Quantcast
  1. Sign up now and join over 35,000 northwest gun owners. It's quick, easy, and 100% free!

Review of ArAk Guns Bulgarian AK-74 Plum Poly Rifle

Discussion in 'RRC Firearms' started by 762fullmetaljacket, Mar 2, 2013.

  1. 762fullmetaljacket

    762fullmetaljacket Portland Member

    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    17
    A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to purchase an ArAk Guns Bulgarian AK-74 in Plum
    Poly from RRC Firearms. Since ArAk Guns is new on the scene, I wanted to
    put together a review of the rifle to pass on my findings that some may find useful.

    The goal of this review was to cover the following:

    1) Rifle function test
    2) Initial rough optic sight in @ 50 yards
    3) Magazine function test
    4) Fine tune 50 yard zero
    5) Shoot 50 and 100 yard groups in mostly 'practical' shooting positions (prone, kneeling, sitting (unsupported), standing (support and unsupported), and sitting (on bench).

    Pre-Review Preparations:
    Before heading to the range, I replaced the original gas tube with a picatinny style tube/mount that would serve as a forward-style optic mount. I used an UltiMak gas tube mount. They have proven solid for over 10 years of usage for me on other rifles.

    Choice for an optic on this AK is a Bushnell TRS-25 with 3 MOA dot. For the price, this optic performs excellent. I use a Trijicon Reflex II mounted on another AK, and so far the cheaper Bushnell is performing great.

    Also before heading to the range I oiled all the usual contact surfaces on the bolt carrier group.

    List of items added as modifications to the original rifle:
    UltiMak gas tube mount
    Bushnell TRS-25 3MOA dot
    Leapers UTC medium profile 3-slot quick release mount

    Ammunition used:
    Wolf 5.45x39mm 60gr. FMJ (Black box) non-corrosive

    Number of total rounds fired:
    160

    Magazines tested:
    1) East German Bakelite (30 rd)
    2) Bulgarian circle 10 smooth side (30 rd)
    3) "Bulgarian surplus" gloss black included with rifle purchase (30rd)
    4) Bulgarian circle 10 "Waffle" (45 rd)

    The ArAk Bulgarian AK-74 Plum Poly Rifle is based on a Bulgarian parts kit, Waffen Werks receiver and ESS Solutions chrome-lined barrel. The GunKote finish is near perfect in application coverage. Absolutely no scratches or marks found on the receiver, barrel, muzzle attachment, etc. All were in excellent condition. Even the Bulgarian Plum Poly components were in far better condition that I had expected.

    All rifle internals were found as new, in excellent condition, no scratches or tool marks. Action is tight but I expect it to break-in to operate a little more smoothly over time, which is perfect and not a problem at all. All serial numbers matched. Fit and finish of the rifle components are very good/excellent.

    All magazines functioned perfectly. Fit on all was snug. East German Bakelite and "Bulgarian surplus" insertion and removal were perfectly smooth. Bulgarian mags fit perfectly, but removal sometimes was difficult due to the slightly different angle of the locking lug on these magazines. The trick is to push the magazine forward as you push the magazine release in order to remove the magazine. Part of this could be due to the stiffness of the magazine release but only time will tell.

    Range results:
    At the range the rifle functioned perfectly. There were no functional issues with any magazines tested. Every round cycled and fired.

    The initial sight-in at 50 yards was quick, took less than 15 rounds. After the rough site-in, I spent more time fine tuning the 50-yard zero. Although familiar with 5.45x39 ballistics, I've not had any first hand experience until now. My intent was to have the rounds imact slightly low at 50 yards, which should put the rounds about perfect at 100 yards.

    At 50 yards, 5-shot groups were very good. I usually had one flier just outside the main grouping. For this ammunition, that was expected, and completely acceptable.

    Quick follow up shots:
    As you would expect, the 5.45 round has ever so slightly lighter recoil when compared to the 5.56, and noticably less than 7.62. I fired many aimed double taps out to about 50 yards and this was the most fun part of shooting this rifle.

    100 yard groups:
    This is where the rifle began to impress. I did not completely lock down/bench the rifle. Granted, I was sitting at a bench, or prone, but for support I only used my backpack for the front of the rifle. The buttstock was not supported -- only by my shoulder with elbow on the bench or ground when prone.

    I shot at least 5 different 5-shot groups. After each 5-shot group I would look through the spotting scope, and the results were very good each time. Let me put it this way -- I will soon do a side-by-side comparison with a quality 5.56 AK to see how well the ArAk AK-74 compares to a 5.56 AK, at least on that given day. See photo below for typical 100 yard shot grouping.

    The zero turned out to be about 2" low at 50 yards, and about 1" low at 100 yards, which is about what I had expected. I still need to get more familiar with 5.45 ballistics, but I think this is a good place to start.

    Trigger group:
    Tapco G2 trigger is adequate. It has a decent pull, breaks clean and resets properly. I have Red Star Arms triggers on other rifles, but the Tapco is good enough and at the moment, does not necessitate an upgrade to a Red Star.

