Arsenal SLR-106F: The 5.56mm AK Rifle
The SLR106-F series is a Bulgarian made, stamped receiver, AK pattern rifle in a 5.56x45mm. It has a removable AK74 style muzzle break with a left-side folding Warsaw Pact Length buttstock with a trap door for the cleaning kit. This rifle includes US-made anti-slap double stage trigger group by Arsenal, Inc. for increased accuracy and predictability.
When we speak about the venerable Avtomat Kalishnikova or AK-47 pattern rifles in general, there are several things we take for granted. We assume that it will be chambered in one of the two standard calibers the time tested 7.62 x39 mm or it’s newer smaller cousin the 5.45 x 39mm chambering. That was the general rule of thumb for years until several companies started to figure out how to make them in what might be the most popular caliber in the United States, the .223 Remington or 5.56 mm. Could it be the perfect blend of East meets West ? The unholy union of two firearms geniuses ? Well when we had a chance to snag an AK manufactured by renowned manufacturer Arsenal Incorporated of Bulgaria in North Americas most popular caliber, well we had to say yes for purely scientific reasons. So with further delay we introduce to you our first look at the Arsenal SLR-106F-21 rifle.
Manufacturer: Arsenal Inc
Country of Manufacture: Bulgaria
Model: SLR-106F (This model has factory folding stock but no side optics mount. The SLR-106FR would feature both the rail and a side folding stock)
Caliber: 5.56x45mm (.223) NATO
- Overall: 36 7/8″
- Folded: 27 3/8″
Barrel Length: 16″
Twist Rate: 1 turn in 7″
Weight: 7.3 lbs (Without magazine)
Having owned many different flavors of AK patterned rifles I would say I’m pretty familiar with how they should look, feel and operate. I’ve been lucky enough to get my hands on Russian, Polish, Hungarian and Egyptian rifles but, this is the first time Ive hard the pleasure of holding an Arsenal of any type. The reputation of Arsenal set the bar pretty low on my forgeability scale when it comes to issues of fit and finish. I give an allowance to poor finish to rifles that are made in sweat shops and cost $600.00 but we all know that isn’t the case with Arsenal rifles.
The first thing I noticed when I picked this up from James Foley of Arctic Arms is that the finish on this particular rifle is really high quality. The coating Arsenal uses leaves the finish being a deep even matte black with a very slight texture to it. I looked the rifle over in different types of lighting and from different angles. The factory finish on this rifle is exactly what I would hope to expect from a $1200 rifle. It’s well done with no perceivable thin spots or abnormalities. Overall both inside and out of the rifle it is the same stunningly high quality, high marks indeed from the Quality Control folks at the factory, both on the assembly line and the spray booth.
Rivets and Hardware
When it comes to rivets and hardware this is where many AK manufacturers fall short with misinformed rivets or large gaps between the mushroomhead and the receiver. I’m proud to report that all of the rivets on this SLR-106F are constant and boring, which is what you want from a rivet. The hardware on this particular model is black polymer which has become an Arsenal standard in a way. The lower hand guard is made of a polymer but features as stainless steel liner to prevent warping or transfer of heat to the shooters hand. The top guard is not lined but I don’t think will cause us any issues. Rounding out the hardware package is the standard AK pattern rifle grip and the side folding stock that has also become synonymous with Arsenal. Testing shows so far that it locks into position very tight and the release button located on the rear of the stock also operates with a boring consistency. High marks again to the factory quality control personnel.
An AK in 5.56 ? WHY ?
This is a question many people will ask and my response is always the same. I wanted what might be the worlds most durable rifle in the most popular rifle caliber in North America. Oh and because I wanted one plain and simple. That’s the answer we give anti gunners when they nag us about why we buy certain styles of guns all the time, Right ?. In reality the Arsenal SLR-106F has been on my radar for a while and stockpiles of them are drying up since Arsenal isn’t producing them currently and who knows if they will start back up again anytime soon.
Non Standard Magazines
The one thing might cause concern with some folks is that this rifle does not take “standard” AK pattern magazines that are 7.62 or 5.45mm. This rifle takes its own pattern that is shared with the Polish Beryl, and several flavors of Chinese SAR-3 and the likes. The fact it takes a magazine that might be harder to find didn’t deter me because I immediately started stocking up on them. Factory magazines for the SLR-106F come in a few color choices but only two capacity options, 20 or 30 rounders. I chose to stock up on the generation II , 20 rounders at a price of around $34.00 a piece at the time of this article. It’s not a huge sum to pay for a magazine when you compare it to things like the Heckler & Koch P7M8 or MP5 but it can still sting the wallet.
Our future plans for this rifle are pretty laid out, 1000 rounds of the cheapest Wolf ammunition I can find and a pile of polymer 20 round magazines. All we need is a little time off work and set up our CTS Targets 3/8″ steel plate and we can have a great afternoon of ringing steel. I will make sure the rifle isn’t over heated and ensure that it has a sufficient amount of lubricant throughout our testing cycles. I will say in the interest of being 100% transparent I did replace the factory AK-74 pattern muzzle device with a Definitive Arms Generation II Fighter Brake 24 that I picked up from Robski at the AK Operators Union Local 47-74 store.
I did this because my past history I know that I despise the wide open AK-74 style brake and that Robski and many others have had great success with this muzzle device on the 5.45 pattern rifles. The rest of the rifle for the time being will remain intact and unmolested for a little while. The only semi annoying thing about this rifle is that I had to get the SLR-106F which does not feature a factory side rail, but like I said sources of new rifles are drying up fast.
Check back in a few weeks and see how the Arsenal SLR-106F is holding up, we have several shooters lined up to help put this rifle through it’s paces. Our growing cadre of shooters that have volunteered to help come us with this project come from a wide range of military specialties and it will be fun to see what all of us can do to this rifle. What are your thoughts on the Arsenal SLR-106F ? Another in a long line of .223 pattern rifles that don’t use AR-15 magazines and is doomed to fail ? or a strange gun that is durable and affordable to shoot that is just a little odd.
“I wanted to invent an engine that could run for ever. I could have developed a new train, had I stayed in the railway. It would have looked like the AK-47 though.” ~ Mikhail Kalashnikov 1919-2013, Father of the AK-47