Pistol versions of firearms usually configured as rifles have been the belle of the proverbial ball for the last few years. Thanks to the popularity of ATF-approved devices like SB Tactical’s pistol arm brace they were elevated from almost-useless range toys to handy and convenient tools for many gun owners.
After the ATF’s 2015 open letter there was a distinct drop in interest due to the uncertainty surrounding the arm brace’s legal status, and despite the ATF’s recent clarification it may be too late to save some lines.
From Arsenal’s recent press release:
LAS VEGAS, NV As part of the consolidation of its product line-up and trimming certain models, Arsenal, Inc. is phasing out the SAM7K and SLR-106UR Pistol models. These 7.62x39mm and 5.56x45mm pistols will no longer be manufactured and all stock will be offered at significantly lowered prices. All configurations will be available at $300-$500 lower than their standard MSRP, while stocks last. Please contact your retailers and distributors for stock status and actual pricing.
In other words, Arsenal wasn’t selling enough pistol versions of their AK pattern guns to support them as a separate product line. There are two possible reasons for this.
Possible explanation #1: the rifle-turned-pistol market just isn’t big enough to sustain a major product line, let alone nine separate SKUs. It always was a niche market, and while the pistol arm brace boom promised increased interest in AR and AK pistols, the reality of the situation appears to be that they may be novelty products not unlike the zombie-themed guns and gear of a few years back.
But that explanation has some holes. Other companies make pistol versions of their firearms turn a nice profit. Why can’t Arsenal do the same?
Possible explanation #2: people just don’t want a pistol-sized AK. Perhaps it isn’t the form factor that’s the problem but the firearm itself. Pistol versions of AR-15’s and MP5’s are still flying off the shelves, but AK’s aren’t moving. It could very well be that the person who buys an AK would rather have a full-size version for cheap than a more expensive pint-size version.
We’ll just have to wait for a conclusive answer. It took nearly three years for the zombie craze to finally die an ignominious death, after popping up in different areas of the firearms industry like a reanimated corpse vomiting lurid neon green wherever it went.
Even if the pistol craze is over, there’s a difference here: an arm brace-equipped pistol actually serves a useful purpose and fills a niche in the market. Instead of just being a
hideous different paint job, a pistol arm brace allows shooters the option of a functional, shorter firearm without the hassle of obtaining a tax stamp.
I doubt that concept will ever disappear, but as Arsenal seems to have discovered there just isn’t enough latent AK demand to keep more than one SKU in the supply chain at a time.