    Overall Comments:
    The rifle looks great and functioned to my expectations. The accuracy of the rifle was better than I had expected, so I was very pleased with the results.

    Using Wolf ammuntion, accuracy was very good and actually better than I had hoped, which begs the question: the limiting factor for accuracy in this rifle may be the ammunition -- what could the we see using quality Hornady V-Max ammo?

    The only suggestion that I thought that I could make to ArAK Guns would be to include a Bulgarian 30-round Plum magazine with purchase. I thought that would be a "nice-to-have" with this rifle. But it turns out the included "Bulgarian surplus" magazine is actually a "refinished" Russian plum magazine. I removed the black paint using the product Citristrip, and within 1 hour, I had the black paint removed and now have a decent condition plum magazine.

    This is an excellent quality rifle, is accurate, and especially fun to shoot.

    Look for an update to this post after I have results using Hornady ammo. I also have on hand some Wolf 55gr SP (non-corrosive) ammo and will include those results as well.

    with_bulg_mag.jpg

    with_eg_mag.jpg

    Typical 100 yard grouping:
    100yd_target.jpg

    with_bulg_mag.jpg

    100yd_target.jpg

    with_eg_mag.jpg
     
    wolfcreed, dreggie, trainsktg and 3 others like this.
  2. RRC Firearms

    RRC Firearms Gaston, OR Family owned and operated...

    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    20
    Thank you for the purchase and putting the time into this review, we love to see the feedback from customers.

    Thanks,

    Rich
     
  3. Slowpoke

    Slowpoke Beaverton Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    580
    Likes Received:
    481
    Have you had a chance to shoot the Hornady (or Wolf 55gr) ammo through it yet?
     
  4. 762fullmetaljacket

    762fullmetaljacket Portland Member

    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    17
    Have not been able to find any Hornady 5.45.

    I do plan to get out to test the Wolf 55gr SP within the next two weeks.
     
  5. 762fullmetaljacket

    762fullmetaljacket Portland Member

    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    17
    Wolf 55gr SP - **partial review**

    Today I was able to make it to the range but my time was limited, so I'm only able to give a partial review of using Wolf 55gr SP ammo with the ArAk AK-74 Plum Poly rifle.

    First, I wanted to start off with the same round that I used for the original review - Wolf 60gr FMJ - to make sure that zero has held since the last range visit.

    I set out two 8" steel plates, both at 100 yards, but not set close together. They were placed approximately 20 yards apart in order to alternate between the plates, forcing site re-aquisition.

    I fired 10 consecutive rounds at 100 yards while sitting at bench, front of rifle supported but rear stock unsupport, just like original review. I fired as fast as possible while alternating between the steel plates. Results were 9 of 10 hits to steel, 1 miss.

    So in my opinion, the follow up test was a success, as optic setup held zero and rifle performed excellent and no malfunctions. This was a cold bore test, no warm up shots.

    Now, on to the Wolf 55gr SP rounds. The goal was to shoot groups, not to re-zero the optic. I was hoping that the point of imact would be relatively close to the 60gr rounds to make things easy.

    But after firing about 5 rounds it was obvious the point of imact for the 55gr rounds were way off from the 60gr rounds point of impact. The 55gr rounds were impacting right, way off the target. (It initially appeared the rounds were high as well but turns out it would mostly be a windage difference.)

    I spent some time firing while holding off low left. Then I set up a secondary target that was placed low-left in relation to the primary target, in order to give me reference points for hold off. After blowing through more rounds it was obvious that this plan wasn't going to work, at least at the 100 yard distance.

    Yeah...lazy...but I just didn't want to mess with the 60gr setup as it's dialed in and I have many more 60's on hand than 55's.

    So to compromise, I moved to 50 yards and had much more success. Holding off to the
    very left edge of the cardboard and firing 5 rounds from prone (no bag support) the bullets impacted 6" right on cardboard and seemed to be just a little low.

    Just to compare, I closed in to 25 yards and held to left edge, and as expected, impact was about half that (3" right) and slightly low.

    Then I retured to the 50 yard line and shot five 5-shot groups, alternating between different firing positions: prone, sitting, standing, sitting, prone.

    Results of the groups for the 55gr SP rounds were good, as expected.

    For reference, if you look at the photo that I uploaded for the original review, the 55gr SP rounds fired today display a very similar grouping pattern as the 60gr FMJ rounds.

    Also for the 50 yard shots using the 55's, I didn't have the rifle supported at all. Firing positions were standing, sitting, and prone. No bag support on the rifle at all. Compared to when firing the 60's at 100 yards, I did support the front of the rifle and was sitting at a bench.

    So, with all these differences, and especially since I wasn't able to get groups at 100 yards today, I can't make a full comparison of the two rounds as fired through the ArAk rifle.

