Text & Photos by Jeff W. Zimba
Arsenal, Inc. has been well chronicled in the pages of Small Arms Review for almost six years reviewing their latest developments, including their long company history and their role today in building and importing the only original Bulgarian AK47 variants in the USA. With a product line that continues to grow at an amazing pace, their latest offering is certainly a configuration that will please many.
As we have been following and testing these new rifles as they were introduced, we began with the SLR 105 series chambered in 5.45x39mm. The next variant introduced was the SLR 106 series chambered in 5.56x45mm offered in three versions, and catering to those who prefer the Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) configuration. The latest rifle introduced, and the subject of this article, is the SLR 107CR. The 107 series is chambered in the more traditional and extremely popular 7.62x39mm cartridge.
Arsenal, Inc. by the Numbers and Letters
The three model numbers most recently tested by SAR coincide with the caliber of the firearm. The easiest to understand is the standard prefix used in all model numbers. The letters “SLR” simply signify Self Loading Rifle. The suffix (the letters that follow those model numbers) also signify something very important, mainly the barrel length and configuration. The 3 most common current configurations are the “F”, the “C” and the “U”. The “F” model is a standard, full-length configuration with a traditional 16.25-inch barrel. The “C” model, while utilizing a full-length gas system and standard handguards, incorporates the gas block into the front sight with standard Bulgarian 24mm threads directly in front of the sight. These come standard with a removable 24mm muzzle attachment allowing the 16.25-inch barrel to easily be cut down to 12.5 inches and still utilize all factory accessories if the end user desires a registered Short Barreled Rifle. The “U” model has a shorter “Krink-Style” gas system located directly in front of the much shorter handguards. A shortened front sight block necessitates a front sight that also doubles as a hinge on the top-cover. Although it is shipped with a 16.25-inch barrel, the front sight and 24mm threads are placed in a location allowing the user to easily cut the barrel at 8.5 inches if a registered Short Barreled Rifle is desired. Just like the C model, all factory 24mm accessories can be accepted after shortening the barrel. In all of these models, the letter “R” added in the model suffix designate a factory scope rail mounted on the left side of the receiver. Since the model designations have been explained, it is easy to tell that the test rifle at hand, the SLR 107CR is a 7.62×39 rifle, complete with scope mount and a 16.25-inch barrel, that can be easily registered and modified to a 12.5-inch barreled rifle.
Business at Hand
Since the first of the SLR rifle tests, many have asked the manufacturer when a 7.62×39 caliber variant would be available in some or all of the new configurations. Arsenal has responded with a real Bulgarian SBR variant in the correct caliber for a traditional AK47 series rifle. The rifles are available, in stock and shipping, and the MSRP on the SLR 107CR is $979.
In its factory configuration, the overall length of the SLR 107CR is 34.5 inches with the stock extended and 25.25 inches with the stock folded. The location and design of the gas block/front sight combined with the lengthened muzzle brake give the illusion of a much shorter rifle, even with the 16.25-inch barrel.
The trigger mechanism is the same 2-stage trigger used in the later SLR rifles. It is a fairly smooth trigger in its length of pull during the first stage, and leaves no doubt when the second stage is engaged. From that point on, the travel is extremely short and the pull is in the 5 to 7 pound range to break.
The furniture is the same US made, high-quality black plastic as used on the previous 105 and 106 series of rifles. The left-side folding stock reduces overall length and locks tightly against the receiver. Since the stock folds to the left side instead of the right side, the gun is fully functional with the stock in either position. A slight inset in the stock accommodates the scope mount on the left side of the receiver.
The metal is phosphate treated and finished with a black baked-on paint like the standard finish used on all Bulgarian commercial production rifles.
At the Range
Having a short window to get the testing done before article submission, we were forced to shoot during some weather conditions where many would have chosen not to venture out. Our facility in the North East is in Maine and due to an unusually heavy snowfall, most of the regular ranges were closed so we were not able to do any bench-style shooting for accuracy. At 11 degrees above zero during a snowstorm, accuracy testing doesn’t always work that great anyway. Fortunately, there is a local shooting spot that one of our subscribers is kind enough to open occasionally during the winter so we are never without a place to shoot.
Testing this day consisted of function testing and muzzle velocity testing. While there, we did engage in a little off-hand shooting at some 50-yard targets and were quite impressed with the performance, especially under all the adverse conditions. Ammo utilized consisted of Wolf 7.62x39mm 122-grain FMJ. The magazines were of the original 30-round Bulgarian (Circle 10) variety. This combination never skipped a beat and the only time a “click” could be heard upon squeezing the trigger was when the magazine was empty.
The consistency of the ammo and rifle combination was extremely impressive. With an extreme spread of only 52 feet per second (fps), the average muzzle velocity at a distance of 8 feet from the muzzle was 2,224.7 fps. Muzzle flash was not apparent even with the lack of an actual flash hider. The sky was dark on this stormy day and had there been an abundance of flash it would have been quite obvious.
The SLR 107 is the series of original Bulgarian rifles that many people in the recreational shooting community have been waiting for. Chambered in the familiar 7.62x39mm round, accessories and ammunition are plentiful and (except for the recent increase in ammo), usually affordable. Magazines for some of the less common AK variant calibers can be frustrating to find, but magazines for 7.62x39mm are available in several styles, types and of varying capacities. For some people, an AK just isn’t an AK unless it is in this caliber. Arsenal, Inc. saw the flood of interest and reciprocated by bringing them to the market. Another important niche in the custom AK market has been addressed with the introduction of the SLR 107CR and we are happy to see that the 107UR was introduced early in the planning to complete the entire line. For this, the recreational AK collector and military-style firearms enthusiast (especially those who enjoy registered SBRs) will be thankful for these latest offerings.
This package not only offers a unique look, but it demonstrates a high level of functionality as shipped from the manufacturer. Giving the illusion of an actual Short Barreled Rifle, the 16-inch barreled factory rifle is actually less than 2 inches longer than a registered SBR when fitted with the popular 4-piece “Krink” style flash hider. Some will want to register the rifle as a real SBR and delete the additional barrel length, but many people will also choose to leave the rifle a Title I firearm, as shipped, and enjoy the performance and style as it is, without incurring the additional Title II manufacturing fee or transfer tax.
The test rifle functioned and looked great, which has proven to be common of anything manufactured by Arsenal, Inc. Not a single round failed to feed, fire, extract or eject and the muzzle velocity was extremely consistent showing a good rifle/ammo relationship. A scope mount will be ordered prior to any further testing and a CQB style sight will be added to this rifle to complete it. The finish is the typical Bulgarian commercial baked-on, black paint, and is extremely durable with a deep and even amount of coverage.
The Arsenal SLR 107CR should make a welcomed addition to the family of any serious AK collector. This writer is pleased to recommend the 107CR without any hesitation at all. It has the ability to function in several roles from professional to recreational. Based on this early testing, combined with that of another identical model previously purchased by a friend in the Law Enforcement community, it should fill any role it is given as a task. Score another high point for Arsenal, Inc. of Las Vegas, Nevada and their never-ending line of original Bulgarian firearms.
5015 W. Sahara Ave., Ste 125
Las Vegas, NV 89146 USA
Ph: (888) 539-2220
Wolf Performance Ammunition
1225 North Lance Lane
Anaheim, CA 92806
Ph: (888) 757-WOLF
P.O. Box 535025
Grand Prairie, TX 75053
Ph: (800) 722-8462
|This article first appeared in Small Arms Review V11N8 (May 2008)|