Sunday, August 10, 2014

SLR104FR versus the SGL31-95: A Detailed Comparison

by Mishaco 
+ = Pros
- = Cons
Maker - Arsenal (Bulgaria)
Importer - Arsenal Inc.
Semi-auto version of - Soviet era AKS-74
+ All Bulgarian (except for 922(r)), authentic semi clone,
+ Side folding stock (polymer or triangle),
+ Bayonet & Accessory Lugs,
+ 24mm muzzle threads,
+ Scope rail,
+ High Cap magazine with dimpled magwell,
+ Trigger guard reinforcing plate,
+ Original Bulgarian paint over parkerized finish (few areas of
touch-up paint added in USA),
+ Comes with accessories; sling, cleaning kit, oiler, high-cap mag,
- Comes with either US made polymer or Russian made metal folding
stock and not Bulgarian,
- Black polymer handguards (not correct for an early model AKS),
- Comes with US copy of AK74M brake and not older style,
Maker - Izhmash (Russia)
Importer - Arsenal Inc. (FIME Group since 2013)
Semi-auto version of - Russian Federation era AK-74M
+ All Bulgarian (except for 922(r)), authentic semi clone,
+ Side folding stock (polymer or triangle),
+ Bayonet & Accessory Lugs,
+ 24mm muzzle threads,
+ Scope rail,
+ High Cap magazine with dimpled magwell,
+ Black polymer handguards (correct for AK74M),
+ Black polymer folding stock made in Russia,
- Lacks trigger guard reinforcing plate,
- Weak painted on finish,
+/- Comes with US copy of AK74M brake which is somewhat correctly made
with long collar, but not exact and not chromelined,
- No accessories included,
Both rifles can have canted sights, but this issue is not nearly as
common as many might believe.
Both are factory built guns, imported as sporters, and converted to
military configuration in the USA. SGL31 has new front sight and gas
blocks installed here with lugs; SLR104 has the lugs milled out by
hand from the original blocks. So the lugs on the SGL are more even
and in-spec, but the pinning of the blocks is more uniform on the SLR.
Neither have excessive magazine wiggle, and both are known for
good/tight stock lockup.
Both have 16.25" long, cold hammer forged and chromelined barrels, so
potential accuracy is basically exactly the same.
If these comments seem nit-picky, it is because they are. Both rifles
are basically the same. Reliability, accuracy, durability; all the
same. Fit and finish is generally equal too, but the edge does go to
the SLR104 for its better metal finish (but not machining quality,
that part is the same).
When new and on the market, the SGL31-94 sold for just about the same
as what the SLR104FR is going for today.
What it boils down to is simple....
If you want a Russian AK to have something from the original factory,
get the SGL31.
If you just want a good rifle, either will do fine.
If you want an Afghanistan era AK74 clone, get the SLR104FR, as it has
all the earlier features such as ribbed dustcover and short thread
If you want a clone of the modern AK74M used today by the Russian
military, get the SGL31 as it has current features such as a smooth
dustcover, rivet on the side to assist bolt turning, and long thread
Out of the box, the SGL31-94 needs no modifications to generally look
like a standard issue AK74M.
Out of the box, the SLR104FR needs a set of wooden handguards (or plum
polymer) and an earlier AK74 brake to generally be a good AKS74 clone.
The SLR104FR has the TG reinforcing plate; the SGL31-94 does not.
Much has been made over this little piece of stamped metal. Would it
be nice if the SGL had it? sure. Is its receiver markidly weaker
without it? no. None of the earlier AKS-74 rifles even had it. It
wasn't introduced until the mid 1980s and not made standard until at
least 1988. Tula didn't even ever use it when manufacturing its
AKS-74U Krinks.
Again, i do wish the SGL had it and i am glad the SLR does; but i am
not worried about my SGL's receiver bending on me. When is the last
time you ever heard of a stamped AK receiver bending like that?
The plate was added to give a bit of extra strength in extreme
situations, not because the receiver was bending from normal/everyday
use and wear.
If you were to drop the SGL31-94 on its pistol grip, with the stock
folded and on to a hard surface from several feet, the receiver has a
very very slight chance of bending (though more likely you'll just
scuff up or crack your pistol grip).
That said, if that is something you think you will be doing to your AK
on a regular basis; mother raised me to take care of my
things, especially if they are expensive or valuable. The SGL is a
pricy AK, so its probably not the best choice for a beat-around 'truck
If that's what you want, get a Romanian WASR-10 or even a Serbian PAP.
In conclusion, both the SLR104FR and SGL31-94 are awesome rifles and
ones we're very lucky to have on the market here in the USA.
For 99% of the shooting public, either would make the customer happy.
The Arsenal SLR104FR is cheaper today, but the SGL31-94 does have a
bit of an edge for being an original and true Izhmash product made in
I am glad I have both and do not want to sell either. If i had to
though, if I could only keep one? I'd keep the SGL31-94 hands down. In
fact, if i could own only one rifle in 5.45x39mm at all, that would be
the one I would pick.
Sometimes, there is just no substitute for the original.
But the SLR104FR is a great rifle and it exceeded my expectations.
Arsenal nailed that one for sure. It just needs a set of wood
handguards to bring out its potential.
Also, its considerably easier to find and less expensive than the SGL today.
In my book, an imported factory built rifle trumps one built from a
parts kit on a US receiver 9 out of 10 times. Ironically, imports are
usually cheaper too.
Both rifles are among the best semi-auto AKs ever sold in the USA.

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