Krebs Custom PD18 AK Pistol: Adaptation At Its Finest

Todd Burgreen, GetZone.com Contributor

PD18
The ability to mount the Trijicon RMR or other forward mounted optics shows the flexibility of the Krebs Custom PD18.

Krebs Custom is a well-established leader in the US AK universe. Marc Krebs is a known innovator pushing AK performance boundaries. Understandably, with the Obama Administration’s Executive Orders curtailing the import of Russian AKs, Krebs has had to be flexible/creative in creating its unique brand of AKs. Previous Krebs’ production AK rifles were based on either Russian Molot VEPR or Izhmash Saiga AK rifles. Krebs has now turned to using new Polish WBP parts combined with US-based Childers or Morrissey receivers. A further departure from the Krebs norm is the appearance of a Krebs AK pistol —the PD18.

Krebs doesn’t just “assemble” the PD18 from components received from other entities. PD18 AK pistols are Krebs creation incorporating a mix of Krebs proprietary components that enhance the AK platform. There is a tremendous amount of fitting that goes into Krebs AKs.

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PD18
Proprietary Krebs items such as front gas block, forend, and muzzle device separate the PD18 from other AK pistols.

The PD18 features 10.6″ cold hammer forged chrome lined barrel with a Krebs chrome-lined gas block that also incorporates the front sight block. It must be said that the 7.62×39 round experiences only marginal velocity loss from shorter barrels when compared to a full-length 16” barrel — making it an excellent choice for short barrel rifles or pistols. For example, a load clocked at 2,340 fps out of a 16″ barrel, still generated 2,170 fps from the PD18’s 10.6″ barrel. A Krebs Custom Interchangeable Muzzle System (IMS) is affixed to the end of the barrel. Krebs goal with the IMS is so a user can easily switch between flash suppressor, muzzle brake, and suppressor mount.

Custom Features

Krebs continued with upgrading the PD18 by installing a Krebs Custom UFM Keymod Rail System forend. The 6061 T6 aluminum construction and Keymod mounting system allow for quick installation of rail sections wherever the shooter desires. The ultra-sturdy design allows for solid optic mounting on the 1913-style top rail. All of this keeps the overall package lighter and more compact. The PD18 weighs 6 lbs. 12 oz.  A short rail section made from 4140 steel hardened to 40RC anchored at the previous rear sight housing protrudes over the receiver dust cover allows for mounting a red dot optic. Lastly, each PD18 features a Krebs Custom buttstock adapter with a Gear Head Works Tailhook arm brace. Overall, length of the PD18 is 30.75″.

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PD18
Each PD18 features a Krebs Custom buttstock adapter with a Gear Head Works Tailhook arm brace.

The Krebs PD18 has a Magpul pistol grip and Krebs Custom Mk VI safety lever installed. The Krebs Mk VI safety lever allows for the safety selector to be manipulated by the trigger finger without changing the firing grip on the weapon. This nuance has an immediate real-world improvement on handling the AKs. The ability to keep your hand in a firing position while working the safety allows for faster first shot reaction times. The Mk VI safety also has the ability to function as a manual bolt hold open via the notch in the lever.

PD18
The Krebs Mk VI safety lever allows for the safety selector to be manipulated by the trigger finger without changing the firing grip on the weapon. The notch can be used as a bolt hold open device.

Another Krebs ergonomic improvement is the extended sweep style magazine release. A good trigger is often overlooked in the performance equation. The PD18 has an ALG AKT fire control group installed that benefit from Krebs polishing and fitting. The ALG AKT trigger is a single stage affair that US consumers will appreciate.

Fast And Accurate

A large field of view, independent from eye relief requirements, and fast target engagement — especially from non-standard shooting positions —make red dot sights perfect candidates for use on a weapon like the PD18. After initial accuracy testing was completed using a Leupold FX-II 2.5x28mm IER forward mounted optic, a Trijicon RMR Type 2 was mounted on the PD18 AK pistol. A pistol like PD18 that is created from an assault rifle via removing the rear stock is a perfect candidate for red dot sight use. A red dot surely assists in realizing the full potential of these types of weapon platforms.

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PD18
Krebs provides an M16A2 aperture rear sight mounted on the rear of the dust cover with both battle sight and long-range apertures that is windage adjustable. The Krebs’ AR-type open sights provide 60 percent greater sight radius than standard AK sight configuration.

In between the magnified optic and red dot stages of T&E, the PD18’s iron sights were explored. Krebs provides an M16A2 aperture rear sight mounted on the rear of the dust cover with both battle sight and long-range apertures that is windage adjustable. The Krebs’ AR-type open sights provide 60 percent greater sight radius than standard AK sight configuration. The extended length between rear aperture and front sight proved advantageous compared to typical AK iron sights. There were no problems losing iron sight zero even after repeated removal of the dust cover.

PD18
A short rail section made from 4140 steel hardened to 40RC anchored at the previous rear sight housing protrudes over the receiver dust cover allows for mounting a red dot optic.

One drill began by engaging targets at 35 and 95 yards. Targets were engaged five times each starting from the standing, moving to another locating, five more rounds from kneeling, and finally moving yet again and transitioning to the prone with five more rounds each. I asked a couple of training partners to handle the Krebs Custom PD18 with this format. All came away complimentary of the PD18 combat accuracy with the revised iron sights a major reason for this.

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Lots Of Ammo

Multiple days of testing at Echo Valley Training Center focused on working with the PD18 around vehicles, barricades, and EVTC’s recently installed Hesco Shoot House. Targets ranged from point blank out to a couple hundred yards. Over 700 rounds of ammunition were digested without issue with only a modicum of weapon maintenance performed via a healthy dose of lubricant at the start of testing. While the 7.62×39 is not considered a heavy recoiling round by any stretch, the PD18’s recoil was manageable even when firing multiple rounds in quick secession. The 7 lbs. PD18 balanced well with kudos given to the Krebs forend set up keeping weight centered or even slightly rearward of action versus front heavy as most quad rail forends are.

The non-standard pistol class of weapons, as typified in the Krebs PD18, can no longer be ignored or dismissed as a fad. AK pistols offer the best firepower to size ratio of any weapon on the market. This is based on its .30 caliber power, ruggedness, reliability, accuracy, and multi-mission capability. All of the Krebs improvements associated with the PD18 are not merely “smoke and mirrors”, but rather concerted effort to improve upon AK performance and accuracy — while maintaining AK qualities of ultra reliability, ruggedness, and simplicity. Marc Krebs is an ideal candidate to lend his experience to improve the AK without altering it beyond what is feasible or practical.

For more information:

Krebs Custom Inc.: www.krebscustom.com

Echo Valley Training Center: www.echovalleytraining.com

HornadyMfg.Inc: www.hornady.com