Something interesting that I’ve noted in the last few months is a growing interest in the the Kalashnikov rifle platform. I’ve been itching for one for years, an Arsenal SLR-107 to be specific.
There were several very interesting announcements during SHOT show that I think warrant discussion. In light of the recent important bans on firearms originating from certain countries, the Kalashnikov concern has decided to set up manufacturing facilities in the United States. I don’t think such a move would be realistic unless they believed there was a strong enough business interest and market for the gun.
I have already expressed my great interest in picking up an IWI ACE-32, which is itself essentially a product-improved AK. The buzz has been pretty strong around the web for the Israeli rifle.
Palmetto State Armory, long known for their efforts to offer decent quality ARs at reasonable prices, has announced their entry into the AK market with the PSAK47.
Magpul has also announced that they are releasing AK furniture this year.
All of this indicates, to me, that there is a groundswell of interest in the old Kalashnikov warhorse. What could be driving this interest? I think it’s a combination three things:
- The AR market has gone soft. The market has been saturated. Prices have fallen low enough that anyone who wants one has now gotten one, or three, and the money is now really in the accessories. People are looking for something new to purchase. I think this is taking the form of either the .308 AR class (which is notoriously expensive and finicky about parts selection), the Tavor (fairly expensive and exotic), and the AK (much more affordable and well known).
- Just as a lot of guys coming back from the last twelve years in Iraq and Afghanistan have sought to own copies of the weapons they themselves carried, I think there is interest in owning and shooting the ubiquitous rifle that the “other guys” used.
- Due to the import restrictions, the cost of foreign parts kits and hardware is rising. At the same time, there is a lot of precision CNC machinery that is used in the saturated AR market. This equipment could be redirected to producing high quality AK platform parts at relatively low prices. Would this be cheaper than the long-standing cheap imports? Probably not. But I do believe there is a market for quality US made AKs that would not have the problems typically associated with cheaply made knockoffs.
Things are going to get very interesting in the next year or so. How does this affect my shooting? I don’t think it will. At this point, owning an AK variant would be more for collection and familiarization sake rather than any actual marksmanship gains. For my purposes, the AR is simply a superior platform.