Is Izhmash actually planning to export a 9mm carbine to the U.S.?

A couple days ago Guns Holsters and Gear ran a piece on the recent 2012 Russian Hunting and Sporting Goods show, saying that Russia intends on developing a Saiga 9 for export, and that this new Saiga will be a semi-automatic Vityaz submachine gun made for the commercial market. This would be a dream come true.

The Vityaz is an updated version of the PP-19-01 Bizon, chambered in 9mm, built around a cut-down AKS-74 receiver and barrel trunnion. It is a blowback-operated submachine gun. Unlike the Bizon which feeds from high-capacity but heavy and unweildy helical magazines, the Vityaz uses simple polymer stick mags. And while the Bizon was designed around the 9x18mm Makarov and eventually chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum, the Vityaz was chambered in 9x19mm from the start. 

Intended to cycle standard NATO ammunition as well as Russia’s over-pressure armor-piercing stuff, the Vityaz is quite popular with the the Russian Federation’s special police forces. It’s a shortened 9mm AK, what’s not to love?

Vityaz left side

Any version of it would go over blockbuster in the U.S. People who don’t even like AKs but appreciate a good 9mm carbine when they see it will want one. We’ve said it before, if Izhmash wants to get back in the black and return to the private sector—they were declared bankrupt in April 2012, at which point the Russian Federation took over the state’s largest armory and manufacturer of military small arms—a street-legal version of the Vityaz would get the checkered flag over here. 

Looking for a good first rifle? Saiga 9. Want a solid home-defense carbine? Saiga 9. Trying to find a good truck gun? Saiga 9.  This type of all-purpose firearm would sell faster here than they could import them. 

In order to import them, they’d have to jump through some hoops. They’d either have to knock off the folding stock and sell it as a pistol or they will have to extend the barrel out to 16 inches and give it a Monte Carlo stock like other Saigas. Both would be good, but a sporterized carbine would no doubt be more popular, although pistols would be a nice way to put together an SBR. In the case of the sporterized carbine, it uses the same rear trunnion and fire control group as other AK-pattern rifles, so the American aftermarket is already equipped to convert these to their intended pistol grip configuration. 

Vityaz right side

But before you get your hopes up too high, until we hear something from Izhmash or an importer, this is still a rumor. We will contact some of Izhmash’s American friends to see if there’s truth to this. The problem is, Izhmash already makes a Saiga 9, and it would make for a pretty unpopular export.

The Saiga 9 is a hunting rifle chambered for the Soviet-era 9x53mmR cartridge. It’s similar to 9x57mm Mauser and popular with medium to large game hunters. It’s possible that this is a mistranslation, that at the 2012 Russian Hunting and Sporting Goods show, Izhmash was talking about this rifle, not a commercial variant of their Vityaz, and this rumor is the result of crossed wires.

We hope that it is not a false start. But in either case, Izhmash, for your sake and ours, please make this a reality. You need money, we need 9mm AKs. It’s time to make arrangements.

Photo credit Large Military Encyclopedia/Zonawar and Roger.