September 25, 2023

When most people think of short-barreled AKs, guns like the Draco or the AKS-74u come to mind – not the KP-104. But that’s a shame because after getting a taste of the sweet, sweet AK-104’s 12.36in barrel, it’s hard to go back to 16 inches.

But you might be asking yourself, “What difference does four and a half inches make?

The short answer is, “More than you’d think.” But let me explain why, and equally as important, why I chose to review the KP-104 in the first place.

KP-104 Suppressed
The KP-104 works flawlessly with this Dead Air Wolverine. IMG Jim Grant

Kalashnikov USA KP-104 7.62X39mm Short Barrel Rifle Conversion

In the simplest of terms, the Kalashnikov USA KP-104 in 7.62X39mm is a slightly shortened version of the semi-automatic AK-103, which itself is a modernized AKM carbine. For those of you not in the know, this means the KP-104 is a long-stroke, semi-automatic magazine-fed carbine chambered in 7.62x39mm. Which is a fancy way of saying, it’s a lightweight AK.

I chose this gun to review for two reasons. First – I’ve always wanted a proper AK-104 clone, and the guns made by Arsenal and PSA aren’t true clones. They’re actually AKMs with 100-series features tacked on. They lack the correct 5.5mm rear hinge (and proper dust cover in Arsenal’s case)  and the thin-stemmed bolt used by the Soviets and Russians on their modern guns.

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The second reason deals with KUSA’s quality control issues and its reputation as of late. Initially, Kalashnikov USA enjoyed an incredible reputation among AK-lovers for building a proper clone of the 9mm Vityaz and the AK-103. But during the height of the pandemic and surge in sales, KUSA’s quality control suffered as it struggled to keep up with unprecedented demand.

IMG Jim Grant

Because of this, some guns left the factory at KUSA in an unacceptable condition. Some had incorrect parts, others had sloppy rivets, and the once sterling reputation of the company quickly tarnished. But like all things on the internet, the truth was different from the headlines. Yes, some guns left the factory needing work, but the majority were fine. Still, if I was going to invest in an SBR of my beloved AK, I wanted to make sure it wasn’t FUBAR from the factory.

Which is why I chose to buy the pistol version instead of a factory-built SBR. This allowed me to test the gun thoroughly prior to filing a Form 1 to get a tax stamp legally required to slap a stock on the gun. But I was afraid if I bought it straight from KUSA or sent in a T&E request, I would get a cherry-picked gun. One that would not be indicative of the true state of the company’s QC.

KP-104 Folded Stock
With the proper tax stamp, the KP-104 can fold its stock to the left for ease of transportation. IMG Jim Grant

So I bought the gun from Atlantic Firearms with my own hard-earned cash and proceeded to fire 1,500 rounds through the gun prior to SBRing it. But I wasn’t content to just blast rounds into the berms at my private range, I took it to the AK Masters 2023 match in Clinton, SC. I had already filed for my Form 1 prior to the match, and since this was before the deadline for the brace ban, I installed a triangular pistol brace meant for the KP-9 9mm pistol on the KP-104 and headed to the match.

KP-104 Match Performance

I won’t lie to you; the KP-104 isn’t the most competitive gun to run at this kind of match. I was pitted against shooters running tricked-out Galil Ace carbines with Gucci triggers and massive comps. While the only aftermarket components I installed were a Manticore Arms muzzle brake and a Holosun HS507c red dot atop an RS Regulate side mount.

KP-104 AK Masters Match
The KP-104 didn’t have a single malfunction throughout the entire AK Masters match. IMG Jim Grant

This setup was extremely light/handy and punishingly loud. For the match, I ended up doubling up on hearing protection by running custom-molded earplugs with ear muffs on top. Despite this, the KP-104 was still shockingly loud. (Sorry RSOs, I know I gave you all tinnitus!) Out of 61 shooters in my division, I placed 27th. Nothing to write home about, but I definitely had fun engaging targets out to 150 yards with a red dot mini-AK.

KP-104 stock
The KP uses a 5.5mm hinge to attach its folding polymer stock. IMG Jim Grant

But more importantly, despite not having cleaned the gun since I bought it in November of 2022 – and the gun having already fired 1,500 rounds at that point – I didn’t encounter a single malfunction whatsoever.  But I will say that with the pliable rubber brace attached, the KP-104 jumped around in my hands quite a bit. To the point that hammered pairs were neigh-impossible beyond 50 yards.

AK-104 SBR Suppressed

Two weeks after the match ended, I received an email from the ATF approving my Form 1 for the KP-104, and I quickly purchased a Russian surplus 5.5mm polymer stock and installed it. I’m not going to lie; a single tear rolled down my cheek – it was truly a thing of beauty.

KP-104 Suppressed
A two-tax-stamp Kalashnikov? Hell yeah! IMG Jim Grant

But I also knew that I had to really push the gun hard to make sure it was totally good to go. So I installed a friend’s Dead Air Wolverine suppressor and loaded up 20 magazines. No, I didn’t blow through them all at once as fast as I could. But I did burn up all the ammo with a few additional shooters over a long weekend. The SBR setup made short work of any steel target out to 200 yards and, despite the increased back-pressure of the Wolverine, ran like a top!

