Ten millimeters is an incredibly short distance, but it’s a huge number in the world of handgun calibers. Indeed, while only a single millimeter larger in diameter than the most prolific combat handgun caliber on the planet, the 10mm round packs substantially more punch than it’s parabellum predecessor. Though it’s not a matter of surface area that makes the 10mm round so potent. No, instead it’s the bullet weight and power of the cartridge’s charge.
To gain a little perspective, the hottest factory 9mm +P loading launches a 124-grain bullet at roughly 1,200 fps. Normal 10mm loadings reach similar velocities with 200-grain rounds. Essentially, the 10mm is a cartridge designed to give .357 Magnum-like performance in an autoloader-friendly design.
Because of this, the 10mm has a cult following in the gun world as the ultimate pistol cartridge, but it does have one failing point: recoil. The potent 10mm round packs some serious wallop. So much so that, after adopting the round in the wake of the North Hollywood shootout, the FBI had to replace it with a milder caliber because some recruits couldn’t handle the recoil.
Truthfully, this was a palliative solution; excellent terminal ballistics and excessive recoil needn’t go hand in hand. But for the vast majority of gun designers at that time, the only realistic solution was to simply relax the 10mm round into something milder rather than try to invent a more controllable firearm design.
Enter the Vector
Aside from cost, if the recoil of the 10mm round could be tamed, it would be the perfect jack-of-all-trades round for handguns and pistol-caliber carbines. And apparently I’m not the only person who thinks so, because last year the engineers at KRISS USA introduced the latest addition to the Vector family of weapons, the KRISS Vector Gen II chambered in 10mm.
The 10mm KRISS Vector Gen II is a delayed-blowback, semi-automatic handgun chambered in the potent 10mm cartridge. It feeds from polymer Glock 20 magazines and one 15-round magazine is included in the box.
The Vector’s receiver is built from high-impact, ultra-rugged polymer with a steel frame underneath. The lower receiver contains the bolt, action and barrel and is secured to the upper receiver via two large, threaded steel bolts. Meanwhile, the upper receiver consists of a Picatinny rail, a pistol grip and either the stock assembly or brace, depending on the model.
On the brace-equipped SDP version that I reviewed, the rear portion of the upper receiver features a threaded slot designed for an AR-15 buffer tube to mount a pistol brace. For those who want to invest in turning their Vector into a short-barreled rifle (SBR), you simply need a stamp and an M4 stock assembly.
Forward of the stock/brace mounting point, the Vector Gen II features a full-length Picatinny sight rail for mounting optics or iron sights. The gun ships with a pair of flip-up sights that are of the standard AR-15 height. This is great, as it means the backup sights readily co-witness with most tactical, non-magnified optics; I’m thinking EOTech’s Holographic Weapon Sights or Aimpoint’s reflex sights.
Below the rear portion of the optics rail, the 10mm Vector features an ambidextrous safety selector. This safety is the perfect height and size for most shooters, as it’s both easy to access without your grip and won’t hit your knuckles while you’re shooting. On the standard semi-auto model, the Vector’s selector features a pictogram of a red bullet within a box for “fire” and a white bullet crossed out for “safe.” The select-fire version features a third option with multiple bullet pictograms in an open box representing fully automatic fire.
Just forward of the safety is the trigger, which is built from the same dense, high-impact polymer as the receiver. The trigger pull on my test pistol was around 6 pounds, with a clean and crisp break. Farther forward are the magazine release and the bolt release, which doubles as a hold-open device as well.
Just behind the muzzle is the charging handle, which further showcases the designer’s desire to create an ultra-compact, ultra-controllable firearm. The oversized charging latch folds forward when not in use and doesn’t reciprocate when firing. This allows the gun to maintain a narrow width while providing plenty of purchase for the support hand to either charge the action or clear any malfunctions.
In many ways, the Vector Gen II is the ideal firearm for the 10mm because of its Super V Recoil Mitigation System. The unique method of operation diverts the recoil impulse from the muzzle to the center of the weapon; this gives it less leverage over the shooter’s arms.
So, while it doesn’t technically decrease the amount of energy transferred, it redirects it to be much less effective. This is why the select-fire versions of the Vector are able to achieve such ludicrous rates of fire while remaining controllable. (The Super V action is also responsible for the Vector Gen II’s unique appearance and blockier profile.)
I’ve been fortunate enough in the past to get some serious trigger time with both the 9mm and .45 ACP select-fire versions, and both were totally controllable despite 900+ RPM cyclic rates—rates that are totally uncontrollable in direct-blowback submachine guns like the MAC-11. But how well does this system translate to the semi-automatic version?
Flawlessly. The mitigation system takes the overwhelming majority of the recoil impulse and makes it feel like a 9mm pistol-caliber carbine. In testing, I was able to get the Vector Gen II back on target when utilizing the included SB Tactical brace almost as fast as my MP5 SBR clone, despite sending much more powerful rounds downrange.
The 10mm Vector Gen II functioned flawlessly throughout all 500 rounds fired through the gun. This included 180-grain XTP defensive ammo from Hornady, 200-grain American Eagle FMJ ammunition from Federal. I also used the ultra-hot, 220-grain, hard-cast ammo from Buffalo Bore. Only the Buffalo Bore ammo produced any significant felt recoil; even then, it was no worse than firing .357 Magnum rounds from a lever-action rifle.
The 10mm Vector proved remarkably accurate as well. It achieved 2- to 3-inch 10-round groups at 50 yards with all ammo tested. The tightest group of the day measured 2.32 inches; meanwhile, the largest was 4.02 inches, but that large group included a flyer.
One area where the 10mm Vector really shined was at the plate rack. Designed for both handguns and shotguns, my competition-grade Action Target plate rack features six 6-inch steel plates on a single target stand. The plates themselves are tunable; when dialed in to IPSC specs, smaller handgun calibers can occasionally struggle to knock the plates down beyond 40 yards unless they’re hit high. The Vector’s stout 10mm rounds knocked these targets down with authority at both 25 and 50 yards. They even retained enough energy to reliably knock them flat at 100 yards, though it was a little tricky to land the shots without magnified optics.
Breaking the Mold
One thing I found interesting is how something like the Vector’s Super V Recoil Mitigation System changes the way a shooter thinks about a given cartridge. Because the Vector did such a magnificent job of curbing the 10mm’s recoil, I found myself blasting through much more ammunition than I normally would, and I inadvertently extended my range trips by an hour or more.
Furthermore, it became easy to forget that, with the proper loading, the 10mm is a suitable cartridge for hunting medium game like whitetail deer. It felt more like burning up .45 ACP ammo through an old Marlin Camp .45 carbine than firing a near-magnum cartridge through a brace-equipped pistol.
This is where the Vector really excels—making more powerful rounds accessible to shooters who otherwise might shun them. While it certainly doesn’t resemble a traditional camping gun, the Kriss Vector Gen 2 outperforms most lever guns or revolvers designed for that purpose, since it provides controllable magnum rounds from a vastly more capacious reserve than any mag tube or cylinder. So, shooters looking for a home-defense weapon that can double as an emergency anti-bear gun while hiking might want to give the Vector a closer look. For more information, visit kriss-usa.com.
Kriss Vector Gen 2 SDP Specs
- Caliber: 10mm
- Barrel: 5.5 inches
- OA Length: 24.25 inches
- Weight: 6.7 pounds (empty)
- Grip: Polymer
- Sights: Flip-up front and rear
- Action: Semi-auto
- Finish: Matte black
- Capacity: 15+1
- MSRP: $1,519
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by Will Dabbs MD / Feb 14, 2019