In the world of 7.62-millimeter rifles, the Russian-made Veprs and AKs in particular—a group of AK-style variants produced by gun maker Molot, are highly prized for their durability, quality,and killer cool.
Even more coveted Veprs became in 2014, when the Obama administration imposed sanctions on Kalashnikov Concern following the Russian invasion and annexation of Crimea, halting that company’s exports to the United States.
However, Molot’s guns, remained legal to import. Due to the frenzy nevertheless is harder for them to come by, and raising their prices as other sources of Russian-made rifles dried up. Then, just three years later, the hammer of the United States government finally landed on Molot.
Well, on June 20, 2017, the Treasury Department of the United States added Molot to its list of Ukraine-related sanctions “for operating in the arms or related material sector of the Russian Federation and for acting or purporting to act for on behalf of, directly or indirectly, Kalashnikov Concern,” as they said in a statement.
The States Government alleges that Kalashnikov advised a foreign company in 2016 to use the then-unsanctioned Molot “to falsify invoices” and succeed to bypass U.S. and European Union sanctions.
What is absolutely clear—this move will spike demand for the remaining Vepr rifles in America. Of course, these sanctions doesn’t mean existing Veprs in the US are now illegal, but just that American buyers cannot legally import any more.
What is interesting here is that this Trump decision is the expansion of the Obama-era policy, which once before the gun lobby rhetorically blasted.
“These latest sanctions will no doubt engender the idea among some that the Treasury Department is using a geopolitical crisis as a convenient excuse to advance the president’s domestic anti-gun agenda,” the National Rifle Association and its lobbying body, the Institute for Legislative Action, stated in 2014.
The NRA went on and was ready to spend over than $30 million supporting Trump in the 2016 presidential campaign. However, the gun lobby has been quite quiet after the Trump administration’s sanctions on Molot.
Gun owners took a notice. “The end result is that we’ll soon see the flow of Molot-made Veprs slow to a trickle and then stop completely.”
The United States distributor of Molot’s wares, FIME Group, demurred after the ban. “As the exclusive importer of Molot products, we are in the process of reviewing the implications of the sanctions before we are able to make any additional announcements,” they stated.
These semi-automatic Vepr rifles have a reputation for their huge accuracy and reliability, and often are sold for a higher prices compared to some othere AK-style weapons. Despite their outward appearance, they are all technically based on the RPK light machine gun and they all share the reinforced receiver and the RPK’s heavier barrel.
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If you would love to here something more on the Vepr, here’s a detailed video from Mishaco, a YouTube guy who reviews a fairly enormous amount of military-style weapons:
For the rifle’s high quality contribute the refined Russian tooling and long-standing production methods. The “made in Russia” character further bring with it a powerful cultural cachet—just like the French wine or the Italian haute couture.
As enthused Rob Ski said in a YouTube video published by the AK Operators Union Local 47-74, a popular enthusiast group for AK-type rifles, the Vepr is an “energizer-freaking bunny,”. Many said that this really is blow to AK lovers in USA…”
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However, the import ban now leaves the market to American-made AK-type rifles, which still is not a bad thing.
Kalashnikov USA, an American rifle and shotgun manufacturer, severed ties with Kalashnikov Concern in 2014.
Molot, for its part, has struggled financially for a several years. Fey factors include declining exports, the Russian military prioritizing precision-guided weapons in its budget, and increased pressure from authorities on the Russian civilian market before the 2018 World Cup.
The only viable company which could rescue Molot, is the Kalashnikov Concern.