Colt CK901: An AR in 7.62x39mm for the Yemeni Military

Colt developed this rifle, the CK-901, for the Yemeni military in 2014 – which appears to be the only buyer they have found for it since. The rifle is basically an AR-15 chambered for 7.62x39mm, but uses the 7.62x51mm Colt CM-901 rifle as its base. This means that the bolt and carrier are substantially larger than standard 5.56mm types, which alleviates the durability problems encountered when converting the 5.56mm bolt to the larger 7.62x39mm case head. Many other small elements of the design were modified to suit the new chambering, including the gas vent holes in the bolt carrier and the firing pin profile. As a result, parts are not interchangeable between the CK and CM rifles.

The CK-901 uses standard AK magazines, although not drums – the drum feed tower is too short to fit the CK901 magazine well. It has a center paddle magazine release, and no bolt hold open functionality. The bolt hold open controls were removed, and the rifle produced with an ambidextrous charging handle instead. Interestingly, Colt chose to ship the rifles with US Palm lightweight polymer magazines.

At the 2016 SHOT Show, Colt representatives suggested that the CK-901 would be offered for commercial sale (in semiautomatic configuration, naturally) in the US. As of the publication of this video in early 2019, that has not happened.


  1. This is a design I did not know about and kind of like it. My first impression is visible ruggedness – lot higher than on M16/M4. I do not see carry over of DG system as particularly smart, but so be it.
    Perhaps this should be a consideration for new generation of automatic rifle for U.S. forces, with appropriate change of chambering of course.

    • At least nobody was asking to see if the weapon made a good bludgeon when empty… then again, both the AK and the AR families got mistreated that way several times during the past 60 or so years.

      • I am not aware if anyone would do an impact resistance test on either weapon in sense you are suggesting, but I know the drop test is common requirement.
        What might pay well for Colt rifle is that its top receiver is enclosed and made from forged metal. AK has only thin sheet-metal cover on top. Theoretically, CK901 should be winner.

    • “My first impression is visible ruggedness – lot higher than on M16(…)”
      I agree, but I must note that with weight 4,3 kg unloaded it is heavier than other weapons crafted specifically for 7,62×39 of similar era. For comparison AK-103 weight is 3,4 kg, Galil ACE32 is 3,4 kg. Also modular [5,56×45 or 7,62×39] CZ 805 mass is 3,6 kg though I am not sure for which variant of CZ 805 (5,56 or 7,62×39 and what barrel length?) is this mass.

  2. “They wanted a better rifle”… That’s gotta hurt the AK fanbois. But surprising that Colt was allowed to sell this to the Houthi controlled government in the face of US and Saudi sanctions.

    • Those rifles were certainly not bought to equip the whole Yemeni army with it. The majority is still equipped with AK variants.

  3. Colt should have offered these rifles to Ukraine. Their own “AR47” project suffers from the exact poor choice that Colt has avoided, as well as lack of technical expertise. This would be way better, although Ukraine insists on domestic manufacture. Note that they fielded domestically produced Tavor in 5.56, so a few people expected a wholesale switch of the army from a mix of 5.45 and 7.62 AK to 5.56, like Polaks did.

  4. Small Arms Solutions has a video and write up on the rifle. Colt, please sell.

    One thing I do like comparing it to the CMs and LE6940s is that the monolithic hand guard is extended just past the gas block. The has block is exposed on the standard guns and the short forearm puts my hand right up against the bayonet lug.

    Colt is the oldest member if the military industrial complex and has been playing overseas since the beginning. It is easier for them to get export approval then a lot of companies.

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