The KRISS Vector is to weapons what the M16 was to lever-action rifles. Lever-action rifles were a far cry more efficient than, say, muskets. Am I exaggerating? If so, it's not by much. The KRISS Vector really is the next step in weapon design evolution — and I expect that some day, in the not too distant future, the recoil-absorbing design they've developed will find its way into other arms.
So, what makes the KRISS Vector so radically different? The engineers at Transformational Defense Industries (TDI — owners of the KRISS system) didn't start out using the "same old-same old" recoil-absorbing system (i.e. a bolt in front of a spring that travels straight back and forth). Instead, they put their minds together and came up with a way to redirect the energy of the recoil down. This means they had to redirect that energy in front of the trigger group, or the downward energy would only put more torque on the wrist. Let me explain.
When we shoot, our weapons either recoil up in an arc, or they recoil with a twist if they have rotating barrels. For centuries we've ridden the impulse of recoil as our weapons rose up, and we muscle them back down to proper aim on the target. Recoil absorbing systems absorb much of that energy so we can get back down on target faster.
When you think about a weapon's movement in that recoil arc, you know that the pivot point for rifles is our shoulder, and for handguns it starts at our wrists. The recoil arc center rotation point is behind the weapon's trigger group. What if the recoil energy could be directed down in front of the trigger group? What effect would that have on how the weapon recoiled? If you're someone who really enjoys shooting, the answer is actually a little amazing.
- Moving the energy down in front of the trigger group means that the recoil arc center rotation point is in front of the trigger group. This translates into less energy being absorbed by your wrist/arm/body.
- Moving the energy down in front of the trigger group also helps offset the recoil energy that is trying to push the barrel up, resulting in an overall reduction of felt recoil or muzzle climb.
The secret of TDI's success is a block that exists in the KRISS design. This block exists in front of the trigger group and has a V-shaped notch in it. As the bolt moves backward, arms on the back end of it engage the V-block, and the energy of the bolt is turned to move down instead of back. As complicated as it may sound, if you look at the diagrams you can see what I'm describing.
When I first saw the KRISS Vector I thought it looked a little strange. In fact, my first description of it accurately mimicked my perception: "broom-handled Mauser meets Star Wars."
For those of you who can remember them, or have seen pictures, the broom-handled Mauser had its magazine in front of the trigger. The handle was very slender, like a broomstick. The result was a handgun that was kind of long for its relatively short (4-inch to 5-inch) barrel.
In today's submachine gun market, having a short barrel in front of a longer weapon is not uncommon. If you look at weapons currently dominating that market, a 5-inch barrel isn't a surprise. The rest of the length of the weapon is usually comprised of upper receiver, lower receiver with trigger group, magazine well and whatever stock assembly you're using. That is basically the same configuration as the KRISS Vector — except that they've also put the recoil absorbing parts in front of the trigger.
Early prototypes (which I got to shoot on a cold February day in a mix of rain, sleet and snow) were a bit heavier than current production models. Without a stock or magazine, the current KRISS Vector weighs just a hair over 5 pounds. It is 16 inches long with the stock folded, and if you fold the stock out you get a long — and note the sarcasm here — 24.3 inches.
A few other popular characteristics of the weapon are: