, making follow-up shots quicker.

Semi-auto was also unfailingly reliable, but burst and full-auto were not. There were a combination of issues that potentially contributed to this problem.

First is ergonomics. The front portion of the sub-gun, where the support hand supports, is somewhat crowded, particularly for large hands.

While I’ve seen other folks shooting the Vector with a vertical grip mounted up front, our test model had a light mounted in that spot. This caused me to place my hand on what I can only presume is the intended grip on the front of the receiver.

My offending thumb covered the magazine release but caused more problems due to its proximity to the bolt stop and release.

Several times while in burst or auto modes, I found my thumb had errantly hit this and caused the bolt to stay back.

The forward controls are pretty tightly spaced.

Other times, I suspected the new and very stiff magazines we had might have contributed to the feeding issues the Vector suffered.

Numerous times in burst and auto modes, I experienced failures to extract as well as a couple of double feeds.

One thing I want to make clear, though…there were moments when the Vector fired as intended in these modes, and the rate of fire was alarmingly fast.

Burst unleashed two rounds so quickly together I couldn’t tell the sounds apart.

Full auto with 30-round magazines is dramatic, a violently vibrating affair that is over so quickly it almost leaves you stunned. Despite this, the Vector was very controllable.

What Sets It Apart?

There have been a lot of submachine guns over the years, but the Vector is particularly interesting due to its design. It is not much larger than a large pistol and packs down to a very small 18.5 inches long with the stock folded.

Norma hooked us up with ammo for this test!

The low bore axis and recoil system make it very easy to maintain accurate fire even with its incredible rate of fire.

By the Numbers

Reliability: 2/5

While I will point out that my large hands likely contributed to some of the issues I experienced, there were some frustrating times just trying to finish a full magazine on auto. Semi-auto mode was flawless.

Ergonomics: 3/5

The back of the Vector is great, with controls being easy to reach. Up front, things are a little crowded, particularly for larger-handed shooters.

Accuracy: 3.5/5

Shooting 5-shot groups at 7 yards, I was able to achieve an average of 2-inch groups.

Customization: 3/5

The Vector already comes in three different configurations, and users can add accessories to the Picatinny rails on the top as well as the rail section on the bottom just behind the muzzle.

Value: 3/5

The Vector comes in a variety of calibers and configurations, so the value varies. Prices currently range between $600 and peak over $2,000 depending on model.

Overall: 3/5

1445
at Palmetto State Armory

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Upgrades for KRISS Vector

There are a few upgrades I’d recommend for the Vector. We used the Holosun AEMS for the review, and this was a great addition that kept to the low-profile theme.

Available Coupons

I’d also add a Cloud Defensive Rein 2.0 for light though I’d have to give some thought to the actual mounting since space is a little limited upfront.

379
at Cloud Defensive

Prices accurate at time of writing

Prices accurate at time of writing

Available Coupons

Final Verdict

Unfortunately, I only had access to KRISS Vector for one day, so my experiences with it were limited to a few hours of hot and heavy testing.

As the firearm has a reputation for reliability, I’m happy to assume my experience with it was a limited event.

I strongly suspect that had I mounted a vertical grip up front, at least some of the issues I had during full auto testing might have been alleviated since my big hands would have been out of the way.

This is, no doubt, a very cool and innovative gun that has great potential.

Have you had experience with the KRISS Vector? Let us know in the comments below and for more information on this firearm, be sure to check out our KRISS Vector Overview!

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11 Leave a Reply

  • Commenter Avatar
    Chris Floyd

    I think you unfairly characterize the Vector in many ways. The detraction regarding the front being crowded is a configuration issue, not a platform issue. This issue is readily addressed by changing the light placement and utilizing one of several possible configurations to accommodate your requirements for the pictured gun. As you noted, maybe a VFG.

    Regarding customization, did you examine the aftermarket options ? There is a decent array of enhancments and options. Yes some products will be in low production numbers, thus sometimes have availability challenges, like many non-Ar-15 or non-Glock platforms in the market. But, there is a wider set of options than you appear to be giving the Vector.

    As you might suspect, I'm a Vector owner, Gen 1 .45 and a Gen II 10mm, both pistol configurations. I have about 4000 rounds through it, including a high round count class a few years ago. Almost all of my shooting with the KRISS has been suppressed. I will also note, my personal Vector is not select fire (some day maybe). Though I have gotten to spend time with the same configuration as you write about. A total of less than 400 rounds over a long afternoon for myself, 5 total shooters of the gun, similar round counts.