    All I can say is the ArAk AK-74 again performed with no malfunctions of any kind. The ArAk rifle ate the 55 grain SP rounds just as fast as the 60 grain FMJ rounds. Lots of fun.

    Some time later this spring when I have time to zero the 55's I can give an apples-to-apples comparison. For now I guess this information may be at least a little useful for some.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  6. Slowpoke

    Slowpoke Beaverton Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    580
    Likes Received:
    481
    Thank you for the follow-up. I have enjoyed reading your posts.

    I am curious about one thing though. I was under the impression that bullet weight would make a difference in impact height, not windage (or at least not much). Why would it move 6" to the right at 50 yards, but only be a little low?

    Also, at 50 yards it was a little low, but at 100 yards it was high. Forgive my ignorance, I am still learning about ballistics.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  7. 762fullmetaljacket

    762fullmetaljacket Portland Member

    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    17
    Slo, thank you, glad to hear some of the info is useful.

    If you look back to the original post, you'll find that at 50 yards the groups were about 2" low, and at 100 yds the groups were about 1" low. See the photo that's posted of the typical 100 yd groups.

    But I see where I made an error in my previous post causing confusion. The shots at 100 yards with the 55gr rounds were impacting right, not high right as I had reported. Initially I had thought they were high but as I moved closer to fire at 50 yards, it became evident the difference was mostly windage. (I will edit previous post to remove the error. Good catch.)

    It's partially true, bullet weight has an effect on point of impact, but there are other variables in play as well. I hand load for my bolt rifles and have seen many combinations of elevation/windage differences especially when changing both the powder charge (velocity) and/or bullet weight or bullet type (different ballistics coefficient). The 5.45 55gr SP is shaped radically different than the 60gr FMJ, and I would think that the BC is significantly different. The 55gr SP in general appearance resembles a .223 55gr round.

    I'm not an expert by any means but based on my past experience with reloading, you can encounter movement in any direction when changing one or more variables developing a load for a particular rifle.

    I would like to chrono those two rounds, and find a published BC for them. It would help to have that info on hand, especially for plugging the values into a ballistics calculator.

    So, anyway, at least when ready to zero for the 55gr round from the 60gr round, out of this rifle, correcting for the 6" of windage would be a good start before firing any rounds (at 50 yds), then adjust as needed.
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  8. 762fullmetaljacket

    762fullmetaljacket Portland Member

    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    17

    *** ArAk Guns AK-74 and Silver Bear 5.45x39 60gr FMJ ***

    Last week on the web I ran across an article where someone published the velocity of Silver Bear 5.45x39
    60gr FMJ. I recognized the velocity (2678 fps) as being the same velocity as Wolf 5.45x39 60gr FMJ, which was
    confirmed in the same article.

    Since I had used Wolf 60gr FMJ in the original review of the ArAk Guns AK-74, I had to see for myself if those two rounds would impact at the same point. Since both velocities are the same and they both utilize a boat tail FMJ bullet, I thought the odds were good.

    I found some Silver Bear available on-line. They came in during the week so today I made it to the range to find out for myself if the Silver Bear 60gr rounds would have the same point-of-imact as the Wolf 60gr rounds.

    The Silver Bear rounds have a zinc-plated case by Barnaul. The bullet is a boat tail design, and I do like the look of them with the silver case. At the very least, there's no mistaking them from other steel cased 5.45 rounds.

    First I set up the usual array or steel and cardboard at 100 yards. Then I set up the ArAk Guns AK-74 just as I had done when testing Wolf ammo. Front of rifle supported with backback no support on the rear stock, just my shoulder.

    I took the first shot at 100 yards at an 8" round steel target, and yes, it was a hit. Fired off a few quick double taps and yes, hits every time. Yes. Good news. Next I took a 5-shot group at cardboard. See photos below.

    After shooting through 90-rounds using several different mags, I went back to the Wolf 60gr FMJ and as expected, hits on steel, similar groups on paper as the Silver Bear. I wasn't interested in doing a comparison between the two rounds. Practically speaking, they are the same.

    So, good news, if you sight in for Wolf 60gr FMJ and/or Silver Bear 60gr FMJ, you should expect the same point-of-impact.

    Mags used were:
    1) 30-round East German Bakelite
    2) 30-round Bulgarian brown poly
    3) 45-round circle 10 Bulgarian waffle.

    Typical 100 yard 5-shot group:
    SB545x39_100yd_group.jpg

    Silver Bear 5.45x39 60gr FMJ, mags, and ArAk Guns Plum Poly AK-74:
    SB545x39_with_mags_used.jpg

    SB545x39_100yd_group.jpg

    SB545x39_with_mags_used.jpg
     
    wolfcreed and (deleted member) like this.
  9. Slowpoke

    Slowpoke Beaverton Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

    Messages:
    580
    Likes Received:
    481
    Thanks again for the continued updates.

    It's possible I am the only one interested in your posts, but then again, I would bet there are some closet AK74 fans reading them also.