Subsonic AK, and the AS Val and VSS Vintorez

So, this is a little later than I was intending. But that’s ok, because I have plenty of excuses. Not that I’m going to give you any. So lets see what we have today.

Back when I was younger, I liked Soviet/Russian weapons designs. I still do. The ones I liked the most were the AKS-74U, and the VSS Vintorez/AS Val. So when I was in Afghanistan in 2013, I had an idea. Because I can’t get one imported, why not make my own? Shouldn’t be too hard, but might be pricey. So I thought of what I would need.

I figured I’d go with a standard AK action, probably build it myself off of an RPK receiver. Would have to find someone to custom make a barrel for me. Maybe talk to Lee Precision about making me a custom bullet mold for a roughly 250gr 9mm projectile. And then trying to figure out how to go about either using a 9mm die, or trying to have them modify a 7.62x39mm die for said 9mm. That turns it into a whole ton of money I don’t have for the development of a wildcat cartridge that probably wouldn’t get adopted, considering the .300BLK is already a thing. So back to the drawing board.

I figured I could always just use the .300BLK and call it good. But that kinda defeated the purpose of what I was intending. I already had an AK at home, didn’t have an AR-15 yet, and trying to justify buying a whole new rifle system and supporting equipment(Dies, either complete rifle, or seperate upper and lower), would be difficult. And so I thought about it some, and why not just do some subsonic AK? There’s gotta be something on the internet about it somewhere. So, with the limited MWR bandwidth, and very little free time, I did some poking around.

And not much. Took awhile til I found a site full of awesome.

I learned a ton of good stuff about trying to develop loads for the 7.62×39, especially subsonic. And it’s even got some reader submitted loading data!

So off I go, looking for decent, yet inexpensive bullets to order and have shipped home, so they are there when I redeploy. Except finding anything in .310 and .311 diameter is well…not much in the way of weights I was looking for (about 200 grains). So, what to do? Lets look at .308 diameter. It’s only 2/100ths to 3/100ths of an inch difference. Shouldn’t make much difference. Yeah, learned that it kinda does doing some other reloading for .38 Special after  I got back. .355 and .357 are not as close as one would think. But I digress, back to the topic for today.

So, after finding some 200 grain jacketed soft point, I order about 200 of them, then look about powder. I know I already have about 3/4 of a pound of Bullseye left at home. It’s a pretty fast burning pistol powder. Can’t find any load data using that, so I search around for some of the powders mentioned and nope. Ordering online, with hazmat fee for the little I need, not happening. I figure I’ll look locally when I get back. No biggie.

So I start thinking about suppressors. I remember back in 2010 when I was in Iraq, I picked up a magazine from the PX only because it had an AS Val and VSS Vintorez on it. Turned out it was a gold mine of info on that system. Especially the built in can. Sadly, I can’t find it. However, I have been able to find a website that has very similar info.

My only issue with that particular article is that some of what they say is, well, back asswards. The Vintorez was an original design, the Val cake after it. However, this article says that the Vintorez is based on the design of the VIKHR. Yeah, I doubt it. Anyway, that does have some of the technical stuff I was looking for when I was thinking of recreating the 9×39. Still has some decent stuff. After awhile, I found another gem on the history of suppressed AK’s in use with Spetsnaz forces.


It has an article on the AKMSB, the PBS/PBS-1, their subsonic ammo, the special dual-scale rear sight for the AKMSB, and a little about the AKS-74UB and PBS-4. So with that, I learned how the Russians worked the issue of lack of pressure to cycle the action. Using a rubber baffle is pretty ingenious.


So here is the breakdown of the VSS Vintorez supressor. Really basic design, but from what I understand, works really well for that system. The hardest part for someone like me using a system like this would be the threading for my barrel and making sure everything is straight.

So when I played with rolling my own subsonic, I didn’t have any reloadable brass. I played with modifying steel to use boxer priming, but trying to come up with a way to do it on the cheap, with minimal damage to the cases and to my tools, in a not so time consuming way didn’t pan out to be worth it yet. So I did the next best thing. Pulled some bullets, dumped some powder, and rolled my own in pre-primed steel casings. Some lessons learned from that experiment:

  1. Even though everyone says don’t crimp/don’t crimp too much else you get higher chamber pressures, this is true…if you’re using the same diameter bullet. That few hundredths of an inch makes a massive difference, so you have to crimp to even keep the bullet in place. And you gotta crimp A LOT. Steel is definitely harder to crimp than brass.
  2. Use good lube in your dies. I almost got a few stuck because I used a homemade lube that didn’t have quite the right stuff in it. It was a concoction of ISO-Heet and lanolin, which I’ve heard works really well. If you use the liquid lanolin. I made a batch with what the wife had on hand, which was the lanolin balm. Not quite the same. Using the liquid lanolin works better.
  3. Concrete is not the best thing to hit an inertial bullet puller on. I cracked the hell out of mine, but concrete was the only surface I had available(it’s still cheaper than the tile inside).

So, as far as the load I used, it was a 200 grain Jacketed Soft Point, with 4 or 5 grains of Bullseye(my reload data is packed away, and I’m not able to get to it at this point in time). I don’t have a chronograph, I would love to have one. I need to at least make friends with someone who has one. As far as un-scientific testing went, it worked ok. Without ear pro, it was comfortable(no suppressor) on the ears, just a little louder than a .22LR. Recoil was really tame, between a .22LR and a .223. I had to adjust my sights to the 800 meter mark on my rifle for a 100 meter target. Shooting offhand, with iron sights, I was landing them just under a clay pigeon set at 100 yards. And I was surprised with how close the impacts were to each other. about the area of a clay pigeon. As far as penetration, since it was a jacketed soft point, I didn’t expect any. I was right. Shooting directly at a 1/2 inch thick aluminum plate, it just shattered the projectile, kinda like one of those slow motion youtube videos of bullet impacts. Range was like, 5-10 feet. Yes, I was wearing eye pro. Yes, I only did it once. After seeing the jacket kicking up dirt around the plate, I was good with that test. I’ve been around long enough to know better. I’ve also been around long enough not to care.


“But what about using one of those oil filter suppressor things?” no one may ask. So a few years ago I talked to a guy that talked to a guy that has one of those thread adapters for their AR-15. They put a Fram filter(one of the shorter ones they said. They told me it was all they could find) on their AR and went at it. I laughed when I heard they got a face full of hot gas and filter material. They supposedly found something to use as a backing for the filter and tried again. I was surprised when they said that after a couple of rounds the AR stopped firing. Turns out the filter material came back into the action and blocked the firing pin after a few rounds. Good info to know. I never did see them again (you find all sorts of people in the desert shooting) to ask if they heard anything about that other person using a longer filter or anything. They did say that the short filter worked on the sound some. Definitely not worth it to me. I wouldn’t want to use an oil filter for that. Maybe on a .22 I would, but centerfire rifle I wouldn’t.

So standard legal BS: Don’t do illegal stuff. Blah blah blah. Not responsible for anyone but myself, blah blah blah. Don’t blame stuff on me, I didn’t tell you to do it, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.