    We didn't see any issues along the lines you experienced. Several students used the same gun and 12 total magazines over 2, 10 hour training days. Cleaned and lubricated between range days. First day was unsuppressed, second day suppressed with a Gemtech GM45. We had one issues across all shooters, seating a full magazine. After examining the magazines, we figured out that downloading by 1 round resolved the issue. Note the was not the case with the 2 semi-auto Vector 45s utilizing the same batch of extended magazines.

    The second issue was directly related to both the full magazine issue and a potentially weak magazine catch spring (possibly, maybe?), resulting isn't 2 cracked magazine extensions from falls on gravel. Early versions of the KRISS extensions could be a bit brittle.

    I've had 2 optics and one light fail over a few years, I strongly believe the failures to be recoil related. Neither optic, nor the light were reasonably close to being best of of breed. Those breakdowns cannot be really attributed to the Vector, but rather. 45 recoil I believe. Now I run higher quality optics and lights across everything I might need to depend on.

    I can see how high volume and use magazines would wear and cause feeding malfunctions, though you only mention a new magazine being stiff as a possible issue, were all the malfunctions with the same or same few magazines? I kind of suspect they might have been.

    All this to offer an alternate experience and opinion on the Vector platform. Your mileage may vary, trust me I'm from the internet I know things and and lastly I did not sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night.

    January 8, 2023 4:54 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Hey Chris,

      Thanks for your thoughts here. I totally agree on the configuration issue. I am certain there were a few times when my thumb caused the bolt to lock back and a VFG would have resolved that. Under the customization category, I rated it as a 3/5 which is average. I did research and find several options out there but as you alluded, it is nowhere near the support enjoyed by other platforms.

      I'm not knocking the Vector, and not trying to mischaracterize it, but this gun, on this day, over the course of a few hours of testing, ran poorly in full auto. It was just fine in semi-auto as noted. The risk of such a small sampling is obviously, it may not be representative of the wider experience.

      Toward that end, we've got a project going here at Pew Pew Tactical that's going to enlist other opinions to try and round out some of these sample groups. Called the Pew Pew Meter, https://www.pewpewtactical.com/products/ it's a place where we'll slowly keep adding guns we've reviewed, while giving folks the opportunity to chime in with their experiences. Ultimately, I'm sure the Vector will make it to that list.

      Again, I appreciate you sharing your experience because it's valid and you're absolutely correct, we need to be critical consumers of media.

      January 9, 2023 1:45 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    JC

    I purchased a Gen1 .45 acp with an aftermarket barrel shroud. At first it also had cycling issues. After some research I polished the feed ramp and it now cycles much much better. I wish KRISS would spend the time to make these firearms as close to 100% reliable as possible. It certainly turns heads and is a blast to shoot.

    January 6, 2023 1:51 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      Agreed JC, I'm glad you were able to get yours running better.

      January 6, 2023 6:03 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    SK S Sanglier

    What happened to "burst" mode? This thing is a piece of junk

    January 5, 2023 6:00 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      I wish I had more time with it to try and figure it out.

      January 6, 2023 6:03 am
  • Commenter Avatar
    Norm

    I think Ruger builds a carbine in 9mm. It would be a great day if Ruger would include 45acp in that line. I’d buy one in a heartbeat. Cost would not matter. Just build it utterly reliable.
    This particular gun that was reviewed doesn’t stand a chance. To ugly…To funky looking. Yes, looks matter.

    January 5, 2023 3:55 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      They sure do Norm, and it's a great gun called the PC Carbine. I've found it to be very reliable.

      January 6, 2023 6:04 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        Norm

        If only they would build it in .45.

        January 6, 2023 1:56 pm
  • Commenter Avatar
    John

    Looks like fun.

    Also looks like something you would get if you mated Robo Cop with The Borg from Star Trek.

    How was the muzzle rise on full auto?

    January 5, 2023 3:37 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Sean Curtis

      When it would run properly, the busts of auto were resoundingly brisk, but pretty easy to manage as far as muzzle rise and recoil. The cyclic rate is truly impressive.

      January 6, 2023 6:06 am
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