KP-104 siderail
The rifle features a standard AKMN side rail for mounting optics. IMG Jim Grant

KP-104 Longevity

When it comes to American-made AKs, the biggest issues have always dealt with longevity. Many American AKs in the past had a very nasty habit of working themselves apart or out of headspace, thus making them unsafe to shoot. While I haven’t done any super accurate measuring, I did make sure every 500 rounds that the gun would close on a ‘go gauge’ and not on a ‘no-go gauge’. Thus far, the gun has kept headspace, and the parts themselves don’t show any undue wear and tear.

Kalashnikov KP-104 SBR
IMG Jim Grant

KP-104 Features

Before I get to my verdict, I want to mention some of the noteworthy features of the KP-104 and really the AK-104 compared to a full-sized gun. At the muzzle, the first thing you’ll notice is that the threaded gas block features a shortened version of the conical muzzle booster found on the AKS-74u. It increases back pressure of the gun, reduces muzzle flash, and even provides an indexing point for using the gun to cut barbed wire!

KP-104 Booster
The KP-104 Booster also acts as a barbed wire cutter because reasons! IMG Jim Grant

And for the eagle-eyed viewers out there, you’ll notice that the indexing pin on the gas block isn’t in the normal 12 o’clock position. But instead, at more of a two o’clock position. This is important to note because installing a standard AK-100 series brake on the gun will cause the muzzle blast to divert diagonally instead of horizontally. In testing, the difference in felt recoil wasn’t substantial, but the muzzle blast felt brutal – especially with the brake four inches closer to the shooter’s face.

KP-104 Gas Block
The Kalashnikov AK-104 clone features the correct 90-degree gas block. IMG Jim Grant

Behind this, the gas block itself is the proper 90-degree one. This may seem inconsequential at first, but is actually a brilliant change on the Russian’s part, as it actually increases the longevity of the gun and reduces felt recoil over time. The original 45-degree AKM gas block actually opens up with use over time due to the hot gasses from the muzzle torch cutting into the gas block, resulting in an over-gassed gun. The 90-degree block remedies this.

The furniture on the KP-104 is standard AK-100 series, consisting of black, durable polymer. Behind the handguard, the KP-104 features a unique rear sight leaf with range adjustment settings limited to 500m, unlike the full-sized gun’s 1,000 meters.

KP-104 Handguard
The KP’s handguard is made of polymer with a steel heatshield underneath. IMG Jim Grant

The rest of the gun is standard AK-100 series, including the left-folding polymer stock that uses the proper 5.5mm pin. So PSA-made folding stocks and Bulgarian stocks will not fit this gun.

Short-Barrelled Accuracy

While common sense would suggest that the KP-104’s shorter barrel would translate to reduced accuracy, in testing, this wasn’t the case. Depending on the ammunition used, I was able to squeeze out groups ranging from two MOA to three and a half MOA out of the gun. The KP-104 tested showed a distinct preference for Serbian Belom and Golden Tiger ammo but still shot perfectly fine with steel-cased Wolf and Tula.

Bottom line: the KP isn’t accurate enough for precision shooting, obviously, but it makes a great home defense, ranch, or hog gun for sure.

Suggested Accessories:

KP-104 Match 150 yards
The KP’s short barrel didn’t hold it back when engaging targets at 150 yards at the AK Masters match. IMG Jim Grant

KP-104 Verdict – Worth SBRing?

In short – yes. If you want a compact AK but don’t want a super-shorty Draco or a 3,000-dollar AKS-74u (or 7.62x39mm Bulgarian Krink), the Kalashnikov USA KP-104 in 7.62X39mm is an excellent rifle platform choice to convert to SBR. Especially if you intend to run a suppressor on the gun. No, it won’t make the gun super quiet, but it does make it hearing-safe with proper ammo. Plus, the gun just balances so much better than a full-sized gun and allows shooters to shove it in a concealment bag like those from Vertx.

KP-104 SBR
Is the KP-104 worth SBRing? To me, absolutely. IMG Jim Grant

Plus, with the 7.62x39mm round, shooters don’t sacrifice much velocity out of the AK-104’s 12.36-inch barrel, and with a proper optic and some quality magazines (anything but Tapco/ProMag/Korean), this gun makes a great bugout rifle. One that packs a punch like a supersonic .300blk SBR without having to pay 80 cents per round, so stock up on cheap mags and relatively inexpensive 7.62x39mm ammo before it’s all gone.

Kalashnikov KP-104 7.62X39MM SBR Specifications

  • Product Name: Kalashniko KUSA KP-104 7.62X39MM
  • Brand: Kalashniko USA
  • UPC: 811777020852
  • MFG Part Number: KP-104
  • Round Capacity: 30 + 1
  • Hand: Right
  • Gun Weight: 6 lbs. 13 oz.
  • Barrel Length1 2.25
  • Magazine Capacity 30
  • Caliber: 7.62x39mm
  • MSRP: $1364.00 (less $$$ online)


  • 7.62×39 AK 104 style semi-automatic pistol
  • 12.25-inch cold hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel
  • 5.5mm rear trunnion
  • Forged trunnion and carrier
  • Synthetic black furniture
  • Made in the United States

Kalashnikov KP-104 7.62X39MM Manual 

About Jim Grant

Jim is one of the elite editors for, who in addition to his mastery of prose, can wield a camera with expert finesse. He loves anything and everything guns but holds firearms from the Cold War in a special place in his heart.

When he’s not reviewing guns or shooting for fun and competition, Jim can be found hiking and hunting with his wife Kimberly, their sons, and their dog Peanut in the South Carolina low country.

Jim Grant


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