Saturday, January 21, 2012

Travis Haley Adaptive Kalash Review

I just watched Travis Haley's Adaptive Kalash with Panteao Productions online streaming subscription service.

As to be expected, the production values are high. Better than what I've seen in Suarez's or Puzikas's videos. But of course these are instructional videos, so content in my opinion still regins supreme.

Let me tell you for just over 2 hours, Haley does some excellent instruction on the AK platform and actually surprised me a lot. I'll admit I was pretty biased coming into this thinking it was going to be all high speed with a focus on accessories. I think that maybe watching Haley's video on the Battlecomp and FSC47 and seeing some of the gun acrobatics Haley and Costa can do running an AR made me expect something different. Honestly, everything I saw was thought out and had a good basis of theory and body mechanics. It was also not about running the rifle as fast as you can, as cool as you can. I must admit this misconception might root in that when it comes to rifles, I have mostly watched AK-centric DVDs and haven't gotten a chance to watch a Magpul DVD.

Haley first goes into some basic background on the AK, Then his overall AK philosophy that seems to be open to running an AK in a traditional or more modern sense. He prefers to be "Adaptive" in his methods, to basically use what works and not be too tied to doctrine. I like this perspective. He mentions despite having the AK been used against him and seen the damage it produces on the human level even to friend, he still respects the platform for being what it is.

Like most gun videos, then four rules are covered, which while necessary and fundamental, is still done in a professional and informative matter.

The next portion I really like. He explains the levels of AK that are on the market. Overall, it is good information for someone looking to buy a first or second AK. However, while he talks about AKs remanufactured on U.S. receivers, he doesn't mention the WASR phenomena of a rifle being imported as a fully built single stack non-922r firearm that is then converted. While he is holding WASR10/63 (the HD is nice enough to read the markings), Haley discusses mag well issues that are usually due to Century's conversion issues instead of it being caused by U.S. receiver makers, which usually do better jobs with mag wells. Definitely a minor gripe, especially since he goes on to explain higher quality imported rifles, but since WASRs tend to be the main entry level AK I feel like it needs the clarification at least here. But other than that, this section is great, it explains some of the finer points like stamped vs. milled receivers and 45 vs. 90 degree gas blocks. Rifle Dynamics makes his custom rifle that he uses for the video, which many people consider to be the best AK shop around.

He mentions as he explains levels of modifications that he likes traditional AKs. It is surprising to me because you think of Haley and Costa and how much new accessories they have brought the the AR platform through Magpul. He goes on to describe more modern enhancements and why he likes them as well. As he discusses ammo choices and corrosive salts removal, he dunks a 74 directly in a pond. While it is a perfectly viable method, there is just something fun about seeing him do it.

The thing I have the most problem with is his side by side magazine reloads. Basically, you put the fresh magazine on the side of the gun as you pull/knock out the old one. I first tried this years ago when I read the Magpul (the accessory by the company of the same name) pamphlet on how to use them and mentioned side by side reloading. For me on the tactical reload, the finger tip hold on the old mag seems easy to fumble especially as you pull it down the length of the just loaded new magazine. Also getting that grip on the old magazine can be even more in the fingertips if you have a side rail, not to mention a mount on that rail. Yes, I agree it is the most movement efficient way to load an AK, but I am going to have to give it more practice before I truly believe it's not going to result in a lot of fumbled magazines.

However, I like that he doesn't espouse just one method to charge the AK, and he talks about all three of the main ways and says "Never be absolute on how you... ...charge an AK." The "Iraqi method" of holding the bolt back on reload is covered as well and he discusses the pros and the major con of it, and shows a way that can make it more viable. The new school way of upper body rifle positioning is covered well.

The zeroing portion is very good. Marksmanship fundamentals with a modern twist is shown. Not only does Haley talk about AK sight adjustment, but he also discusses zeroing distance and the effected holdovers for both 7.62x39 and 5.45x39.

Malfunctions are covered with relatively simple techniques. Haley includes discussion on the extreme bad luck malfunction where a case gets stuck behind the bolt in the fire control group.

He shows drills to balance speed and accuracy. I think these will help any shooter become better. It also brings a little more light on the method to the madness of his Battlecomp/FSC47 video. Basic movement into positions is also shown.

The transitions chapter discusses why he is not a believer in the over-the-head, through-the-sling transition method. However, he does mention that if you truly do it on an empty/malfunctioned rifle it is not all bad if you must stick to the authentic Russian way. Then Haley talks about sling selection and positioning. He also gets extra ComBloc points if it really is what I think is a CZ-82 as a sidearm.

He closes out the video with a little instruction on long range shooting, showing how effective AK in both 7.62x39 and 5.45x39 can be at 500m.

So while I started a little jaded, I am putting my money where my mouth is, I will be buying this on DVD as well (now in stock at Panteao and Brownells). However, on a side note the subscription feature at Panteao is nice. For just under $18, I now have a month to stream not only all of Haley's new videos, but other big names like Louis Awerbuck, Paul Howe, and Massad Ayoob.

If I was still only recommending just one AK DVD, I would probably say Beyond the Firearm 2 for the massive amount of material it covers from a man with an amazing depth of AK experience. Also, the videos from Suarez and Puzikas will give you more information on movement and positions. But Travis Haley's Adaptive Kalash is a great effort belongs in your library as well due to the fresh look it brings, excellent information, and high production values. I am very impressed by it. In general, all of these DVDs will give you a wide spectrum of ways to run your AK while also helping you decide who to train with and get ready for classes. My real world recommendation would be for you start with the one that most interests you but quickly branch out and get as many as you can.


  1. do you think the production quality is worth on its own? i cant stand SI video because of the crappy quality. the content is top notch, I just wish the production value is compareable.

    1. Much better production values, better camera and audio work. The HD is nice.

  2. Excellent article. Very interesting to read. I really love to read such a nice article. Thanks! keep rocking.
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