CONCEALMENT 19 Kreb’s Custom CLAW-62: Review Dave Merrill 1 Comments, Join the Conversation Ain’t No Laws… Breaking Down the CLAW-62: Combat Light Assault Weapon The Combat Light Assault Weapon, or CLAW-62, is a modular, multi-caliber AK with plenty of American bells and whistles. It’s a collaborative design between Plumb Precision, Campbell Arms Manufacturing, and Krebs Custom, with Gun Dynamics bringing them all together. And yes, we told them that using the words, “Assault Weapon” in the name will cause some controversy. While “Assault Weapon” is a made-up term, assault rifle absolutely is not (see RECOIL Issue 45 for a breakdown of designations), but we were told “CLAR just doesn’t have the same ring to it” — and it absolutely doesn’t. As a response to a USSOCOM solicitation for American-made Comblok weapons, Frank Plumb of Plumb Precision put together a modernized PSL designated marksman rifle, which we featured in RECOIL Issue 38 in September 2018. Plumb first envisioned the CLAW-62 after that first project; it would be an AK with all of the same engineering ideals of an FN SCAR. Unbeknownst to Plumb at the time, Blaine Campbell of Campbell Arms Manufacturing was working a parallel solution to the same problem. Campbell saw in his mind an AK rifle with all of the features and modularity of an AR-15, but without just dropping a regular AK from the ugly tree of a Tapco catalog, which is all the Russian government ever really accomplished through their “upgrades.” Fate in the form of Gun Dynamics would bring these two together in July 2019. Plumb was working with Gun Dynamics on separate projects while chewing on the CLAW-62, and Campbell approached Gun Dynamics to secure funding and to round up talent. It was a match that seems inevitable in hindsight. Including Marc Krebs of Krebs Custom was simply a no-brainer. Krebs has a long history of design, development, and totally pushing the envelope when it came to Kalashnikovs. He broke a lot of stereotypes with his rifles over the years. No stranger to ambitious projects or bespoke parts, Krebs took the data from the brains of Plumb and Campbell and turned it into a reality. We’re told earlier this spring, Frank DeSomma of Patriot Ordnance Factory also offered his full support behind the CLAW project in terms of research, testing, and specific parts requirements. The idea of an all-American, fully modern AK appealed to him. In June of this year, DeSomma passed in a tragic accident; he was a personal friend to many in the community, including some staff members of RECOIL. Details are still being worked out, but at the time of this writing we anticipate some understandable delays before full production. It’s still projected for a release in 2020. ALL-AMERICAN If you’re starting with foreign parts, you’re already on the losing end. Not only does your quality control virtually disappear, it can become incredibly hard if not impossible to ensure a secure supply line. In a world with travel, manufacturing, and transportation so heavily interrupted from a global pandemic, even domestic production has some hefty challenges–now add in sourcing your parts from a rando former-Comblok nation and you begin to see the downsides. It’s only in recent history that it even became economically viable to produce AK and AK-ish parts in the United States. The world is reversed from a decade and a half ago when AKs could be purchased for under $250 and a high-quality AR commanded at least four times that. Hell, we put together an AR in Issue 46 for just over $250 while at the time even the worst AK sold for more than twice that. Have no doubt about it, the All-American AK is now here from multiple sources. Kalashnikov USA produces several variations to original Soviet-spec down in Florida, and Palmetto State Armory has their own American spin on things out of South Carolina. DESIGN & OPERATION Something to bear in mind as you read through this article is that we’re working from the very first preproduction prototype of the CLAW-62. There will undoubtedly be some differences between what you see and what will be on the shelf. Some of the changes we know about and will disclose along the way, but invariably there will be changes we cannot anticipate. At first glance, the CLAW-62 appears to be nothing more than an AK with some Picatinny tacked onto it, but in this case looks are deceiving. The base of the CLAW stems from the Sharps Bros MB-47 receiver but modified by Sharps for some CLAW features. Each 2-pound receiver is cut from a block of U.S.-sourced 4140 steel, then heat treated to a Rockwell Hardness of RC41. Our preproduction has a standard AR-type stock interface, but production models will have a Picatinny stock attachment a la SIG Sauer MPX/MCX, CZ Scorpion EVO 3, and others. The plans are for four initial models to be released in two calibers with two different barrel lengths: 7.62×39 and 5.56, with barrel lengths of either 8.5 inches (pistol) or 16 inches (rifle). Right now, to feed the 5.56 you’ll have to stick to AK magazines (they designed the rifle around genuine Circle-10, Bulgarian waffle magazines), but since folks have been making AR-mag adapters for 5.56 AKs for a long time now we don’t see that as an insurmountable issue. Our preproduction model doesn’t require AR-height optics and accessories, but full production models will easily be able to adapt to them; they want the CLAW-62 to readily plug-and-play with U.S.