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Arsenal, the Bulgarian manufacturer of some of the higher end AK clones sold in the United States, has decided to end production of their 5.56 caliber AK-74 rifles. The decision comes after what the company describes as an audit of recent trends in the gun industry, which I’m taking as CYA language for “scary black rifles are being demonized and we don’t want to take the heat.” Make the jump for the press release . . .

After nearly a decade since its initial introduction into the firearms marketplace, the SLR-106 series is getting a change in to “Collector’s Item.” Production on the series officially ended. The SLR-106 rifle and pistol series was Arsenal’s answer to the 5.56 caliber as the company looked to compete in that arena. The years to follow brought much success with several variations and configurations, robust sales and recognition as one of the industry’s best — due in-part to its chrome-lined and hammer-forged barrel.

“In my opinion, the SLR-106 series of rifles, perfectly bridge the gap from east to west. Furthermore, the advancements made in the manufacturing this rifle series will be seen on future models by our company for years to come.” – Walker English, Sales Director, Arsenal, Inc.

A comprehensive audit of the current offerings in the firearms industry, recent trends and near-future shifts with regard to technology and advancement all factored into the decision to discontinue the series. Arsenal’s obligations with military and government contracts, production for the movie industry and commitments to distributors and dealers also shaped this decision. The current stock of SLR-106 5.56 caliber rifles and pistols will continue to be sold until supply runs out. Arsenal’s availability list is displayed below. Additional SLR-106 products can be found by checking with Arsenal’s distributors and various dealers nationwide.

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  1. Well, maybe they just didn’t want to compete with 5.56 AR’s any longer. I didn’t see the fear of possible upcoming legislation in the press release.

    • +100 i dont they are scared off by being demonized as nick says but that nobody is buying them since mags arent plentiful and americans like their 5.56 to come in ar15s. Nick, dont try to create controvesy where there isnt any. I suspect they will still import tons of 7.62×39 and 5.45×39 unless the government says otherwise.

      • Agreed.

        I want an Arsenal in 5.45 not 5.56. That’s the whole reason to get one! Cheap surplus ammo!

        • The reason why one would want an AK in 5.56 is to shoot readily available and reasonably priced (pre-Newtown, anyway…) brass-cased ammo, if the ranges in one’s vicinity ban steel-cased stuff.

    • That would be my guess. Americans who want to shoot 5.56mm buy AR pattern rifles.

      I’ve seen exactly one 5.56mm AK ever. Meanwhile I’ll routinely have trips to the range where there are a dozen or two ARs on the rifle rack.

      • Got one too, and we’re now in the final days before my stamp gets here for it.
        It’s a great rifle, although a little pickier with ammo than I expected- it doesn’t like the steel .223 much.
        I’ve got the SAM7-style dust cover on it, and waiting patiently for that ridiculous muzzle brake they made for the pistol. The fit and finish is excellent, all it needs is circle 10 mags and some halfway decent ammo and it runs all day.

        Anybody mulling it over, I would recommend one.

  2. Berettas releasing the ARX100 any day now,and the IWI Tavors getting great press. Combine those developments with the already stiff AR competition and it equals bad news for Arsenal.Why buy a 5.56 AK when there’s so many interesting alternatives ?

    • Not just that, but why sell AK-format rifles which require ammo 2-3x as expensive per round compared to the “native” calibers like 7.62×39 and 5.45×39?

      If anything the market is pushing me the other way. Seriously considering building my next AR upper in 7.62×39 instead of 5.56 or 300BLK.

      • Steel case .223 is pretty cheap, ignoring the current market panic. I think they couldn’t compete with the exploding AR market. A midrange AR is cheaper than an Arsenal.

      • “…but why sell AK-format rifles which require ammo 2-3x as expensive per round compared to the “native” calibers like 7.62×39 and 5.45×39?”


        I own a SLR-106 and would rather shoot my ARs if i was going to shoot 5.56.

        The advantages of the AK (cheap ammo, cheap magazines) are largely countered by such a platform in that caliber.

    • When the new American Rifleman showed up today it had a picture of the Tavor on the front cover. I told my wife that I found my birthday present for later in the year. She didn’t like the idea very well. I do have 3 AK type weapons already so I am not really in the market for a 5.56 AK. Arsenal does have a lot of competition, but you would think there would still be a big market for AKs.

  3. “The decision comes after what the company describes as an audit of recent trends in the gun industry, which I’m taking as CYA language for “scary black rifles are being demonized and we don’t want to take the heat.””

    Doubtful. These guys produce lots of AK’s, I don’t think they are going to stop making them because of soccer moms. More likely, their 5.56×45 AK line just can’t compete with AR-15s, and is not economically viable to continue producing.

    In other words, don’t bash these guys for a business move that is much more likely to be motivated by profit rather than political correctness.

  4. Why would this imply that they are scared of taking heat if they didn’t stop production of all calibers? It probably just doesn’t sell well.

    • Exactly. TTAG’s comment about Arsenal “not wanting to take any heat” makes absolutely no sense considering the fact that Arsenal is continuing production of their other “scary” guns.

      Is Leghorn just trolling for comments, or are his logic skills really that poor?

  5. Agreed. AK’s don’t do much for me either.

    It is interesting their wordings… They openly stated that these guns are what are being supplied into Government & LEO’s for existing contracts. Notice not mentioning a relative or ending time frame. This leads me to believe indefinitely.

    That means for who? Which Gonverment?

    Obviously they supply to eastern regimes would’t one think?

  6. What’s with always assuming the absolute worst on this site? With Schumer or Bloomberg, sure, assume away. But with a gun manufacturer or anyone else on our side, at least give them the benefit of the doubt.

