The ATI-modified VEPR brings home the bacon
Think Russians and Americans can’t cooperate? Think again.
A new version of the VEPR semi-auto rifle that combines the best in both Russian and American technology will be available in January 2013.
This latest edition of the rugged and reliable VEPR from Russia has a number of components manufactured by Advanced Technology International (ATI) of Milwaukee, WI. These components include a recoil-reducing telescoping stock, an aluminum upper sight rail, an aluminum six-sided forearm and a seven-point nosecone.
Media Direct Creative recently arranged a wild hog and gator hunt to introduce the prototype ATI/VEPR rifle to writers and industry representatives at Osceola Outfitters in St. Cloud, FL. EOTech provided Miniature Red Dot Sights (MRDS) available separately—and it didn’t take long for this innovative rifle to prove itself.
THE VEPR RIFLE
The VEPR is manufactured by Molot in Vyatskie Polyany, Russia, which provided the rifles for this hunt. This high-quality rifle is an advanced version of Russia’s time-tested Avtomat Kalishnikova (AK). Instead of the standard AK receiver, the VEPR has the reinforced receiver used on the RPK machine gun. This heavy-duty construction makes the rifle even more rugged than the AK and it provides a solid mounting platform for the rifle’s medium contour barrel.
All this steel does not make the VEPR a lightweight, but it does contribute to accuracy. Combine this rugged construction with a chrome-plated bore, chamber, gas cylinder, piston and operating rod and the result is a very durable and reliable rifle. Dimitri Krasilnikov and Dimitri Shapovalov of Molot told us that the lifespan of a VEPR barrel is in the neighborhood of 10,000 rounds. Many contemporary hunting barrels last half that long, at best.
The VEPR was first produced by Molot in 1994 and was chambered in 7.62x39mm. Today it is produced in a variety of calibers and models. Presently the VEPR is chambered for .223 Rem., 5.45x39mm., 7.62x39mm., .308 Win., .30-06 Springfield and 7.62x54R.
The VEPR is produced in a number of models. Some have a button-type safety rather than the traditional Kalishnikov safety lever mounted on the right side of the receiver. Other models have a Weaver top rail for mounting a scope instead of the usual Russian scope mount on the left side of the receiver. The basic VEPR weighs just under 9 pounds, but the VEPR-Super has a fluted barrel and weighs 8 to 16 ounces less than standard VEPRs with similar barrel lengths. For those of you who like muzzle brakes and flash hiders, there are also VEPRs that have them. There’s even a version with a polymer stock.
The VEPR I hunted with was an ATI-modified standard rifle in 7.62X54R. The venerable 7.62 Rimmed round is one of the most powerful cartridges for which the VEPR is chambered. Hornady generously provided all ammunition for this hunt. The 7.62x54R ammo was Hornad’s steel-cased Vintage Match load. It launches a 174-grain BTHP bullet at 2,800 ft/lbs from a 24-inch barrel. Muzzle energy is 3,029 ft/lbs. This gives it about the same ballistics as Hornady’s .30-06 Superperformance 180-grain load when both cartridges are fired from barrels of equal length. Even with its shorter 20.5-inch barrel, the 7.62x54R VEPR I used has plenty of power, and it provided more than enough punch for hogs and gators.
Action- Kalishnikov-style semi-auto, chromed gas system
Caliber- 7.62x54R (tested), .308 Win., & .223
Construction- Steel w/polymer stock & aluminum forend
Barrel - 20.5 inches w/chromed bore & chamber, medium contour
Capacity- 5-round magazine
Trigger- 6 pounds (approx.)
Overall Length 40 inches (approx.)
Weight- 9 pounds (approx.)
Sights- Adjustable iron sights
Available- January 2013
This was excerpted from a recent issue of Gun World.
Story and Photos by Dr. Martin D. Topper