Kalashnikov enthusiasts, rejoice. The official importer of Russian-made AKs, RWC Group, announced at SHOT Show today that they would be opening an AK factory in the United States later this year.
The new US manufacturer is called Kalashnikov USA. Jim Kelly, production manager with Kalashnikov USA, said that at least three states are currently in the running for hosting the company’s production facilities.
Kelly said that after choosing a host state they hope to have production lines up and running shortly, and ideally the first Kalashnikov USA guns will be available in the second quarter of 2015.
According to Kelly, Kalashnikov USA plans to manufacture roughly “80 percent” of the firearms currently produced by the factory in Russia. That could include shotguns, conventional rifles, and even, according to AK Operators Union, a 9x19mm carbine.
A number of heavily customized Russian-made AKs were on display at the Kalashnikov USA booth, including several Saiga shotguns specifically designed for 3-gunning and modernized, tactical rifles. Kelly indicated that he was gauging reactions to the firearms at the booth for potential inclusion in future production runs.
The announcement of an American Kalashnikov factory comes as welcome news to Kalashnikov enthusiasts in the United States. Import of Russian-made AK rifles was cut off by President Barack Obama in 2014, part of sanctions introduced against Russian individuals and companies in the wake of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine.
True Russian-made AKs are considered by many to be the highest-quality Kalashnikovs available in the world. Obama’s import ban caused the prices of the Russian-made AKs that remain in the United States to increase significantly.
Note added 1-23-2015: The official press service of Kalashnikov Concern has announced that they will not be working directly with RWC Group and Kalashnikov USA. We will be keeping an eye on Kalashnikov USA and look forward to seeing their guns hit the market.