A New Look at an Old Classic: The .45 Sub


For those who believe a .45 caliber round is the best way to tell an enemy to stop - and fans of the .45's knock-down power are legion - the only thing better would be a chorus shouting "stop," almost in unison.

This is what weapons designer Transformational Defense Industries Inc. has been promising for several years with its development of a fully automatic .45 submachine gun - but without the recoil you'd expect from such a weapon.

Andrew Finn, senior vice president with Washington, D.C.-based TDI calls their Kriss Super V sub "the weapon of the future," and on Thursday company officials said that future could come as early as February - with worldwide military sales expected sometime in the first quarter of 2008.

During demonstration firings of the weapon here at Blackwater USA's training grounds, Military.com was invited to shoot up some targets using the Kriss and, for comparison, H&K's USC .45 carbine.

Though another submachine gun might have made for a better assessment, TDI obviously was comfortable with the H&K choice for the purpose of evaluating recoil. The Kriss certainly won out, though the H&K did not give a severe kick either, and TDI chief operating officer Chuck Kushell acknowledged his competitor made a fine weapon.

What was particularly positive about this latest version of the Kriss - now in its 8th generation of development - is that shooters seemed to have an easier time hitting the targets, with experienced shooters keeping many of their rounds in a small area, even when firing on fully automatic.

When an earlier version was tested two years ago, even experienced shooters had problems ventilating the targets. One shooter at the time wondered if it was the shortness of the barrel and maybe the hard trigger-pull.

Anyway, no one made any tight shot groups back then.

From our perspective, the light - relatively speaking - recoil of the Kriss in its semi-automatic, and even short-burst modes, could be deceptive.

One evaluator did fine with a few single shots and some bursts. But when she pulled the trigger on automatic, her first rounds hit the target and about a half-dozen more went into the berm behind it.

Basically, she was taken by surprise by the recoil, even though it was not as strong as you would have expected for a .45 caliber submachine gun.

"No weapon can yet do away with recoil," said Chris Costa, a TDI instructor. "It's just that the majority [of the recoil] is mitigated" with the Kriss.

TDI says the recoil is mitigated by diverting the spent gas from a fired round down and away from the gun's firing line. This "re-vectoring" also helps reduce the severe muzzle climb that comes with such high-caliber, high rate-of-fire weapons, helping shooters keep the rounds on target.

To demonstrate the low recoil in full-auto, two instructors pretended to come under fire from hostiles after their car broke down.

From the passenger seat, one instructor fired his Kriss with one hand on fully automatic, quickly laying down deadly cover fire while his driver took up a position outside the car, then covered for him as he got out.

Fired on automatic, the fusillade of .45 rounds not only hit the target but knocked it, the support pole and the target base to the ground.

Currently, the Army is putting the Kriss through environmental testing to ensure it can stand up to sand, cold and heat and still do the job, said Finn. TDI officials are also in discussions with the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms about the standards it wants to permit the weapon to be sold commercially.

Obviously, one requirement for a commercial variant will be that it not be allowed to fire in bursts or on full automatic.

But in the hands of a military or law enforcement operator, the fully-auto Kriss .45 could be just the ticket when stopping a bad guy in his tracks is the goal.

-- Bryant Jordan

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