By Jeff W. Zimba
Someone onced asked if there is a point where an AK style rifle is more than just another AK with a few more bells and whistles. Thanks to the people at Arsenal, Inc. in Las Vegas, Nevada, that answer is a resounding YES.
The latest Offering from Arsenal, Inc. is the SLR-106FR semiautomatic rifle. Chambered in the popular 5.56x45mm NATO it has undergone an extensive makeover from a traditional AK style rifle, both cosmetically and functionally.
Originally made in Bulgaria, the SLR-106FR is based on the Russian AK-101. It is imported to be 922(r) compliant and the engineers at Arsenal, Inc. perform an amazing transformation on these rifles once they are in the United States. This metamorphosis is far more than just swapping out a few imported parts for some domestically manufactured parts as others have done in the past.
In order for their newly designed, and extremely high-quality polymer folding stock to be utilized, new, exact molds were necessary as well as CNC machining of the hinge block portion of the stock. This ensures an exacting consistency with each rifle without the hand-fitting necessary with the Russian originals.
An extensive amount of machining is also necessary to every receiver to accommodate the new rear trunnion for the folding stock, as well as the side folding stock lock mechanism.
U.S manufactured parts utilized in conjunction with the SLR-106FR include the pistol grip, upper and lower hand guards, stock assembly, hammer, trigger, and the disconnector.
The pistol grip has been completely redesigned for this model and it now fits flush with the grip reinforcement plate. This creates no overhang common with other grips.
Much to the delight of those of us with “fast fingers” a heavy-duty, stainless steel heat shield has been added to the lower hand guard.
The SLR-106FR rifle utilizes a cold hammer forged, chrome-lined barrel manufactured on STEYR cold hammer forging machinery. With a 6-groove rifling and a twist ratio of 1 in 7 inches it is suitable for many of the heavier rounds available on the market today. The muzzle brake is a chrome lined Bulgarian version of the Russian AK-74 brake with the popular half-moon cuts instead of the zig-zag style cuts common on other rifles.
The gas block incorporates the accessory lug for use with the GP-25 grenade launcher and the front sight base has a traditional style bayonet lug.
Other than the trigger mechanism being entirely redesigned for this rifle there is also another change that may not be so obvious . A spring loaded firing pin has been added to the bolt. Free-floating firing pins can, on occasion, become stuck or lodged in the forward position when using corrosive ammo combined with improper cleaning, and poor maintenance, thus creating a slam-fire situation. This spring loaded firing pin returns to the rear after firing each round resulting in a much safer mechanism. These situations are more common with 5.56x45mm rifles due to some of this ammunition having softer primers than other calibers.
The new stock has a relief cut to accommodate the optics rail mounted on the left side of the rifle. Given the appearance of a standard, fixed polymer stock when opened, it is sturdy and rigid while handling and under fire. The stock mechanism is released, allowing it to fold, by depressing a button on the left side of the receiver above the pistol grip. When the stock is completely folded it locks into a catch on the side of the receiver. Once it is locked into place it is extremely sturdy and can easily be fired in this position without fear of unintentionally opening. To release the stock from the folded position, the catch release button on the butt-plate must be completely depressed. This disengages the stock from the catch on the side of the receiver. A fully rotational sling swivel has also been incorporated into the stock, just above the pistol grip.
The cosmetic features of the SLR-106FR may be what catch your attention, but the function and performance are sure to keep it. The first time you fire the rifle two things will immediately be noticed. First, the clean crisp snap of the second stage of the two-stage trigger is a welcome addition. Developed specifically for this rifle, the first stage takes up all of the travel and gives the shooter an immediate indication it is ready to fire. The second stage breaks clean and consistently.
The second thing immediately apparent to the operator is the lack of painful trigger slap associated with some of the rifles in the AK family. This trigger mechanism addresses both of these concerns very satisfactorily.
One common problem with some of the 5.56x45mm AK variants is the ability to feed reliably. Many have not functioned any better than marginal at best, and it has usually been due to poor assembly or an improper caliber conversion. Correct magazines have also been problematic in the past. None of these were a problem with the rifle we were sent to test. Magazines supplied with the test rifle were polymer waffle magazines and clearly marked “cal. 5.56×45.” Available and photographed in this article are Bulgarian 30-round clear waffle magazines. Clear 20-round magazines are also available and can be purchased directly from K-VAR at www. k-var.com. They proved to be durable and functioned extremely well. As well as being interesting to look at they are very useful in providing an immediate and effortless visual ammo count.
Yet again, Arsenal, Inc. proves that quality comes first, with new innovation coming in a close second. The fit and finish on this rifle is excellent and the function was flawless with all ammo used. The new two-stage trigger system and lack of trigger slap makes the SLR-106FR pleasant to shoot and the new clear magazines only add to the experience. This rifle is a welcome addition, and highly recommended, to anyone interested in a 5.56x45mm AK variant.
5015 W. Sahara, Ave., Ste. 125
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Ph: (888) 539-2220
Fax: (702) 643-2088
5015 W. Sahara, Ave. #125 PMB-136
Las Vegas, NV 89146
Ph: (702) 364-8880
Caliber: 5.56×45 mm (.223)
Overall Length: 36.875 inches (937 mm)
Folded Length: 27.375 inches (695 mm)
Barrel Length: 16.25 inches (415mm)
Rifling: 6 grooves
Twist Rate: 1 turn in 7 inches (178 mm)
Direction of Twist: Right-hand twist
Weight Without Magazine: 7.3 pounds (3.31 Kg)
Muzzle Velocity: 2985 fps (910m/s)
Effective Range: 550 yards (500 meters)
Maximum Range: 1480 yards (1,350 meters)
Rear Sight Range: 875 yards (800 meters)
Receiver Wall Thickness: 1 mm
Finish: Phosphate-treated and then finished with black baked-on paint as used in all Bulgarian commercial and military production.
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V10N5 (February 2007)|