Arsenal SLR-105A1 with Bulgarian AK-74 Bayonet.
In 1974 a new version of the AK was developed. In the 1960s and 1970s NATO and other Western countries moved from 7.62x51mm to 5.56x45mm for general issue rifles to enable soldiers to carry more ammo and have greater control of the rifle when firing in fully automatic mode. The Russians made a similar move by re-chambering the AK from 7.62x39mm to 5.45x39mm.
The Russians developed an unusual round for the new chambering. The 7N6 5.45x39mm round featured a full metal jacket that had a hollow cavity under the jacketing at the front and a lead covered steel rod behind. This makes the round become unbalanced upon striking an object and causes it to tumble and often break in two, creating a much larger wound channel than would normally be expected. These rounds are no longer imported into the U.S. but are still available at gun shows.
Other than the new chambering the other changes were minor:
- The muzzle device was changed from a angular cut to a sophisticated device with a large chamber and multiple cutouts.
- On folding stock versions, the stock was changed from the under folder to a triangular side folding stock.
- On fixed stock versions, the stock had lightening cuts on each side of the stock.
The new gun was called the AK-74 (fixed stock) and AKS-74 (folding stock). Some were fitted with a side scope mount for night sights and other sights and had an N added to the designation. The AK-74 quickly replaced the AKM in front line units, but the AKM still remains in use in many units to this day. In fact modern AK-100 series rifles are now being ordered in 7.62x39mm for various units.
In the 1990s the Russian started producing AK-74s with black and plum composite stocks and these guns were designated AK-74M. Eventually the triangular folding stock was replaced with a standard stock that folded to the side. These guns were still designated AK-74M.
The Arsenal SLR-105A1 is a near exact copy of a 1990s Russian AK-74M as used in Chechnya. There are only 2 differences:
- It is semi-auto
- Its stock is 1 ½” longer, often called NATO length, to increase the length of pull.
These rifles are extremely high quality and assembled in the U.S. by Bulgarians using U.S. and Bulgarian components. Bulgaria is widely regarded as making excellent quality AKs and was a supplier of AKs to the newly reconstituted Iraqi army. All Arsenal AK variants are outstanding copies of the full-auto military originals.
Version - Arsenal Bulgaria SLR-105A1
Caliber - 5.45x39mm.
Receiver - Stamped Steel with correct trunnion reinforcements and 1.6mm thickness. Receiver made by Nodak Spud in Edina, MN.
Action - Gas Operated Long Stroke Piston.
Barrel - 16.3”.
Overall Length - 38.6”
Weight - 7.5 lbs.
Hand Guards - Black Glass Filled Polyamide with hand swells and ribs.
Pistol Grip - Black Glass Filled Polyamide.
Stock - Glass Filled Polyamide that is 1 ½” longer than the standard Russian stock.
Magazines - 30 rd detachable box. 5 rd also available.
Sights - Notched Ladder and Post.
Bayonet - 6.25” Blade.
Muzzle Device - AK-74 type muzzle break.
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