Kalash Bash 2019
I first heard about Kalash Bash during an online meetup with the Polenar Tactical patrons group. After doing a bit more research I found myself intrigued. Kalash Bash, (put on by Khyber Customs, a Houston based gun company) is a two-day event surrounding the legendary AK47. The range was the impressive CCC Shooting Complex just a bit outside of Navasota, Texas. There were free “Karnival” stages you get to participate in with general admission, demonstrations, and giveaways. Camping out on Saturday night was also offered as well for any attendees who braved the weather. It’s an AK owners idea of a fun time deep in the heart of Texas.
Kalash Bash 2019, on its first year, started out a bit wet. The Texas weather was mostly cooperative. Several out-of-state visitors learned firsthand the phrase, “If you don’t like the weather in Texas, just wait an hour”. Yet as you strolled to the registration booth you were greeted by none other than The AK Guy, Brandon Herrera. He was more than happy to talk to fans, take selfies, shoot the bull and was even kind enough to answer a quick question.
Why do you think the AK is so prevalent in the American gun culture?
“I think everybody kind of had a fascination with the AK growing up. You know, they see it with James Bond villains. It was the bad guy gun and everything. Now people are just starting to get bored with the AR15. You know people are looking for something exotic, interesting, something that has not been super prevalent. A majority of people that I get buying my guns all say the same thing. ‘Long-term AR guy but I got bored with ARs, They’re all the same and that I wanted something new.’ So I think that’s what is pushing a lot of people that way.”
That push was certainly prevalent among the group of people that came to Kalash Bash 2019. All around you found various AK platforms on display, from SBRs (short barreled rifles) to RPKs (light machine guns) to your standard AKM.
The day’s activities were centered on the various vendor booths. Demo rifles and pistols were available to the attendees to shoot free of charge. Then the range went hot and the real fun began. A full auto blast from one of the vendors set the mood in the rainy early morning.
“Fucking cool!” An attendee shouted next to me as gunfire erupted up and down the line as smiling attendees tested out the firearms. Even your intrepid author here got to test out a few of the firearms, as seen here from shooting a KCI USA INC select fire AK.
Jeremy Weber of Evocatus Strategic Designs had some interesting offers, including a 6.5 grendel AK and a rare 9x39mm AK on show. He had the 6.5 grendel for demo on the long range area, sadly I did not get the chance to shoot the weapon.
The title sponsor was Century Arms International, whose booth was stocked with their VESKA, Canik import series pistol, the new Draco NAK9X and the AES 10B.
SDS imports from Knoxville, Tennessee had a booth as well with their Lynx LH-12 semi auto shot gun line.
M-13 Industries from Las Vegas, Nevada was also present with a wide selection of firearms not only to show and shoot, but gave away two rifles at the event.
XTech Tactical was ‘hands on’ doing some special edition Bandanna and Rotten Bandanna magazines display. I have a bandanna mag now proudly sitting on my work desk.
The Primary Arms Booth offered a look through a certain scope that is still in development that I could not film at the time, though I look forward to buying it when it does become available. They had a number of other various scopes on display for use.
Israeli Weapon Industries (IWI) had a booth as well with a full line of GALIL ACE rifles.
Bad weather did strike the event mid afternoon as a Texas style thunderstorm rolled over the area. Regardless of the canopies being blown away, vendors, participants and staff pressed on with the event in true AK fashion.
Arsenal INC along with Arex had both AK’s and line of Arex Rex pistols.
This was not the only draw of the two-day Kalash Bash event. While the general attendees shot guns and talked shop, a spirited competition shoot was running in conjunction. One of the excellent range staff was gracious enough to give me a ride out to the stages. I tagged along with a crew as they went between stages, one of them was even gracious enough when I was going to walk to the next stage just simply yelled out:
“Jump in man! Lets go!”
“Hey dude have some jerky” One of the competitors said with a grin as I was handed a bag of Deadman Jerky Co. That right there told me the community already here was a good one. In the back of the truck the competitors laughed, chatted about the event, stages they were shooting, and the overall fun they were having. I found out that many of them were first time competitors but were not daunted by the intimidation of competition shooting.
During the Two Day Event I caught up with Rifle Dynamics Founder Jim Fuller and posed the same question to him that I asked Brandon Herrera.
Why do you think the AK is so prevalent in the American gun culture?
“Not as much as it needs to be, you know? I’ve been working at it for fifteen years, but the industry has grown quite a bit. Its finally getting to the point now where you know a lot of people jumping into it. We have a lot of shenanigans in the industry because there is money in it now. It’s gotten big enough for money to get into it, so you get a lot of hacks that expose themselves quickly, but yeah, it is growing. Whether or not it will be as big as the AR-15 in this country is hard to say, because it’s considered a foreign weapon. We kind of had to get over that whole ‘Vietnam I hate Russian an it’s a bad gun’.”
Jim grinned a bit as he continued “You know we kind have gotten over that by now, what really turned it was the early 2000’s contractors. First three years I was open it 90% of my work was all contractors, they were the ones who liked the gun. Once that kind of kicked it off, people started to see these guys with these beards and Ak’s and said “I want to be like them”, that’s what kicked it off”
At the end of the event was the Awards Ceremony. It was delayed a bit due to some late shooting in the day. The prizes for the top shooters where impressive range of new rifles from IWI, Century Arms, and M13 Industries. This year, even one of the last placed competitors got a prize as well, a hefty box of wolf ammo and the most cheers among the crowd. Various other prices handed out from random ticket draws, the staff did a fun price is right game as well.
I found Kalash Bash to be one heck of an event. I will state that I was viewing the event through my own personal experience and have tried to present this article without any bias. Is there room for improvement? Yes, but I will leave that to the organizers to sort out. However I believe this is the start of something good, not only for the AK firearms community but the gun community as a whole. I look forward to this event next year, and will be first in line nab a few tickets.
On a Personal note I wanted to give a special thanks to all those I met out at this event, for sitting down to talk, answer questions as I am an amateur at coverage. If I did leave any vendors out of this article I do apologize for not properly covering you.
Also to the fans of the /K/ommando Blog and the podcast we put on. It did come to a surprise to me that you had heard of my work, and by my voice from off the podcast. I let the staff know and we are humbled that you enjoy the work we do as an Indie media project. If you are in one of the photos or videos above please let me know I will be happy to add your name or remove them as you see fit.
On the competition side, thanks for letting me tag along and shoot some photos while everyone competed. I did my best to stay out of the way and let you do your thing. Watch out next year because I’m going to be competing alongside you!