-issued electro-optics. Instead of a standard-AR[ish] brace, we went with a JMAC Customs AB-8R Arm Bar with a folding mechanism designed for use with a tailhook brace attachment. It’s a solid option for “braced” weapons of all kinds. Moving forward we find an ambidextrous selector. Many left side selectors are ergonomically backward — you swing the firing hand lever toward you to fire, but like the military versions of the original Galil ARM, the CLAW-62 is push-forward-to-fire. The final charging handle is being worked out, but we’re told there will be left, right, and ambi options. We’re personally hoping they get a little SCAR-y with it and allow it to be user-selectable on the fly. Our example has a full ambi handle. Since the CLAW-62 uses standard AK magazines, it still features a rock-n-lock setup, but the magazine release itself is elongated and easy to use even when wearing gloves. The pistol grip is a TangoDown BG-AK Battlegrip, and the trigger in ours is an ALG AKT. There’s a continuous Picatinny rail at the 12 o’clock position, and we really mean continuous. The top rail is a single piece and extends from the rear of the rifle to north of the gas block. This cover hinges up in a fashion that brings the vaunted AKSU-74M to mind but is much more stable and secure. The front handguard rocks M-LOK attachments for grips, lights, and other attachments. The muzzle end of the CLAW features a Krebs Custom modular muzzle device. You have the choice of rolling with a brake (not recommended, due to sheer blast and pressure) or to add a flash hider or linear compensator on top. And if you don’t want any of those options? Apply some heat and you can take it off. Underneath, instead of funky left-hand barrel threads the European and Commie countries are into, the 7.62×39 model rocks 5/8×24 threads while the 5.56 uses the now-universal ½x28. Inside the rifle itself is where things start to get really weird. The top cover is released by pressing down on a locking lever instead of physically pressing the recoil spring assembly forward. The RSA can be removed in the normal fashion, as can the bolt carrier group. The gas piston is a variation of a normal AK, with a starburst or sprocket shape at the base to break up any accumulated carbon. It’s worth noting that unlike a standard AK, the gas system and gas piston are the same length, regardless of the barrel length. An internal gas tube (more of a guide, really) slides out from internal rails. There’s your field stripping. But there’s more: Inspect under that gas tube and you’ll see this AK has a barrel nut. When we first discussed the CLAW-62 on RecoilTV we erroneously referred to it as a quick-change barrel, and it is but only in comparison to a standard AK. If you’re not familiar with exactly what goes into installing or swapping a barrel on an AK, check out our piece on building them with MOD Outfitters in RECOIL Issue 26 — but it involves at least a 12-ton hydraulic press, specialized fixtures and gauges, and an awful lot of work. By contrast, the AR-15 might as well be a literal LEGO set. With the CLAW, all you need to change a barrel or caliber is a vice and a wrench. Barrels will be sold with corresponding bolts to avoid potential headspace issues, and all bolts will work with the same bolt carrier. At launch you’ll be limited to just two calibers and barrel lengths, but it’s not hard to see where this is headed: many more calibers and all sorts of lengths. We’re not sure why we’d want an AK in 300blk or 6ARC, yet here we are. Our example uses a non-adjustable gas block, but production models will have some degree of gas control. As to whether it’ll be a gross quick-adjust, fine-tuneable with a screw and detent, vented, or constricted is up in the air. Experiments are happening as we put these words on paper. OUTFITTING the CLAW-62 Because we’re running with the lower stock angle, we decided to take advantage and use an Aimpoint Micro T1 in a mid-mount. For a WML, we landed with a Cloud Defensive Optimized Weapon Light; with 1,250 lumens on tap, the OWL will put light on objects further than you’d want to shoot with a shorty 7.62×39 like the CLAW-62. Because we always put a can where we can if we can, we rotated off the Krebs modular muzzle device and screwed on a SureFire Warcomp in 5/8×24 and topped it off with a SureFire SOCOM762-MINI2. This silencer was originally made for govvie customers to attach to AKs, and this is an AK designed with govvie customers in mind; it certainly seemed appropriate. CLAW-62 ON THE RANGE We first got hands-on with a prototype CLAW-62 rifle in May 2020, quickly followed by the more-complete “pistol” you see here. Something we discovered is that even without an adjustable gas block, the CLAW absolutely feels smoother and faster with a silencer attached than not. Insofar as accuracy, the CLAW-62 does even better than Wolf and Tula would normally accredit. 123-grain el-cheapo-surplus ammunition resulted in five-shot groups just under 2MOA. Not even the Russians play make believe that their ammunition is capable of such accuracy. Undoubtedly, you’d be able to shave off another .25MOA off of this group size with handloaded rounds. This is far more than just “acceptable” from an AK-type weapon. LOOSE ROUNDS The CLAW is absolutely a huge leap forward in AK development. Plumb, Campbell, Krebs, and Gun Dynamics did more to advance the AK in a mere two years than the Russians have done in two decades. Sure, every once in a while Putin takes a photo-op with some tricked out rifle, but any real development is as dead as the HK OICW or caseless G11. We look forward to more from this team. 76 White Claws were harmed while writing this article. [You can visit Gun Dynamics here] [Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in CONCEALMENT #19 and you can watch it on RECOILtv] READ MORE Explore RECOILweb:RECOILtv SHOT Show 2020: Night Goggles12 Days of Christmas 2020: Day 9 - AOB Lockdown Puck GiveawayNRA 2017: Seekins Precision Havak ActionShot Show 2015 Media Day at the Range NEXT STEP: Download Your Free Target Pack from RECOILFor years, RECOIL magazine has treated its readers to a full-size (sometimes full color!) shooting target tucked into each big issue. Now we've compiled over 50 of our most popular targets into this one digital PDF download. From handgun drills to AR-15 practice, these 50+ targets have you covered. Print off as many as you like (ammo not included). 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