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There are those (not me) who’d say that IDing the “best” AK-47 is like choosing the world’s most fire-retardant paper hat. And has some less than flattering things to say about the Arsenal SLR-106FR .556 semi-automatic rifle: “the trigger is too heavy, the button in the buttstock was distracting, and we’d prefer the action lock open.” To which I’d add, sight unseen, $900? Still, Gun Reports reports that “this is the best AK-style gun we’ve seen.” And brother, they’ve seen a lot. TTAG’s Don Gammill Jr. reviewed this sucker back in June 2010 and pronounced it a five-star (out of five) weapon. Can anyone else with trigger time say amen?

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  1. My admittedly limited trigger time on other Arsenal AKs tells me that they’re top-quality gear, and that its not really fair to compare them with most US-legal AK variants. There are many reasons for this:

    Arsenal AKs are fabricated in Russia by Saiga, using the good parts like Russian receivers and chrome-lined barrels that American kit-builders rarely bother with. Saigas may not be your cup of tea, but they’re built to Soviet military standards; they’re just US-import legal when they leave the factory.

    These straight-stocked Saigas are imported by Arsenal and carefully converted to use standard-capacity magazines, a pistol grip, muzzle device, bayonet mount, etc. and fitted with plenty of US-made parts for 922(r) compliance.

    Arsenal doesn’t just throw a bunch of ATI and Tapco parts at them, either. They make their own parts, sometimes on imported Russian machinery, under Saiga supervision, and then they’re carefully assembled and tested before shipment.

    Arsenal AKs don’t ship with oversized bores, mismatched bolts, or canted front sights. They seem to shoot groups about half the size of Century-built AKs like mine.

    But they cost twice as much.

    • Yeah, but at $900.00, you are in territory where most people will feel obliged to take meticulous care of the gun and not get it scratched up too much etc. The beauty of the $369.00 CAI Bulgy AK-74 is that- despite its many potential faults – you won’t cry if you scratch the finish and you won’t worry about running gobs of cheap corrosive commie ammo through it, either. If I had a $900 AKM I would look at it and say “Damn, for that kind of dough I could have bought a nice AR-15 or a Sig 556!”

      • Well said. I own a 400.00 CAI/Tapco for those very reasons: cheap mags, cheap (lacquer sloughing) ammo, who-cares-about-finish, truck gun. One to go places I would prefer not to take my FAL, unless absolutely necessary.

        Not knocking the rifle… I’m sure its a fine example of AK. Perhaps its aficionado specific. Something I am not.

        BTW: “like choosing the world’s most fire-retardant paper hat”. Priceless.

      • “Damn, for that kind of dough I could have bought a nice AR-15 or a Sig 556!” NOT after you get that first jam!

  2. If you have the money, and you just want the AK-style action, then just get a Sig 556.

    AK-style bolt, but in 5.56, last-round hold-open, takes STANAG mags, rail-system, and Sig quality. But Sig price.

    • Amen. Although the street price is comparable to a top-quality AK these days. I’ve seen them for under $1000. (In fact, one of the major online gun stores has a Patrol Rifle for $975 including shipping at this moment.)

  3. Sometimes it seems it is the luck of the draw. I had one horrible WASR 10, then I had an super accurate WASR conversion to bullpup. I had a Romanian Pistol AK, which was stellar. The RPK I thought at first was a dog, until I hand rubbed it with MiliTec 1 and cooked the steel in the oven. Then I lubed it with MiliTec 1 again twice during extended firing sessions. Now “Painless” is a champ.

  4. The Arsenal is definitely the most accurate one I’ve ever shot. I have shot some well maintained Romanian SARs where fit and finish were just as good as the Arsenals I’ve handled, but trigger and accuracy lacked.

    They’re definitely good, but you could probably find something comparable for cheaper.

  5. I know the first thing I do is slowly work the action. Sounds simple, but I’ve felt friction that is ridiculous by going slow with some. The triggers are never great but can smooth out over time. I had a take turns shoot with a friend on SWAT-at the time, his M4 and my bullpup AK. We were shooting a Wendy’s cup at 350 yards. He hit, it didn’t do much. I hit and the liquid and ice exploded-JHP’s. The trigger on the bullpups is rough, I just creeped and staged it.

  6. The shooter must be left eye dominant. That has to suck, not really being able to use a regular cheek weld. I worked with another firearms instructor for SC Corrections. His dominant eye was stabbed by an inmate, so he had to learn to use his nondominant eye and adjust from what he saw to get the right point of impact on the paper.

    • Indeed, I am left-eye dominant, and yes, it does suck. That’s why I’ve never been much of a rifle shooter and why I usually only review handguns. However, I can tell you that this particular AK was absolutely well-put-together and extremely accurate. Oh, and for the record, the advertised retail price for this model at the time I wrote the review last year was around $700 (which is what this gun’s owner had recently paid for it) – all in all, a very good value given the relative quality of the gun.

  7. As far as AKs go, Arsenal is where it’s at. I have a 5.45mm version, it’s great. I think before I’m done I’ll have a 7.62×39 and a 5.56 rifle as well. I don’t find $750 to $900 to be ridiculous for a rifle and I beat mine. I don’t care if it’s a $450 Century or a $2000 LWRC or KAC, they’re combat guns. They’re not your granddaddy’s Model 70, beat them.

    Now I just wish that US Palm would make 5.45 and 5.56mm magazines for the AK, the Bulgarian 5.45 magazines are getting hard to find in new condition.

  8. i own a 7.62 arsenal and one in 5.56(bulgarian receiver) and a saiga being restored back to the way god intended them to be out in nevada. all are 3 of the best shooting rifles i have ever shot; period. i qualified way back on parris island with the m14 and was issued and used an m16 for 16 months in the republic of south viet nam,i have been around guns all my life and am today still an avid hunter and shooter. if i had to pick one rifle to have if and when the s— was to hit the fan,it would be w/o hesitation an AKvariant. there are several reasons as to why the AK is found in so many places and used by so many people: when you pull the trigger it goes bang until the magazine is empty. and when all is said and done that IS the only thing that counts.


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