A firearm design’s true test of time is reflected in how often it is copied, and perhaps no other design has been copied as much as the AK-47. There are dozens of rifles, pistols and shotguns based on the AK-47, but the VEPR series of rifles ranks among the best made of the progeny.
Rifles in the VEPR series are sporterized versions of the AK intended for the hunting segment of the market. Compared to a wide peer group of AK-style rifles, VEPRs are built at the Russian Molot factory, where they’re made to heavier-duty RPK standards. There are several variants of the VEPR that differ with respect to features such as stock design and sights, but they are all significant upgrades in quality compared to service-grade AK rifles. A number of chamberings are available, too, including models in 7.62x39mm, 5.45x39mm, .223 Remington and .308 Winchester. VEPR rifles have been imported at various times by several companies, and K-VAR Corp. of Las Vegas, Nevada, is currently importing the entire product line. K-VAR is known for importing the best-quality AK variants, including VEPRs and milled-receiver Bulgarian AKs.
VEPRs originated in the mid-1980s in response to an import ban by the first President Bush on “assault rifles.” Rifles with thumbhole stocks and “civilian” aesthetics/features were deemed “OK” to import, whereas those with military adornments were not. This ban popularized the thumbhole stock on AK-based rifles, and the nonsensical elements of this ban are still operative today on imported rifles. Despite all that, I recently got my hands on a K-VAR VEPR in .308 Winchester, and I came away once again reminded why I love this style of AK.
*Photo courtesy of Tactical Life