    Rather than fearing bad publicity, they probably dropped this single line of rifles because the vast majority of buyers that are looking for a 5.56 want an AR-15.

  7. When the AK style rifles were being sold at near surplus prices, chambered in what was the cheapest center fire ammo available it made sense to buy one. It still makes sense if you intend to infiltrate into syria or Astan on your vacation.

    But near a 100% of the Americans buying the AK style rifles will never need the reliability that goes with it. Most of us carry our rifles in padded cases to and from clean ranges. With the prices going up why not buy an AR and get a more ergo target rifle?

      • You a got a point there.

        Better yet, instead of ditching your AK for an AR, or vice versa, get both.

    • Perhaps, but reliability is one of those things that you never think you’ll need until you need it. Haha.

      Besides, the AK’s ergos aren’t so bad. There’s a pretty large market in fact for railed forends, AR stock adapters, muzzle devices with compensators, etc.

      And at most shops in my area (WA), price for an AR is still more than an AK. By a significant margin.

  8. I think they realized that not too many people are interested in an AK that fires AR rounds. If I buy an AK I want one that fires the round it was designed for. 7.62X39 or 5.45 X 39.

    • Agreed. I just picked up a Bulgarian AK-74 in 5.45×39, and I already have ARs in 5.56 & 6.8. It’s just, well, neater when chambered for the “correct” cartridge.

    • Russians did produce an AK in 5.56. It was called the AK 101 (with 10x variants differing in rifle barrel and stock (mostly)).

  9. They probably stopped building 5.56mm AK’s for the same reason that hardly anyone builds a 7.62x39mm AR-15.

    • The Kalashnikov action hearts all types of cartridges. To my feel, the recoil is only slightly heavier than on my AR – and considerably lighter than on the heavier Mini 14.

  10. I’m guessing the 556 version is probably their worst seller plus magazines are always hard to find and complaints about reliablity in the Nato caliber. Or you could jump to the conclusion they are kneeling to Bloomberg.

    • Hell, shift their production capacity over to making ammo and they’ll be bloomberg rich in no time.

  11. If I’m buying an AK it’s 7.62X39, that’s it. 5.56 I’ll choose from many of the lighter more modern AR platforms.

  12. I don’t how this is them cowering to “scary black rifle” hysteria. I think it’s more them knowing that the 5.56 isn’t their best seller and they can focus their efforts elsewhere.

    When you tell me they are ending the production of 7.62 and 12’s, then we’ll all agree they’ve jumped the scary black rifle shark.

  13. I just had an interesting discussion with a Bulgarian guy today who pointed out that Arsenal plant in Bulgaria only makes milled receivers these days, not stamped ones. So all Arsenal guns that you see advertised as having “stamped Bulgarian receivers” use the ones that were manufactured back in 90s. Eventually they have to run out of stock, and I do wonder if that has just happened for the 5.56 version (and they have discontinued 5.45 before).

  14. I don’t think they sell real well. I noticed at K-var they were always in stock through the entirety of the recent gun control debacle. They are nice rifles but they are anything but cheap for what you get. A history of QC issues has given these rifles a bad rep and I think people just aren’t as interested in the polymer folding stocks anymore.

  15. Good, the AK platform never should have been bastardized with the 5.56 loading anyway, AKs should fulfill Kalashnikovs goal of reliable, cheap and easy to use. Its stupid to have to get special mags for an AK, and 5.56 ammo is now 70 cents a rd at its cheapest. AKs in 5.45 or 7.62 in the excellent Arsenal Arms platform are the way to go, and the AK platform is more rugged, potent and just as accurate as any 5.56 AR anyways.

  16. It would be nice if there was a way to convert a AK between 5.56, 5.45, 7.62×39 and .300 BLK using the same mags for 5.56 and 5.45.

  17. Seriously, can we stop painting everything with the “they’re coming for your guns” brush? It’s getting old. FLAME DELETED

    They’re not going to make the 5.56 AK anymore because it was a stupid idea to begin with. No one outside of the US will buy one. AK native ammo is far more plentiful and cheaper in the rest of the world than 5.56/.223. Even in the US, who the hell wants a 5.56 AK? Where do you even buy magazines for such things? Does it take AR Mags?

    • >> They’re not going to make the 5.56 AK anymore because it was a stupid idea to begin with. No one outside of the US will buy one.

      Given the size of US market relative to everyone else, it doesn’t matter.

      >> Even in the US, who the hell wants a 5.56 AK?

      Anyone who wants a 5.56 rifle of any kind, and doesn’t like ARs?

      I don’t understand this “it’s not originally made for this caliber” snobbery. If there ever was a rifle that’s a tool first and foremost, AK is it. There’s nothing illogical about wanting it in a caliber popular where you live.

      >> Where do you even buy magazines for such things?

      From Arsenal or their dealers, or numerous other places on the Net.

      Ironically, when I was stocking up on mags shortly after Newtown, mags for my SLR-106 were both cheaper and easier to find than AR mags…

      >> Does it take AR Mags?

      No, it doesn’t, thank goodness. It’s still an AK, so the mags are rock-in type. That said, the Bulgarian waffle mags that are the best fit for this weapon are very solid (despite being polymer) and extremely reliable.

  18. Yup! Isn’t the first time Arsenal has done this, either. Happily, one way or another Arsenal management always seems to change their mind. I own an Arsenal AK74, 101 Variant. (5.56 x 45mm) It’s one of the early ones with a milled receiver.

    I’ve had it for, about, 7 years, now; and it’s still my favorite tactical carbine. With quality ammunition it’s every bit as accurate as my Colt 6920. 100 yard targets between these two carbines appear to be identical with groups staying inside 1.75 inches.

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